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“RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN”— A Power Struggle

 “Raining in the Mountain”

A Power Struggle

Amos Lassen

Set in a remote Buddhist monastery in 16th Century China, “Raining in the Mountain” is about a power struggle that ensues when Tripitaki, the Abbot of the Three Treasures Temple announces his retirement. He invites three outsiders to advise him on the critical choice of appointing his successor: Esquire Wen, a wealthy patron of the monastery, General Wang, commander-in-chief of the local military, and Wu Wai, a respected lay Buddhist master. Within the monastery, there are several disciples who aspire to the position of Abbot and they begin to collude individually with Esquire Wen and General Wang. However, t these two invited advisers have come with seditious intent, scheming to obtain the priceless scroll housed in the monastery: to get the scriptural text of “The Mahayana Sutra, ” hand-copied by Tripitaka. Meanwhile, convicted criminal Chiu Ming has arrived at the monastery to atone as a monk. He is assigned to guard the scroll at the house of scriptures, and encounters thieving rivals White Fox who poses as Esquire Wen’s concubine and General Wang’s fearsome Lieutenant Chang, who originally framed Chiu Ming for the crime he did not commit.

The scroll is stored at the Three Treasures Temple, whose abbot is retiring, and has asked Esquire Wen (Suen Yuet) to help him choose a successor. Coveting the scroll, Wen has two plans – firstly, the abbot’s second disciple Hui Wan (Lu Chan) has agreed to give it to him if chosen, but the woman he introduces as his concubine is actually White Fox (Hsu Feng), a master thief. Wen isn’t the only friend advising the abbot, though – General Wang Chi (Feng Tien) seems to have a similar deal with first disciple Hui Tung (Shih Jun), and his aide Chang Chen is a former policeman who once arrested White Fox. Then there’s lay expert Wu Wai (Wu Chia-hsiang), who travels with an entourage of beautiful women, and convict Chiu Ming (Tung Lam), who has paid a special fine to enter the monastery and become a monk at just this time.

The opening of King Hu’s film tracks a party of three on a journey through a range of natural landscapes and weathers. Their determined progression makes them look like pilgrims – an impression which appears to be confirmed by their destination of the ‘Three Treasures’ temple in Ming Dynasty China (the Bulguksa temple complex in South Korea was used as the film’s shooting location).

Even after they have reached the outer gates, their journey is far from over, as they are slowly escorted by the monk Hui Ssu (Paul Chin Pei) through the vast precinct and introduced into the otherworldly serenity of the monastery’s environs. This prologue is a kind of initiation.

To enter this holy place is also to corrupt it, and “Raining in the Mountain” is about this interpenetration and the transcendental, in a transient world where everything is always in motion. The ‘three treasures’ on which the temple was founded and for which it was named – “the Buddha, the Dharma and the Samgha [the monastic community]” are decidedly of a spiritual rather worldly kind, but locked away in the temple’s Scripture Hall is a fourth treasure: the transcription of the Mahayana Sutra said to have been handwritten by the famous Tang Dynasty monk Xuanzang (Tripitaka) himself.

The shifting value of the scroll is one of the film’s central themes. The district’s governor General Wang (Tien Feng) also considers it “a priceless treasure”, and also hopes to steal it via the underhanded operation of his lieutenant, the law officer (and ex-con) Chang Cheng (Chen Hui-lou). Yet even though White Fox scorns the monastery’s simple food, and deems the temple a “dump”, she considers the sutra nothing more than a “ragged old scroll”.

This perspective which brings her into an unexpected alignment with the monastery’s wise old Abbot (Kim Chang-Gean) and with the Abbot’s equally wise lay advisor Master Wu Wai (Wu Chia-hsiang), who comments, “The old scroll has no real value.”

the Abbot has invited representatives of worldly wealth and power, to assist him in choosing a successor. Asked by Wu Wai if he has any criteria, the Abbot responds: “I have none. It doesn’t matter whether he is a monk or a layman, so long as he is enlightened.” That last proviso, of course, is harder to fulfil than it sounds.

“Raining in the Mountain” is more about content than form and places “true value” in a text’s meaning rather than in its materiality.

