“ROMEO & ROMEO”— On the Skids

romeo-and-romeo-

“Romeo & Romeo”

On the Skids

Amos Lassen

 “Romeo & Romeo” is a LGBT thriller. Zak Lawson was a pop star that came out of nowhere, and reached the top of the billboard charts at the age of 14. He met bad boy Trent at the peak of his career and what followed was bad news. Trent dragged Zak down a road full of drugs and alcohol and Zak went out of control and ended his career. Now Years later, He spiraled out of control, and his career was over. Zak faces the past head on, learning about secrets that test his sobriety.’

Tyler Bradley writes, directs and stars. A 2015 release is planned, but to get a feel for the film take a look at the trailer below.

“DICK THE DOCUMENTARY”— Man Relates to Penis

dick

“Dick: The Documentary”

Man Relates to Penis

Amos Lassen

Director Brian Fender placed an ad on Craigslist for men between the ages of 21-80 to come to his living room to discuss their relationship with their penis. And they came— everyone from Marines to transsexuals came and went full frontal to talk about their dicks. Now do not get all excited—this is a documentary about how we process information when we are young. Think about this—how do you know something is the color red? The answer is quite simple—someone told you that. What about the penis? Can you remember what you were taught about it? Probably not but whatever it was, you still hold that information in your brain. With this film we see dicks everywhere—we are in fact bombarded with dicks for about an hour. The dicks hang there while their owners discuss serious material.

The study of genitalia (or dicks, if you prefer) is not new and in many cases when asked about the penis, the responses are primal. Everyone wants to think that they’re far more mature than they are when confronted with certain material. Sure, it is somewhat to see an hour of penises bobbing before our eyes but there is also something to be learned here. The penis, itself, has been ruined by a mix of Puritan talk and juvenile confusion. Now if we could restate the argument and give it to young men to discuss, I believe that most of the problems that people have with talking about the penis will disappear.

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Director Fender had a budget that limited his work but this is certainly not a topic for a big budget film. I mean, after all, all he did was to get men to talk about their penises. He had his props close at hand. The entire documentary is simply a selection of guys who strip naked, stand in front of a wall and discuss their dicks. We never see f their faces, which is a smart move as while on the surface it makes the whole thing seem slightly voyeuristic and it ensures that the guys involved are less inhibited as they know that even though it’s being filmed they have anonymity.

Fender got most of his participants through online ads, many of them targeted towards gay men, and as a result there are more gay guys represented that in the population at large, but that’s probably a good thing gives them a more “nuanced perspective on both theirs and other’s dicks”. Of course, we do wonder how honest those that appear are and while some are certainly interested in the project, there are those who seem not to really understand what they are doing.

It’s a surprisingly effective way of dealing with the subject, with the incredibly simple setup ensuring there’s nothing to get in the way and Fender making sure that his subjects are open and talkative. One of the more fascinating things is wondering how honest the participants are being, along with their motivation for being there. Some of those involved seem genuinely interested in the project, others seem a bit confused about why they’re there, a few seem to be challenging themselves and trying something new, while a couple undoubtedly see it is a sexual experience in its own right.

The film allows the participants to say what they feel about the size of the penis, when they first became aware of it as a sexual organ, how they think of in relation to other guy’s dicks, and both the positives and negatives associated with it. And then of course there’s the interesting fact that while some guys talk about it merely as part of their overall sexuality, others have a slight tendency to refer to their penis almost as if it’s a separate to the rest of them. (We all know guys like that who even named their penis and refer to it as a friend). I think many will begin to think more about their own penises after seeing this film. Of course, it is interesting to hear how others think about their penises and how other men view and relate to what they have; whether it’s the physiological, psychological, sexual or purely functional, as well as how the relationship changes at different times of life.

Isn’t it interesting that an organ that is so important and so central in the lives of men is rarely talked about (openly). As we watch we do find ourselves thinking about our own relationships with our “peters”. We, in all probability, think about how we are alike and how we are different from the guys on the screen.

The film could have been a disaster but it succeeds—perhaps because of the anonymity of the participants. They stand completely naked in front of the camera from the neck down so you never actually see their faces but that becomes unimportant once they begin to speak. They speak about any and everything from their first masturbatory experience to their first true sexual experience. They are all kinds of men interviewed throughout the movie, straight, gay, black, white, circumcised, uncircumcised, tall, short, big, small and at the end of the day. Regardless of labels, they all share possession of their individual penises. Listening to each of the men gets our attention even when the visuals are a bit uncomfortable and I certainly tell you to get to see this film as you will hear things you have never heard before.

