Saturday, July 26, 2008

up yours, Trujillo

Surely there has somewhere been assembled an encyclopedia of right-wing Latin American dictators. There are certainly more than I can ever keep track of. I recently learned about one of the sickest fucks of all: Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic.

To make a long story short, this asshole killed many thousands of Haitians (the number is disputed) who happened to be on the wrong side of the boundary with the Dominican Republic. In the "Parsley Massacre" of 1937, soldiers determined the victims' nationality by the way they pronounced the word for parsley. If the accent was Haitian, they were dead. This in spite of the fact that Trujillo himself was one quarter Haitian.

The Trujillo Era is depicted in the book In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, the film of which is a gem, starring Salma Hayek.

In 1961 Trujillo was assassinated. While he generally had the support of the Catholic Church and the US government, he was also one of the most detested leaders in Latin America, and it appears the CIA played a role in his demise.

And if this isn't the most amazing piece of trivia: he appeared in the background of the tarmac scene in Casablanca.

Monday, July 21, 2008

South Street Seaport in perpective

I recently read in Mark Pendergrast's hefty tome Uncommon Grounds that the coffee merchants of early New York were based on South Street. This makes perfect sense, although I don't think it would have occurred to me without the aid of this book.

It's true that while I lived at South Street Seaport I didn't fully appreciate all the history embodied in that worthy preservation district. The major dots I failed to connect were the fact of New York being one of the world's great port cities, and South Street serving as the city's principle commercial port for the early centuries of its history, centuries that not by coincidence were the glory days of maritime trade.

So while I was busy re-heating old coffee in my apartment, I was oblivious of the fact that many tons of burlap sacks full of beans were likely shipped up from the tropics and heaved within a mile of where I was standing. And when I was annoyed that the fish merchants made mercantile noises all night, I failed to fully honor the fact that they were there first -- that is, by a few centuries.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the rest of the best

L took this very nice shot of the ferry slip.

A man has to swim...

and we've all seen this one a million times.

Greenport '08

Sometimes you stumble upon a landmark that's older than you and your father combined, that you've somehow managed to overlook, like this two hundred year old fountain in the heart of Greenport.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shelter Island '08

A morning walk down the Serpentine...

one of my favorite places...

one of my favorite views...

and the return trip down the beach.