Other People’s Everything: African Movies: The Gift and The Fisherman’s Diary: Angela Davis, DH Lawrence, Emma Goldman, Tyler Perry, Arundhati Roy; Pratibha Parmar; High On the Hog, Braiding Sweetgrass, and The Moor’s Account

November 20, 2023

Book Cover: The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker
Book Cover: The House Where My Soul Lives, a Biography of Margaret Walker by Maryemma Graham

This biography of the extraordinary writer, poet, humanist and scholar Margaret Walker (Alexander) is one for the ages.  It is unlikely there will ever be an offering about her life to match what Maryemma Graham has accomplished in this complex and seemingly complete study of Walker’s exceptionally creative and varied life.

Among other gifts, we are invited to understand more fully the richness and variety of Southern life, specifically academic, scholarly, and poetic life in the worlds of Alabama, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi and other locations where the flourishing of black universities and colleges has, for generations, fed the unstoppable spirit of black creative people who realize one must have deep roots in order to grow expansive wings.

Thank the Universe for Margaret Walker!  Whose signature poem, “For My People” cradled so many hundreds of thousands of us, for decades, in the assurance that we were seen, loved, and championed by someone who never stopped honing her skills of inquiry, observation and debate, in order to keep us firmly on a challenging path ancestors saw before us, literally before we were born.


Todo Sobre Otra Gente:

African Movies:  The Gift, and The Fisherman’s Diary: Angela Davis, D.H. Lawrence, Emma Goldman, Tyler Perry, Arundhati Roy; Pratibha Parmar; High On The Hog (A Todo Tren), Braiding Sweetgrass (Tejiendo Juncos) Y The Moor’s Account (La Versión Del Moro).

The Fisherman’s Diary and The Gift. It is a special pleasure to watch great movies with younger people. Recently I watched two films with young friends who, like me, had no idea what they were likely to be about. Not really.  But both proved to be riveting. Both dedicated to revealing so much reality: about grief, falling in love, racism in black people against albinos in Africa, cruelty imbedded in religions that think of women as chattel, the unfortunate blindness of parents who place ideology above their own love of their child…and more. I think I must be the last adult who is just discovering the abundance of fairly recently made African films, created by and for people who are unafraid of being themselves.  And not just that: but of joining together, especially in art, to  examine the worms that, in Langston Hughes’ poetic thought, are eating at the rinds of our very humanity. A pervasive worm is greed alongside an indifference to the beauty all around us in nature, if we haven’t already destroyed it before we grow wise enough to look.

July 16, 2023

Angela Davis  and her mother Sallye Davis,1944

Happy Birthday
Beloved Angela!
Never missing
From the ranks
Of those
Who believe
In what is just,
And are prepared
To live
From there.
We salute you
As the warrior
You have been
Your whole life.
A Revolutionary
In thought,
And fashion.
Flashing sea blue nails
And never conquered
ginger locks
In stylish affirmation
Of total
Liberation. ~aw

DH Lawrence who died at the age of 44 has left us novels that grow in complexity and sensuousness the longer we ponder them; they are especially a wonder to contemplate in old age.  He died so young!  And yet he realized the gradations and ascents and descents of the arch of life, and did them justice.  I began by re-reading The Rainbow (mind blowing, really) and went on to Sons and Lovers, his first novel.  Americans, and surprisingly, American-Africans, will find much of our history’s indelible markings in these books.  I had not recalled from reading Lawrence as a student the grimy blackness of the colliers (coal miners) that is despised even though it was coal mining, primarily by pick and shovel, that kept miners and their families alive.  The workers grossly exploited, family life suffered all the afflictions – drunkenness, wife beating, worship of whiteness – that would trail emigrants to the American South (especially) and which these emigrants imposed on the black enslaved and eventually (at least symbolically) liberated of color population.

Here also is the love of gardening!  Which keeps anxious wives from going insane as they worry their male kin will be crushed to death or otherwise mangled in the frequent calamities that occur in the mines.

While The Rainbow is excellent as an exploration of how men and women have found their way in personal intimate relationships under a system that relied almost completely on the dictates of the church, Sons and Lovers takes us into the very heart of relationships between parents and their children, as they inhabit an England in which the working class isn’t considered by the upper class to be human.  Or I should say: not as they themselves are. Whatever that was and is.

From this distance of more freedom for humans to express their true natures, I can understand why Sons and Lovers falters toward the end.  The protagonist, Paul, dearly cares for Miriam, as she cares for him.  But for years he has no physical desire for her; for her part she escapes into a mysticism that allows her to acknowledge deep love that has no physical expression. One suspects these two were, as were so many in earlier centuries, afflicted by “the love that had no name.” At least during this period of development.  But maybe not!  As Paul eventually falls head over heels for a suffragette, who scandalizes society because she has left her husband and devotes herself to women’s liberation.

Throughout the novel there is the minutest attention to Paul’s relationship with his mother.  The bond is intense; at times edifying, at times choking, but always leaving an impression of mother and son being of one soul. Every potential partner is scrutinized  as if by the same mind. ~aw


DH Lawrence que muriera a los 44 años nos ha legado novelas que crecen en complejidad y sensualidad mientras más las analizamos; son especialmente una maravilla a considerar en la vejez. ¡Él murió tan joven! Sin embargo percibió las gradaciones, los ascensos y los descensos del arco de la vida, y les hizo justicia. Comencé por releer El arco iris (The Rainbow) (alucinante, en verdad) y seguí con Hijos y Amantes (Sons and Lovers), su primera novela. Los norteamericanos, y sorprendentemente, los afroamericanos, encontrarán muchas de las indelebles marcas de nuestra historia en estos libros.  Yo no recordaba de mi lectura de Lawrence cuando estudiante la mugrienta negrura de los “colliers” (mineros del carbón) que se desdeñaba a pesar de que era la extracción del carbón, básicamente a pico y pala, la que mantenía vivos a los mineros y sus familias. Con los trabajadores tremendamente explotados, la vida familiar sufría todas las desgracias — borracheras, palizas a las esposas, devoción por la blancura—  que arrastraban los emigrantes al sur americano (en especial) y que estos emigrantes impusieron a la gente negra esclavizada y (por lo menos simbólicamente) finalmente libraron de la población de color.

¡Aquí también aparece el amor a la horticultura! La cual salva a las ansiosas esposas de volverse locas por preocuparse de que sus parientes masculinos murieran aplastados o si no destrozados en los frecuentes desastres que ocurren en las minas.

Mientras que El arco iris es excelente como exploración de la forma en que los hombres y las mujeres han hallado su camino en las relaciones personales íntimas bajo un sistema que se basaba casi totalmente en los dictados de la iglesia, Hijos y amantes nos lleva directamente al mismo corazón de las relaciones entre padres e hijos, pues habitan una Inglaterra en la cual a la clase obrera no se le considera humana por la clase alta. O debo decir: no igual a como son ellos mismos. Independientemente de lo que esto fuera y es.

Desde esta distancia de mayor libertad para que los seres humanos expresen sus verdaderas naturalezas, puedo entender porqué Hijos y amantes titubea hacia el final. El protagonista, Paul, verdaderamente siente afecto por Miriam, como ella lo siente por él. Pero él no tiene ningún deseo físico hacia ella y, por su parte, ella se evade a un misticismo que le permite reconocer un amor profundo sin que tenga ninguna expresión física. Uno sospecha que ellos dos estaban, al igual que muchos en siglos pasados, aquejados por “el amor que no tenía ningún nombre.”  ¡Ay!

Como novelista, lamento lo que esta ignorancia crítica en la cultura inglesa en ese entonces hizo para estropear el final de una fantástico novela. ~AW


Emma Goldman in the garb of the “New Woman,” turn of the 20th century (IISH).

An image of Emma Goldman is not sticking!  Alas. But her words conjure her spirit. ~aw.   As does this bouquet of irrepressibles!

“I demand the independence of woman,
her right to support herself,
to live for herself,
to love whomever she pleases
or as many as she pleases.
I demand freedom for both sexes,
freedom of action,
  freedom in love
freedom in motherhood.”


Emma Goldman en el atuendo de la “Nueva Mujer,” fines del siglo XX (IISH).


¡Una imagen de Emma Goldman que no se fija! ¡Vaya! Pero sus palabras evocan su espíritu. ~AW.     ¡Al igual que este ramo que no puede ser reprimido!

“Yo exijo la independencia de la mujer,
su derecho a sustentarse,
a vivir para ella,

a amar a quienquiera que desee
o a tantos como ella desee.
Exijo la libertad para ambos sexos,
libertad de acción,
libertad de amor
libertad de maternidad.”

I may never get to the end of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, produced by OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s Network; I have paused at many “middles” of this epic drama in disbelief that I am only now viewing it.  It was launched in 2013. It is an extraordinary offering. For the first five or six nights, as I watched, I thought a lot about my mother, for whom soap operas, after a hard day in field or kitchen or dairy, meant a mental escape into a world of ease and lightheartedness, of relatively uncomplicated affairs engaged in by folks with straight teeth, nice houses, good clothes, and sporty cars.  The Haves and the Have Nots acknowledges this past too, embodied in the character of Hannah, maid to a wealthy white family in Georgia, post Obama, but she is surrounded by a cast the likes of which this Southerner has never seen.

It is, in a certain way of viewing it, a magical cast. I thought of how, if I could bring back some of our people who passed on half a century ago, they would be dumbstruck at Perry’s casting of a fully integrated cast that pays little attention to color but a great deal to content of character.  And how fabulously this works.  It is like looking at an American universe undreamed of in mainstream cinema, where color is always manipulated to show black people our place: the bottom of society; overwhelmed, always, and outnumbered, by white people.  We have been harmed by this.

This is an aside:  but I remember being a student at Sarah Lawrence when Casablanca was shown on campus.  I had never heard of it, or of Bogart, but I was game, especially since all my new acquaintances seemed thrilled.  And there it was.  The most basic of stories about white people reeling from their innumerable disasters and wars, redeemed by an ambiguous connection between the Bogart character and the black piano player.  Of course no one in that setting would have had a clue why this might be my perspective. Or why it was so hard for some of them to become friends with me.

It is so refreshing to see a truly evil black woman acted brilliantly! In the person of the always scheming and malignant Veronica, who has not just two faces, but ten or twelve.  So fascinating to see her husband, David, so bland and accommodating as best friend to the white mayor of Savannah as both he and the mayor plan to run for higher office: Governor and Lt. Governor, of Georgia.  So absorbing to watch how equally two-faced and criminal they are.  And the mayor’s wife, a wealthy, chubby woman who bought her husband and wants him to pay her back by letting her constantly torment him, as well as his live-in concubine who has borne him two children.  It is a wonderful plot!  Endless and of course wrapped around Candace, the hooker turned law student whose skills at manipulating everyone but her mother leave us breathless.  A fascinating character, matched only by her best friend, the very gay and in the closet (until he leaps out) Jeffrey who is of course in love all along with the white son of the mayor who is running for governor which means overt gayness (since he is son to Veronica and David, the vice mayor) will never do!

A friend and I binged on this saga until we were bleary eyed during the day; going to bed one night just at dawn.  But what a devastating healing it has afforded us.  I kept thinking:  Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment has nothing on this script.  He is the writer I was most reminded of, as we watched the series go deeper into an exploration of the crippling consequences of being outlaws, sociopaths, and psychopaths.  So far, souls are being laid bare, by actors who seem never to miss a beat depicting horrifying realities which we must acknowledge as part of healing and recreating a better world.


