Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Angelica Garnett, by her father, Duncan Grant, 1940.

Angelica Bell, by her mother, Vanessa Bell.

Angelica Garnett, 2010.

Princess of Bloomsbury, its last eyewitness.

Born Christmas Day at Charleston, the country house nexus of the early 20th century modernists and their influential, socialist Omega Workshops decorating style. Third generation atheist and Bohemian. The beloved one scion of many non-breeders. Niece of Virginia Woolf. Keynes used to throw bath salts in her tub as a child and later tried to warn her off marrying her father’s lover. Keynes had been her father’s lover too. They never told her until it was too late.

She won a prize for her memoir, Deceived with Kindness. Her niece, named after Virginia,  wrote the best book on how hipster libertarians cheat their children.

Angelica Bell and her aunt, Virginia Woolf.

I’ve been on this regime since October 2010. In Buddhist or cognitive therapy terms, it is thought-switching. Two gigantic miracles have taken place, not explicitly the ones I was asserting, but ones which substantially changed my life for the better.

Lately, in what can only be described as decathexis, an almost photographic recall of my entire life has passed before my eyes, including some very bad days. I seem to have been dreaming about that last night.

And I woke up this morning sad but certain that it is part of the answer to my prayer, of release from all the obstacles of bitterness so my forgiveness work can continue. I’ve been working on it for 15 years, and had an epiphany, regarding my worst enemy, Nemesis, the other day. Seeing him, rather than not seeing him, is the forgiveness work.

One of the great liberating ideas in forgiveness work is that you don’t have to like, or hang out with, or step up for more injury, from the people you have forgiven. I think that’s Forgiveness 202. Forgiveness 301, is, they cannot injure you. Forgiveness 401 is this, which I am still struggling with.

Forgiveness is important. My one criterion in all the spiritual trudging I’ve done in the last 25 years is what’s in this for me? I’m not here to be good, it’s way too late for that. I’m not here to be respectable, because respectable kills. After several years of asking that question, Emmet Fox answered: If your prayers are not being answered, search your consciousness and see if there is not someone whom you have yet to forgive.
— Fox, “The Lord’s Prayer”, Power Through Constructive Thinking

Fox’s little essay on Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us may be his greatest work. Very much in the Fox tradition of a.) you don’t need clean hands to ask to borrow the soap and b.) either God means what he says, or he doesn’t: ie., forgiveness is the vestibule of heaven. You can’t chose. Sometimes I think atheists are the people for whom resentment is form-conferring. I’m willing to die so I can be angry at Nemesis.

My two other great experiential spiritual insights in this long jornada, were basically Hindu, I think. Although I’m also a big old Jew, on account of the pine coffin in the ground within 24 hours thing. Dayenu. And a Baptist. When nothing else can move me, a little touch of The Swan Silvertones’ Saviour Pass Me Not or Hezekiah Walker’s Faithful Is Our God can turn this stone into a human being again.

My Hindu insights took place in the early 1990s. They were, as bad as what this person has done to me is — it was a rip-off by a trusted mentor —  it has not harmed the real me, as far away as that real me is. It has to do with this passage from the Bhagavad Gita:

I say to thee weapons reach not the Life;
Flame burns it not, waters cannot o’erwhelm,
Nor dry winds wither it. Impenetrable,
Unentered, unassailed, unharmed, untouched,
Immortal, all-arriving, stable, sure,
Invisible, ineffable, by word
And thought uncompassed, ever all itself,
Thus is the Soul declared! How wilt thou, then,—
Knowing it so,—grieve when thou shouldst not grieve?

— Edwin Arnold, Song Celestial

The other was a deep sense that this is all a dream, in the sense that the material world is only conformed to my vision. It’s a sad insight, in a way, but the prize is a glimpse of the eternal goodness — chi, if you like — that everything is made of, and the world of spirits who love us and are here, just beyond my mortal power to see them. If they forgive me, and I forgive them, we can get to a very good place.

Krishna takes the reins of Arjuna’s war chariot, Bhagavad Gita.

Thursdays are always a big day in the journalism world. It is the day of the week when the femme edition of the New York Times comes out, with both Styles and Home sections full of ads for weekend shoppers.

I started out in life writing for one of the so-called soft news sections of a great metropolitan daily newspaper. Not only was it not soft news, it was the only way to cover what was happening, the only real news written in the hard-fought style of the New Journalism. Tracking the permutations of the so-called soft news sections of the newspaper since the halcyon days when we invented rock ‘n’ roll, ended racial ‘n’ sexual discrimination ‘n’ The War, and invented the dear departed New Journalism, is the way of the ice floe.

