cover Battle of Manassas
Thomas ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins
and 1st Battle of Bull Run
“Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.” – 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War
July 1861, Manassas Virginia
Everything caught them off guard. From the cunning strategy of General Beauregard, to the fortitude of the Confederate army; from the induction of psychological warfare – known later as the Rebel Yell. From length and intensity of the American Civil War’s first major land battle, and ultimately to the realization, that the stampede of Union troops headed in their direction, were not galloping in jubilant celebration, but running in a chaotic retreat.
Hundreds of civilians had been picnicking in the distance, anticipating a swift and victorious ending. The reality of war crashed down like thunder, as they turned and fled with their soldiers. While the 1st Battle of Bull Run was a clear win for the Confederacy – with thousands dead, wounded and missing, the Battle of Manassas – the bloodiest combat in the Republic’s 85 year history – proved too costly to stand as a war victory, so Blind Tom offered victory in song.
“In an age before recorded sound, Blind Tom’s Battle of Manassas was perhaps the only reference point whereby soldiers, citizens and slaves could make sense of the aural assault.” Author Deirdre O’Connell, The Ballad of Blind Tom
Battle of Manassas
composed by Thomas ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins
courtesy of Tiesha Dynell Wiggins
Born blind and into slavery, Thomas ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins, also suffered from a severe mental health disorder (believed to be autistic savant), that allowed only limited awareness to self: a passionate appetite and a musical ability, that had never been seen. At age 5, he composed The Rain Storm. By the age of 8, he was performing live on a sold out national circuit. And by age 11, he became the first Black American to give a command performance by invitation of the White House. But it was 1861, and the sounds of war, that gave rise to Battle of Manassas, a masterpiece of its time.
“Tom’s impressionistic musical description of the battle pits the harmony of the right hand against the discord of the left. An insistent bass conjures the trudge of marching columns, tonal clusters evoke the roar of cannon and musketry. A brooding soundscape then ducks, weaves and punches its way into a medley of popular and patriotic songs – Yankee Doodle, Dixie, The Star Spangled Banner and Le Marseillaise – discord tugging at the heels of the melody until it finally implodes into the chaos of a harem-scarem finale.” – The Ballad of Blind Tom
Blind Tom died as a free man in 1908, but remained under the care of the former wife of General Bethune. In a career filled with music, Thomas Wiggins became the highest paid pianist of the 19th Century, making a fortune for the Bethunes, who became financial supporters of the Confederate army. And so, the Confederacy of the last slave would see a man pay for his own loss of freedom, exposing an ideology, that had to be defeated.
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
“I don’t know what it is about the open road that makes it so appealing. Maybe its because when you’re headed somewhere, you don’t have to be where you’ve already been.” ~ Steve Hofstetter
November 9, 2016 The winds finally died down in the wee hours of the morning, and the collective sigh of relief, could be heard across the land, as the cyclone of an election finally had come to an end. The citizens and immigrants and visitors caught in the crossfire, wandered outside to survey the damage and hoped that the new President and the defeated opponent, had shaken hands and began the clean up. But to their dismay and not a bit of a surprise, a new political storm was already bearing down.
But the 1st Wednesday of this November will be different
by David Luntz
The Drive Before The 1st Tuesday of November
by Kendall F. Person
Heading south from British Columbia Canada, Blaine Washington, located right on the border serves as the welcoming committee to the United States. The Pacific Northwest may endure a nine-month stretch of cloudy or rainy days, but the color green of all those evergreens is breathtaking in its richness and is more than a fair trade. Interstate 5 runs north to south, and Seattle – the emerald city sparkles like a diamond, about 2 1/2 hours into the drive. Immediately crossing the Columbia river, places us in the heart of Oregon’s largest city: the underplayed Portland or the City of Roses. Halfway down, passed Eugene the air dries out and the greenery fades, but before we hit the Golden State we skirt the parameters of a village named Ashland, home to the nationally acclaimed Shakespeare Festival. On and on, north to south continue driving and California is where we are now.
Change directions, look toward the east and soon the road opens to the desert southwest of The Grand Canyon State and the Land of Enchantment before entering the Lone Star State. The United States of America is the 3rd largest country by area as well as population. And the southern accents of the deep south, appear foreign in comparison to the Nordic dialect of Minnesota and the Dakotas. But American, each and everyone, and in all shades as well.
