Thursday, June 30, 2005
– Huey P. Newton, from “A Letter From Huey To The Revolutionary Brothers And Sisters About The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation”
The Gay Liberation Front was born in a freedom spring, when organizations saw the necessity of a poly-vanguardist approach to defeat the existing organization of power. The days when social justice was perceived as a linked struggle have faded since those heady days. Liberated societies are recast as distant dreams of a naïve era.*
Advocacy groups (like the HRC) & the gay press (like the PGN) said “uncle” to a system they once resisted years ago. There’s merely trace gay liberatory residue in the rights struggle within oppressive structures. The “me too” philosophy that pervades the community is simply a thrust for a place of prominence in the dominance.
That said, the gay liberation movement demanded to be out & free to serve the nation from the beginning. This Monday will mark the 35th anniversary of the Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention, a gathering called by the Black Panthers to draft a new constitution for the next American Revolution. GLF founder Martin Duberman delivered Nineteen Demands to the Convention. Here’s Demand 17:
• The full participation of gays in the revolutionary people’s army
The push to serve is linked to Demand 19 which says “No revolution without us! An army of lovers cannot lose!” Serving to secure outposts for Empire would have been unthinkable in 1970 Philadelphia, as it should be today. Gay myopians that fight to take part in the baking of Poison American Pie should be ashamed of themselves.
Have a great Fourth of July! Here's to Independence Days...
*Seattle '99 proved to be a resurgence in cross-activist coordination. Time will tell of its sustainability.
** Gay Shame is an organization that confronts corporate whoring in the gay community. Check them out.
- Frank Sherlock
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
It's the first queer anthology I've submitted work to.
Actually, that's NOT true. I DID send to another, years ago, but only because Jim Cory suggested that I do so. And I wasn't JUST rejected, but told by the editor that my work was too angry, too crazy, and that it did NOT celebrate being gay, whatever the fuck that meant. Oh yes, and the editor's name of that one was Gavin Dillard, who used to be a porn star or something. Anyway, I don't give a shit what he thinks.
But EVERYTHING I HAVE IS BLUE was the first queer anthology I really WANTED to send my work to. It was completely Out where No One seemed to be. Seemed to be, and that's the point, because I know for a fact it's really where MOST are, as most queers are working class, just as most hetero folks are working class.
So anyway, I've been sending out my rant with website link included, and have received ALL KINDS OF MAIL in response, much of it interested, but some of it pissed off. Pissed off that women are not included, or pissed off that class has anything to do with anything. And the class issues are easy, it seems to me, to deal with.
What I have been saying in response about women not being included is that the dykes already have been working on these issues. They are way ahead, so to speak, and seriously so.
When sharing some of this with anthology editor Wendell Ricketts, he wrote me and said, "I mean to ask legitimately: Is there no space where working class men can simply talk to and about themselves?"
Thanks for that Wendell. Enough of the apologies, enough of the explaining outside of this simple, golden need spoken for here.
Furthermore, please check out Wendell's essay, "Passing Notes In Class." His insights are ready to incite. I am so happy with what he's up for with all this. It's the beginning of a growing knot on the old gay tree. Working class queers are tired, bored and pissed off with what's going on, and it's really, seriously time for shit to change!
Saturday, June 25, 2005
In this age of wanton exchange of capital, there are those in the queer community who are especially aggressive in proving that they and their other fancy queer friends are worthy citizens by displaying their large, secure Purchase Powers at the expense of anyone and everything. And they seem more than willing to do all they can to denounce, ignore, even destroy the larger GLBT community to assure their hetero board members, CEOs, mayors, state and national leaders, that the fringe of the GLBT community will be quietly replaced from the head of every significant position of authority in the community. We are witness to an astonishing hostile takeover, so to speak, and being mutated to reflect the fascist powers which now control this divided country. We must stop it, now!
This anthology is part of that need and that cry to stop it now! In doing so, in at least speaking out as proud working class queer people in the age of Paris Hilton as superstar, we can hopefully allow other working class voices to speak up once again. We have much lost ground to regain, and time's a-wasting, as my grandma would say.
