• #James_Matthews being James Matthews

    The #FILM, Diaries of a Dissident Poet, follows poet James Matthews around #Cape_Town, tracking him during a year, from his 83rd to 84th birthday. It opens with a small celebration of his 83rd at the District Six Homecoming Centre in (downtown Cape Town) and moves on to scenes of him in conversation or banter with […]

    #BOOKS #Black_Consciousness #George_Hallett #POETRY #Shelley_Barry #South_Africa

  • Weaving the World’s Stories Like an Expert Carpet-Maker - Facts So Romantic


    To explain her motivations as a writer, Anna Badkhen quotes the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert: “you have little time / you must give testimony.” Badkhen recently stopped by the Nautilus office to sit for an interview and take us behind the scenes of, “The Men Who Planted Trees,” her cover story for the Spring 2014 Nautilus quarterly. The title refers to a village of fishermen in Mali who are reforesting a stretch of the Bani River to stem the mudslides that threaten their livelihoods. “They became volunteer conservationists, planting back the bush,” she writes. You can see a preview of the article online, or read the whole story by buying the issue or subscribing to the print magazine. Badkhen met the villagers while walking across West Africa with nomadic Fulani cattle-herders while doing (...)

  • #Tumi_Molekane’s New Song

    With no Volume to his name, it seemed almost impossible to imagine South Africa-based self-proclaimed poet/emcee Tumi Molekane as a solo artist. He had released two albums before forming a band: A dream led to this and Tao of Tumi, the latter which, if memory serves right, had an accompanying anthology. Yet it’s the years between 2002 […]

    #MUSIC #Liquid_Deep #Motif_Records #South_African_hip-hop #Tumi_and_the_Volume

  • Mahdi Amel’s revival manifests ache for local revolutionaries | Al Akhbar English

    Hassan Hamdan, known as Mahdi Amel, is a mystery to those living outside of the region. A prolific individual, he was a poet, academic and a senior member of the Lebanese Communist Party. But it was his work as a Marxist theoretician – keen to incorporate its principles into the specific realities and particular contexts of West Asian society – that ensured his importance to Lebanon and other Arabic speaking communities.

    In the ever-changing historical records of the world, there are countless stories of individuals who’s important life and influential work remain restricted to their communities, hidden from the mainstream spotlight that illuminates and immortalizes men and women, making them household names. Mahdi Amel is a classic example of those who remain in the shadows.

  • Terrabyte Incognita: Africa Might Not Look Like You Think It Does | Think Africa Press


    There is no such thing as an objective map. This was true of cave paintings, Roman tapestries, and colonialists’ charts of Africa. It is also true of Google Maps.

    Signalé par Elisabeth Vallet de l’UQAM à Montréal

    In Swift’s time, European explorers had only skirted around the coastal edges of Africa and its interior remained, to all intents and purposes, a mystery. But as the poet pointed out, rather than just leave the middle of the continent blank, mapmakers would instead “fill their gaps” with things they thought might reside in such exotic corners of the world, such as strange monkeys, roaming lions, and “elephants for want of towns.”


    #afrique #visualisation #cartographie #perception #Imaginaire #vision

  • Al-Tatawwur (Evolution) - #Dada/#Surrealism
    An Enhanced Timeline of Egyptian Surrealism

    1937: Henein publicly introduces surrealism in Egypt at a conference in Cairo and founds the Art and Freedom Group with artists Ramses Younan, Kamel el-Telmissany, and Angelo de Riz, journalist Emile Simon, and poet Edmond Jabés (Alexandrian 22). The group coalesces around a shared artistic ideology, and begins producing art and writing along the same lines. Henein, a Trotskyist, chooses the name “Art and Freedom” after the manifesto, “Pour un Art révolutionnaire indépendant,” written by Breton with Trotsky in Mexico and signed by Diego Rivera and Breton (Alexandrian 22).



  • The departure of a pleasant surprise


    A file picture taken in #Beirut on July 22, 2011 shows Lebanese poet and journalist Ounsi al-Hage. Hage, 77, died at his home in the Lebanese capital on February 18, 2014 following a struggle with cancer. The veteran writer worked for the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat at the start of his career and then headed the cultural page of #Lebanon's leading newspaper an-Nahar of which he became the chief editor between 1995 and 2003. The past ten years preceding his death, he wrote for the daily newspaper A A file picture taken in Beirut on July 22, 2011 shows Lebanese poet and journalist Ounsi al-Hage. Hage, 77, died at his home in the Lebanese capital on February 18, 2014 following a struggle with cancer. The veteran writer worked for the pan-Arab (...)

    #Opinion #Articles #Joseph_Samaha #Ounsi_al-Hajj #Ziad_Rahbani

  • #Egypt Mourns Loss of “the People’s Poet”


    Until the moment comes for his legacy to be dealt with fairly and critically, one cannot analyze Negm’s experience without being aware of his perception of poetry as a space to exercise freedom and circumvent life’s conditions. (Photo: Wael Ladiki). Until the moment comes for his legacy to be dealt with fairly and critically, one cannot analyze Negm’s experience without being aware of his perception of poetry as a space to exercise freedom and circumvent life’s conditions. (Photo: Wael Ladiki).

    #Cairo – At noon on Tuesday, December 3, Egyptian intellectuals bade farewell to the poet #Ahmed_Fouad_Negm (1929-2013), escorting him from the Imam Hussein Mosque to the Ghafir Cemetery in the Sayyida Aisha district. (...)

    #Culture_&_Society #Articles #Gamal_Abdel-Nasser #January_25_revolution

  • Revolutionary Egyptian poet dies at 84

    Egyptian poet #Ahmed_Fouad_Negm, renowned for his revolutionary #Poetry and for his harsh criticism of political leaders, died on Tuesday at the age of 84, a publisher said. “Ahmed Fouad Negm passed away. He was 84,” Mohammed Hashem told AFP. Negm spent a total of 18 years in jail for his strident criticism of former Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. He became recognized as a voice of protest in 1967 when he wrote poems on the Arab-Israeli war, which were highly acclaimed. read more

    #Egypt #poets #Top_News

  • #Qatar upholds 15-year jail term for dissident poet

    A top Qatari court on Monday upheld a 15-year jail term handed to a poet convicted of incitement against the regime, his lawyer said. “The Court of Cassation sentenced Mohammed al-Ajami to 15 years in prison,” confirming the sentence given to the poet by an appeals court in February, Nejib al-Naimi told AFP. He described Monday’s court ruling as “a political and not a judicial decision.” Ajami’s sole recourse now is to appeal to Qatar’s dictator Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for clemency. (...)

