Chapter 96: COVID Chronicles

July 2, 2020

By Karen

Day 113

Stonewall Jackson is DOWN & I Locate TV’s Bottom

Yesterday afternoon, during violent thunderstorms, a crew from Connecticut came and lifted from their pedestal Stonewall Jackson and his horse on Monument Avenue. They were trucked to a secret storage location as a crowd watched and cheered. (I think for a minute they were chanting “Fuck the statues.”)…

Never missing any chance to get the Civil War on the front page, the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial staff must have had a mass orgasm laying out today’s paper…

As of July 1, the Confederate statues became the property of the City of Richmond, and Mayor Levar Stoney immediately ordered them all taken down. I believe as I type this that they’re removing the statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury from Monument Avenue as well.

Robert E. Lee still belongs to the state, and a judge has temporarily blocked his removal, even though Governor Northam has said the thing has to go.

I still feel bad for the horses. They’re all noble and none deserve to be humiliated this way. They didn’t get to choose their riders or which side to fight on.

Once all the statues are gone, I wonder if they’ll go after the White House of the Confederacy downtown, which is now a museum, but was once Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ HQ. I’ve lived here 48 years and if I’ve ever passed this place, I didn’t know it. I think this is a view of the back. The front is nondescript…

Photo Trip Advisor

Around 1977, when I’d been here only five years and was already fed up with Richmond’s Civil War fixation, I was dabbling in bad poetry and wrote a sarcastic poem called “Monument Ave.” In hindsight, I realize it was probably mistaken as a patriot’s ode to Dixie when it was published in the Piedmont Literary Review. You’re in luck! I still have it…

Defeated generals
on green horses
direct traffic
where
they once
churned the clay
red to cover
the dead
who
shall rise again.

Leafing through my old binder of poetic output I have mostly no recollection of writing, I’m surprised how much I got published, although it never earned a cent. You got paid in copies if you were lucky.

The other night I happened upon a show on PBS whose very title seems to constitute TV’s official bottom of the barrel. It was, Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees. I’m not kidding. This is a real thing…

Naturally, I DVRed it. And as I sat there later watching it and thinking how this lockdown has finally driven me completely off a cliff, it turned out quite fascinating and I learned a lot.

My father can tell you how protective I am about the many trees on my property. I’ve been known to throw absolute shit-fits (known these days as “going full Karen”) anytime someone prunes them without my permission or suggests cutting them down. I won’t bore you with the technical stuff I learned from Judi, but if you have any interest at all in trees and can catch this, it’s quite good.

BONUS: Melania Trump (a.k.a. actress Laura Benanti) recently visited Stephen Colbert. We haven’t seen her in ages…


Chapter 82: COVID Chronicles

June 18, 2020

By Karen

Day 99

It’s Tough Being a Statue & My Tasty Tuna Salad

Richmond’s down to 10 Confederate statues (from 13). Earlier this week, protesters spray-painted and yanked off its pedestal a rather nondescript one called “Richmond Howitzers.” I’m sure I’ve driven past it multiple times over the years, but can’t say I ever noticed it existed until it bit the dust…

Alexa Welch Edlund/AP

I think my Yankee-bred radar has conditioned itself to ignore Civil War blips because they never quit. It even comes up in some of my work, in academic contexts.

But Richmond being Richmond, some tit for tat to Black Lives Matter was inevitable. Yesterday someone spray-painted White Lives Matter graffiti on the pedestal of tennis hero Arthur Ashe’s statue. I’m not a tennis fan, but the Ashe statue is truly fascinating. I get creeped out every time I see it…

Sports Illustrated

He’s posed as if he’s about to serve a stack of books. And what’s with those sawed-off children? They’re straight out of Stephen King.

The Ashe statue was placed on Monument Avenue in 1996 after a protracted battle to get it there. But they made sure he was well apart from the Confederates. Here’s a rough map of where they all sit…

Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project

After erecting the statue, believe it or not, Richmond honored Ashe AGAIN.

Richmond had this wide old street named just “The Boulevard.” It’s home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the new “Rumors of War” statue, and crosses Monument Avenue at one point. One year ago, on June 22, The Boulevard was renamed Arthur Ashe Blvd.

There’s some talk of renaming myriad streets around here that have Confederate names. But if they start on that path, it will directly affect a large portion of the population, cost a fortune for address changes, and nobody will be able to find anything anymore.

Footnote: I didn’t mention this because it wasn’t initially reported, but when the statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was pulled down, his face got bashed in. I don’t know if it happened in the fall or deliberately. Assuming no one will pay to restore him, he’s probably toast. It’s all for the best.

Back on the home front, I’m out of lunchmeat. I only buy it at Aldi because it costs considerably more in Food Lion, so today I made tuna salad for lunch. It never turns out the same way twice, depending on what I have on hand.

