'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

14 June 2011


Traditions, I believe are a safety net for security. Traditional bigotry is inexcusable, traditional culture should always be examined, traditional diets or clothing should also be looked at if they are more than superficial or exclusive and excluding in nature. Progress and development are essential for the human condition and even survival, but there is still room for some inoffensive traditions that reflect a unity of appreciation, a memory (not an obsession) of what matters and also just for light fun. Life would be grey without some ceremony and without activities that we all understand and can participate in without over zealous commitment. Below are some examples of how an audience can participate in the spirit of an evening of music for which they may have no personal talent. They are traditions that give me and hopefully some of you a warm glow, do no harm and reinforce our social needs to join in.
Last Night of the Proms
In 2011 the proms will celebrate their 117th year. One of the great traditional evenings is the Last Night of the Proms which is where we see the British out to play. After guest artists the evening develops into a night full of rousing music repeated year after year. Rule Brittania, Land of Hope and Glory by Sir Edward Elgar and finishing with the audience singing spontaneously and unaccompanied Auld Lang Syne, a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. The audience know when to sing hartily, bob up and down in unison, wave flags (Union Jacks or any flag of choice), spin noisy ratchets, blow whistles, hold hands and generally fulfill all the traditions embedded and repeated over the years.
"Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1" (1901) by Sir Edward Elgar, containing the theme commonly known as as "Land of Hope and Glory". Lyrics written by A.C.Benson in 1902. Complete with the traditional and obligatory encore.
The Hallelujah Chorus
In many countries, it is a wonderful tradition for the audience to stand when the performance of The Messiah by GF Handle arrives at the glorious Hallelujah Chorus. 
In many countries, it is a wonderful tradition for the audience to stand when the performance of The Messiah by GF Handle arrives at for Hallelujah Chorus The tradition is originated at the first London performance of Messiah, which was attended by King George II. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose to his feet and remained standing until the end of the chorus. Royal protocol dictates that when the monarch stands, everyone stands. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood when the king stood during the performance, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries. Exactly why the King stood has provoked much speculation:-

He was so moved by the performance that he rose to his feet.
He stood out of tribute to the composer.
He stood in deference to Christ The King of Kings.
To me it is obvious that in the Mass the congregation always stands for the Allelulia.

"Va pensiero" - Nabucco

'Nabucco on March 9, 1842, was the opera that pushed the Italians to start the revolution against the Austrians in the cause of freedom and independence." Riccardo Muti. 

This is a chorus about one's beloved country and became an anthem for freedom. In Verdi's opera it is known as the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in captivity in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon as they pine for their lost homeland. Verdi was a great patriot and often implanted political and patriotic undertones in his operas. It also became a tradition in Europe after the WWII for the audience to stand in memory of the Holocaust.
Below is a performance from 12 March 2011 which shows how still this chorus affects an audience. This performance saw a return of Riccardo Muti after an accident and the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. The audience were so overcome that at the conclusion of the chorus there were cries of Viva Italia  to which the maestro responded by addressing the audience of his love of Italy and after much urging he encored the piece, turning to face and conduct the audience who all stood and sang. Th house was showered with pages torn from the programmes and the chorus members were reduced to tears. The Rome Opera is a sight on historic evenings and I too have been lucky to attend a performance of Aida there with the genius Franco Zeffirelli appearing on stage to take bows for his amazing production.
Hasten thoughts on golden wings.
Hasten and rest on the densely wooded hills,
where warm and fragrant and soft
are the gentle breezes of our native land!
The banks of the Jordan we greet
and the towers of Zion.
O, my homeland, so beautiful and lost!
O memories, so dear and yet so deadly!
Golden harp of our prophets,
why do you hang silently on the willow?
Rekindle the memories of our hearts,
and speak of the times gone by!
Or, like the fateful Solomon,
draw a lament of raw sound;
or permit the Lord to inspire us
to endure our suffering!

