MUST LISTEN Audio Books for BLACK HISTORY Month and every other month! :) Part 1 of 2

I first became familiar with these two novels, both by master writers, as novels proper. And both blew my mind in ways both stunning and lasting. Later I listened to the Audio Books. Audio Books, if you get the right reader, for the right work, can be rewarding experiences, even to lovers of the novel.

I love me some Walter Moseley EASY RAWLINS mysteries, I’ve read just about everyone of them, and I have to tell you the pairing of Moseley’s iconic words with a formidable actor such as Michael Boatman, is to have those works enriched, and nuances discovered that may have been skimmed over by even the most loving reader.

A great Adaptation, a great marriage of words and performance can do that, can alchemize into something more than the sum of its parts. Something magical. And an audio book avoids the constraints of time and budget and indeed visuals, that a film or TV show runs into. An audio book has the biggest theater of the world, and the biggest budget, in which to breathe life into the writers words,… the theater of the mind.

So Audio Books when they get that mixture right, become part of a sacred line of story and storytelling, going back to the cradle of not just Black History, but all history.

 

This 2 part post, honors two of the best, that should be loved and listened to and cherished by everyone.

They are:

Charles Johnson’s seminal and National Book Award winning novel, MIDDLE PASSAGE. It is an American epic, a rousing seafaring saga, blisteringly funny at times, deeply harrowing at others, both poetic, prosaic, and magical all at the same time. As someone who has read Melville, and Dickens, and Hemingway, and Crane and Poe and Bradbury and King and Baldwin, all the quintessential American masters, this is the novel I would save when everything else is burning.

 

middlepassge

 

I give the hardcover out as presents. I consider it, in an imperfect world, an arrow toward a more perfect union. So having it on a pedestal that high the audio book has to bring it. It was made into an audio book twice, the first was an abridged and hence flawed cassette version, but read by the author himself, I quite liked it. He brought something… wonderful to it.

The 2nd time was on CD, unabridged thankfully. The performer Dion Graham, gives a different performance than Charles Johnson, that I slowly warmed to. And as the story drew you deeper so did his voice. It’s a wonderful way to be introduced to this great novel.

I would say both audio book versions are indispensable. Start with the unabridged CD version, and then follow up by listening to the Abridged version. And have a copy of the paperback or hardcover, to read over especially loved passages.

In an America where folly holds sway, the words of men who both remember history and learn from it, is of the highest value.

Check them out at the links below:

Middle Passage Cassette Audio Book read by the Author!

Middle Passage Audio CD Unabridged!

By Charles Richard Johnson Middle Passage (Reprint) [Mass Market Paperback]

 

If you like this blog please support it by using the links above and by leaving comments! And come back for the 2nd part where we discuss the 2nd, must own, Black History Month (and other months) Audio book!

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Deal of the Day! ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher or American Water Distiller vs Aquasana vs Pur vs Zero Water Filters!?


A while back I had done a post on the difficulty of finding a reliable, affordable Water filter. I had first tried an American Water Distiller, however after some weeks of use, quality control issues regarding the materials used, namely rusting and taste, made me question what it was adding to the water as opposed to removing.

amerdistiller

Ultimately a distiller is a big expense and is only as safe as the parts used and the storage system used to catch and hold the water, and I found this particular model of American Water Filter… lacking.

I then after some reading tried Aquasana Counter-top Water Filter, which I used quite a while.

aquas

I loved the glass storage containers this company provided and the reviews and documentation initially appeared solid. But the price for filters were way too expensive, the plastic of the filter housings tended to stain, there was no real reliable method for telling when to change the filter, outside of guessing and when you noticed issues with the water, and the certifications claimed in Aquasana’s ads weren’t backed up with any current certifications, and the company’s lack of response when questioned regarding their NSF certification I found less than satisfactory. So all these reasons made me decide to discontinue using Aquasana.

I then went to Pur Faucet Filter, largely for its claim of weeding out Mercury, recent certifications, availability and ease of purchase and low initial cost. I really appreciated the system offered a handy LED reminder regarding when it was time to replace the filter.

pur

One thing that never sat well with me is the loose way the Pur Filter fit into the housing. There was nothing to stop water from flowing around, rather than through, the filter. But it seemed better than nothing.