Quizás nunca llegue al final del Los que tienen y los que no tienen (The Haves and the Have Nots), de Tyler Perry, producido por OWN, la cadena de Oprah Winfrey; me he detenido brevemente en muchas partes de este drama épico bajo la incredulidad de que sea ahora que lo estoy viendo. Fue estrenada en 2013. Es una creación extraordinaria. En las primeras cinco o seis noches, mientras la veía, pensé mucho en mi madre, para quien las telenovelas, después de un duro día en el campo o la cocina o la lechería, significaban un escape mental hacia un mundo de comodidad y alegría, de asuntos relativamente sencillos en los que se implicaban personas con dientes rectos, casas agradables, buenas ropas y autos deportivos. Los que tienen y los que no tienen reconoce ese pasado también, encarnado por el personaje de Hannah, criada de una familia blanca rica en Georgia, después de Obama, pero está rodeada de un elenco cuyos semejantes esta sureña nunca ha visto.

Es, en cierta manera de verlo, un elenco mágico. Pensé en cómo, si pudiera revivir a algunas de nuestra gente que murió hace medio siglo, quedarían estupefactos ante el reparto de Perry de una elenco completamente integrado que presta poca atención al color pero mucha al contenido del carácter. Y qué fabulosamente esto funciona. Es como mirar a un universo americano no soñado por el cine tradicional, donde el color siempre se manipula para mostrar a los negros nuestro lugar: el fondo de la sociedad; aplastados, siempre, y excedidos en número, por los blancos. Hemos sido dañados por esto.

Éste es un aparte: pero recuerdo que era estudiante en Sarah Lawrence cuando se exhibió Casablanca en el campus. Nunca había oído hablar de ella, o de Bogart, pero estaba entusiasmada, especialmente porque todos mis nuevos conocidos parecían encantados. Y allí estaba. La más elemental de las historias sobre personas blancas entrampadas en sus innumerables desastres y guerras, redimidos por una conexión ambigua entre el personaje de Bogart y el pianista negro. Por supuesto nadie en ese entorno habría tenido ni una pista de porqué ésta podía ser mi perspectiva. O porqué era tan difícil para algunos de ellos ser amigos míos.

¡Es tan reconfortante ver a una mujer negra verdaderamente malvada actuada brillantemente! En la persona de la siempre intrigante y maligna Verónica, que no tiene solo dos caras, sino diez o doce. Resulta tan fascinante ver a su marido, David, tan insulso y complaciente como mejor amigo del alcalde blanco de Savannah mientras que ambos, él y el alcalde, planean postularse para un puesto mayor: Gobernador y Teniente gobernador de Georgia. Es muy absorbente ver lo semejante de falsos y delincuentes que son. Y la esposa del alcalde, mujer rica, rechoncha que compró a su marido y quiere que él la recompense dejando que constantemente ella lo atormente,  al igual que la concubina con que vive que le ha parido dos niños. ¡Es una trama maravillosa! Interminable y por supuesto centrada en torno a Candace, la prostituta convertida en estudiante de ley cuyas habilidades para manipular a todo el mundo, excepto a su madre, nos deja sin aliento. ¡Un personaje fascinante, igualado solamente por su mejor amigo, el muy gay y oculto en el clóset (hasta que salta fuera), Jeffrey que, por supuesto, está enamorado completamente del hijo blanco del alcalde que se está postulando para gobernador, lo que implica que la homosexualidad declarada (puesto que es hijo de Verónica y David, el vice alcalde), ¡nunca será!

Una amiga y yo nos atiborramos de esta saga hasta quedarnos adormiladas durante el día; yéndonos a la cama una noche ya al amanecer. Pero qué tremenda cura nos ha ofrecido. Me quedé pensando: Crimen y castigo de Dostoyevsky no llega a este guión. Es el escritor que me vino a la mente, mientras veíamos la serie profundizar explorando las consecuencias catastróficas de los que son proscritos, sociopatas y psicópatas. Hasta ahora, las almas son desnudadas, por actores que nunca parecen fallar un detalle al representar las horrendas realidades que debemos reconocer como parte de sanar y reconstruir un mundo mejor.

Alice Walker, Arundhati Roy, and Pratibha ParmarAlice Walker, Arundhati Roy, and Pratibha Parmar. Photo by Vaschelle Andre
April 12, 2022/ /Berkeley, Ca.

Celebrating the brave, brilliant, and beautiful, Arundhati Roy, in town to tell us about the trials and tribulations of India, which seems to have completely lost its way, as so many countries have:  the way traveled in peace by all its varied population.  Azadi: Fascism, Fiction, and Freedom in the Time of the Virus (Expanded Second Edition). Her newest book.

And of course we’re buckling our seatbelts for Pratibha Parmar’s upcoming film, My Name is Andrea, about the super take no prisoners warrior for the liberation of women, Andrea Dworkin.~aw


Dave Chappelle photo by Evan Agostini


I love
Dave Chappelle
a wild free twinkle
in Earth’s
great eye.~aw


Martin would have laughed; Malcolm X, Moms Mabley, Che, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Maya Angelou who understood so much, and loved Dave, would have laughed so hard. And many a church congregation; all those pious ladies hiding behind their fans! Not to put anyone down (since you could be next) but to breathe a sigh of relief that hilarity – that wild free thing! – was in the room! A niece recently reminded me that I wrote a poem with the line “the part of God that stings.” Part of “God” the “Ultimate Ancestor” does sting. And we can’t avoid that experience, it comes to all of us, since ultimately we cannot cancel reality. It is part of our journey and on our path. What do we do with it? Sitting before striking is very good for us. Though I once struck a boy named Charlie Welch for making fun of me because I was injured and it felt great. I was nine. ~aw

Amo A Dave Chappelle

Stephen Satterfield

High On The Hog is one of many distinct gifts to our growth and enlightenment during this peculiar time of angst and confusion.  I watched it with a niece whose father, my brother Bill, left the Jim Crow South for a better life in Boston years before she was born.  Watching it, she said, was like having him back: his reminisces of growing up Southern, his love of story, and definite love of food.  How it would have amazed him to see the genius of the people of Benin who escaped being enslaved by literally building their communities on water.  And how the young narrator and guide Stephen Satterfield, so calm and beautiful, brings us closer to our ancient serenity with his gentle embrace of African American culture with unadorned appreciation and gratitude. Everyone in and around this offering shines with beauty and grace.  Thank you all, from a full and grateful Southern heart.~aw

Braiding Sweetgrass  by Robin Wall Kimmerer is another gift that is so precious it seems practically unbelievable.  I read it as a holy book, a Bible, from Nature, delivered somehow to us at this time of deep need to understand the glory that Earth is and always has been.  I have felt, even as a child, that the earth was heaven, magical and knowing perfectly well what it was doing.  Trees had to be intelligent, I thought.  Just look at how they grow only where it suits them.  And so on.  Thank you RWK for this work of devotion to Whatever is responsible for creating us.~aw

Then there is the utterly amazing book The Moor’s Account, by Laila Lalami, the memoir of an enslaved Moor (black and in my imagination identical to Stephen Satterfield who I hope will play this character in a movie someday) who came with the Spanish Conquistadors to invade and conquer what they called “the new world.”  This book is foundational to our understanding of the Americas, of slavery, of European dominator indifference to the lives of Indigenous people already living in the Americas, or anywhere.  It is fantastic to listen to, and I recommend this.  Thank you, Laila Lalami, you are a perfect illustration of why men in control of our lives did not want women to read and write.  This one book can open the world from centuries ago to us, now. Magic. Yes. It exists.~aw

Leer esta página del jardín de Alice Walker en español



December 2020

The Glorias (Film) Gloria Steinem

Almost the end of a truly challenging year. Covid. Violence. Joblessness. Homelessness. Our country’s leadership still intent on supporting fascists and the deeply disturbed. Hardest to bear probably is our mistrust of everything. A mistrust that is a consequence of having been lied to, consistently, for generations. Well then, what might make this passage – assuming we make a passage – a deep immersion in the best that humanity can offer to this time: ah, says the writer, reading. And so I would begin by offering a whole long book to read, Die Wise, by Stephen Jenkinson, and the first three chapters of another of his books Come of Age. The dominant North American culture has lost, or more accurately, has happily shed much of its soul and left it to moulder in cemeteries in Europe. What does that mean to this time when old people would rather be seniors (as in high school) than elders? What does it mean when there is an almost audible sigh of relief that the virus prefers the old to the younger? We are always in our last days on earth, whatever our age. Learning to live with that is the challenge and the reward. But oh, the joy of having a few credible teachers through this passage!

So then, for inspiration of a different sort, there is The Glorias, the new film by Julie Taymor about Gloria Steinem, whose fascinating tale of “tap dancing her way out of Toledo” (based on her book My Life On the Road)is brought movingly to screen. Taymor’s work is exquisite here, as it is in Frida, the film about Frida Kahlo that set feminists/womanists of all stripes aglow when it appeared some years ago. As I understand it, this collaboration of Feminist icon, rebel, beautiful woman and super smart sister, with Taymor, whose Lion King I was not taken by,(though I’m not sure why; since millions around the world adored it) happened simply because Taymor asked if she could make a film and Steinem said yes. The film covers decades, and there is a Gloria – a child, teenager, young adult, mature woman – to represent each age. It is brilliantly done and fascinating to see how each actor looks exactly (pretty much) as Gloria Steinem herself might have looked at whatever period of her life is being explored. I was especially moved by scenes of Steinem in India, as a student, speaking Hindi. Her story demonstrates, throughout, that if we want to know and understand the other peoples of the world, we must go out and find them.

And then, Goddess forbid, there is Chernobyl. A film I avoided as long as I could.




April 13, 2020

I lost this page for many months!  But here it is in time to say how moved I am by Yuri Herrera’s book SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD. I love the title, because it is true: the end of the world is always happening; the world we “know.” But now, during the Covid-19 terror, it feels like we are experiencing the end of a common world, and we are.  Though this “common” world has largely been experienced differently by all the peoples and  cultures on the earth.

A young woman from Mexico travels North to find her brother who has gone North years before. After a harrowing journey, made bearable by Herrera’s fantastically beautiful writing, she finds him. The book is a deep mirror of some of the ways we have been wounded, and have been complicit in wounding ourselves.  It is also a testament to the ability of art to make us face ourselves, and examine the path that convinced us to take so many grotesque, and ill- fated turns.

Is art all we get out of our most intrusive pain? In some cases, as experienced reading this book, the answer would seem to be, yes. But also: perhaps art is the only trustworthy light to see by, which means we need not be stopped in our tracks by our pain, but can continue our journey.

Boy With Birds, Alvaro Chavarin  /  Niño Con Pájaros, Alvaro Chavarin

For an effort filled few months this gifted painter was my teacher. He and his family lived down the road in Zapata, Mexico. Painting beautifully seemed natural to him; as natural as walking.  I was … moved.  It seemed another example of the Universe showing Itself, just, as the old people used to say, “drylongso.” He was born in 1974, a Capricorn. He is the father of sons, one recently born.  He paints a lot, and also designs and builds houses. I visited his very simple middle school recently, which both he and his wife attended in their teens, and where he sponsored an art exhibit by the students.  It is a very basic school, but the buzz was all about the art. I was so charmed by the simplicity of the setting and the good quality of the students’ work that I forgot to buy anything. Which I will always regret.

