Friday, July 1, 2022

KENWARD ELMSLIE R. I. P.

 
This photo (taken by ?) best captures the way I remember Kenward in the 1970s when we spent a lot  of time at his place or mine for dinners and parties and just hanging out. He was, to me, an exceptionally gentle and generous person. At the time he was the wealthiest human I'd ever been friends with, and I may have been as exotic to him. 

He was a poet/playwright/performer/fiction writer/opera and song lyricist, whose most outrageous work a lot of people didn't get, but I love everything I ever read of his or saw performed. His writing was sometimes compared to the Dadaists of the early 20th Century, and he was also seen as part of the first generation of "New York School" poets who were all his friends.

His most accessible writing (though it all seems accessible to me, if you can surrender to its own logic) were lyrics for an opera about Lizzie Borden and the "only song" he wrote lyrics to that "ever made it to a juke box" as he told me, called "Love-wise"–but the writing that impacted me the most was his short fiction collection:The Orchid Stories.

Last time I saw him, I thanked him for all his kindnesses to me and as always he seemed embarrassed by my gratitude, but also touched by it. I'm still grateful.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS: A Memoir by Ai Weiwei

 
The artist and political activist Ai Weiwei's memoir covers the history of more than a century of resistance to repressive authoritarian political forces in China through the stories of his father's and his lives. His father was a revolutionary and renowned poet who was acclaimed and then attacked by the Chinese Communist Party, whereas his son was mostly just attacked.

I'm a great admirer of Ai Weiwei's courage as both an artist and activist so found this book compelling as well as revelatory. The English of translator Allan S. Barr is accessible and clear, except at times for Ai Weiwei's father's poetry, more clumsily rendered. If you're an art, or history, or Chinese culture, or Ai Weiwei fan or student, as I am, you should find this book as engaging as I did.

In the context of current events, it is also a tribute to resistance against restrictions on human rights.

Friday, June 24, 2022

QUOTE FOR TODAY

To paraphrase early 20th century activist Joe Hill writing to supporters after he was sentenced to be executed by firing squad:

DON'T MOURN. ORGANIZE!

MORE 80TH BIRTHDAY PHOTOS (ALMOST A MONTH AGO)

 
standing left to right: my grandchild Donovan, Abi, Will, Alec, John, Lilian, Mark, my cousin MaryLynn, and me sitting

left to right: Nick, Beth, Karen, my son-in-law Ed, daughter Caitlin, niece Lisa, Gabrielle, and me
standing left to right: Rain, Susan, brother-in-law Evan, Frosty, Barbara (?), John, Dick, Mary, Cindi; and sitting: me, sister-in-law Luloo, Brendan, and Heather

Sunday, June 19, 2022

FATHERHOOD 2

 
Favorite photo of my father (crouching) and me (to his right), cause the only shot showing his tenderness to me (and the other troublemaker in the family, my brother Robert to his left). In front of my grandma Dempsey's home in Belmar NJ, where I spent the summers of my boyhood. In back row, my mother, sister Joan, mother's mother, brother Tommy (aka Father Campion, Franciscan friar) and sister Irene (our brother Buddy not present). All gone now, except me.