Bruce Umbaugh, but you can call me (bumbaugh) Wed 24 Mar 04 08:26
Welcome to Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar), author of A Death in Zamora. We asked him for a bio, and he said: "Started early on the Well. Composer of 1960s electronic music until moving to coastal Sonoma communes. Back to San Francisco in 1980, married the absolutely amazing Judith Levy. Three sons in their thirties and forties make their dad proud. 4 grandchildren!!! Various books include: "Being of the Sun" with Alicia Bay Laurel (H & Row, 1974): novel "Zero Weather" (family publishing co. 1980); "A Death in Zamora," (Univ of New Mexico Press, 1988) and now a POD second edition with additional photos + addendum (2004). Editor of "Home Free Home" (1982), "The Morning Star Scrapbook," (1976). Hypercard 'thing' called "Guide To Everwhere" (For a sample, search the index of the WER on the Apple Learning Disk, 1989?) Currently employed as the administrator at The Noe Valley Ministry in the left ventricle of San Francisco. Three-year-old Cairn-westie mix Riqui Rikardo is my assistant -- and a hit with the nursery school kids. Occasionally do readings or perform some of my music. Major current interest: to feel as good as I feel when focused on "Where breath arises" when I'm focused on other things." Hosting the interview with Ramon is Peter Meuleners, who has been an active participant on the Well for over 4 years. Peter, who has had a variety of careers, is currently working as a Technical Support Analyst for a large company in the San Joaquin Valley. Widely traveled throughout North America, he is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, currently residing in suburban Pleasanton. His eclectic interests include historical biography, philosophical inquiry, and human potential movements. The highly personal nature of Ramon Sender's story is a melding of these ideas that came to life in a special way for Peter. He feels that it is an honor to help Ramon reintroduce this work to the public. Great to have you here, Peter and Ramon!
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Wed 24 Mar 04 09:47
My sincere thanks to the Well staff, to tnf -- David Gans -- for inviting me here, and especially to Peter Meuleners for volunteering to dialogue with me despite a fulltime job and his own list of fascinating interests. I would like, before we really get started, to ask readers to spend a minute beaming a Wellbeam to the families and loved ones of those who died or were injured in the recent tragic events in Madrid. Spain is undergoing a national trauma parallel in scope to what the 9/11 horror inflicted on our country. For the second time since Franco died, a Socialist government has been elected in Madrid. Meanwhile, a movement known as "Recovery of Republican Memory" has been growing, focusing on the opening of mass graves of those executed during and after the Civil War. All this started without the sponsorship of the previous government, but I imagine now there will be some sort of official recognition. More about that later. Again, my gratitude to the Well for this opportunity to honor my mother Amparo's memory, and through her the memory of so many other innocent victims of what one historian terms 'organized repression,' sanctioned by Franco himself in the same manner as Pinochet in Chile and others elsewhere.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 08:22
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 08:29
For those of you who unfamiliar with the Well, my last blank post was one of the Wellbeams that Ramon was asking for. It is a tradition on the Well to post in this manner when someone is asking for help for themselves, a loved one, or any other who needs it. It can be construed as a prayer, a meditation, silent reflection, an outpouring of light, a silent, light hand on a shoulder, or a compassionate hug. It can be whatever you want it to be but it is always a good thing.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 08:53
Bruce, thanks for getting us started. Ramon, welcome to Inkwell. It is an honor and a privilege for me to lead this discussion. An old adage I follow in performing service for my fellows goes something like this: "Disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed." I found A Death in Zamora to be one of the most profoundly disturbing books I have ever read. I was aware of the tragedies of the Spanish Civil War but you bring them to the public on such a personal level. You have shown us a piece of your soul, a piece of your family'a soul, a piece of Spain's soul. Thank you. Let's start with a general question. This book was first published in 1989. Why a new publication? Why now?
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Thu 25 Mar 04 13:01
Thanks for the welcome, Peter, and also for the 'Wellbeam' moment. Also for your reaction to the book, which I think echoes others' who also saw in my mother Amparo's story "the Spanish Civil War summed up in one family's fate," so to speak. The University of New Mexico Press did a fine job on the hard cover first edition, except that it went out of print after just a few years. I always had hoped for a paperback version, and decided that instead of shopping around for a publisher, with all the ups and downs that involves, this time I would try the new Print on Demand technology. This way this book will never go out of print again, and I feel that's important. Other projects intervened, but after some years I was able to prepare a .pdf of the book and upload it. The new edition also allowed me to add approximately 50 more photos, placing them in context (instead of in groups as in the first edition), as well as a brief addendum. I should add that for those interested in purchasing copy, locally they are at Cover to Cover books at Castro and 24th. On Amazon, browse "Barayon" and then click the 'new and used' to find Booksurge selling them new for $14.95 instead of Amazon's inflated price.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 21:26
This is very emotionally charged book that must have been a very intense journey for you when you first wrote it. Did you revisit any of those emotions while preparing this edition?
