Ousmane Sembène

As I mentioned last week during September I watched a couple of amazing films by Senegalese writer/director Ousmane Sembène: Emitaï, Ceddo. I’ve also seen his Black Girl, a look black displacement & diasporia in France which I found predictable & so didn’t resonate with me. Emitaï, Ceddo were constantly surprising.

Both are set in Senegal & presented an Africa I was barely familiar with. I grew up with the Africa of Tarzan & countless white safari movies. The blacks were toters of luggage – often superstitious, cowardly and/or stupidly obedient. Also the men were usually stripped to the waist & given to wearing ceremonial tribal bones, feathers & the like when running through the jungle. Their lives were peripheral to story even when the story was about them.

Emitaï deals directly & mercilessly with French colonial attitudes & actions. When the villagers resist sending their sons to fight in WWII they are treated like children who don’t understand the right of the French to do what ever they want. When the village is also ordered to give all its rice to the war effort & refuses as it means they will starve they are treated like selfish children whose cultural values aren’t valid. 

The film shows their ordinary daily lives, their tribal religion & burial rituals as well as rice planting. All ordinary & all in direct relation to the land. They are more interested in maintaining their own dignity & families than they are in defending France against the Germans. I loved the scene where the native militia doesn’t understand how de Gaulle, a two-star general can over-rule Pétaina four-star general.

Ceddo deals with religious colonization with Islamic persecution of villagers who won’t convert. The class system, enforced as much by guns as history, is one that runs through many cultures. The disregard of other belief systems as illogical superstition is still one of the middle east’s bones of contention. The Christians aren’t much better mind you.

I was quickly drawn into each film & appreciated this ‘insider’s’ look at colonialism – cultural & religious – that wasn’t balanced by the need to appease either the French or the Islami. Both films are in native languages & maintained the rhythms of their everyday speech. The performances were excellent & I loved the music in Ceddo by Manu Dibango (Soul Makossa). I found the Ceddo soundtrack on iTunes 🙂

If you want to step out the confines of the usual film story-telling these are two films worth tracking down.

The Trade-Off

what I want

what it’ll cost

is that the price I’m willing to pay

is the sacrifice 

going to be worth the result

 

it is so unfair

why can’t I set the price

is that too much to ask

I’m willing to compromise

but when is enough enough

when can I say no

to what want to say yes to

when I think I’m losing 

more of myself 

to gain something I think I want

 

if my price was unreasonable

I’d understand

but they’re not reasonable

with their barriers of cost control

 

you can have this steak 

but you have to eat it with a spoon 

I suppose that’s possible

how can I say yes 

and no 

at the same time

say yes

I want what you offer

but not the conditions you offer it with

 

don’t forget

the cost of keeping it

will be greater

than the cost of giving it to me

who doesn’t want it

anymore

even for free

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Émile Zola

Nana was my introduction to Émile Zola. I bought a copy of it way back in the 70’s when I was living in Cape Breton. It floored me. I knew he was writing, publishing in France at the same time Dickens was publishing in England. Both wrote about class, labour, family but that’s where the resemblance ends. Zola wrote adult fiction full of drugs, druggies, adulterers, prostitution, social disease and nice people too.

Nana floored me with its frank sexuality. No classic novel I’d read by Scott, Stevenson, even Dostoyevsky approached this level of sexuality. At points he delves into the lesbian subculture of Paris that still amazes me today. It certainly wasn’t what I expected in a novel of that time & also showed me that there is a hidden gay history too. Nana uses her sexuality to move up and down the class ladder. In fact all the women in Zola novels are clearly sexual beings, not always in control of it, not always giving into it.

He has a great grasp of human psychology from a time when human psychology wasn’t even a field of study. I have, on my Kindle, the complete works – which I hope to finish before I die 🙂 He was prolific & as a result as popular as Dickens. I bought the complete works to get the novels that are out-of-print in translation. As a result I can’t commune ton his ability as a stylist – the translations are good enough for me. His plotting is solid. Went, or more of them, are a family saga that rivals any daytime soap. The family tree of his fictional family is impressive, as was his ability to keep it organized. He was a social commentator who spared no one.

If you are unfamiliar I would recommend Thérèse Raquin, (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Cx) or Nana. Germinal is also amazing & inspired my novel Coal Dusters – good too are L’Assommoir and La Bête humaine.

