Archive for the ‘Death notices’ Category

The nacho cart

August 13, 2018

Drew Dernavich in the August 20th New Yorker:


(#1) “Would you like to sample something from the nacho cart?”

An office cart conveying a gigantic heap of nachos, with hot cheese dripping over the side. Underneath are who knows what astounding toppings for the taco chips, your choice.

A demented dessert cart, transporting horror-movie foodstuffs. The fanciest of high-end dining  juxtaposed with low-end cheap thrills and street food, smelling of Mexican food trucks.

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In Syntax Country

August 13, 2018

In a vivid linguistics dream in the am hours of the 10th, a page of linguistic data gold that (in the dream) I carefully saved to my computer — my dream computer, of course — so I could post about it triumphantly later in the day. Alas, later in the day my dream computer was off-line, so to speak, and all I had from that marvelous page of data when I woke briefly was this not entirely certain recollection:

We never stop(ped) rolling  over them / them over  in Syntax Country.

Two possible contributors to this dream message.

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limbo dancers

April 18, 2018

(There will eventually be plain accounts of sex between men, so the later parts of this posting will not be at all suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

In the process of clearing out hundreds of prospective postings, material that, with great regret, I will never be able to get to, I came across an NYT obituary from 12/11/17, “Roy Reed, Times Reporter Who Covered the Civil Rights Era, Dies at 87” by John Schwartz, with this illustration:

(#1) Reed, looking impossibly young, on the cover of his memoir, published in 2012 by the University of Arkansas Press, recounting his 13 years with The New York Times

This posting will end up being about the limbo dancers of Reed’s title, but first some notes on Reed’s career, from the NYT obit:

On June 6, 1966, James Meredith tried to make history for the second time. Having integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962, he announced a plan to walk from Memphis deep into his neighboring home state. Before getting very far, however, he was shot in the back by a white man.

More than 1,000 miles away in New York City, the national editor of The New York Times, Claude Sitton, was scanning the photos being transmitted by news agencies and the images on his television while looking for his reporter who was covering Mr. Meredith.

“Where’s Roy Reed? he demanded.

To Mr. Reed’s chagrin, he had been several hundred yards down the road in a grocery store with other reporters, having a cold Coca-Cola. He scrambled to the scene, however, and filed the day’s story, then further redeemed himself by scoring the first interview with Mr. Meredith in his hospital room.

Mr. Reed, a self-professed “hick-talking Arkansawyer” who worked for The Times from 1965 until 1978, spending much of that time crisscrossing the American South, died on Sunday night at a hospital in Fayetteville, Ark., said his son, John. He was 87. He had been unconscious since having a severe stroke at his home in Hogeye, near Fayetteville, on Saturday morning.

… In “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation,” Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff wrote that Mr. Reed “could write magically, choosing words that caught your eye.” Mr. Sitton hired him, they wrote, because he “knew Reed to be unfailingly accurate, deeply reflective, uncommonly polite, and, like the Times reporters who had preceded him in the South, he spoke Southern.”

[Reed’s account of the confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma AL is especialy notable. From Wikipedia about the bridge: “The Edmund Pettus Bridge carries U.S. Route 80 Business (US 80 Bus.) across the Alabama River in Selma, Alabama. Built in 1940, it is named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general, U.S. Senator from Alabama, and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. … The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the site of the conflict of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when armed police attacked Civil Rights Movement demonstrators with billy clubs and tear gas as they were attempting to march to the state capital Montgomery. The marchers crossed the bridge again on March 21 and successfully walked to the Capitol building.” Reed vividly described the naked hatred on the faces of the men, women, and, yes, children who lined the route of the march.]

Mr. Reed, in a memoir, “Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent’s Adventures with The New York Times,” wrote that “Speaking Southern was not just a matter of drawl or twang; it meant a different way of framing thoughts.” It meant that he understood the territory, even as he was appalled by the racism and violence that undergirded the suppression of voting rights.

… His memoir “Beware of Limbo Dancers” was published in 2012. The title, he wrote, came from a message neatly written on the inside of a door in a bathroom stall in the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street.

