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Month: July 2020

Beautiful Scars

Beautiful Scars

I knew nothing about Tom Wilson when I first encountered him at the Abilene, a live music club in Rochester, New York, a couple of years ago. I did not know that he had played in the Juno Award-winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. But he appeared at the Abilene under the name LeE HARVeY OsMOND, which was good enough for me. I have often gone to see a band based on its name alone. Between songs Wilson spoke about…

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The Lonely City

The Lonely City

I try to read things that have nothing to do with my research at least once in a while. I recently finished Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. The book was not at all what I expected, and in her exploration of art I found in Laing’s words insights useful to my own work as a scholar and a teacher, but also as a parent and a friend in this endless pandemic spring that…

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Wisdom Sits in Places

Wisdom Sits in Places

Mission San Gabriel burned over the weekend, suffering devastating damage. No conclusions have been drawn about the cause of the fire, but some suspect arson. Though nobody I have read has said anything, I wonder if anyone has made a connection between possible arson and recent attempts to remove monuments to the Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra. He founded the Mission San Gabriel in 1771. On Monday morning the Los Angeles Times ran a well-reported story about the mission and its…

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Confronting Colonialism and Genocide in Father Serra’s Town

Confronting Colonialism and Genocide in Father Serra’s Town

As I walk around my home town, the legacy of colonialism is everywhere. The most immediately relevant manifestation of this colonial past is the large statue of Junipero Serra that stands in front of Ventura’s City Hall. Serra established the Spanish Mission San Buenaventura in 1782, and is widely viewed as the city’s founder. Three of the four middle schools in the Ventura Unified School District–Balboa, DeAnza, and Cabrillo–are named after Spanish explorers of the Pacific. The “Serra Cross” stands…

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