Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Colorful Moments in Early Black-and-White Horror

Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera, 1925, black-and-white masked ball scene.

Most people think of the silent film version of Phantom of the Opera as a black-and-white film but, in reality, there were a number of color scenes in the movie.

As early as 1895, methods had been invented to inject color into scenes, but these “additive color systems” used processes that were tedious and time-consuming: hand-coloring, stenciling, tinting, and toning. They were only used on a limited basis. Tinting and toning gave the best results and were used by D.W. Griffith. Prismacolor and the Handschiegel Process fall into this category.

In 1915, the Technicolor Corporation invented a two-strip process, and this was incorporated into select scenes in Phantom of the Opera, 1925.

Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera, 1925, in technicolor.

Whether the black-and-white scenes or the color scenes are more frightening depends on the individual viewer. I personally like the light and dark contrasts of black-and-white film in horror movies because it feels moodier, creepier, and more akin to the darkness of evil. (Think about the original Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Wolfman and how different they would look in color.)

Color films, in fact, did not really take off until the late 1930s due to the expense. And producers expected big returns on their money. It wasn’t until the 1960s that color became the norm. Now, watching a black-and-white film seems to be a treat reserved for film buffs alone!

The Unmasking Scene, Phantom of the Opera, 1925, in black-and-white.
Masked Ball Scene, Phantom of the Opera, 1925, in early technicolor.

Which do YOU prefer?

Dawn Pisturino

October 5, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at Movies, 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2016.

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Review of Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories by Patricia Furstenberg

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories by Patricia Furstenberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I bought the paperback version of Patricia’s book and was delighted by the photos and the short stories (100 words each) that provide details about the rich history of Transylvania. Most Americans only know about Vlad the Impaler. Patricia’s stories helped me to understand that there is more to the story! Patricia is a fine writer, and I look forward to reading more of her books.

The book is available on Kindle and Amazon.com.

Patricia’s WordPress site: Stories by Patricia Furstenberg

View all my reviews

Dawn Pisturino

September 23, 2021

9 Comments »

Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Opus 18

Exquisitely performed by Anna Fedorova, virtuoso concert pianist.

Sublime! Absolutely divine! The angelic nature of this piece brings me to tears.

Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Opus 18” is so beautiful and beyond the ordinary, it is hard to believe that he wrote this piece in the lowest point of his life. As lovely as this piece sounds, he suffered terribly from depression after his “First Symphony” was rejected by the public in 1897. Distraught, he could not compose another piece of music for three years.

In order to regain his self-esteem, Rachmaninoff began to work with Russian neurologist Dr. Nicolai Dahl. Through hypnosis and positive suggestion therapy, Rachmaninoff recovered, wrote his exquisite concerto, and dedicated it to Dr. Dahl in gratitude. We should all be eternally grateful to Dr. Dahl and the great gift of music that he inspired!

The concerto premiered in Moscow on November 9, 1901 to rave reviews. The composer won a Glinka Award in 1904. Rachmaninoff’s career as a pianist and composer was assured for the rest of his life.

Like composer Franz Liszt, Sergei Rachmaninoff had big hands which allowed him to compose and perform complicated pieces. Only experienced and accomplished pianists can easily perform “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Opus 18.”

Rachmaninoff, who was born in 1873, was heavily influenced in his music by the Russian Orthodox Church. The simulation of bells can often be heard in his work, including the beginning notes of “Piano Concerto No. 2.,” which almost sounds like a death knell.

After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Rachmaninoff was forced to flee to the United States as a political refugee. His music was considered “too bourgeois” for Bolshevik tastes. He is considered the last composer/pianist from the Russian Romanticism Movement.

He died in Beverly Hills, California in 1943 after a successful career in America, where his musical talent was highly valued.

Dawn Pisturino

September 16, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

2 Comments »

Radical Islamic Bullies

While discussing the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviet Union, many people fail to understand that Osama bin Laden was one of the freedom fighters (mujahideen) who helped to defeat the Soviets. The United States backed these freedom fighters economically and militarily.

Afghanistan is where bin Laden and his followers learned to use weapons, engage in guerilla warfare, and the art of making bombs. Bin Laden — a Saudi Islamic fundamentalist — objected to the presence of U.S. military bases on “holy soil” in Saudi Arabia. He organized the terrorist group Al-Qaeda to fight westernization in Muslim countries and the U.S. itself. It was Saudis linked to Al-Qaeda who slammed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.

