Archive for June, 2017

Interviews: La Revista Diversa

June 15, 2017

Luis Antonio Capurro is a friendly, enterprising young blogger and informal minister of culture to the gay male community in Lima, Peru. He recently interviewed me (by email) for his online magazine La Revista Diversa. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

Quote of the day: BOOKS

June 7, 2017

BOOKS

What do you read for solace? For escape? For sheer pleasure?

I read Alice Walker for solace. I love a great deal of her writing, but I always go back to The Color Purple. When I couldn’t afford therapy, I’d read about Celie and her depressing life that was somehow still filled with hope and color. “This life soon be over. Heaven last all ways.” Just reading those two sentences would make me feel better about my own troubles.

For escape, I read David Sedaris. It feels like I’m always on a six-hour plane ride, and I love to take that time to listen to a Sedaris audiobook. His tales about his family, or living in Japan or France, or his part-time job as an elf during Christmas, whispered in my ear as I try my best to sit still and pretend I’m not smelling a million farts trapped in business class, are very soothing.

I read Zane for straight-up pleasure. She is one of my favorite writers for erotica. I’m secretly a weirdo, and I really like reading about people making panicked love to each other when they really shouldn’t. I feel like a lot of Zane’s stories are about forbidden romance, one way or another, and I live for it! Her books always have interesting titles and covers. I remember when I worked in an office as a phone sex operator, I would read her book “Gettin’ Buck Wild” on the train on the way to work while feeling embarrassed when other commuters would see the cover of the book and wink at me. But also I’d be getting some great ideas about what to say to callers once I got to work. The embarrassment was worth it. I made pretty good money on the phones.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I have a picture book of X-rays of different household items that people have gotten stuck up their butts. That’s pretty surprising.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

The president cannot read.

–Gabourey Sidibe, “By The Book,” New York Times

Quote of the day: HOPE

June 6, 2017

HOPE

And we know that by fighting, against all odds, we who had nothing, not even our real names, transformed the universe. Our ancestors did this with very little, and we who have more must do the same. This is the joyous destiny of our people—to bury the arc of the moral universe so deep in justice that it will never be undone. But all the fighting in the world will not help us if we do not also hope. What I’m trying to cultivate is not blind optimism but what the philosopher Jonathan Lear calls radical hope. “What makes this hope radical,” Lear writes, “is that it is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Radical hope is not so much something you have but something you practice; it demands flexibility, openness, and what Lear describes as “imaginative excellence.” Radical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible. Only radical hope could have imagined people like us into existence. And I believe that it will help us create a better, more loving future.

–Junot Diaz

From the deep archives: Midnight Oil

June 3, 2017

Robert Gallagher just pointed out a record review I didn’t realize existed on Rolling Stone‘s website — my 1985 review of the Australian band Midnight Oil. I posted it in my online archive, but it’s short so I’ll just run the whole thing here:


Midnight Oil is a politically conscious Australian band whose music combines the postpunk abrasiveness of the Clash and Gang of Four with the Kinks’ music-hall variety and the pure pop of groups like Cheap Trick. Together with the double-barrel guitars of James Moginie and Martin Rotsey and the stunning presence of bald, seven-foot-tall lead singer Peter Garrett, it’s a heady brew. The references to local politics and history that stud the group’s songs and account in large part for its huge appeal down under may seem exotic or puzzling to Americans who don’t know that Kosciusko is the name of the tallest mountain in Australia or who haven’t kept up with the controversial use of shipyards in New Zealand as U.S. missile bases. But the general sense of antimilitarism, support for political prisoners and other forms of humanitarianism comes through even when the specific references are lost. “Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers” broods about the bloodthirst behind boxing matches, and “Who Can Stand in the Way” sarcastically defines the march of progress in a refrain that applies to many other Western countries: “Who can stand in the way when there’s a dollar to be made?”

Well produced by Nick Launay and the band, the album ranges from the exciting hip-hop tape tricks of “When the Generals Talk” to the chiming serenity of “Who Can Stand in the Way,” from songs like “Best of Both Worlds” that practically sound like heavy-metal anthems to odd little ditties (“Bakerman” and “Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond”). Some of the slower songs drag on too long, and Peter Garrett’s voice, with its broad accent and exaggerated enunciation, isn’t quite as striking as his appearance. But it’s terrific to hear a good band that addresses itself exclusively to public concerns. Red Sails in the Sunset, as John Lydon would say, is not a love song.

Culture Vulture: Robert Rauschenberg at MOMA

June 3, 2017

(click photos to enlarge)

Friends from London were visiting so I took them on a stroll through MOMA’s new show “Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends.” We lingered over cappucinos and cookies in the cafe so closing time crept up on us before we’d even gotten halfway through the exhibition. I will go back again and again because few artworks I’ve ever seen in person make me as sick with joy as Rauschenberg’s combines, and this show has a whole bunch of them, some classics and some I’ve never seen before, like “Short Circuit.”

I love that the show revolves around Rauschenberg’s collaborations and friendships with fellow artists because they’re so central to his life as an artist. Check out this great photo he took of a young young Cy Twombly.

I’ve never been a big Jasper Johns fan, but I loved this piece, “Target with Four Faces,” especially knowing that the face is that of the late performance artist Rachel Rosenthal.

And then there’s just the whimsy of this little corner of the men’s restroom.

 

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