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her commonplace book - the baroness ilsa von freytag-loringhovn
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in baroness ilse von freytag-loringhovn's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
9:50 am
on the road again...
well, it's been a few years. um, five.

but this still feels like the simplest way to be in touch while i'm away from home for a while. if you wander back through the archive, you'll find a lot of memorial posts, some "meet the new boss" posts from the early days of the current administration (can i say i told you so yet?), and travel accounts from eastern europe, northeastern china, and a few other places.

but this trip is less about wandering around. i'll be in weimar, germany (the place, not the time period - you can tell by the comma) from july 7th till about august 9th. why? because. which is to say: i'm working with the amazing jenny romaine (and the also amazing abigail and gregory, and a cast of, well, dozens anyway) on a piece of yiddish spectacle theater in hitler's favorite city. it's gonna be based on a 16th-century chivalric romance (yo, af yidish, farvos nisht?), and also about migration, refugees, and destroying patriarchy. because we are who we are and it is the year it is.

and then i'll be elsewhere. berlin, hamburg, maybe annecy or salzburg, hopefully stamboul. stay tuned.

let me know if you know people i should meet in these places, or other ones nearby! especially (predictably) folks involved in refugee/migrant organizing, trans/queer/feminist projects, awesome performance work, police/prison/border abolition, yiddish culture, and so forth. and in particular if you happen to know (a) folks who might want to book a mostly-trans-women punk band that plays the yiddish revolutionary repertoire [next year?]; (b) karagöz puppeteers; (c) folks who think about gender and professional music/dance performance in the balkans and ottoman ecumene [from azis to köçek dancers to bülent ersoy to current trans women performers]...


Current Mood: quixotic
Saturday, August 20th, 2016
1:04 pm
retrospective (thuringen countryside; antifascist or anti-crowd?)
and after another long pause (for the record, i'm in haut savoie now, after an interlude in serbia - more about that later), back to some journal...

a quick ode to the the plums of thuringia! so many kinds, growing along the bikepaths. and mostly hitting ripeness just as i was biking through. little thumbnail-sized purple ones, and yellow ones the same size. ones the size of a small egg, that fit perfectly into the mouth whole, and then burst or split around their stone. those ones, the yellow version, are almost like an apricot, but with a bit of pineapple flavor. the purple ones are the ones that collapse in a flood of juice. then the too-big-for-one-bite irregular ones the ripen from greenish to red to purple - inedible to tart to sweet. and some are red inside, some yellow, some almost a kiwi shade of green. none of them have the rich purple inside that they do on the skin. and all of them have such thick yeast-blooms on them that slivovitz isn't just a good idea, it's an inevitability built into the plant.

and to the bike paths too. the system is amazingly well set up. the two times i went to the tübke panorama (more later on that), i took my bike on the train to different towns and rode for an hour or more to get to my trainless destination. mostly on paved paths running at the bottom of fields, along what might have been domesticated creeks or slightly feral irrigation canals. periodically shifting into cobbled backstreets of little villages, or into gravel tracks or worn-down routes across fields themselves. usually quite well-marked with distances to the next towns. with hawks and (unripe) apples and pears and (ripe) plums, and house backyards with occasional horses, and a few times a manmade pond belonging to a fishing club. and all around, this rather flat, slightly rolling landscape of fields and copses, with hills a ways away. and skies that make the german Old Masters make sense (the way a vermont sky is a reminder that peter schumann is actually a naturalistic painter, if not a photorealist).

and on another tip entirely:

in weimar, there are a number of places that were used for nazi mass rallies. which isn't surprising: thuringia was a major early base of support for the NSDAP, and weimar was hitler's favorite city. so there's the square where hitler's favorite balcony is. the big plaza in front of the train station. and the space defined by the romanesque/brutalist collonades of the gau-forum (the only completed headquarters of one of the new nazi-definied subdivisions of germany). after the fall of the nazis, the DDR did some redesign work on the latter two. according to N, as a form of anti-fascist urban planning.

the bahnhof plaza is covered in small hedges - plantings perhaps 2m x 3m x 1m tall - in a pattern that leaves walking-space of perhaps 2 or 3 meters between them, but only a few narrow diagonal routes that go directly through the plaza without multiple turns. it's not a space where a crowd can easily gather, or move at any speed.

between the buildings of the gau, there is a wide area of grass. under it, however, is the parking lot for the mall that now stands behind the nazi buildings - just as square and featurless, but not at all imposing. apparently it was built to only bear a minimal load past the sod and grass itself: a rally on the scale of the nazi celebrations held there would collapse its roof.

