Thursday, October 22, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Woke up this morning with the name Allison Anders in my brain, immediately followed by Bill Berkson and realized I was being compelled to come up with a list of creative friends (or onetime friends) whose first and last names begin with the same letter and who are famous in my world. Here’s what I ended up with:
Bill Berkson, Barbara Baracks, Berry Berenson
Diane di Prima, Donna Dennis, David Drum
Eddie Eiken, Elaine Equi
Merilene Murphy, Marilyn Mohr
Sharon Stone, Steve Shrader, Simon Schuchat, Stacy Szymaszek
Toby Thompson, Tony Towle
Vida Vierra, Vincent Virga
And of course my brain then followed with a list of famous creative people who weren’t personal friends:
Busby Berkeley, Bridget Bardot, Brendan Behan
Charlie Chaplin, Claudette Colbert, Cyd Charisse
Dorothy Day, Dorothy Dandridge, Dan Duryea, Diana Dors, Danny DeVito (met him once)
Greta Garbo, Greer Garson, Gloria Grahame (I did act in a movie with her and hung out a bit)
Kay Kyser, Kris Kristofferson (met him once)
Loretta Lynn, Lyle Lovett
Mezz Mezzrow, Marilyn Monroe
Rosalind Russell, Robert Ryan, Roy Rogers, Robert Redford (did meet him and talked), Robbie Robertson (him too)
Simone Signoret, Sissy Spacek
This PBS Frontline documentary about the origins and co-opting of the Pepe The Frog character that aired tonight (technically last night) was intense, compelling, and poignant, as well as disturbing. Great piece of docu filmmaking. Did a cartoon character meme influence the 2018 election? and more: FEELS GOOD MAN.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
As some know, all my life I was an obsessive/compulsive list maker. Like constantly in my head, on paper, on my blog, while falling asleep, when waking, walking etc. my mind was making lists with themes and rules like favorite hundred books etc. And then after my brain operation in 2009 it stopped. I had no desire to make lists, and when I tried I couldn't. In the last few years I occasionally would find my mind making one, usually needing help from my bookshelves or computer, which I would post. But never the old compulsion until yesterday when I woke up with my mind creating a list of people and characters known to the world by just one name, and in between, or even while, reading and writing other stuff my mind kept coming up with names. I'm forcing myself to stop with this:
ONE NAME FAME
Atlas, Athena, Abraham, Auden
Buddha, Boccaccio, Beethoven, Bogart, Beckett, Bambi, Brando, Basquiat, Bjork, Biggie, Bono, Beyonce
Cleopatra, Confucius, Catullus, Charlemagne, Casanova, Columbus, Chopin, Collette, Caruso, Cher
Dante, Desdemona, Dostoevsky, Dracula, Dumbo, Donovan
Edison, Einstein, Elvis, Evita
Goliath, Galileo, Goethe, Goya, Geronimo, Garbo, Gershwin, Gatsby, Goddard
Homer, Hamlet, Heathcliff, Hemingway, Hitler, Hitchcock
Kali, Keats, Kanye
Lincoln, Lenin, LaBron
Moses, Muhammed, Michaelangelo, Milton, Marx, Mahler
Pocahontas, Picasso, Popeye, Porgy, Pavarotti, Pele, Prince, Putin
Rumi, Romeo, Robespierre, Rachmaninoff, Ringo
Satan, Shakespeare, Sacajawea, Stalin, Satie, Sting, Sade
Titian, Tesla, Truffaut, Tupac
Zeus, Zorro, Zeffirelli
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Watched this movie tonight on TCM. Hadn't seen it since it came out in 1991, when it had a deep impact on me. It takes place over one night in San Francisco in 1963 with a coda in '66. It gets a few things wrong, but they're minor compared to what it gets right about the time and place and four newly minted marines on a one night leave before shipping out to Viet Nam, not yet the total morass it would become.
