GOT TO GET OURSELVES BACK TO THE GARDEN: QUEER FILM AND THE REFLEX OF LOSS

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Timothee Chalamet as Elio in Call Me by Your Name

Guest columnist David Groff brilliantly and movingly compares two of the best films of the year, Call Me by Your Name and God’s Own Country, which happen to be about gay love and gay desire yet, as other critics tell us, transcend that particular kind of love and that particular kind of desire to make each of them universal for moviegoers. “Sure, every worthy work of art has not just particularized meaning but larger import,” writes Groff. “But nobody defaults to talking about Romeo and Juliet as the story of two clashing theories of desire, and nobody hurries to frame Titanic as social classes clashing. Call Me by Your Name encourages the same sort of reaction we saw applied a dozen years ago to Brokeback Mountain, when viewers averted their eyes from the spit in Ennis’s hand to focus less squirmingly on the Tragic Forces of lovers’ separation. The necessity of being generally meaningful is a burden borne by any film about queers and other minorities: it must perforce transcend its particulars to invite us all in, lest it end up without a distribution deal.”

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My 20 FAVORITE FILMS OF THE YEAR. AND THE ONE THAT I FELT WAS THE MOST OVERRATED.

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THEATRE 2017. MY FAVORITE SHOWS. AND THE ONE I FELT WAS THE MOST OVERRATED.


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TIMELESS GRACE, BUT NOT A PRINCESS:

JULIANNE MOORE'S MANY TALENTS

THE OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESS IS ALSO A STYLE ICON WHO CAN TALK ABOUT PIERRE JEANNERET AND KARL LAGERFELD AS WELL AS THE EXQUISITE PRECISION IT TAKES TO CRACK A WALNUT, ONE OF HER FAVORITE MEDITATIVE PURSUITS.

(It's all rather Chekhovian. You'll see.)

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Photograph by Herb Ritts, 2001.  Courtesy of the Herb Ritts Foundation.

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Kathleen Turner is a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood.

TURNER CLASSIC

If anyone ever had a voice made for a podcast, it is Kathleen Turner. In this one, she talks to me about the importance of service in her life - she is a big supporter of Planned Parenthood, Citymeals on Wheels, and People for the American Way. Turner even sees her art as an act of service. I find the woman deeply likable. Decent. Even vulnerable.

(Yes, vulnerable. Give it a listen. I think she will surprise you.)

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Sarah Jessica Parker photographed by Yu Tsai

THE CHAT

Listen to Part One of this podcast conversation between Sarah Jessica Parker and Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, as they discuss politics, New York, and how to raise privileged children when they were not children of privilege themselves.

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SJP and Darren Walker at Via Carota in Greenwich Village

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LEGENDS, LADDIES, & LADIES: THE PORTRAITURE OF PHOTOGRAPHER JESSE FROHMAN 

“A PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT IS A PICTURE OF SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HE IS BEING PHOTOGRAPHED, AND WHAT HE DOES WITH THIS KNOWLEDGE IS AS MUCH A PART OF THE PHOTOGRAPH AS WHAT HE’S WEARING OR HOW HE LOOKS,” SAID RICHARD AVEDON.  JESSE FROHMAN, WHOSE PORTRAITS OF DIRECTOR SPIKE LEE AND VIOLINIST SARAH CHANG ARE RECENT ACQUISITIONS OF THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY IN WASHINGTON, D.C., IS, LIKE AVEDON, A MODERNIST WORKING IN AN UNERRING TRADITIONALIST MODE.  CLICK ON THE TITLE ABOVE TO SEE MORE OF HIS WORK: ICE CUBE, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, JAMES BROWN, ANDREW GARFIELD, AND NICK CAVE, AMONG OTHERS.

(Above, left to right: Kurt Cobain, Fredrik, Carrie Donovan)

 

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Photo by Liz Hafalia

WELCOME TO SESSUMSMAGAZINE. COM. THE PODCAST ISSUE.

First of all, thank you for your patience.  I have been turning my life around so it was a bit difficult the last few weeks turning around this site with new content.  Those of you who follow me on Facebook are aware that I am moving back to the east coast from San Francisco.  I decided to do this when I was in New York City over Thanksgiving and from that moment to this one, as I sit here typing this Editor’s Letter on New Year’s Eve in North Beach at Caffe Greco, I have given up my apartment atop Telegraph Hill and found a loft in Hudson, New York.  The moving van is now on its way there.  I will follow it in a week.  Life goes on.  And so does sessumsMagazine.com.  It was, indeed, a kind of lifeline to me after a bit of a rocky start.  But that rockiness is all in the past now.  On to the Hudson River and a new kind of flow in my life as I reconnect with old friends and reignite my east coast life where I lived for 38 years before my four here in California.  I will always be grateful for the experience here but it is time for the “amen” to this four-year prayer, which is sort of what my life in San Francisco was about as I navigated a life in recovery with all its twists and turns and valleys and peaks. 

