The Isleños of Louisiana: A short review!

The Isleños of Louisiana: On the Water’s Edge by Samantha Perez

     I first learned of the Isleños of Louisiana happened when I did research for my Texas History Songs & Stories presentation I do for public and private schools. Around 1731,  I learned of the Canary Islanders who were sent to Texas. Over 50 settled in San Antonio. Juan Seguin was one of their descendants. The Handbook of Texas says, “A number of the old families of San Antonio trace their descent from the Canary Island colonists. In 1971 a Texas Historical Marker honoring the Canary Islanders and their role in the development of San Antonio was erected on the Main Plaza of San Antonio.”

As I do a “Songs & Stories” of Louisiana presentation in schools, libraries, and festivals, etc., I felt the need to some research on the Isleños of Louisiana. I was delighted to discover Perez’ book about them.  Printed by the History Press, a division of Arcadia, who also owns my previous publishers of Pelican and River Road Press, it is a compact, informative resource for anyone wishing to know more about the mysterious and little known people who came to Louisiana from the Canary Islands and settle in St. Bernard Parish in the 1700s.

The seven chapters of the book take the reader from the journey of the Isleños  from the Canary Islands to the marshes of Southeastern Louisiana where their culture survived and blossomed for centuries.  Perez develops a narrative as to how they overcame the challenges of war, hurricanes, and government incompetence that they faced.  Perez shares the unique heritage, traditions, documentaries, museums, their unique Spanish dialect, religion, history, strength of their community, and culture of these Spanish islanders who made their living from trapping and the sea.

Perez reveals  the resources  one can use to discover the unique foods, cultural dress, customs, festivals, and their love for and connection to the environment. One fascinating discovery is of the décimas, the a cappella folk songs of the Isleños. Isleños fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, WWI and WWII.

If you are interest in Louisiana History, you will love this book.  You can order it HERE: 

 

 

 

Samizdat: The Ghost of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Samizdat: The Ghost of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

  I never thought this day would come to America. The liberal left, the media, the governmental deep state have determined to crush and gain control over the MAGA movement that President Trump started. They began by immediately censoring the opinions, thoughts, books, art, movies, and protests of half of the American population. Twitter and Facebook have already closed the accounts of a huge percentage of its followers. The mainstream media (television and newspapers) have

In any war, attacking and closing down communication systems is a tested tactic. If the enemy can’t communicate, they can’t organize well enough to defeat you. I think they underestimate the power of the truth and the determination of 80-million American citizens.

It is time for Samizdat to reemerge.

Samizdat is the clandestine creating, copying, and distribution of literature banned or censored by the state, especially formerly in the communist countries of eastern Europe. It is literature that has no hope of being published in normal channels or if the writing is politically suspect. It is underground self-publishing that was passed from individual to individual. Writing and reading samizdat is a form of dissident activity, of resistance. With the increased pressure and propaganda of media, the schemes of political figures and powerful liberal elite, and tech monopolies, an underground press is needed.

Samizdat places the acts of writing, creating, and distribution upon the individual, As *Vladimir Bukivsky, Russian-born dissident in the 50s-70sk said about samizdat: “I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend time in prison for it myself.” Think of how many American citizens get their information about politics, the arts, religion, and what’s really going on in the real America. Perhaps it’s a good thing that we will be forced to find other ways to express ourselves, to protest our treatment, and to change our society.

What forms will/could the new samizdat take?
1. People may learn to write real letters again.
2. New TV, radio, and newspaper media will emerge, though they will risk the censorship of the Deep State.
3. I predict that short wave radio stations will reemerge, a kind of Radio Free America.
4. There will be more spoken word, people sharing openly until pressure increases to control public speech.
5. American blogs, podcasts, and newspapers will move underground and build new audiences.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn changed the world and the Soviet Union by Samizdat. I’ve been rereading his works of again. Besides saying, “I told you this would happen in Warning to the West,” I think his ghost would sadly shake his head and say, “Your mainstream media and the political Deep State have damaged much of America, cover-upped corruption, and tried to erase America’s past, but they haven’t won yet. Your own samizdat will immerge soon,”

*Vladimir Bukovsky, a Russian-born British human rights activist and writer. From the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, he was a prominent figure in the Soviet dissident movement, well known at home and abroad. (Wikipedia)

Trolls in the Land of MAGA

I love mythology. In a recent read I came across the trolls. This made my mind jump to a modern day troll issue.

TROLLS IN THE LAND OF MAGA

Under the Facebook Bridge,
Lived a clan of trolls.
Ugly and stupid and bug-eyed,
They had no self-control.