 

Plus he was very handsome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Émile_Zola#/media/File:Émile_Zola_by_Carjat.jpg 

The Fault In My Chromosomes

there is a theory

that when the first atomic bomb 

was exploded

the molecular structure of life 

of our dna

as we know it 

was changed

 

there’s always some explanation

for what went wrong

the first match

the first man 

who looked at the moon

and thought 

that’s not god

why am I blood-letting goats

to make sure

the moon will rise again

to insure sure we get good crops

 

us assuming that there is 

some secret level of control

we can manifest 

if we find the right path

we can work down 

to the chromosomal level of life

get at the delicate tissue

to harness it 

or our our personal gratification

then everything would work out swell

 

no war

no struggle

no hunger disease

no TV – that’s going too far

what if the atomic structure of life 

was changed by the first TV broadcast

what if those beams

were controlling us humans

telling us what to say

what to wear 

what to eat

when to go out

how many layers of clothing we need

that would never happen

we can’t be manipulated

at the cellular level by a cell phone

electronic conveniences are our tools

we aren’t their tools

they do our bidding

they have no control over who we love

over how often we hook up

they don’t conspire against us

we are in control at all times

we can turn them off 

see I’ve set my cell phone to no ring 

I can leave it that way for hours

often I don’t even check for texts

some people can’t imagine that at all

somedays I don’t turn on my TV for hours

don’t check my email

I am always in control of my universe

 

when the first atomic bomb

was exploded

molecular structure was changed

so I am not responsible for my actions

nothing is ever my fault

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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French, German, Dutch

Next on the shelf is the first of 3 mp3 cd collections of French, German, Dutch etc music starting of with one of my favourite soundtracks from one of my favourite Roger Vadim movies – Barbarella. Jane Fonda is wonderful, though a Bardot clone, in this crazy mess of a movie. The music is lounge sweet & has absolutely no scifi tinges. I loved this music when I first saw the movie decades ago & when I got high speed was happy to hunt it down.

Here too is Plastic Bertrand: An 1. I have some of his other albums scattered though my French music collection. Fun, sardonic & odd. Some of his songs were repurposed by punk bands back in the day. Boudewijn de Groot: Nact en Ontij – glorious progrock electronica – a more rock version of Kraftwerk. Jane Birkin: Di Doo Dah – sweet French pop with an assist from Serge Gainsbourg.

Klaus Bloch: Extrem Musik a la Ping Pong – glorious progrock electronica – a fine version of Kraftwerk. Brigitte Fontaine est folle – psychedelic folk with charm & lyrics you don’t have to think about. Der Moderne Man: 80 Tage Auf See – punky punchy yet easy on the ears. Finally: Jean LeFennec: Phantastic – more psychedelic folk with charm & lyrics you don’t have to think about. All of these come 60’s/70’s and all (except Barbarella) reflect the influence of American pop music on European rock.

Mama Gre’loo

‘Rumba?’ Ped gave Jam a playful shove. ‘Where did you get that name from?’

‘Just came to me.’ Jam snapped his fingers. ‘A stroke of genius.’

‘Yeah along with ‘dat acc’nt mon’?’

‘Well, those guys had it coming. Snooping around here every night. Had to give them something they could enjoy.’ Jam began to wipe the green make up off his chin. ‘Did you see his face. Boy, looked like he was about to crap his pants.’

‘Yeah, but ‘Mambo.’ Good thing you didn’t give any of the others names.’

‘Good idea. You can be ChaCha. Pola can be Tango.’

‘I don’t feel right about it though. What if they …’

‘What? Tell on us? I can see them now at the Militia Office. These boys with red and green faces told us they would protect us from evil. That’d go over big around here.’

‘You did pick the red and green. Afraid of the blue and white.’

‘Ped this is for fun. I know enough not to cross the line. That would have been begging for trouble.’

‘Since when did that bother you?’

‘It doesn’t. Fear is an emotion I choose not to fear. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot either. Bad enough we used the right markings.’ He continued to rub at the make up around his eyes. ‘Is it all off?’

‘Sort of but I think you rubbed too hard.’

‘You too.’ He gave another playful hip shove that sent Jam sprawling. ‘You think the other guys got home okay.’ Jam stood.

‘Don’t they always.’

‘I don’t think …’

‘Then stop thinking. Let me worry about that. We’d have more fun if  you’d stop all that thinking. It’s not as if we are robbing the tourists, just putting a little of local fear into them. Get their imaginations going.’

‘It’s not all imagination and you know it.’

‘Yeah! So. It’s no fun to play in safe places. So this had a little more edge than the rag doll and pins routine. Gives them more for their dollar.’

‘I know. I spooks me. That’s all. Mama Gre’loo says we have to be careful with the forest spirits. This is the Season of Change and all things that start a change now must follow where it leads.’