    #Art #dictatorship #Poetry #Top_News

  • David A. Bell reviews ‘The Perfidy of Albion’ by Norman Hampson and ‘Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders’ by Don Herzog · LRB 10 December 1998

    The now-forgotten poet Lebrun got his ‘Ode aux Français’ off to a rousing start with the line ‘Aux armes, citoyens!’ while his colleague Lefebvre de Beauvray told the English: ‘Et de ton sang impur [tu] abreuves tes sillons’ – lines that the military engineer Rouget de Lisle later adapted in the Marseillaise. It is fitting that the most bloodthirsty line in the French national anthem was written with the English in mind.

  • Zionism’s first political assassination - This Day in Jewish History
    By David B. Green

    On June 30, 1924, poet, legal scholar and journalist Jacob Israel de Haan was gunned down in Jerusalem, a murder apparently carried out by the Haganah, the pre-state Zionist militia, to stop de Haan’s anti-Zionist activities. The story of Jacob de Haan’s life – and death – is one of the more surprising, if not bizarre tales of pre-state Jewish life in Palestine.

    Jacob de Haan was born on December 31, 1881, in Smilde, in the northern Netherlands. His family was traditional – his father was a ritual slaughterer and cantor – and he was said to be one of 18 children.

  • Was Pablo Neruda killed by Pinochet?

    Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, described as the “greatest poet of the 20th century” and known for his romantic works, died on 23 September, 1973, after battling prostate cancer. Now prosecutors claim he was murdered on the orders of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet.


  • La Qatar Foundation s’intéresse à la mise en valeur du patrimoine littéraire égyptien, négligé par un état aux ressources limités

    Cairo: Shaikha Mouza of Qatar wanted to buy the house of the late Egyptian poet and writer Abbas Mahmoud Al Aqqad in his hometown Aswan and turn it into a museum, as his nephew Abdul Aziz Al Aqqad revealed.


  • Qatar cuts poet’s life sentence to 15 years for “inciting revolt”

    A Qatari poet jailed for life for criticizing the emir and attempting to incite revolt had his sentence cut to 15 years on Monday, in a case human rights groups said showed hypocrisy by the Gulf state, which has supported uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East.

    In his verses, Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami praised the revolts that toppled several authoritarian leaders across the Arab world, often with the help of money and other support from Qatar, a close US ally which also backs rebels in Syria.

    But the poet also criticized Qatar’s absolute monarch and spoke, for example, of “sheikhs playing on their PlayStations.”

    He was sentenced to life in prison in November, but he appealed against the conviction and sentence, arguing he should be freed as there was no evidence that he had recited the offending verses in public and so no basis for charging him with incitement.

  • / / | \ \ | / / | \ \
    GAY WISDOM for Daily Living...

    from White Crane a magazine exploring
    Gay wisdom & culture http://www.Gaywisdom.org

    Share this with your friends...
    \ \ | / / | \ \ | / /



    1923 - Poet JAMES SCHUYLER, born, (d: 1991); A native of Chicago, Schuyler moved to New York City in the late 1940s where he worked for NBC and first befriended W.H. Auden. In 1947, he moved to Ischia, Italy, where he lived in the rented Auden’s apartment and worked as Auden’s secretary. Between 1947 and 1948, Schuyler attended the University of Florence.

    After returning to the United States and settling in New York City, he roomed with John Ashberry and Frank O’Hara. From 1955-1961, he was a “curator of circulating exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art.” He was also an editorial associate and critic for Art News. Modern art was a major influence in his writing as well as the writings of Whitman.

    Reading an account of how a visit by Walt Whitman inspired Logan Pearsall Smith to literary ambition in his Unforgotten Years, Schuyler said “I looked up from my book, and the whole landscape seemed to shimmer.” The personal epic of Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and the vital force of landscape become major concerns of Schuyler’s mature poetry.

    Like Whitman, Schuyler was not known for revealing much about his personal life. He was Gay, and because he was manic-depressive, suffered several years of psychoanalysis and had a life that seemed to be riddled with traumatic experiences. One of these includes a"near detah experience" in a fire which was caused by him smoking in bed. Schuyler received the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for his 1980 collection The Morning of the Poem. He also coauthored a novel, A Nest of Ninnies, with John Ashberry in 1969. Shuyler also received the Longview Foundation Award in 1961, and the Frank O’Hara Prize for Poetry in 1969 for Freely Espousing.

    Schuyler was a Guggenheim Fellow and a fellow of the American Academy of Poets. His poem The Morning of the Poem is considered to be among the best long poems of the postmodern era. His papers are maintained at the University of Connecticut.

    1931 – Broadway Brevities probes the long and storied history of Lesbian clubs in New York City with the front page article “Sapphic Sisters, Scram!” as written by “Connie Lingle.” The publication, generally credited as America’s first national weekly gossip tabloid, was launched in New York in 1916 and edited by a Canadian named Stephen G. Clow. Brevities started out covering high society and the A-list of the New York theater world, but by the 1930s had begun covering more general vice and ran splashy features on sex, drugs, gang violence and crime. This was possibly the first time a gossip magazine had made real efforts to attract readers who weren’t members of the elite classes; it didn’t presume its readers had a close familiarity with any given social or professional world. In 1932, New York City banned newsstands from selling the racy tabloid, and it appears to have folded sometime around late 1933.


    1879 – VACHEL LINDSAY, poet, born (d: 1931); His exuberant recitation of some of his work led some critics to compare it to jazz poetry despite his persistent protests. Because of his use of American Midwest themes he also became known as the “Prairie Troubador.” Today, his poetry is no longer fashionable, which is too bad since it contains a rhythmic vitality that has all but gone out of contemporary cerebral poetry He is probably best known for this poetic apostrophe to the Salvation Army in “General William Booth Enters Heaven,” although it is questionable whether he ever made it past the pearly Gates himself, since he not only liked boys too much by ended his days a suicide, both offenses that would remove his verses from today’s suburban libraries if the PTAs only knew.

    In his 40s, Lindsay lost his heart to the dazzlingly good-looking Australian composer and pianist, Percy Grainger, as had the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg before him. Lindsay killed himself (horribly, swallowing Lysol) in 1931, the year before Hart Crane leapt into the sea. His only biography was published during the Eisenhower years, a decade before homosexuality was officially invented. If it took biographers almost a century to acknowledge Whitman’s Gayness, Lindsay should be due for a really serious biography around 2021.

    1892 – Russian designer, ERTÉ, born (d: 1990); born Romain de Tirtoff, Erté is perhaps most famous for his elegant fashion designs which capture the art deco period in which he worked. His delicate figures and sophisticated, glamorous designs are instantly recognizable, and his ideas and art influence fashion into the 21st century. His costumes and sets were featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923, many productions of the Folies Bergere, and George White’s Scandals. In 1925, Louis B. Mayer brought him to Hollywood to design sets and costumes for a film called Paris. There were many script problems so Erté was given other assignments to keep him busy. He designed for such films as Ben-Hur, The Mystic, Time, the Comedian, Dance Madness and La Boheme.

