The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 15
April 15th, 2012
TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Family “Research” Council’s Values Bus Tour: Westlake and Cuyahoga Falls, OH. The Family “Research” Council, an SPLC-certified hate group, continues its Values Bus Tour of Ohio. Today, the tour goes to the Cleveland suburb of Westlake for morning services at Church on the Rise. The bus will be there from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The bus then departs for an Akron Tea Party “Rescue America Tax Day Rally” at Fall River Square in Cuyahoga Falls. That rally features “Joe the Plumber” (Samuel Wurzelbacher, who is running for Congress to represent the heavily gerrymandered district that stretches from Toledo nearly to Cleveland) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH). That rally goes from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Scott Livley, Brian Camenker, Don Feder Speak at Tea Party Rally: Boston, MA. The SPLC’s list of anti-gay hate groups will be well represented at today’s Patriots’ Day Rally on Boston Commons today, sponsored by the Massachusetts Tea Party. MassResistance’s Brian Camenker and Abiding Truth Ministry’s Scott Lively, and Don Feder (who once described himself as making Atilla the Hunn look like a “a limousine liberal”) are listed as featured speakers. The keynote speaker will be Texas GOP Congressman (and LaBarbara Award winner) Louie Gohmert. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnston had been on the bill as another keynote speaker, but he withdrew on Thursday after learning about Scott Lively’s participation. Johnson will be at a competing Worcester Tea Party rally instead. The Boston rally will soil the Boston Common Bandstand from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Protest of FRC Values Bus: Westlake and Cuyahoga Falls, OH. GetEqual Ohio and Freedom To Marry Ohio will meet that FRC Values Bus events today with counter-rallies at both locations. The first one at Westlake will take place in front of Church on the Rise, and will go from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The second counter-rally will take in Cuyahoga Falls at Fall River Square from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452. Born in Vinci “at the third hour of the night,” Leonardo was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence at the age of fourteen. Early descriptions indicate that he was tall (at least 5’8″), athletic and extremely handsome. One contemporary described him as “an artist of outstanding physical beauty who displayed infinite grace in everything he did.” At the age of twenty-four, Da Vinci was among four people accused of sodomy, a very serious accusation because it carried the death penalty. Those charges were dismissed on the condition that there were no further accusations. When accusations were made again that same year, charges were dismissed again, perhaps because one of those charged may have been linked with the powerful Medici family.
Undoubtedly, those accusations made Da Vinci very cautious, even in Florence where, despite those charges, homosexuality was somewhat more tolerated than elsewhere (so much so that in Germany, the word Florenzer became slang for homosexual.) While there is no further contemporary mention of Da Vinci’s sexuality, it was generally known that the life-long bachelor was particularly fond of and generous with his handsome male pupils, some of whom may have inspired some of Da Vinci’s erotic sketches. Later historians mostly assumed that he was gay, an assumption that gained greater currency in the nineteenth century when German, French and British authors began examining the new understanding of what was to be called inversion, uranism, and, finally, homosexuality. Whenever nineteenth century authors sought examples of inverts in history, Da Vinci’s name nearly always earned a prominent mention.
Bessie Smith: 1894. “The Empress of the Blues” was born in Chattanooga, the daughter of a laborer and part-time Baptist preacher. He died before she could remember him, and by the time she was nine, she had lost her mother and a brother. Her older brother had joined a Black Vaudeville troupe owned by Moses Stokes, which featured Ma Rainey as blues singer. In 1912, Bessie joined that same troupe, but as a dancer rather than a singer. While it’s believed that Rainey didn’t teach Smith to sing, (Smith had been singing on the streets of Chattanooga from a very young age), Rainey is credited with teaching Smith about stage presence. By 1913, Smith began singing professionally, and her career exploded in 1923 when she began recording for Columbia Records. By then, she was the highest-paid African-American entertainer in her day.
In 1923, she entered a very stormy marriage with Jack Gee, but he was unable to accommodate her show-biz life or her open bisexuality. They separated but never officially divorced. Meanwhile, she recorded hit after hit for Columbia, including “Downhearted Blues,” “St. Louis Blues”, “Empty Bed Blues,” and the tune she is perhaps best known for today, “Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer).” By the end of the 1920’s, the arrival of the “talkies” meant the end of vaudeville, while the onset of the Great Depression brought about a collapse of the recording industry. Smith continued touring in clubs, but the going was tough. By 1933, she was recording for Okeh records, where she was paid a non-royalty fee of $37.50 for each side. Those were her last recordings. She was critically injured in a car accident in 1937, her right arm nearly severed in the accident. She died the following morning at the G.T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Her funeral in Philadelphia drew 10,000 mourners. Her grave however remained unmarked; her estranged husband kept pocketing the money raised for a tombstone. She finally got her marker in 1970, courtesy of Janis Joplin.
George Platt Lynes: 1907. He first wanted to start a literary career after meeting Gertrude Stein and her circle in Paris. In 1927, he opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey and took up photography so he could take pictures of his friends, and that is where his creative energies went. By 1932 Lynes opened his photography studio in New York and began exhibiting in the city’s art galleries. He earned commissions from the New York City Ballet, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodmans. After World War II, he moved to Hollywood, where he became chief photographer for Vogue and photographed such illuminaries as Katharine Hepburn, Gloria SWanson, Igor Stravinsky, and Thomas Mann. His work was an artistic success, but a financial failure. He moved back to New York, but was never able to re-establish the success he once had.
The passion he had for his photography can be best seen in the photos that he took which harkened back to his reason for taking up photography in the first place: intimate (usually nude) photos of friends, lovers, performers and models. The artist Paul Cadmus, who posed for Lynes, recalled how he “used flattery to make everyone feel so comfortable.” Those male nudes were never published, at least not in his lifetime. In the late 1940s, he transfered many of his negatives to Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sexual Research in Bloomington, Indiana, and destroyed much of the rest of his work just before dying of lung cancer in 1955. In 2011, Rizolli published George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes, marking the first time many of his beloved nudes appeared in print.
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