which leaves me wondering about public space, about gathering space, about hostility to populism, about how this relates to the architectures of counterinsurgency i'm used to at home (anti-terrorist flowerpots that block the sidewalk; fences around green space in parks; pseudo-public tax-break spaces that are always slightly constricted cul-de-sacs; etc). weimar doesn't lack open spaces for a demonstration or rally - the goetheplatz, the mark, the frauenplan, the areas in front of the various castles... - so is it sensible to say that removing these ones makes sense, so that the resonances of their nazi history are harder to revive? or does it mean that history can't be overwritten, and remains frozen into a prominent element of the cityscape rather than allowed to become less and less a part of it? (i should say: these are not memory-sites - there's a little museum at the gau, but's not very visible; the memorials and such actively preserving the memory of the dominance of and resistance to naziism are elsewhere)

Current Mood: recumbent
Thursday, August 4th, 2016
9:18 pm
and back with more at last
well, long workdays and attempts to socialize afterwards sure do add up to not a lot of time on the journal. but it's the mid-show-week pause, so it's time to catch up a little.

which means less narrative, more fragmented observations.

all my days off until now (it's pouring) have involved long bike rides through the countryside.

the first one was about 25K through the villages to the west of weimar. little clusters of house/barn complexes, mostly half-timber (stone bases, brick or rubble between beams above, some more plastered than others), with tall wooden gates into the courtyards. each with a thickwalled church topped with a black bulb-and-spike spire (kinda like scaled-down, protestant, versions of the monastery churches in bukovina).

pretty, and remarkably the same as one another. the homogeneity is striking, village to village but also within them: in places the same size in vermont, say, or tennessee, there'd be five different churches - here's there's one. the solar panels on the roofs are also striking - far more of them than in rural places at home.

and then there's the decidedly odd experience of walking through a small churchyard cemetery and seeing the same WWI and WWII memorial plaques as i would at home, bolted to basically the same spot on the church wall. but for the wehrmacht. in a landscape that holds what's left of buchenwald, but also the routes of the death march of april 1945, when the camp was emptied by the SS. which, of course, i found out about by stumbling across a memorial on a random corner by a shopping strip in the weimar banlieu as i rode back into town.

the memorial culture(s) here are kinda amazing, though. and that's one thing that's fascinating about the overlaid experiences of being in germany, but also in the DDR. more about that later, but for now memorials. there's a lovely wall with inscription + statue + flower urns monument to ernst thaelmann, the red leader between the wars (who the german-speaking column in the international brigades in spain was named for), two blocks from our workspace. it's not exciting, but solid and appealing. there's an unconvincing post-reunification thank-you-for-our-freedom memorial to the u.s. liberators of 1945 on my usual bike route home - a low wall and some plantings, looking like a bad compromise between the thaelmann memorial and a jumbled description of the viet nam war memorial in washington. and there are streets named for karl liebknecht (though not rosa, that i've seen) and an array of progressive (and claimed-as-progressive) figures, from neruda to washington. and there are occasional 'stumbling stone' markers for sites related to the nazi attempted genocide - at the house that was the weimar ghetto, for instance. yes, one house; all the jews in town apparently fit. (did i say yet that this is a town that has no significant jewish history, mostly because no jews were allowed to live here for most of its history?)

more on the DDR, and on biking through thuringia, soon. gotta go watch a dance show.


Current Mood: tired
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
2:00 am
day six
and now it's been almost a week.
and it's long workdays, and either tired or full evenings (though not late ones) so there's been less journal-writing than i'd hoped. but here are some highlights, at least.

the crew: an amazing bunch of weirdos, as expected, but even more so. from the two londoners i spent part of this evening around the piano with (from improvised 6-to-8-handed piano to a scabrous invented song about one of them and her eating and hair-care habits to a mildly demented "over the rainbow" to "silver dagger" to "spring hill mine disaster"...); to the early-music violinist whose self-introduction mini-performance involved playing, vocalizing, moving objects around the floor, talking about/to the table, &c; to the production-liason-turned-full-participant who LARPs the medieval lower classes (as a puppeteer's assistant, no less); to the storyteller of a certain age who says she "just got in because she's old" - after making a delightfully lady-macbeth-ish cantastoria banner in the style of old modernist ellery queen cover art... and on and on.

the work work: we spent the day working on a set of 24 appliqué banners that together will be a cantastoria of the plot summary of the bovo-bukh. medieval-ish, but patterned using bleed-over-the-edges-size stars of david (in the persian-miniature star+hexagons pattern mode), with the story images inside the stars (some crisp and modernist, some overflowingly maximalist, some kids-book-y, some heraldic), and fringe and sequins. later, they'll be procession banners gayly out of the jew-y-est renaissance ever... it's exhausting - three of us coordinating/facilitating/supporting 13 participants, each with different skills and learning areas, as well as different visual styles that lead to different technical questions and approaches. and also a lot of fun.