    Erté is virtually synonymous with Art Deco, which is unfortunate as his work represents the extreme of the style and not the style itself. It’s perhaps not an exaggeration to say that Erté’s creations made the most outrageous clothing designed by MGM’s Adrian look like nuns’ habits. Erté’s name can safely be added to that small list of gay male favorites – Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, Bette Midler – that either sends one swooning with rapture or jumping for cover behind the nearest sofa.

    1913 - JAMES BROUGHTON poet, poetic filmmaker, and practitioner of “Big Joy,” a pansexual Dionysian approach to life, born. He’s been called the father of the West Coast experimental film movement in the wake of World War II, was part of the San Francisco Renaissance, a literary movement that included Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others. He was an early bard of the Radical Faeries.

    Despite many creative love affairs during the San Francisco Beat Scene, Broughton put off marriage until age 49, when, steeped in his explorations of Jungian psychology, he married Susanna Hart in a three-day ceremony on the Pacific coast documented by his friend, the experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. Susanna’s theatrical background and personality made for a great playmate; they had two children. They built a great community among the creative spirits of Alan Watts, Michael McClure, Anna Halprin, and Imogen Cunningham.

    In 1967’s “summer of love,” Broughton made a film, The Bed, a celebration of the dance of life which broke taboos against frontal nudity and won prizes at many film festivals. It rekindled Broughton’s filmmaking and led to more tributes to the human body (The Golden Positions), the eternal child (This is It), the eternal return (The Water Circle), the eternal moment (High Kukus), and the eternal feminine (Dreamwood). “These eternalities praised the beauty of humans, the surprises of soul, and the necessity of merriment,” Broughton wrote.

    God and Fuck belong together
    Both are sacred and profane
    God (the Divine) a
    dirty word used for damning
    Fuck (the sublime) a
    dirty term of depredation

    God and Fuck are so much alike
    they might be synonymous glories
    I’d even go so far as to say
    God is the Fuck of all Fucks
    And boy He has a Body
    like you’ve never seen

    from Special Deliveries by James Broughton published by Broken Moon Press

    But Broughton spent the greater part of his life with his life partner, artist, Joel Singer, with whom he made many films and traveled the world.

    He died in May, 1999 with champagne on his lips, in the house in Port Townsend, Washington where he, and Singer, lived for 10 years. Before he died, he said, “My creeping decrepitude has crept me all the way to the crypt.” His gravestone in a Port Townsend cemetery reads, “Adventure — not predicament.” In 2006 White Crane Books published selected writings of Broughton edited by San Francisco poet and radio host, Jack Foley titled ALL: A James Broughton Reader [ISBN 1-59021-020-4] as part of the White Crane Gay Wisdom Series. It is available at www.gaywisdom.org

    1924 – PHYLLIS LYON, Lesbian activist, born; Phyllis Lyon was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, earned in 1946. During the 1940s, she worked as a reporter for the Chico Enterprise Record, and during the 1950s, she worked as part of the editorial staff of two Seattle magazines.

    Her name is now almost always paired with that of her partner, Del Martin. Martin and Lyon met in Seattle in 1950 when they began working for the same magazine. They became lovers in 1952 and entered into a formal partnership in 1953 when they moved to San Francisco together although technically unable to legally marry.

    On February 2, 2004, Martin and Lyon were granted the first marriage license given to a same-sex couple in the U.S.. The license was granted in violation of California state law by the City and County of San Francisco after mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that marriage licenses be given to same-sex couples who requested them. The licenses were voided on August 12, 2004.

    In 1955, Martin and Lyon and six other Lesbian women formed the Daughters of Bilitiss, the first major Lesbian organization in the United States. In 1956, DOB issued a twelve-page, mimeographed newsletter called The Ladder, edited by Lyon. Within five years of its origin, the Daughters of Bilitis had chapters around the country, including Chicago, New York, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, Detroit Denver, Cleveland and Philadelphia. There were 500 subscribers to “The Ladder,” but far more readers, as copies were circulated among women who were reluctant to put their names to a subscription list.

    An acommodationist organization, soon to be closely associated with the Mattachine Society, a predominantly male homophile group, DOB became the first national Lesbian society; and The Ladder, the first overtly Lesbian journal, achieved national circulation. Because of the conservative climate of the 1950s, membership in DOB was secret, and Lyons used a pseudonym for her work on the first few issues of The Ladder. Martin took over editorship of the newsletter from 1960 to 1961, and was then replaced by other editors until the newsletter ended its connection with the Daughters of Bilitis in 1970.

    Lyon and Martin remained leaders of the DOB until the late 1960s, when they were replaced by women who were perceived as more radical and who had different goals for the organization. The Daughters of Bilitis disbanded not long after Martin and Lyon’s leadership ended

    Martin and Lyon have been active in the National Organization for Women (NOW) since 1967. Del Martin was the first openly Lesbian woman elected to NOW. Lyon and Martin worked to combat the homophobia they perceived in NOW, and encouraged the National Board of Directors of NOW’s 1971 resolution that Lesbian issues were feminist issues.


    1872 - Massachusetts Senator David Ignatius Walsh, the chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, Walsh was discovered to be having regular affairs at a male brothel not far from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In The Homosexual Matrix, C.A. Tripp tells the sad story of how the government raided what it called “a male brothel” (a bathhouse, perhaps?) near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Arrested was the manager, Gustave Beekman, who was told he could expect a lighter sentence if he cooperated with the government in naming clients, especially foreign agents who were suspected of blackmailing Gay Navy men in an attempt to gain military secrets. Several foreign agents were, in fact, arrested. Also named as a regular patron of the “house on Pacific Street” was Senator Walsh, chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee. Walsh, whose name was plastered across tabloids for weeks, was cleared by his colleagues in the Senate (something about a “wide stance”) after a favorable report from the FBI. Beekman, whose position was not exactly one of privilege, was tried on sodomy charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison, every day of which was served.

    1950 – The first meeting of the MATTACHINE SOCIETY; As Senator Joseph McCarthy railed against homosexuals in the State Department, Harry Hay, working on the Henry Wallace presidential campaign in 1948, wrote a startling document, declaring homosexuals an oppressed minority. While the idea is widely accepted today, at the time the notion of homosexuals as a minority was considered absurd. But it was this key concept that would eventually bring the Gay and Lesbian rights movement together.