Here's the official publishers website, just released today: http://www.suspectthoughts.com/pressblue.htm
Granted, the words above were written by me, and not by the publisher or editor of this anthology, but I believe that they agree with what I say, and what dangers we face, and what we must start to do to survive, and recreate a community worthy of the word community,
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Well, there was Rubinstein on my mind, but also those great sword-fighting films from the forties & fifties. The chandelier over the stage was tied to the balcony as if in mid-swing. The gravity center was “untraditional” & inviting participation. I was expecting Errol Flynn or a Musketeer to jump from the balcony & swing across the room on the light fixture, saber in hand. That didn’t happen. But what did occur was one of the more interesting readings I’d attended in awhile.
This was the launch party for Poems Equal Promises Magazine, founded by Laura Goldstein. Its intention is to be a journal of poets & artists from Philadelphia & Chicago (Goldstein’s present & future home cities), to share space & communicate with each other in the publication. Laura commissioned poem-collages from four Philadelphia poets to be included for the first issue.
Each writer read from (or discussed) their collage during the group reading. Amira Hanafi read a brilliant, layered piece engaging movement, witness & methods of movement. The layering is visual as well, printed on transparencies. Each page has a different “center” & allows for the transparencies to be rearranged for alternative readings of the reiterative poem. I actually took the collage home for an incredible deal- 7 bucks in a silent auction! Amira is leaving Philly for Mills, which is a shame since Tuesday night was the first time I’d ever encountered her work. Keep an ear out for her in the future.
Laura Goldstein has taken to an interesting examination of the alphabet. Her collage work is a scramble of multi-colored letters that tempt for a read, but instead suggest new textual creations. She read an interesting epistolary piece, correspondence between the letters P & W. The stylings of the two letters are distinct & identifiable. W is concerned w/ the smoke & opacity of relationships & relationship environments. P responds in numbered list poems. It’s an intriguing piece that I sense is an ongoing project
VJ Large Marge (Rich Wexler) screened a number of shorts, including some material culled from the Post Secret blog. Some of the postcard art brought me back to the ongoing Buck Downs mail art project, as well as Brett Evans’ After School Sessions. The shorts were concerned with a conceptual cultural consciousness engaging text as object & object as text.
Susan Brownmiller was channeled into a long work-in-progress by Cathleen Miller. The piece appropriates Brownmiller’s text on a young woman’s development in relation to a bullying culture around her. Miller’s collage was one of script, omissions & marked erasure. The process expositions hint at the shifting boundaries of the work that has yet to settle.
A short film which was originally shown on Sesame Street would have made Mayakovsky proud. The alphabet lesson found each letter from street & store signs around the streets of New York. My favorite was “D”, as in DRUGS.
CAConrad took the stage beneath his PhillySound collage to announce the premiere of “I Want to be a Hilton”, a reality TV show was airing as he read. He dedicated a poem to the Hiltons called “It Will Roll” In the poem, he asks “Who will make/ Paris Hilton/ a pink & shiny/ guillotine?” The poem contains the unforgettable assertion that “If you can forgive/ Martha Stewart/ You can forgive/ Ramona Africa.”
The reading ended with no musketeers, but the premise of Poems Equal Promises certainly takes the center of gravity away from the poem-product of fixed textual framework that too many magazines are content to offer. I’m looking forward to more of the inter-regional, inter-textual dialogue that PEP can offer. The event was a fundraiser, so if you’d like to contribute to getting the first issue off the ground, email Laura Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Frank Sherlock
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Regarding the DHS cuts, listed below -- there will be a demonstration tomorrow, at City Hall:
Rally for Children
Wednesday June 22, 12 noon
At City Hall in PHILADELPHIA
This is a great opportunity to allow our supporters to have a loud voice, so please get the word out to everyone.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Come hear her speak, support the biodemocracy actions, look for our banner, "Invest in Caring Not Killing" and join the Global Women's Strike and Payday on the 11am march to Love Park (15th and JFK) for the 12noon rally, the main action of the biodemocracy week of activities.