Jose Alvaro Chavarin, Off (01) 312 3237528 Colima, Jalisco, Mx.

He is collected widely and is also on Pinterest.



January 31 2019

With eight hours to go, listening to the extraordinary book BECOMING by former first lady of the United States and gifted writer Michelle Robinson Obama, (the author reading) and while on my way to help celebrate the life, audacity, courage and genius of writer/pioneer Zora Neale Hurston, in Eatonville, Florida, I am struck all over again by the wonder of artists and writers and the sustaining spiritual nourishment they provide everyone.


For instance, THE FRIEND, by Sigrid Nunez.  One of those books you carry around with you: to the breakfast table, to the loo, to bed, everywhere, because it is so infused with suffering, wisdom, information about all kinds of formerly un-thought about things.  But mostly because a love of dogs drives the narrative, and dogs, their great virtues of compassion, forgiveness, and faithfulness, need to be praised vastly more than they are.


There is ROMA, the film by  Alfonso Cuaron, which helped me understand Mexico better. The story of an indigenous Indian woman who serves in the house of an upper middle class white Mexican family in a section of Mexico City far from the hovels  of the poor that ring the city.  The silence of this woman!  So like that of maids wherever they are employed: her giving of her devotion and love to her employers while leaving little for herself and none for a stillborn child.  A deeply painful film for all of us around the globe whose mothers were stolen from us by their need for employment. Praiseworthy because it seems to signal an awakening, or the possibility of awakening, for children of privilege who often grow up without a clue that what they, in their innocence, thought was a maid’s devoted love of them, was more often, in fact, affection and caring stolen from her own children.


Then there is HAPPY AS LAZZARO, directed by Alice Rohrwacher. Who knew that sharecropping was the same in Italy, in the last century, as it was in Georgia?  And that, while it was in place, a good person, enslaved in the system, was likely to be worked to death or beaten to death simply for naively trusting that other people were good, i.e. harmless, like themselves.  As in ROMA there is a consciousness in LAZZARO that is missing in most films about exploitation of the poor.  It is as if, in giving the 1% a name, we have opened up, for artists and writers, a clearer way of seeing them in relation to other humans, who exist with infinitely less, and always under their (the 1%’s) domination, which is how so many of us, even those “successful within the system”  live.





We Can Know the World is Changing When the African Woman Freely Speaks Her Mind, Globally.   Dr. Mumbi Seraki. YouTube.

The Dr. Mumbi Show is a single black woman, from Kenya, East Africa, teaching. Read more in my post about Dr. Mumbi. With new addition.



June 2018

Langston Hughes left two engrossing memoirs:  I Wonder As I Wander, and The Big Sea.  He loved travel, and these books document many of his adventures.  His inner life remains a mystery, but whatever it was, it led him to lead a life of exemplary generosity.  He was kind to me, a very young unknown, and as I was later to learn (having adopted him as a relative during my college years) that was his way with almost everyone.

Anyway (a word with which he tended to begin most sentences) he once wrote, explaining why he was not a better critic of other people’s work, that he was capable of saying he liked something, and savored arousing the energy to help put it forward in the world (I paraphrase) but that he was incapable of writing negatively about literary stuff he didn’t like.

I understand this. I once wrote a negative, rather flippant, review of an older writer’s novel and learned later it had caused her serious distress. I realized I had disparaged her offering of the best she had to give.  That was it for me. I thought: How could I possibly have imagined I had this right?

So on the issue of This Is America, a video by Childish Gambino, who is a new performer for me, and whose other work I will study, I was encouraged to think carefully of what might be useful in making a comment, since for all the appreciation of its “symbolism” I find a deeper scrutiny might be applied.  What came to mind was to ask:  How would this video impact the consciousness of a 12 year old? Or someone even younger? A black manchild?  For instance, the beautiful character Micah in the remarkable production Queen Sugar. What exactly might its message be?  And to ask us grownups, in place of arguing, to sit with whatever arises.

I am aware that these are “only” images, but is it a good thing, even in “art,” to have a black man murder another black man who is a maker of music?  Is it ok to have a black man assassinate an entire black choir?  In a child’s mind, where would we grownups place this activity?

What if the video were done in whiteface?  How would the message be changed?

MIKKI. MIKKI. MIKKI. Inherited Insanity 73. I just discovered this site on YouTube.  This amazingly savvy and beautiful black sister, grandmother, social commentator.  I think it must be new.  What I like: her honesty, clarity, humor, vulnerability but also great colorful courage.  And her head wraps!  I began watching and listening because she was talking about the death of Louis Farrakhan, Jr. who died recently at the age of 60.  I was sad to hear this; it must be very hard for his parents.  I wanted to send condolences but didn’t quite know how. Mikki went on to talk about Minister Farrakhan with much insight and intelligence, a rare example of maturity and acceptance of reality. Refreshing.  Then on to talk about Roseanne, etc.  A voice of much insight, clarity and help for us planetarians!  Black, tan, and otherwise. We are far apart on the issue of submission as opposed to partnership in marriage and other relationships, but I appreciate no end her sincerity.

I love the way things can seem so hopeless…and then, from the back of the room where we thought everyone was sleeping there comes a voice….  And we see so clearly what the ancestors were aiming for.  And we can breathe again.  So lovely, this.  (Also deeply appreciate her comments on Morgan Freeman.)

On the other hand, a video about our deeply sad and miserable brother Bill Cosby, is troubling for its contempt of him. Expressed in language unworthy of so beautiful a person as Ms. Mikki.  Of course we stand with, and support, the women he is accused of abusing.  Of course we feel empathy for Camille Cosby, whose valiant smile has defended her pride like a sword. But is there to be no compassion for someone so deeply suffering as Bill?  Whatever his crimes, and in fact, I never felt close enough to him in the past to even watch his productions, but still.  Our hearts by now, after all this time and suffering, can hold this “sinner” in a place of… well, yes, compassion.  Didn’t our love of Jesus, whom we never watched on tv. or anywhere else, teach us nothing?  Buddha too.  Martin, also.  Che and Fidel, those renegades.

There is a way in which we can see so much of what is happening now as a test, an exam.  Perhaps our finals. Can we awaken to our own treatment of others that is exactly the treatment we do not wish for ourselves?  Mr. Cosby is an opportunity to see how far we can fall, from pride, power, arrogance.  But it is also an opportunity to nurture compassion for a fellow creature who, whatever the reason or cause, is in pain.

He is not a piece of (“sh-“).  No, he is more truthfully a piece of us.


Late May

The 5th Month: Tall grasses,  Blue Irises, and Orange California Poppies

I was in heaven as a student when I found a college that let me read all night without thinking a light in my room meant I had an unacknowledged (by the housemother) male guest. I remember reading The Red and the Black and A Tale of Two Cities and being swept away, though sad to say the Red and the Black doesn’t hold up as well for me today.  However, Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, does!  It is really an amazing novel, though for a reason I didn’t understand as a student, contemplating marriage sometime in the future. I identified so strongly with Emma Bovary’s boredom at being married to an unimaginative country doctor that I noticed little else.  However, what I see now, and appreciate immensely, is that Flaubert managed to paint a complete picture of small town 19th century France.  It is so precise, if France is ever destroyed, the small country town of that period, the 1800s, as Flaubert experienced it, can be reconstructed from scratch. This is a phenomenal offering.

What novels today are like that?  Well, two recent ones have struck me as being in Flaubert’s company.  One is The Wife’s Tale, by Aida Edemariam.  The other is The Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  Both are committed to offering so much detail, so much unhurried transmission of a time and place(s) most people living today have little idea about, that they hand us a world, formerly unknown, as if by magic.  Whose other name is of course: work. Both novels are far too complex for me to “review.”  I haven’t been able to review them even in my own mind.  They are to be experienced, as Madame Bovary is, ultimately, not really dissected.

A novel as timely as it is emotionally arousing is An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. This story about what  unjust incarceration of a spouse does to a marriage is intense and raw. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel more subtle and sure about the mindset and behaviors of black citizens of the South as defined by economic privilege, education, and class.


May 22, 2018

Stay With Me is a fabulous novel.

Ayobami Adebayo has made such a moving commitment to fierceness and truth that the tenderness emerging also in her characters is as welcome as a spring shower.  What a heart this writer has; how it renews our hope for a world in which it can continue to thrive.

Best, I think, on Audible.


I am so sorry to be so late cheering for all the greatness that’s been showing up around the world lately.Not just ice skaters whom I saw on a screen as I trudged through an airport (more on them when I find them, perhaps on YouTube) but also I’ve been over the moon about Ai Wei Wei’s Human Flow. This is what can come of being treated badly in your own country, in his case, China:  you can create a vehicle that expresses concern for the whole world. I see Ai Wei Wei as the true “Elder brother” human beings need so desperately at this time. The one who steps in when “parents” fail,  and cares about the whole family.  Before seeing this film I was thankful to see Oliver Stone’s long interview with Vladimir Putin.  Of whom I’m less afraid than of anybody in D.C.  Thank goodness I visited the Soviet Union (Russia) decades ago and know he’s not the only Russian living there! Then there’s Ken O’Keefe who makes me happy he exists to speak soul force to monstrous cruelty and ignorance;  with his warrior tattoos to remind us he didn’t learn all he knows about war from a film.  And then there’s Don’t Ever Let Me Go (the book) by Kazuo Ishiguro.  My goodness!  If you see the film and read the book you will receive an excellent education in what films leave out.  What else?  Well! Loving Vincent, of course!  I watched it twice and loved it, admired it, even more, the second time.

This is art that can happen when creators love their subject and their subject is beautiful, driven, and great.  Oh, Van Gogh.  As a young black student in an all white school, (except for two other students of color) I always had his sunflowers on a wall in my dorm room; as a young writer, frequently lonely,  I devoured the letters between him and Theo, his brother.  When he wrote about the bliss of spending ages painting five olive trees (I think they were) I knew I had found a soul mate.

Then there’s the moving, powerful, The House On CoCo Road. I love this film.  Some movies show us the past with the fidelity and depth it deserves. We can be shown how “history” connects to our present dilemmas.  This is one of those movies.  I also admire the tenacity of its director, Damani Baker, who knew he would make this film from the time he was small; then never deserted his vision until the film was produced decades later.

Picking persimmons at dusk today, just as the moon was rising, made me remember another book that I think is fantastic: The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. The world will change drastically when sons and mothers are routinely frank with each other about their lives, and these two are.  I realized I knew almost nothing about Vanderbilt, though a journal entry from the 80s informs me that, at that time, I “lived” in her stretch jeans; and little about Cooper since I don’t watch much mainstream news.  They’ve offered something special and not to be missed, honesty and acceptance of each other’s lives, mother and son; a mutual unveiling as precious and as startling as persimmons and rainbows.

### end May 22, 2018 entry ###


It is a huge delight to find one’s self taken over by a book, and that was my experience of BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah.  There’s no more fascinating a relationship between mother and son anywhere, to my mind, than that between Trevor and his mother, Patricia. I can only wonder if she finds it as priceless as I do.  But there is so much more, and I will get to it after I’ve done morning chores. Since this could take a while (weeks?) I will just recommend you get the book on audio (Trevor reading) so you can hear a lot that will surprise and shock and delight you about human ingenuity and stick with it-ness in our (ancestral, maybe) birth home of South (Southern) Africa.