    Harry’s platform for the Wallace campaign was never voted on, but he remained determined to organize homosexuals to fight for their equal rights. Two years later, he met Rudi Gernreich (later to be the noted fashion designer) and together they canvassed beaches in the Los Angeles area known as homosexual gathering places, inviting people to a discussion group about the just released Kinsey Report. In November 1950, Harry showed the plank written for the Wallace campaign to Bob Hull, a student in his Southern California Labor School class. Bob shared the document with two of his friends, Chuck Rowland and Dale Jennings, and on November 11, 1950, the five met for the first time to discuss forming a political group that would later become the Mattachine Society. All of the founding members identified themselves as leftist. The group meets again two days later, on Nov. 13th.

    Given the fearful political climate, Mattachine Society meetings often took place in secret with members using aliases. Like the Communist Party, the organization was organized in a cell structure that was non-centralized so that should a confiscation of records occur only limited information would be available to the authorities.

    Over the course of the next two years, the Mattachine Society worked to organize and increase regional chapters throughout most of Southern California, but it was not until the arrest of member Dale Jennings on police entrapment charges that the Mattachine Society took on its first political battle. Police entrapment was a common form of harassment against homosexuals during that period. Suspects’ names were printed in the newspapers, which caused many to lose their jobs and become estranged from their families. By standing up to defend Jennings, the Mattachine Society not only rose to the defense of one of their members, but also took on the notorious Los Angeles Police Department for its pattern and practice of homosexual harassment.

    1985 — After a year of cold feet, “An Early Frost” airs on NBC. Writers DAN LIPMAN and RON COWEN (later to produce “Sisters” and “Queer as Folk”) attempt to create the first TV movie to deal with both homosexuality and the impact of AIDS on a beleaguered community of Gay men. The suburban Pierson family not only deals with closeted workaholic son Nick’s dual secret (along with the unfaithfulness of his partner Peter), but also the anger, resentment and frustrations of mother Kate and sister Susan. While it draws an amazing 1/3 of the viewing audience, the daring broadcast loses NBC about a half million dollars in ad revenue. And while many consider the broadcast a success, others feel the film’s directness stalls nationwide discussion of AIDS, “because it achieved its narrative and informational goals so well.”


  • This Weekend In Gay History FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26 « MasterAdrian’s Weblog

    This Weekend In Gay History FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26
    October 26, 2012

    Gay Wisdom for Daily Living…

    from White Crane Institute
    Exploring Gay Wisdom
    & Culture for over 20 Years!



    This Weekend In Gay History
    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2012

    1900 - on this date the Swedish writer, translator and poet, KARIN BOYE was born in Gothenburg. She studied at Uppsala University from 1921 to 1926 and debuted in 1922 with a collection of poems, “Clouds” (Sw. “Moln“). During her time in Uppsala and until 1930, Boye was a member of the socialist group Clarto. Boye is perhaps most famous for her poems, of which the most well-known ought to be “Yes, of course it hurts” and “In Motion” from her collections of poems “The Hearths“, 1927, and “For the Sake of the Tree“, 1935. She was also a member of the Swedish literary institution Samfundet De Nio (“Chair Number 6″) from 1931 until her death in 1941.

    In 1931 Boye, together with Erik Mesterton and Josef Riwkin, founded the poetry magazine Spektrum, introducing T. S. Eliot and the Surrealists to Swedish readers. Together with the critic Erik Mesterton, she translated Eliot’s “The Waste Land”. She was largely responsible for translating the work of T. S. Eliot into Swedish.

    Between 1929 and 1932 Boye was married to Leif Bjrck. The marriage was apparently a friendship union. In 1932, after separating from her husband, she had a Lesbian relationship with Gunnel Bergstram, who left her husband, poet Gunnar Ekelöf, for Boye. During a stay in Berlin 1932-1933 she met Margot Hanel, whom she lived with for the rest of her life, and referred to as “her wife.”

    Boye was given two very different epitaphs. The best-known is the poem “Dead Amazon” by the poet Hjalmar Gullberg, in which she is depicted as “Very dark and with large eyes”. Another poem was written by her close friend Ebbe Linde and is entitled “Dead Friend”. Here, she is depicted not as a heroic amazon but as an ordinary human, small and grey in death, released from battles and pain.

    In 2004, one of the branches of the Uppsala University Library was named the Karin Boye Library (Karin Boye-biblioteket) in her honor. The literary association Karin Boye-sällskapet (the Karin Boye Society) was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to contributing to keeping Karin Boye’s work alive spreading it among new readers.

    1946 - today’s the birthday of Puerto-Rican Transgender actress and former Warhol superstar HOLLY WOODLAWN. Born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she appeared in Warhol’s movies Trash(1970) and Women in Revolt (1972). Her transformation was summarized by Lou Reed in his iconic song “Walk on the Wild Side”:
    “Holly came from Miami FLA, / hitch-hiked her way across the USA, / plucked her eyebrows on the way, / shaved her legs, and then he was a she…”

    Woodlawn adopted the name Holly as an homage to the heroine of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and in 1969 added the surname from a sign she saw on an episode of I Love Lucy. After changing her name she began to tell people she was the Heiress to the Woodlawn Cemetery. After Warhol’s death, she was a frequently requested commentator on his life and influence. She currently resides in West Hollywood. Woodlawn began performing in cabaret shows in sold-out New York and Los Angeles performances in the early 2000s. She continues to travel with her cabaret show, most recently appearing in Krakow and London in 2008.

    1953 - today’s the birthday of B-52′s multi-instrumentalist and songwriter KEITH STRICKLAND. Born in Athens, Georgia he was one of the founding members of the The B-52′s. He was originally the band’s drummer, but moved to guitar after the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson in 1985. Strickland also plays keyboards on many of The B-52′s recordings, and has occasionally provided backing vocals.

    1971 - today’s the birthday of American actor, writer and singer ANTHONY RAPP. Born in Joliet, Illinois, as Anthony Dean Rapp, his brother is the playwright Adam Rapp. He’s best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in the Broadway production of Rent in 1996 and later for reprising the role in the film version and The Broadway Tour of Rent in 2009. He also performed the role of Charlie Brown in the 1999 Broadway revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Rapp is currently touring the U.S.A. with Rent and will also be in Japan and South Korea.
    Rapp, a self-identified “queer,” is an advocate in show business for LGBT rights, having first come out as Bisexual at the age of 18 to his mother over the phone. In 2006, Rapp released a memoir about his days in RENT, as well as his mother’s struggle with cancer and his experiences growing up, entitled Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent. The memoir was made into a stage production

    2001 - on this date the American writer, cartoonist and illustrator, KRIS KOVICK died of breast cancer. Her books include What I Love about Lesbian Politics is Arguing with People I Agree With, How Would You Feel if Your Dad was Gay?, and Glibquips: Funny Words by funny Women.

    Kovick was born in Fresno, California and attended California State University in the early 1970s, moved to Seattle for five years, and then settled in San Francisco in 1980. In San Francisco, she lived in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, where she became known as “The Mayor of Norwich Street”, a take-off on assassinated San Francisco gay activist Harvey Milk’s nickname “The Mayor of Castro Street.” She was the first woman to become a member of the printing trade union in the Pacific Northwest.

    Kovick was well known as a cartoonist in Lesbian and feminist publications. Her book of essays and cartoons, “What I Love About Lesbian Politics Is Arguing With People I Agree With“, was published in 1991 by Alyson Books. Her writings and cartoons were also published in such anthologies as “Glibquips: Funny Words by Funny Women,” and in LGBT publications such as theSan Francisco Bay Times and Gay Comics. Kovick was friends with other writers and cartoonists such as sex columnist Susie Bright, and cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the artist behind the popular “Dykes to Watch Out For” series who memorialized Kovick in cartoon form in 2008.

    Kovick was also known as a writer and performer. She is credited with launching the Lesbian spoken-word scene in San Francisco. She toured nationally with Sister Spit, a group of women writers that also included such well-regarded authors as Michelle Tea, Eileen Myles, and Lynn Breedlove. In 2000, she founded a reading series at the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts, called “San Francisco in Exile.” Selected performances from the San Francisco in Exile series are archived on the internet.

    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2012

    1848 - the English author and poet KATHERINE HARRIS BRADFORD, (and the other half of Edith Emma Cooper) was born on this date. Bradford wrote poetry and plays under the joint pseudonym “Michael Field.” Katharine called Edith “Henry” and Edith called Katherine “Michael” and for the rest of their lives they were known to each other and to their friends by these names. Where the name “Field” came from is anybody’s guess. Among their closest friends were Royal Academy painter, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, who lived together near them in a relationship comparable to their own. The poems of “Michael Field” are rich in love lyrics to women, and they were well received until it was discovered that the “male” poet was in fact two women. From that time on their work was treated by ever-increasing coldness by the literary world.

    Of course, many people knew the identity of “Michael Field” from the beginning, including Robert Browning, who was a friend. But even Browning asked for an explanation when Long Ago, based on fragments from Sappho, appeared in 1889. Their friendship with Browning is telling. The Brownings wrote their poetry separately. The two women, on the other hand, wrote theirs jointly, believing themselves to be “two bodies joined as one.” The contrast was not lost on “Michael Field.: “These two poets, man and wife, wrote alone; each wrote, but did not bless and quicken one another at their work; we are closer married.”

    1903 - on this date in an article in the German publication Die Zeit, Sigmund Freud was quoted as saying homosexuals are not sick and should not be treated as sick.

    1911 - on this date the photographer MARCEY JACOBSON was born (d. 2009). She spent decades in the southern Mexican highlands documenting the lives of the indigenous Indian peoples. Ms. Jacobson was eking out a living in New York City doing mechanical drafting when she first visited San Cristobal in 1956, intending only a short stay. Instead she found a place she called “the solution to everything,” and, with her companion, Janet Marren, a painter, settled there for the rest of her life.

    She took up photography with a borrowed Rolleiflex camera. Patiently exploring the colorful city, the central marketplace for the Mayan-speaking Indian villages of the region, she won the trust of the often camera-shy locals and taught herself the craft of making black-and-white pictures from what she saw in its cobblestone streets and muddy byways, in its dramatic landscapes and weather events, and perhaps most of all, in the faces of the inhabitants. Her portraits were haunting. The results, about 14,000 negatives produced mostly from the 1960s to the 1980s, describe the local daily life, its mercantile, religious and familial rites, in sensitive detail. The images are housed in the Na Bolom Museum in San Cristobal.

    Most of Ms. Jacobson’s work preceded the Zapatista revolution of 1994, when San Cristobal was one of the cities briefly seized by leftist forces demanding better treatment for Mexico’s indigenous people. But what the photos frequently reveal are the tensions inherent in an ingrained caste system and the changes in a city and a society undergoing modernization.

    In 2001, when she was 90, her work was at last widely recognized; 75 of her photos were collected in a book, “The Burden of Time”/”El Cargo del Tiempo,” printed in a bilingual edition by Stanford University Press.

    “I love being locked up all alone in a darkroom, where nobody can get at me,” Ms. Jacobson said in a 1990 interview published in 2006 in Bridges, a Jewish feminist journal. “You take a negative, you put it in the enlarger, you expose a piece of lined paper, you put it in the developer. It’s absolutely blank. But then it develops, and you watch it, the image floats up to you. And then — you re-experience what you experienced when you took the photograph.”

    In 2009 she died in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, in the state of Chiapas. She was 97.

    1950 - today’s the birthday of American author and humorist FRAN LEBOWITZ. Born Frances Ann Lebowitz in Morristown, New Jersey, Lebowitz is best known for her sardonic social commentary on American life as filtered through her New York sensibilities. Some reviewers have called her a modern day Dorothy Parker.

    After being expelled from high school and receiving a GED, Lebowitz worked many odd jobs before being hired by Andy Warhol as a columnist for Interview. This was followed by a stint at Mademoiselle. Her first book was a collection of essays titled Metropolitan Life, released in 1978, followed by Social Studies in 1981, both of which are collected (with a new introductory essay) in The Fran Lebowitz Reader.

    For more than twenty years she has been famous in part for not writing Exterior Signs of Wealth, a long-overdue novel purportedly about rich people who want to be artists, and artists who want to be rich. She also made several appearances on Late Night With David Letterman during the early part of its run. Â Lebowitz also made recurring appearances as “Judge Janice Goldberg” on the television drama Law & Order.

    In September 2007, Lebowitz was named one of the year’s most stylish women in Vanity Fair‘s 68th Annual International Best-Dressed List, and is known to sport tailored suits by the Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard. On November 17, 2010 Fran made a return appearance on Late Night With David Letterman after a 16-year absence. She discussed her years-long writer’s block, which she jokingly referred to as “writer’s blockade.” On November 22, 2010, HBO debuted a documentary about her entitled Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese, that consisted of interviews and clips from speaking engagements. Â You should look for it — it’s a hilarious documentary about a very witty intellect.

    1951 - on this date the French postal service issued postage stamps with Gay lovers Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.

    1970 - on this date forty members of the Gay Activist Alliance invaded the New York offices of Harper‘s magazine to protest an article which presented homosexuality as a mental illness. GAA president Arthur Evans verbally attacked editor Midge Decter for publishing an article which would add to the suffering of homosexuals. The protest led to a three part television news series on Gay liberation.

    1971 - on this date the film “Some of My Best Friends Are…” was released with the description: “It’s Christmas Eve 1971 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and the regulars of the local gay bar “The Blue Jay” are celebrating. Not much has changed since Stonewall and its not all “Peace on Earth. Good Will to Men” but the times are a changin.” Â An American International production, the film was written and directed by Mervyn Nelson and starred Fannie Flagg, future Golden Girl Rue McClanahan, and Candy Darling in a rare dramatic role. Â Gary Sandy (of later “WKRP in Cincinnati” fame) portrays a drugged out, self-loathing closet case who attacks Darling’s character and is kicked out of the club by the angered patrons. Â The film is now regularly shown at Gay film festivals as “the film you love to hate” but at the time it was thought of us a rare portrayal of life in gay bars of the era. Â You can watch a few clips of it on youtube here:

    1977 - on this date in a meeting between the Quebec Human Rights Commission and representatives of Gay group ADGQ resulted in public recommendation that government amend Human Rights Charter to include sexual orientation.

    1990 - on this date the U.S. CONGRESS repealed a law barring homosexuals from being admitted to the United States on grounds of mental illness.

    1992 - on this date the Federal Court of Canada ordered the military to lift the ban on Gay and Lesbian service personnel. The Defense Department declined to appeal the decision.

    Allen schindler.jpg
    1992 - On this date US Navy radioman Allen R. Schindler, Jr. is brutally murdered by shipmates for being Gay, precipitating first military, then national debate about Gays in the military that resulted in the United States “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy. Schindler was from a Navy family in Chicago Heights, Illinois and was serving as a radioman on the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood in Sasebo, Japan. According to friends of his, Schindler had complained repeatedly of anti-Gay harassment to his chain of command in March and April 1992, citing incidents such as the gluing-shut of his locker and frequent comments from shipmates like “There’s a faggot on this ship and he should die.”

    While on transport from San Diego to Sasebo, Japan, The Belleu Wood made a brief stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Afterwards en route to Japan, Schindler made a personal prank announcement “2-Q-T-2-B-S-T-R-8″ on secured lines reaching much of the Pacific Fleet. When he was brought before the disciplinary “captain’s mast” for the unauthorized radio message. Schindler requested the hearing be closed. It was open, with two to three hundred people in attendance. Schindler was put on restrictive leave, unable to leave the ship until a few months after arriving to Sasebo and four days before his death.

    The captain had been visited by Schindler, who had many times requested to be transferred to another location because he was being threatened by other shipmates for being Gay. The captain denied Schindler’s request and kept the man’s sexual orientation and his death a secret for months. It was not reported until a special team composed of a psychologist, two lawyers, a counselor, and a corpsman from Yokosuka incidentally met at a bar in Sasebo.

    Airman Apprentice Terry M. Helvey who was a member of the Ship’s weather department stomped Schindler to death in a toilet in a park in Sasebo, Nagasaki. Schindler had “at least four fatal injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen,” his head was crushed, ribs broken, and his penis cut, and he had “sneaker-tread marks stamped on his forehead and chest” destroying “every organ in his body” leaving behind a “nearly-unrecognizable corpse.” Schindler was left lying on the bathroom floor until the Shore Patrol and the key witness to the incident (Jonathan W.) carried out Schindler’s body to the nearby Albuquerque Bridge. Jonathan W. witnessed the murder while using the restroom. He noticed Helvey jumping on Schindler’s body while singing, and blood gushing from Schindler’s mouth while he attempted to breathe. The key witness was requested to explain in detail to the military court what the crime scene looked like, but would not because Schindler’s mother and sister were present in the courtroom.

    After the trial, Helvey was convicted of murder and the captain who kept the incident quiet was demoted and transferred to Florida. Helvey is now serving a life sentence in the military prison at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, although by statute, he is granted a clemency hearing every year. Helvey’s accomplice, Charles Vins, was allowed to plea bargain as guilty to three lesser offenses, including failure to report a serious crime, and to testify truthfully against Terry Helvey and served a 78-day sentence before receiving a general discharge from the Navy.

    1997 - on this date the cable television network BET-TV succumbed to homophobic pressure and withdrew an invitation to Gay African-American activist (and former Clinton administration staffer) KEITH BOYKIN to appear on a show with homophobic fundamentalist gospel singers Angie and Debbie Winans. The Winans objected to his presence on the show, which featured their anti-Gay song “It’s Not Natural.” Thus proving their cowardice in refusing to be challenged on their hateful rhetoric.

    1999 - on this date in the provincial government in the Canadian province of Ontario changed 67 statutes to give same-sex couples equal treatment to heterosexual couples.

    1999 - also on this date during the primaries, the two Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley promised that if elected they would do everything in their power to ensure equal rights for Gay and Lesbian Americans. The promise was an unprecedented declaration by a candidate for a party’s nomination. George W. Bush would win the presidential election promising the absolute opposite position on equal rights for Gay and Lesbian Americans and became the first president to publicly call for a constitutional amendment to explicitly take away rights from a class of people. Those people being Gay people. Proving once again that elections do matter.

    2007 - on this date two 16 year-old boyfriends in Davis, California were elected Homecoming “Princes” after a successful write-in campaign at Davis Senior High School. With each boasting a white sash declaring his title as “Prince,” the two 16-year-olds rode through the city of Davis in the school’s annual homecoming parade.

    2009 - on this date the students of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, elected their first ever Transgender homecoming queen. Jessee Vasold, who identified as “genderqueer” took the field at halftime of the school’s football game against James Madison.

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2012

    1903 - British poet and novelist EVELYN WAUGH was born on this date. The English writer is best known for such satirical and darkly humorous novels as Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, A Handful of Dust and The Loved One, as well as for broader and more personal works, such as Brideshead Revisited and the Sword of Honor trilogy, that are influenced by his own experiences and his conservative and Catholic viewpoints. Many of Waugh’s novels depict British aristocracy and high society, which he satirizes but to which, paradoxically, he was also strongly attracted. In addition, he wrote short stories, three biographies, and the first volume of an unfinished autobiography. His travel writings and his extensive diaries and correspondence have also been published.

    In 1944, American literary critic Edmund Wilson pronounced Waugh “the only first-rate comic genius that has appeared in English since Bernard Shaw,” while Time magazine declared that he had “developed a wickedly hilarious yet fundamentally religious assault on a century that, in his opinion, had ripped up the nourishing taproot of tradition and let wither all the dear things of the world.” Waugh’s works were very successful with the reading public and he was widely admired by critics as a humorist and prose stylist. In his notes for an unpublished review of Brideshead Revisited, George Orwell declared that Waugh was “about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions.” The American conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. found in Waugh “the greatest English novelist of the century,” while his liberal counterpart Gore Vidal called him “our time’s first satirist.”

