Monthly Archives: June 2013

Slave Control…

It’s not surprising that there’s an official Web site devoted to Mount Vernon, the home of first U.S. president George Washington. What is a little weird, though, is the pages that detail how Washington kept his more than 300 slaves in line.

In addition to having overseers monitoring work on site, George Washington utilized a number of methods to try to control the labor and behavior of the Mount Vernon slaves. Since work as a house servant or skilled laborer was viewed as higher-ranking than field work, Washington could threaten to demote an artisan who would be punished by becoming a field worker.

Violent coercive measures were used as well, including whippings and beatings. In some instances, physical restraints were utilized to ensure that slaves would not run away. When Tom, the slave foreman at River Farm, was sold in the West Indies in 1766 as a punishment for being “both a Rogue & Runaway,” Washington wrote to the ship’s captain to “keep him handcuffd till you get to Sea.”1

Although one houseguest noted in his journal that George Washington prohibited the use of whips on his slaves, evidence in the historical record proves otherwise.2 In 1758, Washington—while serving in the French and Indian War—received a letter from his farm manager explaining that he had “whipt” the carpenters when he “could see a fault.”3 In 1793, farm manager Anthony Whiting reported that he had “gave…a very good Whiping” with a hickory switch to the seamstress Charlotte. The manager admitted that he was “determined to lower Spirit or skin her Back.”4 George Washington replied that he considered the treatment of Charlotte to be “very proper” and that “if She, or any other of the Servants will not do their duty by fair means, or are impertinent, correction (as the only alternative) must be administered.”5 Washington instituted a system of review in order to determine when he deemed physical abuse as a punishment.

Well, this certainly stirs my enthusiasm for visiting the home of my ancestors’ oppressor. I’m sure any tours I take during my visit will focus on the unimaginable human tragedy rather than the deification of one of the nation’s founding fathers.


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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Political Theatre


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Richard Matheson…

Richard Matheson, who along with Charles Beaumont and series creator Rod Serling wrote most of the classic episodes of The Twilight Zone, died Sunday. My favorite Matheson Twilight Zone script is “The Invader,” which features an amazing pantomime performance by Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched).

A giant (forgive the pun) in science fiction, Matheson wrote “The Enemy Within” episode of Star Trek, which I’ve always enjoyed perhaps because it feels like an installment of The Twilight Zone.

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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Pop Life


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“The men call me Prince… the women call me Electric Man.”

“The men call me Prince… the women call me Electric Man.”

My favorite Prince era is the Parade period. The music is mature and challenging (“Under the Cherry Moon,” “Venus de Milo,” “Do U Lie?”) yet still funky (“New Position,” “Mountains,” “Kiss,” “Anotherloverholenyohead,” and well shut all ready, damn!). I also adore (wait, that’s next year) the slick zoot-suited outfits he wore at the time. So, this clip, which you can view here, is quite a treat. It’s Prince’s 28th birthday concert in Detroit on June 7, 1986.

Enjoy it while it lasts. The famously litigious Prince actively stalks the Internet and removes any of his videos or concert footage. A shame because his live performances are stunning theater. When I saw him most recently — almost 25 years after this show, he hadn’t appeared to have slowed down much if any. That’s clean living for you, I guess.

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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in Pop Life


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Countdown to public apology starting… now…

ObamaKenya  Yahoo!’s Rachel Rose Hartman revives the birther controversy by referring to Barack Obama’s “country of birth” and not meaning the United States. This was later updated to the slightly more accurate but still curious “ancestral homeland.” Ancestral homeland?

Oh, right, the place his absentee dad lived. I guess that means he has some innate connection to it, sort of like Superman and Krypton.

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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Political Theatre


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Deconstructing the Rich-Wich…

Adam Richman (Man vs. Food) prepares the type of sandwich I used to eat before my third heart attack.

I do stand behind avocado on a sandwich but as a more healthful substitute for mayonnaise. Richman ventures into Elvis territory with the addition of a fried egg and bacon (unnecessary protein overload, I think). The potato chips are unconventional but if you’re going to eat them with your meal anyway, have at it.

My favorite sandwich from one of the best sandwich shops in the world, Parisi Bakery, was smoked mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and very light mayo on seeded bread. When I started eating meat again in late 2001, I added smoked turkey to the mix. It was delicious but nap-inducing, which was problematic for a sandwich I regularly ate at lunch.

munichsandwichI’m more salads than sandwiches these days because I think most restaurants, especially in the Northwest, make their sandwiches too rich and heavy. If you need to eat it with a knife, fork, and pack of napkins, you have a problem. The gourmet sandwich craze isn’t for me.

There is an elegant efficiency to fresh bread and vegetables with a light touch of meat. I suppose that’s why the Germans do it so well. I left Bavaria singing the praises of pretzel bread.


Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Pop Life


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It’s all about the voice…

The just-released Man of Steel film, which I don’t plan to see, has already generated speculation about who would play Lex Luthor in the now-likely sequel. Benedict Cumberbatch is a popular choice. He’s played a genius (Sherlock) and a superman of sorts (Star Trek Into… Really, That’s the Title?). But his most compelling credential is his voice. Put plainly: Lex Luthor is a baritone, which explains my two favorite Luthor performances.

Clancy Brown, from the Bruce Timm Superman and Justice League series.

And Anthony LaPaglia from All-Star Superman.

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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Pop Life


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Fathers and Sons…

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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in Pop Life


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