Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

I recently read the new posthumus autobiography of Mr. Crisp called The Last Word.
That was so good that I wanted more and I had not read his first book to be published, the one that made him the international celebrity he became for the last 30 or so years of his life.

So off to the library I went after asking my branch to locate it for me. Yes, The Naked Civil Servant is even available in Nassau County Long Island, New York USA.
As he discusses in The Last Word, Quentin is more trans than gay, but given the fact that the variety of gender orientation had not been much explored by the time of The Naked Civil Servant’s publication in 1968 he was not fully aware of his own place on the spectrum.
I not really aware of the culture of the UK in those post Stonewall years after USA gay liberation had its defining action in 1967, but the feeling I had personally as a bisexual identified teen at the time was that the popular notion was that there are two sides, a person is one or the other; gay or straight. This didn’t fit me but anyway, that was the general impression I got and I think that is what the USA culture at the time thought.

Yet reading The Naked Civil Servant it is clear that even then Crisp knew he was something other than the one slot or the other categorization. He claims to have very early on worn makeup, but he is not really a crossdresser. He is not dressing as he is to act more like a woman to attract men really in any way, but rather to express what he felt within himself and what he ought to do and be.
The Naked Civil Servant is the work of an outsider critical to the workings of the society he found he had to live in. No doubt his gender feelings were part of the impulse that set him in the outsider direction, but what he becomes by the time of this writing is someone who looks at the world around him, does not really want to participate in it if he can avoid it and describes it in endless critical witticisms.  

So readers, this is not primarily a gay book. This is a work of an outsider that I would encourage other outsiders, whatever their sexual proclivities may be, to read. He is most definitely one of us who takes to the pages, his stage here, in a manner most entertaining and fortifying for the rest of us.

Of particular interest to me was the art model stuff as well as his other attitudes toward work. He is only willing to work because he has to. I think this should be the natural human response to the wage slave cycle we are forced into in our modern civilized world. If one looks into anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer people, which is the way human life was for 6 million years until the agriculture thing started just 10,000 years ago, one can find that people simply didn't “work” all that much. Maybe a few hours a day, and not every day, were necessary to get what was needed to sustain. The remainder of the time given over to hanging out, telling stories, resting , sex, whatever.
I like to think that Crisp, like myself was old school in that way.
Art modeling is the closest thing I have found for being paid for doing nothing. The model just sits there, the mind remains one's own, unsold.  

I first saw Quentin on The Dick Cavett Show in my youth and loved his not bullshit stance since.

Anyway, fine book.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
Written and Directed by Angela Robinson

This is a very human story of the people behind the creation of the comic book character, who, of course, became the TV show, and ultimately the mega budget and super hit movie from the Disney Corporation.

Angela Robinson has made a very engaging movie about the triad love/sex relationship of William Marston, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and Olive Byrne.  

I’m not really much into biopics. I don’t understand how they can even remotely approach the reality of the subject. Humans can not be contained in a two hour movie, and that is a good thing. Otherwise we would all be rather boring. We are more complex than that, especially if we are off the morn in any way.  Even the times people are living in are more complex than a historical movie setting. Modes of expression change from era to era, styles of conversation, and societal norms of engagement.

So I approached this movie from the angle of suspending disbelief as to the actuality of it all, the behavior of the characters. Did they really talk like that in the 1920s? This in particular with the frank dialog of the Elisabeth character at the very beginning of the movie.

If the movie and the queer woman writer/director, has an agenda, it is presenting a polyamorous relationship in a clear positive light without the usual melodramatic sensational. Being on Team Polyamorous myself I was on board form the outset to welcome that presentation and dropped the need for total accuracy especially since the characters involved were not actually pubic figures aside form William Marston himself, who used a pen name for his comic book writing and was therefore presumably invisible as a media figure.

What Angela Robinson presents is a realistic depiction of the struggles of people who need and dare to live differently from the intimate relationship norms and rules of their day. Their day that bleeds into ours, as the general community judgments of their behavior are not all that different now than they may have been then.