President Bill Clinton and the CIA warned the American people about Al-Qaeda, but people did not know enough about radical Islam to understand. Nor could they imagine such a terrible thing happening.

Instead of addressing the problem head on, President Bush invaded Iraq and avoided any major military action against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where their camps were actually located. This was incomprehensible to many people. (If he was going to break international law and invade a country, it should have been Afghanistan.)

Under President Obama’s watch, bin Laden was finally killed and Al-Qaeda temporarily dispersed. But another threat emerged: ISIS. They announced their presence to the world through video-taped beheadings of Western journalists and other unlucky victims. Instead of taking these horrific actions seriously, Europe failed to act, and President Obama laughed and called them “J.V.” Realistically, the western world should have acted after the first beheading.

NO RADICAL ISLAMIC GROUP CAN BE WRITTEN OFF AS NOTHING BECAUSE ALL OF THESE GROUPS ARE WILLING TO USE VIOLENCE AND A CALL TO ISLAMIC UNITY AND PURITY TO PROMOTE THEIR AGENDAS. The media either downplays these groups or portrays them as “victims” of colonialism, even though European colonialism ended a long time ago. In point of fact, the Islamic governments which arose after colonialism puppet governments failed, are the real culprits.

The Muslim world has been uniquely divided against itself since the time of the the Prophet Muhammad. Westernization, which brought many countries into the 20th century, has been rejected over and over again when fundamentalist regimes have taken power. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were allowed to take over, resulting in an extreme form of Islamic oppression. The media – and the current Biden administration – does a poor job of reporting on situations like this. The realities of these events are so far removed from American life that people cannot comprehend the horrors of daily life for people in Afghanistan. Before the fall of Kabul, a poll revealed that 75% of the Afghanistan population hated the Taliban. People who were desperate to leave the country died, trying to get on airplanes leaving the airport.

Terrorism on U.S. soil was not as active under President Trump because he was proactive in preventing it. But in Europe, the media still tends to downplay any connection to radical Islamic terrorism when something happens because of the large numbers of Muslim refugees who have been allowed into European countries.

When an act of radical Islamic terrorism occurs — wherever it occurs — people need to know who did it and why. Trying to sweep it under the rug is just ignoring the problem. For example, the goal of ISIS (and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and other, lesser-known groups) is to re-establish the caliphate in the Middle East. Although this sounds unrealistic to most people, it is a rallying point for ISIS and these other groups in recruiting new members. Referring back to the glory days of Islamic civilization gives down-trodden, oppressed people pride and hope for the future. ISIS – and these other groups – employs technology experts and does much of its recruiting on the Dark Web. The media does not report on this enough.

In reality, some Muslims DO become radicalized. Some of them DO become involved in violent terrorism. Some Americans have been seduced into joining radical Islamic terrorist groups. The media – and our government – has a responsibility to report fully and truthfully on this. Instead, President Biden plans to send $65 million to the Taliban in Afghanistan under the guise of helping the women and children of this war-torn country. The people will never see a dime of that money. Just like the U.S. military left behind $85 billion of weapons and other military equipment for the Taliban to use, the money will be spent on a terrorist government and terrorist activities. Biden has already allowed unvetted Afghanistanis to leave the country as refugees. Nobody knows how many are actual terrorists in disguise.

When we have politicians like Senator Krysten Sinema encouraging Americans to fight with the Taliban; government officials like John Kerry weaponizing terrorist countries like Iran (the leading country when it comes to financing terrorism); and presidents like Obama and Biden kissing terrorists’ asses, the American people are sitting ducks for violence, torture, and death.

Islamic fundamentalists are bullies. And they don’t care what you and I think about it. They are hate-filled, ideology-driven idealists determined to fulfill a goal – the Islamization of the whole world. Groups in America that became influential under the Obama-Biden regime are the Muslim Brotherhood (a well-known terrorist organization that was given access to the White House on numerous occasions under Obama), CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). These three groups are all connected.

Are all Muslims terrorists? Of course not, and the good ones should not be confused with the bad ones. But we know who the bad ones are, and it is unacceptable and completely unthinkable that our political leaders are negotiating and doing business with these guys. Even worse, it is total incompetence when the CIA and the FBI become aware of active groups and fail to act. The heads of these organizations should be immediately fired when something happens.

