I spent a good chunk of a summer in DC visiting the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. It was a harried trip of flitting back and forth between NARA I and NARA II and making occasional visits to the NHLM archive and the military medical archive. But the views all around were stunning. As you emerge from the Metro station at NARA, the US Navy Memorial Plaza greets you - majestic and glittering - a map of the world underfoot. As i stepped out at night, i stared right down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, glowing beautifully in the distance.
I love DC - it’s a gorgeous façade of elegance that hides a pernicious surveillance society and a gut-wrenchingly unequal society. It’s shiny and pretty where the diplomats go, and then there is the rest of DC. One in three children in DC go to bed hungry at night - it has the second highest rate of food insecurity in the country. Poverty hovers around 19% in DC. Poverty among children is around 30%. In many ways, it is the perfect representation of US politics. Here sits an imagined seat of global power, with all the trappings of empire neatly draping across the landscape. glorious edifices, patriotic reminders, powerful national stories.
Nous venons aujourd’hui, à bout de patience, réclamer nos droits méconnus, bafoués par l’Américain sans scrupule qui, détruisant nos institutions, dépouille le peuple haïtien de toutes ses ressources et se regorge de notre nom et de notre sang. Cruels et injustes, les Yankees ont depuis quatre ans promené la ruine et la désolation sur notre territoire…nous réclamonts la libération de notre territoire et les avantages reconnus per le droit international aux Etats libres et indépendants. ~ Charlemagne Peralte, 1919
I lost the very long post i wrote here about Charlemagne Peralte. I’ll have to repost some time when i’m not in the middle of writing a dissertation chapter. Just know that he is the rather tall and dapper (i’d dare say best dressed) man in each photo (near center top, third from right bottom).
More gems from NARA
I’ve been trying to figure out the years for these photos. Clearly, they are from different periods of the occupation. When the gendarmes were first recruited (recruitment and training actually started before the signing of the Treaty, and quite possibly illegally), uniforms were simply US military uniforms with the buttons changed. Over time, the Gendarmerie eventually had its own uniforms made. Interestingly, most of the officers of the gendarmes were white military personnel. Throughout WWI, they were most often enlisted men who had been drafted - meaning they were not at all interested in or trained to actually be officers of anyone. Which makes me think these two photos are at far reaches of either end of the occupation. Unfortunately, these did not have captions printed on the back (or i was so exhausted that i simply failed to take note - which is absolutely a possibility as i found these just days before my time in DC was up).
Monograph on Haiti - during the occupation
I found this tome (it truly is a tome!) in NARA and desperately wanted to scan the thing, but couldn’t. I’m now regretting it. Think i need to figure out where it is in the archives and have a proper sit-down with it.
1849. Grace Cathedral
We wandered into Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill on Sunday. There was a lovely art installation envisioned by Anne Patterson, the artist in resident. The installation was created using 20 miles of ribbon that were hung from the rafters. The blue ribbons were put up first in the Spring, and then parishioners wrote their prayers on red ribbons that were installed in the Summer.
Grace Cathedral is the outgrowth of Grace Chapel, a small chapel built at the height of the Gold Rush, in 1849. The third structure (Grace Cathedral) was destroyed during the 1906 Earthquake and subsequent fire. The current structure was completed in 1964 and was built on land donated by the Crocker family.
The cathedral has become an international pilgrimage center for church-goers and visitors alike, famed for its mosaics by De Rosen, a replica of Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, two labyrinths, varied stained glass windows, Keith Haring AIDS Chapel altarpiece, and medieval and contemporary furnishings, as well as its 44 bell carillon, three organs, and choirs.
Barber of Seville at SFOpera
We went to see SFOpera’s Barber of Seville on Thursday. It was a last-minute thing - we discovered there were student rush tickets (only $25 day-of-show) and got amazing seats in Row R (we’re moving up in the world!). During the intermission, we clambered to the highest level of seating and had a look at the beautiful opera house from above. The acoustics up there were actually great, and there is a gorgeous view of the accompanying symphony from up there. We also had a wander around the hall, and found an open door on the second level. I’ll post the rest of the pictures of the view in another post.
The Barber of Seville has opened to rave reviews in SF. And i would have to agree. The sets were gorgeously original - simple in design, but complex in their malleability. The cast were lovely. And i really appreciated the originality of the staging and blocking. Even the lighting was delightful. The final scene is really one for a good chuckle (can’t give it away!).
The story of the Barber of Seville is a rather typical comedic opera - a lecherous old man is trying to wed his charge (who is loaded and half his age). She falls in love with a handsome young man (who is loaded, but pretends to be a pauper). The Barber of Seville (Figero - remember Bugs Bunny?) is the man who makes it all happen - passing letters, arranging meetings, keeping people informed to meet the ends. Love prevails.
We were treated to Daniela Mack’s Rosina, and i couldn’t be happier. She simply stole the entire show (this short video link is the cast we saw).