Anyone who tried to cross
Their bridge into MAGA land,
Had to endure many insults,
And pay taxes into their hands.

As people crossed the bridge,
Travelers would often speak
About Deep State crooks & election fraud,
This angered the troll-like geeks!

All it took was one wrong word,
To cause them to attack,
They wanted to frustrate and frighten,
So you’d never want to come back.

Church bells made them crazy,
Religion was not their thing,
“I’m Proud to be an American”
Was a song they’d never sing.

Once, travelers played the Trump Card,
It scared the trolls to death!
They fled and hid in the Swamp,
And tried to catch their breath.

But to this day Trolls continue
To attack, provoke and annoy,
Even eating MAGA Hobbits,
Not caring who they destroy.

 

I Feel Like I Was Living in Russia Again . . . An Interview with a Russian Immigrant

I Feel Like I Was Living in Russia Again . . .

  I recently conducted an interview with, Nadia, a Russian immigrant. Tall and attractive, she’s been a LEGAL citizen now for a few years. She was born and raised in Minsk, was a Lenin Eagle and later a Pioneer. She now resides in New Orleans. Until the COVID shutdown, she had been making a living with a floral business and decorating for weddings and special events.

Our conversation led to describing her life in this American COVID shutdown. We talked about Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, whom she admired. When I told her that I had everything Solzhenitsyn had written, she said, “You’re the first American I’ve talked to who knew anything about him, and the first who really understands what life is like in a communist country.”

“How would you describe your life now?” I asked.

“I feel like I’m living in Russia again,” she said. “I haven’t worked for months. Since I’m self-employed, the only money I’ve been able to receive is a little bit of relief money. In Russia, the government will provide a stipend, but not enough to live on. The government controlled where you could live, where you could go, what you could buy—if you had any money—and controlled what you could say. The government determined what was acceptable to say.  You had to be very careful with what you said, Neighbors would turn you in for making your own bread or making your own vodka, so that had to be done in secret. If you wanted to purchase something, anything, you had to count on waiting for hours in very long lines. Many things were not available at all, not at any price.”

She paused and looked directly at me. “That is my life now. I’m living in a ___ hole. Sometimes I think I might as well be back in the Russian ____ hole. I see how Americans are headed toward the same kind of life—with a government-controlled media, where you have the rich elite who control everything and who have everything and anything they want. Then there’s everyone else, the rest of the population that the leaders don’t care about.  The rich leaders are hypocrites, who feel they don’t have to obey the same restrictions and rules as a normal citizen.”

She paused as if remembering the little girl she once had been standing in the breadline for hours. She went on to describe the total censorship, the ruined lives of those who spoke out, how they used mob violence to deter protests or stepping out of Party lines, and the common fraud and power struggles in elections.

The similarities between her life experiences and what she is experiencing now were striking and obvious.  She concluded our interview by saying, “Most Americans don’t know what it’s like to live in constant fear of being arrested, spied on, fined, or for a family of four to live in one very small room.

“But someday they will . . . .”

SOLZHENITSYN’S GHOST: AMERICAN SAMIZDAT, #1

 

A Short Review of Under the Witch’s Mark by Rita Holcomb

     Under the Witch’s Mark is an excellent example of coming of age during the Age of Aquarius.

In the late 1960’s, millions of Flower Children rebelled against their conventional, post World War II upbringing by experimentation with psychedelic drugs, “free” love and out of the norm costumes and music. They (we) embraced any behavior that would shock society.

By the early 1970’s the movement had become wide spread with some young people learning that freedom from convention led down roads from which there was no return.

Rickey Pitman simply and distinctly gives the reader a glimpse of how evil walks among us and how quickly innocence can turn into evil when the weak and susceptible.

Those who believe the devil is a myth will rethink their convictions after reading Under the Witch’s Mark.

Innocence Lost by Rita Ownby Holcomb: A Review

The first novel I read in 2021 was Innocence Lost: The Legend of Henrietta Clay by Rita Ownby Holcomb. (Fountain Springs Publishing).  The novel is well constructed with 44 dated chapters starting with August of 1860 and ending Christmas Eve, 1864. Innocence Lost is the first in a series that spans from 1860-1920.

This construct gives the story the feel of a memoir, telling the story of fifteen-year-old Henrietta Clay from Hogeye, Arkansas. The young, naive girl marries a man who promises her a beautiful life, but instead uses her and drags her into the seedy world of war-torn St. Louis. Fate rescues her from her difficult circumstances and leaves her with the gift of a child and an inherited brothel.  Henrietta Clay is actually the great-great-grandmother of the author.

