Monday, June 28, 2010

Premiere of the film HOWL, with James Franco

By the oddest happenstance, I happened to see the premiere of HOWL on 27 June, the final film shown at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival of 2010.
(Click on the title above if you want to see a slide show of James Franco and others -- I seldom use flash so these are dim photos, while my friend Fred came away with some very professional photos, I am sure -- Franco even consciously looked toward his camera to provide him with a good shot.

Anyone who lived in those days of repression/suppression in the 1950s can well relate to a man who is driven to HOOOOWWWWL.
Has there ever been a movie dedicated to a verse! There was an excellent series of ten programs on ten different poets on PBS, called VOICES AND VISION, and this is a great addition to those, and a full-fledged movie. This film is constructed in a very unsual way -- an homage to a poem and to poetry, a portrait of the poet who wrote it, and an account of the trial where freedom of expression was assaulted as Lawrence Ferlinghetti was charged with obscenity for having published HOWL at his City Lights Press. (Better to see it, and be surprised by its structure, when it opens in September than to have me describe it.)

While the U.S.A. was in the grips of the McCarthy era -- when the seeds were being planted for the Right Wing dimming of consciousness that has spread across the country -- San Francisco was a quiet oasis, a haven for the gay and the brilliant not wanted in the rest of America. Everyone who comes to San Francisco experiences a time that is then buried and remembered fondly, boring new immigrants with accounts of a previous layer of time. The media discovered San Francisco, and the city was transformed into a later character.

In those remarkable days, there was an annual contest for the best poem written in the city -- Just imagine that -- that level of civilization. HOWL won, but perhaps not many people know that our outgoing San Francisco poet laureate, Jack Hirschman, was runner-up with a wonderful poem that would certainly have won if it had not arrived in the same year as that boiling fountain that erupted from Ginsburg in his epic HOWL.

I was fortunate that my English mentor at Indiana University brought Jack to that campus for a semester soon after that, and we could be inspired by his great energy (New York Russian Jewish energy). He read Yeats' "Lapis Lazuli" for one class, and made certain that the students knew that when Yeats used the word "gay" in the poem he meant homosexual, and the bravery and survival skills of people who are "gay" or who find the "gay" in themselves:
All things fall and are built again,
And those that build them again are gay.
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

James Franco reads HOWL well, and he reads it as it must be read for the way the film is constructed, but I must say that no-one, not even Ginsburg himself ever read HOWL with such fierce energy as Jack did for a small group of us at Indiana University. I tried to hide the fact that my legs began to shake before he got through reading, and I had difficulty controlling my shaking body. I was ready to become a holy roller for poetry.

Although Franco and the actor playing Peter Orlovski did howl from a rooftop their happiness at being in love, Franco did not actually howl while reading the verse - I just happened to catch him yawning:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The pubescent Harvey Milk looks over and approves...

...of someone who notices blue-denim buns and bare chests on Gay Pride Weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Newgrange Megalithic Tri-Spirals Further Abstracted

Check on title above to see 7 variations on a more abstracted version of the Tri-Spirals

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Exploring the Megalithic Newgrange Ireland Spirals

Anyone who loves spirals might feel there is something "sacred" about the megalithic tri-spirals of Newgrange, Ireland. While spirals may symbolize many things, my immediate impression is that someone wanted to carve in stone the image of swirling currents of water. One might imagine them to be the beginning of those intricate knots found in the illuminated manuscripts of Irish monks. I decided to clarify the nature of these spirals that predate the arrival of the Celts by 2500 years. For more information on Newgrange, see -- To see my tracing of the spirals, showing their interplay with various color schemes, click on the title above, "Exploring the Megalithic Newgrange Ireland Spirals."

The title of this collage is....


Sunday, June 20, 2010

"We Were Here"

Click on the title above to see a slide show of people who went from seeing the film WE WERE HERE at the Castro Theater to discuss the film at the Metropolitan Community Church in the Castro District, San Francisco.
David Weissman and Bill Weber had presented the preview print of their new film, "WE WERE HERE: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco" -- virtually finished, but not an official entry in the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival of 2010.
As you might surmise, the emotional impact of the film is profound. Memories were reawakened of the pains and war-like losses from the worst days of the epidemic. The audience was very silent, and when the first person burst into terrible sobbing, the silence seemed intensely gathered around the sobbing as others were crying more silently. We were aware of how long we have chosen not to remember, especially not to soar over the long unfolding of the epidemic and struggles to bring medical help to bear -- or how memory had not counted then as people knew they simply had to do what had to be done, and it was dangerous to stop and take a wide view. Some caretakers were finally overwhelmed and had to stop. It is a testament to all those who came to the aid of those who were dying, with a well-selected cross section, from the nurse in an AIDS clinic to a man who lives with HIV, having lost two lovers to AIDS along the way. The film is a testament to the love and community solidarity that it generated. For one thing, the film give credit to the lesbian community whose support was heroic. But it silly of me to describe the film and its participants when you will be seeing it later.
In the next entry on this blog is one of the verses I wrote during that period.

