Sarah Schulman was recently in Seattle to read from her newest book. I took this book out of the library inspired to read more of her writing. If youSarah Schulman was recently in Seattle to read from her newest book. I took this book out of the library inspired to read more of her writing. If you want to understand gentrification, this book is a definite must read. She reviews how gentrification happens from many angles, including how the AIDS epidemic stripped apartments out of rent stabiliation and made neighborhoods change radically. She lives on the Lower East Side, so has first hand experience. She knew many who died of AIDS and this is a living document that takes a close look at the queer community history.
Audre Lorde told her, "That you can't fight City Hall, is a rumor being spread by City Hall." She quotes Bertold Brecht, "As crimes pile up, they become invisible." And she has a chapter on literature where she stood in court to defend ther right of literature books by John Preston, a gay man writing from inside the BDSM community, to be shipped into Canada, she did not succeed. The gay bookstore she was working with to support also collapsed, as did many women's bookstores of that time.
Though all this she lays out what the gentrification of gay politics, since Reagan was president in 1980 has meant: "Dumbing down of American culture; Amerian ignorance of and alienation from the rest of the world accompanied by the narrowing of discourse; the homogenization on public conversation; the stupidity of American entertainmemt; and the gathering of power into fewer and fewer hands." She continues, it is, "hard to retain independent consciousness when being bombarded by reactionary culture." And, there is a "decline of revolutionary thinking." Also, "Homosexuality loses its own transformative potential and strives instead to be banal."
Consider reading this book to see the broad impact of so many losses of live that have still not been recognized by our government. Near the beginning she points out over 570,000 deaths occurred while nothing was said by our leaders or done, yet from 9/11 when just over 3,000 were killed in the 9/11 attack, we have a memorial, we have funds to help the victims families. She is making a call for public acknowledgement. Why isn't the AIDS epidemic or ACT UP actions taught as part of American history....more
I went to hear David France read the night before the official release of his book; I had seen the film (same name) that premeired in 2012. He wrote tI went to hear David France read the night before the official release of his book; I had seen the film (same name) that premeired in 2012. He wrote this book to capture the history of ACT UP, which started in NYC, and to make corrections to the cannon of AIDS history. Especially since early documentation of the epidemic, such as The Band Played On, was focused on San Francisco and contained some faulty information (an example is patient zero, which has since been disproven).
This is a necessary book. Given our political situation, we have a lot to learn from ACT UP about how to mobilize for social justice and system change. David France is a journalist who covered HIV/AIDS from the early years when rumors were spreading about the gay cancer, called GRID, when hospitals were full, there was no unified approach to find treatments, and there was only one medication that being prescribed at too high a dose while deaths were spiraling. He knew many of the leaders in ACT UP and was on the front lines. This is an important piece of our history that is so well written, you will not want to put it down. ...more
I listened to the author read his book on a car trip (library had it on CD). It is a powerful letter to his son about race in America. Beautifully wriI listened to the author read his book on a car trip (library had it on CD). It is a powerful letter to his son about race in America. Beautifully written and extremely moving....more
Anne Truitt has three books of her journal writing, this one I read second, after reading her third book. I like the simple format she uses in this boAnne Truitt has three books of her journal writing, this one I read second, after reading her third book. I like the simple format she uses in this book, it is organized by date. She spends time reflecting on her relationship with her children, in particular I appreciated this thought, "The increasing independence of the child has to be met and matched by an increasing independence of the parent. I have found no other way to render this separation healthy for all of us. And it has seemed to me that, since I am the parent, the burden of foresight and consideration lies squarely on my heart and intellegence."
Some other ideas that caught my attention: "Rationalization is a form of desperation. It takes kindness to fogive oneself for one's life." "Self-castigation is, like doing the right thing for the wrong reason, the most tempting of self-betrayals."
She reflects about art, "It is ultimately character that underwrites art. The quality of art can only reflect the quality and range of a person's sensitivity, intellect, perception, and experience. If I find an artist homing in on himself or herself, I bring maximum warmth to bear, knowing full well that the process is painful and lonely, as it is, susceptible to encouragement."
And to the question, Where does art come from? from what part of the mind?, she says, "I answered that I did not know but thought it possible to put one's self in the way of art much in the same way that cloistered devotees place themselves in the way of religious experience. Art comes, if we are blessed with what Jack Tworkov called a "little touch of grace," into the highest part of the mind, that with which we can know the presence of God. But we have to pay attention to that area in order to notice the grace, or even perhaps to attract it."
"The degree to which people are aware is the most handy yardstick for seeing where they stand. How closely have they held onto their capacity to know directly and in their own particular way? To what degree have they eschewed the preconception of social conditioning."