 

“The Doll: A Portrait of My Mother” by Ismail Kadare— An Autobiographical Novel

Kadare, Ismail. “The Doll: A Portrait of My Mother”, translated by John Hodgson, Counterpoint, 2020.

An Autobiographical Novel

Amos Lassen

Ismail Kadare, Albania’s famed novelist and poet explores his relationship with his mother in his autobiographical novel, “The Doll”, a story of home, family, creative aspirations, and personal and political freedom. He grew up in his father’s great stone house with hidden rooms and even a dungeon and his mother was at the center of his universe but his mother was a fragile woman who was at odds with her mother-in-law who, according to custom for women of a certain age, never leaves the house. Young Ismail has difficulty understanding his mother’s tears aside from that she is bored.

As Ismail explores his world, his mother becomes afraid of her intellectual son. He uses  words  that are unknown to her and he writes radical poetry. He falls in love easily, and seems to disrespect and renounce everything she believes in. She is afraid that she will lose him when he becomes a famous writer. Kadare explores his creative aspirations and their tangled connections to his childhood home and his mother’s place within it. He does so throughcombining fiction and memoir as he recollects his childhood in Gjirokastra, Albania, and early writing career in Tirana while imagining his mother’s early life. The intricate portrayal of his mother matches that of communist Albania, full of conflicts and incongruities. We read of  the ways his mother influenced both his personality and art.

 

“Requiem for a Female Serial Killer” by Phyllis Chessler— Into the Mind of Aileen Wournos

Chessler, Phyliss. “Requiem for a Female Serial Killer”,  World Encounter Institute/New English Review Press, 2020.

Into the Mind of Aileen Wournos

Amos Lassen

Aileen Wournos was a unique female serial killer. She was a prostitute who murdered seven adult men and her case issues raised issues that are still unresolved today. I found myself challenged by my ideas of how I thought about prostitutes, serial killers and American justice.

Author Phyllis Chessler knew Aileen Wuornos and was involved with her and she speaks in Wournos’s voice as well as her own. Wournos, while at outlaw, was also a damaged person filled with anger and rage, the subject of childhood and women’s abuse. Chessler has been haunted by her association with Wournos whom we see here as a woman who was broken. She was impaired cognitively, an alcoholic and suffered traumas in life. She, quite simply, had had enough and the results of that were deadly. Yet, here the portrait that we get of her is quite different from what we have seen before. We go behind-the-scenes and are introduced to her with great sensitivity yet Chessler manages to somewhat detach herself from the woman. We cannot help but question if Wournos suffered post-traumatic stress after having lived a life of hell. She was certainly affected by what she experienced as a prostitute but was she evil before that? How did she become a predator after having been prey for so long? What happened to the system that was supposed to protect her? These questions are left to the reader to answer.

We get “both an imagined interpretation of the crimes of Aileen Wuornos, the female ‘serial killer, ‘ and a description of the way that feminists in the US responded to her trial and execution.” We also see how prostitution can severely damage a person. Probing the issues of life and death, madness, justice (or the lack of it) and the trial for justice, the death penalty and trauma from rape, we get a new look at the Aileen Wournos that we thought we knew.

 

 

“HomeComing: A Mister Puss Mystery” by Michael Craft— A New House

Craft, Michael. “HomeComing: A Mister Puss Mystery”, Questlover Press, 2020.

A New House

Amos Lassen

In the third volume of the “Mister Puss Series”, writer Michael Craft reintroduces us to Architect Brody Norris and his husband, Marson Miles. They are building a new house and preparing to move into it when Brody is asked by Sheriff Thomas Simms to don his sleuthing outfits and come in to help on a new case. But Brody does not work alone; he  gets a bit of help from his Abyssinian cat, Mister Puss.

Set in the town of Dumont, Wisconsin, the residents are excited that their favorite son, actor Thad Manning, is coming home from Hollywood to direct a film about his youth. A site for screentests is set up on the town commons and we learn that there is even a role for  Mister Puss as well as for a number of extras. However, on the day of the tests, someone is found murdered and there are suspects everywhere.