“This was a style of wit that I had never before encountered,” he wrote. “I suddenly knew that I was a stranger in town — not unwelcome, just a stranger.’’

The mensroom graffito BEWARE LIMBO DANCERS has been reported in collections of such graffiti — for instance, Peter Higginbotham’s collection. The metaphorical limbo dancer seems to occur only in such contexts, as a playful reference to the insertive partner in one of the practices of anonymous t-room mansex, what I’ve called subpartition sex and others have referred to understall play. What Reed stumbled on in that mensroom in the old NYT building was an allusion to a whole social world that he seems to have had no knowledge of: the subterranean world of sex between men in public places. Very much not specifically a New York City thing, but widespread in cities, college towns, truck stops, and highway rest stops.

The metaphor of a limbo dancer is an apt one for the role. From Wikipedia:

(#2)

Limbo is a traditional popular dance contest that is known to have originated on the island of Trinidad.

The dance originated as an event that took place at wakes in Trinidad and Tobago, and was popularized by dance pioneer Julia Edwards (known as the First Lady of Limbo) and her company which appeared in several films, in particular Fire Down Below(1957), and toured widely in the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Africa in the 1960s and later. The film Julia and Joyce(2010) by Trinidadian/American dance researcher/choreographer Sonja Dumas features the evolution of the Limbo and the contribution of Julia Edwards to the explosion of its popularity.

A horizontal bar, known as the limbo bar, is placed atop two vertical bars. All contestants must attempt to go under the bar with their backs facing toward the floor. Whoever knocks the bar off or falls is eliminated from the contest. When passing under the bar, players must bend backwards. No part of their bodies is allowed to touch the bar and no part other than their feet and hands may touch the ground. After everyone has completed their turns, the bar is lowered slightly and the contest continues. The contest ends when only one person can successfully “limbo” under the bar without penalty.

Music for the event: Chubby Checker’s “Limbo Rock” of 1962, which you can listen to here.

(#3)

The crucial move in limbo dancing is getting the lower body under the bar, thrusting it forward. That’s the connection to t-room mansex, where one man (the insertive partner) offers his genitals to another (the receptive partner) by getting them under the partition between two mensroom stalls and thrusting them forward. In the lingo of t-room mansex, this is called sticking it under.

The receptive partner gets down on his knees and sucks cock, possibly balls as well, and maybe plays with his partner’s asshole. But the encounter —  subpartition sex / understall play — is primarily a blow job. You can see a guy sticking it under my 2/5/11 AZBlogX posting “T-room action” (obviously I can’t show it on this  blog).

The encounter is negotiated beforehand by exchanges of gestures, possibly also with whispers or written notes (on toilet paper). These exchanges establish the sexual roles in the encounter: who sucks who. Mutual encounters — I’ll do you, and then you do me — do occur, but a common pattern is for one man to suck two or three cocks in succession, becoming more and more aroused, until he switches roles and shoots his load in another cocksucker’s mouth.

The ritual allows for entirely anonymous sex; the men can conceal their identities completely. Or if they wish, once roles have been established, they can move on to face-to-face interaction, in one of their stalls or in another location. If it suits them, they can exchange kisses and other gestures of affection (though a fair number of t-room queens will engage in almost any form of mansex but not affection, because they see themselves as straight guys who like sex play with other guys — and therefore don’t kiss, because that would be faggy. The construction of masculinities is a complex matter.).

Once engaged face to face with sexual roles establshed, the men can shift from sucking to fucking, at either man’s instigation.

The basic ritual allows not only for complete anonymity but also for complete emotional opacity: by remaining silent on everything except sexual roles, the men can engage in sex that satisfies them without knowing the motivations, beliefs, or attitudes of their partners — matters that might appall or repel them if they were made explicit.

In any case, though the limbo dancer metaphor is transparent, the terminology seems not to have been adopted as sexual slang. Limbo dancer / dancing / dance aren’t in any slang dictionary I’ve looked at, and searches on limbo dancer plus gay pull up only references to (literal) limbo dancers who are gay.

Meanwhile, I suspect that Roy Reed had no idea that subpartition sex was an actual thing, so that for him limbo dancer was just a colorful big-city joke.