Finally, it is up to the American people to educate themselves and demand change from our own government.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 5, 2019; updated September 13, 2021

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Andalusia Spain: The Flower of Islamic Civilization

When Tariq ibn Ziyad and his Berber troops crossed the Straits of Gibraltar into southern Spain in 711 to displace the Visigoths, little did he know that Spain would one day exemplify the Golden Age of Islamic civilization.  The Moorish invasion into Seville, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, and other Spanish sites brought lasting influences onto Spanish culture, architecture, and knowledge that ultimately benefited Europe as a whole.

In 750, the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus was overthrown by the Abbasids. Abd al-Rahman, an Umayyad prince, escaped to Andalusian Spain.  “In 756, with barely a whimper of opposition from the man who believed himself the emir, the governor, Abd al-Rahman moved into the old city of Cordoba and declared it the new House of the Umayyads, the legitimate continuation of the ruling family that the Abbasids thought they had exterminated and replaced” (Menocal 4).

Al-Rahman set about replicating in Andalusia the splendid culture of the Umayyad caliphate that had existed in Damascus.  The Great Mosque in Cordoba, with its beautiful red arches and intricate ceilings, still stands intact —a lasting testimony to his work.  In 929, Abd al-Rahman III ascended to the throne, ushering in the great Golden Age of Islamic civilization in Spain.  In 1031 the Ummayad caliphate was abandoned in favor of small city-states.  “Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Badajoz, Saragossa, Valencia, Granada, and others” (Esposito 34) competed with each other economically and militarily, which weakened Islamic Spain and helped the Christians in Northern Spain to reconquer Islamic territories in the south (Esposito 35).

According to Maria Rosa Menocal, Andalusia evolved into a great Islamic civilization because it incorporated three basic elements: “ethnic pluralism, religious tolerance, and a variety of important forms of what we could call cultural secularism—secular poetry and philosophy—that were not understood, by those who pursued them, to be un- or anti-Islamic”.  This tolerance and hunger for knowledge led to the Transmission Movement which would become so important to the preservation of ancient texts and the expansion of Christian Europe.

While Europe was enduring devastating invasions by barbaric hordes, “the widespread and rapid translation of Greek philosophical and scientific works into Arabic following the Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries” (Turner 209) led to the widespread dissemination of this knowledge across the Muslim world.  In Andalusia, under the 10th century caliph Hakam II, “one royal library is said to have amassed four hundred thousand books” (Esposito 175) on a variety of sciences.  Later on, 12th century Andalusian theorists Ibn Rushd (known as Averroes), Ibn Bajja, Jabir ibn Aflah, Ibn Tufayl, and Abu Ishaq al-Bitruji debated the virtues and defects of Ptolemaic astronomy.   “Of these, al-Bitruji was the only one to formulate an alternative . . . proposed model” (Esposito 175).

Ethnically, the Andalusian population included Jews, Celts, Arabs, Visigoths, and Romans.  Religious groups included Muslims and the dhimmi or People of the Book: Jews and Christians.  Christians living under Arab rule were called Mozarabs (Melacon 5; Turner 209; Esposito 318).  Christians were often reluctant to assimilate into Islamic culture (Esposito 34).  Nonetheless, Jews and Christians were protected and welcomed into Andalusia by virtue of their belief in Abraham and the One God.

Jews thrived in Andalusia when they re-discovered Hebrew and used it in the same multipurpose ways “as the Arabic that was the native language of the Andalusian community” (Melacon 7).  Jews began to write poetry in Hebrew, inspired by Arab poets.  Maimonides, the well-remembered Jewish philosopher, wrote works in both Arabic and Hebrew (Esposito 33).

The Islamization of southern Spain was not without difficulties, however.  Under Abd al-Rahman III, Andalusia reached the height of its greatness.  Muslims, Jews, and Christians all contributed to increased knowledge in “the arts, literature, astronomy, medicine, and other cultural and scientific disciplines” (Esposito 318).  Although many Christians did convert or assimilate into Islamic culture, Muslim jurists sometimes felt threatened by this and warned against Christian influence as “contamination and a threat to the faith of  Muslim societies” (Esposito 318).  Jews and Christians were forced to learn Arabic, whether they wanted to or not.  And the loose morals of upper class Muslims often offended Jews, Christians, and Muslim clerics.  Jews and Christians were always regarded as infidels by Muslims, no matter how much they assimilated into Arabic culture.  When Abu Amir al Mansur (Almanzor) became ruler in the late 10th century, he began “a series of ruthless campaigns against Christians, including the plundering of churches and other Christian sites” (Esposito 320).  The gulf between Jews, Christians, and Muslims grew wider.  Muslim rulers, fearing the missionary zeal and influence of Christians, segregated them into isolated communities.  Christian military forces reconquered Cordoba, Valencia, and Seville in the early 13th century.  By the end of 1492 Granada fell, and that was the end of Moorish rule in Spain.