This is so much more than a mystery though. Writer Craft explores the meaning of the word “homecoming” and what “home” means. Craft also brings back the cat that we came to love in the first two books in the series.

When Thad and his wife, Paige return to Dumont, there is a sense of excitement in the town. Thad has come home just at the same time that Brody is coming to his new home. Both men experience strong emotions about their concepts of home.However, the murder upends everything and as Sheriff Simms, along with Brody, investigates the crime, questions about the meaning of home come to the fore. We are taken through various looks at the definition of the word as the two men work at solving the murder. We see that the murder and the Thad’s and Brody’s homecomings are only “incidentally linked”. However, Brody’s begins to see his coming home to be linked to solving the murder and he begins to have serious looks at the people of the town, studying them as he searches for motives.  Because this is a mystery, I cannot say more about the plot except to tell you to keep your minds on Mister Puss who always has something to say.

Writer Craft brings us unique characters and wonderful descriptions of small town Wisconsin. The prose is lively and the story is compelling.

 

“THEM” An Original Docu-Series for Trans Day of Remembrance

THEM”

An Original Docu-Series for Trans Day of Remembrance

Amos Lassen

Revry, the first global LGBTQ+ TV network, debuts its newest original, Them, a docu-series focusing on the “T” in LGBTQIA+ in observance of today’s Trans Day of Remembrance 2020.  Them provides inspirational and uplifting stories from people within the trans / gender non-conforming community.

 

“The euphoria of feeling aligned in your body and your mind…” Kai Wes, actor/producer, identifies as non-binary and trans-masculine. “That is a real privilege if you’ve never experienced that discomfort. And that’s why it’s so, so important to understand that transitioning is more than just about physicality.”

 

The dynamic three episode docu-series illuminates and uplifts the colorful gender spectrum as well as the non-binary/transgender community in all the glory they represent. Appealing to outsiders, allies and non-trans members of the LGBTQIA+ alike, Themenlightens the subject because it comes from the perspective of the trans/non-binary community themselves.

 

“Much of the LGBTQ community is represented but within that, the “T” is so underrepresented.” Irish-Italian queer pop sensation FLAVIA orchestrated the docu-series on set for her latest music video, “Them”. “Trans people have the highest number of homelessness and unemployment…and people just don’t know.”

 

“Trans Day of Remembrance is such an important moment of reflection–especially in light of the present threats to the health, safety, and freedoms of trans and non-binary people,” says Revry co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Christopher J. Rodriguez, Esq., “As a diversely queer-owned and operated network, Revry is honored to share these raw true stories of the trans experience with the world to help foster understanding, acceptance, and empathy.”

Hand on your chest teach me how to respect your figure – Flavia, Them 
One in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives and more than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias and discrimination. The Trevor Project also tells us that 40% of transgender adults reported have made a suicide attempt, most attempts being made before the age of 25. Knowing that the LGBTQI+ youth are struggling today in our society, what can we do about it?

 

“I think it’s important for kids to see the trans and non binary experience in the media and see it as something positive, something to look forward to.” Sara Stanger identifies as transgender and non-binary. “I do believe a lot of it has to do with how they are seeing it in the media.”

In an effort to help youth around the world feel less alone, FLAVIA sought out trans and non-binary supportive art and artists to include in the series. “I looked for art. Trans supportive art – and I couldn’t find it. Because it’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that the media doesn’t cover them enough.”

 

This uplifting three-part series was directed and edited by Basil Mironer, captured on set of FLAVIA’s music video, “Them.” The video is is a colorful, evocative number choreographed by Carlena Britch and features close to 50 individuals who all identify as trans, gender non-conforming, or non-binary.

 

FLAVIA explains, “I wrote “Them” based on a relationship I had was with someone who identified as trans-masculine and non-binary. I learned through their openness how powerful language truly is, and how impactful a word choice can be for someone. Whether it’s delineating between the use of ‘chest’ instead of ‘breasts’, or using someone’s correct pronouns, it can be the tiniest shift in our language that makes someone feel seen, validated and respected.  “Them” is intended to be inclusive of the entire trans/gender nonconforming/non-binary community. My hope was that “Them” could help uplift the voices of the T in LGBTQ+ that is so often wildly underrepresented in popular media.”