I have driven across our nation 8 times, taking a different route and managing to spend time in 42 of the lower 48. Clean and different and beautiful with modern freeways and spectacular bridges, like the Seven Mile Bridge, that connects the Florida keys, in the middle of the sea. Amish in Western Pennsylvania, Geechee on the Outer Banks of South Carolina, Native in Oklahoma, Mormon in Utah and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles with generations that pre-date the United States. America is a nation so large and complex, that its diversity blossoms simply from generations of us.
The Eastern Corridor – the population mother lode of the Red, White & Blue – runs from Baltimore Maryland and Washington D.C. through Wilmington Delaware, Philadelphia and straight to the Big Apple, Within mere miles of the Statue of Liberty, we reach the gateway to the New England States – original colonies, you see (Do Englanders visit Boston?)
“The open road is the school of doubt in which man learns faith in man.” ~ Pico Iyer
But so much anger, division, threats and violence: if we paid attention to ourselves, we would know that this is nuts. Respected around the world, home of the best Universities academia has set forward. Homeless we do have, but nary an American, or immigrant or guests ends the day on an empty stomach; and if they do it is by choice or cruelty, for food we have in abundance. Entertainment everywhere, shopping malls resemble palaces, and by the rule of law, we are free to move around – day or night, man or woman, while singing whatever song we like. But more dammit! we must have it and we do not want to relocate or change careers or re educate or take a pay cut or pitch in so that everyone has health insurance. Or search within, God forbid we accept that our own choices are the root cause of our mistakes. Or accept them, and pretend that we are good; or we have been driving wreckless for so long long, that we are running out of exit ramps.
But never that. Life is good. The bumps are bad and fair was never at the table.
But all is not lost, not even close. If we the people, and I myself take a deep breathe, and make a stand and understand that the open road, which regenerates the mind, lightens the soul, can be a daily walk around a different block. or a hop on a city bus or a long drive to a place that we have never been before. We must find a way to stop the internal spinning, to be beneficial in electing a government non-corrupt, that veers off of the collision course, less the morning after, we allow the political placeholders to spin us off – not over a literal cliff – but into eternal divisions, between… we really do not know who, just others that someone told us was the root cause of our problems. A real wall we do not need, because the imaginary one that we construct around ourselves or that our leaders announce is surrounding our borders, will be high enough. And although we will find someone to blame, when we cannot breathe, world history will note, that the people of the most prosperous and strong and beautiful nation on God’s Green Earth (if in fact, we still believe) failed ourselves; and sunk in the blood of the generations, will be us they read about.
But we can right our ship or fix the leaks and make a contribution to change the system on a national scale. We have until the 1st Monday of November to take and return from the drive.
this is… The Neighborhood
Photographs courtesy of Places at Pixabay
Introduction: Your first time in The Neighborhood? Welcome. So glad you made it. Perceived as a post, each individual entry is in fact a performance, and while in its entirety, it is known as a blog, we call it The Show. Nothing is random, and by absorbing each video, every song, the images, the words and spinning with your imagination, you will discover, the story within the story. – Kendall F. Person
“Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely is made for the eye of one who sees.” – Rumi
The Definition of Beautiful
What is beautiful? Is the definition found in a smile, that so illuminates, it acts like a contagion, quickly spreading, but unlike wildfire is easily doused out? Does beauty come from deep within; from the soul or the heart or some other intangible place, that springs forward through aura? Can beautiful turn ugly? Can it be used against others in a way that karma takes note of? Does beautiful do as beautiful does? Is it an abstract or does it follow a single definition, living inside of or impossible to box? Or is the very definition of beauty itself, defined by a physical presence, that runs no deeper than the skin? Is beautiful a timid little flower, linked to a fragile self-esteem? Locked inside a castle like Rapunzel, awaiting for someone to call her beautiful? Or is beautiful its own power, a complex tug of war between immortality and dead, that no one has ever truly achieved it?
But no matter how we see or define or recognize beauty, is not as nearly important as how beautiful is portrayed.
from Vancouver, British Columbia
Beautiful by Iseda
5th Annual The Underground’s Most Beautiful People
produced in The Neighborhood
created by Kendall F. Person
Age like time can be friend or foe. The battle scars of life and even the joyous occasions often manifest in our faces. But for 66 years old Phyllis Burden of Sacramento, time has applied age with grace, giving no reason to ponder her inclusion on the 2018 Most Beautiful People list.
Shrestha Bibash of Kathmandu Nepal is most remembered from his very real presence in 2015’s powerful Young Black Men. Young Bibash’s initial 2014 arrival was a year before his time, but he took rejection like a champ. As it turned out, English was not his native language, and in fact, had failed the class. But he was determined, to not just learn it, but master the craft of writing. And the young man, a junior in high school then, would become my first mentee within The Neighborhood. It is his drive, dedication and respect in which his name and face were added to the 2018 Most Beautiful People list.