After listening to more of this book with a twelve year old that I love, I think it fair to issue a warning:  Some of it could be quite troubling to young readers; it is troubling to me, and I accept life and other people’s experience of it without much strain.  Because there’s so much that’s fantastic maybe grown-ups can share sections of the book with their children, and save other parts of it for later on.  Which makes me think how great it would be if adults paid more attention to what their children read, or what they watch, on their various gadgets (“devices”).  I sometimes have the sense they’re being stolen in front of our eyes.

I just finished reading Chigozie Obioma’s astonishing first novel, The Fishermen, set in Nigeria between the reign of  a”big man” and a dictator, which maybe isn’t fair to say but  I read the story as a parable about life in a “dwindling country” as the author expresses it, where the attempt of the people to limp after a British/European mode of life has left them psychically, morally, even physically stranded.  The foreign imposition of religious values on traditional belief systems seems particularly ill fitting.  Though some of the systems in question definitely deserved to be retired.  The writing is so crisp, the story so unusual, that I couldn’t put the book down even though it disturbed me.  It was written to disturb. Four brothers, conceived by their parents to become happy and successful men, become instead harbingers of immense torment and grief.  Someone must have observed that it is our children who can break us, when all other systems of oppression have failed. That is part of the tidings of this remarkable, mythic, book.


There are almost too many great books lately to share with any kind of depth, but if I keep putting off writing about them I’m afraid they will vanish. I will list the ones that come to mind and between chores attempt to fill in what’s missing: you won’t regret staying tuned.  Humans are at it again: showing us what’s possible! WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, BY PAUL KALINITHI, made me so glad Paul existed I could hardly sit still. It’s a wonderful book about a wonderful human being.  Living and dying with so much grace and dignity I’m still weeping as I write this, and it’s been months!  Ruth OZeki’s amazing books: My YEAR Of MEATS  and A TALE  FOR THE TIME BEING lit up my mind and soul for a couple of weeks.  She was such a surprise! I love the Japanese/American-ness of her!  I AM MALALA, by Malala Yousafzai, shines with this young woman’s  indomitable spirit and high intelligence.  I fell in love with her father, too, because he demonstrates what we so often are missing in fathers: total love and commitment to his female child.THE DAYS OF ABANDONMENT, by very Italian  Elena Ferrante.  This book is so raw and true to the feelings of abandonment when a mate ups and leaves that it is a bit scary.  I especially  appreciate Ferrante’s clear eyed depiction of the abandoned mother with the snarly children who don’t understand and don’t care either.  Then there is Rachel Harper’s new book THIS SIDE OF PROVIDENCE about which I wrote: I was not prepared for the journey this compelling novel took me on.  Or so I thought.  I knew nothing of the lives of Puerto Rican immigrants to the United States, and certainly very little of the lives of the children.  This book changed that.  It is a book of such power that it is as if a completely new layer of the American experience has been exposed to our view.  And like many a great work of fiction, not one line is wasted and every single word rings true. I hope everyone’s read my favorite rave about book THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS by Elizabeth Gilbert, but if not, try it on audio.


More anon.

Postcards From Cookie, a Memoir by Caroline Clarke.  This is the brave and passionate story of a woman’s search for the mother who birthed her, and of the rich few years they managed to have together before this just found mother, “Cookie,” who writes her daughter many postcards,  dies.  I read it in two sittings after the author left a copy for me to read at my hotel recently.  I was held by the longing, the dignity, the courage, the incredible love that eventually brought these two beings together, after family pride and social inanity succeeded for years in keeping them apart.  I was moved to tears many times by Clarke’s determination to have her mother, to know her and to enjoy the soulful being she turned out to be.  Cookie was someone I wish I had known. Other readers are likely to find parts of themselves in her vulnerable, adventuresome, pioneering self.

This book brought the terrors of the upper black middle class into sharper focus.  As the daughter of Nat King Cole, the laid back crooner from Alabama who made a fortune as a singer, “Cookie” dared not share her  unwed pregnancy for fear of harming his “career.’  A decision made not by him, but by his wife.  What was almost ruined:  two vibrant lives that would have brought joy wherever they went.

Rosenwald Alice Walker Garden 2015


Friends tell friends, otherwise how would we know?  An old friend recently breezed back into my life to fly me away from a couple of scary cliffs, and told me about Rosenwald, the new film about the Jewish philanthropist, merchant, and co-owner of Sears Roebuck, who during the 1920s and 30s was a legend among black people in the South.  Why? Because he was the force behind thousands of schools built for black children all over that part of the world.  In fact, for all I know, he may have inspired the very school my parents and our neighbors built that was burned to the ground by local whites.

Working with Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute until his death, Julius Rosenwald helped black communities build over 5000 schools.  He provided $25,000 per school, the black community raised another $25,000, and the final $25,000 was raised among whites with the funds and vision to encourage education among descendents of enslaved people on whose stolen lives their own prosperity rested.  A brilliant plan that worked!

Local black people built by hand every single school.  And, as happened in my own community, before I was born, whenever one was burned down, they built another.

We watched the film in a theatre with six or seven other people.  This raises the question: how to make sure enough people see a film that holds the answer to a pressing social problem?  In this case, our disgraceful public schools.  Why not follow the lead of these great men and women and build and run our schools ourselves?

We have done it in the past, we can do it again.

We don’t want jails for our children, we want light and air, places to dream and play, great teachers, safety all day long, people around every corner of the grounds and buildings smiling at them!  Or even frowning, but in a loving way! (You will love what Maya Angelou says about this).  Angelou’s is one of many emphatic, truthful, thoughtful voices in this film. There’s Julian Bond,  Ben Jealous, Rita Dove, John Lewis, and artists and poets and musicians and painters and dancers…. We get to hear Marian Anderson singing! (She is gorgeous.  Imagine how envious those Daughters of the American Revolution – a laughable notion in itself, really – must have been of her).

Meanwhile, rest in the serene compassion of Julius Rosenwald’s eyes.  See how a rich person can become even richer by giving to others.  It turned out that by the end of his life, Rosenwald felt his time of building schools for black children, and hanging out with his new black buddies in the South, was among the finest of his life.

But also: see this film for the incredible beauty of black people.  That special spark of joy and openness, and even great posture, that seems to have gone with the wind.  To our sorrow! (Those of us who even remember it).  There is footage here I never knew existed.  Delight in how beautiful white people can be too when they are truly our friends and despite the consequences, which can be dire, determine to hazard the good if dangerous time of standing with us.

This page may need editing.  I am publishing it now because, depending on location,  this film may vanish from theaters before it is properly honored.

Rosenwald Film Schedule



SLIPSTREAM:  A Daughter Remembers, by Rachel Manley, is a deeply thoughtful, exquisitely written book about the author’s relationship with her father, the handsome, dynamic and one feels (in private life: with his five marriages, love of gardening, and delight in roses) wildly sweet, Michael Manley, prime minister three times elected of Jamaica.  It was because of Bob Marley and Michael Manley (who liked each other and discovered they could work together) that I was drawn to visit Jamaica several times.  I did the boring tourist thing first, visiting old plantation ruins, because that was what was offered, having traveled there on an obscenely gross cruise ship whose appeal was that it promised my husband an opportunity to rest from his years- long lawyerly labors in the racial cauldron of Mississippi.  Later journeys took me to Negril, when there was only one tiny hostel on the beach (as I remember it), and then to Nine Miles, birthplace of Bob Marley, where his body was laid to rest.

I was glad Michael Manley and Fidel Castro were friends, and watched with pride and then dismay as the reforms to benefit the working class and poor of Jamaica fell to the axe of the International Monetary Fund, as Michael Manley himself, once revered by Jamaicans, became relentlessly criticized and threatened.

Jamaica’s history offers a fascinating study of a people’s valiant efforts to rise from the shackles of colonialism and poverty, only to be put down again by forces beyond their reckoning.

Slipstream looks at what mattered most to the firstborn of Jamaica’s most admired, most hope-inspiring leader.  To Rachel Manley it was as if her father belonged to everything and everyone but her.  How she comes to a deeper understanding of the meaning of Michael Manley’s life (as he lies dying from cancer), and accepts, to the extent she is able, her place in it, is the exploration of this fine book.

This book was published in 2000.  Life being as it is, I finished reading it yesterday, 2015. 

There is a comprehensive five part interview with Michael Manley on Gil Noble’s LIKE IT IS from the Seventies.   It is prophetic. YouTube. 

Five-part interview link

ESTELA: Una hija recuerda, de Rachel Manley, es un libro profundamente reflexivo y exquisitamente escrito acerca de la relación de la autora con su padre, el apuesto, dinámico y, según uno siente (en su vida privada: con sus cinco matrimonios, su amor por la jardinería y su encanto por las rosas), alocadamente tierno Michael Manley, tres veces electo primer ministro de Jamaica. Fue debido a Bob Marley y Michael Manley (que simpatizaban mutuamente y descubrieron que podían trabajar juntos) que fui llevada a visitar Jamaica varias veces. Hice el aburrido recorrido turístico primero, visitando viejas ruinas de plantaciones, porque era lo que se ofrecía, pues había viajado en un crucero obscenamente burdo cuyo atractivo era que prometía a mi esposo el descanso tras sus muchos años de afanes como abogado en el caldero racial de Mississippi. Viajes después me llevaron a Negril, cuando solo había un minúsculo albergue juvenil en la playa (tal y como lo recuerdo) y después a Nine Miles, lugar de nacimiento de Bob Marley, donde fue enterrado para su descanso.

Me sentía feliz de que Michael Manley y Fidel Castro fueran amigos y miraba con orgullo y luego con consternación cómo las reformas para beneficiar a la clase trabajadora y a los pobres de Jamaica caían ante el hacha del Fondo Monetario Internacional, mientras el mismo Michael Manley, alguna vez reverenciado por los jamaicanos, se volvía implacablemente criticado y amenazado.

La historia de Jamaica brinda el fascinante estudio de los valientes esfuerzos de un pueblo por levantarse de las cadenas del colonialismo y la pobreza, solo para ser doblegado de nuevo por fuerzas mayores que sus cálculos.

Estela mira a lo que más importaba a la primogénita del más admirado y más esperanzador líder jamaicano. Para Rachel Manley era como si su padre perteneciera a todo y a todos excepto a ella. La manera en que ella llega a una comprensión más profunda del significado de la vida de Michael Manley (mientras él yace moribundo de cáncer) y acepta, hasta donde puede, el lugar de ella en la misma es lo que explora este excelente libro.


Este libro se publicó en 2000. Siendo la vida como es, lo terminé de leer ayer, 2015.


Hay una muy completa entrevista en cinco partes a Michael Manley en LIKE IT IS (Como es) de los setenta, de Gil Noble. Es profética. YouT



In this time of sorrow, when so many are reeling from the pain of earth loss, of beauty’s destruction, of oppression and challenge of every sort,  I have felt encouraged and spiritually supported by the music of Desert Rose, which I encountered in Cape Town, South Africa in 2011, when they appeared to lend their message of harmony and peace to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, in which I was participating.  They have an indelible sound that reaches very deep.  It is a joy that they have released a new CD.  See below to sample or order the music and see the creators of it.-AW

The flowering of Desert Rose’s music

KAREN KOTZE, in The Tatler

Lynne Holmes and Yusuf Ganief speak fluidly about freedom, the divinity of nature, and alchemy.