Some of the Moorish contributions which have had a lasting influence on Spanish culture include the importation and cultivation of citrus fruits; the production of paper and olive oil; the invention of the guitar; and “Arabic coffee culture” (Robert Thomas, 2011).  The tourist trade is boosted by the rich architectural heritage left by the Moors. 

The Alhambra in Granada, completed in the 14th century, was erected by the Nasrids.  “It comprises the most extensive remains of a medieval Islamic palace anywhere and is one of the most famous monuments in all Islamic art” (Blair and Bloom, 124).  The Great Mosque of Cordoba, remembered for its beautiful red arches, and completed in 965, boasts carved marble panels decorated with fragile arabesques, whose “popularity lasted until the fourteenth century . . .” (Esposito 239).  After the reconquista, “many mosques were changed into churches.  In Seville, for example, the top of the fifty-meter-high minaret of the Almohed mosque, built from 1184 to 1198, was remodeled and transformed into a cathedral bell tower” (Esposito 305).  The Great Mosque of Cordoba was converted into a Catholic church but still retains Qur’anic quotations and decorations on its interior designs.  Many mosques were demolished or stripped of all Islamic associations.  The distinctive Moorish architectural style remains on both secular and religious buildings, however, throughout southern Spain.    

Andalusian Spain perfected the art of making ceramics (called lusterware), glass mosaics, colorful tiles, and silk textiles (Esposito 254-256). Couscous, a traditional North African food staple, adds a flavorful diversity to Spanish cuisine.  Some experts even believe that flamenco, the exotic Spanish dance, was influenced by the Moors (Robert Thomas, 2011).

Andalusia Spain became a bridge between the Muslim world and Europe.  After the reconquista of southern Spain, Arabic texts were translated into Latin and exported to Europe.  The Muslim contributions to medicine, science, and philosophy were included in those texts and exerted a profound influence on European thought and development.

Modern Muslims are re-discovering their historic contributions to the arts and sciences and gaining a newfound pride in their accomplishments.  The Western world is now more open to giving them credit for those accomplishments.  The historic accomplishments and events of the Moors are celebrated throughout southern Spain with festivals, parades, and other special celebrations.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 4, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Blair, Sheila S., and Bloom, Jonathan. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800. New

       Haven: 1996.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Menocal, Maria Rosa. “Culture in the Time of Tolerance: Al-Andalus as a Model for Our Time.”

       Occasional Papers. 2000. Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. 2000.

       <http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylsop_papers/1&gt;.

Thomas, Robert, Dir. Andalusia: The Legacy of the Moors. Perf. Robert Elms. Alpha Television

       Production, 2011.

Turner, Howard R. Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction. Austin: 1997.

4 Comments »

Women in Celtic History and Lore

Boudicca

The Celtic world spread over a large territory, from central Europe to Spain to the British Isles. Celtic culture originated in the Iron Age and continues to this day in places such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Brittany.

The Romans, in particular, wrote about the Celts because their armed forces invaded Celtic territory and enslaved the Celtic people. Most Celts had been absorbed into the Roman Empire by the 1st century C.E. By 500 C.E., Celtic culture was confined to Brittany and the British Isles. Because of their commonly-held language and traditions, these Celts stood out from other cultures and became the historical model for Celtic culture.

Celtic women were protected throughout their lives: first, by their fathers; secondly, by their husbands; and lastly, by their sons. But Celtic women were not weak and dependent creatures. They were highly regarded as daughters, wives, mothers, and warriors, if the need arose. They were expected to give good counsel, keep their households in good order, and remain virtuous and loyal to husband, family, and tribe.

