Archive for January, 2021

Fleurs des males

January 27, 2021

Penises as literally the flowers of manhood, which can be collected into bouquets and other floral arrangements — an occasional theme in artworks that are light-hearted and charming rather than pornographic, intended to amuse rather than to arouse.

The occasion for this posting was a Facebook posting by Greg Parkinson yesterday about a 1982 exhibition “Extended Sensibilities: Homosexual Presence in Contemporary Art” (an early exploration — almost 50 years ago — of the topic), which included one of these artworks:

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euphemism ‘replacement expression’

January 26, 2021

In preparing yesterday’s posting “Garment vocabulary”, on the purported Victorian tabooing of the word trousers, I looked at the actual tabooing of the word breast (because of sociocultural anxiety over the female bodypart), even in reference to a type of chicken meat (from the breast of the bird), and found a small number of euphemisms for the female bodypart: bosom, bust (and for some people, also chest). Not a big haul, so I thought to do a search on “euphemism for breast” — and found long lists of vulgarities (mostly used by men), nothing like my idea of a euphemism, and nothing like the definition of euphemism in standard dictionaries.

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Garment vocabulary

January 25, 2021

What do you call an outer garment covering the body from the waist to the ankles, with a separate part for each leg? The referentially and socioculturally least restricted lexical item for this purpose, in both AmE and BrE, is the plural noun trousers. (The gloss in my first sentence is in fact the definition of trousers given, without restriction, in NOAD.)

It’s then remarkable that the Quite Interesting Twitter account maintained on 8/14/18 that

The Victorians thought the word ‘trousers’ so vulgar and rude that they used euphemisms such as ‘sit-upons’, ‘inexpressibles’, ‘unutterables’ and ‘unwhisperables’ instead.

The result of such an attitude would have been that there was literally no everyday expression to refer to such a garment — even one originating as a euphemism but naturalized as ordinary vocabulary — as has been the case for white meat as a replacement for (chicken) breast, for some speakers, and in many other cases.

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It started with a kiss

January 24, 2021

(Six male-male kisses, of different sorts and with different sociocultural meanings, plus a general suffusion of homoerotic content and undercurrents throughout, so this posting is not to everyone’s taste — but there’s nothing raunchy enough to make it plainly unsuitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

It started with a kiss in a poster (from Hana Filip on Facebook, long ago — 2/23/19) apparently signifying the union of the Soviet Army and Navy, but it turns out to be sheer invention, the work of the artist Igor Baskakov, whose specialties include a very uneasy blend of official Communism and high-commercial capitalism:


(#1) The caption: ‘Support/Strengthen the union of the Army and Navy’

Three things about this poster. First, it alludes to (as Hana put it) the fraternal socialist kiss trope, the most (in)famous of which is the kiss between Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker (1979):

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Another monument of butch fagginess

January 22, 2021

Today’s mailing from the Daily Jocks company (wth a “VIP sale”, offering $25 off when you spend $75) has a model projecting a strongly macho, and highly sexualized, identity while wearing a PUMP! pink space candy underwear: faggy light pink in color, with a cute “space candy” patch on the pouch:

(#1)

A slim-waisted muscle-hunk, with a hairy chest, notable abs, macho facial hair and haircut, and a ton of tats. Situated in his workshop. Meanwhile, he’s staring intently at the viewer, challenging them with a cock tease — the jock pulled down just to the top of his public hair — and a penis clearly outlined in that jock. He’s hot, and he’s sexually on offer.

(Note: this is the character the model is performing; many underwear models are adept at assuming a character that will appeal to men who have sex with men or fantasize about doing so. Of the model himself, I know nothing, beyond that he’s chosen to wear a wedding ring, though he might be married to someone of either sex.)

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Leyendecker’s jockey

January 21, 2021

In a recent Pinterest mailing, another homoerotic ad from American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker (famous for his depictions of American masculinity in ads for Arrow shirts and collars; and then for Kuppenheimer’s men’s clothes, as here; and in his many covers for the Saturday Evening Post magazine, which considerably influenced the illustrator Norman Rockwell):

(#1)

Elegant masculinity on the left (perhaps the owner of a racehourse), athletic masculinity on the right (a jockey). As in many of JCL’s illustrations, this one strikingly features male buttocks — in this case, the jockey’s.

Two themes here: manly brand icons; and JCL’s homoeroticism.

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Death and transcendance

January 20, 2021

Two things that happened fortuitously to come together in my life.

One, a Facebook note from Max Vasilatos (prominently quoting MLK’s “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”) about pretty much everyone (me too) crying at yesterday’s twilight ceremony at the reflecting pool (by the Lincoln Memorial), memorializing 400,000 Covid deaths, on the eve of the inauguration of Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice-President — on the Erev Inauguration (as Adrienne Shapiro put it on her FB page: the eve of a holy day).

Two, the music that I woke to on my iTunes this morning, Chopin’s Marche funèbre. Everybody knows the initial and final parts, the funeral march itself, tolling death; but in the middle comes the trio, a sweet, serene melody (in a major key), with a rising melodic figure, promising transcendance. Again, the combination of the memorialization of death with the promise of a new kind of life. (So, of course, I burst into tears once again.)

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Cure Bear

January 19, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, which can be understood only if you know about two (hugely distant) bits of popular culture:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

That’s The Cure + Care Bear = Cure Bear: linguistically, a portmanteau; visually, a composite of Robert Smith of the band The Cure and one of the Care Bear toys.

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pair of jockstrap

January 19, 2021

(Well, men’s underwear, so men’s bodies play a significant role, but nothing raunchy. Look at #1, just below, to get a feel for the content and your comfort level; this is about as racy as things get in this posting.)

Passed on to me by Sim Aberson a few days ago, with the comment “Pair?”, this jockstrap ad from the men’s underwear company TBô (sometimes T-Bô):

(#1)

Not just “pair”, but “pair of jockstrap”, with SG jockstrap.The ad will take this posting  in many different directions, sometimes inconclusively, so the posting will proceed as a collection of very loosely connected mini-essays.

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Two reflections on rats

January 18, 2021

Reflection 1: fury at the roof rats that have taken up residence on my patio and are now devastating the plants there.

Reflection 2: a recent Economist story about Cambodian farmers trapping rats to sell for food in Vietnam.

(Some may see a possible thematic connection between the two reflections.)

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