For an AIDS Death

John Williams
Fortunately, there was a change in what seemed the utterly hopeless AIDS epidemic (a turning point, after long despair, as noted in the film WE WERE HERE) and luck did not run out for the Paul mentioned in the poem below, and Paul survives and is living well. But it felt this way in 1994:


Less than 24 hours – within this day – this morning, in fact,
John Williams died. As I wait for the 24 Divisadero bus,
and watch the sun burn past the iron feet of Sutro Tower,
the earth turning away now to end the light of the first day
of John being gone forever, another victim of AIDS,
the cold breeze coming up is John’s breath; it swirls
around, no longer a warm breath, but not wanting to follow
the sun into the underworld; it wants to remain here
until the sun returns tomorrow. I welcome John
as a cold dog spirit running circles around my legs.

Next I sit in the roaring solitude of the bus, nothing
tugging at my ankles. After a day of mourning John,
it will be a relief to dine with Paul, not yet felled by
the same disease. Paul said that he felt the aura
of a migraine coming on, but would take a nap to prevent it.
His days are a million tricks that he plays, a runner’s body
gone frail. The fragile sticks of many defenses to keep
death at bay will break, and he, too, will join The Disappeared.

The old lady in front of me, in spite of the cold, has opened
a window. Blue parrots circle my head. I know how this goes.
Soon I’ll be coated in birds and monkeys, cats and dogs, all
seeking a shoulder to stand on, a lap to warm, as all the ghosts
have dropped their bodies behind Twin Peaks in the sunsets
then come home to me in fantastic shapes. I felt selfish
earlier, beside the wall where I waited for the bus, wisteria
falling there, punctuated with the snowy blind-spots of white
roses, blank pages for the absent ones, this spring evening,
flower-perfumed, and I feel hopelessly alive as I write
my way to Paul, my good companion, fighting
his disappearance even while he is here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sophia and the Lion

Click on the title for a brief slide show.

Click on the title for a brief slide show.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Efflorescence

Sometimes I like to repeat my line for what you say when you think of standing at the edge of the universe:

If Big Bang Begot the World, What Begat Big Bang?

I guess I just like the B-b-b-baby sounds.

But why "The Big Bang"? Was someone there to hear such a sound? Any sound? So why describe it in terms of a sound?
Just some male choosing a word that sounds like a gun shot or describes his way of making love?

I think we should call it, rather, The Efflorescence, or The Great Efflorescence, or the Original Efflorescence.

Both the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth and the Indian prince who became known as The Buddha in the their distant, separate distant places had a parable about the mustard seed.
In whatever other way they or you may wish to interpret the metaphor, it is about how a giant tree may spring from something extremely small, a seed that is even more small than most seeds -- rather like that tiny first moment which exploded into this slow motion efflorescence we are living in.

This collage is just an idea for, not the portrait we need, to celebrate The Great Efflorescence.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Eduardo and Sophia on the Embarcadero

For Edu and Sophia fans only -- Click on title above to see a short slide show of Edu and Sophia playing with Mama Dana and Aunt Sue, Martha and Jim, on the Embarcadero, San Francisco. I had the camera set were so the color is odd, but maybe the Black and White works better.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

For Palestine, 5 June 2010

Click on the title above "For Palestine, 5 June 2010," to see a slide show of the demonstration for Palestine and Gaza in San Francisco on 5 June 2010.

As they gathered in a circle beforehand -- several members of Code Pink being Jewish -- a kaddish was said for the 9 members of the flotilla trying to bring aid to Gaza who were killed by Israeli troops.

For essential, additional information on the Palestine/Israel conundrum, the documentary OCCUPATION 101 is fundamental. To access the documentary, click the title on the next entry, "To Access the documentary OCCUPATION 101"

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

For Access to documentary OCCUPATION 101

Click on title above "For Access to docmentary OCCUPATION 101"