For more info on Selma and GWS activities: 215-848-1120; email@example.com, Global Women's Strike http://www.globalwomenstrike.net/ Payday: www.refusingtokill.net
*About the Bio Democracy events: The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is holding their closed-door June 19-22 annual international convention in downtown Philly. As biotech corporations suck resources out of our communities, leaving us sick and impoverished, and spread Terminator seeds, Frankenfoods, pesticides, Roundup Ready crops, bio-weapons labs, and killer drugs like cancers around the world, join us to plant seeds to rebuild our communities and cultivate health, peace, justice, freedom and sustainability. For more info on the biodemocracy events go to www.biodev.org or www.reclaimthecommons.net .
posted by CAConrad
Friday, June 17, 2005
A crisis has occurred in the City of Philadelphia which affects the future of 700 city organizations, 5,000 jobs, and nearly 30,000 children. If approved, funding cuts in Philadelphia's Department of Human Services would be the most severe in the history of the Mural Arts Program, ending funding for 90% of our art education programs starting in July 2005, and delivering far-reaching consequences for the entire city.
What has happened:
Due to federal budget cuts, the burden on the states has increased. This compounds an already bleak budget picture. We just found out that the state is no longer able to provide the city with transitional funds and because of this, the entire Prevention Division of the Department of Human Services is in jeopardy.
Prevention programs are not mandated, until a person or child is locked up or abused they cannot get help - this is the sad truth of the matter.
What it means:
This cut will impact 700 organizations throughout the city. At Mural Arts alone, 2,000 of our children will go without opportunities and many people will lose their jobs. This will be devastating for the organization
These prevention divisions in DHS offer help to the most vulnerable, the most at-risk. The tragedy is that this is the easiest place to cut, and yet the population most impacted by this is the one that needs these services the most; they are without a voice so you need to be their voice.
Please help us by sending letters to your elected officials NOW.
There is a myth that these programs do not work, however, there is significant evidence that these programs DO work:
- There is clear evidence that delinquency rates are lowered.
- Young people are getting back into schools -- our anti-truancy program has kids back in school.
- Young people are realizing opportunites -- our first class of kids from MuralCorps just "graduated" from the program, and a significant number of them are going on to college -- for most, the first from their family to do so -- including a student who received a full scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design.
- Pregnant teens are getting help.
- Kids are being saved.
PLEASE HELP NOWWe desperately need these programs, and to be able to continue to serve these kids. We will pay now, or pay twice as much later.
Thank you for your time & support -- please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will email you a letter template & a list of elected officials to whom it should be sent. This needs to happen now -- the fiscal year ends 30 June, and these cuts will go into effect on July 1.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
But Rothko and Paul Virilio's take on Rothko. Suicide? Terrorism? Art? I've been thinking about these things in Virilio's way. It reminds me of a poem I read a long time ago in a magazine. The poet was male, but I don't know his name anymore. Anyway, he actually said that Richard Brautigan and Mayakovsky had nothing to say in the end because they killed themselves. He made it clear that we should negate their works due to suicide. For a long time I was angry at that poet for that poem. Then I came to think of the poet as being in denial about something about himself, and bigger than himself.
First we have to believe that Art is here to save our lives, or something, in order to believe in this shit that it promotes cultural or other kinds of suicide. Well, maybe we DON'T have to believe that it's here to Save, but I wonder.
I mean, Jesus was here, so it's said, to Save us. And he killed himself. he knew they were coming, and he waited for them. And carried the crucifix, etc., in the prime of his life, his vitality, his breath, stopped. So we are said LOVING and DEVOTING time and energy to such a man as Jesus is good, in fact VERY good! The martyr, oh, the martyr! HOW on earth can Rothko be the bad guy with trillions of martyr devotees on earth?
If I were forced to choose a suicide to shelter myself, I'd take Rothko over Christ any day!
For those of us who Love this world so much we'd do everything we can to Hold On, the empathy for the Rothko's almost becomes essential. He didn't paint because he hated after all, he painted because he Loved. Corny as it sounds, violence and everything else, he was doing what the best part of him was capable of giving us all.
Art is all over us now of course. We're covered in it, and it's impossible to escape it, and it's fine with me. Since Art has become this tangible, world, removed from aristocratic supply and demand, Art will be and bleed and anticipate and give head and give thanks and take things away at the same time. Art makes us somehow see the exchange as equal now. Maybe it's just how I'm feeling about it, and Rothko, the dead man, has not caused the structures to crumble. Everything around is crumbling, and it's not Art's job to save it, anymore than it was Delacroix's or Da Vinci's, etc.. Jesus is more to blame, I think.
