Thursday, March 26, 2020

CANDY DARLING AND JOE BRAINARD

Joe Brainard was an artist and writer and poet and one of the loves of my life. When I scanned his letters and notes to me for a biographer of his (yet to publish the biography) decades ago, I was stunned to discover he pursued me more than the reverse, though I first met him in person the night I pulled a groupie routine to go home with him after a reading he did in Manhattan around 1972.

That was a period of extensive sexual exploration for me and the most open I'd been since childhood to every sensual experience with others, including a relationship with Joe that was periodic but extended from 1972 until I left NYC in 1982. He passed away in 1994 from the last plague, AIDS, on my birthday, May 25th. We were born in the same year (1942) and were the same height and weight, which always seemed part of our connection to me, though it didn't seem to mean much to him.

On March 11th, he would have been 78, as I will be on the anniversary of his death. And on March 21st, it was the forty-sixth anniversary of the actress and "transgender icon" Candy Darling's death in 1974, someone I assume Joe knew better than I did. I met Candy a few times and probably blurted out that I had a crush on her. Which I did, but was intimidated by her quick retorts. She was only twenty-nine when she passed from lymphoma, and Joe was only fifty-two when he died. I've missed them both all these years, and with the events of this time I thought of them today, remembering it was the recent anniversary of Candy's death and the anniversary of Joe's was coming up and thought of Joe's mini-essay "HISTORY":

"What with history piling up so fast,  almost every day is the anniversary of something awful."

Here's my favorite shot of Candy (part of my screensaver rotation—I don't know the photographer):


Monday, March 23, 2020

NEW POEM

he didn't inherit a broken system
he broke the system he inherited

(C) 2020 Michael Lally

Saturday, March 21, 2020

KNIVES OUT, BLOW THE MAN DOWN, DISOBEDIENCE

I've been watching even more movies than usual. Here's three that were worthwhile diversions:

A classic whodunit with a fun twist. And a great cast who all seem to be having fun, which is fun to watch. Deserves a lot of the attention it got.
This 2019 flick deserves a lot more attention than it got. Especially for the women who co-wrote and co-directed it—Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy. I suspect the reason it didn't get awards or nominations for them (or even widely distributed) is just because it was created by women and the female cast members dominate the story, including a quartet of older women not usually the plot drivers in movies thsee days. But this little gem  is so original and well made it deserves a wide audience: highly recommend it.

This 2017 flick I missed when it came out but don't know why since it stars two of my all-time favorite actors: Rachel Weiss and Rachel McAdams (ably assisted by Alesandro Nivola) as two women who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community in England and ended up going their separate ways until the time of the film. A mystery story that has some of the elements of that genre, but is so unique it's full of surprises. The ending wasn't what I was hoping for or expected but it definitely was thought provoking (my son Flynn helped me understand and accept it). Highly watchable.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"WITHOUT A STRUGGLE"


My Irish immigrant grandfather, the man I was named after who was known in his community as "Iron Mike"—allegedly the first cop in my hometown—in an early photo portrait in Keystone Cop helmet, and later photo signed (hopefully) to his Irish immigrant wife, my Grandma Lally whom I adored.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

HAPPY ST. PADDY'S

Fell asleep last night with another list, this time a shorter one of some of my favorite Irish movies, in more or less chronological order of the time the film is set in, as best as I can figure [I'm sure I'm forgetting many more]:

BLACK '47
THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY
THE FIELD
JIMMY'S HALL
THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH

MY LEFT FOOT
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
SOME MOTHER'S SON
HUNGER
THE BOXER

SING STREET
THE COMMITMENTS
WAKING NED DEVINE
CALVARY
ONCE

Saturday, March 14, 2020

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT

I've been thinking about something my best friend in my L.A. years (Hubert Selby Jr.) used to say to me: that you can't have up without down, pleasure without pain, success without failure, or what we call "good" without "bad". In terms of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we know well what"s "bad" so what's "good"?

Well pollution is way down (did you see those satellite photos from space showing China without the smog?). It mainly kills old folks who have lived most of their lives already. And those who die from it are a very tiny percentage of those who get it. It's forcing people to reevaluate their lives and priorities and social interactions and concerns. It's slowed everything, or most everything, down. It's demonstrating how the entire world is interconnected and equally at risk, like a wake-up call before we destroy the planet, let alone ourselves. It's making most folks express their love and concern for those they may have been taking for granted. It's bringing out the best in a lot of people, and making those who cling to the worst obvious in new and more prominent ways. I could go on but that'll do.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