Meanwhile it is a very engaging love story entertainment. It is a beautifully written and directed movie with several scenes that are very effective emotionally.
Angela Robinson’s characters live and feel real, however remote they night be from the reality of the actual people.
Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth delivers a outstanding performance in her role as a modern woman of high intelligence and power in her relationships who must deal with new emotions in a complex situation.

Comics fans might be disappointed. It is not really so much about Wonder Woman although there is some content that has to do with comic censorship. It’s a love story.

This is a great movie by a supremely skilled filmmaker.
I will be looking for Angela Robinson’s future projects on the chance that she can do it again.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Last Word by Quentin Crisp

I like to read the posts of Quentin Crisp quotes posted on Facebook by The Quentin Crisp Archives. I have a casual interest in Quentin Crisp. I first saw him on The Dick Cavett Show on TV in Ohio when I was just about to be a young man. At least that is when I assume this was but maybe it wasn’t as early as the late 1960s. At any rate he was instantly interesting. I am attracted to elegant talkers and Quentin had that down. In a way he fits into a caragory in my mind he wasn’t the only oddball that slipped through the TV into my Ohio working class kid consciousness. I can broadly lump him with Brother Theodore, Professor Irwin Corey, even Gore Vidal in his insider/outsider way. Crisp clearly was some sort of outsider and since I had not actually found an inside for myself, I too felt like sort of an outsider.
(Out commercial culture profits by making the masses feel they are special outsiders, but that is another bigger topic that I’m not going into right now.) Not a bit troubled by his “gay” thing either. That males had sexual activity with one another was not news to me or outside of my direct experience.
The people who post The Quentin Crisp Archives began posting quotes from this book and I got interested enough to buy a copy, which I had to do because it was not available in my local library system since I no longer live in New York City. I don’t like to buy books. I read them and don’t look at them again. After moving from New York I got rid of the books that I had collected. This did not particularly grieve me. But I do like the books I want to read to be available from the library rather than have to be purchased, from Amazon no less. In the past year there have been three book buys by me. That is plenty. There is another like this, an indie project created with love. I’m happy that they get my money. Another was a graphic book. I was interested in the subject, but graphic novels, or biographies, as in this case are high on pictures and low on information. I’m more interested in information than pictures so they feel like less than.(I have little doubt that there will soon be a Quentin Crisp graphic biography if there is not one already, he is perfect for that.) In the book Quentin talks about money and it is revealed that he behaved toward it like a Great Depression kid. They don’t spend it for fear it will not be replenished, but forever gone. I’m not a depression kid, I just don’t like to collect stuff and kind of stayed working class so I don’t have a lot of extra money.
   The character who inhabits The Last Word is 90 years old and has had about enough of that. She is ready to let it go without looking back. And why should he. The Naked Civil Servant appeared in 1968 and the fame and all that went with that came to Quentin in his late 60s and early 70s. Prior to that life was more of a struggle and she really seemed to bloom in NYC. One of the best things about The Last Word is that it is the work of a 90 year old. We don’t hear that much out of the very elderly. Many celebrities vanish at a certain point, maybe around age 70, for men anyway, and go into a sort of twilight period until we read that they have finally died at 85 or whatever. So it is interesting to see what this odd old man had to say.
   He talks about shutting down some, stopping sex at 30. Did he really say 30? Well, other than masturbation, which went on until around 60. Thanks for the info, Quentin, it is really rather interesting and I’m not a bit squeamish about that stuff.
I’m not one who sees sex or money as these big private things that must remain hidden. The thing is I get the feeling that these sexual things were very unsatisfactorily explored, he writes of quicky encounters in city street doorways. In Quentin it appears that the tunnel to love remained undiscovered and there was a turning in from the hostel outer world to the world of the mind rather than that of human sensuality. I don’t really know what kind of sex he would have appreciated, but the setup, looking for money because that's what the others did doesn’t seem promising from my out of context view. But I really don’t get the male/male action world of some of these writers from that generation. Same with Gore Vidal with his “trade”. I guess Quentin, much less the “boy” Gore was and from a lower class, fell into the category of “trade” or at least wannabe trade. I assume there is more on this in other writings which I haven’t gotten to yet. I can understand the wannabe trade thing. I can understand being adored with a nice bit of dough attached to that, the ones who pay these lower class boys I don’t quite get. I want to be wanted, not temporarily tolerated for a toll. (I just got The Naked Civil Servant from the local library yesterday and will read that shortly.) Her attitude toward nature is also indicative of the sensual withdrawal into the mind. But there could be a bit of English princess in there, not wishing to get dirty or whatever.