 

Them, the docu-series premieres today, November 20th, on-demand for free on Revry at watch.revry.tv.

Ask me who I’m with, I’m with them; body was a woman now a real gentleman; don’t need a label when I’m lying on your skin; ask me who I’m with, I’m with them. – FLAVIA, “Them

 

*Support from Trans Wellness Center, Trans Chorus LA, LGBTQ Center LA, SRLP (Silvia Rivera Law Project), Billboard, Freeform, Vents, Flaunt, Grimy Goods, Earmilk, Ladygunn

 

*Support from major influencers: ALOK, Mads Paige, Jacob Tobia, Zackary Drucker, Kai Wes

 

 

ABOUT REVRY

 

Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ digital cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news, and exclusive originals all in one place! Revry is currently available globally in over 250+ million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile, and Desktop platforms. Revry can also be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and Connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+, and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Rad (available on PlayStation devices). The company–an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort–is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv, Revry.tv

 

“OUT” CELEBRATES THE ANNUAL OUT100 ISSUE WITH SYMPOSIUM AND VIRTUAL CEREMONY

“OUT” CELEBRATES THE ANNUAL OUT100 ISSUE WITH SYMPOSIUM AND VIRTUAL CEREMONY 

Out honors the 100 most influential LGBTQ+ people of the year.

Pride Media’s Out magazine is thrilled to release the 2020 Out100 presented by Lexus. The list remains the largest annual portfolio recognizing members of the LGBTQ+ for their ground-breaking, ripple-inducing, and culture-shifting impact nationwide. The coveted and anticipated Out100 issue features four covers including trailblazing actor Wilson Cruz, activist and BLM organizer Janaya Khan, actor and director Joe Mantello, and artist and icon Janelle Monáe.

 

This year’s honorees make up one of the most diverse lists in Out magazine’s history, spanning several generations and a multitude of intersections from 18-year-old rap sensation Kidd Kenn and 99-year old trans WWII U.S. Navy fighter pilot Robina Asti to MSNBC journalist Rachel Maddow, who in a year of political tension was a voice of reason for the LGBTQ+ community. From fashion legend André Leon Talley, headlining musician Lizzo, comedian Wanda Sykes, actors Jeremy Pope and Cheyenne Jacksonto modeling industry heavyweight Ivan Bart, the creators of Queer Eye, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s very queer team Jamal BrownReggie Greer, and Karine Jean-Pierre, inclusivity and progress are the driving force behind this year’s list.

 

Each honoree represents not just the past but also the future. Leading into 2021, the LGBTQ+ community as a whole will undoubtedly reap the benefits of their accomplishments. This year might have brought an onslaught of challenges, but it also welcomed new opportunities to reflect about what matters to the LGBTQ+ community and what lies ahead in the fight for equality and justice. Now more than ever, it’s vital to recognize the powerful voices leading the charge and sounding off the new vanguard of queer leaders. In a year of Pride celebrated at home instead of in the streets, community support from company partners like LexusCitiGileadMcDonald’s USATruly Hard Seltzer, and Stoli® Group USA, LLC has never been more important or helpful in amplifying these powerful Out100 voices moving the LGBTQ+ community forward.

 

“Community building has been the bedrock of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and part of that is understanding the fact that we are not and have never been monolithic. All of us have a story and role to play in this fight. All of our experiences and lived realities are different, special, and integral in building a better world — together. The Out100 list is a representation of this journey. For 26 years, it has stood the test of time and continues to empower the next generation of LGBTQ+ thought leaders, artists, and professionals to create a more inclusive future for all of us.” — David Artavia, Editor in Chief, Out

 

This year, Out’s nationally recognized and respected Out100 issue extends beyond the brand’s print and online properties with two exciting virtual events. On Friday, November 20, the cofounder of Black Lives Matter Canada, Janaya Khan, will moderate a dynamic “How Do We Come Back From This?” symposium on what moving out of the last four years looks like for culture, politics, the movement, and ourselves, including Emmy-winning creator of Transparent Joey Soloway, trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston, and PR strategist Kelly Bush Novak. On Saturday, November 21, the Out100 culminates in the first-ever 2020 Out100 Virtual Honoree Induction Ceremony, live at 5 p.m. Pacific (8 p.m. Eastern) at Out.com/Out100Live, and available on all Revry live channels and on-demand at 6 p.m. Pacific (9 p.m. Eastern) at watch.revry.tv.