If measured only by a single photograph, no backstory known, no follow up questions asked or answered, Jameelah Zayla Lawson speaks for beautiful itself.
California’s throwback Top 2 Primary system allows for Kevin de Leon’s entry, without making it political, as his opponent for the US Senate is also a democrat – Senator Dianne Feinstein. As noted by the lead judge, however “He deserved to make the 2018 Most Beautiful People list, either way.”
It is not just that she is beautiful, because she is, but something about her presence, something emitting from her smile, that makes everyone’s smile around her, just a little brighter too. In a sign o’times of ugly, Carla Matthews’ exclusion from the 2018 Most Beautiful People list, would have been ugly too.
An agent in the entertainment industry and a purveyor of the good time, Damondraos Owens – as quiet as its kept – may have the pedigree of a local kingmaker. But power mixed with a GQ style, can often leave one hollow, but from what we learned about Mr. Owens, he is a pretty nice guy. And just for good measure, he adds a Hollywood style element, to the 2018 Most Beautiful People list.
Laura Clemente, a media broadcaster on Radio Ona has such a radiant presence, we imagine that even when delivering bad or tragic news. she has a way of softening the blow, in a professional manner. One of three from the international community to make the 2018 Most Beautiful People’s list, she is numero uno from Barcelona to appear on The Neighborhood stage.
Some people were purposely selected, some were submitted and survived the judges panel. Marie Chidi Okerie of Lagos Nigeria, the only person to ever make more than one list, was cut in the final round, preventing an unprecedented third appearance. But I am certain she is still all smiles in noting, her countryman Babalola Boluwatife, has continued the tradition. But Young Boluwatife has a ways to go to leave his mark, as Charles Okpere (Lagos) has set an unbalanced bar – wavering between exceptional talent, marred by expulsions – oh so high.
A well known Democratic activist on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, there are few who work as hard, and donate so much of themselves to a cause they truly believe in. A tiring, at times ungrateful endeavor, but win or lose, Ms. Phinney never gives up the fight. Her appearance on the 2018 Most Beautiful People’s list, adds gravitas to the strength of beautiful.
There is something about a mother’s love, that we can take witness to, via the eyes of their child, as amplified in the photograph of Mrs. Calhoun and her daughter. It is that kind of love – the unconditional kind – that defines beauty’s essence as something more. It is also of value to note, for only the second time, a mother/daughter duet has made The Underground’s Most Beautiful People’s list.
We hope you have enjoyed the show, and that beautiful has been defined in the same way as you. But before the curtain falls, we must admit to a stunning faux paus. The photograph below, was submitted anonymously without being noticed. The young man – now referred to as the smiling unknown, flew through the judging panel and approved by lead judge. After our discovery, that we had no idea who he is or how to reach him, although we scoured the internet, it was never considered to rescind his name, for the Smiling Unknown had made the 2018 Most Beautiful People’s list, fair and square.
Perhaps, the photograph represents, the beautiful in us all.
this is…. The Neighborhood
Please support The Neighborhood by making a donation and help continue the tradition of arts, entertainment & activism.
“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”
– George Carlin
Circus by Britney Spears
“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.” – Ben Hecht
The Labor Day Circus
by Kendall F. Person
I had no idea, until yesterday what Labor Day was really about. I have asked friends and relatives the very same thing, and only a younger sister knew for certain, as she is active in a union, which is what Labor Day is all about.
In the late 1800s, at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, it was not at all uncommon for the workforce to put in 12 hour back-breaking days, while the owners ate cake. The self-centered elites even pushed children as young as 5 years old to toil in mills, mines and factories, paying them not much more than former slave wages. Call them socialist or rebel rousers or whatever the term of the day, but when Americans used their freedoms, to demand safe working conditions and ordinary work days, allowed millions to pursue the idea of the American Dream. But the corporate bullies would not easily bend, and with the heavy hand of the US Government on their side, workers resorted to walkouts and strikes, and it did not take long for violence to explode. On May 11, 1884 in Chicago Illinois several strikers and officers lost their lives, and it would not be long before Labor Day was born. It is to honor the men and women of the labor force.
Why has this become of national importance? Turn to the person right next to you, and ask them in truth, if standing for the National Anthem was ever a rule, that any authority had ever told them they were ordered to do. When I was in grade school, every day we stood with our hands over our hearts and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But the National Anthem, we did not. So the masses stood because they wanted to. So the President made up a rule on the spot, “You are un-American if you don’t stand for the flag.” Pure fallacy with the desired and achieved effect to further fan the racial flames. Damn shame. What kind of President do we have?
But enough about him… HAPPY LABOR DAY to the hard working, long hours, underpaid, no health insurance labor force of the USA and around the world.
2018 Democrat nominee
Beto O’Rourke, Texas US Senate Race
WINNERS LOSERS BUSTERS & LEMMINGS
by Kendall F. Person
& special guest contributor Juanita Rodgers
For a few moments, we were all Americans again and reminded, that not only does hope spring eternal, but we must become thinkers and imagine our way to a non divisive world. Perhaps it was a mirage, but Beto O’Rourke without shade or division or boasting of self, demonstrated what an all-inclusive, down for the nation US Senator of all the USA can do. But Texas must see it in their native son first.
Straight out of high school, he was the number one draft pick of the NBA. Married his high school sweetheart and by all accounts, is happily married till this very day. Captured his first title in Miami and then moved back home and delivered a championship to the home team in Cleveland. Takes the lead in activistism, as opposed to resting on his laurels and at only 33 years old, has amassed a fortune of nearly a half billion dollars, which he shares with the less fortunate by building a school with an imagined name: I Promise in Akron, Ohio.
For somewhere around 15 years, he was a bully and a fixer and a fool of a man. An attorney with a family, who made the conscious decision to put his life up in support of one man. And now, a confessed felon, with federal prison sentence to soon be served. But this story is not as much about Mr. Cohen, but for all of us. Do we believe in the power of redemption, that everyone is just as capable of turning from bad to good, from outlaw to a patriot, or a self-centered flunky to a beloved family man? Implicating his former boss, leaves no chance of a coveted pardon, so why are we challenged in believing, that he bought his soul back from the devil?
US Justice Department
Since the 2016 elections, the United States Justice Department has been under a public relations attack. A relentless barrage of vicious Presidential tweets, firings from the top down and hounded like the enemy. But the international humiliation on a shared stage in Helsinki, was a blow so low, that no one saw it coming. And yet at the punishing congressional hearings, they held their heads high and testified without blinking. But it was – at last – US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who either corralled his courage or had enough of the nonsense, but when he tweeted back, it was not so much to join in a no-win, unnecessary fight to the finish, but to finally stand up for and deliver respect to the embattled members of the rank and file men and women.
“However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the United States,” – Jeff Sessions
From the moment the current administration was sworn in they were ruthless in implementing their campaign promises and plans. The Muslim Ban, the Trans Ban, the sons of bitches of the NFL, the alt-right, the nazis, the border crossing fiasco, the privatization of government land, all could have turned out very differently, if not for a steadfast resistance that never tired of rallying together.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. – Revelations 8:7
During one of the hottest summers on record, not simply breaking but shattering all time heat records: 97.9 in Montreal, 105 in Denver, 111 in Los Angeles, and perhaps the hottest day in Africa’s history, when Algeria hit a dizzying 124. And all the while, the fires erupted, darkening out the famed California blue skies, burning 147 structures, down to the ground. And since climate change was thrown out by the USA, the only nation on planet earth to do so, water shortages and predictions that the fire season in California has yet to reach its peak, fall on deaf ears. But what screamed the loudest was the silence of the believers. For in the most unexpected twist of a fate, a once God-fearing political party, has placed their trust and fear in man.
Let the fires burn and Revelations be damned.
from… Omarosa and Donald Trump. If This Were a Different Story
If she were only able to redefine herself, after accepting a top government post, her cries of racism and government abuse, would not be filled with clouds of doubt. And using the race card of all things, in this intense racial climate we find ourselves in, would not have been even her last resort, let alone her first card thrown. For 15 years she has supported the same man, that she now denotes as racist, only because it benefits her.
But the story within the story, may prove more disheartening than the story itself, as an already divided nation has chosen sides, between the two all time champs in vindictiveness, backstabbing, grifting and the gaslighting of America.