They are centred and gentle – with incandescent intelligence. They are, together, the heart of the group Desert Rose, and their music is where the alchemy they allude to, pools.

Theirs is a growing genre, one that reflects a turn in the tide of consciousness: they create what is called sacred music, otherwise known as universal world music. And they do that from Rondebosch East, in Cape Town.

These love songs to the earth and ancient knowledge are sung in languages from long ago. Ancient Aramaic and Sumerian, along with instruments rarely heard on today’s airwaves, like the ney and Egyptian fiddle. The ney, which is possibly the oldest pitched instrument known to man, is an oblique rim-blown reed flute, with a range of two and half octaves.

Unusual for a classically trained musician, but not out of the ordinary for Lynne, who has always tread a softer path, nor for Yusuf who was raised in the Sufi tradition and is able to hear Rumi poems in everyday conversation.

The result of their combined talent is melded musical and vocal magic. Yusuf describes the music as a bit of a short-cut for people who battle to med itate. “It’s sometimes difficult for us to still our minds and go inward for the inspiration we need, but with the right music, you can be taken right into that stillness.”

Lynne says: “We want to contribute towards a society of healing rather than a society of breaking down, we want to use the power of music, to benefit others.”

Their work encapsulates what Lynne describes as an urgent call to wake up. “We have an urgent responsibility to wake up,” she says.

Lynne (music composer, director, pianist, and keyboard/harp player) has dedicated her life to the study of communication through music. Not just learning the notes of the music, which is a language in its own right, nor learning the original languages, but also through studying music therapy, and the effects of music on us.

She says: “We have the potential to move into destruction: or with all our knowledge and where we are at, from an evolutionary point of view, we have the potential to take all this wisdom and knowledge… and turn it into a creative golden age… we are aspiring to usher that in, through music.”

Lynne’s relationship with music started when she was six years old. Years later, after marrying and havHing children, she returned to music, but not in the classical genre. She created three CDs in universal world music and was signed to a London record company when she met Yusuf, then the CEO of the Cape Town Festival.

“When I heard him sing,” she says, shaking her head slowly, “I had been looking for that ancient indigenous voice, that he has. His voice encapsulates those ancient scales which come from his slave ancestry from Indonesia, and which have powerful impact on the listener.”

Their first CD composed together, Spirit of Africa, became CD of the year locally. They travelled to Turkey, blossomed, and were asked to start performing.

Then, in 2009, came the fatwa, an Islamic legal pronouncement, edict or decree.

“One person took umbrage to the fact that we had placed the Christian Lord’s Prayer alongside a Muslim prayer, which is an almost identical prayer. We were performing it for an international peace conference, and this person got up from the audience and tried to stop the performance. He was subsequently thrown out of the conference for his bad behaviour, and then went on a vendetta to have our music irreversibly banned through the fatwa,” Lynne says.

“He was only one person, but I think he reflected a sentiment or potential in the mindset, because he couldn’t have achieved what he did, without sup port,” she says.

The fatwa forced them into an entirely new direction and made them even more passionate about their work. “We realised how important it is to break down the mindset and boundaries and illusions about our separateness. What it did, was effectively catapult our career into broadening our work, which has subsequently gained international recognition …and we have been all over the world.. as ambassadors for peace,” Lynne says.

Yusuf (manager and lead vocalist) was raised in the Sufi tradition in the age of apartheid. “I learnt lessons, the greatest of these was about the labeling of people and clinging to pseudo identities. Inside in the core of us, we all want the same. We all want happiness joy, peace, security, freedom of expression/creativity… this is why I became CEO of the Cape Town Festival, to promote cultural diversity,” he says.

“When I met Lynne, I realised the power music has as an international language for peace. We are peace ambassadors through music. Lynne has grown as a composer to be able to intertwine different languages into seamless orchestration that can tap into everyone’s psyche and remind us of where we came from.

“The music,” he says, “will take you back to the origins of who we are.”

Lynne says the original state of the soul is one of peace and love, and we can tap into it. “This is our true first nature and we are simply conditioned out of it.”

The couple comment on what they call the growing collective

awareness today that the systems we are living in, are not working.

“There’s more misery and sorrow than there’s ever been in the history of mankind so something has to happen – these systems are enslaving us – unless you can see or experience something else. Our music is allowing the listener to go into their own inner world. Music is the catalyst to open hearts and move people,” Yusuf says.

He says there was an understanding with indigenous people. “They understood the language of plants and animals and would enhance what was there. Today we break down what there is, instead of making it a paradise.”

Lynne says indigenous cultures who have had no contact with each other have created identical music.

“They could do this because they are reflecting the natural order in nature. When you go back to ancient languages it’s the same thing, the languages are reflecting the harmonic and mathematical perfection and divine perfection in nature,” she says. This is why she is singing in ancient languages, like Aramaic, and has recently started writing in Sumerian, creating a whole new body of work, in the language of the first culture.

She says the key to accessing profound wisdom is meditation. “Through this you access your inner garden, your archetypes, all aspects of your multi-dimensional soul. This beauty becomes a natural progression into the outer world: whether it is through art or music or advanced architecture or technology or city planning.”

She smiles at me. “Don’t listen to your mind, your critical conditioning… just go quiet. It’s that simple. It’s not attached to any culture or religion or conditioning, just go quiet for a little bit every day, and amazing things will happen.”

Yusuf says people confuse pleasure with happiness. He brings our meeting to an end with a Rumi quote: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

The couple’s CD Om Namah Shivaya is my first immersion in their music and it is honeyed bliss. Somehow the last two tracks have mesmerised me and I’ve not given the rest of the CD a chance. Yet. But I know every note of Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu and the title track.

And I recognise alchemy in music when I hear it.


Desert Rose is coming to the USA!  They will be performing at PEACE IN THE PARK in Central Park, NYC in June/July 2016.



Much of Berkeley is turning out at Berkeley Repertory Theatre to witness and participate in this newest offering by the great Anna Deavere Smith who is known for making multi-faceted, multi-layered sense of America’s most distressing social problems.  Her exploration here is of the causes and costs of the “School-to-prison-pipeline” that is as ugly a blemish on our nation’s image as it is a nearly fatal bruise on our collective heart. Act One is devastating and needs the activist/audience participation in finding solutions offered in Act Two.

Smith is the kind of artist who reminds us what artists can do.  They can arouse understanding and compassion, and hopefully activity for positive change, in the world.


Divine Raw Foods (DivineRawFoods.com)

Chef Billy Page, Fresh Food Evangelist

Out of Oakland Always Something New (as is rightly said, also, of Africa):  In this case, the best raw food I have ever tasted!  Here’s the story:  a friend who is involved with black farmers and food growing cooperatives in Oakland experienced that lovely pat on the psyche the Universe bestows on those it appreciates, in the form of a plate of raw food prepared by Chef Billy Page, Fresh Food Evangelist.  She was a convert on the spot.  Knowing I am in favor of whatever is fresh and tastes good, especially if it is raw and unsweetened, she brought over slices of pizza made of veggies and olives, and a beautifully crafted pie made of berries,  its  crust delicious crushed banana chips.

It is  reassuring that, in spite of everything (and these days it really is everything) humans continue to be so lovely; that we continue to dream of ways to make each other happy. Eating this pizza and pie I fell in love with us all over again.

Where to find Divine Raw Food:  Freedom Farmers Market every Saturday from 10 to 3 at  5316 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA.


What Happened, Miss Simone?   It is impossible to resist the truth of Nina Simone’s voice.  It is just there, like a big tree, or something else in nature that you can’t imagine existing until you experience it.   This film  celebrates that voice, precious to so many,  and also shows the price Simone paid for expressing what she felt, even when she was too tired or ill to follow her best thought.  A remarkable offering that exposes, as well, intense physical and psychological suffering few of us “adoring fans” knew about.

Directed by Liz Garbus 

Wages of Rebellion:  The Moral Imperative of Revolt

By Chris Hedges

I first read Chris Hedges in Truthdig and was moved by a column he wrote about teaching young male writers of color in prison who turned in powerful work.

From a single niece I have three great- nephews languishing in the prison system; bright, beautiful boys who grew up in a society that, in their view at least, could not be bothered to consider finding a place for them.  Outside of the prison system, that is.

It isn’t that the family did not help; it is that families with limited resources are unequal to the task of repairing, of shoring up, what a racist, classist, system insists on tearing down:  the character, self-esteem, physical and mental health of our young.

In this book we are reminded that we are in the battle for our lives, our very existence, all over the world.  That anti-Earthlings, beings who care nothing about us, or the actual planet they and we inhabit, have hijacked the planet.  Hedges, who has been a war correspondent in some of the worse failed social orders in the world, warns that the signs are clear that we are ourselves now experiencing unmistakable markers of the disasters he has seen.  That our only recourse is revolt.  How to do that?  How others have done that, is the contemplation of this book.

It isn’t even about whether we will win, or can win.  It is, as always, about showing up.  Or, as my ancestors might have embroidered a beloved phrase:  finding joy and meaning and healing in the poetry of the struggle.  Or, what I would call: Being Alive.

Below is my earlier enthusiastic endorsement of AVAAZ which someone warned me was not as great as I thought it was.  Today I received a petition from AVAAZ about “Russia’s interference in the recent U.S. elections.”  I don’t believe there was Russian interference.  But also I was astonished that AVAAZ says it is basing its petition on information obtained from the FBI and the CIA.

Ah, these tips of icebergs.

July 2017: A later look.  It appears there was much contact between the Trump administration and family with the Russians they could reach, prior to the last election.  All of it to do with making money.


The world in Action:

I love AVAAZ because it doesn’t wait for causes to become important to churches or politicians.  It is made up of 41 million or so people on the planet who support the work it does, whether saving people, eco-systems, or elephants.  In fact, its only criteria seems to be, when confronting outrageous happenings and behaviors in the world, in the words of George Carlin, “It’s Bullshit, and Its Bad For Ya.”  Today there is an appeal to save what is left of the global elephant population.  These mysterious and holy beings are being destroyed brutally, and at an alarming rate.  They are also major teachers and inspirations.  Without them humans are cruelly diminished. Please connect with AVAAZ today and send one baby elephant and its parents not a bullet but – in the form of a donation for the work – a human kiss.

: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/the_race_to_save_the_elephants_ed/?dty


I began watching this historical drama to improve my Spanish.  I learned in Mexico that Mexicans without access to an education in languages regularly learn English by watching American movies and soaps.  The problem was that the Spanish in Gran Hotel is the Spanish of Spain and therefore difficult to follow.  However the story is not.  And it is worth watching.

Alicia, a young woman from the upper class in early 20th century Spain, just as automobiles were being purchased and used by the very wealthy, and light bulbs are replacing lamps,  finds the love of her life in the person of a young waiter who is employed at the Grand Hotel that her family has owned for generations.  Julio Espinoza is a revelation: brave, kind, generous, thoughtful and on equal footing with women, he is a devoted brother and son to his sister and mother, and is, in short, everything the men around Alicia, scions of the “Nobility” are not.