I do prefer giving it crunch with radishes over celery because 1) radishes are spicier, and 2) I can never use up a bunch of celery before it goes bendy.

I eyeball the quantities and use just enough mayo make it hang together. Old Bay seasoning is excellent on just about any fish (and popcorn!). Here’s all I threw into this batch and it turned out delicious…

Of course, as soon as they heard the can opener, Tony and Roc came running for tuna juice. I gave them some of the plain people tuna as well, but Roc turned up his nose and left it for Tony.

By the way, Roc sends his regards. Windows are open today and he’s enjoying the outdoors from a kitty perch…

Max, still determined to keep his new spot on the couch, has been there since breakfast. He’s got amazing bladder capacity…

Tony just brought to my attention his resemblance to the little cat drawing that’s hung for years above the Kitty Condo near Clark Gable…

BTW, we’re all prepping Tony to watch his first Triple Crown race Saturday, the Belmont. We’ll see if horses are his thing. Adele would be so pleased.

 


Chapter 76: COVID Chronicles

June 12, 2020

By Karen

Day 93

Toilet Paper Review & A Confederate Symbol That REALLY Needs to Go

When I accepted 14 rolls of Scott toilet paper my parents rejected after my mother complained it was too thin, I thought she was just being picky…

Turns out she wasn’t. I started using a roll, and this is the same paper you find in public restrooms on those big industrial rolls, where you have to pull off 6 feet to keep from soaking your hand and dripping dry.

This paper is so thin, they could almost make contact lenses from it.

The upside is that every other toilet paper in the house will now feel luxurious. I got a 32-pack of Quilted Northern at Sam’s Club back in April that I haven’t tapped yet. It’s going to feel like I’m wiping with pillows.

No other Confederate statues got ravaged last night, but yesterday the Richmond Police Memorial statue commemorating officers killed in the line of duty was removed for its own safety from Byrd Park after protesters hit him with red spray paint…

Photo Richmond Free Press

I assume he’s now comparing notes somewhere with Jefferson Davis and Columbus.

I read today that Virginia has the second highest concentration of Confederate statues in the South. Only Georgia has more. The Richmond area alone has 13.

Well, 11, since Davis and Wickham came down. Columbus doesn’t count because he had no dog in the Civil War fight.

But this is not to say that Richmond has made no headway in honoring African Americans. We’ve got statues of tennis champion Arthur Ashe, dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Maggie Walker, a prominent black teacher businesswoman from the early 1900s, and the newest statue in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, “Rumors of War,” which depicts a black man wearing Nikes, posed like the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue…

Photos Left: VMFA. Right: Richmond.com

What really should go is the Confederate flag. It causes far more mayhem than any statue because it’s portable and wearable. Amazingly, NASCAR just banned it, although that will be hard to enforce once NASCAR fans are allowed back in.

These are people who watch cars drive in circles for hours. Instead of expending any thought to design a flag depicting whatever it is they DO stand for — if not racism and white supremacy — they wave a symbol of the dead Confederacy as if the South has a prayer of rising again, populated by morons who still carry a grudge against black people 155 years later.

Moving on to cat news, this morning while I was reading the paper I could hear Tony being cute with the Chewy box. As soon as he realized I noticed, here’s what he did (watch the middle of the paper)…

A few minutes later, I tried again. This time he circled me like a shark…

After I gave up and went back to the newspaper, he settled in his perch and allowed me this shot of his adorable toes…


Chapter 68: COVID Chronicles

June 4, 2020

By Karen

Day 85

Egg Foo Yung for Breakfast & Robert E. Lee’s Going Down — AGAIN

Another sweltering day in the 90s. Roc and Tony are pissed I won’t open windows. Despite air conditioning and fans, this heat does funny things to cats. Max just gave me a scare.

You know how you get used to seeing a cat in his regular hangouts? Well, Roc was asleep in my office when I took my lunch dish down to the kitchen. Tony was in his living room perch by the window. But Max’s bed by the sliding door was empty. Max wasn’t on the kitchen table, either. Hmm…

Back upstairs, I double-checked the Man Cave. Empty. So, back downstairs. Max NEVER goes into my bedroom during the day, but I looked in anyway. No one on the the bed. Could he be under it? No. In my closet? No.

This is the last place I’d look because Max has NEVER been here before …

Under the TV. That little shag rug was a 1981 wedding present. After decades in the linen closet, now it’s a cat bed. The only one who ever goes there is Roc. Max is giving tit for tat to Roc for stealing the rocker.

Last night I finally got my China Taste takeout. Boneless spareribs, hot and spicy beef, hot and sour soup, and chicken egg foo yung. I’ll be living large on Chinese into next week.