the other work: night before last, N (one of the local-ish participants) invited greg and abigail and i to dinner at his friend L's house. which turned out to be in the former school building where L has been living since arriving 5 months ago from afghanistan. for most of that time, the building was holding 600 or so - 6 or more to a room that most u.s. universities would think was a crowded dorm room at 4 (and have partitioned into separate sleeping spaces). now it's down to 60 or 80, with much fewer families - some folks have been refused status, others moved into scattered-site housing, others have piggy-backed with friends into the scattered-site situations.
L had cooked a feast of small plates: stewed chicken with kidney beans; tomato/onion/yoghurt salad; fresh greens; cherries from a tree down the road; bread... which is strictly forbidden. refugees are only supposed to eat at the cafeteria at the housing site, which serves awful slop (which isn't necessarily even halal: merkel was in the paper that morning talking about the cafeterias under a headline that translated "eat what's put in front of you"). which means that they're actually eating on the about 5 euro a day, that's supposed to be for all their other expenses.
and we ate and drank wine and talked for hours about food, about our scars (cut achilles tendon; bike crash; cookie-sheet; many more), about migration, about music and dancing (listening to afghani music and reggaeton and such on L's telephone), about toasting/drinking cultures, and families, and free-fighting, and such. at some point we were looking out the window over the old playing fields, and N pointed out that you can see the buchenwald tower from the refugee housing. (i don't know that i have anything to say about that, but it's part of the flavor of things here: the streetsigns i bike past on my way to work have "buchenwald memory-site" on them, with a little tent-and-winnebago icon next to it. i don't know if i need to vist the gedenkstätten, but i might have to go see what the buchenwald campsite is like.)

the hang: it's always nice when the russians (or ex-soviets, to be accurate) take over the yiddish open mic / jam session / zingeray. things get weird, and new verses crop up in various languages (last night, for instance, for Djankoye, which is a whole new song given what's been happening in crimea...). and the bunch of us who've turned out to be committed to eating lunch outdoors have been having lovely shmoozes, and learning all sorts of things: N2 and S, for instance, both turn out to be from kurdish backgrounds; R would rather be eating a steak with her bare hands; N has been thinking about why somatic practices get boxed into separate dance- and vocal-technique worlds...

and perhaps that's it for this report.

Current Mood: tired
Friday, July 8th, 2016
11:45 pm
i have only two things to say about this:


if we are to believe the police about the person they killed (that he was the sniper; that he was who they say he was - neither to be counted on), this is an entirely typical u.s. mass shooting. a young man with some military background shooting people from a specific group who he believes has wronged him.

the only difference is that (unlike any of the white [or potentially white, in a less islamophobic u.s.] gunmen i can think of) he was right about his relationship to his targets.


Poem about Police Violence
June Jordan

Tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop

you think the accident rate would lower subsequently?
sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
comes back to my mouth and I am quiet
like Olympian pools from the running
mountainous snows under the sun

sometimes thinking about the 12th House of the Cosmos
or the way your ear ensnares the tip
of my tongue or signs that I have never seen

I lose consciousness of ugly bestial rapid
and repetitive affront as when they tell me
18 cops in order to subdue one man
18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle
(don't you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue
and scuffle my oh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn
street was just a "justifiable accident" again

People been having accidents all over the globe
so long like that I reckon that the only
suitable insurance is a gun
I'm saying war is not to understand or rerun
war is to be fought and won

sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
blots it out/the bestial but
not too often tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop

you think the accident rate would lower subsequently

Current Mood: angry
11:28 pm
peter-and-the-wolf-strasse, a/k/a peter-paul-and-mary-strasse
well, that was certainly 29 hours of transit. yes it was.

about which i'll only say:
- taking turkish air is like flying in the 80s! actual food (the mascarpone/spinach cannelloni were perfectly adequate; the sides included two kinds of cheese, yoghurt, a flan-like dessert, olives, tabouli, and an eggplant spread that wasn't baba ghanouj), actual drink (i could complain: i asked for my raki with ice but no water...), actual music and movies ("The Black Saint & the Sinner Lady"; a VU live show i'd never heard; "Into the Woods"...); a faily comprehensive night flight pack (with a toothbrush that didn't make my mouth bleed, even!). the only thing missing was the ashtray in the seat-arm.
- the berlin airport has completely disfunctional baggage carousels (bags directly to floor; constant bag-jams; etc).
- sometimes the trains don't run on time, and then you miss 9-minute connections. i think the whole point of germany may have been lost somewhere along the way.

and now i'm in weimar!

ensconced in a lovely apartment near the west side of town, a few blocks on the right side of the tracks (i found the tracks, so i know). if it's not the actual lap of luxury, it's at least fairly far up the thigh. my room has a daybed and wicker armchair as well as a bed bed and a chair chair. there's a bathroom, and a WC. there's an espresso machine in the kitchen closet, and a toaster in a drawer.