Audience Appreciation

Generally an audience shows its appreciation with applause of varying intensity and depending on the occasion and the style and nature of performance. Classical music opera and ballet can be accompanied with a shout of Bravo or for those more practised - Bravo for a man, Brava for a woman, and Bravi for two or more people. A younger audience may just scream, whistle or hoot and I, in a moment of high adrenalin and excitement, have been known to unconsciously scream ‘FUCK!’ at the top of my lungs when Joan Sutherland hit a particularly impressive note, which she did with great regularity. It really matters little how you respond as long as you feel comfortable letting those on stage and around you know how much you liked what they did. Standing ovations are also fun, but only when it really is an outstanding performance. I do not believe it that response just because someone is recognised or simply old etc. as is done with monotonous regularity in the US. There is little an audience can do to show how they feel and there should be a grade of responses from silence to pandemonium. (booing I find aggressively unnecessary). I have found that the occasions when I rose to my feet before my brain had realised I had were the genuinely most rewarding. To finish an evening with a throat sore from shouting, hands swollen from clapping and feet sore from stamping will linger in you memory for ever. I have had a few such evenings.
Tradition covers many aspects of life. There are Religious traditions, some of which hold society back, promote separation and invite ridicule, but then some elevate the mind to contemplate deeper examination of our life and that of others. There are cultural traditions, some of which also create separation, but some preserve treasures of history and a way of life and dress. There are sporting traditions which offer a sense of belonging, but also promote competition which I find no room for in my life. We must,  in my opinion, consider which traditions we which to adhere to if any and also why. Yes Why?

07 June 2011

BK Bazhe

A remarkable talent.
BK BAZHE is a writer, poet, and artist. He is the author of the novel DAMAGES - Winner in the Writers Digest Awards and the poetry collection IDENTITIES. Published in USA, Europe: Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria. In America, his prose and poems have appeared in: Poetic Voices Magazine, Winter's Gems Anthology, Bay Windows, Opus Literary Review, River Run, and Reader. His art has been exhibited in New York City, Europe, NJ, and OH. 
His books and art are available from his web site and from Amazon.com
This wonderful artist is becoming a good friend. I am so grateful to have recently received from him a message and this beautiful poem.
Thank you for being my friend.
And This Poem is for You:

The stars tonight are for your eyes.
Yes, for no one else except you in this moment.
In this moment, dizzy, crazy, mad, heavenly mad.

02 June 2011

Albert Einstein

"Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein

"When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours. That's relativity." -- Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879 to non practicing Jewish parents Hermann and Pauline. They moved to Munich and then to Milan. He had not finished secondary school and failed an exam to allow him to study electrical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He spent the next year in Aarau, Switzerland and finished high school. Einstein returned in 1896 to the Swiss Institute. In 1898 he fell in love with a Hungarian classmate, Mileva Maric, and in 1900 graduated as a secondary school teacher of mathematics and physics. He became a Swiss citizen in 1901 and avoided Swiss military service on the grounds that he had flat feet and varicose veins.
 In January 1902 Mileva had a daughter Lieserl at her parents home in Hungary, but they put her up for adoption and she disappeared from the records. He worked at the Swiss patent office in Bern from 1902-1909 and completed a number of publications in theoretical physics, written in his spare time without close contact with scientific literature or colleagues. In 1905 Einstein earned a doctorate from the University of Zurich for a thesis 'On a new determination of molecular dimensions' and his Special Theory of Relativity was born. On June 30th, he submitted his paper, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" to the leading German physics journal. At age 26, he formulated the equation e=mc2. In 1908 he sent a second paper to the University of Bern and became a lecturer there. Einstein then became associate professor of physics at the University of Zurich. In that period Einstein’s father died 1902, he married Mileva 1903 and they had a son Hans Albert 1904. A second son Eduard was born in 1910. In 1911 they move to Prague and on to Zurich in 1912.

