Browsing: The Persistence of Malice

May – June, 2010

Blog Posts

Andy Warhol: The Last Decade thom th Joseph D. Ketner II
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ANDY WARHOL is best known for the Pop phase of his work, for fusing high art with low, starting in the 1950’s. “By the end of the 1970’s he felt trapped by the public’s expectations of him to present images of popular culture and to embody fame and social celebrity through mass media,” writes Joseph D. Ketner II, in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, a collaborative venture between the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. “He had grown weary of the continuous parade of society portrait commissions and physically exhausted by the nightly clubbing on the New York social circuit.”

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Historical and sociological work on GLBT people has also focused on cities, not just because of the demographic concentration but also because queer scholars prefer to live in urban centers with their intellectual, political, and archival wealth. Even anthropologist Mary Gray chose to live in Louisville, Kentucky, while doing research for Out in the Country and to have an academic home in the Women’s Studies Department.

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“SEX HAS ALWAYS BEEN the favorite topic of every intellectually cultured person I’ve known. The favorite topic for every unintellectually cultured person I’ve known is Books, or, what is worse, Music.” I’m thinking of these words, from a 1952 entry in his Paris Diary, as I ring the bell to Ned Rorem’s Upper West Side apartment on a late, gray winter’s afternoon.

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The Professor and Other Writings, a collection of previously published essays and a new, jaw-dropping autobiographical piece about a lesbian affair in academia, is as inconsistent as such collections usually are. But the author’s ability to blend her scholarly interests (in the First World War, for instance) with moving details from her personal life and even her ancestry (a British great uncle killed in 1918) offer insights into both her ideas and her life from various angles.

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IN HIS LETTER to the editor in the January-February 2010 issue of this magazine, Richard Lottridge asked if anything had been written about the role of Merton L. Bird in the founding of the mid-century gay Los Angeles group known as Knights of the Clock. My interest was piqued, and what follows is a brief overview in which I’ve tried to assemble some (often contradictory) fragments of history.

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Ashbery’s latest collection, Planisphere (2009), is dedicated to David Kermani, his partner of 35 years. They met in 1970, when Ashbery was 42 and Kermani was 23. The new book demonstrates that the poet is still hot to trot …

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My Queer War by James Lord
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IN PARIS, while serving with the U.S. military during WWII, James Lord found his way to an address on the rue des Grands Augustins and informed the secretary who opened the door that he had come to see Pablo Picasso. He had no appointment, but Lord’s uniform provided bona fides; Americans had just expelled the Nazis (Lord amusingly points out that it didn’t take long for some Parisians to resent that favor).

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Other than its girl-meets-girl twist, Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory has all the ingredients of an old-time Western: …

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In Gertrude Stein, the latest story of her life, author Lucy Daniel considers the ways in which Stein consciously constructed her public self, and in turn how the public came to construct an Idea of Gertrude Stein.

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THERE’S A LOT that’s improbable in Owen Hill’s mystery novel, The Incredible Double. For starters, there’s the protagonist, Clay Blackburn, who makes his living buying and reselling used books in Berkeley, California, and moonlighting as an unlicensed private detective. Even with rent control, it seems like an untenable arrangement.

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