    After gallantly protecting T. S. Eliot from “the specious assumption that he was homosexual,” T.S. Matthews in Great Tom, suddenly became viciously ungallant: “It is peppery, glaring little men like Evelyn Waugh who are sexually suspect – as his diaries bear witness.” Aside from the psychologically interesting opposition of “great” Tom and “little” Evelyn, it’s perfectly clear that the former editor of Time magazine had no particularly liking for either homosexuality or Evelyn Waugh. The very word “suspect” is suspect. Many people disliked Waugh personally. He could be unkind, ungenerous and ornery. But he was one of the greatest prose stylists of the 20th century, if not the greatest, and the idea of using the word “little” on a giant such as he is at best, odd.

    Indeed, his diaries do clearly reveal him as a Gay man. But then so do his novels, particularly Brideshead Revisited, in which the friendship of Charles and Sebastian, despite the limitations of what he was allowed to write in the early 1940s, is magnificently drawn.

    1909 - the Anglo-Irish born painter FRANCIS BACON was born on this date (d. 1992). He was a collateral descendant of the Elizabethan philosopher Francis Bacon. His artwork is well known for its bold, austere, and often grotesque or nightmarish imagery. Bacon discovered that he attracted a certain type of rich man, an attraction he was quick to take advantage of, having developed a taste for good food and wine. One of the men was an ex-army friend of his father, another breeder of race-horses, named Harcourt-Smith. Bacon later claimed that his father had asked this friend to take him ‘in-hand’ and ‘make a man of him’. Francis had a difficult relationship with his father, once admitting to being sexually attracted to him. Doubtless, Eddy Bacon was aware of his friend’s reputation for virility, but not of his penchant for young men.
    In the early Spring of 1927 Bacon was taken by Harcourt-Smith to the opulent, decadent, “wide open” Berlin of the Weimar Republic, staying together at the Hotel Adlon. It is likely that Bacon saw Fritz Lang’s Metropolis at this time.

    His visit to a 1927 exhibition of 106 drawings by Picasso at the Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paris, aroused his artistic interest, and he often took the train into Paris five or more times a week to see shows and art exhibitions. Bacon saw Abel Gance’s epic silent film Napoléon at the Paris Opéra when it premiered in April 1927. From the autumn of 1927, Bacon stayed at the Paris Hôtel Delambre in Montparnasse. In 1929 he met Eric Hall at the Bath Club, Dover Street, London, where Bacon was working at the telephone exchange. Hall (who was general manager of Peter Jones) was to be both patron and lover to Bacon, in an often torturous relationship.

    In 1964, Bacon began a relationship with 39-year-old Eastender George Dyer, whom he met, he claimed, while the latter was burgling his apartment. A petty criminal with a history of juvenile detention and prison, Dyer was a somewhat tortured individual, insecure, alcoholic, appearance obsessed and never really fitting in within the bohemian set surrounding Francis. The relationship was stormy and in 1971, on the eve of Bacon’s major retrospective at the Paris Grand Palais, Dyer committed suicide in the hotel room they were sharing, overdosing on barbiturates. The event was recorded in Bacon’s 1973 masterpiece Triptych, May-June 1973.
    In 1974, Bacon met John Edwards, a young, illiterate, handsome Eastender with whom he formed one of his most enduring friendships, eventually bequeathing his £11m fortune to Edwards after his death.

    Bacon died of a sudden heart attack on April 28, 1992, in Madrid, Spain. Bacon bequeathed his entire estate (then valued at eleven million pounds) to John Edwards after his death. Edwards, in turn, donated the contents of Francis Bacon’s chaotic studio at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, to the Hugh Lane gallery in Dublin. Bacon’s studio contents were moved and the studio carefully reconstructed in the gallery. Additionally draft materials, perhaps intended for destruction, were according to Canadian Barry Joule bequeathed to Joule who later forwarded most of the materials to create the Barry Joule Archive in Dublin with other parts of the collection given later to the Tate museum.

    Bacon’s Soho life was portrayed by John Maybury, with Derek Jacobi as Bacon and Daniel Craig as George Dyer (with some lovely frontal nudity on Craig’s part) and with Tilda Swinton as Muriel Belcher, in the film Love is the Devil (1998), based on Daniel Farson’s 1993 biography The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon. Bacon is also cited in interviews with contemporary British artist Damien Hirst as being one of the latter’s principal influences.

    1970 - the author KATE MILLET publicly came out on this date. She would later speak at the first Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1979.

    1987 - the HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN FUND began running ads on this date in response to an amendment introduced in the Senate by the virulent homophobe Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) and passed by the house and senate to restrict funding to AIDS organizations which distributed Gay-related prevention literature.

    1987- At the University of Vermont in Burlington nineteen people were arrested in a demonstration protesting the CIA’s exclusion of Gays and Lesbians on this date.

    1990 - on this date during a campaign speech, US Congressman Jesse Helms [twice in one day? apologies] referred to Gays and Lesbians as “people marching in the streets demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other.” Imagine that?

    1990 - on this date PLACIDO DOMINGO and ANDRE WATTS raised $1.5 million at a fundraiser for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

    1992 - on this date Episcopal bishop A. THEODORE EASTMAN issued an order to clergy in Maryland not to bless same-sex unions.

    1992 - on this date copies of the Lesbian comic book “HOTHEAD PAISAN #7´´ was seized from the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. Officials sited “sexual degradation” as the reason for the seizure, though it contained no sex. The prohibition would be lifted seven months later.

    1997 - on this date the NATIONAL BLACK LESBIAN AND GAY LEADERSHIP FORUM condemned homophobic gospel singers Angie and Debbie Winans for their anti-Gay song “It’s Not Natural” and BET-TV for providing them with a one-sided forum to promote their homophobic views. Earlier in the year, BET-TV refused to air MeSHELL NDEGEOCELLO’s video “Leviticus Faggot,” about a black Gay teenager’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality.

    1998 - on this date Welsh secretary RON DAVIES resigned from Tony Blair’s Labour Party government after British tabloids reported he was robbed at knife-point in a London park while looking for a male sexual companion. Although he subsequently came out as Bisexual, Davies referred to the incident as his “moment of madness.”

    In 1999 Davies was successfully elected on 6 May 1999 as Member of the Welsh Assembly in the Caerphilly Constituency, and chaired the Economic Development Committee after Alun Michael refused to appoint him to his Cabinet. Shortly before the 2003 assembly elections, “The Sun” revealed that Davies had been visiting a well-known cruising spot near a motorway lay-by (rest stop). When challenged as to what Ohe had been doing there, Davies initially denied being there, then told reporters that he had been going for a short walk, adding: “I have actually been there when I have been watching badgers.” Davies was forced to stand down as Labour candidate in the election.

    2008 - on this date Gus Van Zant‘s Harvey Milk biopic premiered to a star-studded audience at San Francisco’s Castro Theater. MILK would go on to win various Oscars at the 2009 Academy Awards.