What Would Jesus Do? he would wait for them to come. he would sit still, and prepare to bleed all over creation. he would say An End To Pleasure. he would link Love and Joy for two thousand years to the need for incredible suffering. And he would dare say this world has nothing to offer, only the next one. And soon enough an excuse for raping resources without any need to stop, I mean, he said it's the next life, and just ask and you shall be forgiven, so ask to be forgiven, and continue your slaughter.
Rothko doesn't ask you to ask for forgiveness. He just offers a doorway. And it's you, or it's not, and I don't know what else to say. There are many unforgivable things, and this is true, and this is what we have on so many points of the globe, the unforgivable acts that make an incredible link of generations suffer and suffer and roil in suffering that can't seem to get worse, but somehow it does. How must Iraqi citizens feel about me, who pays his taxes like a good little rodent on this side of the Atlantic, and the bullets purchased wind up in heads and chests of those they love? It's a horrible, brutal, fantastic thing! And it's all there in one way or another in Rothko!
Rothko isn't so much an Everyman to me as he is a place where each man/woman could, if they choose, discover their disgusting mouths full of dripping shit. Paul Virilio sounds to me like a case of deflection, of fantasy for Art. Virilio might very much enjoy a solid hour of bullshit artist Wayne Dyer apologizing for the accumulation of wealth amongst his PBS listening audience. It's Okay, Because (as he says) Your Wealth Is A Result Of Your Positive Energy. Yeah, right, go fucking tell that to the Enron chumps, they need to hear that New Age guru crap more than anyone right now.
You might think I'm digressing, but I'm not feeling I am. All this is part of it. Corporations must be held up to see how THEY make us feel lost and ugly and wicked, not Rothko. Mainly because Rothko already says we're wicked and ugly. And lost. And feel it.
What a beautiful Ugly, this dance,
Saturday, June 11, 2005
He doesn't talk much about poetry, save his ahistorical utilization of quotes from Marinetti & Mayakovsky. Virilio concentrates primarily on the visual, w/ a little performance art accent. But who knows? Maybe he suffers from something similar to the Ostriker Syndrome. He may hate contemporary visual experimentalists, but have the interdisciplinary disconnect to embrace experimental writers. Paul & Alicia- get well soon.
- Frank Sherlock
Friday, June 10, 2005
There was a Soft Cell song playing on someone's radio just before going into the Tate Gallery the last time I saw the Rothko Room. What's it called? You have to know what I mean, their big big hit? Tainted Love, yeah, Tainted Love. It was perfectly imperfect. In a way it reminds me of Alice Notely's response to one of my 9for9 questions where she says, "I have a fear of dying with my mind playing some hideous Beatles song or an ancient show tune."
Doesn't that song say to us, "Now I've lost my light." Now I've lost my light, and it is one of those things that bounces off the back of your skull sitting in front of a room like Rothko's at the Tate if you've just heard it.
"Now I've lost my light, for I toss and turn I can't sleep at night...." Well, anyway, I didn't ask for the lyrics of Mark Almond's Soft Cell to be fused with the Rothko experience, but.... But there's nothing quite like the unexpected connections, especially when they mean something to how you're living your life at the time. Dregs and pulling out.
Let's have another look at the amazing Rothko painting:
R E D___O N___M A R O O N
On my break today I was reading from several books on his work and life, and wanted to share a couple of things with you.
One thing in particular I liked was Rothko telling Elaine De Kooning, "A painting is not about experience. It is an experience."
In an interview with Selden Rodman, Rothko said, "You might as well get one thing straight. I'm not an abstractionist... I'm not interested in the relationship of color to form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions -- tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions... The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point."
Here's more Rothkos from the Tate Gallery.