The 2020 Out100 Virtual Honoree Induction Ceremony will feature appearances by 2020 Out100 Honorees:

·       Cover stars Wilson Cruz and Joe Mantello.

·       In the “Television” category: Theo GermaineDavid CollinsMichael Williams & Bob Eric (Scout Productions)Brandon Kyle GoodmanCheyenne JacksonJamal SimsJeremy PopeShakina, and Jo Ellen Pellman.

·       In the “Fashion and Beauty” category: Patrick ChurchPatrick Starrr, and Ivan Bart.

·       In the “The Firsts” category: Shevrin JonesParis BarclaySharon-Franklin Brown, and Kierra Johnson.

·       In the “Advocacy” category: Mark S. KingRashad RobinsonQueen JeanCody Renard RichardScott WienerMary TrumpRachel LevineMalcolm KenyattaTiffany Caban, and Ritchie Torres.

·       In the “Biden’s Team” category: Jamal Brown and Reggie Greer.

·       In the “Thinkers” category: Andrew Gelwicks.

·       In the “All Stars” category: Thomas Beattie.

·       In the “Film” category: Brigette Lundy-Paine, and Gerard Bush & Christopher Rens.

·       In the “Innovators” category: Richard Gray.

*And Special Guest – Mel C

 

Tune in and follow the conversation on social media: #Out100

 

Now more than ever, it’s important to highlight the monumental achievements the LGBTQ+ community has made against the backdrop of a giant cultural shift and an evolving landscape of entertainment, politics, social justice, industry, and so much more. This list is critical. Before I was in charge of Out, I long dreamed of making it on the list myself. I never did, but it still pushed me to do better.” — Diane Anderson-Minshall, CEO & Editorial Director, Pride Media

 

Diane Anderson-Minshall, David Artavia, and the entire family at Out express their deepest gratitude to those involved in making the Out100 issue and the Out100 Virtual Honoree Induction Ceremony an experience to never forget, with a special thank-you to the presenting sponsor Lexus for all their contributions.

 

Find out who made this year’s Out100 list exclusively at Out.com/Out100The full list drops Thursday, November 19tht. 

The Out100 print issue will be available on newsstands December 1st, 2020. Subscribe today.

 

For More Information, Assets, and Interview Avails, please contact: JB@PotentPR.com

 

About Pride Media 

Pride Media is the largest publisher of LGBTQ+ content in the U.S., including OutThe Advocate, PRIDE.comOut Traveler, and Plus. With over 53 years of award-winning editorial spanning digital, print, social and experiential, our content shapes the LGBTQ+ landscape—serving as the go-to destination for our audience across entertainment, news & politics, LGBTQ+ rights, travel, wellness, finance, food & spirits, and fashion. By covering every aspect of the LGBTQ+ experience, Pride Media’s brands use the power of words to inspire the full spectrum of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people to live life with pride.

 

About Lexus 

Lexus’ passion for brave design, imaginative technology, and exhilarating performance enables the luxury lifestyle brand to create amazing experiences for its guests. Lexus began its journey in 1989 with two luxury sedans and a commitment to pursue perfection. Since then, Lexus has developed its lineup to meet the needs of global luxury customers in more than 90 countries. In the United States, Lexus vehicles are sold through 242 dealers offering a full lineup of luxury vehicles. With six models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader. Lexus also offers eight F SPORT models and two F performance models. Lexus is committed to being a visionary brand that anticipates the future for luxury customers.

www.facebook.com/lexus

www.twitter.com/lexus

www.youtube.com/LexusVehicles

https://plus.google.com/+Lexus/posts

www.instagram.com/lexususa

https://www.pinterest.com/lexususa/

 

Note to Editors: Lexus product information and images are available online via our news media website http://LexusNewsroom.com.