It stars River Phoenix in what must have been one of his last films, and Lili Taylor in one of her first films. I fell in love with her the first time I saw it and again tonight. I joined the military in 1962 and got out in '66 and spent time AWOL in Frisco in '62, so it resonates. I wasn't a marine and I didn't go to Viet Nam, but I did end up marrying a woman I'd only met in person once four years earlier, who had a sightly deformed face, which also resonates with the plot.
It's a powerful little movie with two powerful performances, at least, and well worth seeing.
Monday, October 12, 2020
They say it's National Coming Out Day, so here's another short version of my story. I "came out" when I was 29 in February of 1972 in DC as "gay" though I preferred the term "queer" or "pansexual" (though I was the only one I ever encountered using that term then) and others labeled me "bisexual" because I continued to have relationships with people who identified as "women" (cis, as they now say, and trans et al.).
I also called myself "a sissy" and still do, and "a thug" though I don't say that anymore. And a "punk" (before that was a thing) "and an intellectual" (rarely say that anymore). I could go on. I like the term "fluid" because I got in touch back then with my feminine side in a big way (wore dresses and clip on earrings etc. out in public (to make a statement, but I also enjoyed the way it felt and looked). I embrace all the categories that keep being named, both in me and in others, and am grateful for how full it has made life.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Took a break from current events to watch TERMINATOR: DARK FATE and was glad. The usual preposterous plot, but the acting was a treat. Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor and why she hasn't been seen in more movies besides this franchise is one of those Hollywood mysteries; she's not just a great action star, she's a really good actor. Arnold makes an appearance too, but the movie belongs to the three women (Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes are the other two) who all should be starring in action flicks from now on. It came out last year but seems much more relevant post-covid, unfortunately.
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
My youngest, Flynn, turns 23 today. Here's some photos of us over those years:
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
today is my sister Irene's birthday (83 I think), the brother between us died as an infant so she was the one of my five then living siblings I grew up with who was closest in age to me (we two are the only ones still living)...here we are in front of our father's home repair shop (1954?) and a more recent photo of her (and her handiwork..
Partial shot of the 1979 KOFF magazine naked poets calendar showing partial 37-year-old me posing among other poets. To learn more about this and the fabulous writer folks Johnny Stanton and Elinor Nauen who wrote some of my favorite books, check out this interview with them: here.
Friday, October 2, 2020
A favorite old photo of my father in his fedora, his Irish immigrant mother, the oldest of my six siblings, Tommy, in his Army Air Corps uniform, my mother's mother, my mother, and little me with the same expression as my father, toward the end of WWII, c.1944-45. A few years later, the back porch we're standing on would be my maternal grandmother's bedroom after she came to live with us. My paternal grandmother lived down the street.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Caught the 1965 Stanley Kramer film production of Katherine Anne Porter's SHIP OF FOOLS the other night and was reminded of the crush I've had on the French actress Simone Signoret since I first caught a glimpse of her on TV at some mid-1950s Oscar event. The most womanly woman to ever perform in movies, her unique blend of strength, independence, and sensuality made her screen presence provocative, inspiring, and comforting all at once. Talk about comfortable in your own skin (at least as it came across to me).
There's other reasons to watch this movie about a ship full of people sailing from Mexico to a stop in Cuba and then on to Germany in 1933 during the rise of Hitler and nazism, including an unexpected (ironic?) performance for Puetro Rican born Jose Ferrer as the emblematic "German" Nazi supporter and Lee Marvin as a predatory "American" racist, misogynist, clueless rube.
There are other lesser known actors who keep it real, (and the better known George Sagal who doesn't), but the two main reasons to watch this film are Vivien Leigh in her last movie role, magnificent as always despite being in the final stages of her mental illness (including shock treatments during filming) and Simone Signoret. Her realistic portrayal of a once powerful and wealthy "woman of certain age" who suffers from drug addiction on her way to prison for helping the less fortunate in rebellion against their exploiters is one of the greatest film performances ever. At least to me.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Monday, September 28, 2020
Now they say it's Sons Day. So here's me with my oldest son, Miles (he had to wear glasses up until about eleven after an early eye operation) c. late 1970s when I was a single parent living in NYC (probably taken by Rain Worthington), and me with my youngest, Flynn, in Jersey around 2003 (taken by Jamie Rose), and me with both of them a few years ago.
