So I read this terrifc article on NYTimes about a cross-dressing poet critic. The sidebar recommended several poems he liked and I liked them too.
Then I clicked to the Paris Review and read some more poems--not all of which I liked.
Then I read "Four Poems" by Robert Haas and almost cried. It's about his brother's death and features four ruminations, each in a slightly different style that's still cohesive. It's utterly lovely.
When he mentioned Mississippi John Hurt's song "Louis Collins," I had to go and find it on Youtube. I really like his name. And his face. The song's heartbreakingly beautiful.
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Here's the link to the Paris Review for the rest of the Hass poem.
Christine Brooke-Rose, an English experimental writer known for wielding words with the ardor of a philologist, the fingers of a prestidigitator and the appetite of a lexivore, resulting in novels that exhilarated many critics and enervated others, died on March 21. She was 89.
Her death was announced on the Web site of her British publisher, Carcanet Press. Fittingly for a writer whose work could take artful pains to dispense with seemingly indispensable linguistic foundation stones (she once wrote an entire novel without using the verb “to be”), the “where” of Ms. Brooke-Rose’s death — whether it occurred at her longtime home in the South of France or elsewhere — was unspecified.
The author of more than a dozen novels, as well as short stories, essays and criticism, Ms. Brooke-Rose was one of relatively few Britons to maintain a long association with experimental fiction. Her stylistic techniques — playful, polyglot, punning, postmodern and slyly self-referential — are more typically associated with writers of the French Nouveau Roman school.
Because she often used alternative narrative devices (including unorthodox chronology and unusual typography) to create alternative realities, her work is sometimes classified as science fiction, though much of it is beyond category. As with much postmodern fiction, her writing — organized around an unspoken compact between the author, who is unspooling the text, and the reader, who is watching it unspool — is about the act of writing itself.
Her best-known novels include four whose combined titles run to just five syllables — “Out” (1964), “Such” (1965), “Between” (1968), “Thru” (1975) — followed by a syllabic splurge: “Amalgamemnon” (1984), “Xorandor” (1986), “Verbivore” (1990) and “Textermination.” In “Textermination,” published in 1992, literary characters from a spate of famous pens — Austen’s, Flaubert’s, Pynchon’s, Rushdie’s — convene in a San Francisco hotel to importune readers for their continued existence.
Ms. Brooke-Rose was a linguistic escape artist. In book after book she dons self-imposed syntactic shackles, and in book after book she gleefully slips them.
In “Between,” the very nature of identity is called into question by her avoidance of the verb “to be” in all its forms. In “Next” (1998), about the dispossessed in London, her characters are literal have-nots: throughout the book, she avoids the verb “to have.”
In “Amalgamemnon,” narrated by a literature professor about to lose her job, Ms. Brooke-Rose uses only verb forms — including future tense and subjunctive mood — that conjure conditions unobtainable in the present.
Ms. Brooke-Rose’s earliest novels, published in the late 1950s, are conventional satires of manners. But as early as her third novel, “The Dear Deceit,” published in 1960, she had begun to play with narrative form. The novel opens with the death of its protagonist and, in successive chapters, works backward to his birth.
This convention has a time-honored analogue in narrative nonfiction, as when, for instance, a newspaper article begins with word of its subject’s death and, only lower, reads:
Christine Frances Evelyn Brooke-Rose was born in Geneva on Jan. 16, 1923, into a French-, German- and English-speaking household. Her enigmatic English father, who left the family when she was a child and died when she was 11, had been, she later learned, an Anglican Benedictine monk and a convicted thief, though not necessarily in that order; her American-Swiss mother became a Benedictine nun after the dissolution of her marriage.
Reared in Geneva, Brussels and Britain, the young Ms. Brooke-Rose worked at Bletchley Park during the war, decrypting intercepted German messages. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford, followed by a doctorate in medieval literature from University College London. From the late 1960s to the late ’80s she taught British and American literature at the University of Paris.
Ms. Brooke-Rose was married three times. (Her second marriage was to the prominent Polish writer Jerzy Pietrkiewicz.) Information on survivors was not available.
Her other books include an autobiographical novel, “Remake” (1996); the story collection “Go When You See the Green Man Walking” (1970); a volume of criticism, “A ZBC of Ezra Pound” (1971); and translations of the French experimental writer Alain Robbe-Grillet.
