Saturday, June 05, 2010

Happy Birthday Joe Clark

Just so you don't think I'm a total hater, there are a few Tories I like. Well... One, anyway. It's a start.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOf course, it helps that I've met Mr. Clark and his charming family - including his lovely if intimidating wife Maureen McTeer and daughter Catherine - before. As you may have guessed, there's a dark secret at play here as to how or why I could have met them, but I think I'll save the details of that sordid business for another time.

Clark was Prime Minister of Canada for nine months in 1979-80, following which Brian Mulroney stabbed him in the back, in much the same way Ronald Reagan did to Gerald Ford in the United States at the same time; it's an apt parallel to draw, since after his election, Mulroney pretty much did whatever Reagan wanted him to do. For a consolation prize, Mr. Clark served as minister of External Affairs from 1984 until 1992.

For many years the butt of jokes (his nickname in the Canadian media has long been Joe Who?) by the time he finally withdrew from the stinking morass that is Parliament in 2004 - disgusted, as many of us have been, with the American-style social conservatism espoused by Stephen Harper - his name had become a byword for integrity in government, as his long career was entirely untainted by scandal, a feat rarely accomplished by someone of his political stripe.
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"Language Is A Virus" by Laurie Anderson

In 2008 on Laurie Anderson's birthday I posted the video for O Superman; last year the enemies of Fair Use (namely the record labels) forbade me from doing so, and I resorted to posting yet another of her amazing musical performances, namely 1986's Language is a Virus, from the soundtrack of her concert film Home of the Brave, from which this video is taken.

Fortunately my persistence is longer-lasting than their censoriousness, although neither of them, I'm sure, has the longevity of her talent; I was planning this year to post Babydoll, or maybe Big Science, or possibly...  But then I didn't need to, because this is still here!
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"Ode To Walt Whitman" by Federico Garcia Lorca

By the East River and the Bronx
boys were singing, exposing their waists
with the wheel, with oil, leather, and the hammer.
Ninety thousand miners taking silver from the rocks
and children drawing stairs and perspectives.

But none of them could sleep,
none of them wanted to be the river,
none of them loved the huge leaves
or the shoreline's blue tongue.

By the East River and the Queensboro
boys were battling with industry
and the Jews sold to the river faun
the rose of circumcision,
and over bridges and rooftops, the mouth of the sky emptied
herds of bison driven by the wind.

But none of them paused,
none of them wanted to be a cloud,
none of them looked for ferns
or the yellow wheel of a tambourine.

As soon as the moon rises
the pulleys will spin to alter the sky;
a border of needles will besiege memory
and the coffins will bear away those who don't work.

New York, mire,
New York, mire and death.
What angel is hidden in your cheek?
Whose perfect voice will sing the truths of wheat?
Who, the terrible dream of your stained anemones?

Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies,
nor your corduroy shoulders frayed by the moon,
nor your thighs pure as Apollo's,
nor your voice like a column of ash,
old man, beautiful as the mist,
you moaned like a bird
with its sex pierced by a needle.
Enemy of the satyr,
enemy of the vine,
and lover of bodies beneath rough cloth...

Not for a moment, virile beauty,
who among mountains of coal, billboards, and railroads,
dreamed of becoming a river and sleeping like a river
with that comrade who would place in your breast
the small ache of an ignorant leopard.

Not for a moment, Adam of blood, Macho,
man alone at sea, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
because on penthouse roofs,
gathered at bars,
emerging in bunches from the sewers,
trembling between the legs of chauffeurs,
or spinning on dance floors wet with absinthe,
the faggots, Walt Whitman, point you out.

He's one, too! That's right! And they land
on your luminous chaste beard,
blonds from the north, blacks from the sands,
crowds of howls and gestures,
like cats or like snakes,
the faggots, Walt Whitman, the faggots,
clouded with tears, flesh for the whip,
the boot, or the teeth of the lion tamers.

He's one, too! That's right! Stained fingers
point to the shore of your dream
when a friend eats your apple
with a slight taste of gasoline
and the sun sings in the navels
of boys who play under bridges.

But you didn't look for scratched eyes,
nor the darkest swamp where someone submerges children,
nor frozen saliva,
nor the curves slit open like a toad's belly
that the faggots wear in cars and on terraces
while the moon lashes them on the street corners of terror.

You looked for a naked body like a river.
Bull and dream who would join wheel with seaweed,
father of your agony, camellia of your death,
who would groan in the blaze of your hidden equator.

Because it's all right if a man doesn't look for his delight
in tomorrow morning's jungle of blood.
The sky has shores where life is avoided
and there are bodies that shouldn't repeat themselves in the dawn.

Agony, agony, dream, ferment, and dream.
This is the world, my friend, agony, agony.
Bodies decompose beneath the city clocks,
war passes by in tears, followed by a million gray rats,
the rich give their mistresses
small illuminated dying things,
and life is neither noble, nor good, nor sacred.

Man is able, if he wishes, to guide his desire
through a vein of coral or a heavenly naked body.
Tomorrow, loves will become stones, and Time
a breeze that drowses in the branches.

That's why I don't raise my voice, old Walt Whitman,
against the little boy who writes
the name of a girl on his pillow,
nor against the boy who dresses as a bride
in the darkness of the wardrobe,
nor against the solitary men in casinos
who drink prostitution's water with revulsion,
nor against the men with that green look in their eyes
who love other men and burn their lips in silence.

But yes against you, urban faggots,
tumescent flesh and unclean thoughts.
Mothers of mud. Harpies. Sleepless enemies
of the love that bestows crowns of joy.