Queen Boudicca

The best historical example of a fierce Celtic woman is Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe, who reigned in the East Anglia region of Britain. In 60 C.E., she led a revolt against the Romans. Bravely driving a chariot against Roman forces, she fought for the liberation of her tribe and vengeance for the rape of her two daughters by Roman soldiers. Although defeated, she went down in history as a British folk hero.

The Old Hag of Beara

The Old Hag of Beara is a legendary Irish Cailleach (divine crone) whose story originated in the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland. She represented a woman’s life cycle. In her youth, she was the consort of kings, toasting the king and giving sage advice to her royal lover. As an ugly old crone, she sits on the Beara Peninsula as a pile of stones, wielding power over the wind and sea. She has been associated with the coming of winter.

The Old Woman of Beare Poem

It is of Corca Dubhne she was, and she had her youth seven times over, and every man that had lived with her died of old age, and her grandsons and great-grandsons were tribes and races.

And through a hundred years she wore upon her head the veil Cuimire had blessed. Then age and weakness came upon her and it is what she said:

Ebb-tide to me as to the sea; old age brings me reproach; I used to wear a shift that was always new; to-day, I have not even a cast one.

It is riches you are loving, it is not men; it was men we loved in the time we were living.

There were dear men on whose plains we used to be driving; it is good the time we passed with them; it is little we were broken afterwards.

When my arms are seen it is long and thin they are; once they used to be fondling, they used to be around great kings.

The young girls give a welcome to Beltaine when it comes to them; sorrow is more fitting for me; an old pitiful hag.

I have no pleasant talk; no sheep are killed for my wedding; it is little but my hair is grey; it is many colours I had over it when I used to be drinking good ale.

I have no envy against the old, but only against women; I myself am spent with old age, while women’s heads are still yellow.

The stone of the kings on Feman; the chair of Ronan in Bregia; it is long since storms have wrecked them, they are old mouldering gravestones.

The wave of the great sea is speaking; the winter is striking us with it; I do not look to welcome to-day Fermuid son of Mugh.  

I know what they are doing; they are rowing through the reeds of the ford of Alma; it is cold is the place where they sleep.

The summer of youth where we were has been spent along with its harvest; winter age that drowns everyone, its beginning has come upon me.

It is beautiful was my green cloak, my king liked to see it on me; it is noble was the man that stirred it, he put wool on it when it was bare.

Amen, great is the pity; every acorn has to drop. After feasting with shining candles, to be in the darkness of a prayer-house.

I was once living with kings, drinking mead and wine; to-day I am drinking whey-water among withered old women.

There are three floods that come up to the dun of Ard-Ruide: a flood of fighting-men, a flood of horses, a flood of the hounds of Lugaidh’s son.

The flood-wave and the two swift ebb-tides; what the flood-wave brings you in, the ebb-wave sweeps out of your hand.

The flood-wave and the second ebb-tide; they have all come as far as me, the way that I know them well.

The flood-tide will not reach to the silence of my kitchen; though many are my company in the darkness, a hand has been laid upon them all.

My flood-tide! It is well I have kept my knowledge. It is Jesus Son of Mary keeps me happy at the ebb-tide.

It is far is the island of the great sea where the flood reaches after the ebb: I do not look for floods to reach to me after the ebb-tide.

There is hardly a little place I can know again when I see it; what used to be on the flood-tide is all on the ebb to-day!

From The Kiltartan Poetry Book by Lady Augusta Persse Gregory, 1919.

Dawn Pisturino

August 24, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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My Message to Joe Biden

Photo from Politico
  1. If America is such a hateful, racist country, it’s time for Democrats to start leaving and moving to countries more satisfactory to their tastes.
  2. What kind of president deliberately raises gas and food prices on the American people? A third world dictator.
  3. Joe Biden hasn’t addressed or solved any problems. All he does is crack open the piggy bank, throw money around, and call everybody a racist.
  4. Biden INVITED illegals to come here on the campaign trail, and videos prove it.
  5. It’s always been obvious to me that the COVID “pandemic” was created by Dr. Fauci and the Democratic Party to hurt Pres. Trump and the American people. 3 million people died as a result of their treachery.
  6. There is no doubt in my mind that the 2020 election was rigged. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris know it, too. The truth will eventually come out.
  7. The people arrested on Jan. 6th are now regarded as “political prisoners” being held by the Democratic Party. What happened was hardly a siege or comparable in any way to 9/11 or any other disaster.
  8. President Trump is a martyr and national hero, thanks to the despicable lies and fraudulent efforts by Democrats to bring him down. He will live on long after Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, and Schiff are gone.
  9. The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that Biden broke the law. He must be impeached.
  10. Kamala Harris is the worst vice-president ever. She’s a worthless do-nothing.
  11. The only people who are woke are the ones who woke up and left the Democratic Party.
  12. I am not, never have been, and never will be a member of the Democratic Party. I’m Independent to the core.
  13. ALL LIVES MATTER.
  14. Devout Catholics do not support abortion. I support ex-communicating Biden and Pelosi from the Catholic Church.