The author skilly constructs her plot with the kind of chapters I like to read: short enough to read in one sitting with very descriptive writing that moves from one conflict to another. The storyline has plenty of conflicts and twists and at times has the feel of a romance novel, but as mentioned before, it feels more like a memoir, and one that is full of historical details indicating the extensive research the author must have done,  Even though I’ve long been a student of the Civil War, some of these facts are surprising, such as introducing Lissie Keckley, a free slave who became the personal dressmaker of Mary Todd Lincoln. As the War Between the States is always in the background, the protagonist is an observer of the St. Louis civilians as well as the Federal and Confederate officers and soldiers whose destinies and actions affected the city.  In a way, one could say that this is very much a story of St. Louis.

Rita Holcomb is a member of the Authors Roundtable Society and a member of the Texas Authors Association. You can read more about her and her fine books HERE:

 

Line of Blood: Uncovering a Secret Legacy of Mobsters, Money, and Murder: A Short Review

Line of Blood: Uncovering a Secret Legacy of Mobsters, Money, and Murder by Jana Marcus

A Short Review by Rickey Pittman

I discovered the writing of Jana Marcus in my review of her earlier book, In the Shadow of the Vampire, which you can read on this blog. That review led me to read and review this work. But first, a word about Jana Marcus. Marcus is the author of two photodocumentary books, “In The Shadow Of The Vampire: Reflections from the World of Anne Rice” and “Transfigurations,” which received the Gold Award for Best LGBT Non-Fiction Book of 2012 by the Independent Book Awards of New York. She is a multi-award-winning photographer based in Santa Cruz County. You can discover much more about her and many illustrations of her exceptional photography at her website.

I am happy to have discovered her, a careful writer who has a fantastic inner theatre, an imagination no doubt fueled by her expert photographer’s eye. The subtitle of the writing gives the reader a strong hint of what is found in this murder-mystery-memoir–there is much here about mobsters, money, and murder. This is a tale of a Brooklyn family with their histories, their family trees, their secrets, and their faults and strengths. There is a section of family photos that bring places, family members, and graves into focus and helps the visualization of the narrative.  Marcus’s years of obsessive and careful research led her on her tedious quest for answers for unsolved murders. She found answers to many of her questions, but her discoveries were often painful, heartbreaking, and disappointing. I encourage you to read this fine book to discover for yourself what she found. She obviously knows how to create a documentary.

As a reader, I most enjoyed learning from this read.  Marcus used a psychic in her search and I learned much about how a psychic works in their communication with the past and with the dead. There certainly seemed to be some very haunted places connected to the murders. Marcus and her friends help her expose the massive corruption that had taken place in the DA’s office and the Brooklyn police in the 30s and 40s. The reader meets the Italian and Jewish mob leaders who, along with the corrupt law enforcement agencies, controlled the gangsters, the businesses, as well as the region’s prostitution, gambling, and murder for hire. Her narrative made me realize better than any crime movie of that period how corrupt things can become. Marcus says, “What was extremely evident to me was just how rampant corruption ran within the ranks of the police department and the higher authorities in the 1930s and 1940s” (p.111).

Here are some interesting discoveries I made:

Murder Incorporated. – an organized crime group in the 1930s and 40s that enforces the crime groups in the greater New York City area. Marcus covers their history from their formation to their end.

I learned much about Jewish gangsters. They were much more formidable a crime force than I had realized before this reading. Marcus also introduced me to many Jewish/Yiddish words and customs.

Marcus spent half her life in her search for answers. To conclude, I think this is the most memorable quote in the book: “I’ve learned the dead do talk…if you listen.”

You can order Marcus’ book HERE: 

 

 

 

 

 

Stonewall Jackson: A Great Christian, General, and Inspiration PART TWO

Stonewall Jackson: A Great Christian, General, and Inspiration PART TWO

My children’s picture book, Stonewall Jackson’s Black Sunday School is out of print, but don’t despair! I will gladly email a free part one HERE:  Download part two HERE:

Here is the original cover.  Perhaps you’ve seen it around. It received an award from the Colonial Dames of America.

A.        