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Fri 26 Mar 04 08:15
That's a good question, Peter, and I had to ponder it for a few moments. Revisiting the book for this edition, reviewing the photos, did evoke again many of the feelings that swept through me during the original search, discovery and compiling of my mother Amparo's life story. Sort of a hard-to-describe aftertaste, finally, of sadness, satisfaction, and closure. I think one of the reasons it took me so long to put together the second edition was an unconscious avoidance of dealing with the material one more time. Yet I feel this edition places a final capstone on a memorial to a remarkable woman. My father's story is well-known in Spain via his literary output, but Amparo's, although it had quietly assumed mythic proportions mouth-to-mouth, was in danger of never being written down. Although come to think of it, her story did appear in a gossipy monthly, 'Interviu,' during the first year of our research (1988). I think the query letters I placed in the Madrid and Barcelona dailies triggered some journalistic interest.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Fri 26 Mar 04 15:49
Ramon, the book starts out as a journey of discovery for you, a seemingly simple attempt to discern the fate of your mother, Amparo. Your father was a source of resistance and deception as you started down this path. Can you talk about the nature of your relationship with your father when you started researching the book?
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Fri 26 Mar 04 18:03
Well, my dad was a complex person. Before there was such a thing as post-traumatic stress syndrome, I think he suffered a full-blown case. His wound around my mother Amparo's fate never really healed -- to the point that he could never bear to talk about her. Well, once he did talk in a noisy L.A. bar in his broken English. I didn't understand a word, but knew I shouldn't interupt him. That was in the early sixties. Fifteen years later I wrote an early version of my book, relying heavily on my father's books 'Counterattack,' and 'Seven Red Sundays' (I could only read him in translation) -- paraphrasing large chunks. Anything I wrote had to reach him via my stepmother Florence, but she wrote back that it was 'the best writing I had ever done' -- which I took as tacit approval from him. The next draft, relying more on my imagination and looking more candidly at my relationship with 'Papa,' received an indignant reply from Florence. I wrote back a conciliatory note, and that was the letter I found on his table after I received word of his sudden death.
Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 26 Mar 04 18:38
Great book. Very hard to read, very painful. Makes me want to travel to Spain and lift a leg on Franco's fatuous mausoleum, though I understand that a Spanish comedian is already doing about that with his guided bus tours of monuments to fascism.
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Fri 26 Mar 04 19:31
Hi, Jack: Thanks for stopping by! I think many have shared the same fantasy of desecrating El Topolino's final resting place - carved out of solid rock by many hundreds of Republican prisoners. I think one Abraham Lincoln vet suceeded by pouring the contents of a pee bottle on the site. Enjoyed your concertina info page,by the way. I own a baritone Wheatstone I'm saving for the day I'm laid up in traction (one of he few instruments you can play flat on your back).
Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 26 Mar 04 21:16
Is your book available in Argentina? They're opening the closets to examine their skeletons right now. Your experience over a longer epoch would, I think, resonate at this moment.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sat 27 Mar 04 08:06
Jack, thanks for joining us. Ramon, your mother Amparo was a feminist in an age and culture where being a such a person was extremely difficult. She was deeply religious, musically inclined, adept in languages, and an accomplished writer in her own right. You are also something of a renaissance man, yet you only spent 2 years with mother. Do you count her as a strong influence on who you are today?
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Sat 27 Mar 04 08:39
Peter, if I go by physical appearance, I think I favor my maternal side. And by temperment also, with creative 'manic' peaks, although my 'lows' are never really down any more. I'm not sure where you picked up 'adept at languages.' Amparo might have had a little French, but nothing more. As for me, my Spanish relies heavily on the dictionary, although six months in Spain would I think make me fluent conversa- tionally. My wife Judy is the Spanish-Italian-French speaker. Jack, there is a Spanish translation of the book currently out of print. It went out of print so fast in Spain that I suspect 'strings' were pulled to get it off the shelves. Hopefully sometime soon I'll get it out again. It also came out in a German translation, which I think is still in print.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sun 28 Mar 04 16:20
Completely language impaired, except for a little Latin, I consider anyone who could tutor French to be adept. ;-)
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Sun 28 Mar 04 19:42
Her half-sister Casimira tutored French - to the son of the military governor who signed the 'exit paper' that in actual fact was Amparo's death sentence.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sun 28 Mar 04 21:40
I apologize for that. Can you talk a little about your meeting with the son of the military governor when he was an older man? That was an interesting story.
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Mon 29 Mar 04 21:46
Please, Peter - no need to apologize! The cast of characters would put anyone's head into a whirl. I don't think even the family trees in the front of the book helped all that much. As for our encounter with the military governor's son, I think his photograph is very telling. Although he only admitted to remembering his French teacher, Casimira, my mother's half- sister, it was obvious that he did remember my mother story also. As a youth in 1936, his job was to deliver the 'exit orders' to the prison warden, but if the time of release was at night, it was the equivalent of a death sentence. A pick-up squad of 'executioners' would take the hapless 'released' person to the cemetery and kill them. In Chapter 9, I describe how a man came up to me and said, "It was Claomarchiran who denounced your mother." He went out to say that one of Claomarchiran senior's grandsons once confronted his father, the man we interviewed, saying, "How can you and my grandfather have lived with so many deaths on your heads?" The father was at the point of shooting his own son for the remark but the cook intervened.