I always said Poetry saved my life. Because it did. When I was young and felt like the only outsider in a world of insiders, writing and reading poetry made me feel like there might be people who shared my feelings, even if it was just a love of language's possibilities. Eventually I recognized that lots of works of art, from movies to music, kept me going when overwhelmed by the unfairness of life and the world. Now more than ever I need the creative works that are antidotes to the hurt of these times, or at least a momentary respite. Tonight it was the latest episode of LOVECRAFT COUNTRY and the ways it expressed acknowledgment of the pain and evil of racism and projections of redressing the injustices and lack of power to change that through the power of consciousness raising awareness and personal and family magic. Fantasy based on real history and real pain and real human striving.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Found out yesterday was another of those made up commemorative days, this one for daughters, so here's me with my daughter Caitlin, my firstborn, in our Iowa City apartment shortly after she was born in February of 1968, and dancing with me over a half century later in 2019 in Maplewood New Jersey [latter photo by Jennifer Lally Fondots].
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
I understand today is "Bi Visibility Day" so here's an early declaration of my so-called "bi-sexuality" (I always objected to the idea of only two kinds of sexual/sensual preference and experience, everyone I was ever with was unique and so was each sexual/sensual occurrences). It's the first lines of my 1974 ten-page autobiographical list poem "My Life" (which can be found in my last collection, Another Way To Play: Poems 1960-2017). [the formatting on this blog wouldn't let me break the lines without big gaps between them]
"I ate everything they put in front of me/read everything they put before my eyes/shook my ass, cried over movie musicals/was a sissy and a thug, a punk and an/intellectual, a cocksucker and a mother/fucker, helped create two new people,/paid taxes, voted and served four years/and a few weeks in the United States Air/Force, was court martialed and tried/civilly, in jail and in college, kicked/out of college, boy scouts, altar boys/and one of the two gangs I belonged to,/I was suspended from grammar and high/schools, arrested at eleven the year I/had my first "real sex" with a woman/and with a boy, I waited nineteen years/to try it again with a male and was sorry/I waited so long, I waited two weeks to/try it again with a woman and was sorry/I waited so long [...]"
They're reporting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first woman to lie in state at the capital in U.S. history. That history is almost 250 years, and she's the first. And somebody's worried that progressives are going too fast or pushing too hard for too much. No, I don't think so. She should be the fiftieth or hundredth or more.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Monday, September 14, 2020
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Saturday, September 12, 2020
Though she was often noted more as Perkin's wife or as model/actress Marisa Berenson's sister, Berry was a wonderful actor in her own right (see REMEMBER MY NAME). But despite her fame-for-whatever-reason, at least around me she was always the least pretentious or self-centered person I ever met anywhere.
She came to a play I was in early on in L.A, Landford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD, and after the performance stuck around to talk to me. One of the things she said to me that night was that she had only seen one other person in her life who had the kind of glow, I think that was the word she used, that I had, and that was Marilyn Monroe!
She was wonderful on screen and off, either in front of the camera or behind it (she was a great photographer), and I only wish, as I too often do with many friends, that I had made more of an effort to see her more often. Especially after I heard the news that she had been on one of the two planes that crashed into The World Trade Center towers on 9/11.
I knew some others who went down with the towers on that tragic day, like Father Mike Judge, but Berry is the one I think of most often. As I later wrote in a poem ("March 18, 2003"), she was:
"a woman who was kind to me when
she didn't need to be[...]
How many people have died
before you got the chance to tell them what you meant to?"
R.I.P. to all those we lost on that horrific day (and those we continue to lose).
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Wednesday, September 9, 2020