It was an awful year in lots of ways personally for me.  Lots of valleys.  I lost my beloved dog Archie last January.  He had cancer and died in my arms in the apartment I am now leaving – which will always be the place Archie herded be toward and then departed when he was certain finally that I was capable of herding myself.  I almost died from kidney failure in April.  I had an operation on my prostate in May.  I lost my job at the Curran Theatre.  Donald Trump continued to trample the country.

And yet.

I did launch this online magazine which is still in its cultural infancy but is already becoming, I hope, part of a larger cultural conversation.  In that regard, I decided to make this latest iteration a special podcast issue filled with conversations you can listen to yourselves.  Two people who have voices made for podcasts are Kathleen Turner and Don Bachardy, who are both featured this month.  Bette Midler stars in the latest Digital Dialogues which are archival podcasts of my past interviews with the biggest stars in show business.  Also Sarah Jessica Parker and The Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker have a spirited and deeply informed conversation about where we are as a country right now – how we can trip up the tramplers if we trust in our own graceful gate  – in the latest version of sessumsMagazine.com‘s The Chat.

Thank you for continuing to be a part of the conversation I am setting out to have with the community we are building here. 

Here’s to 2018.  And to community.  And to kindness – for kindness has carried me this year when I didn’t think I would survive at times.  Be kind. 

Kevin

BEFORE GOOGLE

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Jane Fonda with her mother, Frances Ford Seymour.

STARS IN BLACK TURTLENECKS

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Fonda photographed by Milton Greene. 1958

SOME JOY

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Fonda sharing a laugh with John Wayne.

IN THE COMING WEEKS ...

Willem Dafoe. Laura Linney. Judith Light. Ellen Barkin. Style icon and photographer Lisa Eisner. Writers Armistead Maupin, Julia Reed, George Hodgman, Jesse Kornbluth, Joyce Maynard, Sheila Weller, Mark Childress, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, Jennifer Raiser, Benoit Denizet-Lewis and William Norwich. Part Two of The Sally Field Interview. Part Two of Bette Midler's Digitalized Dialogue. And Part One of Catherine Deneuve's. And Elizabeth Taylor's. Oh: Don Bachardy also draws my nude portrait - yes, I am publishing it - and we talk about it being the first nude he's drawn in over two years in Part Two of our podcast.

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Don Bachardy, washing his brushes, watched over by his portrait of Christopher Isherwood in his Santa Monica studio.  November, 2017.

BACHARDY RUM(INATIONS)

Another person who has a voice made for a podcast is artist Don Bachardy, who actually sounds a lot like his late lover, Christopher Isherwood.  Listen to our conversation about how Chris’s friends disapproved of Don early on and how Chris wasn’t afraid of death but dying.  And we diss Donald Trump too – deadly so.

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Portrait of me.  Painted by Don Barchardy.  Santa Monica.  November, 2017 .

AT THIS STAGE:

A report from my theatre trip to London. Shakespeare, O'Neill, and Bob Dylan.

May you always do for others and let others do for you.  May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung.” Bob Dylan

Guest Columnists

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JFK DNA: Congressman Joe Kennedy, III

IIIrd TIME'S THE CHARM? Or Will Those to the Left of Congressman Joseph Kennedy, III, Try to Right This Next Ship of State Before It Even Sets Sail?

By Brendan Lemon

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Comedian and author, Bob Smith (1958-2018)

Remembrance of Things I Will Never Forget: A Friend's Memories of Comedian, Author, and Environmental Activist Bob Smith

By Christopher Bram

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SF Serial

In the mode of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, this serial In the Land of Start-Ups will introduce you to a fictional cast of San Francisco characters. Get ready for a new chapter each week in this narrative of loss and love and lust – and, yes, lucre.  This week, in Chapter Nine, Isaac’s mother meets Margot, one of Cal’s two mothers, and an unexpected spark occurs. Is it a romantic one or just one of recognition?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Monday, March 7, 2016, in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Morning Memo

My thoughts each day on the political climate in this country.  Today in For Evil It Is, I write about why I don’t fudge regarding my terminology anymore when referencing what is going on with this oligarchical theocratic fascist regime. Its intent is evil.  The results of its actions are evil.  The regime itself is an evil one.  Can one be politically evil and not personally so?  That, I still grapple with

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Meta-Memoir

This week in Bacon, Biscuits, and Big-Boned Women: A Mississippi Thanksgiving, I recall my childhood holidays when I’d sit inside with the women-folk and play scrabble and reminisce about my dead parents while the men-folk were out hunting quail.  I remember making sugar cane molasses too.  But I remember this most: S-O-R-R-O-W is a 9-point score in Scrabble.

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Travel

World traveler, TheWrap.com’s theatre critic Robert Hofler, takes his discerning eye on safari in Out of Africa, At Last.  He captures the brutal beauty of the continent with language and wit and, finally, yes the wonder the place inspires.  Picture Waugh eyeing (with rolled eyes) wildebeests and you’ll come close to what it’s like to read this remarkably rendered travel piece.

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THE OTHER SAN FRANCISCO BART

Bartlett Sher talks to Brendan Lemon about growing up in the Bay Area and how the city, and the Jesuit education he got there, still influence his work as one of the most sought-after theatre and opera directors.

Photograph by Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair 2015

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