Message sent to the White House June 4, 2021

Dawn Pisturino

June 4, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

8 Comments »

Radical Writings: Political Corruption and Global Capitalism

Earth

 

One of the myths perpetuated by American business is that wealth is somehow created out of nothing. Wealth, under capitalism, is not “created,” it is merely transferred from one segment of the population to another.

This can easily be seen on a global scale. When Asia’s economy was booming, the American economy was lagging behind. Now that Asia is struggling to maintain itself, the American economy is “robust” (according to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan) [1999].

The Middle East has been a key contributor to American [and European and Russian] prosperity at its own expense. Dr. Ilyas Bayunus, professor of sociology at SUNY Ithaca, explains it this way:

“When looked at from a Muslim and Third World viewpoint, we can see an . . . answer: that of neocolonialism, or the use of local proxies to exploit local resources for the former colonial master’s benefit. Muslim countries, regardless of their colonial past . . . are now submitting to neocolonialism . . . [which] seeks indirect rule through rationalizing, apologizing, seeking excuses for its actions. However, the option to intervene with force is always open. It is a form of remote-control colonial rule and is far more economical and cost effective in terms of men, machines, and time invested.

“In essence, colonialism and neocolonialism serve those multinational industries that are (or were) in the vanguard of creating western global hegemony. Both seek to ensure perpetually dependent ‘peripheries’ ruled by a technologically superior industrialized western global economic system. Hence, colonialism and neocolonialism use ‘undeveloped’ countries as reservoirs of cheap resources and dirt-cheap labor, and thus actually discourages any significant industrialization in the Third World . . . What this means is that western economics and industrial progress depends on the rest of the world remaining impoverished.

“In this respect, the west lures, intimidates, bribes, and props up insecure and archaic monarchs, undereducated but arrogant military rulers, and opportunist pseudodemocrats. This is especially so in the Muslim world, where the West sometimes even handpicks ‘yes men’ to rule on its behalf . . .

“Americans [and Europeans and Russians] are the inventors as well as the greatest beneficiaries of neocolonialism . . . As the economic interests of American multinationals expanded, American power also expanded. In the Middle East, this was especially true after WW II. Those who resisted and continue to resist this policy of neocolonialism were called ‘fundamentalists’ and other names, ostracized internationally, and branded as practitioners of ‘state-sponsored terrorism.’ Iran, Sudan, Libya, and Syria are cases in point.

“American multinationals are the dynamos behind and the main beneficiaries of American neocolonialism. Some of the major American multinationals are legends: Exxon, General Electric, General Dynamics, Union Carbide, General Motors, Bank of America, and IT&T. Today, there are new players, such as IBM, Microsoft, CNN, Texas Instruments, Smith Corona, McDonalds, CocaCola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. We now speak of the “McDonaldization,” “Colaization,” or Marlboroization” of the world.

“If highly developed western businesses expand in the Third World, they invest in poor countries and provide jobs. In this transaction, however, Third World countries become partially or totally dependent upon the investing business, which entails negative consequences . . . In general, the multinationals’ influence is seen in their contribution in terms of investments, taxes, bonuses, and other charitable contributions if and when it suits them. They invariably try to bribe or intimidate host officials to create monopolies, even though this means tampering with the host country’s power apparatus both economically and politically. Whoever challenges their hegemony faces great personal risk: President Allende of Chile, a highly reform-minded and elected leader was overthrown and murdered by his military, which was believed to have been carrying out the orders of IT&T [ which was recently indicted for corrupt business practices] . . . [1999]