and it's a halfhour walk to the Other Music Academy, across the park with the Swanseebad pool/spa in it, through streets of pleasantly-colored (if mostly pastel) stucco-walled and fake-half-timber buildings with deco ornamentation and occasional bauhaus gestures (including karl-liebknecht-strasse, no less!), past hollyhocks and lindens and birches, with occasional (A) stickers on the lightposts about justice for refugees and historical memory. it all looks a little like the small hapsburg cities i like so much (oradea, timisoara, and that place in hungary with the beautiful neolog shul...), but before someone took a blowtorch and melted/caramelized the architecture... and it has the mix of pristine and nearly-collapsing that makes me feel comfortable in a city.

and the folks at OMA are lovely so far - speaking an array of germans (i'm avoiding calling what they talk dialect, which of course they all do) as well as differently accented standard; rushing to help us with finding people and things we need; supplying us with coffee, beer, envelopes of per diem cash, and thuringian sausage. it's nice to be working on a project where there are folks whose job involves being helpful and getting things done for us.

the main problems so far are things like these:

- there is no access to trash here. we are used to finding most of our working materials in the trash. this is what you might call the primary contradiction. we brought some things from Materials for the Arts, but there's only so much 4 suitcases can hold. we think we've arranged a cardboard hookup (by having one of the staff call Toom - home depot, more or less - at 8 am to get them to not destroy the bexes from their deliveries immediately for a few days), and we'll hear back on monday about whether the boss at the recycling center will allow us to take things from their piles of junk (we got kinda yelled at for starting to pick through a pile when we visited). we'll see how it all plays out.

- how do we mix into this chivalric romance - and its yiddish knights and babylonian princesses and barbary merchants and half-man-half-dog sidekicks - the political stuff of 2016: refugees, migration, the struggle to destroy patriarchy, climate change, islamophobia, the black liberation movement... this is not actually a problem; its what we're used to doing. i mention it mainly to give some of the texture of the day. we spent the evening listening to a talk by dilar dirik about the revolution in rojava ("women, autonomy, and emancipation"; youtube), naomi klein's edward said memorial lecture (" 'let them drown' "; london review), and reading aloud some dorothy dinnerstein and some vivian gornick on dinnerstein ("the mermaid & the minotaur").
the pieces are starting to fit together in some interesting ways: dinnerstein's emphasis on changing what men do, around childrearing in particular, while not expecting men to take much initiative in transforming society, bounces interestingly off dirik account of the development of women's autonomy in kurdistan and öcalan's call for the destruction of masculinity (as a necessary part of ending the State and capitalism), and our friend free-man's account of alternative muslim manhoods. and all that tangles in intriguing ways with klein's analysis of human and geographical sacrifice zones and the overlapping maps of oil, war, drought, and drones along the 200mm-rainfall line, with her nods to eyal weizman's geographic work and said's work on the creation of muslim inhumanity... and then the Bovo Bukh's wilderness idyll, with the knight swaddling the baby twins and the man/dog raiding a monastery for food, drink, and more diapers.

more soon.
yrs from thuringia...

Current Mood: cheerful
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
5:06 am
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
4:44 pm
not, apparently, z"l!
i was telling someone the other day about one of my favorite bits of gay liberationist writing, larry mitchell's the faggots and their friends between revolutions, which is exactly as old as i am, and assumed that mitchell was no longer around. it's an easy assumption to make about a radical queer of his generation. but it seems it's not true. we've lost a lot of our elders, but some are still here.

so before you run out to find a copy of the faggots and their friends, let me whet your appetite. here's an interview from 2009 (cleaned up from ad-drenched thefreelibrary.com), which found larry mitchell still on the lower east side, still radical, and still fierce.

The Gay & Lesbian Review
July - August 2009
Volume 16, Issue 4

Larry Mitchell, novelist of the dispossessed.

Now seventy years old. Larry Mitchell has invited me into the labyrinthine apartment he and his lover Richard have shared for 25 years in Manhattan's Lower East Side. In the faded gold living room, we sit down to talk over tea and the sounds of the neighborhood streets. Mitchell is the author of four beloved novels of the gay underground, a collaborative book on queer communal living, and a radical manifesto titled The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions.

Mitchell's radical East Village aesthetic captures the experiences of people forging an anti-establishment politics informed by living in the gay community before and during the AIDS epidemic. His characters live in cars or freezing apartments; work part-time or short-term minimum-wage jobs rather than pursue careers; respond to a culture of greed by buying little and sharing everything, from clothes to drugs to sex; and elaborate remarkably diverse gender identities and erotic lives. Dating from 1972 to 1993, Mitchell's work coincides with and implicitly critiques the shift from radical queer liberation movements to the new gay politics of tolerance, assimilation, and consumerism. Perhaps not surprisingly, given that cultural trajectory and the conservatism of literary criticism, Mitchell's staunchly nonconformist books are out of print.


Matt Brim: Your gay culture, your strand of gay literary history, is rooted in the East Village and on the Lower East Side in the 1970's, 80's, and 90's. How would you characterize that aesthetic?

