Friday, July 07, 2006

Georgia bans + Hanifah Walidah + Lloyd Richards + Reading Update

Supreme Court of Georgia reinstates ban on gay marriage (of all the things to have in common with NY State)
So much for Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum, "Let justice be done, thought the heavens may fall," the motto of the State Supreme Court which had been given until August 7th, by Governor Perdue to review and rule on this case. As four of the justices are up for re-election it's not surprising that they made their decision considerably earlier and reinstated the ban on gay marriage. The ban had been overturned based on the "single-subject rule" as the constitutional amendment the voters read on their ballots only listed the gay marriage ban, but there was also another unlisted part of the amendment dealing with "nonsanctified unions". The justices ruled that citizens knew what they were voting on despite the missing listing. It seems to me that this is an incorrect reading of the law. The single subject rule is pretty clear and a new amendment (or two new amendments) should have been drawn up for voters to consider this Fall. The relevant issue is not that the voters meant to ban gay marriage, the relevancy is that they may not have intended to ban "nonsanctified unions" which is the whole point of having "single subject rule" in the first place, to avoid that nasty Congressional habit of tacking abhorent amendments onto truly civic minded ones just to insure the former's passage. Of course there's nothing civic-minded about either of these amendments.

Hanifah Walidah's "Make A Move" music video
On to something life affirming, fun and definitely civic minded. The multi-talented NYC artist (MC, music producer, playwright, actor, videomaker) Hanifah Walidah has completed her music video showing multiple generations of queers of African descent house parties (that important act of cultural, life affirming, community philanthropy) with all their love, drama, flirting, spirituality, and "girl, she put her foot in it, didn't she!" good food.

••The tagline: 30 Women and Trans Folks of Color, 1 House, 2 Days and The Music••
I love Walidah's voice which is a mixture of Grace Jones with some Alberta Hunter happy-to-be-alive with sultry tongue-in-cheek delivery, plus some other textures I'm still identifying. If you want to see the video check out Walidah's Sucka For Life website, or you can watch it on You Tube.

Lloyd Richards 1919 - 2006
I was most sad to hear that legendary theater director and educator Lloyd Richards (pictured right in his Academy of Achievement web page) had passed, but grateful for all he has given American theater. Noted documentary filmmaker St. Claire Bourne has an interview with Richards from Bourne's 1999 documentary, Paul Robeson: Here I Stand! , on his blog, Chamba Notes.

Reading Update: The Line of Beauty, Annotations...
Well, I'm still reading those performance scholars and not quite ready to post all that here. Although on the six-degrees of separation tip I noted that Tavia Nyong'o was a production assistant on Walidah's music video. I have just finished reading Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, winner of the Booker Prize. Deservedly so, as this deceptively simple tale of a young man of relatively humble origins being taken in by scions of culture and power in Thatcher-era Britain is a complexly layered tale about superficiality, the painted lily as it were. The notion of gilt is everywhere in this novel yet it never feels dogmatic. In fact the protaganist of the novel Nick Guest (what a great name, so obvious, but the details of it keep unfolding throughout the novel), is rife with contradictions, simultaneously naive/innocent, insightful/sophisticated and duplicitous, earnest and ingratiating, humble and ambitious, a resolutely "out" gay man who nevertheless ubiquitously practices "covering." A knowledgable and committed Henry James scholar with a love of beauty, Guest is all about the gilt--he can quote James at length and has a highly developed aesthetic sensibility and yet seems to have only strived to understand the James that suits him and the first layer of anyone or any object's beauty. He's fascinating because of the joy he experiences knowingly living a Jamesian narrative but resolutely blind to its actualities and consequences. All these seeming oppostional characteristics make him both an unreliable and often unlikeable narrator, and yet at times they also make him a terribly perceptive and believable window into the world of an upper class, conservative MP and his well-veneered, troubled family. The book is remarkably cinematic, at times Hollinghurst has the habit of moving us seemlessly between Guest's p.o.v., close third person, and someone else's p.o.v.; because of the author's skill it works like a camera expertly pulling focus on an alternately widening and narrowing shot. All of that is to say that I liked it very much.

I started reading John Keene's Annotations as I was ending The Line of Beauty. I had previously read, Seismosis, his collaboration with visual artist Christopher Stackhouse, and found myself literally paused as I was reading. Annotations is rich, dense work combining the forms of poetry, memoir, fiction, and critical theory to create an impressionistic rendering of his African American St. Louis childhood and adolescence. I am compelled to re-read paragraphs and lines wondering at the language and rhythm. This really is a book to be savored, much like Armor and Flesh, the poetry collection by poet and digital artist Mendi Lewis Obadike, 2004 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, which I am reading very, very, slowly. With the very first poem Obadike busted my jaw open, my mandible dropped down and I just had to howl; she moved me to the bone. Both Keene and Lewis Obadike are Cave Canem alum, and even though I'm not really a poet, their respective ways with the word makes me want to apply ten times in hopes of getting in! With writers who take great pleasure in language, rhythm, and texture you have to have the serious willingness to find out how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll pop center, so you get to really enjoy the read: a-one, a-two, a-three, a-four, a-five, etc... (don't be a Mr.Owl, ya'll...)


At 7:39 AM, Blogger Mendi O. said...

Thanks for blogging Armor + Flesh, MR, and everything else. I'm really enjoying reading in here.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger John K said...

Thanks also for citing Annotations, and I have to ask, did you see the little (chapbook?) version of Seismosis or the full version (which is on its way very soon)? You know I got to echo MLO in my enjoyment of this this mindspace!

At 5:18 AM, Anonymous audiologo said...

Mendi: you're welcome, I hope to get to talk to you about Armor and Flesh at some point. And thanks for your words about my blog.

John: I did see the little version of Seismosis. I look forward to seeing the full version when it comes out. Thanks for your appreciative echo.

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