What proved to be her last book was a novel published in 2006. It is presciently titled, in the manner of a catalog entry, “Life, End Of.”
It's been around since forever, my dad's old poker board. We loved it as kids, with its cartoonish characters. He was a frustrated artist, pressured by his parents to pursue a traditional college education. After marrying, he attended the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, finally able to fuel his passion. He and my mother gave me this drawing from those days.
He carved humorous figures from wood and painted them in the 50s and 60s. They were similar to the characters on the poker board, circus strong men wearing leopard print skins, busty women with buck teeth. Later, he began carving tall, abstract birds. I have a couple of those, one he gave me on my wedding day.
But I've always loved his poker board. I remember countless card games played deep into the night with aunts and uncles when I was young. As a teenager, I played on it with my brothers. It was stored in the kitchen closet along with Mom's cookbooks, bread boards and table extensions.
After three strokes, my dad's in a nursing home. Somewhat chipped and showing its age, the poker board has moved from the closet and now hangs on the wall in the family room at my parent's home, a fitting place for sure.
The two-story-high rock will begin its 106-mile journey on a custom-built, 294-foot-long centipede-like transporter between 10 and 11 p.m. and travel at the painstakingly slow speed of about 5 mph. It’s due to arrive at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard in the wee hours of the morning March 10.
The 680,000-pound boulder is so large that work crews from about 100 utility districts will have to take down traffic signs, overhead wires and other obstacles to let the rock pass and then reinstall them later.
A signal expert will have to move and rebuild traffic signals that would otherwise be mowed down like blades of grass by the transporter--nearly as wide as three freeway traffic lanes.
The rock will travel through four counties and 22 cities and is so large and cumbersome it can only move at night on roads closed to traffic. Officials also had to use a circuitous route to avoid "overpasses and any streets or bridges deemed too weak to support the transporter and cargo," according to the museum.
During the day, the rock -- expected to be shrink-wrapped for protection -- will have to park in "the middle of the road, the only place big enough," Rick Albrecht, the project's logistics supervisor, told The Times last year.
Initially, the plan was for the trip to take nine days, but it is now scheduled to take 11 days to reach its destination.
At LACMA, the granite will be placed on its new home, resting atop a ramp-like slot in the ground through which visitors will pass, making it appear that the rock levitates above them. It will form the center of artist Michael Heizer’s enormous sculpture “Levitated Mass.”
The total cost of the project, including the rock, the transportation and construction of the sculpture site, will be up to $10 million, which was raised from private donors.
On Tuesday night, quarry owner Stephen Vanderhart will throw a reception for about 300 people to see the rock off, complete with a BBQ truck and a DJ.
The rock's first stopping point, at 5 a.m. Wednesday, will be at Mission Boulevard and Bellegrave Avenue in Ontario.
The Times' Culture Monster blog will be covering the event live, with updates throughout the evening.
You can follow the action on the rock's own Twitter account @LACMARock. Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T. Fujioka sent a tweet to the account, saying, “It’s wet out there, @LACMARock. Be sure to pack an umbrella & coat for your journey. I’m thinking size 3,428XL.”
Lillian Bassman, who moved from fashion to fine art, at her home in Manhattan in 2009. More Photos »
Lillian Bassman's “Dovima, New York” (1954, reinterpreted in 1994), from “Lillian Bassman: Women” (Abrams).More Photos »
Her son, Eric Himmel, confirmed the death.
Ms. Bassman entered the world of magazine editing and fashion photography as a protégé of Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director of Harper’s Bazaar. In late 1945, when the magazine generated a spinoff called Junior Bazaar, aimed at teenage girls, she was asked to be its art director, a title she shared with Mr. Brodovitch, at his insistence.
In addition to providing innovative graphic design, Ms. Bassman gave prominent display to future photographic stars like Richard Avedon, Robert Frank and Louis Faurer, whose work whetted her appetite to become a photographer herself.
Already, at Harper’s Bazaar, she had begun frequenting the darkroom on her lunch hours to develop images by the great fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, using tissues and gauzes to bring selected areas of a picture into focus and applying bleach to manipulate tone.
“I was interested in developing a method of printing on my own, even before I took photographs,” Ms. Bassman told B&W magazine in 1994. “I wanted everything soft edges and cropped.” She was interested, she said, in “creating a new kind of vision aside from what the camera saw.”