Larry Mitchell: Well, I don't know if it's really up to me to do that. I can tell you the great influence on me was Christopher Isherwood, and the idea--it's a total misnomer--of "I am a camera," where you want to make it seem to the reader as if you're reporting.This is the great skill of Isherwood. I wanted my books to be seen as dispatches from the front, or a letter that someone is sending: "Here we are on the cutting edge of culture, and this is what it's like out here creating this new thing." Because that's very much how it felt at the time, like this hadn't really existed before. And we were the ones making it up

MB: You wrote about AIDS from the beginning, but never in a sentimental mode. Was that an artistic choice or was that decision over-determined by the experience of living with so many people dying around you?

LM: I'm a great foe of sentimentality, so it was certainly an artistic choice. I always considered sentimentality as the major emotion of fascism. Fascists are very sentimental, about the family and the mother and the children and all that crap. The right wing gets very sentimental about that stuff, about the fetus or whatever, and I find it a very offensive emotion. So, looking back, I'm sure it was very conscious. I hated sentimentality. And that attitude was very strong in that gay culture that I was a part of. There was this thing about being very clear about what the hell was going on so as not to be taken in. I mean, the people had a very radical politics, but it was more a sensibility. Our response was not, "Oh the poor fags are dying, and we love them, and they are all so sweet." The response was, "Do something about it! What the hell are you doing?" More anger than sentimentality. And I'm glad that comes through in the work, because I think that was very central to that Lower East Side culture.

MB: Sex is important to your books, but it doesn't seem to hold some sacred place in the lives of your characters. It seems to be woven, potentially, throughout any moment. In Heat features sex at an art show--

LM: Oh, my God, I know. That was a very exciting book to write! Someone once said they liked sex in my books because it was usually comical. There's a lot of comedy about sex, because it never quite goes right, or one wants it and one doesn't, or you're trapped in some tiny space and you don't know where to put your arms and your legs. It's not the soft-core porn trip. There's no bed of roses. Everyone doesn't smell fabulous. People are just kind of running around in the comer trying to get off. It was like that in New York. We had back rooms in those days. Or you'd be standing at the bar and somebody would be on their knees. And you say, "Wait, no, I'm not ... well, who are you? ... well, okay ... ." And you'd be here talking and the person you were talking to would see what was happening and they would continue to chat. And God knows what would go on. It was very free and easy. You weren't saving it for the honeymoon, if you know what I mean. It was considered impolite to reject someone. I mean, you didn't have to go home with him; nobody ever went home with anybody. But in public, if someone made a little move on you, you were gracious. People had very good manners around sex, I always felt. That was a very important part of that culture.

MB: Your books reflect a deep understanding of the cycles of history and how power works. Did you think of yourself as a radical or revolutionary artist?

LM: I did. I got my PhD in sociology, so I spent a lot of that time studying things like how power works. One thing I wanted to do was to write books in which there were no straight people. I didn't want to have any straight characters. When I started, I was in a bit of a separatist mood, because I'd had this experience right after Stonewall in the fall of 1969. There was a group formed called the Gay Liberation Front. Two of my friends and I went off to the meeting, and there we were, the gay revolutionaries. This was the second meeting of the group, and they had invited the Black Panthers to come. And there they were, two representatives of the Black Panthers. And they said, "This is great, you're meeting. But what have you got for us? Do you have a voter list? Do you have a voter registration drive? You don't have anything. What are we supposed to have a coalition with? There's nothing here!" And everyone was like, "Oh, we just want to be a part of it! Blah blah blah!" Well, I realized that first gay people needed to get something that was ours, and then you can go out and make a coalition with other people. So I became very focused on that, and I started the publishing company [Calamus Books], and we got gay bookstores, then the gay center. And so the books sort of came out of that. I wanted to present this world that was completely gay and that didn't really deal with straight people that much. That was the feeling I had, that we had to get our shit together and get some strength ourselves before we could go out and ask them to help us with our issues, and before we could help them with their issues.

MB: You were writing along with a great many gay male authors who died, and you lived. And you stopped writing.

LM: I stopped writing. I went blind, so it was difficult. I could see when I was younger, and I went blind slowly, but I never saw that well. But I felt also that I lost my audience. So many of my contemporaries were gone. I think you always write for an audience, and all those people were gone. This was during the years when people were dying in great numbers. I have that experience of people getting very enthused and then six months later they'd be dead. If you notice in Acid Snow there's a very long list of people 1 dedicate the book to, and that was hardly the beginning of that list. You know, I published all of my own books, and I still have copies. But my publishing company, Calamus Press, went out of business. The distributor went bankrupt.

MB: Do you think you could have a new audience now?

LM: The thing that makes my work different, I think, is that it's about a part of the gay world which most people did not write about. They either wrote about Fire Island, the Saint, the clone part of the gay world, or they wrote about the more literary parts of it, like Edmund White. Most people were not writing about the gay world I was writing about. So in that sense it has a certain historic value, I think.

