From the 1946 film "Despotism"…
Found a really great web blog recently…well, I didn’t find it. Pete Montgomery sent the link to us. Band of Thebes, it’s called. Really smart, connected, and respectful. Something you don’t see much in Gay media these days.
And it has a great rant about Tom Brokaw’s breathtakingly bad …no, not bad…STUPID AND IGNORANT book, Boom! DO NOT BUY BOOM! I’m going to share the Band of Thebes rant here…but be sure to visit Band of Thebes.
Here’s the Brokaw rant…(not wanting to give Brokaw’s bullshit any more attention than it deserves (which would be zero) you’ll have to click on the pic to see what it’s all about.)…
Two days ago, Random House published Tom Brokaw’s Boom!: Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today, which purports to explain that decade’s "profound social, political, and individual changes" and "the impact of the 1960s on our lives today" in exhaustive detail throughout nearly 700 pages.
Readers who eagerly anticipate how Brokaw will weave the story of the birth and explosive growth of the Gay rights movement into the larger narrative fabric of the times, as well as wondering how he will convey the Boomer generation’s catastrophic losses from aids, will be disappointed. He doesn’t.
His book about the social upheaval of the Sixties, and the Sixties as midwife to emerging and enduring political movements never mentions the Mattachine pickets of the White House (1965) or Stonewall (1969) or annual Gay pride parades that began on the first anniversary of Stonewall in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and now span the globe, or any Gay political group. No. Instead, 1969 is noted for Woodstock, and 1970 is highlighted as having the first Earth Day. In the context of shifting mores on sex and the changing dynamics of what makes a family, gay life is ignored. Gay death is ignored too, because the index has no entry for aids. The emergence of Gay visibility in entertainment, education, religion, and business is completely erased. The book virtually never even acknowledges gay people. No Harvey Milk, no Frank Kameny, no Barbara Gittings, no Larry Kramer. David Geffen is mentioned, once, simply as a friend of Berry Gordy’s. Oh, but there is a recap of Dick Cheney telling Wolf Blizter he was "out of line" to mention Mary.
Where there ought to be an index entry for "Gay" or "Gay rights" it says "see homosexuality" — a Victorian, not a Sixties, term — whose thirteen subcategories are shown above. Study the names: Buchanan, Cheney, Fallows, Greenhouse, Huerta, and Webb. They’re all straight. (Imagine, for a moment, a sweeping social and political history book in which all the names beneath the entry for black were Asian people, or if the entry for Jewish listed only half a dozen Catholics.)
Even these arbitrary six heterosexuals offer no true analysis of Gay issues; usually their references only include Gay rights in a list of political issues or cases before the court. The other subcategories refer to passages that are equally meaningless. "And the women’s movement" might be a springboard for a fascinating, complex comparison of the two movements but in fact page 195 only gives the subject half a sentence, saying, in addition to dealing with tensions over the race, the women’s movement was "also divided along ethnic lines and by sexual orientation." Every reference is that shallow. Even for Brokaw’s brand of History Lite, the omission is appalling. Gay Boomers, what happened to you? And what are you going to do about it?
It seems that the October Harper’s magazine has an article by Garret Keizer in which he calls for a one day, national, general strike. Walk out of work. Don’t buy anything. Call for a stop to the madness of this administration’s lies, dissembling and crimes.
It’s about time.
Here are the beginning and closing paragraphs from the piece:
Of all the various depredations of the Bush regime, none has been so thorough as its plundering of hope. Iraq will recover sooner. What was supposed to have been the crux of our foreign policy — a shock-and-awe tutorial on the utter futility of any opposition to the whims of American power — has achieved its greatest and perhaps its only lasting success in the American soul. You will want to cite the exceptions, the lunch-hour protests against the war, the dinner-party ejaculations of dissent, though you might also want to ask what substantive difference they bear to grousing about the weather or even to raging against the dying of the light — that is, to any ritualized complaint against forces universally acknowledged as unalterable. Bush is no longer the name of a president so much as the abbreviation of a proverb, something between Murphy’s Law and tomorrow’s fatal inducement to drink and be merry today.
If someone were to suggest, for example, that we begin a general strike on Election Day, November 6, 2007, for the sole purpose of removing this regime from power, how readily and with what well-practiced assurance would you find yourself producing the words “It won’t do any good”? Plausible and even courageous in the mouth of a patient who knows he’s going to die, the sentiment fits equally well in the heart of a citizenry that believes it is already dead.
