Mar 14, 2012
Jan 31, 2012
“In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdan Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdan — who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family — responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according tonewspapers at the time, he dictated).”
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,
Dec 15, 2011
Dec 14, 2011
Last week while flying to San Diego for work I watched a documentary on the plane called Freedom Riders which aired on PBS last year at some point. Sure, I’d read about this particular branch of the civil rights movement but never in the detail that is expressed in this film. Watching this film just reminded me that for all my good intentions and for all the thoughts that send chills up my spine; I’ve never done anything truly meaningful in my life, and likely never will.
It’s been a while since that subject matter was really a part of my life. I mean, I see my W.E.B. Dubois tattoo every day when I look in the mirror, but I suppose I’ve become largely apolitical in recent years… You can only spend so much time look at the world around you and being angry about it before you either a) go live in the forest away from it all and live off the land b) devote your life to social justice, wholly and completely or c) try to just live your own life and do what you can, where you can, which is pretty well where I landed.
In my last year of high-school (more than 15 years ago, holy shit!) I took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia – it was the first time I’d ever been to the deep(ish) south… I wasn’t in Gainesville, Georgia or Klan Country really, but I felt the colour line drawn thicker than I ever had in my life. It wasn’t always in horrible ways, but it was ever present…
Also, while in Atlanta, I visited a gallery that was featuring the work of Roy Decarva. It was a lot of these images that really sparked my interest both in the music of John Coltrane and the civil rights movement which lead me into a heavy interest in black history… Well, maybe that came later after reading “My Life Is A Sundance” and then “A People’s History Of The United States” which really drew me in. I just kept thinking “how can you send these men to die in Europe and have them drink from separate water fountains when they come home?”
For years to come, if there was a book in my hand the subject matter what pretty predictable… I can’t believe I never got slapped in the mouth reading Nigger or The Nigger Factory on the subway. It was in that time, though, that I chewed through book after book and it took a while before my thirst was quenched; so much so that when the guys in front of the Eaton Centre would hand me one of those Black History pamphlets I’d be telling them books they should add to the list. Basically, I was the angriest of all angry black men… with everything but the burden of colour, of course. But I digress…
To this day, despite my relative apathy, I think it’s completely insane that we (Canadians to a lesser extent than the Americans) go around the world trying to fix other countries’ problems and extend an American brand of “freedom” when we still haven’t really even scratched the surface on the issue of race. Black president? Awesome, now let’s do something about the rates at which young blacks are unemployed, dying & incarcerated. We can’t even begin to face those issues until we gain some understanding of how that happened in the first place.
We’ve come a long, long way as a society but the second we start pretending that we’re “there” is the second that the we concede that the efforts of all those that came before us and put their lives on the line for a vision of equality were made in vein.
Watch the full documentary in parts on YouTube… it maybe be the only valuable thing you see all day… Well, that and this.
I’d have embedded them but YouTube won’t let me…
“Freedom! You askin me about freedom. Askin me about freedom? I’ll be honest with you. I know a whole more about what freedom isn’t than about what it is, cause I’ve never been free. I can only share my vision with you of the future, about what freedom is.”
Dec 11, 2011
Nov 22, 2011
On our way up to Aylmer the other day Yvonne snapped a couple of pics of an old car on a trailer that I really loved.
When I got home I emailed my pop to see if he knew what it was… He thought it might be a late 40s Pontiac or Chev. Through the magic of the interpipes I narrowed it down to a ’47 or ’48 Chevrolet Fleetline.
My pop also noted that while my mom and him were dating he drove around in a ’49 Chev. I said that I wished that he’d held on to some of his old cars (Dodge Challenger, VW Pop-Up Van, etc.) so that when he finally retires (read: never) we could have it as a restoration project to which he responded…
“Well, I still had one until a year ago. I abandoned it at Dale’s and it eventually rusted to beyond recognition. See this sequence.
Killin’ me, just killin’ me.