Always against you, who give boys
drops of foul death with bitter poison.
Always against you,
Fairies of North America,
Pájaros of Havana,
Jotos of Mexico,
Sarasas of Cádiz,
Apios of Seville,
Cancos of Madrid,
Floras of Alicante,
Adelaidas of Portugal.

Faggots of the world, murderers of doves!
Slaves of women. Their bedroom bitches.
Opening in public squares like feverish fans
or ambushed in rigid hemlock landscapes.

No quarter given! Death
spills from your eyes
and gathers gray flowers at the mire's edge.
No quarter given! Attention!
Let the confused, the pure,
the classical, the celebrated, the supplicants
close the doors of the bacchanal to you.

And you, lovely Walt Whitman, stay asleep on the Hudson's banks
with your beard toward the pole, openhanded.
Soft clay or snow, your tongue calls for
comrades to keep watch over your unbodied gazelle.

Sleep on, nothing remains.
Dancing walls stir the prairies
and America drowns itself in machinery and lament.
I want the powerful air from the deepest night
to blow away flowers and inscriptions from the arch where you sleep,
and a black child to inform the gold-craving whites
that the kingdom of grain has arrived.
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In Memoriam: Federico Garcia Lorca

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFederico Garcia Lorca may have been the quintessential artist - fluent in words, pictures, and sounds - but his sensitivity came, as these things so often do, at the price of his peace of mind.

A person of great beauty born into a time of even greater tyranny, his words and pictures and sounds so frightened El Caudillo he was ordered shot by Falange thugs, then dumped into an unmarked grave. His killer, Juan Luis Trescastro, is reputed to have said 'I fired two bullets into his arse for being a queer.'

His most explicitly gay works, Ode To Walt Whitman and The Destruction of Sodom (an unfinished play), have long been suppressed, as Spain, the Lorca family, and society in general have come to learn how not to hate their favourite son for who he loved. It gives me great pleasure to unsuppress at least one of them on this, his 112th birthday.
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POPnews - June 5th

[Despite the fact that he fatally shot Senator Robert Kennedy because he hated Zionism - pointedly, on the first anniversary of the beginning of the Six Day War - Israel still exists and Sirhan Sirhan remains in jail at the troubled, overcrowded facility in Corcoran, having been refused parole 13 times over the past forty years. Let this be a lesson to any potential assassins who may be lurking out there...  Being anti-social is no way to get what you want - unless what you want is to have your own reality show!]

1305 - Clement V was elected to the papacy to succeed Benedict XI, who'd died 363 days earlier; the reason for the lengthy interregnum was a squabble between the French and Italian cardinals, who were so suffused with the Holy Spirit they couldn't agree on a suitable replacement.

1798 - An attempt to spread the United Irish Rebellion into Munster was defeated at the Battle of New Ross.

1829 - The HMS Pickle captured the armed slave ship Voladora off the coast of Cuba.

1832 - The June Rebellion - most famously described in Victor Hugo's novel, Les Misérables - broke out in Paris in an attempt to overthrow the liberal Monarchy of July established by Louis-Philippe following the previous year's July Revolution.

1837 - Houston was incorporated as a city by the Republic of Texas.

- The Kingdom of Denmark was reborn as a constitutional monarchy when King Frederick VII signed the country's new constitution, establishing a parliament.

1851 - Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery serial, Uncle Tom's Cabin or, Life Among the Lowly started a ten-month run in the abolitionist newspaper National Era.

1888 - The Rio de la Plata Earthquake shook the estuary of that river, which forms the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

1916 - Louis Brandeis was sworn in as the first openly-Jewish justice on the US Supreme Court.

1947 - During a speech at Harvard University, US Secretary of State George Marshall called for economic aid to war-torn Europe; his plan, which came to be called the Marshall Plan, did just that.

1956 - Elvis Presley introduced his new single, Hound Dog, on The Milton Berle Show, scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements - although, if you ask us at the Pop Culture Institute, the real scandal at the time wasn't the discovery that a man's hips could move that way but that a white man's hips could.

1959 - The first government of the State of Singapore was sworn in, when Lee Kuan Yew replaced Lim Yew Hock as Chief Minister.

1963 - The United Kingdom's Minister of War John Profumo resigned from Cabinet over his sexual liaison with Christine Keeler, events made even more famous by the 1989 film Scandal starring Ian McKellen and Joanne Whalley.

1967 - A so-called Six-Day War was declared by Arab nations against Israel which is Still. Being. Fought. And you thought Iraq was a quagmire...

1968 - Presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Photobucket1972 - The Queen and Queen Mother met the Duchess of Windsor at the Duke of Windsor's funeral in front of the world's press; although the Queen had reunited with her uncle and met his wife when they visited the UK in 1965 and again during a State Visit to France in May 1972 (during which there was a press photo-call with the Duchess while the Duke was on his deathbed) the Queen Mother had repeatedly refused to meet the one she called 'that woman' before - and when they did meet, at the unveiling of a memorial to Queen Mary in London in June 1967 which the pseudo-exiles attended together - it was a very frosty moment indeed. Despite being pariahs within the Royal Family, the Duchess was a guest of the Queen at Buckingham Palace the week of her husband's funeral, and the Duke was buried amongst his family at Frogmore following a formal service at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

1977 - Apple Computers released its Apple II home computer.

1981 - The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported that five people in Los Angeles were suffering from a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems, in what turned out to be the first recognized cases of AIDS.

2006 - Serbia declared its independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
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