… I wrote this appeal during the days leading up to the Fourth of July. I wrote it because for the past six and a half years I have heard the people I love best — family members, friends, former students and parishioners — saying, “I’m sick over what’s happening to our country, but I just don’t know what to do.” Might I be pardoned if, fearing civil disorder less than I fear civil despair, I said, “Well, we could do this.” It has been done before and we could do this. And I do believe we could. If anyone has a better idea, I’m keen to hear it. Only don’t tell me what some presidential hopeful ought to do someday. Tell me what the people who have nearly lost their hope can do right now.
A great crowd of Philadelphians gathered last night at the William Way Center for the unveiling of Mark Thompson’s exhibition of portraits "Fellow Travelers." The remarkable photographs of Gay cultural pioneers were part of the Gay center’s first Gay History month celebrations.
Adding to the excitement of the evening was the presence of Gay pioneers like Daughters of Bilitis member (and partner to Barbara Gittings) Kay Tobin Lahusen. Also present to show his collection of early Philadelphia Gay publishing material was Mark Segal of the Philadelphia Gay News. Also present was famed Gay songwriter and cabaret performer Tom Wilson Weinberg.
Many thanks to Dolph Ward Goldenburg, Executive Director of the William Way Center for his efforts in making the exhibition and the evening possible.
The exhibit will be there through the end of October so if you get a chance to visit, do!
Here are a few photographs from the wonderful evening.
I don’t think there are books in the Gay men’s community that compare to Ann Bannon’s 50s and 60s Lesbian bodice rippers…Odd Girl Out…I Am A Woman…Women in the Shadows…and Journey to A Woman…but while the stories are women’s stories, there is a universal truth in them, about the coming out process in another time, when shame and shadows and anguish — what the Radical Religious Right would call "The Good Old Days — were the words that ruled Gay and Lesbian lives.
Bannon’s Odd Girl Out was the second biggest selling paperback of 1957…something she didn’t learn until 30 years later! The books were popular when they were first released, and have proved a remarkable longevity especially for pulp fiction, being reprinted in three different issues, and several languages. That iconic longevity, the characters and the books themselves earned her the title of "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction." When depictions of Lesbians in written literature were quite rare, and what there was was dismal and unhappy, her books set her apart from other authors who wrote about Lesbianism. She has been described as "the premier fictional representation of US lesbian life in the fifties and sixties," and that her books, "rest on the bookshelf of nearly every even faintly literate Lesbian."
Last night we went to see the Hourglass Group’s production of Kate Moira Ryan and Linda Chapman’s The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, an adaptation of three of Bannon’s books. Ms. Bannon was in attendance, looking stunning, and receiving the adulation of her fans. All of us. It was marvelous. Can’t recommend this play highly enough. If your first thought is "I’m not a Lesbian, what would this have to say to me?" you couldn’t be more mistaken. The writers could have easily played this for camp, but they didn’t. It is poignant, witty, thoroughly entertaining, smart, funny theater. There’s a fine cook’s hand at play, with just a soupçon of camp…enough to make you laugh out loud, partly from the humor, partly from the buzz of recognition. The writers (and Bannon) are word perfect in capturing the early Lesbian and Gay "zeitgeist," all the lies we all bought into before we knew we were more than the only queer on the planet.
If Logo was programming like this, instead of the dreck like "Rick and Steve" I’d probably be watching Logo a helluva lot more. This material could…should…easily be translated into one hot television series…Desperate Lesbians!
If you are, as they say, "of a certain age," Lesbian or Gay, you will see yourself up on the stage ( there is a bravura performance by Obie winner, David Greenspan, the likes of which we haven’t see since Take Me Out…as well as the marvelous performance…and buff body…of Bill Dawes, the cuckolded husband Laura leaves.)
If you’re lucky enough to have been born "post Stonewall" you need to know these stories. This is your heritage. This is where Stonewall came from.
There is something incredibly important about the "particularity of voice"…which is why we continue to insist that White Crane remains for and by Gay men. Welcoming, as they say, but we only purport to speak for ourselves as Gay men. Last night was an opportunity to hear the Lesbian voice…and it was proud and clear and true. For all of us. Brava to everyone who had anything to do with this play. By the way….Beebo playwright, Linda Chapman and her partner, Obie-award winning actor, Lola Pashalinski, have a featured article inthe fall White Crane, Lovers.
A limited run…through October 20. Tickets available here.
Pastor Martin Niemöller wrote this famous poem as a reaction to the inactivity of the German intellectuals leading up to the Nazi regime and its brutal repressions. And the last thing I am interested in is more mongering of fear…but just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean….
