Culture: August 2003 Archives

Ethel Eichelberger honored in Howl!’s “Pantheon Parade” - would she be pissed too?

It's not just me, and I didn't make it up.

I'm talking respectively about my disappointment with the narrow focus of the HOWL! Festival, and the Festival organizers' ouster of ACT UP from Tompkins Square Park.

It's right here, and in hard print.

Many long-time residents felt that the festival was not for them, but for the people who recently took over the area. Members of ACT UP claim that police force was threatened against them by the very organizers of the festival. Latinos were largely invisible, and not even lip service was made to punks.

. . . .

Exclusion still exists on a large-scale, and it can be sensed everywhere these days in the East Village. Perhaps that is the most authentic part of the HOWL festival, that the inequalities and discriminatory practices that prevailed reflect some of the themes that influenced the scene back in the 80s and 90s.

The Gay City News article explains why some in the community, especially those concerned about the largely absent Latino and punk representation, are complaining that the Festival "was engineered for the people who gentrified the East Village," and describes in some detail how ACT UP, a part of the neighborhood since the 80's, was evicted from a very public park last week.

The most hopeful note in the entire account was sounded in its report of a call for an "Anti-Howl Festival."

A few blocks across from Tompkins Square Park, on St. Mark’s, Bobby Steel, formerly of the punk band “The Misfits,” and now of “The Undead,” mentioned the possibility of an Anti-Howl Festival. Punk rock as a cultural movement had deep roots on the Lower East Side during the 80s and early 90s, with punk venues including ABC No Rio, the World, and the Pyramid, among numerous other clubs. Mohawks, leather, and chains were once common accoutrements in East Village fashion.

Nonetheless, there was little punk visibility, either through nostalgia for the past or a respect for the on-going punk culture. Perhaps Steel was serious, but even as a joke, the idea of an Anti-Festival illustrates how some Lower East cultural actors felt dissatisfied.

- and as ever, both playful and provocative.

[image: Villager photo by Elisabeth Robert]

Maple Ave (Digimon)/ Meredith Allen

Meredith Allen now has a full-page image in this week's New Yorker and a website as well. [Don't miss the "kiddie rides."]

We love Meredith!

And we love her work! Obviously the magazine does too, since they use a full-page color image to illustrate a Dave Eggers story. Now people around the world will know why.

See Bloggy for her cute host/webmaster's take on these events.

The HOWL! Opening Night Party is this evening at Angel Orensanz Foundation, with stuff and things beginning at 7pm and continuing until 11.

I wrote about the festival earlier, and this kick-off sounds more than passing promising. The details, from their own site:

Wednesday Aug 20th
7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
HOWL! opening night party
Art Salon & Auction
What: 7:00 PM Book Release Party for 2 FEVA publications

Captured - A History of Film and Video on the Lower East Side Created by Clayton Patterson, Designed by Alexandra Bourdelon, Edited by Paul Barlett and Urania Mylonas.

8:30 PM Art Auction & Exhibition on the Bohemian Balcony Curators: James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook with David Leslie, Steven Kaplan, Gary Ray, Norman Douglas Howl Souvenir Book, edited by Greg Masters

9p.m. Fashion Show
DJ Liquid Todd from K Rock, Go-Go Boys and Girls, Beer and more..
Where: Angel Orensanz Foundation 172 Norfolk St. (between Houston & Stanton)
Tickets: $5.00

I'm definitely going to be there, but since Barry may have to come late, HOWL! and I could both use a few dozen dates.

Students celebrate with Hines after a tap class of the Broadway Theatre Project in Tampa.

Gregory Hines died on Saturday night.

He was a good man, a beautiful man, a dancer, a New Yorker, a singer, an actor, and always a generous teacher for younger tap-dancers.

The last time we saw him was in the audience at LaMama a year and a half ago. We were all there for Thaddeus Phillips, a friend of ours who uses a gentle, timeless tap (in combination with incredible, abstract or improvised puppetry) in his own brilliant theatre pieces, to extraordinary effect.

Hines was obviously waiting after the performance to talk to him, so we spoke to Thaddeus only very briefly. It was a wonderful meeting of creative styles, and I sure wish we could have eavesdropped that night.

