Category Archives: American culture

RIP Agnès Varda (1928 – 2019)

Agnès Varda was a Belgian-born French film director.

Her films were popular among critics and directors, giving her the status of a cult director.

This is perhaps not the best of times to rid the world of a minor misconception regarding the work of Varda, but it is what I must do after researching her oeuvre following her death.

Agnès Varda made one film about the Black Panther Party, just one. That film was Black Panthers (1968), a color film which can be viewed in its entirety at Archive.org[1].

Another film from that same year is called Huey! and is directed by a certain Sally Pugh. It can be seen in full on YouTube [below] and has nothing to do with Varda, although the general subject matter as well as some scenes overlap.

RIP Jerry González (1949 – 2018)

Also dead is Jerry González (1949 – 2018) an American bandleader and trumpeter, known for his work with Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino, a band which only made two albums, both released on disco label Salsoul Records.

I give you “Anabacoa“, a track composed in 1949 but rendered here by Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino in 1975 which was featured on the compilation album Nu Yorica!.

RIP Aretha Franklin (1942 – 2018)

Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter and musician.

Songs such as “Respect“, “Think“, “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” and “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” have earned her the label of a feminist singer (if there is such a thing), see black feminismAmerican feminism.

P.S. The ultimate feminist anthem is “Think (About It)” (1972) by Lyn Collins.

Grotesque photography

The Grotesque in Photography. Coleman, A. D. Summit Books, 1977.

The Grotesque in Photography. Coleman, A. D. Summit Books, 1977.

The death of Fakir Musafar led me to A. D. Coleman‘s study of the grotesque in photography.

How?

Like this: Charles Gatewood directed Fakir Musafar’s Dances Sacred and Profane, Gatewood also wrote Sidetripping (1975) which was praised by Coleman, which led me to Coleman’s book The Grotesque in Photography (above).

The grotesque is one of my favourite sensibilities.

I’d like to own this book. Can anyone tell me which photo is on the cover?

Why I like the rhetoric of censors so much

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (1981) is one of the best anti-pornography documents around, better than Perversion for Profit (1965).

I found Not a Love Story while researching my paper and being sidetracked into feminist antiporn rhetoric.

The most blatant variety of this rhetoric is the part where they say that pornography leads to rape, first expressed by Robin Morgan in 1974 when she said “pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice“.

Recent feminists such as Anne W. Eaton have toned down their statements from the once virulent rhetoric of women such as Robin Morgan, but Rae Langton, a well respected source in the current debate, still references Ed Donnerstein in “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts“, her much-cited paper of 1993.

Researching Ed Donnerstein brought this film to my attention. He is interviewed on the effects of violent porn.

New to me was a soundbite uttered by Robin Morgan who states that “the first things that the Nazis did when they moved into Poland was to engineer a huge proliferation of pornography.”

The statement baffled me and I knew right away that I would not be able to find whether this was true or not, the only thing I could hope to discover is who first spread this piece of information.

After some googling I found this information cited in Take Back the Night (1980) by Laura Lederer. Some more googling and I discovered that it can be pinpointed to Pamela Hansford Johnson’s statement “when the Nazis took on the government of Poland, they flooded the Polish bookstalls with pornography” recorded in On Iniquity (1967), an attack on permissive society occasioned by the Moors murders.

I’ve previously mentioned why I like the rhetoric of censors so much but must write more about it, see in praise of censorship. This documentary is up here in its entirety but for how long considering the amount of explicit imagery?

PS 1. There is another explicit video on censorship, which has escaped the YouTube censor, I’ve written on it here and the video is still there.

PS 2. If you know where Pamela Hansford Johnson got her info from, I’d love to hear from you.

RIP Cecil Taylor (1929 – 2018)

Cecil Taylor was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as “eighty-eight tuned drums” (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as “like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings”.

His composition Indent (1973) is on Thurston Moore’s Top Ten Free Jazz Underground (1995).

RIP Austryn Wainhouse (1927 – 2014)

I only now became aware that Austryn Wainhouse (1927 – 2014) passed away. He was best-known for translating the work of Marquis de Sade and the novel Story of O.

It is of course the work of Marquis de Sade that interests us here. It so happens that one of the translations of Wainhouse, Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings is freely available online. And the most interesting item in that collection is “Yet Another Effort“, perhaps the first piece of writing anyone who wishes to acquaint himself with de Sade should read.

Here is that link[1].