Archives for posts with tag: macondo

As a knitter, the Intelligent Craftafarian, as I call Kate Davies, is at the forefront of the British fashion sustainability movement (I say it’s punk, and it is spectacular). She has been asked by the awesome women who grow and shear their own sheep at Juniper Moon Farm in Charlottesville, VA to design a sweater made from heirloom hardy wool suitable for outerwear. (Dr. Davies gently sneers at the little girlie merinos, silk blends yet, that I’m crocheting useless little girlie garments with, which, she assures me, will pill and look ratty before they’re off the needle. So femme, my bad.)

The straight skinny on sustainable choices for fashion design. My theory is that the British art and fashion schools developed these curricula from straight edge punk culture. Alexander McQueen was the apotheosis of this.

There’s nothing I love more than a process story, about how things go from the sheep’s back to my back. The women will shear, card and spin the hardy wool, commission sweater designs from masters like Dr. D and then commission master knitters to make them. All by hand, for a sweater of hardy wool, barely twigless, that will outlast hard wear on your herring dinghy in the North Seas, perhaps, or digging peat on top of Ben Bleak, for perhaps three generations. Dr. D’s post touches too on the celebration of 21st century sheep farming as women’s work in the logo the ladies have designed, featuring ladies as both shepherd and shearer. (And sheep, too, I think. No nasty horns there.)

Juniper Moon Farm logo for their sheep-to-sweater project.

I can’t wait to see the heirloom/21st century Ninja shepherdess sweaters Kate and her colleagues design. This has set me to thinking about my local heirloom Navajo churro sheep, their hardy wool, and getting somebody to design an undyed fisherman’s type sweater based on Navajo designs.

From To Walk in Beauty: A Navajo Family’s Journey Home, by Stacia Spragg-Braude.

Eric Hobsbawm, by Karen Robinson for the Guardian.

I was having dinner recently with the assistant to the Macondo state historian, a man of the people, who was the first in his family to have attended college. I brought up the name of Marx, about whom I’ve been thinking for a couple of years as part of my sense that the epochal occurences of the 19th century, and its thinkers, have yet to be dealt with. The 20th century cataclysms, perhaps a result of the 19th century ones, interrupted our taking in of the 19th century.

This feisty self-made PhD. snorted, and said, “Marx is passe.”

Perhaps. Perhaps in the office of the state historian here in Macondo.

But nowhere else, as even I know, I who don’t really believe in history except the way Marxists write it, about women, minorities, children, jazz, material culture, subalterns, Mafiosi, slaves, lives of the obscure, post-colonials, criminals, food, peasant and popular culture, back channel economies, mental illness, Muslims, Cambodians, peasant resistance, labor, prostitutes, modernity, survivors of genocide — people who lived outside of “history”, the tale of 300 white boys in Paris.

Eric Hobsbawm, perhaps the premier Marxist historian,  has died, aged 95, having lived through most of the 20th century, from his birth in the year of the Russian revolution through the 2008 implosion of capitalism.

Some people think he even invented the idea of popular culture.

More than 50 years ago, a bunch of dissident Oxbridge-educated academic historians changed the way the British saw culture. They understood, long before anyone else, that culture is what shapes the world. They also saw that culture is totally democratic and comes from the people. While the official guardians of the arts, such as Kenneth Clark, were praising the “civilisation” of the elite on television and in print, Hobsbawm and co were resurrecting the lost cultures of Luddites, the masked poachers and anyonymous letter writers, of William Blake and John Milton. They discovered and popularised the value of popular culture – something so integral to our lives today it seems bizarre it was ever denigrated.

He taught all his life at a working mens’ college in London, of which he became president, and defended Marxism through its darkest hours. He joined the Communist party in 1936 at Cambridge, along with the intellectual arbiters society, the Apostles. He let his CP membership lapse in the 21st century, and said it had been his life.