I have been speaking to people about the idea of teaching history through the back door of such visual dramas.  There has been resistance. But I found this story – as I found The Borgias* (also on Netflix and very violent and pornographic, so be prepared)- useful in understanding a number of important things.  For instance, in the case of Gran Hotel, the extreme poverty and misery of the European working class during this period, the way they were treated as serfs/slaves.  The obliviousness to their plight by the wealthy, who rarely deigned to consider them worthy of even condescending respect.  And how this impacted us –Indigenous and African imports – in “the New World” where both members of the “Nobility” and the former serfs/slaves eventually and tragically landed.

While watching this story, riveting as it is, pay attention to how exactly the behavior between master and servant was later mirrored not only on the plantations of the  American South and the mining towns of Latin America, etc., but wherever these off -spring of the nobility, conquistadors and immigrants set foot. It becomes easier to understand too why people of color served the 1% of that era better as a permanent underclass.  They could not infiltrate, as white skinned servants, serfs, and slaves, did, the enclaves, and actual bloodlines, of the ruling class.  And, if they did, they could be instantly identified.  You begin to see, too, how racism, protected by law, became an effective way to control wealth in the form of inheritance.

There is more.  But beyond the visual lessons in history, there is the inspired acting of everyone, but especially of the main characters:

Yon Gonzalez, as Julio (surely one of the best leading men in many a decade)

Amaia Salamanca, as Alicia  (perfect as an awakening sleeping beauty)

Adriana Ozores, as Doña Teresa  (the evil mother incarnate)

Pedro Alonso, as Diego  (a great study in psychopathic behavior)

Concha Velasco, as Angela  (the dignity and common sense that should be ruling Earth but only after she’s liberated from servitude)

Llorenc Gonzalez, as Andres  (a sweet, loving, simple son, so blind to evil he must be loved as a treasure)

Pep Anton Munoz, as Detective Ayala  (a dry, worldly detective who maintains his humanity)

This series stirs a longing for more exposure in film of the realities of the working class(es).

Under the direction of Carlos Sedes  (Thank you!)

*A fascinating look at the workings of the Vatican during the Middle Ages.                                                       


We are truly thankful for Naomi Klein. What a fabulous nerve and mind.  Here’s what she says about Matt Kennard’s new book THE RACKET: A Rogue Reporter VS The Masters Of the Universe:  “In this important book, Kennard explores the direct impacts of globalized capitalism on some of the most battered parts of our world.  With devastating precision and a formidable sense of urgency, he reports on corporate shock doctors in Haiti, imperialist drug warriors in Honduras, pillaging mining giants in southern Africa – and so much more.  Most importantly, he never loses sight of the growing numbers of resistors holding on to their creativity and self-determination.”

All true!  Like Klein’s own work, THE RACKET brings us up to speed on what is happening behind the movie.

Greg Palast says:  “Matt Kennard threw away a cushy career with an establishment newspaper just to let you in on a secret:  you don’t get the story, you get the cover-up.”  As he has shown in his own book THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY.



I had not seen ANITA: Speaking Truth To Power, the film about Anita Hill.  So intense!  And her family shows up to sit behind her at her trial (really) for telling the truth to a panel of white men who have all done everything and more that Clarence Thomas had done!   Precious!  And to learn she was the last of 13 children!  Where is the medal for her mother?  And for her father, too?  And she is so beautiful, also!

I had also not seen BADDDD SONIA SANCHEZ!  She is so beautiful too!  And so small!  And so powerful! The beginning of this film was a bit challenging but stick with it.  By the end you will be cheering an extraordinary woman and exceptionally brave spirit.

Then there is the revelatory book A TASTE OF POWER by Elaine Brown.  Beautifully written, extremely perceptive, it is a must read for any understanding of the Black Panthers and how machismo undermines trust and solidarity in movements for social change.

And what about WHEAT BELLY by William Davis, an extremely handsome and healthy looking man, who tells us wheat, all grains, but especially wheat, are bad for us?  Who knew?  This book should be read by every overweight person on the planet.  Especially those with that mysterious roll around the middle that looks so odd.  It is odd, because wheat – bagels, muffins, rolls, wheat hidden in frankfurters, etc. – put it there.  Which means it can be gotten rid of!  We must not let bread, the so called staff of life, become the stick that beats us down.

THE VEGETARIAN MYTH by Lierre Keith has taken a drubbing by some vegans and vegetarians but I think it is a brilliant book about the reality of eating on this planet.  I read it when it came out a few years ago and recently listened to it on audio.  A very worthwhile immersion.  You don’t have to agree with everybody about everything in order to become more deeply thoughtful and informed.  In some ways, I consider it a book about growing up.

At the top of every list there is and always will be Credo Mutwa’s NDAABA, MY CHILDREN, which I consider an African bible. Filled with myths and legends that seem miraculous for their survival to our time.  It is such a liberation not to be stuck with everybody else’s idea of Creation!  God! Woman! Etc. Plus, some of it is really scary.

Then there’s David Icke whom I adore!  What a lion heart!  The only way HUMAN RACE GET OFF YOUR  KNEES won’t make your jaw drop a hundred times is if you’re a mummy. Well wrapped.

My Buddhist hearted financial planner and I were tickled recently to discover we both like MAD MEN.  I don’t know why he likes it, but I like it because it captures the emptiness and fraudulence of American life “at the top” of the advertising, sell them anything, consumer culture, perfectly.  Flawless acting, and they get the racial and sexual dynamics right.  Also the way the US is still, in many quite unexpected ways, an English colony.  I like Don Draper’s story because it reminds me of my own:  I never stole anyone else’s identity, but the person I turned out to be in the world is certainly not the one the programmers planned.

There’s IRIS, a film about the British writer, Iris Murdoch, who lost her identity to Alzheimer’s.  As we age, Mrs. Heimer, as I call her, lurks in everyone’s subconscious.  What would it be like to be brilliant one year and not know who you are the next? Judi Dench plays Murdoch, and is, as usual, splendid.  What we learn is that you just basically love on in whatever shape you’re in, and hopefully you’ll have a beloved who can hang on, lovingly, too.  It’s about what you get with any disaster, I suppose.  An opportunity.



Página Todo de otras personas en español


Diciembre 2020
The Glorias (Film) Gloria Steinem

Casi el final de un año realmente desafiante. Covid. Violencia. Desempleo. Gente sin hogar. El inalterable intento de la dirigencia de nuestro país de todavía respaldar a fascistas y a gente extremadamente perturbada. Más difícil de resistir es probablemente nuestra desconfianza de todo. Una desconfianza que es consecuencia de que nos hayan mentido, constantemente, durante generaciones. Entonces, qué podría hacer de esta transición – suponiendo que hacemos una transición – una profunda inmersión en lo mejor que la humanidad puede ofrecer a este tiempo: Ah, dice la escritora, la lectura. Y por tanto empezaría sugiriendo un extenso libro que leer, Die Wise (Muere Sensato), de Stephen Jenkinson, y los tres primeros capítulos de otro de sus libros, Come of Age (Llegar a La Adultez). La cultura norteamericana ha perdido, o más precisamente, ha arrojado alegremente gran parte de su alma y dejado que se descomponga en cementerios de Europa. ¿Qué significa eso para este tiempo cuando los ancianos prefieren ser estudiantes del último año (como en la escuela secundaria) antes que personas mayores? ¿Qué significa cuando hay un casi audible suspiro de alivio porque el virus prefiera a los viejos antes que a los menores? Estamos siempre en nuestros últimos días sobre la Tierra, independientemente de nuestra edad. Aprender a vivir onociendo eso es el desafío y la recompensa. Pero ay, ¡que alegría tener algunos maestros creíbles a lo largo de esta transición!

Luego entonces, como inspiración de otro tipo, está The Glorias (Las Glorias), la nueva película de Julie Taymor sobre Gloria Steinem, cuyo fascinante relato de “abandonar Toledo bailando el ap” (basado en su libro My Life On the Road -Mi Vida En El Camino-) se ha llevado conmovedoramente a la pantalla. El trabajo de Taymor es aquí exquisito, como lo es en Frida, la película sobre Frida Kahlo que hizo a feministas/mujeristas de todas las tendencias resplandecer cuando apareció hace unos años. Tal y como lo entiendo, esta colaboración de la icono feminista, rebelde, bella mujer y hermana súper inteligente, con Taymor, cuyo Lion King (Rey León) no me atrajo, (aunque no estoy segura de por qué, pues millones por todo el mundo la adoraron) ocurrió sencillamente porque Taymor preguntó si podía hacer una película y Steinem dijo que sí. La película comprende décadas y hay una Gloria -niña, adolescente, joven adulta y mujer madura ­ para epresentar cada edad. Está hecho brillantemente y resulta fascinante ver cómo cada actriz se ve (bastante) exactamente como la misma Gloria Steinem podría haberse visto en cualquier período de su vida que se esté explorando. Me conmovieron particularmente las escenas de Steinem en India, de estudiante, hablando hindi. Su historia demuestra, de principio a fin, que si queremos conocer y comprender a los otros pueblos del mundo, debemos salir y encontrarlos. Y entonces, la Diosa nos libre, llega Chernóbil. Una película que evité tanto como pude.




Libros, filmes, música, comida, ideas de otros.

¡Siempre hay tantas cosas maravillosas que leer, ver, comer, aprender! En esta página relacionaré aquellas que me han hecho feliz de verlas. ¡O saborearlas! ¡O escucharlas!


 Boy With Birds, Alvaro Chavarin Alice Walkers Garden 2019

NIÑO CON PÁJAROS, Alvaro Chavarin

Por unos meses llenos de esfuerzo este dotado pintor fue mi maestro. Él y su familia vivían distantes por la carretera en Zapata, México. Pintar bellamente parecía algo natural en él: tan natural como caminar. Yo me sentía… conmovida. Semejaba otro ejemplo del Universo mostrándose a sí mismo, justamente, como los viejos solían decir “la maravilla de vivir cada día”. Había nacido en 1974, un capricornio. Es padre de varones, uno nacido recientemente. Pinta mucho y también diseña y construye casas. Estuve de visita en su muy sencilla escuela secundaria recientemente, a la que tanto él como su esposa asistieron en su adolescencia y donde él auspiciaba una exposición de pinturas hecha por los estudiantes. Es una escuela muy elemental pero el todo entusiasmo estaba en el arte. Me sentí tan encantada por la simplicidad del lugar y la buena calidad de la obra de los estudiantes que olvidé comprar algo. Lo cual siempre lamento.


José Álvaro Chavarin, Telefono (01) 312 3237528 Colima, Jalisco, Mx.

Su obra está en muchas colecciones y se incluye también en Pinterest.



En este tiempo de pesar, cuando hay tantos aturdidos debido al dolor por las calamidades de la tierra, la destrucción de la belleza, la opresión y los desafíos de todo tipo, me he sentido estimulada y apoyada espiritualmente con la música de Desert Rose (Rosa del desierto), la cual encontré en Ciudad del Cabo, Sudáfrica en 2011, cuando se presentaron para dejar su mensaje de armonía y paz al Tribunal Russell para Palestina, del cual yo estaba participando. Tienen un sonido inolvidable que llega muy profundo. Es una alegría que han presentado un nuevo CD. Lea más abajo para tener una muestra o para solicitar la música y conocer a sus creadores. A.W.

El florecimiento de la Rosa del Desierto (Desert Rose) con la música de Karen Kotze, en The Tatler.

