Quote of the day: UNIQUE

October 20, 2017

UNIQUE

So much time has gone by! Napoleon’s house—
He never came—still stands in the Quarter.
Time ends all the good living that
Louis the Sixteenth, after the trouble, never
Experienced, all the sights Andrew
Jackson never saw in Pirate’s Alley.
Ask the alligators about heat and history.

Out in the bayous we met a small alligator
Named Elvis. When we stroked his throat, he waved
His left claw at the world. It makes you think.
Alligators enjoy a world before the alphabet.

I don’t want to be who you are! I want
To be myself, someone playing with language.
Let us each be a sensualist
Of the imponderable! Let’s each do
What we want. I thread my way
Down alphabets to the place where Elvis is.

–Robert Bly, “The Day We Visited New Orleans”


Quote of the day: AWAKE

October 16, 2017

AWAKE

I’m not saying that it’s easy to shine, to love, to twirl
I’m not saying it don’t hurt to be awake in this world

–Marsha P. Johnson


From the deep archives: Harvey Fierstein and TORCH SONG TRILOGY

October 12, 2017


It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since the first glimmer of Harvey Fierstein’s epochal gay play Torch Song Trilogy emerged. As I’m gearing up to see the revival at the Second Stage, directed by Moises Kaufman and now titled Torch Song, I’ve been going through my Fierstein file folder, reviewing the history of my relationship with the gravel-voiced legend. I met Harvey in 1975 when I was in college at Boston University and he was starring in a local production of Robert Patrick’s The Haunted Host. We became friends, or friendly in the way that young journalists and the young artists they cover favorably can be.

Throughout the years of writing the plays that eventually became Torch Song Trilogy, Harvey kept in touch with me, sending me scripts and gossipy letters and postcards. I interviewed him several times over the years, but the first time was in February 1978, for an article published in The Advocate, when he was performing The International Stud (the first play of the trilogy) at La Mama. The picture above was taken by Allen Tannenbaum, staff photographer for the Soho Weekly News, during the 1978 Off-Broadway run of Stud at the Players Theater on MacDougal Street.

As a treat from the archives, I’m posting here the typewritten transcript of that interview. Check it out and let me know what you think.


Quote of the day: TENSION OF THE OPPOSITES

September 26, 2017

TENSION OF THE OPPOSITES

Holding an inner or outer conflict quietly instead of attempting to resolve it quickly is a difficult idea to entertain. It is even more challenging to experience. However, as Carl Jung believed, if we held the tension between the two opposing forces, there would emerge a third way, which would unite and transcend the two. Indeed, he believed that this transcendent force was crucial to individuation. Whatever the third way is, it usually comes as a surprise, because it has not penetrated our defenses until now. A hasty move to resolve tension can abort growth of the new. If we can hold conflict in psychic utero long enough we can give birth to something new in ourselves.

–Marion Woodman


Quote of the day: FEATHERS

September 22, 2017

FEATHERS

“Have you ever examined the feather of a bird?” Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-founder of evolutionary theory, once wrote. “No man in the world could make such a thing.” Feathers are even harder to fake than fur, their structure being vastly more complex and varied. Falcon feathers are stiff, like jet-fighter wings, for stability at high altitudes; owl feathers are soft and barbed, to muffle their descent on prey; sandgrouse feathers soak up water, so their chicks can sip them in the desert. The range of designs would put any wilderness outfitter to shame. Bald-eagle feathers zip up to keep out moisture; mourning-dove feathers rotate individually to control flight; golden-crowned-kinglet feathers keep the bird’s body so insulated that it may be a hundred and forty degrees warmer than the air. “If human hair were similarly diverse,” Thor Hanson writes, “a person might combine a neatly trimmed Van Dyke beard with a teased hairdo taller than the Statue of Liberty.”

Yet none of this compares to the complexity of bird color. The leaf green of a quetzal’s tail, the cerulean blue of a tree swallow’s back, the golden-eyed wings of a great argus are the work of an infinitely patient genetic process—mutation upon mutation, like paint layered on canvas. Some feathers are pigmented. Others have structural color: nanoscopic bubbles, lattices, and granules that scatter and refract light. Still others have both, the ornithologist Richard Prum, a professor at Yale, told me. The green broadbill of Sumatra and Borneo, for instance, has feathers that blend prismatic blue with pigmentatious yellow. Add to this the ultraviolet hues that birds can see and we can’t, and you can start to imagine how bedazzling a Himalayan monal truly is—how nearly hallucinatory to the female watching him dance. “All the beauty is in the feathers,” Wallace wrote. “I almost think a feather is the masterpiece of nature.”

–Burkhard Bilger, “Feathered Glory,” The New Yorker


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