And that for quite a while is what I was using, until the Zero Water Pitcher. The design of this pitcher answers a lot of issues I had with the Pur faucet design.

zerop

And the included TDS water tester (Total Dissolved Solids) that came with the filter really made a believer out of me after testing my untreated water, which read something like 140ppm, than the Pur filtered water… which to my surprise read more than my tap water, was something like a 150ppm. I realized the Pur water filter was reading higher because of the very design I always found questionable, in essence the filter housing seemingly allowed water to sit there and levels to actually build up.

So then I tested the water coming out of the Zero pitcher, and sure enough it came out Zero. And you could actually see the difference between the tap water, the pur water, and the zero water. There was a lot of particles in the former two, and the zero pitcher came out noticeably clear.

That is what I call impressive. Down the road I intend to run other tests and testers on the Zero Pitcher to confirm what it removes from the water beyond turbidity, but for right now, and for the relatively affordable price compared to the alternatives, it is my current water filter solution of choice.

If you are looking for a better water filter option, Zero Pitcher with their included TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) Tester is a well thought out, and seemingly effective, and definitely affordable option to give a try to. Get your copy here: ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher
!

If you have found this blog post helpful please support by using the links above. You get recommended to a solid item, and this blog earns a couple cents to keep providing you informative postings. A win-win. If you like this blog or this post in particular, please spread the word, and feel free to hit it with likes or comments. Thanks!

Art Book of the Day : FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA by Edwin Lord Weeks

hourofprayer

Less an art book than a travelogue/diary and historical exploration of an at the time still largely mysterious region, FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA is an 1890s scholarly work (done during a time of an earlier Afghanistan War)on that area between the lands of Nubia and Asia that today we call the Middle East, by one of the preeminent artists of the 19th century, Edwin Lord Weeks.

persian-empire-2

I first became aware of his glorious oil paintings when visiting the Richmond Art Museum a couple years back. His HOUR OF PRAYER painting in person, is simply massive in scale, and cannot truly be appreciated except in person (when you stand in front and beneath the painting, it’s like you could walk into it), carrying as it does not just the seminal strokes of a realist at the height of his powers, but the weight of history and a moment of time, and region, and culture (all of which is under threat of going away) preserved here; hauntingly captured.

For more on my first exposure to Edwin Lord Weeks go here!

I have since seen several other Edwin Lord Weeks paintings in person, Weeks was a very prolific artist, and another standout is INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA.

While not as large as HOUR OF PRAYER it is a gorgeous painting at any size, unlike HOUR OF PRAYER where pictures on the web don’t do it justice. Part of what makes HOUR OF PRAYER the award winner that it was, is the play of yourself against its vast spaces. There is an alchemy that happens when you see that picture in person, that is not reproducible on your computer screen. INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA, in contrast, is a far more repeatable image. What you see on the web or in a book, is a good approximation of what you’ll see in person.

edlordweeksml

Along with Virgil Finlay, Robert Duncanson, and Zdzislaw Beksinski; Edwin Lord Weeks quickly became one of those IT artists for me. A massive artistic talent whose work was largely unknown, or under appreciated to this day, and definitely still largely unheralded/uncollected in a comprehensive tome. He became an artist I set out to find books by and about.

Today’s selection is one of those books.

“With the permission from the War Department to visit Central Asia came an urgent telegram from the American legation at St. Petersburg, advising us not to go on account of the cholera which, after devastating Meshed, had left Persia and invaded the Russian provinces. We were then leaving for Constantinople by the Camboge, and finding that she would not proceed to Batoum, by reason of quarantine we were again forced to change our route. This time we elected to follow the old caravan from Trebizond on the Black Sea, to Tabreez, through the mountains of Kurdistan, that country of indefinite boundaries.

In short, there was no other route left open to us; we must either turn back, or, setting our face forward, head straight for the Persian frontier, five hundred miles away, and we decided to go on.”
—-Lord Edwin Weeks, from the preface to FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA.

Being in the public domain there are numerous variations of this work online. The quality is all a bit less than stellar, as largely it looks to be photocopies of photocopies, and the pencil drawings/sketches that accompanies the words, all a bit muted… still there is enough there to get the brilliance, and you can flip to any page, read a paragraph and be entranced by Weeks’ evident love and romance for the region.

So until a proper tome dedicated to Lord Edwin Weeks is done, for reasons both historical and cultural this 462 page book, to any fan of the work of Weeks, is a must own.