Roz Russell and Cary Grant face off as reporters, His Girl Friday, 1940.

Oddly enough, I’ve been a fan of the derriere garde ladymags all these years, and when the Times femme section editors decide to be exciting and cover something New, like how to talk to your children about internet porn,  in the way of Home or Styles, something butch, like — I can’t remember the specific piece that made my heart sink recently. It wasn’t DIY wi-fi installation, wiring, real estate resale, asphalting your own driveway — all those things are femme these days, with my beloved house blogger chicks each and all wielding big bad power tools with enviable Born This Way girly muscles. Watching Ana White measure out roof trusses for the duplex she is building for her mother and mother-in-law, in Alaska, people, gives me the same thrill I felt forty years ago, first reading the famous Click essay by Jane O’Reilly in the incendiary, premier Ms. preview insert of New York magazine. Click. Yeah, I’m a feminist. You are too.

The NYT Home story that made my heart sink would have been in the soul-murdering R.W. Apple tradition of the Grey Lady, when she gets one of her very fast writers to churn out 5,000 words on such a re-re-rendering of received wisdom squeezed from a 500-year-old turnip, that you wonder if they’d know what news is if it bit them on the big grey booty. And there are real news stories out there in the Home and Styles world — how the one per cent live: techno MacMansions, the brutalist masculinist Playboy philosophy homes of the software moguls at the top of the Home list, and — well, there’s a million story ideas for Styles. Blatant elbows-out plagiarism among the MILF-porn house blogger bitches seeking monetization, for one thing.(What’s up with Heather Armstrong? Penelope Trunk? Yipes.) That whole suburban MILF-porn tube-top-‘n’-chandelier-earrings-SUV-devil-spawn-train-wreck phenom that kept my eyes glued to the nanny shows. Cheese with that? Yes, please.

Why it is I still look forward to the Thursday femme edition when it so seldom delivers news I’m far ahead of them on can only be attributed to nosiness. Glimpses of what other people are doing with their houses — the guy and his girlfriend with separate Caribbean Boho bungalows on a small tropical property, ohhh! — is pretty much all I care about, and it extends to Katherine Boo’s shacks in the Mumbai slum of Annawadi. How do you build and decorate one? All us survivalists, headed into 40 years of old age with no Social Security, need to know.

So today I open the femme edition. On page one, there’s a mysterious non-story about what didn’t happen when the Chinese dissident was forced out? — of the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

There was, as the lede of the Home section, a tour of the White House. Been there, done that. How about an interview with Michele’s mother, who didn’t want to move in because it was a museum? How did she deal? How about a story on the massive bunker/”Visitor Center”/green zone that has been built around the White House and under the Washington Monument since 9/11? In what way would the billions spent ward off either an airplane attack — was the Pennsylvania plane really headed for the White House? — or a handheld missile launcher attack by a pedestrian on 16th Street? You can buy one with your credit card in Alexandria. For realz. That’s a nice Home Land Security story, the closing by George W. Bush of the White House and Pennsylvania Avenue to the public. Where is it?

In Styles, a completely unreadable story by the wonderful Guy Trebay flogging something nobody gives a spit about — another ratfark art show, billed as possibly New York’s version of Art Basel Miami Beach. My eyes glaze over. Cover the cruising story, yes. The predatory collecting habits of the one per cent — the world-record shattering $120 million for a bad version of “The Scream”? — yes. The ratfark? The art? Is not the story. Sorry, Guy. It feels like the sports reporters who won’t cover the NFL brain injury/Junior Seau story. They fear, by covering the cruising/collecting stories, losing their access.

Give me Ana White and her pink power drill any day. And git ‘er done.

OK, as the only other real drag hag  I know is 10 years old, and her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent are all used up going to grade school rather than alternative drag dives, I have to ask all you drinking age scenesters this.

RuPaul’s Drag Race is, as you all know, the gender performativity news frontier. Last season a mature drag queen (thirty-something Raja) who had grown up a club kid, and dressed, magnificently, I may add, in a globalized mashup of glam ’90s club wear, won. (Pace, all you idiots droning on about inappropriate cultural appropriation of Other Peoples’ Clothes. We’re born naked, as Ru says. After that it’s all drag.)

