Christmas Eve was my trip to the Papa Noel bonfires and to say revelatory would be insufficient. If you are unfamiliar with the tradition I urge you to go and see this or glance at this via my favorite Southern Magazine, Garden & Gun in their note about Bonfire on the Levees.
I had the fortunate good luck to stay at the Seattle original, Ace Hotel, in the Arts District and arrived to 60 degree plus weather that enabled me to sit at the pool and enjoy a summer themed drink and later a glass of wine on my own deck from a glorious room that included a full refrigerator where I stashed treats from the local Rousse Market.
Christmas Day continued my tradition of pancakes only again on my deck and the air was redolent of the spices and flavors of the bayou that was yet to fully reveal itself to me over the course of the next few days.
I then discovered the displays of Christmas lights at varying hotels, concluding at the Roosevelt Hotel the most infamous of all and a required Sazerac at their Sazerac bar. This was followed by my Christmas night trip to the Celebration of Oaks, via a cable car ride up canal to the furthest and last stop to the Botanical Gardens annual light display. To say it was amazing, beautiful and delightful are only some of the adjectives that could describe the fest of lights that decorated the acre and half of the park grounds. The little train that could ended at the marshmallow roasting pit with full on fake snow. I cannot say how much in that moment I felt that same way awakening on Christmas day to find a tree resplendent with Santa's bounties.
The next day a cooking class a the New Orleans School of Cooking with the most delightful Chef to teach me the creole of flavoring that lends to the food culture of this mutt of a city. A city that is approaching 300 years and not looking a day over 150. I never appreciated the city more as a I wandered among a place that was ripe with history and fluid with endless and ongoing change. Gentrification via Katrina is still happening and in turn the issues that it brings with it very much evident in NOLA. At this time there is a current city wide art exhibit b4 that extended among the Ogden Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts and the galleries with themes that reflected the culture of the bayou and the affect on those from the south in both modern and historical concepts. They were amazing and worth the walk.
Walking among legendary streets (including Bourbon, wisely done on Christmas Day where even this largely Catholic city closes) and finding my way to the only and not ironically, Madame Lavande shop to wish for positive energy in the town where voodoo and magic is notoriously acclaimed, I found it amusing that just the day before I left BBC radio discussed the history of "Black" magic and Witches in the appropriate historical concept. The truth behind this was that while yes it was largely introduced into the culture by women who were in turn enslaved it was a religion of positivity and one of womanhood, hence the name Goddess. It was a reflection of the leaders of the faith that were women and in turn also black and that is why it was also labeled the "dark" arts and often associated with danger, negativity and had to be stopped as it threatened the dominant faith of patriarchy.
Ah yes that dominant trait of masculinity and place of power and authority. Even I could not escape that while on my walking and wandering tour of the Crescent City.
I read the papers daily and for one brief moment enabled myself to disconnect from the endless drumbeat of crazy that comes daily from the White House and the papers reminding me of another man who seemed destined for expulsion and later absolution. As where are these men actually going? Wyoming? And then what? As Schwartznegger warned us more than once - "I'll be back" And that was not just a promise but a threat.
So to come home to spend the New Years at home was one planned and expected - alone and in thought. I in turn found that Dave Chappelle had dropped his last two specials on Netflix so I planned to at least laugh if not cry while I reflected on this past year and in turn cast my spell for positivity for the year to come. It was two shows that reflected upon the current state of events in a way that showed he was not only out of touch but out of depth with regards to the state of anger and rage that Americans are throwing about with Tiki Torches, Hashtags and endless investigations, resignations and threats. I am exhausted when one who seemed to have his pulse on the social mores of his time is still stuck in that time and I laughed at some of his observations but his humor leaves on less amused and more dismayed that Chappelle just doesn't get it. But his warning that the worst is yet to come was not lost on me.
I am afraid that the backlash has begun. We have now confirmation that the man in the Big House is crazy and in turn that button may be bigger but is it better? But let's face it we all are going to read this new book, Fire and Fury, and actually laugh as who cares what is true or not? We all have alternative truths when it comes to the current state of America. (GOP victims or enablers?)
But in reality when it comes to gender and equality I don't expect any change in the new year or those to follow. We are not Iceland despite the weather.
I read this editorial in the New York Times yesterday and it was too another warning that the sea tide that broke #MeToo is going back out to see and given global warming we all know how the sea always wins. The author reiterates much of what Chappelle said in his monologue, that this is largely the fault of the individual. Note I did not use the word "victim" as in turn that implies a sense of weakness and in turn a place of lesser awareness. I never use the word victim when I speak of my own horror stories, I use the word exploited. I was exploited for being a woman, for allowing myself to say yes to the drink and in turn complicit in my own exploitation and assaults by consenting to being in their company. I am not a victim, I am an idiot and in turn fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I learned the hard way and no man will ever touch me again.
I have very strong opinions about the word victim. That raging fire in the Bronx apartment that killed 9 people was horrific. The victims were those who did nothing to lead nor contribute to that. The Mother of the the three year old who was playing with the oven was complicit and in turn the reason the fire swept out of control. From her decision to leave the child unattended and with access to the oven knowing full well he had problems with fire, and in turn leaving the door open as she raced out to protect her family at the expense of others. They are victims. Victims are those who do not know or have any prior familiarity or exposure to the predator who takes their lives, rights and homes from them. We are not victims when we willingly or knowingly invite, attend or elect those whose intent is to do harm. We are either complicit, lucky or arrogant to think that it "won't happen to me." Whoops!
Tonight is the Golden Globes my favorite award show and hosted by my favorite talk show host, Seth Myers. The whole we are wearing black and in turn calling attention to the issue of harassment and inequality is all well and good insulated from the reality of what takes place on the less stellar streets be those of Main or Wall, throughout America. Sorry but I will not be wearing black nor giving one flying fuck. Part of me agrees with Chappelle about why are you going to a meeting in a hotel room or staying on the phone while one is masturbating on the other end. To be so frail that it affected your ability to work in the profession you have ambition, dedication and training in. As the article in the Times noted:
Perhaps even more troubling is that we seem to be returning to a victimology paradigm for young women, in particular, in which they are perceived to be — and perceive themselves to be — as frail as Victorian housewives.
But I also know that I am a strong woman but I became that way because of abuse. I saw it in my home at the hand of my Father, I saw it in the homes of others, the movies I loved as a child and the history books I absorbed as a child/youth and woman. When Chappelle launched into a diatribe about how these complainers have nothing to complain about as they go back into the worlds of fame and wealth but his ancestors were beaten, abused, raped and taken from families and sold into servitude, I went: "Bitch, please we women have been doing that for years!"
Women are pushed/encouraged/arranged into marriage; we take a man's name, we are verbally or physically abused by our own children, husbands, families and other women for failures we can not anticipate. In some places we cannot drive, leave our homes, wear clothes we want to wear. We are killed, we are raped by men we know and men we think we don't know. We are told to lean in, be strong, be smart be fair and we do our best to fuck or be fucked or fuck over in the same way men do it to us. I see that too in the culture of the churches that encourage the same and yes the largest participants in that are black families. So bitch, take a knee.
We are only as good as those who lead us. I see a large failure on that everywhere.