MB: Why do you think that your contemporaries who wrote the Fire Island stories and the Saint stories--the so-called Violet Quill writers--have been credited with the making of gay culture?

LM: I don't quite know how to put this. The Violet Quill did not exist. It is a complete figment of Felice Picano's imagination, an undertaking by Felice to create his version of gay literary history. To say they created gay culture is so wildly off the mark that I always would laugh when Felice would get into this. But he ran with it and he did very well with it. He got a book out of it, and he even managed to convince the Beinecke at Yale that there was such a thing and to offer him money for his archive about this little society. But I think you look elsewhere for the making of gay culture. Those writers were a strand of it, but they were just one small strand. It was always what I thought of as the bourgeois gay culture, and it sort of marginalized other parts of gay culture.

MB: In The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions, you show admiration for queens who "elaborate their forms of outrage." Does outrage still have a place in effecting social change?

LM: I think it probably does, but it's not easy to do, you know. It's a very difficult thing to pull off because you can alienate yourself so far from (he other side that there can never be any reconciliation. But I think outrage is a good way to get attention, to draw attention to the thing, but then you have to do something else. You can't just do outrageousness. After a while you become an entertainer. On the other hand, gay organizations today have very little sense of productive outrage or the need for anger. They're very accommodating. They don't want to get anyone ruffled. And I think that's the wrong way to go. It leads to Proposition 8 passing. I think the level of activism, anger, and outrage is way too low in the gay community.

Current Mood: hopeful
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
12:19 am
ztz"l & ziy"a... o ineffable!
tuli kupferberg.

the first punk rocker i ever heard.
and one of the first yiddish singers i ever heard.


and newly in my mind this year because of this, which we used in the 5770/2010 purimshpil.

a legend, a radical artist who just kept on making work, a long-haul anarchist.

and a master of what he named "parasongs" - radical rewrites like joe hill's "the preacher and the slave" ("in the sweet by and by"), the RMO/BLO/SF Pride at Work's "bad hotel" ("bad romance"), the subversions of catholic liturgy made by 15th-century revolutionaries, sid vicious' "my way", etc etc etc.

here are three of tuli kupferberg's that i saw for the first time tonight; one taking the piss out of his own band, one rousing and rough, one tender:

Slum Goddess Trilogy
from The Village Fugs' "Slum Goddess of the Lower East Side"

Because the State

tune: chorus of "Because the Night (Belong to Lovers)" by Patti Smith & Bruce Springsteen

Because the state belongs to fuckers
Because the state belongs to them
Alpha primate otherfuckers
Wasps in the edenic glen

& because the state was made by fuckers
Because the state was made for them
Pleasure-hating motherfuckers
Lover-baiting sons a guns

And the state holds monopoly of force
"Cop killers" also mean "cops who kill"
& tho the idea is somewhat coarse
Wilheim Reich might hold: "That's a sexual thrill"

& because the state seducts us early
From 3 years on to postgrad docs:
Because the state educts us early
Dripdries our brains, hangs 'em out like sox

& because the state thrives with armies
Protects its properties thru blacks & blues
Soldier boys are never called "murderers"
But what the hell is what they do?

& soon no doubt when we're alone
The govt'll tape your cunt & my bone
The state is a devil disguised as God
That throws its laws like a lightening rod

& this "executive committee of the ruling class"
Shoves its media up our ass
Will the evil of two lessers set you free?
Now the question's: "To be internet or be TV?"

But because the state belongs to fuhrers
Because the state kills us for fun
Because the state belongs to furors
Because the state thinks only with the gun

& because the state belongs to fuckers
Because the state belongs to them
Gotta underthrow them motherfuckers
To return us to our edenic glen

O because the state belongs to fuckers
Because the state belongs to them
Oh we'll have to change them all to lovers
& we'll have to try & start again
Yeah we'll have to change us all to lovers
Oh we'll have to try to begin again....


When I Was a Young Man
from "Moscow Nights"

When I was a young man long time ago
Thru blue Moscow Nights deep in snow
We would talk and scheme and then we'd walk and dream
Our utopian hearts oh, all aglow

Youthful dreams turn nightmares but yet, but yet
All our love of freedom's beauty we will ne'er forget
Under stars of evil and dreadful hate
Our wondrous children still now defy their fate

Thru the years of hope and fears we have all seen
Many comrades disappear, how sad we have been
Different czars shall come and different czars will go,
And darling I still love you so.

O, when I was a young man a long time ago

Thru blue Moscow Nights deep in snow
We would talk and scheme and then wed walk and dream
Our utopian hearts oh, all aglow

Youthful dreams turn nightmares but yet, but yet
All our love of beauty's freedom we will ne'er forget
Neath satellites of evil and dreadful hate
Our wondrous children still now defy their fate

Thru the years of hope and fears we have all seen
Old comrades disappear, how sad we have been
Different czars will come but different czars shall go,
And darling I still love you so.