China Taste is tiny. It had three bare-bones tables, a walk-up counter, and the kitchen. Now you can’t go past the front door. They’ve gone contactless.

The new door is plexiglass on top with a ledge and a little sliding drawer for passing payment through. They place your food in a big pullout drawer in the bottom. The lady who rang me out put on a fresh glove first so she wouldn’t touch my credit card. We were both wearing masks. The only thing I touched was the pen chained to the ledge to sign my slip and the pullout drawer handle. I was impressed.

So I started today with egg foo yung. It’s an omelet. With gravy. And rice. The breakfast of champions — because I didn’t have to cook it.

Governor Northam is taking down the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue and putting it in storage until they figure out what to do with it. Lee is the only statue the state has clear title to…

Four other Confederate statues on Monument Avenue aren’t state-owned and remain in limbo — Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, Matthew Fontaine Maury (a naval officer I know zip about), and President Jefferson Davis.

I was born and educated up North, so I never got to marinate in the grudge some Southerners still nurse over losing the Civil War. I always thought erecting statues of losers was stupid, but watching for 48 years how Richmond simply could not, would not, let go of the Civil War, I get it. But it’s still sick.

Five years ago, after the Charleston church massacre, I advocated keeping the statues and banning the Confederate flag.

But now that Trump has made racism cool again, I agree it’s time for the statues to go to museums, where they can’t be any group’s centerpiece for hate.

I’m sorry Lee is going first. He was conflicted about fighting against the Union, so I’ll give him that. However, since he ultimately put misplaced loyalty to the South above his U.S. citizenship, he does deserve a downgrade.

Jefferson Davis is the one I can’t stand. A chicken-fried wannabe Lincoln, that incompetent prick was a Trump-like coward who abandoned Richmond when the Yankees showed up. He was found hiding in Danville. So Richmond proudly erected this huge statue to honor such a small, small man…

Today, if our military seriously pushes back on Trump’s intention to make it his personal guard who will keep him in the White House for life, it wouldn’t surprise me if  Trump lams out of D.C. to escape indictment and arrest as Biden is sworn in next January. The question is, who would take him?


Who Needs Civil War Statues When We Have Trump?

August 17, 2017

By Karen

Donald Trump’s only consistency is that whenever he expresses a reasonable thought, he’s compelled to flip it into something bonkers. He can’t help himself, and nobody seems able to stop him.

His flip-flops on the Charlottesville riots are the latest — perhaps most egregious — examples. In my previous post is video of his first two prepared statements. His ad lib in the first one blaming “many sides” set everyone’s hair on fire. Two days later he tried again and read mean things he clearly didn’t believe about the KKK and neo-Nazis.

Then the very next day, in a berserk press conference on infrastructure, Trump insisted the residents of Charlottesville deserved blame because they didn’t have a permit to repel racists who invaded their city with flaming torches. But then he added that “both” sides have some “fine people.”

Yeah, like those few good Mexicans who slip into the country along with the drug dealers and rapists.

The Washington Post has exposed Trump’s KKK tie by resurrecting how his father Fred was an active member who got arrested at a riot in Queens in 1927.

Trump may resent Charlottesville’s residents for picking on what he sees as his heritage. Any of those white supremacists could have been Dad.

At the end of that press conference, he flipped AGAIN on Charlottesville, bragging about owning a home there and claiming it’s the biggest winery in the United States.

Lies on both counts. The Trump Winery website has this disclaimer, where son Eric makes clear who’s the boss there…

“Trump Winery is a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their affiliates.”

And as of 2016, the winery qualified as the largest vineyard in Virginia by acreage, but it lagged far behind others statewide and nationally in wine production.

And now Trump has weighed in on the one piece he knows NOTHING about — Confederate statues. Unsurprisingly, he wants to keep them because he has no understanding whatsoever of what they signify. He conflated George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, founders of the country, with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who fought to tear it in half for the preservation of slavery.

It’s increasingly clear that the only way to stop attracting Trump’s roaches to the South is to get rid of the bait. Stonewall Jackson’s great-great-grandsons wrote a great letter about his statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond.

They live here and want the statue to go. It’s a must-read.

We could use Charlottesville to take this conversation in a new direction. Rather than dwelling on Trump’s shifty positions and motivations, we should focus on making him answerable for being a racial divider — in addition to his myriad personal conflicts of interest and destructive actions on trade, climate change, and foreign relations.

Yes, I’m talking about impeachment. It’s time to start that discussion.

PS: Richmond just caught a break. The guy who applied for a permit to rally around the Lee statue on Monument Avenue on September 16 withdrew because he doesn’t want the haters to show up.

BONUS: Seth Meyers takes a closer look. #insightful #hilarious


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