“Nine-to-Five Fantasies: Tales of Sex on the Job” edited by Alison Tyler— Pleasurable Business

nine-to-five

Tyler, Alison (editor). “Nine-to-Five Fantasies: Tales of Sex on the Job”, Cleis Press, 2014.

Pleasurable Business

Amos Lassen

In this new anthology edited by Alison Tyler we get a new way to look at work and get to read some very steamy stories about sex on the job. We have eighteen stories by Sommer Marsden, Kate Pearce, Delilah Night, Sophia Valenti, Heidi Champa, Sasha White, A.M. Hartnett, Andrea Dale, Laila Blake, Tilly Hunter, Elisa Sharone, Giselle Renard, Crystal Jordan, Devin Phillips, Cora Zane, Jeremy Edwards, Kathryn O’Holloran and the editor Alison Tyler.

The settings vary—the water cooler, the office and the stockrooms and the props always seem to be available— rulers a good spanking, shipping tape is great for bondage, and we see that sometimes the office has a very tempting lure.

Even with the rules that are usually broken, work can be a great place for sex. The stories exclude no job and they build up fantasies. (In addition to the fantasies about construction workers, cowboys, and mechanics that have always existed we can also add “bookbinders, IT guys, and even an ice cream man”.

Most of the stories are about quickies just as the stories are “quickies” themselves. What really makes these stories exciting is that they take place where they are not supposed to. What takes place for many is considered forbidden (making the stories all the more salacious and therefore all the more fun to read).

“Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit’s Promised Land” by Norman G. Finkelstein— Truth or Propaganda?

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Finkelstein, Norman G. “Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit’s Promised Land”, O/R Books, 2014.

Truth or Propaganda?

Amos Lassen

Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land” has been hailed as a true look at Israel but almost everyone but Norman Finkelstein who sees it not as truth but as propaganda. Finkelstein gives a somewhat intelligent but biased view of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and then states that “while Jews do need a land of their own to feel safe, it’s hardly fair to take land occupied by the Palestinians to do so”. He goes on to say that “in fact, Israel is doing to the Palestinians what they are saying the rest of the world is doing to them”. He maintains that regardless of what is written in the Hebrew bible that it is never justified to kill women and children (and I add even those that have brought death and irreparable damage to the State of Israel).

To me, the major problem with the conflict is that we do not have all of the facts yet we are quick to take sides and it does not matter if the security of Israel is at stake. I personally am stunned that there are America lesbians that support divestment, strikes etc yet they know that under Muslim rule not only would they be unwelcome but probably cast out of Palestine and while I would love to mention the name of one of these, I will simply say that I have never heart such anti-Semitic venom come out of a Jewish mouth and she never shuts up. ( I can just imagine how long she would last in Palestine where there is little free press).

I have heard Finkelstein speak and I must admit that he is inspiring (not to me, of course but to others) and in this book he is quite terse. The book is short and he did cite sources. What he does here is give us what he considers to the be “the logic of the Zionist program and its implications” with the major implication being that there will never be a two-state `solution’ because the most important political voices and myths within Israel make the establishment of a biblically complete territory (Eretz Israel) a transcendental goal”. He claims that the religious drive for the land of Israel strongly predominates. (or if not religion then a secular ethnic belief in a messiah that is just as strong.) We see, according to Finkelstein, that the long history of settlements, the “fake” (interesting choice of word) peace processes, and the rest make sense only if we consider this goal.

 Finkelstein maintains is that the “liberal Zionists” like Ari Shavit have begun to acknowledge the history of atrocities by Israel against the Palestinians, and that “Israel was conceived in ‘original sin’ (much like the way that the United States treated the native Americans and like almost every other country – there is nothing uniquely bad about Israel’s behavior, this reader agrees). He says that the Israeli powers to be feel that it is worth it because of whatever reason that Finkelstein cares to give.