Current Mood: grateful
Monday, July 12th, 2010
2:28 pm
so, a week after reading samuel delany's fascinating critique of The Dispossessed (which you should read, or re-read if you already have, and then track down a copy of delany's The Jewel-Hinged Jaw, i just read a short story that falls somewhere in the same category as le guin's classic.

The Dispossessed, like few other novels, is a great examination of the problem with revolutions (in the classical, abrupt, understanding of them, at least): they ossify pretty damn quick. jefferson's classic line about the need for a revolution every 20 years is one acknowledgment of this, but i like the version william morris (a wonderful and these days unrecognizedly radical thinker) wrote:

I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. from A Dream of John Ball

this short story, "The Guy Who Worked For Money", by benjamin rosenbaum, is another version. i take it as a nearly perfect account of what happens when you create a non-monetary economic/social structure that is still market-based - which is to say, still capitalist. it's also a great corrective to all the blather from those who would have us adapt 'social networking'/'web 2.0' structures "to our own purposes" [sic].

when it comes to the technologies that structure society, audre lorde is still right: the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. there's a complicated line between that basic truth of struggle and its complement - any tool is a weapon if you hold it right. perhaps the choice of metaphor is the most telling hint for where to find that line: when we're talking about weapons - about the creative force involved in defending ourselves against the old order, in destroying its teeth and claws - any tool can be used, but when we're talking about dismantling - the slower process of taking apart structures in order to reconstruct a world we might want to live in - the mechanisms must be chosen with special care. but whenever there's doubt, pick lorde over difranco.

Current Mood: hopeful
Sunday, July 11th, 2010
5:07 pm
grace jones tells it like it is:



Current Mood: energetic
Monday, July 5th, 2010
2:17 am
in which a pair of sparts* discover pop music. and it makes them a little bit gay.

"workingmen of all countries, unite! um, no homo."

thanks to emmala for the link.

and if you want the truly fantastic thing this doesn't even know it wishes it were, go here.

* i'm judging by style here. yes, it's sterotyping, but really, with those goatees and that overall dudeliness (not to mention the manic glimmer in the eyes), who else could they be? the ISO tends toward the skinny and intellectual, the RCP towards the clean-cut or pseudo-punk, the DSA and SP wear union tshirts, awkwardly, and the crypto-maoists tend to look just like you and me. because five years ago they were some of us. and the anarchists, unfortunately, don't read marx. which may have something to do with the lack of any effective anarchist response to the past few years' economic situation.

Current Mood: chipper
Friday, April 9th, 2010
5:48 am
revenge, genre, controversy, and more
so i just wrote something very long, because of something not necessarily all that interesting. i think it goes somewhere interesting, though, so here it is.

if you don't want to slog through the whole damn thing, please do scroll down to the end and read the half-page or so of melanie kaye/kantrowitz's fantastic essay "women, violence and resistance: naming it war" that i close with. and then go find a copy of the issue is power and read the whole thing.

onward! ...not for the faint-of-rant-reading...Collapse )

Current Mood: angry
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
12:33 pm
File Under: Surprising Even Me. Kinda.
i may never have to write another word on electoral politics.

the present occupant of the white house has just made it all completely unnecessary.
so while i can't promise never to write another 'meet the new boss' or 'why the lesser evil isn't any better' post, i can say that there'll be no need for one to come soon.

no, it's not about the healthcare bill. (though you should read this)

no, it's not about the huge increase in assassinations using unpiloted drones since W left office. (though you should read this)

no, it's not even about the massive escalation in the afghan war.

it's about abortion.

y'know, the argument of last resort that gets trotted out whenever someone gets skeptical about the value of supporting a party or candidate who wraps militarism, patriarchy, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and capitalism in pleasant liberal rhetoric.

you've heard it a million times. or made it.

but at least he's pro-choice
but at least they support reproductive rights
but at least they won't add new restrictions to access

anyone who makes these arguments after today is not living in an evidence-based reality.

if you've made these arguments in the past two years, read what your president just signed.
and start paying attention to what people in power actually say and do, rather than your fantasies of what they should do.

Executive Order ensuring enforcement and implementation of abortion restrictions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

the full text followsCollapse )

Current Mood: enraged
Friday, February 12th, 2010
12:46 pm
NGOs & "sociocide through sheer bureaucracy"
just ran across a fantastic article by smadar lavie & reuven avarjel, two radical mizrakhi intellectuals.

it's here. and is an elegant and angry look at the mizrakhi (non-eastern-european jewish) majority of israel's jewish citizens, and their place in the state, in palestine, in the wars of the past five years, in the resistance to zionism, and in the shift from a two-state to a one-state vision for a future after the Occupation. oh, and along the way it illuminates the israeli form of what we're in the process of learning about here: the processes by which NGOs/non-profits contain, co-opt, and prevent effective resistance to all kinds of oppression. not to mention the obstructive role of the "peace camp" in israeli politics.

read it right now.

if you want more background on mizrakhi history and politics in israel, start with ella shohat's "sephardim in israel: zionism from the standpoint of its jewish victims" and then read up on the israeli Black Panthers (start here or here, or more generally in the work of poet/scholar/activist sami shalom chetrit).

ultimately, as the panthers put it: "either the cake will be shared by all or there will be no cake."