“Even if a Third World worker finds a job paying subsistence wages, he or she remains vulnerable, because of job insecurity, to employer blackmail. Economic investment in the Third World, however sizable, remains under the auspices of these multinationals and does not constitute progressive development [in spite of the claims put forth by the U.S. government and its involvement with GATT and NAFTA] . . . It creates serious wage stratification and differentials and, especially in smaller host economies, engenders inflation to such a degree that those who are unemployed or have low-paying jobs have to resort to illegal means to survive. Whenever or wherever these multinationals have been given a free hand, they create monopolies [illegal in the U.S.], pay the lowest possible wages [why we have a set minimum wage in the U.S.], fix prices [also illegal in the U.S.], and take excessive profits [considered immoral by many people]. Obviously, none of this benefits the host economy [except the politicians who accept the bribes and perks offered.] And so most of the Third World remains Third World, even almost fifty [or more] years after de Gaulle coined the term.” (Islamic Horizons, September/October 1996)

The turbulence in the Middle East will not end until America — the bully, the “Great Satan” — removes its presence and stops interfering in Middle Eastern culture, religion, politics, and economics.

Dawn Pisturino

1999

Published in Discussion Bulletin, March-April 1999. Featured on the Committee for Direct Democracy website and in the Committee for Direct Democracy Information Packet, 1998-2000.

2019 Response:

The world is a different place than 1999. Globalization, which propped up other countries and exploded corporate profits, hurt American workers. No matter how much Americans complained, no one listened. President Barack Obama told the American people that the jobs were not coming back and we should just get over it. Radical Islamists in the Middle East, who did not want Islam subsumed by secularism, turned to anti-American rhetoric and violence to make their message heard. We saw the rise of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the 9/11 attacks on American soil. The country went through a recession which seemed like it would never end. Donald Trump came along with his “Make America Great Again” message and won the 2016 election. Since then, he has been harassed and persecuted by the very same people and organizations who supported the global economy and ignored American workers. President Trump is making sure that the wealth is flowing TO America and American workers and not AWAY from America and American workers. Competition is the heart of capitalism. But competition has to benefit AMERICA and not just the other party. This is at the core of President Trump’s message.

Dawn Pisturino, June 3, 2019

Copyright 1999-2019 DawnPisturino. All Rights reserved.

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The Woman with the Blue Tattoo

Olive Oatman

Photograph of Olive Oatman

Olive Oatman became famous in the 1850s for the blue perpendicular lines tattooed onto her chin. She called them “slave marks,” and people all across America wanted to know how and why she had acquired them.

On the afternoon of February 18, 1851, while camped along the Gila River in Arizona, Olive and her younger sister, Mary Ann, watched in horror as a band of Western Yavapai Indians massacred their mother, father, two sisters, and three brothers. Held back as captives, the two girls, fourteen and seven, were forced to walk barefoot through the rugged desert to the isolated Yavapai camp. For a year they lived there as slaves, fetching wood, hauling water, and gathering food, until traded to the Mohave tribe for two horses, three blankets, vegetables, and beads.

The Mohaves (Aha Macav, “along the river,”) inhabited a lush, fertile valley along the banks of the Colorado River, the traditional boundary between Arizona and California.

Chief Espaniole and his wife, Aespaneo, welcomed the girls into the tribe and adopted them into their own family. They were proud to have rescued the girls from the cruel Yavapai and vowed to treat them well.

The girls worked alongside the other women of the tribe, gathering wood, fetching water, and planting seeds. They soon learned the Mohave language and developed close friendships with other members of the tribe.

Olive was variously called “Ali,” “Aliutman,” “Olivino,” and “Owich (cloud),” the clan name of Chief Espaniole’s family. Mohave women inherited clan names passed down from their fathers, and bearing a clan name meant Olive was considered a full member of the tribe.

Facial tattoos were common among the Mohave Indians because they believed the permanent marks guaranteed a place in “Sil’aid,” the land of the dead. Tribal members who died without tattoos would spend eternity in a desert rat hole. Since Olive and Mary Ann belonged to the tribe, they were expected to undergo the tattooing process.

The girls lay quietly on the ground while experienced tattooers drew designs on their chins. Since the tattoos were meant to be decorative, they chose designs that would enhance the girls’ faces. Using cactus needles or sharp sticks, the designs were pricked into the skin until the wounds freely bled. The sticks were dipped in the juice of a special river weed, then into a powder made from a blue river stone, and applied to the pinpricks on the girls’ chins. The process took several hours to complete and several days to heal.