“I didn’t want to break with the tradition that was my life and with what I thought when I first got into it,” he told The New York Times in 2003. “I still think it was a great cause, the emancipation of humanity. Maybe we got into it the wrong way, maybe we backed the wrong horse, but you have to be in that race, or else human life isn’t worth living.”

It cost him, though how much only the old atheist could know. During World War II he volunteered to be a spy, as all his Cambridge contemporaries did, but his party affiliation excluded him. He spent the years 1939-1945 building worthless fortifications in East Anglia, making common cause with his working class colleagues. “I did nothing of significance in it,” he wrote of the war, “and was not asked to.” Of his colleagues in the 560 Field Company, he said, “There was something sublime about them and about Britain at that time. That wartime experience converted me to the British working class. They were not very clever, except for the Scots and Welsh, but they were very, very good people.”

If Communism kept him from fighting the war against fascism, it also kept him from writing about the tumultuous 20th century through whose greater part he lived. Only after he was well into his 80s, finally writing his history of the 20th century in The Age of Extremes, did Hobsbawm feel he could write about his own times, “given the strong official Party and Soviet views about the 20th century, one could not write about anything later than 1917 without the strong likelihood of being denounced as a political heretic.”

He wrote, lectured, entertained the chattering classes at tea in Hampstead, and starred as a public intellectual almost until the end. Tony Blair, acknowledging Hobsbawm’s intellectual contributions to Britain’s Labour Party, got him a medal from the Queen in 1998. He always did think of himself as a “Tory communist,” not much admiring the free love communalism of the 1960s.

At the end of his life, he stunned people who think of old men as heroes by defending Stalin’s mass killings.

“Historical understanding is what I’m after, not agreement, approval, or sympathy,” he wrote in his memoir.

In 1994, he shocked viewers when, in an interview with Michael Ignatieff on the BBC, he said that the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens under Stalin would have been worth it if a genuine Communist society had been the result.

Not to fight fascism, not to write about the 20th century, to defend Stalin’s genocides, seems a high price to pay for loyalty. But Hobsbawm paid it. His work on the rise of capitalism made him Britain’s most respected historian, and he died active, thoughtful, well-loved. And writing.

My life, since I came back from Cuba, has been all about the dream deferred. I haven’t minded taking care of my mother, and taking care of, once and for all, my terrible upbringing — the epiphany is entirely quotidian but earthshaking.

As an ACOA once described it to me, it is pausing at the door of the hospital room and realizing, in one tsunami of emotion, that they had never taken care of you and now you must break the chain of karma alone. Then there was what I call the vortex of mayhem, managing two storage spaces, five or six dwellings, three of them (including the $8000-a-month-room in the big house, and the $2000 a month one) infested, moving the Aged Parent six times in two years, from shithole to shithole, the voice in the burning bush which told me last year I was “working out of the wrong energy” and that the “answer is in your house” — but it has been a job. I resent having the goalposts moved, just as I was fixing to start to sell my book. I resent, terribly, the financial and health implosions, and have noted that being the victim target of terrible helpless insane peoples’ cruelty is humiliating. Don Miguel’s second agreement, and all the forgiveness work I’ve been doing, speaks to this.

What I have forgotten is what the job coach started to talk to me about just before the shit hit the fan. First, that nobody would hire me as long as the Aged Parent was not in a nursing home. (Having to move her to five different ones and two “rehabs” did not solve this problem.) Second, a 10 year plan. I find myself with artifacts of that straight talk of so long ago — a plus size work wardrobe for a woman of a certain age, budget wise, confected to convey readiness to work, [false] able-bodiedness and up-to-date skills. This itself is as big a mountain to move as was a suitable work wardrobe in 1969, when there was no such thing.