Current Mood: contemplative
Monday, February 8th, 2010
3:35 am
watching too much television
it's nice to see someone on tv(-on-the-internets) say something sensible about religion. even if he is a more than slightly sketchy FBI agent (or local equivalent).

It doesn’t concern you… that kind of absolutist view of the universe? Right and wrong determined solely by a single all-knowing, all-powerful being whose judgment cannot be questioned and in whose name the most horrendous acts can be sanctioned without appeal?

one agent duram, addressing montheism in the pilot of Caprica.

it remains to be seen how the dominant greco-roman style polytheism comes off. hopefully not much better, and hopefully distinctly different. given the choice between such systems, i tend to prefer the one that offers the larger number of possible sources of authority. more room to maneuver is better, when you've got a basic disagreement with the premise that there is or should be an external Authority.



fascinatingly, the show's designated Others, though allegedly normative polythesists at heart, are not only darker, shorter, body-modified, involved in organized crime, and torn between pride and assimilationism, but when they sit down to a culturally-marked meal, there's a braided loaf at the center, with dark red wine in somewhat ritual-looking goblets.

sf crypto-jew much?

or did i forget to mention that the more trad ones wear black fedoras and have a decided flair for the monochrome semiformalwear? or that their ethnic neighborhood overlaps with chinatown?

still later:

and that they're largely played by latin@s and arabs, judging by the names.


Current Mood: impressed
2:00 am
fermentation station redux
at risk once more of becoming one of those people on the internets...

...but still pretty proud of myself for getting back underway.

here's what's in the dining room right now:

1) sauerkraut - 1/3 of my medium-sized crock. one head red cabbage, one head green, 1/2 head old green. fennel seeds, varicolored peppercorns, bay leaves, cumin seeds. and salt. almost a week old (started 2/2/2010ish), and bubbling away nicely.

2) banana wine - 2 gallon jugs. about 2 1/2 dozen bananas, about 5 cups of organic whiteish sugar. started 1/24/2010, into secondary 2/7/2010 (it's been cold).

3) kombucha - about a liter. scoby left for the house by the fabulous lizxnn. gunpowder green tea, about 1/2 cup of organic whiteish sugar. started 1/31/2010, ready to go into effervescence.

4) a cabinet of older wines that i'm not going to dig through right now. a few bottles of almost-3-year-old effervescent plum wine, a few of 1-or-2-year-old apple wine, a few of almost-1-year-old pomegranate-plus dumpster blend, perhaps some mead.

all wild-fermented except the plum wine.
all experiments with not quite enough documentation.

this makes me happy.

Current Mood: content
Friday, January 15th, 2010
11:58 am
flo mcgarrell
one of 500,000.
creator of agrisculptures, inflatables, and art director of maggots & men.

here and here.

but this is actually what you should read.

Current Mood: sad
Thursday, January 14th, 2010
12:48 pm
dress codes & gender enforcement
keep coming up.

or maybe it's just that someone at the NYTimes has a bee in their (calico?) bonnet about it.

in any case, here is the latest article. about a 4-year-old who's been suspended from pre-K in a Dallas suburb for having long hair. by 4-year-old-standards. which means a 4" topknot. looks damn cute, too.

there's no indication that the gender-neutrally-named kid is gender-deviant, identity-wise, though no one seems to have asked. but the hair rule is clearly about a "penis = male = masculine = short hair" gender enforcement equation.

and the key part of the article, i think, is the last line:

[while the kid's parents appeal the suspension] school officials said they would continue to separate Taylor from other children.

it's about contagion.
and rightly so.

we do recruit, by example as well as by action.
even when we're four.

keep raising hell, taylor!

Current Mood: aggravated
Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
5:15 pm
gaza? cairo. march? street demo. freedom? hmmn.
just a quick link-drop, of becky thompson & dianne harriford's diary of their participation in the Gaza Freedom March.

the piece is an interesting account of their time as part of the Code Pink-led u.s. contingent in the 1,400 person international delegation that attempted to break the israeli blockade of the gaza strip. the delegation was held in cairo by the egyptian government (a major enforcement subcontractor of the israeli Occupation, especially in gaza), and attempted to work in conjunction with egyptian movements against the mubarak military dictatorship (which are generally supportive of palestinian liberation).

i was struck, however, by a few things about the diary which seem worth pointing out in a critical way.

critiques? really? oh, okay...Collapse )

Current Mood: worried
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