Get your copy here:

From the Black Sea through Persia and India

Nineteenth-Century American Painting: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

And American Gallery offers a great look at Weeks’ paintings here.


15 May 2014 American Flag at Half Staff

So I’m walking around downtown on my brunch break and I’m noticing all the American flags are flying at half mast.

It not being a holiday or a day of mourning I find this curious. Checking with coworkers and random gawkers I find they likewise have no idea about this incident.

Doing a bit of research courtesy of everyone’s favorite non-google search engine I turn up that today is Peace Officers Memorial Day.

President Barack Obama seemingly yesterday signed into law a proclamation establishing basically a new holiday and a police week.

Now I appreciate what peace officers do as well as the next guy, however crafting a holiday out of whole cloth, with no discussion, no public input seems… wrong. There is something wrong in its overnight inundation onto the public consciousness. Using an obscure JFK era law to fashion this doctrine from on high.

It goes against the idea of representative government, to have the governed so outside the process of government. A one day turnaround, and taadaa… new holiday.

We already have a memorial day honoring the fallen of wars foreign and domestic. This new memorial while seemingly an innocuous thing, cannot be separated from the ever more paramilitary presence that law enforcement is taking on in the communities they were once tasked with serving.

An adversarial relationship between law enforcement of all stripes and the people, that has grown only more so since the Patriot Act, and President Obama’s numerous sacrifices of liberties and freedoms in his two terms.

We are not on the verge of a police state… we are well into the first tentative days of one, and this whole cloth creation of police holidays while hopefully innocuous, is tainted by the times and is hard not to see… as a dangerous sign, a steeper slide into a nation of unquestionable authority backed by flag waving propaganda.

Or it could just be a flag at half-mast. :). I leave you to judge.

Murder in the Age of Rome: American Heroes and American Mass-Murders

Superbowl Sunday I should no doubt have a post on the Superbowl like the rest of America.

However other things grab my interest. Other things that perhaps transcend caring what group of modern gladiators, beat another group of modern gladiators.

This weekend, according to the AP, Chris Kyle, ex-Navy Seal Sniper and author of the 2012 best-selling AMERICAN SNIPER was killed along with another veteran Chad Littlefield in a shooting at the gun range at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Glen Rose, Texas. Killed by another former veteran.

The details and the reasons are still sketchy, but aren’t they always. What is known is this is the latest in what is seemingly an endless parade of American mass-murders.

Why?

Why?

And reading the coverage of this latest violence, something of interest struck me in the coverage.

The CNN coverage states:

“[Chris] Kyle learned to shoot on hunting trips with his father, then went on to serve four combat tours in Iraq with the SEALS, though his official biography notes he also worked with Army and Marine units. He received two Silver Stars and other commendations before leaving the Navy in 2009 — claiming that, in his years as a sniper, he’d killed more than 150 people, which he called a record for an American.”

and

“The first time, you’re not even sure you can do it,” he [Chris Kyle] said in the interview. “But I’m not over there looking at these people as people. I’m not wondering if he has a family. I’m just trying to keep my guys safe. Every time I kill someone, he can’t plant an (improvised explosive device). You don’t think twice about it.”

and

“In a statement, the [Fitco Cares]foundation described Kyle as an “American hero” and pledged to carry on his mission.”

And maybe it’s that simple.

Maybe from Sergeant York to Audie Murphy to today’s efficient killers, maybe it has become the American pastime to define as hero the indiscriminate taking of lives. While we live in a world where the pursuit of life, is often dependent on those adept at death, perhaps what is increasingly lost in the American mindset today… is the sense of that act as an evil, perhaps a necessary evil, but an evil none the less.

Perhaps the American media’s glorification of men of war at the expense of men of peace, seeps into the American zeitgeist, the American Soul if you will, and America’s export of indiscriminate horror and blood abroad, returns to us at home.

From Columbine to Aurora to Sandy Hook, perhaps these uniquely American Massacres are part and parcel of the increasing unrepentant and murderous definition of American Heroes.

We glorify the wrong things in our Soldiers, and by so doing glorify the wrong things in ourselves. They are heroes because they are willing to sacrifice, not because they are willing to kill. They and we are victims, when we have to kill. When the killing is all we have left. And worse when the act of that killing ceases to have meaning.