Power has learned a thing or three since those ham-handed days, but the end result is no less chilling. Speaking as someone who was maced and beaten by seven Des Moines, Iowa cops back when the last criminal administration was in power, 1969, there have been a few occurences lately that have taken my breath away. In my case, it was five in the morning and I was walking back to my apartment off campus, a half block away from it, actually, when I was stopped, maced and beaten, my shirt torn off me, and I was unceremoniously stuffed in the back of a police cruiser and taken to …a mental hospital. They told my parents I was "crazed on drugs and climbing trees." In court, I was charged with "resisting arrest and simulating intoxication" (actually the bailiff misspoke and said "resisting intoxication and simulating arrest" to which I almost blurted out a "guilty" plea! Let me just say this…I was, as they say, in an "altered state" but I assure you, I wasn’t climbing trees. They lied. And they scared the shit out of my parents so they would put a lid on me.
In any event, while the corporate media gives us their happy talk and our dose of Daily Fear, ("BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID"…of toys, cholesterol, terrorists, good food, bad food, identity theft, dogs, cats, global warming, doom, gloom…I sometimes think the only reason some of these are getting any coverage is because they’re scary and serve their larger purposes…or sometimes it’s not "be afraid" it’s "those pesky celebs!" and we’re fed a steady diet of high fructose celebrity simple syrup)…there seems to be a growing threat against free speech. Back when the Republicrats had their convention here in New York, our billionaire mayor refused to allow a peaceful assembly of dissenters to gather in the Great Lawn or the Sheeps Meadow of Central Park, putting up some lame excuse about the grass.
And while most magazines, even in the Gay community (where media is slowly but inexorably being transformed by the attrition of market failure and bankruptcy or being gobbled up into conglomerate corporate blandness)…heck, especially in the Gay community…I mean, even I was almost distracted with our friend Malcolm Boyd being named to yet another "Top 10 List! Top 40 List! Top 100"…you fill in the number…how much bread and circus does it take to glaze over the eyes of a people? How many Brittney stories? How many O.J. stories? How many celebrity weddings? Even the Advocate list, a pale attempt at depth and history, ended up being more a celebration of fame mistaken for influence. Among the top ten, of that list of "Top 40 Influential Gays," there’s Elton John, Ellen Degeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, inane, self-absorbed celebrities who basically hid in their plush-lined closets and denied beng Gay for years…thirty years after Stonewall, mind you…until it became a convenient career move.
Boy…now that’s a hero! Extra ham on mine, please.
But a steady diet of processed sugar and processed news (have you noticed how all the networks always seem to have the same stories on the same days? They Decide…You Abide) is bound to blur and confuse after a while. And that’s the point. Isn’t it? You’re just too groggy to lift your head off the couch and say, hey…wait a minute…
I wrote about the cop threatening the silly spectator at Farm Aid. What great crime was he masterminding? Strolling…skipping, actually, back and forth a couple of times in the background of a television interview being carried out in a field of 30,000 people, lifting his shirt! Momma save the children! Like we’ve never seen that on the evening news. How dare he?! And without any prompting or so much as a request from the news people (Faux…er, Fox News, actually), Johnny-On-The-Law yanked Mr. Silly out of camera range and clearly threatened him with his wagging finger and god knows what else. Mr. Silly’s friends quickly spirited him away, calming him down. His face was pale with rage.
And now we have this student (it’s always the students, isn’t it?) in Orlando, at Florida University (and no…that’s not an oxymoron) being tasered…TASERED!…for having the impertinence to ask pointed questions of John Kerry (I believe one of them was "Aren’t you and the President members of the same secret society at Yale? Skull and Bones?…and yes…they are.) The clips, all over YouTube, are pretty frightening with him being hustled out…incredibly, all the while Kerry saying "That’s all right. I’ll answer…let me answer his question,"… so Kerry isn’t asking to have him removed….this was an independent decision by campus Rent-A-Cops it seems.)
But this isn’t the scary part. The scary thing, from my perspective, is how the student is being demonized. Nice work this morning, Lauer, way to go after the lawyer of this kid. Matt Lauer questioned the student’s lawyer this morning like he was O.J. Simpson, pushing him (with his "serious face" on) with questions about "Is this guy a student? A campus loudmouth? Or a political agitator?" …like, how dare he ask those questions!!? Doesn’t he know what questions we’re supposed to ask and which ones we’ve all agreed to steer clear of? jeez, man…get professional, you know? Honestly, I think Matt Lauer saw his job flash before his eyes there …and he was scared. Where in the world is Matt Lauer coming from?
Almost all the stories are not about the over-reaction (to be kind) of the over-armed campus police (the justification, of course, being Virginia Tech…like the problem there was "not enough guns on campus") but about whether or not the student was an agitator? How dare he continue to ask questions about the stealing of a Presidential election? Isn’t that all settled? Can’t we move on!?