 Finkelstein further claims that Israel is not under any threat in the region, because it possesses one of the world’s most powerful armies, is nuclear armed, and is a close client state of and is funded/protected by the United States, the only powerful country that has sided with Israel. Then again how does Finkelstein know this is he has been legally banned from entering Israel. )In fact, because of his radicalism, Norman Finkelstein has been unable to hold a job at any important or even unimportant university). He maintains that the reason Israel has denied the right of Palestinians to have a state is because

the desire for the state of Israel is so strong within Israel today that no politician could survive who formally gives that and he claims that is the reason that former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fanatic. He says that Israel hopes that by making the lives of the Palestinians so miserable is because Israel hopes that they will go somewhere else and that they will be in no shape to form a government that could support a “state” (a two state solution). The only complexity is that Israel is a colonial occupier and has the ability to inflict misery upon the native population in pursuit of a dream of acquiring a defined territory. The occupied population is unable to do anything about the situation. Finkelstein defines the term “liberal Zionist” as one who publicly emotes over the tragedy that is so necessary but is unable to come up with a valid moral justification for continued mistreatment of the Palestinians.

 In this book, Finkelstein gives the corrective and supplemental material that Shavit’s book deserves. Let us not forget where Finkelstein came to public prominence—first of all he has denied the Holocaust even though his parents survived that horrible fate for so many Jews and secondly, he has taken his role as a critic of Israel very seriously. He has reacted to the work of the New Israeli Historians, by saying the truth about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. This has caused conflicts for American Jewry who are faced with being loyal to Israel or if their universalist conscience has won speaking out strongly against Israeli policies or silently losing interest in and turning away from Israel, which has become an embarrassment. He seems to have forgotten (or maybe never knew) that the Jewish universalist tradition that derives ultimately from the Hebrew Prophets.

This book is quite simply a hatchet job about what Finkelstein would do if he could. (He can’t because he has so few supporters). Finkelstein argues that “My Promised Land” is written in response to American Jews “knowing too much” and turning away from Israel; and that it is an attempt to re-package Zionism in the light of the new situation and win back American (and other Diaspora) Jews. The new Zionist strategy is “Yes we did it, but it was a tragic beyond the jostling fun of exposing the exaggerations, inconsistencies, and absurdities of Ari Shavit’s various points lies a serious message – a resolution of the situation that respects the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians is possible, but “ this can only be made when the shallow, self-deluding pro-Israeli propaganda of Ari Shavit and others like him is recognized for what it is and replaced with an attitude and perspective based upon honesty, pragmatism, and basic human decency”.

“Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures” by Julie Marie Wade— Life Happens

wishbone

Wade, Julie Marie. “Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures”, Bywater Books, 2014.

Life Happens

Amos Lassen

Julie Marie Wade seems to have lived a life that was filled with falls— “crashing to the ground from a swing. The sensation of slipping from the platform saddle atop a circus elephant, sliding “flat as a penny against his wrinkled skin, rattling the bones of my ribs.” The shame and uncertainty of being spilled from the security of parental love. And, finally, triumphantly, the felix culpa, the fortunate fall, of love”. In her fragmentary memoir (which won the Lambda Literary Award in 2011 and is now released as a paperback), we are treated to the fragmentary structure of her memoir. It is poetic in language and it makes us look deep within ourselves as we read about someone else. Wade’s story is one of poignancy and description of loss and separation. She takes us through what she remembers and we immediately relate to her—many of us have been where she has been but do not have the tools or the language to describe our lives.

We venture on a journey through childhood that is both simple and unique but always presented lyrically. Not only does Wade come of age but she becomes who she is. Wade looks at the human condition and she does so with style and grace and treats us to her gorgeous prose. She writes of relationships with brutal honesty and she covers the paradoxes and contradictions in them.

Her memoir is divided into episodes that explore serious and important matters of sensuality and sexuality as well as betrayal and redemption yet she does depress—rather she writes playfully but seriously. She does not look back and continues heading forward. She also explores change with extreme honesty and she writes with diversity and creativity. Most of you know that I am an avid reader and love biographies and memoirs but I must say I was not prepared for what I read here and could only wonder why it has taken me so long to read this wonderful look at a life. She is nostalgic but never morose or depressing and I admire her complete optimism.

I suppose the best description I could give this book is that it is an exploration of life but it is nowhere near a linear look at that life. The book flows like a wonderfully aged wine that we stop and sip as we drink.

Wade moves in and out of identity and time as she lets us take peeks at her life that she writes about in great detail. I am so tempted to give examples but that would destroy a wonderful reading experience for those who have not yet read this book. Yet I must mention that the theme of loneliness is constant and we so want her to find a place where she can feel that she belongs.