[image by Clint Krause]

Frank Templeton Prince

A soldier and a poet died on Thursday.

In 1942 he wrote what some say is the greatest poem of a great war, not the Great War, but the one which seems to have been strangely niggard in inspiring great verse. It was a war which is now almost dead to us all, having been succeeded by so many unnecessary imitators which have perhaps been even more successful in killing poets.

An interesting man, and an interesting poem.


The sea at evening moves across the sand.
Under a reddening sky I watch the freedom of a band
Of soldiers who belong to me. Stripped bare
For bathing in the sea, they shout and run in the warm air;
Their flesh, worn by the trade of war, revives
And my mind towards the meaning of it strives.

All's pathos now. The body that was gross
Rank, ravenous, disgusting in the act or in repose,
All fever, filth and sweat, its bestial strength
And bestial decay, by pain and labour grows at length
Fragile and luminous. 'Poor bare forked animal,'
Conscious of his desires, and needs and flesh that rise and fall
Stands in the soft air, tasting after toil
The sweetness of his nakedness: letting the sea-waves coil
Their frothy tongues about his feet, forgets
His hatred of the war, its terrible pressure that begets
A machinery of death and slavery,
Each being a slave and making slaves of others: finds that he
Remembers his old freedom in a game,
Mocking himself, and comically mimics fear and shame.

He plays with death and animality;
And reading in the shadows of his pallid flesh, I see
The idea of Michelangelo's cartoon
Of soldiers battling, breaking off before they were half done
At some sortie of the enemy, an episode
Of the Pisan wars with Florence. I remember how he showed
Their muscular limbs that clamber from the water,
And heads that turn across the shoulder, eager for the slaughter,
Forgetful of their bodies that are bare,
And hot to buckle on and use the weapons lying there.
- And I think too of the theme another found
When, shadowing men's bodies on a sinister red ground,
Another Florentine, Pollaiuolo,
Painted a naked battle: warriors, straddled, hacked the foe,
Dug their bare toes into the ground and slew
The brother-naked man who lay between their feet and drew
His lips back from his teeth in a grimace.

They were Italians who knew war's sorrow and disgrace
And showed the thing suspended, stripped: a theme
Born out of the experience of war's horrible extreme
Beneath a sky where even the air flows
With lacrimae Christi. For that nice, that bitterness, those blows,
That hatred of the slain, what could they be
But indirectly or directly a commentary
On the Crucifixion? And the picture burns
With indignation and pity and despair by turns,
Because it is the obverse of the scene
Where Christ hangs murdered, stripped, upon the Cross. I mean,
That is the explanation of its rage.

And we too have our bitterness and pity that engage
Blood, spirit, in this war. But night begins,
Night of the mind: who nowadays is conscious of our sins?
Though every human deed concerns our blood,
And even we must know, what nobody has understood,
That some great love is over all we do,
And that is what has driven us to this fury, for so few
Can suffer all the terror of that love:
The terror of that love has set us spinning in this groove
Greased with our blood.

These dry themselves and dress,
Combing their hair, and lose the fear and shame of nakedness.
Because to love is frightening we prefer
The freedom of our crimes. Yet, as I drink the dusky air,
I feel a strange delight that fills me full,
Strange gratitude as if evil itself were beautiful,
And kiss the wound in thought, while in the west
I watch a streak of red that might have issued from Christ's breast.

F. T. Prince
Collected Poems 1935-1992
(Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1993)

Well, maybe you had to be there. The Guardian comments on the aspect of the poem which most grates on modern ears, and relates its parochial imagery to what are its clearly homoerotic elements.

The poem culminates in a powerful, yet ambivalent, evocation of the naked Christ on the cross, the blood issuing from his wound being somehow as lovely as the sunset. Throughout the poem, the unassailable force of weaponry is contrasted with the vulnerability of the naked body.
But then ends its obituary with some words of comfort on the subject of this family man's religiosity.
A devout Catholic convert, he nevertheless believed that literature could "emancipate one from oneself", and confessed that he had become irritated [while teaching] in Jamaica at having to contend with students who would only read books written from a religious point of view.