With this rite of passage, Olive and Mary Ann became permanent members of the Mohave tribe and the first white females in the United States to wear tattoos.

A terrible drought in 1855 brought famine to the tribe. Many people died, including Mary Ann. Olive soon fell ill herself. Aespaneo saved her life by feeding her gruel made from cornmeal.

In January 1856, a Yuma Indian named Francisco arrived at the Mohave camp with papers from Fort Yuma ordering the release of Olive Oatman. Chief Espaniole refused to release her. But Francisco persisted, claiming that five million white soldiers were hiding in the hills, ready to attack and destroy the Mohave village. The Mohaves reluctantly gave in.

Once again, Olive was traded for two horses, blankets, and beads. She arrived at Fort Yuma ten days later, tanned, tattooed, painted, her hair dyed black, and wearing only a bark skirt. She was nineteen years old. Her brother Lorenzo, who had survived the massacre, traveled from California for a tender reunion with his long-lost sister.

Olive became an overnight sensation. Newspapers all across America printed stories about “the white Indian” and her blue tattoo. The Evansville Enquirer reported on November 9, 1859: “She will bear the marks of her captivity to her grave. Her savage masters having tattooed her after the customs of their tribes.”

In 1857 Royal B. Stratton published the first book detailing the Oatman ordeal, Life Among the Indians, which became an immediate best-seller. Olive and Lorenzo traveled to New York, where Olive promoted the book with autographed photographs and lectures. She openly displayed her tattoo while relaying the tragic story of the Oatman massacre and her life as a “slave” among the Mohave Indians.

When not delivering lectures, Olive self-consciously covered her chin with her hands to avoid the staring eyes of curious people.

Olive married wealthy cattleman John Brant Fairchild in 1865, left the lecture circuit, and eventually settled down in Sherman, Texas. She became reclusive, hid her face behind a black veil, experimented with make-up to hide her blue tattoo, and refused to discuss her life among the Indians. She died of heart failure in 1903. Afraid the Mohaves would claim her body, John Fairchild had her coffin sealed in iron and covered her grave with a thick granite tombstone.

Dawn Pisturino

October 17, 2012

Copyright 2012-2019 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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A Tribute to My 18th Cousin, Princess Diana

Princess Diana in pink silk suit

This photo of Princess Diana contains a flaw in the fabric of her jacket. My daughter and I haven’t decided yet whether it’s a food stain or an irregularity in the silk.  But, whatever it is, it represents a woman who was flawed herself — and all too human.

When she was six years old, Diana’s mother left the 8th Earl Spencer for another man. This scandal devastated Diana, scarring her for life. She felt abandoned, unloved, insecure, and alone. She tormented her nannies and mothered her younger brother, Charles. When her father re-married, Diana and her brother punished their new stepmother in every possible way.

Who knew that such a shy and gawky girl would one day marry Prince Charming? Diana always reported that she would grow up to do great things. She would not live an ordinary life. She knew instinctively that she would never become Queen of England. And, not long before her tragic death, she predicted that she would die in an auto accident.

Her life was brief. She was only 36 years old when she died. But she lived a full and remarkable life, in spite of her struggle with bulimia, her inability to find true love, and her deep-seated emotional problems.

The shy, gawky adolescent blossomed into a beautiful, regal, and charismatic woman. Always in competition with her husband’s long-time mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, she played out her revenge by becoming a great success in her own right.

Fashion icon. Humanitarian. Mother of the future King of England. One of the beautiful people — the rich and famous. Glamorous and charming. A world celebrity. Unofficial ambassador for Great Britain. Princess of Wales.

Diana had it all. But her position and wealth could not assuage her feelings of loneliness and betrayal. Diana was, after all, an incurable romantic who devoured episodes of the popular British TV show, “Coronation Street,” and the numerous romance novels penned by her step-grandmother, Barbara Cartland.

The fairy-tale wedding of Charles and Diana, viewed by billions of people around the world, morphed into a Grimm Brothers nightmare. And when reality set in, Diana discovered that Prince Charming wasn’t so charming, after all.

Sleep well, Sweet Princess, on your lovely garden isle. Dream long and deep. We salute your bravery and love you still.

August 29, 2017

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death (August 31st) and the victims of Hurricane Harvey, please make a generous donation to the American Red Cross:

http://www.redcross.org

Thank you!

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