Chickens coming home to roost. By its fruit will you know a tree.

A soldier and a warrior died this weekend and that is a tragedy. But it is only a tragedy if the loss of the 150 lives he took, is also a tragedy.

Like any soldier, like every soldier; either every life has value or no life has value. That is the lesson of America and the world in the 21st century. The more easily we justify killing the other, the more valueless we make their lives, the more valueless we make our own.

That’s the lesson I learned today, while all of Rome was watching the Gladiators in the Coliseum,

Somehow I think… a lesson of value.

WORD OF THE DAY: ANTINOMIAN

Antinomian- The mad idea that a religion (typically Christian) is exempt from moral law, by virtue of being that particular religion/God’s grace, and therefore can undertake any and all actions without respect to morality or moral law.

I’m relatively well read, but I must admit to never having come across this Latin derived word with its roots in 16th century Germany.

Historical examples would be Slavery and Manifest Destiny under Christianity in the Americas, and the Holocaust under Nazi ruled Germany.

Modern examples of this theology in practice would be the continuing apartheid in Palestine under Zionism/Judaism, or the modern day crusades that a ‘Christian/Roman’ America is embroiled in throughout the world.

Religion should elevate humanity not debase it. Raise our morals, not lessen them. Keep us from murder, not push us to revel in it.

Antinomian.

A word.

We must be vigilant against such words.


“Nobody’s fault but mine
Nobody’s fault but mine
I had a mother who could sing
I had a mother who could sing
If I die and my soul be lost
nobody’s fault but mine”
—Nina Simone

The Very Best Of Nina Simone, 1967-1972 : Sugar In My Bowl

Florida CDC Homeless Attack Face Cannibal Zombie BS Media Bath Salts?!! News?

Florida. Florida. Florida.

That state hasn’t been right since the Bushes moved in. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

I’m going to give this ‘news’ story the in-depth analysis it deserves. “Bath Salts cause homeless man to go on zombie style face eating attack”? “CDC warn there is no Zombie uprising.”

Really?

This is what passes for news and journalism and the wisdom of our government in action?!

Playing up America’s paranoia and gullibility, to spin some stories about homeless f**kers hopped op on Bath Salts, turning into vicious face eating zombies. And the CDC plays into it by issuing their ‘denial’.

I don’t watch TV, or the 24 hour propaganda machine on spin cycle, which means I still have working brain cells left and can tell bullsh*t when I hear bullsh*t.

This is bullsh*t.

A cursory examination of the story, lends a far more probable angle.

Pharmaceutical companies, have been trying to privatize Bath Salts for years, for some silly notion that they can reduce its therapeutic effectiveness and make billions selling you a now ‘controlled’ and watered down version of what you can today get for free.

So how do you get people to give up a harmless therapeutic used for decades upon decades, and pay you billions? Well if you’re a billion dollar conglomerate, with the mass media in your back pocket, you whip out that new strain of LSD you’ve been working on, feed it to some mental defectives, and let them out the mental hospital (budget cuts you know) and let them do LSD tinged, mentally defective things, and your media rushes in to point fingers at the culprit in the corner, the proverbial smoking gun,… Bath Salts. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

You now have a CDC and FDA approved public enemy number one. And the pharmaceutical company gets handed the rights to control, privatize, and going by their track record, make both useless and harmful … Bath Salts.

So pick your story of choice…

Bath Salts that your great, great grand parents were using, and has been used for generations since, suddenly turning people into zombies

OR

Recent studies showing the effectiveness of Bath Salts as a simple inexpensive alternative to medications the pharmaceutical companies wants you to pay exorbitantly for, and so they trump up a reason to have Bath Salts outlawed.

I don’t know about you, but given the history of American greed and American atrocities in pursuit of greed, I always choose the answer that has the potential to make someone rich. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a Machiavellian type of America.

However, it is a state that elected Jeb Bush twice. Perhaps they are all zombies. ๐Ÿ™‚

(I kid! I kid! I love Florida! Would you believe like?)

“I mean it’s not that difficult.
It’s not brain surgery.
We become the things we obsess about.
A society that obsesses over monsters and the victimization of the other,
becomes a nation of monsters and victimizers.
A society that dreams of heroes
that save maidens, and stands against dragons
becomes that heroism.
America is in need…
of Nobler dreams.”— HT