Note to all noble guardians of literary standards: Each of the two sources to which I referred for the complete text of the poem had its own typographical problems, including errant words, spellings and punctuation. I've examined both to complete the text I show above; I hope it's some improvement.

[image from University of Southampton]

Antifolk Festival, August 19-26

Let's respect the history and launch the future of the East Village, LOISAIDA, Village, or whatever our nicknames have been for New York's most dynamic cultural engine. HOWL!, The "1st Annual Festival of East Village Arts," begins August 20.

While it sure ain't just about Wigstock, we're ecstatic to see the Lady Bunny return three days later - all the way to her roots, to Tompkins Square Park, as part of this new Festival.

All hail the mission statement of the HOWL! organizers, FEVA:

Mission Statement

Founded in 2002, the Federation of East Village Artists honors the historic role of the East Village as the cradle of the city’s, if not the world’s, counterculture. We stand on the shoulders of the gods and the ghosts that have come before us, committed to preserve our unique history and to create opportunities for the next generation of visionaries to flourish. The neighborhood that has spawned the Living Theater and Independent Film, been home to poets from Auden to Pinero, to musicians from Charlie Parker to The Ramones, blank canvas for Haring and sanctuary for Basquiat, long-time stomping ground for generation after generation of beatniks, hippies, yippies and punks, cannot go the way of the dodo bird. FEVA will fight for the rights of local artists for health insurance, professional services and affordable housing. FEVA will provide an emergency relief fund for those in need, will connect local artists with local schools, will bring public art to our gardens and to our streets. FEVA will also create a Smithsonian of the Counterculture, a combination archive, museum, performance space and gallery to preserve our rich past and inspire the artists of the future. Artists are a natural resource, precious as light, air and water and just as crucial to the city’s economic and spiritual environment. FEVA will advocate on behalf of this great community of experimenters and iconoclasts, to insure that its existence is not imperiled and that the legacies of Emma Goldman, of The Fugs, of Allen Ginsberg endure for generations to come.

We're gonna get art (by genuine artists and other genuine people), a poetry festival (free in every way), a film festival (no awards! no awards!), EV homie Charlie Parker (resurrected!), an Antifolk Festival (Dylan meets Sex Pistols), all the "Way the F**K Off-Broadway people (including, just for starters, Dirty Martini, Rev Jen, FACEBOY, PORNO JIM, The Bitter Poet, World Famous *BOB*) and a nutty everybody-loves-a East Village parade, "The Pantheon Processional," at the Astor Place Cube (honoring local luminaries from the past, present and future), and all of that just richness and culture goodness just scratches the surface.

This delightful extravaganza seems to be virtually an entirely volunteer-staffed labor of love for the people behind it - as in "I've got an idea, let's put on a show!" This downtown knows how.

Also, while it's very nice to memorialize the past, this thing is at least as much about the future. It better be, because without a howling future the entire Village will end up being about nothing more than real estate.

We gotta go. August. What the hell did we eschew that country place for, anyway? What country place? What country?



I don't think I could begin to do justice to yesterday's events at the courageous Team Gallery with any written description, so I'm going to cop out altogether and leave it to a few pictures, which at least have the value of their uniqueness. If they're a bit pretty, it's a very good, and an appropriate-to-the-subject thing. What they can't do is register the energy in the dark Team rooms last night.

Actually we were there for little more than the set of Jamie Arcangel and the Arcangels, and their earlier incarnation, Insectiside, so I couldn't speak to the remainder of the schedule in any event.

The "Throwback" show installations in the gallery, by Cory Arcangel & Beige, Maria Marshall, Jon Routson, and the almost-free take-homes (genuine art as tees, music, posters, prints, books), were exciting, seductive and really, really beautiful. The music was dynamite ("nuclear" just doesn't seem right these days)!

For more on Cory himself, see Tom Moody.

The images, from the top: "Super Mario Clouds v2k3" and admirers, crowd in the passage, Cory's instrument(s), Conyers and Barry, dance floor, interactive facility.

It was great to see some overlap in the fans at Team and those we saw on the Williamsburg shore 8 days earlier. Because of run-ins in Chelsea and elsewhere, we already knew she was big on emerging visual artists, but the performer in the last two images above was also one of several people we saw who had made it to Chunkathalon.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from August 2003.

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