 

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi| LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi

 

About McDonald’s USA

 

McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to nearly 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook. www.facebook.com/mcdonalds.

 

About Truly 

First released in 2016, category leader Truly Hard Seltzer is a clean, crisp and refreshing hard seltzer with a hint of fruit and just 100 calories, 1g sugar and 5% ALC/VOL. Truly Hard Seltzer is crafted with simple, naturally gluten-free ingredients and contains alcohol made from cane sugar. It is available in 12 delicious styles and now in four styles of Truly Lemonade. To learn more about Truly Hard Seltzer, visit www.trulyhardseltzer.com

 

About Stoli® Group USA, LLC

Stoli Group USA, LLC is a U.S. importer and marketer of alcoholic beverages, headquartered in New York City. Formed in 2013, Stoli Group USA is a subsidiary of SPI Group, based in Luxembourg, one of the world’s most dynamic wine and spirits organizations.

 

About Gilead

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. The company strives to transform and simplify care for people with life-threatening illnesses around the world. Gilead has operations in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.

 

For more than 30 years, Gilead has been a leading innovator in the field of HIV, driving advances in treatment, prevention, testing and linkage to care, and cure research. Today, it’s estimated that more than 12 million people living with HIV globally receive antiretroviral therapy provided by Gilead or one of the company’s manufacturing partners.

 

Gilead is committed to supporting the global health community to quickly and effectively respond to serious and life-threatening viral outbreaks worldwide. To that end, the company is contributing its antiviral expertise and resources to help investigate potential treatments for patients with COVID-19.

 

For more information about Gilead, please visit the company’s website at www.gilead.com

 

“DELTA RAY”— Going Home

“DELTA RAY”

Going Home

Amos Lassen

Earthy, familial alt-pop outfit Delta Rae  is a gospel country rock soul band that was formed in 2009 by siblings Ian, Eric, and Brittany Hölljes, along with Elizabeth Hopkins in North Carolina and then expanded to a sextet the following year with the additions of Mike McKee and Grant Emerson. In the spring of 2015. Following a relocation to Nashville, the band signed with Big Machine in 2017 and issued a pair of EPs — A Long and Happy Life and The Blackbird Sessions — in quick succession. The front part of 2019 they released many new singles and decided to go independent. This concert film, “Coming Home To Carolina’ was filmed with fourteen 4K Ultra Hi Def Cameras, before hometown fans in Raleigh, North Carolina, during their final shows one week before Christmas, from their highly successful 2019 sold out Take Me There Tour. It features some of the bands biggest hits including Take Me There, Down By The River , Dance In The Graveyard interspersed with scenic performance scenes at Raleigh River. We have interview segments at the bands home where they recorded most of their first album of songs, ending in a bonfire jam at the Local Watering Hole. Bonus features include: Ultra Deluxe Digi Pak packaging includes a Blu Ray Disc, Standard Definition DVD and bonus Audio CD Soundtrack!

The stage scenes are blended with the band members walking in the NC countryside and making a few comments on their career. The 65-minute concert is packed with 14 songs.Delta Rae’s music crosses genre lines. They aren’t exactly country or rock or alternative yet they blend of all three.

 

“Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary” by Matin Duberman— A New Look at Dworkin

Duberman, Martin. “Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary”, The New Press, 2020.

A New Look at Dworkin

Amos Lassen

 

Marin Duberman’s “Andrea Dworkin” is a new look at the radical feminist and anti-pornography activist and is based on exclusive access to her archives Still fifteen years after her death, Andrea Dworkin is one of the most important and challenging figures in second-wave feminism. Even though she has often been relegated to feminism’s radical fringes, Dworkin was a formidable and influential writer, a philosopher, and an activist as well as a brilliant figure who inspired and angered equally. Her detractors wanted to reduce her to the caricature of the angry, man-hating feminist who believed that all sex was rape, and because of this her work has long been misunderstood. However, in recent years, there has been an interest in her ideas.

Duberman was given exclusive access to never-before-published photographs and archives including her letters to major figures of second-wave feminism. He follows Dworkin’s life, from her abusive first marriage through her central role in the sex and pornography wars of the following decades. We get a reassessment of the life and work of one of the major figures of second-wave feminism.