Uncle Jax (jax) Wed 31 Mar 04 00:19
Have you see the late-Soviet-era movie "Repentance" (made actually in Georgia in the Georgian language)? It tells the story of the family of one of the bad guys who sent people to the camps.
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Wed 31 Mar 04 12:53
No, I haven't seen it, Jack. Is it current? Rentable? Judy's the main moviegoer in the family. Speaking of movies, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade vets are planning a benefit showing of "A Death in El Valle," which documents a granddaughter's search in Spain for her grandfather's fate. Parallel story in many respects, I'm told, to my mother's. I think the date for the showing is the evening of May 18th on the U. C. campus (Zellerbach Playhouse, a smaller auditorium)and I've been invited to be part of the ensuing panel discussion.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Wed 31 Mar 04 13:42
Ramon, as that event approaches, more info would be appreciated. I would love to attend. Earlier you mentioned the recent Socialist win in Spain. Please share your thoughts about that and the possible effect it will have on the "Recovery of Republican Memory" movement.
Uncle Jax (jax) Wed 31 Mar 04 15:16
(Repentance -- in the can 1982, worried over by Soviet censorship until release in 1985(?)).
Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Wed 31 Mar 04 15:59
(Jax slipped in before this reply to Peter's question) This question goes far beyond my experience and knowledge, Peter, but I passed it on to several people who are in a much better position to know what's going on with the new government and may be willing to offer their opinion. Meanwhile, I just ran into an item on line about "Death in El Valle," the film I mentioned above. Interesting parallels. I quote briefly from a column titled Women that ran an article byDuncan Campbell in the December 5, 1996, issue of The Guardian: So who had betrayed them (grandfather and grandmother)? Rumors pointed to relatives... Hardt approached the remaining relatives, who were angry at her suggestions. Mutual distrust hung in the air while Hardt had hoped uncovering what she saw as a noble episode in the familys history, revealing her grandmothers bravery, would bring the family together, it seems, she says, Ive done just the opposite. [Her film was shown on British Television in 1996.] Whether Spain ever sees it is another question. I want it to be shown, but its a very contentious topic there. The few Spanish people who have seen it get very disturbed by it. The younger people feel very much as I do: why this silence? Why this amnesia? But older people, even those who fought on the Republican side, think this is very painful and best forgotten. We experienced the same reactions, and the same results within the family. The topic of Amparo's death was emotionally very difficult for many to relive. If you go to C.M. Hardt's website, you can even view a sample reel from the film: http://www.cmhardt.com/production/production.htm
Gerald Feeney (gerry) Wed 31 Mar 04 19:54
<scribbled by gerry Thu 1 Apr 04 08:15>
My Pseud was sent to India (gerry) Thu 1 Apr 04 08:15
Greetings, Ramón and friends. Please pardon me for coming late to this wonderful discussion. First I want to acknowledge that <rabar> is a familiar WELL user ID to me. My memory has gone blank on the specific conferences and topics, but I've been aware of Ramón's presence on the WELL for many years, and have always enjoyed his contributions here. And that was before I read this book. Now I'm in awe. What a truly magnificent work, Ramón! I honestly can't remember the last time I've been so *gripped* by a book, but I can say with certainty that it was many books (and years) ago. I'm composing a review off-line, and will post it here when it's ready. I need to give myself that task, otherwise, I'm just too scatterbrained to be coherent. Meanwhile, in the way of brief introductions, I'll just say that I'm a 50-year-old American male, born in Berlin of a German mother and an Irish-American father. For the most part, I'm a California kid, but due to an odd series of events, I spent part of my youth in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. And as a result, I also attained to a somewhat respectable level of fluency in Spanish. In reading your book, Ramón, I began to realize just how vast is my ignorance of Spain and of her history. But because of my limited background and exposure, there were two things that kept coming to mind: 1) Spain in the *other* civil war: For some completely irrational reason, while reading _A Death In Zamora_, I kept seeing mental images that I acquired many years earlier from reading that most brilliant novel, _Doña Perfecta_ by Benito Pérez Galdós. 2) (this is the one where I expect to pelted with rotten tomatoes) The contemporary film, _Belle Epoch_ (which I thought was oddly named - it seemed to me it should have been named _Bella Época_. I mean, why should a Spanish film carry a French title? Unless it wasn't really French, but Catalán, which can be confused with French among people like me who don't know better... but still, the dialogue was Spanish, not Cataluña.) I digress - sorry - but I loved that movie, and it implanted in me some images that were reinvoked by your book. Anyway, Ramón, I'm curious to know if either of these two works had any influence on you in the course of writing this book.
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