The 10 year plan was then and is now, I have realized, over the last month, about New York City. I wasn’t wrong to choose it then, and I am not wrong to choose it now. Ariele and Amelie’s posts about finally getting studio space in Brooklyn crystallized it for me, as did the dawning realization that Macondo is all about being too far away from God, and Forty-second Street, with the A-bomb, Camp Ped and [redacted from private blog]. I came here because the nursing homes were one-quarter the price of the ones in D.C. and I had to plan for a life that including my mother’s living for another 10 years. My recent visit to Phoenix, which, while it is literally 107 degrees in the shade, overwhelmed me with the happiness and agency and purposive well-kept optimistic and artistic public spaces, entirely lacking here in Macondo. And don’t blame it on the Indians or the Chicanos. They got them, and their genocided ghosts, in Phoenix too. I blame it on the Hispano Inquisition penitente karma, the caudillismo. Macondo. First in the nation in prison rapes. First with the A-bomb.

Sore-eye poppies at ground zero, Trinity Site, White Sands, NM

The fireflies in Gramercy Park. I just remembered that, and realized it is still completely within my grasp.

I want it. I have never gone without anything I wanted.

Laura Foster Nicholson ribbon.

Johnny Tapia, hero of Wells Park. Photo credit — file, Albuquerque Journal.

This is the page one story in today’s Macondo Manana [TILDE!!!!]. Why it took three reporters to tell the story, as written, is beyond me, except that the body was found past deadline at 8 p.m Sunday night,* and as a mark of how huge an event it is here in Macondo.

The retired boxing champion Johnny Tapia has died, aged 45. Local FB is full of multiple sincere posts about this death, of the bi-polar orphan hero of Wells Park, the winner of every parking lot fight a bigger kid would wage with him.

Champ Boxer Dies

By Ed Johnson, Matt Andazola and Rick Wright / Journal Staff Writers on Mon, May 28, 2012

Johnny Tapia’s “vida loca” has come to an end.

The five-time world boxing champion died Sunday, a source close to the family said.

Albuquerque police were called to Tapia’s house about 7:45 p.m. by a family member who found a body there, said Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Robert Gibbs. The body is believed to be Tapia’s, but police could not say with certainty that it was.

The death did not appear suspicious, Gibbs said. An official cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Medical Investigator following an autopsy.

“He was such a lovable guy and a terrific fighter,” said Bruce Trampler, Top Rank Inc., vice president. “I’m not shocked by this news, and I guess we all knew it was coming, but he was a wonderful character.”

“He’s a human being,” said Danny Romero, Tapia’s boxing rival. “We all have our problems. Everybody fights them in different ways. … Last time I talked to him was about a month and a half ago. It was just a high-five (type of conversation), just messing around on the phone. He didn’t sound too bad. We all fight our own demons.”

Tapia’s life was marked by troubles with drug and alcohol abuse and included stints in jail.   Still, he managed to touch lives.   “To me, he was the most giving person that I know,” said Hector Muñoz, an Albuquerque professional boxer being trained by Tapia. “I’m just blessed that he did work my corner and that he trained me. He was a great guy, just unbelievable as a trainer, too.”

TV news vans and police vehicles crowded the far northwest Albuquerque street, casting bright lights through the dim neighborhood. Tapia’s house was quiet; Tapia’s wife, some family members and investigators stayed inside.

Outside, neighbors gathered in a nearby driveway as a pair of boys milled around on their bicycles.

“He’s a legend to New Mexico,” said Luis Montaño, 20, who looked distraught and said he’s a professional boxer. He said he’s met Tapia a few times and was using a punching bag when he heard what happened.   He put on a boxing sweater and came to the house as his friends in the neighborhood called him.   “His team looked up to him. He was a good boxer.”

“He had such a huge heart,” Trampler said. “It seemed like no matter who he met or who he saw, whether he knew them or thought he knew them or thought he’d met them, whatever, it was, ‘Give me a call, here’s my number, here’s my card.’ He was a real people person and I can’t tell you how many times he called me just to see how I was doing, just checking up on you, that kind of stuff. I’m not especially flattered because he probably did that with everybody. … He was just such an upbeat person.”