Einstein was recognized throughout German-speaking Europe as a leading scientific thinker and went on to professorships at the German University of Prague and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. In 1914 he took up the most prestigious and best-paying professorship at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft in Berlin. Albert and Mileva divorced in1914, WWI began and the following year he completed the General Theory of Relativity. In 1917 he nearly died, but was nursed back to health by his cousin, Elsa whom he married on May 29, 1919. That year British eclipse expeditions confirmed his predictions, Einstein was mobbed by the popular press and The London Times ran the headline on 7 November 1919:-
'Revolution in science - New theory of the Universe - Newtonian ideas overthrown.'
 He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922. At 53 his is identified as a Jew and he began to feel the effect of Nazi Germany, so in 1933 they moved to Princeton in the United States, but Elsa died in 1936. When WWII began Einstein wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt warning that Germany could develop an atomic bomb and urged him to undertake nuclear research. This contributed to Roosevelt's decision to fund the Manhattan Project. He became an American Citizen in 1940 but retained his Swiss citizenship. In 1944 he made a contribution to the war effort by hand writing his 1905 paper on special relativity and putting it up for auction. It raised six million dollars, the manuscript is in the Library of Congress.
  His first wife Mileva died in 1949 and on April 16,1955 Einstein died of heart failure. Einstein was cremated at Trenton, New Jersey at 4 pm on the day of his death. His ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location. He left his scientific papers to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which he had raised funds for, served as a governor of from 1925 to 1928 but he had turned down a post there in 1933 being critical of its administration. Also after the death of the first president of Israel in 1952, the Israeli government offered the presidency to Einstein. He refused.
During his life he travelled constantly, changed his citizenship several times, was a pacifist, a Zionist and changed man's view of the universe.

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder." -- Albert Einstein

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -- Albert Einstein
Einstein's Brain

Other Scientist's Biographies here.

The Body

Click photos to enlarge
“The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! Everything is holy! Everybody’s holy! Everywhere is holy! Everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!”
Alan Ginsberg’s “Footnote to Howl
 The Hands and Feet
"Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness" 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
 The Torso

If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred”
Walt Whitman
The Bottom
“As I approve of a youth that has something of the old man in him, so I am no less pleased with an old man that has something of the youth. He that follows this rule may be old in body, but can never be so in mind.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
The Eyes
“The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
The Penis
'Nothing can so pierce the soul as the uttermost sigh of the body"
George Santayana
The Face
"The face is the mirror of the mind and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart"
St Jerome
The Body in Motion
“The body is a sacred garment.”
Martha Graham
The Lips
The sick do not ask if the hand that smoothes their pillow is pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin.”
Oscar Wilde
The Sleeping Body
“Anatomy is destiny.”
Sigmund Feud
The Assembly of Bodies
“A gay male never gets over the idea the he is a thing of beauty, and a boy forever!”

Our body is the home within which we store our past, create our emotions and through which we interact with the world and those around us. So much do we emphasise the merits of its beauty or mourn the perceived lack of that which we find pleasing. Be it a tall or a stout frame, covered in a pale or a dark skinned outer cloth, pure and smooth or uneven in texture, it is the reality which we have been given or created. There is no universal image of what it should be. The infinite variation is the beauty of us collectively. For each a season and for all an admirer. We should be our first and most ardent lover. We should sing the praise of what we are and how we present ourselves to the world. That which is within will shine through and make glorious the frame within which we are stored. The strength of  the body can be used by some to fight or to dominate and by others to lift up and to dance. Through the grace of our limbs, the passion in our eyes and the tenderness of our mouth and what comes from it are we defined. For none should the body revealed be a source of shame. The honest display of what we have made of ourselves is to be encouraged and praised. If our conscience is true then every inch of our body should be spotlighted and applauded.
M Is for Man, Music, Mozart
A brilliant short film by Peter Greenaway 30 min
available as a bonus on

Peter Greenaway's A TV Dante: The Inferno Cantos I-VIII [DVD]

A commissioned project, made for TV in honor the the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death, this is a highly avant-garde piece of music, theater and dance, set to an original score by the controversial Dutch composer Louis Andriessen (who would later collaborate with Greenaway on the operas "Rosa" and "Writing to Vermeer"). Four nude, powder-white dancers (representing the Gods) appear on a stage designed in the style of an 18th century anatomy theater. A woman sings a list of objects beginning with various letters of the alphabet up to "M"; the Gods then decide to create Man, assembling him from body parts listed as onscreen text. Having created Man, the Gods then give him Movement; so as to give him a reason to move, they create Music; finally, so as to have Perfect Music, they create Mozart. 