The discussions about queer sexuality are brilliant. She writes of what it means to be gay and how both the family and society perceive it. Here we get stories and memories that emerge as we struggle with identity as well as the dangers of being unlike others with whom we live and interact.

“The People in Between: The Paradox of Jewish Interstitiality” by Robert Marx— The Interstitial Jews

the people in between

Marx, Robert. “The People in Between: The Paradox of Jewish Interstitiality”, Cover to Cover Publishing, 2014.

The Interstitial Jews

Amos Lassen

I humbly and honestly admit that before I read this book I had never seen the word “interstitiality” so I am that much wiser now. Robert Marx, the author, tells us that interstitiality in terms of Jews is “the understanding that Jews occupy unique roles between large segments of society, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, Protestant and Catholic, Christian and Muslim, black and white”. It seems that when Marx was at Yale working on his doctorate in social philosophy, he developed the idea of an intermediary role of the Jews. This role places them “in between” and the entire history of Judaism is about interstitial analysis. Because of the Diaspora and Judaism’s relations to Christianity and Islam, it invites an analysis that is interstitial. It would be extremely interesting to quiz Jews in all locations to see how they react to being classified as interstitial.

It all goes back to anti-Semitism that Marx says cannot be understood just by explaining the designs of evil tyrants and dictators. The hatred of Jews is the most diagnosed and least treated or dealt with of all social diseases. This is because anti-Semitism cannot be understood by just examining the perpetrators whether they be tyrants, dictators or just people on the street. Many have found that hatred for Jews is a very useful tool with powerful social force. It does involve just the victim and/or the perpetrator in transparent ways. The suggestion that Jews, themselves, are involved in the offenses that they have to endure does not blame the victim but it gives us a key to understand the dynamic force of anti-Semitism in which both Jews and their discriminators are engaged in some terrible macabre interaction that can be indeed fatal.

Jews are interstitial which means that they are part of a larger social tapestry in which they many times become victims of conflict and tensions that they either do not understand or have no control over. If we study how individual Jews as well as the Jewish community respond to interstitiality, we can better understand and confront anti-Semitism. If we look at the writings of Baruch Spinoza, we find a relevant response to the analysis of interstitiality. Spinoza who lived some 400 years ago “presents rich insights into the problems that confront not just the Jewish community but all of humanity”.

An interesting aspect of Marx’s thesis on interstitiality is that it is not relevant in the Jewish state of Israel because the Jews there are not interstitial whereas world Jewry deludes itself into believing that they are secure where they are (unlike my father who insisted that a suitcase always be packed in case “they” should come for us). The difference in Israel is that the Jews are the bosses and they are the main and not the in between. But this brings about the question of whether Jews want to become a nation like every other nation and many will agree to this thus ignoring the greater call of Judaism for compassion and justice.

Europe has experienced the awareness that anti-Semitism is alive and continues to be a problem. The conflict between Arab and Jew has become a political issue thus making Jews synonymous with Israel and this has led to anti-Semitism. We have not seen that here yet there is anti-Semitism in the United States.

I am in awe of Marx’s scholarship. He is clearly an advocate for social justice and I believe that this is what probably led him to write this remarkable book and to share what he sees in the nature of Jewish individuals and communities. The in between theory is new to me but it makes so much sense that I am surprised that we had not heard of it before. As Jews we sit in between various cultures, religions, political philosophies, and on occasion, individual agendas. The first chapter is a fascinating challenge.

The book is quite intense and not one you read before going to bed–it is scholarly, carefully and tightly written, and requires focus and close attention. Marx uses historical examples to illustrate his theory – and does it with care and candor. Anyone who has ever asked why there is hatred for the Jews, or sought to understand the origins of the Holocaust and the recurring anti-Semitism of our own age, will benefit from this book. I am still not sure that I understand anti-Semitism but then I am not sure I want to. I really do not want to know why Hitler murdered 6,000,000 Jews for to know that gives it a certain credibility that a crime of this nature does not deserve.

In order for Marx to formulate his theory he had to examine the role of the Jewish people throughout history and we see that this works on both the micro and macro level. On the micro level, there are interesting discussions of everything from Hannah Arendt to Baruch Spinoza. On the macro level, Marx carefully presents his thesis that is put simply like this: “the Jews have always been an interstitial people, never part of one of the established sectors of society”. We then see how to live a positive interstitial life and this means “to seek justice and help those in society who need assistance”. From this we see Judaism that is “based on ethics and the pursuit of justice”.

