Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Obscene Gestures

My friend Fred Goldsmith needed a variety of faces and moods for the poster he was creating for a commendable event, bridging the HIV-Positive/HIV-Negative gulf in the Gay community, and why did he think I would be a perfect model for Mr. Hostility?In the same issue of the Bay Times where this ad appeared, another model for his ad, Emil Friend (the left hand guy in lower right photo), wrote a wonderful article on the subject, "Divided or United: Can We Move Beyond Poz/Neg?"
In the same issue (22 March 2007), the Bay Times published my letter in reaction to General Pace's stupid comments on gays serving in the military, adding a title "Message for Peace":
Thank you, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for hating homosexuals. Please go a step further and forbid homosexuals, even those who “don’t tell,” from serving in the military. True, there are plenty of gay men in love with uniforms, plenty addicted to pain and violence, but if they are forbidden to serve they might succumb to the influence of what I hope is the nature of the greater number of gay men a dedication, stronger than any warrior’s pledge, to beauty, love, and peace. If there must be warriors, let them be heterosexuals. (Of course, I know I am talking a pipe dream, as gay and lesbian people are diverse as any other people who are grouped as a category under a label.) “Make Love, Not War” was first chanted at an early pre-Stonewall gay demonstration in San Francisco as a declaration of the attitude of gay people that, contrary to being sick or immoral, is an attitude that is the only hope for the future. (I hope Krishnamurti was gay.) I suppose it is difficult, General Pace, not to have feared homosexuality growing up with a name like Peter Pace, trying not to avoid the idea that you are in the military because you feel you must keep pace with the peters of other aggressive males. But try this, General: Give your last name the Italian pronunciation and meaning – Pace -- “Peace.” But, no, I suppose you will go on living with a stick up your ass. How perverse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

18 March 2007

San Francisco's current Poet Laureate, Jack Hirschman, selling papers at the Demonstration against American occupation of Iraq:
A wonderful impromptu band of about 12 people played "We Shall Overcome."

The Gang -- Remember to click on the photo if you want to enlarge and look at these folks individually:

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bye Bye Betty Hutton

There are some few who will note the passing of Betty Hutton. During World War II, for the zany energy-driven child who loved to stage wild singing and dancing Broadway shows with his friends in a living room, Betty Hutton (“The Day His Rocking Horse Ran Away”) was the perfect model.** She had jitterbug in her veins as she danced and sang her frenetic novelty songs. [From my period (the poor man's Andy Warhol) of primitive color xerox collages, with further changes in Photoshop:]
Everyone was singing sad songs of loss, about separation from their doughboys, or they were hooked into the kind of speed that Betty Hutton personified, an energy that hoped to leap away from the terrible, drudging reality of World War II.
Those of us who remember this musical star fondly share that vice with the philosopher Wittgenstein, although Clive James insults us all: “In English, Wittgenstein devoured pulp fiction and worshipped Carmen Miranda and Betty Hutton, two of the most off-putting stars ever to burden Hollywood. This kind of slumming – which is anyway quite common among people who do intellectual work at high intensity – tends to obscure the profundity of his culture.” Although Mr. James' pretensions are silly, it is certainly true that nonsense, especially when sung at tongue-twisting speed, is, paradoxically, the best vacation for someone who is normally dissecting and analyzing language down to the letter.
The obituaries say that Betty Hutton “brought a brassy vitality to Hollywood musicals” (with absurd plots, often set unrealistically against World War II – I suppose only those with a childhood connection will feel any nostalgia about Betty Hutton, although on the few occasions when she sang softly, she sang ballads affectingly.) Ms. Hutton is also in a “classic,” the 1944 Preston Sturges satire, “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” that “rattled the censors with the story of a young woman who gets pregnant and can’t quite remember who the father is.”
Like many other “stars” of the era, Ms. Hutton fell from the heights to the depths, discovered later as the cook in the church where she had converted to Roman Catholicsm – where she also taught acting – after a dark period of bankruptcy, alcohol and substance abuse, attempted suicide, and a nervous breakdown.
**I doubt if anyone who read this Betty Hutton piece on my blog will want to see filmstrips of her singing, but my friend Willie, has kindly put two on his blog http://sfwillie.blogspot.com -- something I ought to know how to do myself. If nothing else, you can sample Willie's blog. You might also see why those of us who were children before THE ELECTRIC COMPANY might have liked her zany energy.
For that few who rememember this woman (a person who MUST have suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder and whose act would have never happened if she had been given Ritalin!):

Quetzalcoatl on 24th Street

The gates to the renovated playground on 24th Street, near York, are often closed, and I wish I had taken better advantage of an open gate this last week to take more photographs. The old murals have been brightened. Here is the wonderful new Quetzalcoatl (plumed bird-serpent) moving in an out of the earth there.

