Amoeblog

Happy birthday, John Gray - the real life Dorian Gray

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 2, 2013 01:01pm | Post a Comment
Today is the birthday of English poet and Dandy, John Gray. As a writer, Gray is best-known for Silverpoints,The Long Road, and Park: A Fantastic Story. Though celebrated in his day, today he is perhaps best known for being the rumored inspiration for Oscar Wilde’s fictional character and literature's most famous Decadent and Dandy, Dorian Gray.

English Poet John Gray

John Gray was born on 2 March, 1866 in Bethnal Green, London, the first of nine children. Like most people with great taste, he came from a working class background. At thirteen he quit school and began working as an apprentice metal-worker (continuing his education with evening classes). In 1882 he passed the Civil Service exams and five years later passed the University of London matriculation exams. He subsequently joined the Foreign Office and became a librarian. Gray’s evening classes had included (among other foreign languages) the study of French and he translated the work of Symbolists Arthur Rimbaud, Jules Laforgue, Paul Verlaine, and Stéphane Mallarmé into English -- some for the first time.

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(Wherein the author steers his fears and beers with queers.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 7, 2012 10:11am | Post a Comment


Um... eek.


This weekend, Los Angeles celebrates its main Gay Pride festival and I plan on being there. This may not seem like a stunning “news flash” to many of you, dear readers, but those who know me well know that I have a phobia of parades and balloons, I will not wait anything over 10 minutes for a table at any restaurant no matter how piquant their comestibles, nor will I eat standing up (and certainly not in a crowd!) and I’m allergic to most forms of fun – all of these are features of such events (or so I'm told).

But here’s another fact about me: I’ve never participated in any Pride activities in any city, any year, ever – and that strikes me as, well… queer. So this is the year I’m remedy it. I'm coming out! (...of my safe and cozy home.)

I need to go buy bottles of water and sun-block with an SPF of pi, but before I do, I wanted to get some mood music from our rich, LGBT heritage (see below). Beats make me braver!

And if you plan on coming to LA’s Pride, look for me. I’ll undoubtedly be cowering in some dark corner, terrified of everything, but doing it with a rad attitude.



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Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 16, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

Wilde Reclining

The second most-read writer in the English language is also, in my opinion, the funniest. Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16th, 1854 in Dublin, Eire. He is probably the most quotable figure in the English language as well, having coined too many clever epigrams to choose just one to represent his wit.

Oscar Wilde was a married man with two children but an affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas led to his imprisonment for homosexuality. After two years of hard labor, he was released a broken and broke man. He moved to Paris where he died at 46 years old in 1900 from acute meningitis, following an ear infection. By some accounts, his final quip was “Either these curtains [or wallpaper, by other accounts] go or I do!”

Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin

Our greatest comic, whose life was as much (if not more of) a work of art than his plays and short stories, Wilde’s been the source, subject or merely inspiration for many films in many languages. Consider these many films, most of which formerly were gathered together in an Oscar Wilde section at the end of comedy but now float around Amoeba Hollywood’s mezzanine in various locations. If you can't find them, ask at the info counter.

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Moving beyond bipolarity - da meeja, favoritism, fairness and equality

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 17, 2010 11:25am | Post a Comment
Just a little pie chart to ponder... First, the demographic percentages of the US's major minority populations:

US demographics 

...versus the google results for their respective national, month-long cultural observances.

Cultural observance month google results

...which suggests that, as I assumed, Black History Month is far more of a concern than Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month. Black History Month is all good, but why not recognize the rest? And, although not a minority, Women's History Month deserves some recognition too... as does Gay Pride Month. This year of the tiger, resolve to move beyond bipolarity! 

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No sound no tell, Gay Cinema in the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 31, 2009 12:12pm | Post a Comment
Frederic Lord Leighton Flaming June
Frederic Lord Leighton's Flaming June

June, in addition to being Vision Research Month, Fireworks Safety Months, Light the Night for Sight Months, National Candy Month, Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, Cancer in the Sun Month, Dairy Month, National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Pest Control Month, Safety Month, Scleroderma Awareness Month, and Zoo and Aquarium Month, is also Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, first established by Bill Clinton back in '00. Therefore, I may in the coming weeks blog about iced tea or become aware of Scleroderma, but for now I will focus on Gay Cinema.

One of the first things I noticed about gay people's feelings toward Gay Cinema is that they're almost all negative.  Exceptions are usually foreign films, which are almost invariably downers. The first year Amoeba observed Gay and Lesbian Pride month in the movie department in the form of a display, we all had an uncomfortable chuckle about the unfailingly depressing storylines of the films we featured. Films based on the lives and deaths of famous gays like Joe Orton, Brandon Teena, Oscar Wilde and James Whale all ended tragically. And here I thought gay meant happy!

closet

The history of Gay Cinema is quite unlike most minority driven alternatives to Hollywood. Unlike American Asians, blacks, Latinos and Natives -- whose identities have always been fairly obvious (except in cases of passing) -- gays have always had the option of remaining invisilble. Therefore, gays were never required to sit in the back of the bus, attend special schools or live in segregated neighborhoods. In the silent film industry, most gay actors understandably chose to hide their identitites. Though there are few overt representations of homosexuality in silent films -- mostly in European films -- most are merely hinted at. More importantly, however, the contributions of gays both in front of and behind the camera are many and noteworthy.

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