Andrea Dworkin was among the most controversial figures in the second-wave feminist movement. She was caricatured by her critics as a man-hating lesbian who believed all heterosexual sex was rape. Duberman knew her personally and gives us a much more nuanced picture, showing that Dworkin lived for 40 years in a nonexclusive, occasionally sexual relationship with a male partner and that she was ahead of her time in seeing gender as a social construct that denied the fluidity of human sexual behavior. During Dworkin’s childhood and youth, she was a precocious rebel with a deep commitment to social justice and a confrontational personality unwilling to compromise. When she was forced to undergo a brutal and humiliating vaginal exam after being arrested at a sit-in protesting the Vietnam War, Dworkin, who was then just 18, wrote to every newspaper in New York City describing her ordeal and the conditions at the Women’s House of Detention. This was the beginning of her battle to make the world see that women were routinely mistreated and abused. Duberman argues that Dworkin was misunderstood as a call for censorship when actually she advocated for the right of women who had been harmed by pornography to sue its purveyors and their obligation to prove their case in court. They way she reacted to free-speech absolutists shows her belligerence and intelligence. Duberman shows her bravery, her public voice and her spirit.

. “Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life” by John Gray— Cats, Humans and the Meaning of Life

Gray, John. “Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life”,Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020.

Cats, Humans and the Meaning of Life

Amos Lassen

It seems that philosophers have always looked at the idea of happiness and how to make it happen, how to be a good person, how to be loved and how to live in a world filled with loss and yet constantly changing. John Gray looks at cats to see if they just might have the answers to be these issues. The way that cats live is without the anxiety of life; they do not display self-consciousness and they simply do not have to deal with life as humans do. Gray looks at what has been written about cats and explores what we can learn from them.

“Gray offers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on the follies of human exceptionalism and our fundamentally vulnerable and lonely condition.” He looks at life as a way forward but minus “illusions and delusions, revealing how we can endure both crisis and transformation, and adapt to a changed scene, as cats have always done.” Do we see what cats reveal about the human relationship with the world?

Cats have always adapted to their surroundings and how they do that has something to say to those of us who find it hard to do so. I do not think of cats having the power of thought but they certainly have something that we do not.

The book is really about humans and not cats yet we do have cat-related anecdotes from life and from literature. More important that in reading this we learn about various schools of thought. As a philosopher myself, I spend a lot of time thinking about the meaning of life. I have not, before reading this, thought about how cats see life. Beautifully written and provocative, I have a lot to think about now.

“Lazarus Rising: A Novel” by Joseph Caldwell— Remembering AIDS

Caldwell, Joseph. “Lazarus Rising: A Novel”, Delphinium Books, 2020.

Remembering AIDS

Amos Lassen

Beginning on Staten Island in the 1980s when AIDS was still a horrible epidemic and death occurred every day Joseph Caldwell in “Lazarus Rising” introduces us to artist Dempsey Coates as she is on the way home and comes upon an intense fire. She offers several of the fireman who were fighting the inferno a place where they can relax and get warm after battling the blaze. Johnny Donegan is one of the fire fighters and belong long, the two fall madly in love with her and makes it his aim to create a life with Dempsey. However, after a few months of dating, they go their separate ways.

The two meet again in 1992 after Dempsey has been through a period of drug addiction and now has AIDS. She received quite a large amount of money through an inheritance  and this has allowed her to continue working on a project she has been pursuing— a painting of Lazarus. She asks Johnny to pose for her, their romance is rekindled and they soon become engaged. They both understand that they must practice safe sex but this in conflict with Johnny’s Catholicism. The church will not bless their  planned marriage because of this but it also leads to a friendship with Father Dunphy. As Johnny prays for Dempsey to be cured, events happen that are inexplainable and neither the priest or Dempsey’s doctor can understand what has happened.

We are taken back to a terrible time in history when all seemed dark much like what we are going through today with the Covid-9 pandemic; a time when we cannot understand or explain what is happening. More than just a novel, “Lazarus Rising” is a parable of faith and commitment coming to us in gorgeous prose and that allows us to be reminded that hope is never not an option.