Oct 24, 2011
Earlier this year I started seeing this photo making it’s rounds in the blogosphere and wanted to know more about it so I did a little digging and found that it was taken around 1888 by Jacob Riis (who was working as a Police reporter) in Bandit’s Roost – considered at the time to be the most dangerous place in all of New York City.
Turns out this photo, and many others (a few of which are pictured below) were published in a book around the turn of the century called How The Other Half Lives – I got my own copy in the mail earlier this week and I can’t wait to properly dig in!
Oddly enough – one of my favorite books of all time (mentioned previously) is very similar in content and delivery (despite being about 80 years apart) and was also made by a Danish born photographer in the US named Jacob Holdt – American Pictures: A Personal Journey Through the American Underclass
Aug 25, 2011
After a monumentally unproductive day yesterday, we decided to get up reasonably early and head back up to the Meat Packing District to check out that Levi’s flagship store and pick up a few things…
We tried to go for brunch at some shi-shi spot at the base of The Standard but we knew before we even sat down that it wasn’t our scene and high-tailed it the fuck outta there! I’ve got a limit, and that limit is 6 sweaters tied over shoulders before I’m sure I’m in the wrong place…
Little Tykes on Track Bykes.
I didn’t have any time to hang out on the Highline but before we left for Coney Island I decided to hop up and have a look-see. I wish that they’d turn the Gardiner into a huge elevated park…
We pulled over to check directions and were dazzled by really some impressive sky writing… I mean, I’m sure that there is some technology that allows them to do this much easier, but still, flying and writing stuff in the sky is impressive no matter how you slice it.
Nathan’s Famous – I don’t know why they don’t make a veggie corn-dog to sell here, it would have been huge!
Wait, can we get a better look at that?
Straight Edge Hot Dog Revenge!!!
We spent a little while at the Coney Island History Project which was pretty rad and made me glad that we made the trip to a place with such a rich and varied history.
The famed Coney Island Dancers were in full effect.
Not to be out-done, The Rennick steps in to show them what’s up.
Oh, you didn’t know the big man could move like that, hey?
The Cyclone – Secretly Canadian?
After Coney we headed into Brooklyn for the Rumblers NYC Hot Rod show under the BQE.
Apparently some HA dude got in a fistfight with a cop and when we got there the cops were clearing everyone out. Kind of a bum out but we still got to see lots of bad-ass cars and bikes.
We set up an appointment for a little trip zapper and headed over to The Brooklyn Star for some suds and grub. Like most of the places we went on this trip, the Vegan options were slim (read: non-existant) but they were willing to modify something for me…
…It was a salad… Yay… At least it was fucking delicious but I could have eaten three of them. Needless to say, I had dinner #2 a short while later.
We got back to Flyrite and our appointment had been pushed back because the girl before us showed up more than an hour late and we were pretty close to bailing on the whole thing but we stuck it out and Mike & Fernando went to town on us.
Mike, who did Carlos’ & Kris’ tattoos had this rad old Triumph out front which was beautiful but I can’t imagine it would be much fun to ride in NYC where the streets make Toronto’s look like they’ve been freshly paved with baby asses.
We tried to go to Union Pool which was super close to Flyrite but even with Mike knowing the door-guy really well, it was just too packed so we opted to go over to a bar that he owns, in part, in Greenpoint and that ruled!
The bar doesn’t really have a name but it’s reasonably well documented and easy to find and well worth a visit… The bar looks rad inside, plays huge amounts of stoner metal and has a giant backyard patio that is rivalled by nothing back at home.
We stayed sober enough at No Name to ride over to Dumont Burger where they were supposed to have a vegan burg I could mow down on. They didn’t, but it was a good time none the less!
This night was super fun and I wanna thank Jordan, Ryan, Christine & Mike for showing us a great time!
Apr 21, 2011
Apr 11, 2011
Mar 23, 2011
“You gonna tell me the history of the blues? I am the goddam blues. Look at me. Shit. I’m from West Virginia, I’m the first man in my family not to work in the coal mines, my mother scrubbed floors on her knees for a living, and you’re going to tell me about the goddam blues because you read some book written by John Hammond? Kiss my ass.” –Bill Withers