Another Rothko quote: "Maybe you have noticed two characteristics exist in my paintings; either their surfaces are expansive and push outward in all directions, or their surfaces contract and rush inward in all directions. Between these two poles you can find everything I want to say."
for I toss and turn,
Thursday, June 09, 2005
It brings up something though that's been bugging me for some time, which is the way some poets attempt to relate to Rothko. Actually, not just Rothko but other modern painters, artists, here, let me just say this:
There are poets in the School O' Quietude (as Silliman calls them) who RAIL against experimentation in poetry, but embrace modern art. And of course brand it all LANGUAGE, not knowing a fucking thing about LANGUAGE as it turns out. One poet with MANY degrees, and who is a well known teacher of poetry all over the USA actually once told me she doesn't care for Alice Notley's poems because she "just can't stand all that LANGUAGE poetry!" Huh? Alice Notley a LANGUAGE poet? What on earth is going on here?
Anyway, besides the fact they don't seem to know ANYTHING about what's really going on in poetry despite their vastly funded institutions, they have the sense of what visual art has been doing for the last century, and champion it, and argue about it, and for it, yet act like ANYone doing ANYthing other than straight narrative or revisiting forms of yore is just an idiot. The word idiot gets used, I've heard it, in amazement.
For instance, here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about:
Brand new poetry book by Alicia Suskin Ostriker titled NO HEAVEN. Now I must admit there's a poem in there about Ginsberg that is lovely. But for the most part it's really a book of the same old tricks in every single issue of Poetry magazine, yet it has a (yes it's true) MARK ROTHKO painting on the cover!
I was excited to see the ROTHKO on the cover until I opened the book! I was reading from the first line of the first poem, "She slips like a cat through traffic" and.... I'm not being mean, but I am being honest when I say that similes make me gag. Most of them. 99% of them. It's so rare to find a simile that excites me, and when I do find one that excites me I'm filled with amazement that I'm excited, then just try to enjoy it for all its worth. But seriously, similes, especially like this one above from this new book, ah man, no, I don't like it. "She slips like a cat through traffic...." Oh brother! It just feels so lazy to me, a line like this. Anyway, this is not a review of the book, and mostly I don't say anything if I don't like a book, BUT, this book dares, DARES put ROTHKO on the cover.
This is Mark Rothko, harsh beauty Mark Rothko. Let's revisit that quote Frank Sherlock shared with us, "To those who find my paintings serene, I'd like to say that I have trapped the most absolute violence in every square centimeter of their surface."
This is Rothko on the cover, the face of the book is given to HIM, and the man's painting us gateways, so it's a door, sinister door, and it's on the COVER of this book, and opening the book is wanting to see what's on the OTHER SIDE of the gate, and you know what, I'm not seeing it, I'm NOT seeing it when reading here! It's Rothko, and I'm opening onto poems dedicated to Elizabeth Bishop, etc., etc., etc., simile after simile....
How can you like Rothko and then NOT want anything at all to do with the experiment of poetry, see and feel all the ways poetry really pumps the blood and breath? How is it that poetry must not be challenged, and I mean NOT challenged at all! I've had friends, very talented friends go into school for poetry and come out writing something with all the edges shaved off. Ah, man, I wanted to glue the edges back on, and we'd get into these ridiculous arguments about poetry that made me think there was brainwashing involved. Anyway....
I'm not talking about Temple of course. In fact I'm very grateful we have the people teaching at Temple that we do, or this city would be hard to be with. And now that Bernstein is at Penn it's a relief all the bases are covered. Philadelphia is a sharp knife, and deserves Rothko's delicious cutting open.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
"To those who find my paintings serene, I'd like to say that I have trapped absolute violence in every square centimeter of their surface."
- Frank Sherlock
Monday, June 06, 2005
According to Don the film, which I've seen in an earlier stage and love, isn't doing so well nationally. I hope you can get out to see it -- it's fun, and smart, and the kids rock!
Here are two pieces I've written on the school -- an article in Tracks Magazine, and a profile on Paul Green.
To see the movie trailer go here: http://www.rockschoolthemovie.com/flashIndex.htm
This weekend, our film, ROCK SCHOOL, opened on 32 screens in 8 cities, and almost no one showed up. Saturday night, Don and I got a call from the head of the studio, and he was less than hopeful about the life span of this film. Well, we don¹t believe that for a second, especially not after only two days, and not before it opens in our hometown. We spent every ounce of our energy, every dime in our banks, to make this dream a reality. We got picked up, and since that time, got nothing but rave reviews. Just look at all of the press out there, talk to people who have been to advanced screenings, and you will hear that this is a great film that deserves to be seen.