DIFFERENT TIMES

the photo immediately above is of me as a toddler (round-headed kid at the top right) with some of my siblings and cousins and neighborhood kids in 1943, not long after the Great Depression ended and the USA got involved in WWII (which my two oldest brothers would join the military for toward the end)
the other photo is me between my grandmothers, on my right my Grandma Lally, an Irish immigrant, and to her right my cousin Kathi who lived down the street, to my left my Grandma Dempsey and to her left my cousins David and MaryLynn, on the occasion of my First Communion in 1949 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

MY MATERNAL LINE

My mother and her mother and her mother, I would guess from the styles (including my mother's bobbed hair) around the time that women in the USA got the vote (1920 when my mother was fifteen). My mother was the class of our family having graduated from high school (compared to my father's never finishing seventh grade) and having Irish ancestors who came over (to Newark where she grew up) before The Civil War (as opposed to my father's parents who were both from Ireland) and fought in it for the North (she became the youngest president of the New Jersey chapter of the Daughters of The Grand Army of The Republic, as it was called). My mother passed in 1966, on Mother's Day as I remember it. I think of her every day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

HMMMMM...

Despite history (Dems losing presidential elections due to factionalism and purity tests) (and I include myself in 1968, but I learned my lesson), despite the overwhelming damage done under Reagan and W whose administrations weakened or in many cases destroyed unions and progressive government programs in place since FDR and LBJ, despite the losses of 2000 and 2016, many of my friends are posting vitriol aimed at Biden and his supporters today because of their disappointment over Bernie's not doing as well as they expected and desired. And some others are gloating over Biden's unexpected surge, with vitriol toward Bernie and his supporters.

I'm disappointed that it's down to two old white guys, and wanted Warren to be the nominee for many reasons that some of my Bernie supporting friends dismiss due to her not passing all the purity tests and her personal imperfections etc. But Bernie was my second choice (I'm in Jersey so I haven't gotten to vote yet) despite his poor record on achieving a lot of the things he and I are for, as well as his lack of support for gun law reforms and reparations for the descendants of Africans brought here as slaves and other issues and policies I care about.

And despite Biden's flubs and bad decisions over his years in politics, I know people who have dealt with him in different situations who told me he was nothing but kind and thoughtful and humble, as opposed to those I know who have dealt with Bernie in situations where he came across to them as grumpy and impatient and unfriendly. And unfortunately personality is a factor.

But being a human with flaws that I'm not proud of, and decisions and choices and actions I've taken in my life I wish I'd done differently, I try to accept that no one will match my own political purity tests and don't want to let my disappointments in any Democrat or the party's tactics or strategies or lack of them make me attack any candidate or their supporters because that's what got us Nixon and Reagan and W and the current situation. (Though I have been guilty of posting reactions to the debate performances that might have been seen as attacks.)

One of the reasons a lot of young voters give for not coming out in the numbers Bernie and his supporters were predicting and hoping for, is their having been convinced by social media and friends that there's no hope in party politics and voting. All who contribute to that cynicism by equating anyone but their candidate with the current president or who echoe the idea of "they're all corrupt" or "there's not a dime's worth of difference" between Dems and Repubs, or so-called "moderate" or "centrist" Dems and the 2020 Repubs, should then be willing to accept partial responsibility for another four years of hell for too many let alone the earth itself. If that be our fate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

PS TO SHEROES

When I made the previous list of 100 public figures identified as women who impacted me and my life with their ideas and activism and art and lives, I numbered it so I could know when I reached a hundred. It was not a ranking, just going over my life from boyhood to now. The names just  kept coming even after that first hundred, so here's the rest. (I fell asleep at Helena with several more on my mind but couldn't remember them when I woke, then it started again after Helena (whose last name I had to look up) and ended at 200. I know there are many more that didn't come to mind in the moment.