‘You gotta stop listening to that foolishness. You sound like one of those tourists. You know?’

‘I know. Come on, let’s get that stuff all washed off so we can get home.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

2018

https://www.facebook.com/events/1895647050666334/

June – dates t.b.a – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C.

 capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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C’est toi et Jacques Brel

I first heard Dany Brilliant on MuchMusic’s French Kiss – a weekly half-hour show devoted to French pop music. The song was C’est toi – a brash, infectious French Sinatra & I love it. I also have his ‘Histoire D’un Amour’ cd tucked into one of the Brel mp3 cds & both are well worth having.

blueglory

morning glory blue

My alphabetical brings me to Jacques Brel next. I happened upon his complete recordings for a reasonable price & so I have over 20 cds condensed into 4 mp3 collections (& some scatted through another cds). Plus a stand alone double of his hits. Not that I ever set out for this massive collection but I sure do enjoy it & there’s always some Brel on my iPod.

It all started in the late 90’s when I picked up an lp of his Man of La Mancha, next came that 2 cd set. He was a huge European & world star. Too many hits to name check – but one of the things that stunned me on hearing them was the use of the theremin in many of them – electronica mixed with his big band sound is sweet.

The collection includes live concerts, a tribute album, his recording in Flemish & all the studio work & live performances. What isn’t here is the ‘Alive & Well’ – which I doubt he was alive to see. Many of the songs follow a similar arrangement: starting easy & getting faster & more emotional, over-the-top like a wild merry-go-round.

bluetree

blue fields

Mixed into this for variety & relief are recordings by Edith Piaf (a very best of), Adamo (various eps: he was, at first, a mop top pop start), Mireille Mathieu (Tangos – she is amazing), Charles Aznavour (a hits collection), Maurice Larcange (what French collection would be complete without some accordion cafe music), Francois Hardy (sweet breathy & a surveyor if the 60’s pop push – Feist owes everything to Hardy), Sacha Distel (fine jazz guitarist & sweet singer & one-time boy friend of Bardot), Juliette Greco (actress & sultry, sort of scary, singer, the Greco lp was huge in the 50’s, early 60’s with her deadpan beatnik look), Herve Vilard (some eps of sweet latin flavoured pop).

whitehorseno more rides on old blue

All of this would fall under adult contemporary today. The influence of US pop is subtle. By pop I don’t mean rock’n’roll either, though there is a bit of doo wop in some of it , more of the Bobby Vinton easy listening. I do have a healthy slab of French rock & garage pop though & we’ll eventually get to that as I progress though the alphabet.

sample

Yellow Dust

The barren landscape held only yellow dust as far as the eye could see. Nothing remained on the ground of the two domed cities, the people, or the landing sky bay that once hovered overhead.

‘What sort of violence could have done this?’ Dale asked.

‘Gosh I don’t rightly know Cadet Dale,’ Griff, Dale’s robot sidekick answered. As he answered his optic sensors rotated in several slow circles.

‘Looks like something just pulverised them.’

‘Right enough Cadet Dale. My sensors are picking up trace elements of the various minerals that had built the structures here. Would you like a quantitative list of them.’

‘No, that’s fine.’ Dale still found Griff’s personality difficult to understand. The bot had been given some ‘familiarity’ programs but also maintained its strict analytic core.

‘Yes.’

‘Bring us to the co-ordinates the the Prime Dome.’

Dale’s craft moved silent over the still surface of the planet. The sensor scope that played across the surface beneath them revealed nothing. More flatness. Not even a hint of foundations. Only the trace elements of what had once been there and as those readings sped by it was clear that even those traces where declining.

‘Griff those trace elements are being absorbed by something. Can you tell what it is.’

‘Be happy to try Cadet Dale. Might take me a moment or two so …’ Griff’s auto voice slowed and stilled. His lights dimmed and nearly went out.

‘Oh crap. Just what I need now for the bot to shut down. Main Line what is the problem with Griff.’

‘Griff is thinking.’ The electronic voice of the ship’s computer purred. ‘There is more data here than he was equipped to deal with swiftly.’

‘More data? How can that be?’

‘He has to adjust for each decline in readings. The declines are so swift he’ll never catch up.’

‘How long will Griff be thinking?’

‘That is not a question I can answer.’

‘Estimate?”

‘That is not a question I can answer. I must alert you to the fact the the left hull is being eroded. ‘

‘Eroded?’

‘Yes. It will soon be too weak to keep out the atmosphere. I am taking the ship out of danger now.’

‘Wait.’

soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

nano02

http://nanowrimo.org/

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horses