What we seem to be left with is an acute observing mind, alert, from decades of danger, now calm and safe in relatively new public acceptance which revealed to the observer the absurdity of the whole game.
Our delight is his lack of fear in telling us what he sees in glorious articulation.

Oh, by the way, it turns out that Crisp was not really “gay”, but something else. I think The Naked Civil Servant came out at basically the same time as The Stonewall Riots, which are a marker of the beginning of the gay liberation movement. Since then there has been much more thought into the endless variations in gender and sexual orientation. This caused elderly Crisp, along with many others to revision the long held views of themselves and their position in the scheme of things. You can read the book for more on this. I welcomed this part because I’m not gay but certainly not straight at all and I’m less boyish than many others. I welcome the death of this sexual dualism.

For many years I lived two blocks away from Quentin Crisp. I would see him almost daily sitting for lunch in his favorite diner on second avenue. Then that place closed and he moved across the street to another lunch place and eventually vanished. I went into the old place one day and bought Crisp his brunch. I didn’t bother to ask him to work for his lunch by giving me audience. He had paid already by being on the Dick Cavett Show decades earlier.

Crisp was socially promiscuous. He was allegedly willing to give anyone a go at lunch or street conversation. He would avoid second encounters.
He was a keen observer of people. This is something I assume one picks up as a protective mechanism being an odd one in a hostile world. There is a fear and distrust of others, and not without good reason. He did excellently with that and the promiscuity seemed to work out well for him. In the end. The community protected and honored the oddball.
He was a big winner.

I was interested in the art model angle because I am an art model. He mentions the peripheral benefits to this work. It can develop patience and alter one's view of time.  I like the think that this work which involves really being an outsider in the scene with the painters and the art teachers, with the silent meditation being part of the bargain, as potentially spiritually uplifting or helping with some type of transcendence. One wants to be in on something special.
Reading The Last Word brings one up close to a very special old man

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mute (2018)

Mute (2018) Directed by Duncan Jones and written by Jones and Michael Robert Johnson

This is a sort of mashup of Blade Runner and the movie version of MASH.

Duncan Jones apparently had a lot of money available to make a movie but not a thought of something to say. So he said nothing and just presented the typical edgy product for shut in boys.

There are these two actor guys playing doctors. For some reason they are stranded without papers in Germany, played by Blade Runner CGI settings.
One of them, Paul Rudd, is a horrible character with an ugly, Elliot Gould in MASH, mustache. This little actor twerp acts all tough guy in this. He even has a great big dick hunting knife. Big paycheck covers his shame in this nasty performance no doubt. It took way way too long in this miserable movie for this asshole to get killed off, but that is all gritty and edgy too, with lovely sadism as well.
He has a pal, some other loser actor, who is dressed up as round glasses Donald Sutherland in MASH, actually more like the MASH character if played by John Sebastian. (Those glasses are the best thing about the movie. I want those glasses.)

These nasty characters are at the center of this dumb drama. They are buddies, but the Paul Rudd guy is upset with his buddy because he is a pedifile (edgy!!!) and this guy is ethical even though he has murdered the mother of his daughter. So they are fighting and then right away they are buddies again.

This is the type of movie that testifies to the need of more women involved with production.
(Either that of kill off all men.)
It’s an a all-boy deal. There are a couple women in it briefly. They are there to provide something for the male characters to fight over.

Alexander Skarsgard plays the Mute and looks good in this as usual. He acted in a good movie once. It is called The East.