The recording of the music while video plays on a screen.

My essay on a particular body.

01 June 2011

William Shakespeare

The greatest of them all . As has been said there has been no greater writer, nor is there likely to be one greater in the future. For 400 years his plays have become the metaphors of life, integrated themselves into everyday language, inspired stories and reflected the psychology of us all. Often though, you do hear the academic question 'Who wrote Shakespeare's plays?" People suggest that some were written by two other great personalities in that time, playwright Christopher Marlowe and Philosopher etc. Francis Bacon (strangely enough, both also gay). They are two contenders, but from this distance does it make much difference to the average audience or reader who is inspired by these works. We know so little about William Shakespeare the man that it is hardly relevant. Similar arguments have raged about one of the other greatest writers of our history, Homer. This was beautifully summed up by Aldous Huxley when he said "The author of the Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name." He began in the Elizabethan era but under the patronage of James the 1st he became somewhat freed from political restrictions and produced even stronger works. It is surprising to me to know that in those times the pupulation of London was a mere 200,000 and at least 10,000 people went to the theatre every day.
  William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays!
All's Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry VIII
Henry V
Henry IV, Parts I and II
Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love's Labor's Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter's Tale
The boys of Nearly Naked Theatre do Shakespeare's R&J.  Great!

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd. Earl of Southampton.
Patron and possible lover of William Shakespeare. In male and female clothing.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written embassage,
To witness duty, not to show my wit:
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it,
But that I hope some good conceit of thine
In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it;
Till whatsoever star that guides my moving
Points on me graciously with fair aspect
And puts apparel on my tatter'd loving,
To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:
Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee;

Till then not show my head where thou mayst prove me

David Tennant-Sonnet 18 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day' from Touch Press 
Young William Shakespeare was born in the home above.
Family home of  Anne Hathaway where she was wooed by the teenage Will, eight years her junior.
1556 - Anne Hathaway is born.
1564 - William Shakespeare is born 23rd. April  in Stratford-On-Avon

1582 - Married Anne Hathaway on November 27.
1583 - Susanna Shakespeare is born.

1585 - The twins Judith and Hamnet Shakespeare are born.

1592 - Moves to London and recognized as a successful actor, and a leading poet.
1593 - He dedicated the  poem Venus and Adonis to Henry Wriothesley 3rd. Earl of Southampton. (1573 - 1603) who was 19 at the  time.  He was Shakespeare's patron and possible lover.
1596 - Hamnet dies at the age of 11. College of Heralds grants his father a coat of arms.
1597 - He bought a large house called "The Great House of New Place".

1599 - The 'Globe Theatre' is built from the pieces of 'The Theatre' in July.

1613 - The 'Globe Theatre' burns down, is rebuilt, and Shakespeare retires.

1616 - April 23, in Stratford, on his 52nd birthday Shakespeare dies.
Shakespeare's Grave before the alter in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon and his memorial (centre) in Poet's Corner in 
Westminster Abbey. In his youth he attended services at The Holy Trinity Church and in 1605 he became a lay rector by contributing to its upkeep, which is why he is buried in he church.
At school it was difficult for me to understand and appreciate the language and its beauty in the amateur performances we were dragged to. The magic became clear with exposure to the many great performances both on stage and on film that I have since seen over the years. Unfortunately I prefer to see and hear the interpretations of others, as I still find difficulty in my own untalented reading of the words of the Bard. Now I own 45 DVD's which are of his plays, his sonnets, his life or related to his works.
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