101. Rita Marley
102. Rain Worthington
103. Elinor Nauen
104. Sylvana Joyce
105. Cheryl Bentyne
106. Lee Miller
107. Kim Novak
108. Dorothea Lange
109. Phoebe MacAdams
110. Bobbie Louise Hawkins
111. Joan Blondell
112. Mother Jones
113. Jane Austen
114. Emma Thompson
115. Jean Tierney
116. Sylvia Schuster
117. Collette
118. Bessie Smith
119. Memphis Minnie
120. Mindy Thompson Fullilove
121. Nadia Owusu
122. Merilene M. Murphy
123. Mello-Re Houston
124. Yvonne de la Vega
125. Susan Hayden
126. Eve Brandstein
127. Jamie Rose
128. Karen Allen
129. Luscious Jackson
130. Christiane Amanpour
131. Anita O'Day
132. Mary Wells
133. Lesley Gore
132. Shirley Chisholm
133. Patricia Spears Jones
134. Katherine Hepburn
135. Audrey Hepburn
136. Gloria Grahame
137. Joe Ann Fogle
138. Helen Shaver
139. Penelope Milford
140. Lee Lally
141. Carrie Fisher
142. Sharon Stone
143. Joan Baribeault
144. Cookie Mueller
145. Annabel Lee
146. Maggie Dubris
147. Jane Fonda
148. Helen Mirren
149. Saoirse Ronan
150. Rosie Perez
151. Tina Darragh
152. Jane DeLynn
153. Sara Rudner
154. Leslie Greene
155. Patricia Louisiana Knop
156. Rita Stern Milch
157. Helena Kallianiotis
158. Ann Waldman
159. Marisol
160. Donna Dennis
161. Paula Novotnak
162. Rosa Parks
163. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
164. Lady Murasaki
165. Peggy Terry
166. Peggy Feury
167. Susan Seidelman
168. Lynn Goldsmith
169. Edie Baskin
170. Emily Dickinson
171. Jane Bowles
172. Susan Rothenberg
173. Imogene Coca
174. Gracie Allen
175. Barbara Stanwyck
176. Eva Marie Saint
177. Myrna Loy
178. Jeramie Rain
179. Ingrid Boulting
180. Edie Vonnegut
181. Lyndall Hobbs
182. Katey Sagal
183. Allison Sie
184. Sarah Jessica Parker
185. Neith Hunter
186. Kristal Rogers
187. Marge Piercy
188. Anais Nin
189. Kathleen Norris
190. Cecilia Vicuna
191. Martha Graham
192. Andrea Lee
193. Irene Nemirovsky
194. Maria Mazziotti Gillan
195. Grace Cavalieri
196. Lucille Clifton
198. Lyn Lifshin
199. Kathy Acker
200. Rachel E. Diken

Monday, March 2, 2020

SHEROES

I just was inspired to write a list of 100 public figures identified as women, who impacted me and my life with their ideas and activism and art and lives, so here it is:

1. Helen Keller
2. Eleanor Roosevelt
3. Josephine Baker
4. Ethel Waters
5. Veronica Lake
6. Jane Greer
7. Linda Darnell
8. Billie Holiday
9. Jo Stafford
10. Ella Fitzgerald
11. Marilyn Monroe
12. Peggy Lee
13. Della Resse
14. Dinah Washington
15. Edith Piaf
16. Lillian Smith
17. Dorothy Dandridge
18. Dorothy Day
19. Ida Lupino
20. Simone Signoret
21. Sarah Vaughan
22. Patsy Kline
23. Nina Simone
24. Annie Ross
25. Abbey Lincoln
26. Etta James
27. Diane di Prima
28. Muriel Rukeyser
29. Jean Rhys
30. Gertrude Stein
31. Barbara Guest
32. Sojourner Truth
33. Harriet Tubman
34. Mary Wollstonecraft
35. Mary Shelley
36. Fannie Lou Hamer
37. Joan Baez
38. Dolores Huerta
39. Angela Davis
40. Aretha Franklin
41. Janis Joplin
42. Bernadette Dohrn
43. Bernadette Devlin
44. Jean Seberg
45. Katherine Johnson
46. Robin Morgan
47. Carla Bley
48. Betty Carter
49. Barbra Streisand
50. Marian McPartland
51. Dolly Parton
52. Buffy Sainte-Marie
53. Winona LaDuke
54. Gloria Steinem
55. Margaret Randall
56. Agnes Varda
57. Martha Gelhorn
58. Audre Lorde
59. Maya Angelou
60. Virginia Wolfe
61. Zora Neale Hurston
62. Frida Kahlo
63. Laura Nyro
64. Adrienne Rich
65. Joanne Kyger
66. Eva Hesse
67. Alice Notley
68. Maureen Owen
69. Patti Smith
70. Bernadette Mayer
71. Carolee Schneeman
72. Carole King
73. Ada Katz
74. Joni Mitchell
75. Sinead O'Connor
76. Temple Grandin
77. Bjork
78. Beyonce
79. Alicia Keys
80. Erykah Badu
81. Lauryn Hill
82. Jennifer Lopez
83. Eileen Myles
84. Michelle Obama
85. Elizabeth Warren
86. Janet Mock
87. Laverne Cox
88. Indya Moore
89. Ruth Bader Ginsberg
90. Sonia Sotomayor
92. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
93. Malala Yousafzai
95. Greta Thunberg
96. Carol Dysinger
97. Toni Morrison
98. Kate Bush
99. Wanda Coleman
100. Elaine Equi

I'm already thinking of more I realize I forgot, especially friends I left off, but I have to stop somewhere.

Sunday, March 1, 2020