Jackson was a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He started a Sunday school on Sunday afternoons for free blacks and slaves. He taught them to read, (when it was illegal to do so) gave them Bibles, and taught them their catechism. One student in Jackson’s Sunday School became a pastor and he raised money from the black community for a stained glass window to honor Jackson with his last words on it. Here’s an image of that window:

Here are two videos that honor Stonewall Jackson in song. The first is a song written and performed by Jed Marum:

The second song that honors Stonewall Jackson is “Christmastime in Washington” that Jed Marum and I wrote and recorded. Considering the. current Cancel Culture and the politically correct war on Southerners, tradition, statues, and history, this song has an appropriate message.

You can listen to the song HERE:

Here are the lyrics!

Stonewall Jackson: A Great Christian, General, and Inspiration PART ONE

Stonewall Jackson Facts

  • The United States Navy submarine U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson (SSBN 634), commissioned in 1964, was named for him. The words “Strength—Mobility” are emblazoned on the ship’s banner, words taken from letters written by General Jackson
  • Stonewall Jackson appeared on the CSA $500 bill (7th Issue, February 17, 1864).
  • “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” —Jackson’s last words
  • “You may be whatever you resolve to be”—Stonewall Jackson
  • It was during the Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War when Jackson assumed his nickname. Amidst the tumult of battle, Brigadeer-General Barnard E. Bee stated, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”
  • Jackson also appears prominently in the enormous bas-relief carving on the face of Stone Mountain riding with Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. (In Georgia)
  • Stonewall’s steed, Little Sorrel (the Confederacy’s 2nd most famous horse)
  • Jackson was said to be especially fond of lemons. Visitors frequently leave them
    at his gravesite.

“Stonewall” Jackson has two separate burial sites. His left arm, which was amputated after the battle of Chancellorsville, was buried on a nearby farm. A week later, Jackson died and was buried in Lexington, Virginia. Stonewall died on a Sunday. He had prayed that he would be allowed to die on the Sabbath.

Songs and poems were written about Stonewall Jackson even during the Civil War. One of those was “Stonewall Jackson’s Way.”  According to a book, War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy, “these verses were found written on a small piece of paper, all stained with blood in the bosom of a dead soldier of the old Stonewall Brigade after one of Jackson’s battles in the Shenandoah Valley” (47).  According to http://www.poetry-archive.com/p/stonewall_jackson_s_way.html it was later discovered that the author was John Williamson Palmer (1825-1906).

COME, stack arms, men! Pile on the rails,
Stir up the camp-fire bright;
No matter if the canteen fails,
We’ll make a roaring night.
Here Shenandoah brawls along,
There burly Blue Ridge echoes strong,
To swell the brigade’s rousing song
Of “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
We see him now, — the old slouched hat
Cocked o’er his eye askew;
The shrewd, dry smile, the speech so pat,
So calm, so blunt, so true.
The “Blue-Light Elder” knows ’em well;
Says he, “That’s Banks, — he’s fond of shell;
Lord save his soul! we’ll give him —;” well,
That’s “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
Silence! ground arms! kneel all! caps off!
Old “Blue Light’s” going to pray.
Strangle the fool that dares to scoff!
Attention! it’s his way.
Appealing from his native sod,
In forma pauperis to God,
“Lay bare Thine arm; stretch forth Thy rod!
Amen!” That’s “Stonewall’s way.”
He’s in the saddle now. Fall in!
Steady! the whole brigade!
Hill’s at the ford cut off; we’ll win
His way out, ball and blade!
What matter if our shoes are worn?
What matter if our feet are torn?
“Quick-step! we’re with him before morn!”
That’s “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
The sun’s bright lances rout the mists
Of morning, and, by George!
Here’s Longstreet struggling in the lists,
Hemmed in an ugly gorge.
Pope and his Yankees, whipped before,
“Bay’nets and grape!” hear Stonewall roar;
“Charge, Stuart! Pay off Ashby’s score!”
In “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
Ah! Maiden, wait and watch and yearn
For news of Stonewall’s band!
Ah! Widow, read, with eyes that burn,
That ring upon thy hand.
Ah! Wife, sew on, pray on, hope on;
Thy life shall not be all forlorn;
The foe had better ne’er been born
That gets in “Stonewall’s way.”

Thirty Days to Halloween, Day 30: Psychobilly Music

Thirty Days to Halloween, Day 30: Psychobilly Music

Some time ago, I stumbled onto the song, “Psycho” by Elvis Costello. It was my first introduction to the genre of Psychobilly music. The song is terrifying and disturbing and as it’s sung in first person, the listener feels like the killer himself is singing. Texas Music Magazine has a great article about the story behind the song. Read it HERE:

HERE is a great and extensive article about Psychobilly. And here is Elvis Costello singing the song.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Psycho (1981)

Here is a video that discusses the history and importance of Psychobilly!