Help us show the big studios that there¹s a market out there for more than just blockbusters. We thank everyone for their love and support. We thank everyone for going to our premieres and advanced screenings. Unfortunately, it¹s not enough. We need you to go to the theaters. We need you to send this email to your friends, get a group together, and buy a ticket for ROCK SCHOOL this weekend. The studio and theater owners will pull out of we don¹t put butts in the seats this weekend. If you can go out, and bring three friends, we know they¹ll enjoy it, and then maybe they¹ll bring three friends to another screening. We really need a grass roots campaign to start, and we can¹t do it without you.
Please visit http://www.rockschoolthemovie.com for theater locations.
All our love,
Sheena and Don
Producer/Director of Photography
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Check out The World's Embrace if you haven't yet. Also, check out Pierre Joris' great new blog! There you can find links to online issues of Souffles, the litjournal edited by Laabi from 1966-71.
- Frank Sherlock
Let me put it this way BOYS! You want to join a military MOST of the world now sees as the darkest force since Nazi Germany. Thousands and thousands of innocent lives have been taken (and thousands more yet to be taken), lives, people, silenced, for good.
You want to be part of this killing, this silencing of human life, but are crying that you can't do it with a rainbow sticker on your machine gun? Oh, you poor, poor baby!
Sacrificing your voice about your homosexuality is the LEAST you can offer the lives you are so fucking eager to take!
Am I the rotten banana in the fruit basket for saying this? So be it!
A queer voice against war,
against queer/straight/other soldiers killing,
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
The French concerns themselves weren't particularly odd. But the perceived alliances the vote forged seemed all but impossible coming from an America where the big "yes" or "no" questions fall almost completely into Republican or Democrat causes. It was exciting to watch Paris '68 vet Daniel Cohn-Bendit join flagging conservative Jacques Chirac in an effort to peruade France to vote Oui. Likewise, witnessing the fascist National Front & the further left labor advocates campaign against the EU Constitution acceptance seemed (at least on surface)an unlikely coalition.
The 2004 USA presidential election left me with a pretty negative feeling about referendum voting, in all its irrational Rovian ugliness that painted states red with anti-gay hysteria. But during the days leading up to the French referendum, citizens in the street & the media spoke of almost nothing but the coming vote, airing debate & opinion from practically every political perspective. According to one poll, more than 80% of French voters had read the EU Constitution in its entirety. I'd guess this is a higher percentage than the number of U.S. Congressmen who've read the American Constitution from start to finish. Sometimes a referendum make sense.
- Frank Sherlock
In all there are a dozen sculptures including Ordinary, with a tan gravel path and benches. There is now landscaping connecting the sculptures, but I'm not sure what's going on with the plants since they look sickly and chewed down. There are a lot of security cameras to protect the sculptures from vandals. The cameras haven't deterred the birds from making their white streaks of shit on each of the jet black sculptures, but that's to be expected I guess.
It's a nice meditation being in the park, benches positioned to view a different group of sculptures, or the sky fanning out suddenly depending where you sit. See for yourself and let me know, but I think you'll enjoy yourself.
An older couple visiting from Germany walked through while I was enjoying the sky turn color. They were upset that the park was so close to the highway, and said that the noise distracted them from enjoying the art. I'm used to the sound of traffic, and said so with a shrug. They insisted that the park should have been placed in a quiet location, to which I suggested the park could be duplicated, one in the woods, one in the desert, one on a giant floating raft, etc., but they didn't care for my idea.
"Why would you do that? I do not understand why you would do that?"
"Why not do it?"
"You need quiet for art. What do you mean a giant raft?"
"Everybody can experience how they want then, right?"
"This is terrible this traffic is terrible, AH!"
They left, shaking their heads, unable to enjoy the sculpture park, taking their story of the terrible noise back across the ocean. But really, it's not that bad, come and hear/see for yourself, it's a nice experience.