Lynne Holmes y Yusuf Ganief hablan con soltura acerca de la libertad, le divinidad de la naturaleza y la alquimia.

Ellos son seres centrados y delicados, con inteligencia incandescente. Son, juntos, el corazón del grupo Desert Rose y su música es de donde mana la alquimia a la que aluden.

El de ellos es un género en ascenso, uno que refleja un giro en la conciencia: hacen lo que se denomina música sagrada, también conocida como música universal. Y esto lo hacen desde Rondebosch Este, en Ciudad del Cabo.

Estas canciones de amor a la tierra y a la sabiduría antigua son cantadas en lenguas de tiempos primitivos. El arameo y el sumerio antiguos junto con instrumentos raramente escuchados en las ondas radiales de hoy, como el ney y el violín egipcio. El ney, que posiblemente sea el más viejo instrumento tonal conocido por el hombre, es una flauta de lengüeta que se sopla por el borde, con un registro de dos octavas y media.

Es inusual para un músico con formación clásica, pero no fuera de lo normal para Lynne, que siempre ha andado sobre una senda más suave, ni para Yusuf que fue criado en la tradición sufí y es capaz de oír poemas de Rumi en la conversación cotidiana.

El resultado de la combinación de su talento es fusión musical y magia vocal. Yusuf describe la música como una suerte de atajo para la gente que se afana por meditar. “A veces es difícil para nosotros aquietar nuestras mentes e irnos hacia dentro en busca de la inspiración que necesitamos, pero con la música adecuada, tú puedes ser conducido a esa quietud.”

Lynne dice: “Queremos contribuir a una sociedad de sanación en vez de descomposición, queremos emplear el poder de la música para beneficiar a otros.”

El trabajo de ellos implica lo que Lynne describe como un apremiante llamado a despertar. “Tenemos la urgente responsabilidad de despertar”, dice.

Lynne (compositora, directora, pianista, tecladista y arpista) ha dedicado su vida al estudio de la comunicación a través de la música. No solo el aprendizaje de la notación musical, que es un lenguaje en sí mismo, ni el aprender lenguas primitivas, sino también el estudio de la terapia musical y los efectos de la música en las personas.

Ella expresa: “Tenemos la posibilidad de movernos hacia la destrucción, o con todo nuestro conocimiento y en donde estemos, desde un punto de vista evolucionista, la posibilidad de tomar toda esa sabiduría y ese conocimiento… y transformarlo en una edad de oro creativa… nosotros aspiramos a guiar hacia esto a través de la música.”

La relación de Lynne con la música comenzó cuando tenía seis años de edad. Años después, después de casarse y tener hijos, regresó a la música, pero ya no en el género clásico. Realizó tres CD´s de música universal y firmó un convenio para una compañía disquera de Londres cuando conoció a Yusuf, por entonces el ejecutivo principal del Festival de Ciudad del Cabo.

“En el momento en que lo oí cantar”, dice, moviendo su cabeza lentamente, “yo había estado buscando esa antigua voz aborigen que él tiene. Su voz compendia esas antiguas escalas que vienen de su ascendencia esclava en Indonesia y que tiene un poderoso efecto en el oyente.”

El primer CD que compusieron juntos, Spirit of Africa (Espíritu de África) se convirtió en el CD del año en el país. Viajaron a Turquía, alcanzaron su plenitud y se les pidió que comenzaran a hacer presentaciones.

Luego, en 2009, vino la fatwa, una declaración, edicto o dcreto legal islámico.

“Una persona se sintió agraviada por el hecho de que habíamos colocado el Padre Nuestro cristiano junto con una oración musulmana que es una plegaria casi idéntica. La estábamos interpretando para una conferencia internacional por la paz y esa persona se levantó del público e intentó detener la interpretación. Posteriormente fue expulsado de la conferencia por su mala conducta y a esto prosiguió una vendetta de prohibir definitivamente nuestra música mediante la fatwa”, dice Lynne.

“Él era una sola persona, pero creo que reflejaba un sentimiento o perspectiva en el modo general de pensar, porque él no podía haber logrado lo que hizo sin apoyo”, dice ella.

La fatwa los obligó a tomar una dirección enteramente nueva y los volvió incluso más apasionados en su trabajo. “Nos percatamos de cuán importante es romper con el molde de pensamiento y las fronteras y prejuicios sobre nuestras divergencias. Lo que aquello hizo fue, realmente, catapultar nuestra carrera hacia una ampliación de nuestra labor, la que ha conseguido posteriormente un reconocimiento internacional… y hemos estado por todo el mundo… como embajadores de la paz”, dice Lynne.

Yusuf (representante artístico y solista principal) se crió en la tradición sufí durante el período del apartheid. “Aprendí lecciones, la más importante de ellas fue sobre el etiquetar a la gente y apegarse a falsas identidades. Adentro en nuestro corazón, todos queremos lo mismo. Todos queremos felicidad, alegría, paz, seguridad, libertad de expresión y creación… es por esto que me convertí en ejecutivo principal del Festival de Ciudad del Cabo, para promover la diversidad cultural”, dice.

“Cuando conocía  Lynne, me di cuenta de que el poder de la música tiene un lenguaje internacional para la paz. Somos embajadores de la paz mediante la música. Lynne ha crecido como compositora como para ser capaz de entrecruzar diferentes lenguajes en orquestaciones donde no se nota la costura que pueden tocar en la psiquis de todos y recordarnos de dónde venimos.

“La música”, dice, “te devolverá a los orígenes de quiénes somos”.

Lynne señala que el estado original del alma es uno de paz y amor y que podemos llegar a él. “Esa es nuestra verdadera naturaleza inicial y sencillamente nos han condicionado para alejarnos de ella.”

La pareja comenta acerca de lo que ellos llaman la creciente conciencia colectiva de hoy respecto a que los sistemas en que estamos viviendo no funcionan.

“Hay más sufrimiento y pesar de lo que jamás ha existido en la historia de la humanidad, de modo que algo debe suceder –estos sistemas nos están esclavizando – a menos de que puedas ver o experimentar algo distinto. Nuestra música le permite al oyente adentrarse en su propio mundo interior. La música es el catalizador para abrir corazones y animar a la gente”, dice Yusuf.

Explica que hubo un entendimiento con los pueblos aborígenes. “Ellos comprendían el lenguaje de las plantas y los animales y ampliaban lo que había. Hoy destrozamos lo que hay en lugar de hacerlo un paraíso.”

Lynne dice que las culturas originarias que no han tenido contacto entre ellas han creado músicas idénticas.

“Pudieron hacer esto porque están reflejando el orden propio de la naturaleza. Cuando vuelves a las lenguas antiguas ocurre lo mismo, las lenguas reflejan la perfección armónica, matemática y divina de la naturaleza”, dice. Es por eso que ella canta en lenguas antiguas, como el arameo, y recientemente ha comenzado a componer en sumerio, creando todo un conjunto novedoso de obras, en el lenguaje de la primera cultura.

Dice que la clave para acceder a la sabiduría profunda es la meditación. “Mediante esta tú accedes a tu propio jardín interior, a tus arquetipos, a todos los aspectos de tu alma multidimensional. Esta belleza se convierte en un avance natural hacia el mundo exterior, bien sea a través del arte, la música, la arquitectura de avanzada, la tecnología o el urbanismo.”

Me sonríe. “No escuches a tu mente, tu condicionamiento crítico… solo quédate quieta. Es así de sencillo. Esto no se apega a ninguna cultura o religión o condicionamiento, solo quédate quieta un rato cada día y cosas asombrosas sucederán.”

Yusuf dice que la gente confunde el placer con la felicidad. Pone fin a nuestro encuentro con una cita de Rumi: “Ayer yo era inteligente, por eso quise cambiar el mundo. Hoy soy sabio, por eso me estoy cambiando a  mí mismo.”

El CD de la pareja Om Namah Shivaya es mi primera inmersión en su música y es una felicidad. De algún modo las dos últimas pistas me han cautivado y no le he dado una oportunidad al resto del CD. Todavía. Pero me sé cada nota de Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu y el título de cada pista.

Y reconozco la alquimia en la música cuando la escucho.


¡Desert Rose viene a los Estados Unidos! Ellos actuarán en PEACE IN THE PARK (Paz en el Parque), en el Parque Central de Nueva York en junio-julio de 2016.



Gran parte de Berkeley se está volviendo al Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Teatro de Repertorio de Berkeley) para presenciar o participar en la más nueva entrega de la gran Anna Deavere Smith quien es conocida por producir un sentido de múltiples aspectos y niveles a partir de los más inquietantes problemas sociales de los Estados Unidos. Su exploración aquí es sobre las causas y costos de la “la línea conductora escuela-prisión” que resulta un defecto tan horrible en la imagen de nuestra nación como una herida mortal en nuestro corazón colectivo. El primer acto es devastador y demanda de la participación del público/activista para encontrar las soluciones que se ofrecen en el segundo acto.

Smith es del tipo de artista que nos recuerda lo que pueden hacer los artistas. Ellos pueden suscitar la comprensión y la compasión, así como la actividad esperanzadora a favor de un cambio positivo en el mundo.


Alimentos orgánicos divinos (DivineRawFoods.com)

El Chef Billy Page, Predicador de Alimentos Frescos

De Oakland siempre sale algo nuevo (como también se dice con razón de África): en este caso el mejor alimento orgánico que he probado jamás. He aquí la historia: una amiga que se relaciona con granjeros negros y cooperativas de producción de alimentos en Oakland experimentó esa palmadita amorosa en la psiquis que el Universo le confiere a aquellos que aprecia, en la forma de un plato de comida natural que preparó el chef Billy Page, Predicador de Alimentos Frescos. Se hizo una conversa en el acto. Conociendo que estoy a favor de todo lo que es fresco y sabe bien, especialmente cuando es orgánico y sin azucarar, ella me trajo trozos de pizza hecha de vegetales y aceitunas y un pastel de bayas bellamente elaborado, su cubierta de platanitos aplastados.

Es tranquilizador, a pesar de todo (y en estos días realmente es todo) los seres humanos siguen siendo tan encantadores; que continuamos soñando con formas de hacer a los demás felices. Al comerme esa pizza y el pastel me enamoré de todos nosotros otra vez.

Dónde hallar Alimentos Orgánicos Divinos: Mercado Freedom Farmers, cada sábado desde las 10 hasta las 3 en la Avenida  Telegraph, número 5316, Oakland, CA.


¿Qué pasó, señorita Simona? Es imposible resistirse a la verdad de la voz de Nina Simona. Está justo ahí, como un gran árbol u otra cosa en la naturaleza que tú no puedes imaginar que existe hasta que lo experimentas. Este filme celebra esa voz, valiosa para muchísimos y también muestra el precio que Simona pagó por expresar lo que sintía, incluso cuando ella estaba muy cansada o enferma para seguir sus mejores pensamientos. Una notable creación que expone, igualmente, el intenso sufrimiento psicológico y físico que pocos de nosotros, sus “fanáticos adoradores” conocíamos.

Dirigido por Liz Garbus.


Pagas de rebelión: El imperativo moral de la revuelta

Por Chris Hedges

Leí a Chris Hedges por primera vez en Truthdig y me conmovió una columna que escribió acerca de la enseñanza a jóvenes escritores de color en la prisión, quienes rindieron un poderoso trabajo.