You understand that drag goes through permutations. In the 1990 drag documentary Paris Is Burning, now streaming on Netflix, Dorian Corey explains some of them. Las Vegas showgirls would be a persisting old school one (clinging on among the Latinos, it would seem*) — or as Sharon Needles puts it, the paycheck drag vs. the dignity drag — or realness, such that you can pass for a girl walking your little brother to school, or a boy applying for a job. Realness was another criterion that the drag balls of the ’80s tested for.

So now Sharon Needles who is 30 — and calls herself a sex clown rather more than a drag queen — is talking about drag for queens younger than she:

“I think that’s what this season embodied: It might not be TV drag, it might not be supermodel drag, it might not be young, couture, fishy drag, but this is what drag is in America.”

So would this “young, couture fishy drag” be the couture kind Dorian Corey talks about in PIB, where you don’t sew your own feathered, sequinned, stoned creations but merely…acquire or boost designer girls’ clothes? Sort of Kanye-West-in-Paris drag?

I am very interested in Sharon Needles’ zombie/Star Wars/Olivia Butler/post-gender apocalypto drag. You should be too. I think it has something to do with the iteration of Granny Chic we’ve been looking at. I mean, the tentacles in Ep. 13 just about killed me. I need some.

sharon needles tentacles


*Huge props to RuPaul, who is a genius, for hiring for Season 4 finals, and naming as Professor of Drag the immortal Coochie One, in the honorable tradition that a respectable woman is bien pintadita, Charo. I fell out.

Charo translates for Kenya, Ep. 14, Season 4, RuPaul’s Drag Race

James and Rupert Murdoch testify before the parliamentary investigative committee July 2011.

So the House of Commons seems to have issued a bloviated report on the Murdochs, with six Labour/Lib Dems voting for it and five Tories against it, saying James and Rupert misled the phone-hacking investigations, led a coverup, and are not fit to manage a large corp.

“On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee,” the report said in one passage, “we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.”

“This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organization and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International,” its British newspaper subsidiary.

“We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company,” the report said.

Forgive me, but that’s just stupid. A good coverup is the very hallmark of a well-run organization. Get over it.

I think the House of Commons has blown an opportunity to strike a major hit against the destabilizing, anti-democratic journalism values and business practices of the Murdochs by not holding their tongues. Of real value would have been a careful parsing of the evidence the Murdochs have already given.

My sense is that by saying Murdoch is not fit to run a business, the Labour/Lib Dems are trying to head off the acquisition of the majority of the shares of a pay TV company the Murdochs have been working toward. You have to be a fit and proper business person in the UK to get the broadcast license. The problem with this bloviation aspect is that the broadcast license agency, Ofcom, is already investigating the Murdochs’ fitness and propriety on the pay TV acquisition. The cabinet secretary in charge of this is in deep fucking trouble for expediting the Murdochs’ acquistion of this pay TV company. The whip smart Tory chick has it right:

Louise Mensch, a Conservative member of the panel, said the division had come about because of “the line in the middle of the report that said that Mr. Rupert Murdoch was not a fit person to run an international company.”

“We all thought that was wildly outside the scope of a select committee” and “was an improper attempt to influence” Ofcom, the British media regulator, which is already investigating whether News Corporation is “fit and proper” to hold a broadcast license.

In other words, the House of Commons Labour/Lib Dems have squandered credibility with inflated and spurious charges, voted upon with an even split down party lines, piling on in a battle others like Ofcom, the broadcast license agency, are much more qualified to fight. I think they’ve also taken the criminal heat off Hinton and Myler, who lied like rugs and are now here running things in the US. As well as coverup lawyer Crone and the unbelievable layers of bribe-taking corrupt Scotland Yard detectives and police officials around the country. If the Murdochs are not fit and proper on account of the phone-hacking coverup, what will be left to say when the police bribery cases are investigated?

That’s not exactly what I mean.

If the House of Commons is going to bloviate on the phone-hacking, which is extremely heinous, nobody’s going to give a shit about what they have to say about suborning the law of the land with money, which is treason. Very very heinous.

A thousand times more effective would have been a unanimously-approved immaculate bipartisan report in the form of a legal decision, or if not unanimous, with an honorable dissent appended.

Hopefully the Leveson special inquiry into this will finger the actual crimes and those who committed them.

I’m not articulating this very well, but the politicization of the charges against the Murdochs, which are extremely serious, makes them far easier to dismiss.The Labour/Lib Dems have lost any chance they may have had of getting rid of the cabinet minister who expedited the pay TV deal by doing this. And that is one guilty mamma jamma who should go, and go to prison.

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