When Avedon went off to photograph fashion collections in Paris in 1947, he lent her his studio and an assistant. She continued her self-education and in short order landed an important account with a lingerie company. In its last issue, in May 1948, Junior Bazaar ran a seven-page portfolio of wedding photographs she had taken, titled “Happily Ever After.”
Ms. Bassman became highly sought after for her expressive portraits of slender, long-necked models advertising lingerie, cosmetics and fabrics. Her lingerie work in particular brought lightness and glamour to an arena previously known for heavy, middle-aged women posing in industrial-strength corsets.
“I had a terrific commercial life,” Ms. Bassman told The New York Times in 1997. “I did everything that could be photographed: children, food, liquor, cigarettes, lingerie, beauty products.”
Lillian Violet Bassman was born on June 15, 1917, in Brooklyn and grew up in the Bronx. Her parents, Jewish émigrés from Russia, allowed her a bohemian style of life, even letting her move in, at 15, with the man she would later marry, the documentary photographer Paul Himmel.
Ms. Bassman studied fabric design at Textile High School, a vocational school in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. After modeling for artists employed by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project and working as a muralist’s assistant, she took a night course in fashion illustration at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
She soon showed her work to Brodovitch, who was impressed. Waiving tuition, he accepted her into his Design Laboratory at the New School for Social Research, where she changed her emphasis from fashion illustration to graphic design.
Brodovitch took her on as his unpaid apprentice at Harper’s Bazaar in 1941, but desperate to earn money she left to become an assistant to the art director at Elizabeth Arden, whereupon Brodovitch anointed her his first paid assistant. Like her mentor, she was artistically daring. At Junior Bazaar, she experimented with abandon, treating fashion in a bold, graphic style and floating images in space.
“One week we decided that we were going to do all green vegetables, so we had the designers make all green clothing, green lipstick, green hair, green everything,” she told Print magazine in 2006.
Her nonadvertising work appeared frequently in Harper’s Bazaar, and she developed close relationships with a long list of the era’s top models, including Barbara Mullen (her muse), Dovima and Suzy Parker.
The stylistic changes of the 1960s, however, left her cold. The models, too. “I got sick of them,” she told The Times in 2009. “They were becoming superstars. They were not my kind of models. They were dictating rather than taking direction.”
In 1969, disappointed with the photographic profession and her prospects, she destroyed most of her commercial negatives. She put more than 100 editorial negatives in trash bags, putting them aside in her converted carriage house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She soon forgot all about them.
By the mid-1970s, she was out of the fashion world entirely and had begun focusing on her own work, taking large-format Cibachrome photographs of glistening fruits, vegetables and flowers, pictures of cracks in the city streets and distorted male torsos based on photographs in bodybuilding magazines.
It was not until the early 1990s that Martin Harrison, a fashion curator and historian who was staying at her house, found the long-forgotten negatives. He encouraged her to revisit them.
Ms. Bassman took a fresh look at the earlier work. She began reprinting the negatives, applying some of the bleaching techniques and other toning agents with which she had first experimented in the 1940s, creating more abstract, mysterious prints.
“In looking at them I got a little intrigued, and I took them into the darkroom, and I started to do my own thing on them,” she told The Times. “I was able to make my own choices, other than what Brodovitch or the editors had made.”
Her reinterpretations, as she called them, found a new generation of admirers. A full-fledged revival of her career ensued, with gallery shows and international exhibitions, including a joint retrospective at the Deichtorhallen museum in Hamburg with her husband and a series of monographs devoted to her photography.
A one-woman show at the Hamiltons Gallery in London, organized by Mr. Harrison in 1993, was followed by exhibitions at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris and an assignment from The New York Times Magazine to cover the haute couture collections in Paris in 1996. She completed her last fashion assignment for German Vogue in 2004.
Mr. Himmel died in 2009, having abandoned photography in his late 50s to become a psychiatric caregiver in the city’s hospitals and later a psychiatrist in private practice. Besides her son, the editor in chief of Abrams Books, she is survived by a daughter, Liza Himmel, known as Lizzie; two grandchildren; and a step-grandchild.
Ms. Bassman’s work has been published in “Lillian Bassman” (1997) and “Lillian Bassman: Women” (2009). A new book, “Lillian Bassman: Lingerie,” is to be published by Abrams on April 1.