I also loved seeing Spinoza mentioned here and his excommunication has always bothered me in that he was so profoundly ethical and committed to what he believed. Seeing God and nature as one and the same hastened his downfall and his thesis led him to believe that it is the goal of religion to “constantly strive for justice”. We certainly see this in the Torah; “Justice, justice, you shall seek”. It is refreshing to see Spinoza assume relevance here.

As for what to expect from the future, Marx tells us that we must continue to push forward. People are now very interested in themselves instead of in society. We need to be reminded and to remind others that we still have a responsibility for others and we must remain altruistic and look to the future and not dwell on the present. It is been quite a while since I have been so struck by a book and I might venture to say that it was probably Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” that so deeply affected me and that was published almost fifty years ago. A book that wakens something in me is one that I will cherish and this is definitely one of those.

“American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest” by Hannah Nordhaus—- The Life, Death and Afterlife of Julia Staab

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Nordhaus, Hannah. “American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest”, Harper, 2015.

The Life, Death and Afterlife of Julia Staab

Amos Lassen

Author Hannah Nordhaus looks at the life and death of Julia Staab and explores her biography in territorial New Mexico as well as the stories about her as unsettled spirit. This is a story of pioneer women and immigrants, of ghost hunters and psychics, of living and having chutzpah on the frontier and mental illness. These paint the picture of Julia Staab. What we have here is a true story that becomes a ghost story and we see how difficult it is to differentiate between them. This is also a look at not just the American West but at Jews in the American West. Family lineage is told through the story of Hannah’s great-great-grandmother Julia Staab—a woman who is said to haunt an elegant hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It all began in the 1970s, at La Posada (Place of Rest), a hotel in Santa Fe. The janitor was mopping the floor after the last guests had gone to bed and when he looked up from his bucket he saw a dark-eyed woman wearing a long black gown and whose white hair was arranged in a bun. She was standing near the fireplace. She was there and yet she wasn’t. 



Then there were strange happenings at the hotel— gas fireplaces turned off and on repeatedly even though no one was doing that; vases of flowers moved to new locations; glasses flew off shelves in the bar. There was one room, however, that saw a great deal of activity. 

The hotel had once been a grand Santa Fe home. The room with the canopy bed had belonged to the wife of the home’s original owner. The employees of the hotel were sure that the ghost presence was the spirit of Julia Schuster Staab who was the great grandmother of author Hannah Nordhaus.

 Nordhaus traces the life of her great grandmother, who left Germany for the American West. She followed her new husband, a Jewish dry-goods merchant Abraham Staab. They built a beautiful and elegant French Second-Empire-style home on Santa Fe’s Palace Avenue, just a block from the city’s famous cathedral. Julia had eight children and the youngest died only days after being born, and Julia, who was in ill health went into deep depression and never recovered. She never left her room again and she died there in 1896.

One of the subplots of this book deals with the way the German Jewish community adapted to their new life in American in the 1800s. Nordhaus uses the book to find out the truth about her great grandmother. To do she brings family history, myth and the American West together. She not only traces Julia’s life and death but also her afterlife.

“’American Ghost’ is a story of pioneer women and immigrants, ghost hunters and psychics, frontier fortitude and mental illness, imagination and lore. As she traces the strands of Julia’s life, Nordhaus uncovers a larger tale of how a true-life story becomes a ghost story—and how difficult it can sometimes be to separate history and myth.”

“That Savage Water” by Matthew R. Loney— Queer Travel

that savage water

Loney, Matthew R. “That Savage Water: Stories”, Exile Editions, 2014.

Queer Travel

Amos Lassen

“That Savage Water” is a collection of short stories about traveling abroad and each story is told from a queer perspective. Each story is also emotional and personal with the 2004 Asian tsunami as the epicenter of the collection Matthew Loney’s prose is gorgeous and filled with wonderful descriptions that allow us to feel what the characters do. The wonderful descriptions also allow us to visit places we may not ordinarily select to go to. It is a bit more than being abroad as the places that are the settings for the stories are those that are filled with history—be it Canada, Cambodia, India or anywhere else. It is amazing also that that is the author’s fiction debut. Each character (and I include the settings as characters) leads to something or someone else and we realize as we read that we are a journey of discovery and adventure yet the ultimate discovery is what we find. This is quite a clever technique and one that we do not come across very often.