Fox News has by accident or strategically chosen to play both sides. Through Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace and a surprising Neil Cavuto, along with the recent walkouts of a small stream of pundits and field reporters who have had enough, have somewhat changed the balance from the traditional propaganda and ‘state tv’, that has made Fox News, much watched viewing in the conservative political realm. But Harris Faulkner appears out of the loop, walking the high-wire completely blind. When the sexist and demeaning “You dog!” was tweeted at Omarosa, who had on a dime, publicly changed sides, Harris was on air and without a lead-in nor talking posts to guide her, she instantly supported the dog caller “I see it as free speech…” not realizing a host of party faithfuls and pundits from her own network, had seen the tweet as a bridge too far and shouted the “She’s a dog!” down, stating is was far beneath the dignity of the President of the United States.
All of the musical voices to choose from, to pay tribute to Aretha Franklin at the recent VMA’s, Madonna had to be the logical choice, only because of her big name. A long time Madonna fan, I have always been, but as of late she appears erratic and silly and doing her best to make everything all about her. Like during the MeToo movement, on the day after 45s inauguration, threatening to blow up the White House, did nothing to support the movement, but rather delivered ammunition to the administration she was there to protest.
Sometimes even highly acclaimed artists can make a faux paus or misstep, but rarely do they come off as self-seekers of the moment, ironically by saluting herself instead of honoring the life of Aretha Franklin, she came across like the person she hates most; And the once young, hip MTV Video Music Awards seemed rickety and old and passed its prime.
But long live the Queen of Soul.
by contributing writer Juanita Rodgers of Cortland, IL
The continual and seemingly non stop violence in Chicago, needs guidance. Chicago requires a bigger village, one where more are willing to reach in the neighborhoods where violence has taken a toll. Residents of the Windy City, fed up with the senseless shootings and hearing mothers cry in the dark. I think that those involved with such activity thrive off the fact that Chicago is known for gang warfare and violence, harketing back to the Al Capone days. So they possess the ‘I don’t care about your life’ syndrome, which dangerous and sad and no way to live. They know that nothing is going to be done so they continue with the violent behavior. They have the attitude that if you say something or look at me the wrong way you might get shot dead. Even those who are not violent will use the fact that they are from Chicago as a protective shell by saying, “I’m from Chicago so you don’t want to mess with me.”
Coming from a smaller city to the third largest in the nation, I too have to keep my “Bad Girl” face on, so I can blend in. I feel like if I look weak I am an easy target so I have to speak a language, that I don’t understand (if that makes sense). I have not lost hope, however and still believe in change. Remove the old leaders and replace them with fresh vibrant ones, is where we should start. I have always believed that people react positively, to those who actually have walked in their shoes. Not someone who sits behind a desk all day trying to figure out what to do. Knock on doors and ask the neighborhood people, “What can be done to end the violence and promote change?” Strengthen schools, creating jobs and connecting communities through communication and bonding through team activities is what I would say. It is not all gang related, but many have lost hope.
But if by chance the good people of Chicagoland are holding out that hope for the President to deliver on his campaign promise, “To end crime in Chicago within a week…” I pray they are not holding their breath. Since his inauguration in 2016, he has visited Illinois only once: a steel mill in Granite City, some 300 miles from Chicagoland.
Leadership not talk, can make the difference between life and death.
The other day, I forced myself to watch a 20 minute episode of Cuomo Prime Time on CNN arguing with White House advisor Kellyanne Conway. While I did respect Cuomo for not allowing Kellyanne to either ignore the question on the table or proceed on a lie. but that was all. Not only was nothing knew learned, but nothing of the banter between the two talking heads was worth anything at all, giving Kellyanne the win since it was Cuomo’s shows. I figured out some time ago, with their panels growing larger each day and the arguments becoming just as intense, and it became commonplace to see the CNN host, pick a fight when the other side was in agreement, while not fake news, nor was it news tv. But perhaps, the most disingenuous of it all, is that each panelist is paid to stand their ground, so common ground during any particular segment, has zero chance of being found.
Parents of Stolen Immigrant Children
Lemmings by force, if they ever wish to see their children again, they must jump through strange hoops and dance to a weirdo beat. If we did not want them in the country, why not just turn them away, rather than take their precious gifts away. The love of a parent is often an unconditional special kind, and the idea of never seeing them again or not knowing how they are being treated, is akin to being pushed off a cliff.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
I cannot image, that White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was born a liar. But the longer she maintains her post, the more comfortable she has become in spewing venom and untruths before a live audience of millions of American people. But with so many in the administration jumping ship – through indictments, convictions, firing and resignations – if Sarah does not have her come to Jesus moment soon, she may find herself as the sole survivor long after the Trump era has gone. Because if her role is foreign to her, the nightmares that will invade her sleep will stay with her until the end of days.
this is… The Neighborhood
I join the 52 club, yesterday (big smile)