Tapia, 45, was working as a boxing trainer and is the subject of a documentary being made by Albuquerque-born filmmaker Eddie Alcazar.

“I have all kinds of problems; I am a problem,” Tapia once told the Journal. “But I’ve got three beautiful babies. Now they’ve got me changing Pampers and washing ‘em, and that’s a beautiful thing in its own.

“I’ve got unconditional love right now from my kids and also from my wife. I’m a family man. My kids, that’s more work than boxing, man.”

Tapia, whose biography is called “Mi Vida Loca,” was born in Albuquerque on Feb. 13, 1967, the son of Virginia Tapia Gallegos and Jerry Padilla. It was not until 2010 that Tapia discovered that Padilla was his father.

His mother was stabbed and killed when he was 8 years old. In 1999, law-enforcement officials determined that she was killed by her sometime boyfriend Richard Espinosa. Espinosa died in 1983.

Tapia was raised in Albuquerque’s Wells Park neighborhood by his grandparents, Miguel and Esther Tapia, and a houseful of aunts and uncles.

When Tapia was 16, he won the 106-pound national Golden Gloves amateur boxing title, and captured a second Golden Gloves title at 112 pounds two years later.   He turned pro in 1988 and began fighting with the nickname “The Baby-Faced Assassin.”   Between 1990-93, Tapia was in and out of jail, waging a battle with cocaine and alcohol.   But in 1994, he won the first of his five world titles, beating Henry Martinez for the WBO junior bantamweight title.

He defeated Romero in a 1997 bout in Las Vegas, Nev., a fight that enthralled Albuquerque.

“This is just tragic for us,” said Romero. “Maybe with this awareness we can get everything going in a public way. It’s not like I haven’t fought my battles with alcohol. Everybody needs help.”

“In the ring, he would fight anybody” Trampler said. “He feared nobody, but he was also a gracious winner. The obvious example is him and Danny. He was very respectful of Danny not only the night they fought but in the following years.”

Tapia’s last fight was a decision over Mauricio Pastrana in June 2011.

“I have videos of him with my son, Maximus,” Muñoz said. “He’s gonna be 2. He doesn’t even say grandma, but he says Johnny. That’s how much he loves Johnny.   “I don’t know, it’s awful.”

“It’s strange how you can be away from somebody for a couple of years at a time,” Romero said, “and it seems like nobody’s gone nowhere. He was lively, the energy he had, just making you feel good.”

“You wouldn’t have room to write all I’d want to say,” Trampler said. “He was bigger than life. His life was really much, much more than what his ring career was. Like I said he was just such a people person. I wish I could be more shocked and surprised, I’m not. But I’m very sad.

“This is a punch in the stomach.”

— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal   ——————————————————————————–

Johnny Tapia at a glance

Born: Feb. 13, 1967, Albuquerque.

Aliases: “Baby-Face Assassin” “Mi Vida Loca”

1983: Tapia wins the 106-pound national Golden Gloves title at age 16.

1988: Turns pro.  1990: Tests positive for cocaine following a bout at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds.

1994: Returns to the ring, won the first of his five world titles at the Pit.

1995: Judge orders Tapia to a drug-rehab program in the aftermath of a domestic assault incident.

1997: Tapia defeats Danny Romero in Las Vegas, Nev.

2000: Police are called to Tapia’s home in Las Vegas, Nev. After a second incident amid rumors of a suicide attempt, he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

2002: Tapia wins his fifth world title.

2003: Tapia is in a coma for three days and spends several months in a California rehab center.

2007: Tapia is hospitalized from an apparent cocaine overdose.

2009: Tapia is taken into custody for a violation of parole related to cocaine use.

2011: Announces his retirement after defeating Mauricio Pastrana by decision.

2012: Tapia is found dead.


* Ie., one to talk to police; one to get phone commentary; one to cover the scene at the house.

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