I hated this movie.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean

Imagine a country where rich, very very few very very rich people, are adjusting the political structure for their benefit. They are so oppressed, put upon, controlled by the government that they can’t do whatever they want. If they want to build a factory somewhere to exploit labor so they can get richer they can do that. But these damn government regulations will not allow them to just dump the waste products into the nearby river. This is outrageous. It infringes on their basic rights as human rich people to do as they please. If some people downstream get ill or even die from the poison that the factory dumped in the river, well that is too bad. Those people should have just had the personal initiative to do something better for themselves so they could go live somewhere else rather than whining to the government to protect them from progress.

This book is basically about the builders of an economic theory fabricated in service to the rich. It is called Libertarianism. The people into it claim that they believe that it will somehow magically make everyone prosperous simply by taking a hands-off approach when it comes to their beloved “Economic liberty”. Libertarianism is also magnetic to the politically naive who think it’s for freedom, no drug laws etc. And it is, or claims to be, but the main thrust behind it is something different.
The main man in the book is James McGill Buchanan who was financed at various universities by two billionaires Scafe and later Charles Koch (this guy again!!). This theory is based on very little but belief, it’s a sort of economic political religion. And much if it has racist and reactive roots. The book in the beginning explains the events after Brown v. Board of Education ruling that lead to the federal government forcing integration of the racist education systems in the USA. This did not go down well in Virginia. They struggled to find ways around it, via private school vouchers and other means. One county in Virginia simply closed its public schools, for years, from 1959 to 1964, that is 5 years. The federal government finally forced them to reopen the schools. (As an aside, I’m not a big fan of schooling as it is done in the USA. I would be curious if any of those as children without school during those years somehow benefitted. It is possible.)
At any rate, they appear to want no government other than having a structure to protect private property. That would include the military. The government is also useful in acquiring future properties not usefully developed, but with people living there uselessly and stubbornly in the way.

Anyway I guess how it all works is that guys like the Koch Bros need to get rich enough that, well something will happen then and everybody will be rich. I mean everyone important. If a bunch of people die off in the process this is simply the cost of progress and in the long run it’s ok. Their lives didn’t matter for that much anyway. Some humans just fail. And that’s just as well because we need to breed the best not all these other people, if we can call them that.
And don’t let them organize. Collectivization is not encouraged, actually quite the opposite, buying all the land, or taking it by force, tossing people off it so they can’t even grow their own food. Of course they can organize themselves into corporations and get just as big as they want. Business collectives are OK, workers, or people concerned about ecology, etc., no.
The most pure wouldn’t even go for that. Koch Industries is privately owned in the family. It’s not a public corporation. Anyway, I think these people are quite insane and anti human.
James McGill Buchanan went to Chile during the fascist coup and help them design a lovely new constitution that tilted toward business and against the people having much power.. But these libertarians think that was great work and hold up fascist Chile as the example of what the USA needs to do. That’s part of the long plan now to maneuver for a constitutional convention and write a new one for the USA in their favor
It’s really a fascinating read. Scary as it is.
People are crazy. Oh and they think that everyone has their same emotional set-up, that the deep wish of us all is that we had a kingdom of our own and people we could boss around.
Hey! I don’t feel that way. I don’t want subjects or slaves. There is something wrong with these people. If they were in our hunter-gatherer group we would probably find a way to drive them away or bump them off.
But we can’t do that now, can we?
So they just grow in power and spread their poison logic and, if not stopped somehow, are very likely to win.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot

I had a certain amount of trepidation as I started reading this book. I knew I was entering the heart of the ugliness of the USA, for 620 pages. I’m a notoriously slow reader, so I knew I would be there for awhile.

I shouldn’t have been so concerned. This is a well written history of the CIA. It is loaded with information that was new to me as well as stories I have been hearing for decades like the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the murder of JFK..

This is really the big story of the 20th Century when global technological resources developed to the extent that the have nots were in a position to move on the haves.
Dulles helped developed  the CIA into a secret army working to buttress the holdings of the haves. The book is a working bio of Dulles as a spy. He began as a Harvard educated Wall Street corporate lawyer. He ended as a government official who really functioned as a Wall Street corporate lawyer. The interest of big business was always at the center of his actions and the actions he manipulated the USA into.

