Things I didn’t post on FaceBook and Why

A brief list:

What to say? best say nothing.

  • Quote from Simone de Beauvoir’s Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille Rangée about her désespoir. On second thought, pretentious. Plus Facebook’s auto-translate would mangle the meaning.
  • Opinion of I, Tonya. On second thought, my private opinion. Why share?
  • Opinion of Darkest Hour. Ditto.
  • Opinion of Moontide. Ditto.
  • Comment on depressing story in news. I think a dozen people have already said the same thing. And if I try for originality I’ll end up making another Ayn Rand reference and leaving the wrong impression.
  • Comment on American political situation. What is there to say, really? Parallels to French under occupation kind of pretentious as well as obscure.
  • Comment on politics. Am I actually interested in politics? No. Best not to reveal this.
  • Photo of man fishing in music concourse fountain for change late at night. On second thought, this feels like an invasion of privacy. Plus, parallels to Dickens’s London kind of pretentious. Plus photo blurry.
  • Photo of self on rural walk. Way too private to post pictures of self, especially doing something private, like walking or going about my life.
  • Opinion of Yves Saint Laurent documentary. Excessive Francophilia starting to be embarrassing.
  • Photo of picturesque cityscape taken during my commute. Too busy racing cars and other cyclists to actually take photos.
  • Photo of comic sign on Clement Street. This has probably been done enough. Plus photo blurry and too dark.
  • Plans to go to Gay Games in Paris. See above, re privacy, Francophilia
  • Photo of dish at fancy restaurant. Seems like other people have this covered. Plus see above, privacy, parallels to Dickens.
  • Photo of cute child. Kids I know are now too old to be cute. Plus invasion of privacy on multiple levels.
  • Kitten Photo. Misleading, as I have no kittens.

Now You See Them

It’s funny how much flies right over your head when you’re young and ignorant. For example, when I first read A Streetcar Named Desire, I totally missed the fact that Stanley rapes Blanche; I thought their only problem was the way Blanche hogged the bathroom (listen, I was only twelve). Even more embarrassing, I’ve watched The Third Man literally dozens of times, but it was only the other night, at Noir City 2014‘s Castro screening that I realized two of the supporting players form a gay couple.

How could I have missed them? Baron Kurtz (Ernst Deutsch) with his little dog and heavy eyeliner, and Dr. Winkle (“Doctor Vinkle” he corrects the hero unsmilingly) played by Erich Ponto. Winkle’s the straight-acting half of this menage, who gives himself away by his attempts to conceal his more flamboyant partner. “Isn’t that the Baron’s dog?” Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) asks when he’s visits the doctor to question him about Harry Lime’s death. Winkle denies it, shooing the dog into another room and closing the door. Through a glass pane, light gleams, hinting at an unseen presence. “I have company,” he says, anxious to get rid of the importunate Holly.

Is he wearing a bathrobe in that scene? I don’t remember, but  both men make their final appearance in morning-after deshabille, standing next to each other on their wintry balcony while Holly shouts to them from the street. Kurtz is carrying his little dog, and their elegant dressing gowns and carefully knotted foulards are the 1948 equivalent of being caught in flagrante delicto. “Come up!” invites Kurtz, but Holly declines. “I like it out in the open.” What, precisely, is the danger? Is it their involvement in Vienna’s black market penicillin racket, or the more ancient air of corruption and decadence they exude? It hardly matters that the sinister ambiance that hangs over them like a fog resolves itself into an identifiable crime. Gays are criminals and criminals are gay.

In fact, they join a lineup of gay criminals who crowd the margins of the screen in film noir, crime thrillers, and B-movies, a procession of doubly guilty characters who culminate in the over-the-top offensiveness of Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, homo assassins in the 1971 James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever.

All those viewings and I never saw them. Probably my unwordliness when I first watched the film (most likely on television in my early teens) persisted like an after-image, blinkering me until last Friday at the Castro. Until then the two men operated on me as I suppose director Carol Reed and author Graham Greene intended — easy cinematic shorthand for evil, a way to offer a whiff of  unheimlichkeit without waking up the censor.

Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) sprays himself with perfume while his partner in murder-for-hire and life, Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) sits by.

Fountain Pens

I write with a fountain pen. An Esterbrook plunger model. Not just because it’s eco, or because Patricia Highsmith favored Esterbrooks, or because I’m a luddite contrarian, although all these things are true. I use it because it feels good in my hand and the ink goes from dark to peacock blue as it dries and because every time I have to refill it– Continue reading

Pining Lesbians

Dora and Inspector Antoine

Dora and Inspector Antoine

Lesbians pop up when you least expect it. Back in the old days, we used to call this “content,” (shorthand for lesbian content) as in “that book/movie/tv show has some content.” Last night I tripped, quite unexpectedly, across some content.

I was at the movies, a 1947 french film called Quai des Orfevres. And there she was–an attractive blonde in pants and thick-soled shoes all mixed up in a murder for love of her upstairs neighbor, the aptly named Jenny Lamour. Continue reading