‘Without thinking you were alive again’ — A World AIDS Day poem

An elegist of concision, Mark Doty came of age poetically as a generation realized HIV/AIDS would not permit them the free hand their forefathers had enjoyed. His 1996 memoir Heaven’s Coast, a ruthless accounting of a lover’s decline and fall, remains one of the decade’s best. I’ve dipped into his poetry once in a while;Continue reading “‘Without thinking you were alive again’ — A World AIDS Day poem”

Art’s in pop culture, in me: The best of Lady Gaga

Remember those turn-of-the decade articles about Lady Gaga as an artist of singular recombinant power? She was supposed to be that generation’s Madonna. I didn’t hear it — not in her uneven albums or increasingly blah singles, which sported hooks and a sense of themselves as events without establishing themselves as usurpers. Nevertheless, she ownedContinue reading “Art’s in pop culture, in me: The best of Lady Gaga”

I’ll do such things to ease your pain: The best songs about crushes

“You feel a little sick,” noted semiologist Neil Tennant observed abut crushes. Before the kiss — should the kiss happen — the rush. Pop songs put flesh on our feelings; they make sense of surges and anxieties. I can think of few lines more beautiful in their simple truth than Debbie Harry’s “Your hair isContinue reading “I’ll do such things to ease your pain: The best songs about crushes”

October Reading

Creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky. Meet the Mann family, comprising patriarch Thomas, wife Katia, and their six children. Most of those children were talented enough to earn Wikipedia pages. Klaus and Erika, the eldest, were homosexual; the former intentionally overdosed on sleeping pills, the latter married W.H. Auden, also inContinue reading “October Reading”

‘The Velvet Underground’ is good, does what it should, alas

Warm, literate, and unexpectedly puckish, Jonathan Richman looks like a youngish older man or an aging younger one. In the late sixties he got the best education in rock guitar playing a fan could’ve had: he went to every Velvet Underground concert he could. “These people would understand me!” he says in a gosh-darn toneContinue reading “‘The Velvet Underground’ is good, does what it should, alas”

September reading

Why I spent a week with two books about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath my readers will need to ask on my deathbed. I admire Ariel as much as anyone, am mightily sick of Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, and the rest of Plath’s death-haunted generation, and don’t much cop to HughesContinue reading “September reading”

Screenings #52

Capping a period of experiments as Martin Scorsese’s house screenwriter and as director of several films with one foot in the work of influences Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson and another in the visual lexicon of fashion, Paul Schrader turned to the work of a Japanese writer whose polymathic sensibilities included a taste for sadomasochisticContinue reading “Screenings #52”

Reckoning with E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’

Reviewing E.M. Forster’s much-fussed-over posthumous novel, the first by a major literary personage of his generation to write explicitly about homosexual love, I wrote: “Tougher than I remembered, E.M. Forster’s Maurice treats its titular hero with some measure of objectivity; this burgher-in-training isn’t a proxy for the novelist. Nor is the book a mooncalf’s swoonContinue reading “Reckoning with E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’”

Screwing my courage: Pride ’21

In suburban Miami the mockingbirds don’t wait until sunrise to chirp. When the remains of the thick night air linger between 5:30 and 6 a.m., the blasted things are trilling in palm and olive trees, addled. On the rare occasions I skip my morning walks I’m listless and cranky. In this respect nothing has changedContinue reading “Screwing my courage: Pride ’21”