I do not know the names yet of those who recreated the old playground, but they certainly portray the preoccupied writer well! I will let the builders and architects judge this portrayal of them:

And the tail end...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Confront Evangelicals' "Battle Cry"

The real point is that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were NOT confrontational at the demonstration addressing this year's gathering of Battle Cry where Christian youth gather in the ball park -- one stop in Battle Cry's never-ending circuit through the nation.

I think we are all coming to realize that with this organization the real confrontation needs to be with the children's manipulators who are undoubtedly making an immense profit.

I described to some people last year's mind-blowing and bizarre confrontation with the young people, some of them really children, whom their manipulators had convinced that they would be facing the demons of hell -- that is, us folks.
The children facing us from the steps of City Hall cowered together,

clutched each other, and wept in terror! (There was only curiosity, not fear, I hope, in the local children pictured here.) True, we San Franciscans are a motley crew, and there were the usual variety of bizarre costumes and behavior,

and a good dose of cold political jades, but it was no fun frightening children.

Some of the Sisters were there last year, but, faced with these bullied children whose vision had been so distorted, they could not play their satirical roles. Battle Cry seems next stage in that brainwashing revealed in the recent documentary JESUS CAMP. On the one hand, bound to tolerance ourselves, or indifference, let Christians are free to do their own thing. On the other hand, we cannot ignore that the children are being taught hatred and intolerance of others, and I am glad that the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors, while diplomatic, let them know they are tolerated but not endorsed.

LEFT: Singer, Finian Makepeace. RIGHT: Free Thinker.

Some of the speakers presented good analyses of the poison Battle Cry spreads, and the psychic damage they cause, leading some to suicide.

But the Sisters were most eloquent, saying: Last year you got us to play your game of fear and threats. But while you teach intolerance, San Franciso represents tolerance and love. Go out and experience the love in the City of San Francisco.

I hope everyone knows how much money the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence raise for charity, bringing a light-hearted touch and merciful attitude to events and organizations involved with sobering challenges.


Like a firefly cupped in my hand,
I hold my own little sun.

Perturbations roll away from the moon
Revolving through my mind.

- James McColley Eilers, 2007

At the two-room school house in Roselawn, Indiana, Jimmy Eilers pretended to be one of the tough ones. His girlfriend, Judy Massey, standing in front of him, was much more tough. Must have been her sadistic mother who insisted the tomboy put a ribbon in her hair for the school picture. That town, mostly of poor people and dysfunctional people, pulled Judy down. As he escaped, Jimmy watched her drown. She is one of those who will always live in one of the rooms, covered in wallpaper roses, in the blue hotel where all his remembered loved ones live. Jimmy, now known as James or Jim, escaped the poor village, ironically called Roselawn (dirt roads, no roses), and he is still keeping his head above water. He is about to turn 70. "I may have to say hello to 70," he says, "but I never intend to say good-bye to '69'."
Why was he always wearing that silly little smirk? Infected with irony at an early age.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Muck Before Spring

Today I feel the Autumn in March.
Why do I write? To furnish the emptiness.
Sometimes it feels like home.

My hands are cold.
No warm back will feel them today.
You can hang curtains in the emptiness,
fill it with many distractions,
but one good wind and your house collapses,
and you're out on the streets
or walking a desert,
another tumbleweed.
No Mecca ahead.

Or they drag you from some river,
a worm pudding.

"The silence crunches me until I fit inside my skin.
It planes me, and skin appears.
What is that form within my chaos?
It breathes. It's alive.
It is too wooden for terror:
One thing crunches another in its teeth;
Just the ticking of the clock of nature.
Tock I tick don't know why."
Once created, the thing has to talk.
Don't listen to it.

- James McColley Eilers, 6-10 March 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007


It is that time in San Francisco when trees begin to blossom....

And tonight (1 March 2007) there was also A FLOWERING TREE at the symphony where John Adams conducted his new opera by that name. It featured three young American singers whose characters were interpreted by three traditional Balinese dancers. It is a tale of transformations where a maid turns herself into a flowering tree in the first act. The second act descends into horrifying pain, transforming all later into light. The opera is magic as a fairy tale, grim as a fairy tale.
The audience felt it was a special event, not only because of the beauty of the music and the production, but there was also the thrill of its being "new," Adams' first opera since DR. ATOMIC, and so different from that opera. An added thrill was the actual earthquake that rocked the top balcony, where I was seated, during the intermission between the two acts.
Peter Sellars directed, and he spoke before this performance, as he had before DR. ATOMIC, which he also directed. As always, his enthusiasm knew no bounds so that I felt it would be wrong not to record the moment with my unobtrusive digital (self-appointed rule-breaker) for so long as I could before scolded into stopping by an usher: