Archive for the 'media' Category

Media: PARTY IN THE BARDO with Laurie Anderson

August 30, 2020

I met Laurie Anderson in the fall of 1980, when I interviewed her for a cover story in the Soho News after I was blown away by Part 2 of her work-in-progress magnum opus United States, which she performed for a week at the Orpheum Theater on Second Avenue. When the entire cycle had its premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, I interviewed her again for the New York Times Magazine. Over the years, I would run into her and we would have meals and take walks together — in Paris, in Minneapolis, in San Francisco, and on the home front in New York City. It’s been a treat to build a friendship with someone whose wide-ranging work has thrilled me for decades — her albums, her shows, her films, her books, her collaborations. So it was a special honor when she invited me to be a guest on “Party in the Bardo,” the biweekly radio show she’s been producing during the pandemic for the Wesleyan University campus radio station WESU-FM. We spent two hours playing music, reading poems, and talking about life. The show premieres at 4am on a Friday morning, and it’s archived on the station’s website. You can also listen to it on Soundcloud. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

MEDIA: the week in magazines

October 22, 2018
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had an unusually stimulating week reading magazines.
New York magazine’s current issue focuses on “Powerful Women Talk About Power (and Powerlessness).” I learned amazing things reading about Lena Waite, the three women who founded Black Lives Matter (Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opel Tometi), Samantha Bee, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Gabrielle Hamilton, Amanda “Binky” Urban, Lilly Ledbetter, Hanya Yanagihara, Jenny Holzer, Drew Gilpin Faust, and others.
Among the New York Times’s T Magazine’s half dozen profiles of Great Artists, I became engrossed reading about Alessandro Michele and Solange, but I was even more fascinated to learn from Tom Delavan’s article “An Affair to Remember” about the important romance between Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly.
I don’t really care one way or the other about Melissa McCarthy but I now avidly look forward to anything by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who profiled McCarthy for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Brodesser-Akner has a sassy voice that you could call original if it didn’t so closely approximate what Libby Gelman-Waxner would sound like writing feature articles about movie stars rather than movie reviews.
And the New Yorker’s Money Issue drew me into one long article after another about Sinclair News (yikes!), Rent the Runway, Google’s legal battles with former star developer Anthony Levandowski, and cryptocurrency (a subject I thought I’d had enough of until Nick Paumgarten hipped me to the name Vitalik Buterin), along with critical essays on Norwegian novelist Dag Solstad and Swedish artist/mystic Hilma af Klint.
Okay, I’m going to take a little nap now…

Media: “James Broughton Gave Me a Pearl Necklace” in RFD

September 29, 2013

The latest issue of RFD, the reader-written journal of the Radical Faerie community, is devoted to the late great poet and filmmaker James Broughton, the subject of recent documentary film by Stephen Silha and Eric Slade called BIG JOY. When I was younger and had a lot more hair, I had the pleasure of meeting Broughton in 1991 at the Gay Spirit Visions conference in North Carolina, and my brief remembrance of that occasion appears in RFD and below:

Joel Silver, James Broughton, and Don Shewey

Joel Singer, James Broughton, and Don Shewey


I met James Broughton in September, 1991, when he graced the second annual Gay Spirit Visions conference in North Carolina as keynote speaker. Before that event, I knew he was a poet – his pithy, often humorous, often lightweight verses led some to consider him the contemporary gay incarnation of Rumi – and somehow I had absorbed the information that he had been married once upon a time to the legendary film critic Pauline Kael, of all people. But only in person did the full force of Broughton emerge.

He was elderly then, 77 and snowy-haired, a little frail but in pretty good health and attended by his loving companion Joel Singer. He was friendly and approachable, though of course he was also a showman. He knew how to attract and hold an audience, not so much by being loud and ostentatious but by radiating an amused intimacy and the elfin twinkle of someone who has marinated his epiphanies in joy rather than solemnity. He wore the mask of an airy-fairy gentle sprite, but when he opened his mouth to speak the hardcore metaphysical prankster revealed himself. Joseph Kramer, the visionary founder of the Body Electric School, also attended the conference as a guest speaker, and I vividly recall his rapturous attention as Broughton held forth on what he called “The Holy Trinity” – the phallus, the anus, and the perineum. Raven Wolfdancer, a beloved Atlanta faerie (later murdered on his doorstep by an unknown intruder, but that’s another story), introduced Broughton to the conference as “my bliss mentor, my ecstasy mentor. He taught me to parade my peculiar.”

For his keynote address, Broughton delivered a talk he had apparently given more than once, alternately titled “The Sexual Holiness of Men” and “The Sexuality of Spirit.” It was a kind of sermon, a dharma talk, a benediction dense with the distilled wisdom of a lifetime. You can find the verbatim text online, but in my diary I took notes, and looking at them now they contain one jewel after another. I realize that in the hour he was speaking I became a disciple, because the sentences that leapt out at me have stuck with me ever since.

Since this is a spiritual conference, I begin with a blessing: Hail Mary, quite contrary…

I’m a poet – do not expect reasoned argument.

I take my text from Novalis: “There is only one temple in the world, and that is the human body.” And the only proper activity in a temple is worship.

Churches exist to make you feel miserable.

Buddha is down on desire. Broughton is very up on desire.

Your brains have been washed with the detergent of guilt too long.

The penis is the exposed tip of the heart, the wand of the soul.

I was born to love my own kind, not compete with or acquire them.

Most communication is made of sneers and complaints. One of my mottoes is “Reach, touch, connect.”

At the baths, each cock was a bead in my rosary. Sexual loving is the true practice of religion. Put lovemaking before moneymaking and troublemaking. Teach it in schools. Holding hands, okay. Hug, yes, but with your whole body. I would add kissing. Practice this lifesaving on your neighbors. Love the living as much as the dying.

Stop thinking of yourselves as outcasts. You are meridians, raising consciousness, not babies. You can be and not beget. You may be outside of society’s mainstream but in the mainstream of wisdom.

I’d rather be kissed than stamped with approval.

Media: podcast of my radio interview about Habitat for Humanity, community service, and the spiritual benefits of generosity

February 21, 2013

“Generosity is the source of wealth.”   — Tibetan proverb

Last fall, I spent a couple of weeks in Brazil to participate in a program with Habitat for Humanity, the non-governmental agency that builds houses in poor communities. It was a big adventure for me that I’ve written about elsewhere.

10-19 habitat posse
Recently, my friend Harry Faddis invited me to appear on his radio show, “The Quest of Life” (broadcast live on WRPI-FM in Albany, NY, and streamed live online), to talk about Habitat for Humanity, community service, and the spiritual benefits of generosity. My segment is available as a podcast online here.

quest of life logo

Check it out and tell me what you think.

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