I hear this morning he’s being charged with "resisting arrest and disturbing the peace."
Peace? What peace?
Let’s not all forget that the U.S. government is capable of this and a helluva lot more. I have two words for you…Kent State. They weren’t tasering then…they were using bullets. Four dead in Ohio…
White Crane Institute has been presenting Mark Thompson’s Fellow Travelers photography exhibit for the past few months at the New York LGBT Community Center. In October it will move to the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. While it was here, Out At The Center, the LGBT Center video project, interviewed Mark and Bo about the show. Ok…so they misspelled Kilheffner, Monette and Ram Dass…the photos are stunning and the history is deep.
In November, Fellow Travelers will move to Salt Lake City in support of the Queer Spirit Retreat work Jerry Buie is doing. If you are interested in Fellow Travelers coming to your city, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our friend Lee Mentley sent us this marvelous footage of John Rothermel and Rose Hips performing.
Long Live the Cockettes!:
So yesterday came word, via the New York Times, that John Wallowitch died. Now, unless you were in any way connected to the small universe of New York Cabaret and the supper clubs of the last fifty years you’re probably wondering "Who is John Wallowitch?" He was an amazing composer and performer my partner Pete and I had the chance to catch while in New York back in 2004. Here’s a slightly modified retelling of the story from my blog entry back then:
We got back at about 11 pm and I was pretty tired. And after the long crosstown cab-ride I was seriously in need of a restroom and dashed into the lobby facilities. Pete waited outside for me where he spied a line of gray haired sophisticates waiting to get into Opia, the small bar on the main floor. It being so late in the evening, it peaked Pete’s curiousity. The doors opened and they went in and then a group of hip 20somethings (in their best retro-1970s clothes) got in line and they too entered. The postcard read Wallowitch Uncensored: "an evening of filth and romance." It ended up being the highlight of what was already a pretty amazing trip.
Wallowitch was an amazing songwriter and cabaret singer. His show was stunning mix of songs by little known composers. I can’t remember a show that elicited so much laughter. He sang in small sets. There was one set celebrating the "emigrant experience." These were three songs by Irving Berlin, "Tokyo Blues," "Back in Italy," and "Cohen owes me 97 dollars" the last one a song I could easily hear Groucho Marx singing. He then added a tune about the Irish called, "Is Your Mother Drunk in Ireland this Evening?" We were on the floor by then and he’d barely started. Other highlights included a few double entendre tunes in a set he titled, "Naughty Tunes for Nice People, or Nice Tunes for Naughty People." These were: "It was hard when I kissed her goodbye," a song about a female athlete titled, "She ain’t much of a wrestler but you ought to see her box" and a wedding song called, "The Best Part of the Wedding is the Swelling of the Organ and the Coming of the Bride." These were all by a composer called Joe Davis. There was also a tune he described as being about filial affection and transportation titled, "I Went to See Jack Off at the Train." It was an amazing show and I recommend all my friends in New York catch it. I figure Wallowich is in his 70s so its one of those "catch him while you can" kinds of things. But he is a wonder. Looking online I found a review by Stephen Holden from the New York Times who wrote,
"While Noel Coward is no longer around to set the standards for a certain kind of sophisticated songwriting sensibility, Mr. Wallowitch nimbly carries the torch."
We spoke with him after the show to introduce ourselves as out-of-towners (Pete was clearly Jack Lemmon). He was extremely gracious and gave us his email and asked us to stay in touch. A few days later I wrote him an email of thanks and he wrote back at 12:05am:
Dan and Peter –
Promise me we will stay in almost constant touch. I certainly cannot afford to lose you two. I just got in from a performance down at the Red Lion in the Village. I wanted to answer your note before I retired to let you know I really appreciate hearing from you. More later. Wallowitch
We tried catching his show again whenever we were in New York but it never worked. The only time he happened to be performing an engagement was last Fall and he cancelled the run. We didn’t know why at the time, but according to the obituary in the paper, he’d been suffering from cancer.
I wish I could recommend a few of his songs to you but all of his CDs are out of print. I picked up some good used copies on ebay and you might try Amazon. Just search under "Wallowitch." His entry on Wikipedia is mostly my doing as I remember starting the page a few years ago when there wasn’t one up for him.
Rest in peace Wallowitch.
Stephen Holden’s obituary of Wallowitch on the New York Times
(including a really sweet picture of Wallowitch with his partner Bertram Ross)
Playbill’s really good obituary of Wallowitch