    2010 - on this date President Barack Obama signed the The Matthew Shepard Act (officially the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act”) into law. The Act expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It was finally passed after almost two decades of attempts to pass it through Congress and over stiff opposition by members of the Republican party. During debate in the House of Representatives, Republican Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina called the “hate crime” labeling of Shepard’s murder a “hoax.” Proving once again that elections do matter.


  • Phil Rockstroh : A Journey To The End Of Empire: It Is Always Darkest Right Before It Goes Completely Black | OccupyWallSt.org

    "When the poet stands at nadir the world must indeed be upside-down. If the poet can no longer speak for society, but only for himself, then we are at the last ditch.”— Excerpt from, The Time of the Assassins, a study of Rimbaud, by Henry Miller


  • Herman Cain Admits to Quoting Pokemon Movie During Campaign (Video) - Hollywood Reporter

    No, the GOP candidate didn’t admit to any of the accusations that he had sexually harrassed several women or had a 13-year affair with another.

    Rather, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza admitted to having used quotes from the movie Pokemon: The Movie 2000 — specifically the theme song, “The Power of One,” sung by Donna Summer.

    In August during the Republican primary debate in Iowa, Cain quoted “a poet” as having once said, “Life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it’s never easy when there’s so much on the line.”

    It wasn’t the only time he quoted from the movie, and several bloggers have been quick to point out his gaffe.


  • Remembering Sargon Boulus (1944-2007)

    When he turns his eye to Iraq, he focuses on the devastating effects of the last few decades, especially the embargo. In “I Came to You from There,” a deceased friend’s ghost visits the poet in San Francisco to tell him what has become of Iraq:

    Your family is fine 
    They send their best from cemeteries 
    Baghdad is a spike of grain 
    to which grasshoppers cling 
    I came from there 
    It is annihilation 
    He said 
    Then he walked away and disappeared 

  • 13 août 2011
    International Herald Tribune
    Robert Zaretsky HOUSTON, TEXAS is a professor of history at the University of Houston, Honors College, and the author of ‘‘Albert Camus: Elements of a Life.’’

    *For Camus, a last brush with the absurd

    "A nonsensical theory about the existentialist author’s fatal car crash says much about his times, and ours.

    How absurd. What better response to the news that, a half century after the death of Albert Camus, an Italian scholar claims that the car accident that took his life was not an accident at all, but instead the work of the K.G.B.? According to the account, a well-known Czech poet confided to his diary that he had learned that Camus, a consistent and courageous critic of Communism, died after Soviet spies punctured a tire of the car he was traveling in, which then swerved off the road and wrapped itself around a plane tree.

    It may be surprising that no such rumors existed at the time. In the bleak atmosphere of the Cold War, the incredible seemed all too credible. The Soviet Union had recently tested its first atomic bomb. The French Communist Party, loyal to Moscow, was the dominant opposition in France. Few doubted it when the philosopher Roger Garaudy predicted, ‘‘Without any doubt, the 20th century will go down in history as the century of the victory of Communism.’’

    Conspiracy theories abounded in this hothouse atmosphere. Communists accused the government of allowing the Coca-Cola Company to buy the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in order to transform it into a billboard.

    The government arrested a Communist leader, Jacques Duclos, whose car contained two pigeons — carriers, the police claimed, for flying messages to Moscow. That Duclos, whose stomach remained French even while his heart had gone over to Moscow, meant those pigeons to go no further than his dinner table was, of course, overlooked in the passions of the moment.

    It would have been perfectly normal, in that context, for a rumor of Soviet malfeasance to flare once news of Camus’s death flashed across France. Instead, most people latched on to a different contemporary obsession à la française: fast cars and spectacular accidents.

    From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, a deep preoccupation with cars throbbed through French popular culture. When novelists, musicians and film directors were not busy using the car and road as metonyms or signifiers, they were instead busy dying, or being maimed, in real cars on real roads. The ‘‘French James Dean,’’ the novelist Roger Nimier, predicted he would die on a highway and fulfilled this forecast in a spectacular accident in 1962; Françoise Sagan, author of ‘‘Bonjour Tristesse,’’ nearly said au revoir la vie after she demolished her Aston Martin in 1957; the adventurer André Malraux’s two sons died in a car accident in 1961. Even Roland Barthes, who rhapsodized over the cathedral-like nature of the Citroen DS, was eventually taken down in 1980 Paris by a laundry van run amok.

    By the early 1960s, France’s yearly toll of traffic fatalities dwarfed those of comparable countries.

    It was in the midst of this piston-driven devastation that the sporty Facel Vega, driven by Camus’s close friend Michel Gallimard, veered off the road. Who needed Moscow to explain the event? An engine with too much horsepower on a road designed not for cars, but horses, sufficed.

    ‘‘There is grim philosophical irony in the fact that Albert Camus should have died in a senseless automobile accident,’’ an article in The New York Times following his death began, ‘‘victim of a chance mishap.’’ But to those Camus left behind, death by car was not exactly senseless. While his contemporaries were turning to religion or ideologies to escape the absurd, they were also turning to, well, cars. Going fast — going too fast — in slim cars with seductive names like Citroën’s ‘‘The Goddess’’ seemed to offer a ticket to eternity, and to many onlookers, a high-speed death seemed a sensible, almost poetic, end for the era’s brightest stars.

    In its allusion to the absurd nature of Camus’s death, The Times got it only half right. A death, Camus noted, is not absurd or meaningless because it results from chance or a mishap, but instead because we refuse to accept the very possibility of senselessness. We insist upon meaning, even when we invent or impose it. It is our confrontation with the universe, not something inherent to the universe itself, that leads to absurdity. ‘‘The absurd,’’ he insisted, ‘‘depends as much on man as on the world.’’ It occurs when one combines the world’s silence with our need for understanding.

    And it can occur at any moment, even or perhaps especially in cars. ‘‘At any street corner,’’ Camus warned, ‘‘the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.’’ When a friend warned him about driving on highways, he replied, ‘‘Don’t worry, I hate speed and don’t like automobiles.’’ Owner of a rarely used Citroën, his attitude to speed matched his attitude to religious or ideological faith: They were false methods of relieving ourselves of the weight of our lives. Life, he believed, precisely because it is absurd, is our most precious and weighty possession.

    When the police reached the wrecked Facel Vega, they found Camus’s briefcase flung several yards from his body. Inside was the unfinished manuscript for his autobiographical novel, ‘‘The First Man.’’ In its pages we discover neither faith nor Facel Vegas. ‘‘Life,’’ he wrote, ‘‘so vivid and mysterious, was enough to occupy his entire being.’’

    As we near the centenary of Camus’s birth, we should listen to him and ignore the cloak and dagger theory now spackling the Web. Life, thank the silent heavens, holds mystery enough.