Empezando por una sobrina, tengo tres sobrinos-nietos que languidecen en el sistema carcelario. Inteligentes, hermosos muchachos que crecieron en una sociedad que, según su punto de vista al menos, ni se molestaba en considerar la posibilidad de encontrar un sitio para ellos. Fuera de la prisión, quiero decir.

No es que la familia no ayudara. Es que las familias con recursos limitados están imposibilitadas para la labor de reparar y apoyar lo que un sistema racista y clasista insiste en derribar: el carácter, la autoestima, la salud física y mental de nuestros jóvenes.

Este libro nos recuerda que nos hallamos en la batalla por nuestras vidas, nuestra existencia misma, en todo el mundo. Que los anti-terrestres, seres a quienes no les importa nada de nosotros o del mundo real en que ellos y nosotros habitamos, han secuestrado el planeta. Hedges, quien ha sido corresponsal de guerra en algunos de los peores órdenes sociales fracasados del mundo, advierte que los signos son claros de que nosotros mismos estamos experimentando inequívocos indicadores de los desastres que ha visto. Que nuestro único recurso es la rebelión. ¿Cómo hacerlo? El modo en que otros lo han hecho es la reflexión de este libro.

No se trata incluso de si ganaremos o podemos ganar. Se trata, como siempre, de hacernos notar. O, como mis ancestros habrían bordado en una amada frase: encontrar alegría y sentido y sanación en la poesía de la lucha. O lo que yo podría llamar estar vivos.


La organización AVAAZ

El mundo en acción:

Me gusta AVAAZ debido a que no espera por que las causas sean importantes para iglesias o políticos. Está compuesta por unos 41 millones de personas de todo el planeta que apoyan el trabajo que ellos realizan, bien sea salvar personas, ecosistemas o elefantes. De hecho, su único criterio al enfrentar sucesos y conductas atroces en el mundo parece ser la frase de George Carlin, “Es mierda y es malo para ti”. Hoy se hace un llamado a salvar lo que queda de la población mundial de elefantes. Estos seres misteriosos y sagrados están siendo eliminados despiadadamente y a un ritmo alarmante. Ellos son también importantes maestros e inspiración. Sin ellos los seres humanos son también cruelmente reducidos. Por favor contacte con AVAAZ hoy y envíele a un bebe elefante o a sus progenitores, no una bala, sino un beso en forma de una donación.




Comencé a ver este drama histórico con el fin de mejorar mi español. Aprendí en México que los mexicanos que no tienen acceso a estudiar idiomas comúnmente aprenden inglés mirando las peliculas y teleseries norteamericanas. El problema es que el español de Gran Hotel es el de España y, por tanto, difícil de entenderlo. Sin embargo la historia no lo es y vale la pena verla.

Alicia, una mujer joven de la clase alta en la España de principios del siglo XX, tal y como los automóviles se compraban y usaban por los muy ricos, encuentra el amor de su vida en la persona de un joven camarero que trabaja en el Gran Hotel que ha pertenecido a su familia por generaciones. Julio Espinoza es una revelación: valiente, amable, generoso, considerado e igualitario con las mujeres. Es un hermano e hijo devoto para su hermana y su madre y resulta, en resumen, todo lo que los hombres alrededor de Alicia, descendientes de la nobleza, no son.

He estado hablando con algunas personas sobre la idea de enseñar historia por la puerta accesoria de tales dramas audiovisuales. He hallado resistencia. No obstante, hallo esta historia –como hallé Los Borgias* (también por Netflix, muy violenta y casi pornográfica, así que hay que estar preparado) – útil para comprender una serie de elementos importantes. Por ejemplo, en el caso de Gran Hotel, la extrema pobreza y miseria de la clase obrera europea en ese período, la forma en que eran tratados como siervos/esclavos, la indiferencia a sus dificultades económicas por parte de los ricos que, rara vez, se dignaban a considerarlos incluso merecedores de respeto, y el modo en que esto influyó en nosotros –indígenas y africanos importados- en el “Nuevo Mundo”, donde tanto los miembros de la nobleza como los siervos/esclavos final y trágicamente vinieron a parar.

Cuando veas esta historia, aun siendo fascinante, presta atención a la forma en que el comportamiento entre el señor y el sirviente se reflejó más tarde, no solo en las plantaciones del Sur estadounidense y en los pueblos mineros de Suramérica, etc., sino dondequiera que los vástagos de la nobleza, los conquistadores e inmigrantes se asentaron. Hace más fácil comprender también por qué las personas de color sirvieron al 1% de entonces fundamentalmente como clase marginada permanente. Ellos no pudieron infiltrarse, como sí lo hicieron los sirvientes, siervos y esclavos blancos, en los enclaves y las líneas de sangre de la clase en el poder. Y si lo hacían, podían ser identificados instantáneamente. Empiezas a ver, además, cómo el racismo, protegido por la ley, devino una vía eficaz para controlar la riqueza en forma de herencia.

Hay más. Más allá de las lecciones visuales de historia, están las inspiradas actuaciones de todos, pero en especial de los personajes principales:

Yon González como Julio (de seguro uno de los más destacados hombres en muchas décadas)
Amaia Salamanca como Alicia  (perfecta como la bella durmiente que despierta)
Adriana Ozores como Doña Teresa  (la mala madre encarnada)
Pedro Alonso como Diego (un buen estudio del comportamiento psicópata)
Concha Velasco como Ángela (la dignidad y el sentido común que debían regir en la Tierra pero solo después de ser liberada de la servidumbre)
Llorenc González como Andrés (un hijo tierno, amoroso y sencillo, tan ciego ante el mal que debe ser amado como a un tesoro).
Pep Anton Muñoz como el detective Ayala  (un detective seco, mundano que mantiene su humanidad).

Esta serie despierta un anhelo de mayor exposición en el filme de las realidades de la clase trabajadora.
Bajo la dirección de Carlos Sedes  (¡Gracias!)

* Una mirada fascinante al funcionamiento del Vaticano en la Edad Media.

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Estamos verdaderamente agradecidas a Naomi Klein. ¡Qué valor y mente fabulosos! He aquí lo que dice del nuevo libro de Matt Kennard The Racket: A Rogue Reporter VS The Masters Of the Universe (El tinglado: un reportero pícaro contra los Señores del Universo): “En este importante libro, Kennard explora el impacto directo del capitalismo globalizado en algunas de las partes más sufridas de nuestro mundo. Con precisión devastadora y un formidable sentido del apremio, reporta sobre los médicos corporativos de socorro en Haití, los señores de la guerra de las drogas en Honduras, los gigantes del pillaje minero en Sudáfrica y mucho más. Lo más importante, él nunca pierde la visión del creciente número de oponentes que se aferran a su creatividad y auto-determinación.”

¡Todo verdadero! Como el propio trabajo de Klein, The Racket nos lleva a apresurarnos acerca de lo que está sucediendo detrás del cine.

Grez Palast dice: “Matt Kennard puso a un lado una cómoda carrera con un periódico del establishment solo para llevarte hasta el secreto: no consigues la historia, consigues la trama encubierta”. Tal y como ha demostrado en su propio libro The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (La mejor democracia que el dinero puede comprar).

No había visto Anita: Speaking Truth To Power (Anita: diciéndole la verdad al poder), la película sobre Anita Hill. ¡Es muy intensa! Y su familia se aparece para sentarse detrás de ella en su juicio (en realidad) para decirle la verdad a un panel de hombres blancos que han hecho todo y más de lo que Clarence Thomas había hecho. ¡Valioso! ¡Y pensar que ella fue la última de trece hijos! ¿Dónde está la medalla para su madre? Y para su padre también. ¡Y es tan bella además!

Tampoco había visto Baddd Sonia Sanchez (Maaala Sonia Sanchez). ¡Ella es tan bella también! ¡Y tan pequeña! ¡Y tan fuerte! El principio del filme es algo exigente pero no lo abandone. Hacia el final se verá aclamando a una mujer extraordinaria y a un espíritu excepcionalmente valiente.

Luego está el revelador libro A Taste Of Power (Una probada al poder) de Elaine Brown. Hermosamente escrito, ampliamente perspicaz, es una lectura obligada para cualquier acercamiento a las Panteras Negras y a cómo el machismo socava la confianza y la solidaridad en movimientos que buscan el cambio social.

Y ¿Qué decir de Wheat Belly (Vientre de trigo), de William Davis, un hombre tremendamente atractivo y de aspecto saludable, quien nos dice que el trigo, todos los granos, pero en especial el trigo, es malo para nosotros? ¿Quién sabía? Este libro debe leerlo cada persona con sobrepeso en el planeta. En especial esos con ese misterioso rollo en el medio que se ve tan anormal. Es anormal porque el trigo –roscas, molletes, panecitos, el trigo oculto en las salchichas, etc. – lo pone así. ¡Lo que significa que uno se puede deshacer de él! No debemos dejar que el pan, el bastón de la vida (pan de cada día), se convierta en el palo que nos derribe.

The Vegetarian Myth (El mito vegetariano), de Lierre Keith ha recibido una paliza de algunos veganos y vegetarianos, pero creo que es un libro brillante sobre la realidad del comer en este planeta. Lo leí cuando salió hace unos años y recientemente lo escuché en audio. Una muy valiosa inmersión. Uno no tiene que estar de acuerdo con todo el mundo para volverse más  profundamente consciente e informado. De algún modo lo considero un libro sobre el crecimiento.

En la cima de cada lista está y siempre estará Ndaaba, My Children (Nadaaba, mis hijos), de Credo Mutwa, que considero una Biblia africana. Repleto de mitos y leyendas que parecen milagrosos por su supervivencia hasta nuestros días. ¡Resulta tan liberador no estar atenido a la idea de los otros sobre la Creación! ¡Dios! ¡La mujer!, etc. Además, algo de ello resulta realmente intimidador.

Luego está David Icke a quien adoro. ¡Qué corazón de león! La única forma en que Raza humana levántate de tus rodillas (Human Race Get Off Your Knees) no te haga quedarte boquiabierto es que seas una momia. Bien compuesto.


Mi planificador financiero de alma budista y yo nos alegramos de descubrir que a ambos nos gustaba Hombres locos (Mad Men). No sé por qué le gusta a él, pero a mí me gusta precisamente porque capta perfectamente el vacío y el fraude de la cultura consumista de la vida americana, “en la cima” de la publicidad de véndeles cualquier cosa. Interpretación impecable y consiguen dar la dinámica racial y sexual correctamente. También la manera en que los Estados Unidos es todavía, de muchas formas inesperadas, una colonia inglesa. Me gusta la historia de Don Draper porque me recuerda la mía: jamás robé la identidad de ningún otro, pero la persona que resulté ser en el mundo verdaderamente no es la que los programadores previeron.

Está Iris, un filme sobre la escritora británica Iris Murdoch, que perdió su identidad debido al alzheimer. Así que envejecemos, la Señora Heimer, como la llamo, acecha en la conciencia de cada cual. ¿Cómo se sentirá ser brillante un año y no saber quién eres el siguiente? Judi Dench interpreta a Murdoch y resulta, como siempre, espléndida. Lo que aprendemos es que básicamente continuamos amando en cualquier forma en que nos hallemos y, esperanzadamente, tendremos un ser amado que permanecerá a nuestro lado, también, amorosamente. Se trata de lo que logras con cada desastre, supongo. Una oportunidad.