The author explores how we connect with others as well as what links people together. We see the diversity of culture and why certain places are called home. We also see the advantage of traveling anonymously and that in doing so we are free to do and go where we want yet we might also suffer certain risks. The term “abroad” gets a whole new meaning here.

You can buy the book direct from the publisher (with a note that postage/S&H is included) by using this link:

http://www.exileeditions.com/singleorders2014/savage.html

“KICKING OUT SHOSHANA”—- A New Comedy from Israel

sp“KICKING OUT SHOSHANA”

A New Comedy from Israel

Amos Lassen

Ami Shoshan is the star of the “Sons of Jerusalem” football club, a team known for its violent, racist and homophobic fans. One unfortunate evening Shoshan flirts with a beautiful woman not knowing that she is the mistress of a local Mafia boss, “Blackie” Bokovza.  The punishment for this offense is that Ami must summon a press conference and announce that he is gay.

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Shoshan’s declaration is met with a huge public uproar and he finds himself hunted by fans, by his teammates and by the press.

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Much to his surprise he becomes the symbol of Jerusalem’s LGBT community and his shrewd agent, Dede, tries to make the best of it.

“ALTINA”— A Woman and a Paradox

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“Altina”

A Woman and a Paradox

Amos Lassen

Altina Schinasi was something of a paradox during her life (1907 – 1999). She was simultaneously seductive and reserved; she grew up sheltered and this was in direct opposition to her sexually explicit artwork. In the 1930s, she caused a fashion sensation when she designed Harlequin eyeglasses. The film, “Altina” is “an affecting, provocative, and richly informative documentary about an American trendsetter-a woman before her time.” Altina was free of constraints of any kind; she had a bright and keen mind. She sculpted and her sculptures defined her worlds—surreal and original. Her art originated from social issues and she even had an Oscar nominated for the film she made George Grosz and it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Altina was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and supported his struggle; during the Communist scare she hid John Berry- who was blacklisted for having directed a documentary on the Hollywood Ten-in her Beverly Hills home.

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I happen to love documentaries, especially those that are a bit eccentric and perhaps that is why I like this film so much. Altina’s life moves through chapters marked with husbands and whenever we meet a new one, we are happy to cheer for her and her new beau. Altina was constantly searching for new inspiration, something to paint or create or stand behind.

The documentary uses still photography, period footage, an interview with Altina filmed when she was 84 years old, and extensive commentary from an assortment of her colleagues, friends and family. The film was made by Peter Sanders, Altina’s grandson  and he has created a vivid portrait of a woman whose personal and artistic life often flaunted the conventions of the 20th century. Sanders says that the film is “an homage to women and their struggles and challenges during that period … Tina broke free from most of the confines that most other people lived with.”

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Altina was born into wealth—she was the daughter of Turkish Jewish émigré parents. Her father inventing the first cigarette-rolling machine — the patent and subsequent production leading him to magnate-level status and a huge, still-standing mansion on Manhattan’s Riverside Drive. Tina was economically privileged as a young girl. But she nonetheless went forward with her own creative ability and energy. She charted her own path while she was alive.

“Obviously her economic situation helped her make decisions,” Sanders says, “but it didn’t lock her in any way.” After an early marriage, followed soon after by a highly unusual for the day divorce, Schinasi charted her own path. She was, indeed, a free spirit. Her behavior was a result of her own desires. She married four times. She traveled a great deal and spent time in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Throughout these years, Schinasi was consumed by her art. She worked in a variety of media, primarily sculpture and painting, and also filmmaking, she was always seeking new forms, moving from one to the next when curiosity overtook her.

Though the film moves chronologically through Schinasi’s life, Sanders says he “made her art life anachronistic. He used her husbands as goalposts and the cities she lived in told me of the different lives she led, but I kept the art anachronistic because some of it never changed. As far as the creation of “Harlequin” cats-eye glasses, she claimed to be inspired by Venetian masks. She thought the standard glasses of the day were unattractive and, after coming up with her novel design, she tried and failed to interest manufacturers before walking into an upmarket Madison Avenue shop and convincing them on the spot. The glasses became popular and this led to Schinasi’s formation of a company, based first in New York, and then Los Angeles, which produced the frames.

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She did not care for running the business and she objected to the racial segregation of worker so she shut down the business and turned to film.Schinasi’s social justice concerns are touched upon in the latter part of the film. I could say so much more but I am sure you would rather see the film so do not miss it—it is a prize.