22 February 2015

Movie Review: To Russia with Love

Because Johnny Weir headlines this documentary, I was somewhat suspicious that this was a marketing piece for Johnny Weir, who was a sports commentator for NBC at the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Leading up to the Olympics, Russia passed a law prohibiting the communicating of anything LGBT called an 'anti-propoganda' law. Various LGBT movements around the world responded by demanding a boycott of Russian (and at first Eastern European) products and a boycott of the Olympics. Johnny Weir as a Russophile/Sovietphile called those LGBT activists "idiots."

The short of it is is that Russia is presently a fascist-imperialist state that has used LGBT people as the Othered common enemy (hence the "anti-propaganda law"). The official fascist line is that the economic problems of Russia are not incompetent cronyism of Putin and his inner circle, it's LGBT people infecting the youth with subversion. This translates in the remote and rural areas of the provinces, as one Russian activist from Sochi, who was followed by the documentary explains, being attacked by Nazis on the way home every day and then blamed for it by the principal of his high school.

So Johnny Weir is one thread, the youth is another. This youth meets Billy Jean King -- who US President Obama had appointed to lead the US Olympic delegation. She is so moved and it was so unexpected that her handlers had to "move her along."

One other thread is a Russian athlete who holds the "Open Games" in Moscow. He tours North America and Europe drumming up support. After the Sochi threads, we turn to Moscow where the police harass the Open Games activities except for table tennis and the events attended by US Olympic medalist Gregg Louganis.

In the end, the Sochi youth makes it to New York City and meets Bill Jean King again who promises to help him by sending him to school in the US. The movie ends with him boarding a bus to California and it cuts to a black out and it says he will seek asylum.

19 February 2015

Happy Lunar New Year! Tashi Delek

May a rich timely rain of the nectar of auspicious blessings shower upon you hundreds of times,

Enlivening the leaves and petals of your longevity, merit, glory, and wealth, which sprout from the seeds of virtuous acts, source of happiness and excellence.

May magnificent fruit—spiritual experience and realization—ripen as a spontaneously appearing crop that fulfills your and others’ well-being.

16 February 2015

Book Review: Queer Compulsions

Amy Sueyoshi is associate Dean in the College of Ethic Studies and an American associate professor jointly appointed in race and residence studies and sexuality studies at San Francisco State University.

I have to admit that I had a vague remembrance of the name Isamu Noguchi, the creator of the Noguchi table. But I had never heard of Yonejiro Noguchi (pictured right).

Yone Noguchi, was the father of Isamu Noguchi. He was also a turn of the twentieth century Japanese and American poet. He is apparently well studied in some Japanese and American academic circles and has been consistently considered heterosexual.

But as it turns out, he was far from it. Before he was straight, he was gay. He moved to the US when he was young and he mingled through out the bohemian scene where he came into his own sexuality. And what was that? Gay love with older white men.

But as he grew older and more famous and Japan began its imperial aggression in Asia, there appears to be some shift in Yone which led to him impregnating Isamu's mother and getting engaged to a Southern aristocrat. But as his most intimate male friend predicted, if he returned to Japan, he would be forgotten.

In the end, Yone was mostly forgotten in the bigger circles of poetry and literature. But what I found most interesting about Yone's story was the life story of his passions and emotions and the historical circumstances within which they were felt. And I'll put it on the record, it really must have sucked to be poor, not white, homo in American in the early twentieth century.

The version I read was a 232 page cloth published by University of Hawaii Press on March 31, 2012. ISBN: 978-0824834975. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

02 February 2015

Postmodern Jukebox, A Challenge

They also told me that party girls don't get hurt. That they can't feel anything, but when will I learn? I just have to push it down.

And so this is my story. I'm the one who wrote "for a good time call" on the inside of the bathroom stall. And since then, my phone's been blowin' up. College boys, married men, office workers, even the janitor. They're ringin' my doorbell and I feel the love.

But back to my story. It turned out that he lived close by. So we agreed to meet at the local videoke. I had never been there. It was bigger than it looked from the outside. They also sold hard liquor in addition to Red Horse Beer. He was so handsome which surprised me too.  We made small talk until eventually it turned into "1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink" "1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink." I kept throwing them back until I lost count.

He talked so sweet. We took a tricycle to the local motel. And I felt that I was gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier, in that super deluxe four hour room. As soon as the door closed, he roughly began to take off my clothes as I helped him with his. I just thought "I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist, like it doesn't exist."

And after three and half hours, we had finished but then the phone rang. The motel wanted to know if we were going to extend. He said no. We took a shower together where he kept kissing me gently. We got dressed and left. We took a tricycle to my house where he dropped me and left. I just felt like I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night.

This went on for nine months. Two, three, sometimes four times during the week. It was so wonderful. So great. My loneliness had found its cure. I gave up the party nights for his gentle and filling comfort. He told me he worked also at a call center and lived alone. His father and siblings lived in the province and he'd visit them on the weekends. That worked out fine as I also would go home to the province for the weekend. But I could tell I was falling in love with him. And I'm sure he felt the same.

And perhaps if that had been the routine until I died, I would have known nothing else but happiness. I can feel my tears as they dry telling you this. I thought I was gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier. But actually I'm holding on for dear life and I won't, can't look down.

You see. One weekend I did not go home to the province. Instead, I went with some officemates to a mall on the other side of the city. We had lunch and watched a movie. I wanted to buy a book so when we finished I went down to the bookstore and did not join them at the taxi stand. And it was there, that I saw him. He was going up the escalator as I went down. He was not alone but with a woman and two children.

He either didn't notice me or pretended not to have seen me. So I got off the escalator, turned around and decided to follow them. They were going to a movie. I decided to also buy a ticket. I discreetly followed and sat in the row behind them. I was hoping that it was his sister or his cousin. But as I overheard their conversation, it was his wife and children.

I left in a daze. I went straight to the videoke bar to drown my sorrows. And I kept my glass full until morning light. A cute tambay sat down at my table.

"Bro, you okay? 'cause you look like you need some cheering up." he said.

"I'm just holding on for tonight." I said. I told him my sad story. He just listened intently.  I started to tear up.

"Help me, I'm holding on for dear life." I cried. I won't look down, I won't, can't open my eyes. I continued with my depressing story. All the while, the tambay just listened. I continued to get more and more drunk.

"I keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight." I rambled at one point. The videoke bar was closing and I invited Mr. Tambay back to my place. I'm not exactly sure why. I guess I'll blame it on the Emperador.

We went inside. As soon as the door closed, Tambay stripped off his clothes and began helping me out of mine. The kissing was so passionate. He kept asking me if this was okay. Did I like it? I did. Very much I thought. We made passionate love to each other until dawn. We took a shower together and then cuddled in my bed as the morning light filled the room.

As I was struggling against sleep with small talk, Tambay told me that he didn't have a job and his sad story about the woes of him and his family. Could I help him out he asked. The sun came out.

"Sun is up." I noted to him -- trying to find a way to get him out, to get the world out. But the truth is I'm a mess and I just feel like I gotta get out now. I got to run from this. Here comes the shame, here comes the shame.