He goes through the story of the CIA engineering the coup in Iran in 1953 which put the Shah back in power until 1979. During this time the CIA assisted him in setting up Secret police units that eliminated all opposition other than that embedded in religion, which lead to the religious sectors of society to eventually gaining control rather than a more secular setup that could have been possible with Mossadegh. But this is the history of much of the CIA meddling on behave of corporate business, keeping countries business friendly even if large sections of the population suffered as a result. The USA spreads a good deal of suffering over the world.

The end of the book spends a good deal of space to evidence linking the CIA to the JFK and RFK assassinations. He certainly presents a powerful case of motivation and procedural ability. Of course I’m familiar with and tend to go along with this view of events.

I had not heard of the 1961 coup attempt in France, to ouste Charles de Gaulle and install a right wing government. That was rather shocking to read about and of course there was the good old CIA helping to establish and supporting the perpetrators.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to generate much anger about this stuff anymore, I mean anger that the country I live in spends a great deal of its resources making the lives of people in other countries miserable without much person autonomy under some thuggish government that is friendly the international business interests. And it’s not like these international corporations are even Americans, they aren’t particularly loyal to the USA as their business interests are pushed on other  countries by CIA action as in the 1973 CIA supported coup in Chile, the other 9/11.

No, I’m not angry, just frustrated and sad that this has been the trajectory of the USA my entire life span.
I hope you can do something about it in the future, and that the blowback is not as horrible as it might justifiably be.

Anyway, this mysterious institution, that does more or less what it pleases secretly with an enormous amount of tax money, just goes on its merry way. Maybe we hear about what they do later, but probably not since the government at behest of big business is growing more and more fascistic secretive and controlling.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

{rec-og-nize} the voices of bisexual men Edited by Robyn Ochs & H. Sharif Williams

This is a collection of testimonials from bisexual men expressing how they feel about their 
situation in the USA territory in which they live.
The stories vary because there are a lot of different layers of this since no one is really alike with sexual things, I mean, if they are honestly looked into, explored.

Most in the book, are happy to be bi. Some feel oppressed, unseen, by the outer world’s 
reaction to them and somewhat bitter about the whole thing. Many are annoyed by the 
bipolar assumptions of our time and see them as inaccurate, in the least, to intentionally 
dismissive of the variation they are.  
They express feelings of not being comfortable with either of these poles.
I agree. The born this way gay culture is clearly not for me anymore than the exclusively 
heterosexual assumptions. So here is what I might write if I were involved with a book like this.

I consider myself lucky to be somewhere on the bisexual spectrum. I like to think that I am 
closer to basic pre-conditioned and trained, civilized,  humanness by being this way, natural and more wild.
This is not a new concept for me. I have been like this for as long as I can remember. I 
mean from childhood back in Ohio where there were sexual encounters with other boys playing around doing this and that.
But even though that went on and was not unusual and really quite natural there was a sort of prohibition given USA sex attitudes and this was Ohio in the 1950s and early 60s. All this activity was done in secret, certainly away from parents. Yet it went on, not with all boys, but certainly not restricted to one or two boys. I guess I just assumed that it was what we did 
because it was fun and exciting with partly getting away with something.
But that period was tricky for me. There was an older boy who lived behind our little ranch 
style house in Ohio. I’ll call him Woody, because that was his name. I have been wondering how much older he was than me and just now did some internet poking around and found a man who kind of has to be him and who graduated from high school in 1965 which would 
make him at least 4 and probably 5 years older than I because I was born in November and  unusually young when I began school at age 5, too young, but that’s another issue. Well, 
this kid was somehow into me sexually and he was involved with an incident that looms 
large in my mind because it was so terrible at the time.
There was a big apple orchard near where I lived and beyond the end of the orchard, a 
woods and a lake. One summer afternoon I was out with some of the older boys who I loved hanging out with. The frozen moment outside at the end of the orchard has the boys 
standing around me and me kneeling. I remember being persuaded to put someone’s penis in my mouth. I’m not sure how old I was then but I know it was before junior high because 
we had moved out of that neighborhood before I went to junior high. So I’m guessing 10 or 11, but I could have been younger since I lived in that house since age 5. And knowing what I know now it is probably better if I was 10 or younger than say 12 if the other boys were all Woody’s age 4 or 5 years older. Because then they would be getting rather old to be fooling around with this kid. And one would hope, being older, they could have come up with a more secure play area.