Morning name: Harry

April 3, 2018

My morning name a while back was just Harry. Some possibiities:

Dirty Harry. The Trouble With Harry. Harry Truman. Harry Hamblin. Prince Harry. Harry Houdini. Harry Potter. Harry Reems. Harry Connick Jr. Harry the Horse. Harry Frankfurt. Harry Belafonte.

But none of these. I instantly connected to Harry B. Miller, Jr., my first cousin-in-law. And then discovered that he’d died back in 2013.

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Dick Oehrle; Morris Halle

April 2, 2018

While putting together a brief note on the death (late in February) of linguist Dick Oehrle, I got the news of the death this morning of Morris Halle (who was Dick’s dissertation director, and mine too).

(Dick was about 6 years younger than me, Morris about 17 years older.)

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Michael Siemon

March 8, 2018

My friend Michael Siemon died back on November 1st in Oakland CA, and now his California family have planned a memorial dance in his honor, on the afternoon of Sunday March 25th. The flyer:

(#1)

A man of great charm and very wide intellectual and artistic interests.

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Nanette Fabray

February 28, 2018

From the NYT on the 23rd on-line, “Nanette Fabray, Star of TV and Stage Comedies, Dies at 97” by Anita Gates:

(#1) Fred Astaire and Nanette Fabray on the set of The Band Wagon

Nanette Fabray, whose enthusiastic charm, wide smile and diverse talents made her a Tony Award-winning performer in the 1940s and an Emmy Award-winning comic actress in the 1950s, died on Thursday at her home in Palos Verdes, Calif. She was 97.

Warm memories for me, since I came to know her first in the 1953 movie musical The Band Wagon, which I saw as an impressionable young teen at the Radio City Music Hall. (I have the DVD and watched it again last weekend, with great pleasure.)

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Donnelly Rhodes

January 21, 2018

In the NYT on the 10th on-line, “Donnelly Rhodes, Prolific Character Actor, Is Dead at 81” by Daniel E. Slotnik, beginning:


(#1) The craggy-faced Rhodes on screen

Donnelly Rhodes, a Canadian-born character actor best remembered by American television audiences for playing an escaped convict on the sitcom “Soap” and a brusque doctor on the recent reboot of “Battlestar Galactica,” died on Monday at a hospice facility near his home in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

Rhodes was a major figure in the American branch of what I think of as the Acting Corps, a bank of reliable, competent, and versatile actors, many with recognizable faces — but without star status. (Discussion in my 7/20/15 posting “The Acting Corps”.) I took pleasure in his performances for over 50 years.

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LGBT news from Stanford

January 19, 2018

(A posting delayed by assorted computer upheavals at my house and a monster cold, which has caused me to sleep 11 hours a day. In any case, LGBT news bulletins, but no sex at all.))

News from Wednesday the 10th, the monthly Happy Hour! of Stanford’s QUEST group:

(#1) Logo provided by Ryan Tamares for the QUEST website

The gathering (almost all staff these days, and very heavy on librarians of various sorts) was our 8th anniversary event, a return to the Old Pro, a sports bar just up Ramona St. in Palo Alto from my house (yes, a sports bar, but it’s convenient to Stanford, lots of parking, and the CalTrain).

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This week’s terrible literary food pun

January 6, 2018

It starts with the piece by Calvin Baker on the life of poet Derek Walcott in the recent NYT Magazine “The Lives They Lived” issue (12/28 on-line, 12/31 in print), with this photo of the Nobel laureate:


(#1) Walcott in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, in 1993; photo credit: David Hurn/Magnum Photos

The village of Hay, on the river Wye, on the border between England and Wales, is famously picturesque, and I’ll get to that. But I was then struck by a recollection that there was in fact a village in England called Ham (also picturesque, and I’ll get to that too), which is not on the river Wye (though it’s close to the river Avon, as in Stratford-on-Avon, cue Shakespeare, so you could reasonably think of it as Ham-on-Avon) — but if it were, it would be (insert massive groan here) Ham-on-Wye. Well, it gets worse.

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