by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
My electric power, telephone and internet access was knocked out during the night of October 28 by Hurricane Zeta as her ferocity intensified in the Georgia Mountains. About 20 trees were blown over on my property, but it was a big oak that cut out communications with the outside world. It broke the electric, telephone and internet cables, plus blocked our subdivision street. The electricity was reconnected five days later, but originally Windstream Telephone was stating that my communications line would not be repaired until late November or early December. I had no way to contact them, but my sister raised heck on the social media and to the corporate CEO, until a repairman kindly arrived midday today and strung new lines. Everything is working fine now.
For the remainder of the month, we will be featuring articles about the Highland Mayas, the Maya city of Palenque and the researchers in the late 20th and early 21st century, whose studies of Palenque have radically changed our understanding of Maya civilization. It was at Palenque that anthropologists Linda Schele and David Stuart cracked the Maya Code.
This is not your everyday, run of the mill, series of articles
The equivalent at The Americas Revealed for the annual Hallmark Christmas movie is nearing completion. Well, it is not a movie or video, but a verbal telenovela entitled “The French Courtesan in Red, Who Came Out of the Cold.”
The plot begins at a Christmas Party in a historic house in Alexandria, Virginia in December 1990. Most of the guests are senior staff members of the National Geographical Society and Smithsonian Institute, but there are also two Washington Post reporters, some Washington intelligentsia, several ambassadors and a French singer-actress, who enters the house as the escort of married French ambassador, Jacques Andreani. Many guests are shocked that his wife, Donatella, is not at his side. Several of the people there are archaeologists, who have worked at Palenque.
A lonely goatherd is taking the mink coats off the wealthy women, attending the party then stacking them on a bed upstairs. Also, at the party are twelve “available” and professionally successful Washington women, who the party’s hostess has specifically invited to entertain the goatherd.
Among the guests from the Smithsonian Institute at the party is Roger Kennedy, who at the time is Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. In 14 months, he will become Director of the National Park Service. Twenty-one years in the future, Roger will be funding the goatherd’s research, when he stumbles upon the Track Rock Terrace Complex.
Conversation that night is dominated by the publication of Linda Schele’s A Forest of Kings, which is the first book to fully translate any of the Maya inscriptions, carved into stone. At that party is George Stuart, Chief Archaeologist and Director of Photography at National Geo. His son David, helped Linda, and then went on to become the world’s leading expert on the Maya writing system. Linda, her husband David and the goatherd toured Palenque together for the first time in August 1970. They ran into George Stuart in the courtyard of the palace at Palenque.
Nothing is as it seems. The beautiful French actress-singer, who calls herself Vivi, hates herself and what she has become. The previous night, she only survived a suicide attempt because she was not skilled at tying knots on a bed sheet. A necklace of bruises circle her neck, somewhat concealed by heavy makeup.
If Vivi goes back to the hotel alone tonight, she will probably succeed this time. Partially in fear of what she will do to herself in the hotel room, the French courtesan accepts the invitation of the party’s hosts to spend the night in their Guest Room . . . which was formerly the house’s domestic slave quarters.
As heavy snow comes down outside the windows, Vivi stands in the darkened Guest Quarters, silhouetted by a wood fire. Her life is being changed forever, so she sings . . .