That day we were suddenly discovered by some girls and enough was going on and 
exposed that the girls had something to tell. The next thing I knew I was in the kitchen being interrogated by both of my parents regarding if I had put someone’s “pee pee” in my mouth. Honestly sitting here now I don’t know if I did or not. I remember some reluctance at the 
moment but that could have been added on later to support my story to my parents that 
nothing went on. Years later my dad told me that he had caught me with Woody another 
time in Woody’s family’s shed.

Now when I look at Woody’s two Facebook photos and read about how he spent his life, I 
find it interesting that he has chosen male power roles being an auxiliary cop, involvement 
with military and some marshal training thing. And there he is as an old man wearing navy 
whites with 4 small children standing with him, the only other people in his photos. I not saying he went on from back then to career predator, but those guys come from somewhere I 

So is this my #metoo moment?
It could very well be. Woody had no other reason to be involved with me. I was just a little 
kid who lived down the hill. He had what I wanted, which was to be acceptable to these 
older boys.

Did this hurt me?
I mean I’m aware that my relationships with other men are not normal, whatever that means. I don’t have any close men friends.
I would describe part of my reaction to others men as being somewhat homophobic. By that I don’t mean some sort of hatred but rather a suspicion that they might be interested in 
something or that I am and all that is just below the surface and enough to confuse the 
desire to get together. It’s a subtle emotional background thing. After all, little me might think, what else do I have to offer being not otherwise successful or engaged in popular male 
Is this related to why I have been such an outsider with no career or anything like that when I had some sort of raw potential that is only apparent in hindsight.
I have stayed away from men professionally. I was in a band but it was with women, no men would want me in a band with them. I don’t rock!

So what goes on with me with men? I periodically seek anonymous encounters in places set up for that and maybe have a little oral or manual interaction. I don’t know maybe trying to 
recreate the setting at that moment in the orchard since it was loaded with such energy, 
emotion and interest. It doesn’t matter if they are old or younger.
But then I think I’m not that interested in men. I don’t see that many who I feel attracted to. 
Not into beefcake stuff and all that. Not interested in a man being involved with my emotions and have ugly thoughts that they are simply not that sharp, bright, or emotionally 
sophisticated enough to bother with. Or that they have some power agendum, want to sell 
me on something, want to check out what team I’m on maybe even politically. (Ugly 
because since I don’t hang with men I’m probably talking about something within me, within my own self-image.)

So there you have it. I’m rather old now. Have a really lovely open relationship with a 
woman who can understand, so now that sex with other women is basically over due to my age and contentedness with my friend. I can say that I’m not on team straight and have no 
interest in being straight in its homo and hetro variations.
Feeling more free and loved in my relationship I have been having more male sex encounters than in the past when it was dormant for long periods or really toned way down. This feels healthy for me. 
(The book was here when I moved in with my lover. It's her book. It was here so I read it.)
think it might be interesting to have an actual male lover appear although I’m not searching. But people do just show up in my life with no effort from me.

I was in high school in Ohio when The Stonewall Action happened which is said to have set off the Gay Liberation movement. I remember thinking then, while I was just starting to be 
sexually active with girls my age, that the ideal with me was bi, capable of both clearly. I was not about to pick a team and never will.

Anyway, interesting book with writers of various abilities in self expression.
(You can deal with that if you’ve read this far.)

The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

I recently read the new posthumus autobiography of Mr. Crisp called The Last Word. That was so good that I wanted more and I had not ...