Mildread

you devilish delight
always looking for a fight
all for law
and order
made sure
no one crossed your border
capped
and ready to rule
over the best
cuckoo’s finest
captured in your nest

~R.I.P. Louise Fletcher

Featuring: James Carter

Today I’m featuring a jazz musician who isn’t that well known amongst many jazz lovers but to me this saxophone beast is as good as any of the famous players.
He has a very rebellious and sometimes humorous way of playing and is never boring. An effusive, dynamically gifted jazz saxophonist I can listen to for hours and hours, for days on end…

James Carter was born on January 3 1969 in Detroit , Michigan, and learned to play under the tutelage of Donald Washington, becoming a member of his youth jazz ensemble Bird-Trane-Sco-NOW!! As a young man, Carter attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, becoming the youngest faculty member at the camp. He began playing at age 11 and studied early on with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. A prodigy, he progressed quickly. He first toured Scandinavia with the International Jazz Band in 1985 at the age of 16. At age17 he joined Wynton Marsalis on tour.

On May 31, 1988, at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Carter was a last-minute addition for guest artist Lester Bowie, which turned into an invitation to play with his new quintet (forerunner of his New York Organ Ensemble) in New York City that following November at the now defunct Carlos 1 jazz club. This was pivotal in Carter’s career, putting him in musical contact with the world, and he moved to New York two years later. Carter issued no less than six recordings under his own name between 1993 and 2000, all of them with different focuses, from a set of standards, Conversin’ with the Elders in 1995, to an electric funk record, Layin’ in the Cut, to a simultaneously released set in tribute to Django Reinhardt, Chasin the Gypsy. Three years later, he honored the legendary Billie Holiday with Gardenias for Lady Day.

He has been prominent as a performer and recording artist on the jazz scene since the late 1980s, playing saxophones, flute, and clarinets. On his album Chasin’ the Gypsy (2000), he recorded with his cousin, the jazz violinist Regina Carter.

Carter has won DownBeat magazine’s Critics and Readers Choice award for baritone saxophone several years in a row. He has performed, toured and played on albums with Lester Bowie, Julius Hemphill, Frank Lowe & the Saxemble, Kathleen Battle, the World Saxophone Quartet, Cyrus Chestnut, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Mingus Big Band.

Carter is an authority on vintage saxophones, and he owns an extensive collection of such instruments, including one formerly played by Don Byas.

“One of the most charismatic and powerful soloists in jazz,” per the New York Times, Carter harbors a command of his instruments that is astonishingly complete, though he only employs that technique in the service of canny ideas. Even when he appears on the verge of shattering his horn, overblowing rapid-fire lines to otherworldly effect, he’s evoking early jazz, jump blues, the avant-garde and other lessons residing inside his vast, scholarly knowledge of the music of the African-American experience.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Telly Savalas


Today I’m featuring this great actor and wise man, known as Kojak, also a philanthropist, a singer and a great poker player. Noted for his bald head and deep, resonant voice, this lollipop man warmed the hearts of many viewers for many years with his one liners and catchy phrases. ‘Who loves you baby’ 🍭 

Aristotelis Savalas was born in Garden City, New York, on January 21, 1922, the second of five children born to ethnic Greek parents. Savalas and his brother, Gus, sold newspapers and polished shoes to help support the family. Savalas initially spoke only Greek when he entered grade school, but later learned English. He won a spelling bee there in 1934; due to an oversight, he did not receive his prize until 1991, when the school principal and Boston Herald awarded it to him.

Savalas graduated from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, New York in 1940.

A renowned swimmer, he worked as a beach lifeguard after graduation from high school. However, on one occasion, he was unsuccessful in saving a father from drowning; as he attempted resuscitation, the man’s two children stood nearby crying for their father to wake up. This affected Savalas so much that he spent the rest of his life constantly promoting water safety, and later made all six of his children take swimming lessons.

In 1941, Savalas was drafted into the United States Army. In 1943, he was discharged from the Army with the rank of corporal after being severely injured in a car accident. Savalas spent more than a year recuperating in hospital with a broken pelvis, sprained ankle and concussion. He then attended the Armed Forces Institute where he studied radio and television production.

He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia’s School of General Studies in 1946 and started working on a master’s degree while preparing for medical school.

Savalas did not consider acting as a career until asked if he could recommend an actor who could do a European accent. He did but as the friend in question could not go, Savalas himself went to cover for his friend and ended up being cast on “And Bring Home a Baby”, an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre in January 1958. He appeared on two more episodes of the series in 1959 and 1960, one, acting alongside a young Sydney Pollack. He was also in a version of The Iceman Cometh.

Savalas quickly became in much demand as a guest star on TV shows.

Savalas made his film debut in Mad Dog Coll (1961), playing a cop. His work had impressed fellow actor Burt Lancaster, who arranged for Savalas to be cast in the John Frankenheimer directed The Young Savages (also 1961 and again playing a cop). Pollack worked on the film as an acting coach.

In one of his most acclaimed performances, Savalas reunited with Lancaster and Frankenheimer for Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), where he was nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, he appeared as a private detective in Cape Fear, and The Interns, reprising his role from the latter film in The New Interns (1964).

Savalas also guest starred in a number of TV series during the decade including The New Breed, The Detectives, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone (the episode “Living Doll”), The Fugitive (1963 TV series) and Arrest and Trial among others.

He was part of an all-star cast in The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Savalas’ first leading role in film was in the British crime comedy Crooks and Coronets (1969). The same year he appeared in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He continued to appear in films during the 1970s including Kelly’s Heroes (1970) (with Clint Eastwood).He reunited with Christopher Lee in the 1976 thriller Killer Force, and also appeared in Peter Hyams’ Capricorn One (1978).

“I had worked my way up to star billing”, he later said, “when the bottom dropped out of the movie business. I could have stayed in Europe and made Italian movies but I discovered the big difference between an Italian and American movie is that in the American movie you get paid.”

Savalas first played Lt. Theodopolus “Theo” Kojak in the TV movie The Marcus–Nelson Murders (CBS, 1973), which was based on the real-life Career Girls Murder case.

Kojak was a bald New York City detective with a fondness for lollipops and whose tagline was “Who loves ya, baby?” (He also liked to say, “Everybody should have a little Greek in them.”) Although the lollipop gimmick was added in order to indulge his sweet tooth, Savalas also smoked heavily onscreen—cigarettes, cigarillos and cigars—throughout the first season’s episodes. The lollipops had apparently given him three cavities, and were part of an (unsuccessful) effort by Kojak (and Savalas himself) to curb his smoking. The critic Clive James explained the lead actor’s appeal as Kojak: “Telly Savalas can make bad slang sound like good slang and good slang sound like lyric poetry. It isn’t what he is, so much as the way he talks, that gets you tuning in.”

David Shipman later wrote: “Kojak was sympathetic to outcasts and ruthless with social predators. The show maintained a high quality to the end, mixing tension with some laughs and always anxious to tackle civic issues, one of its raisons d’etre in the first place. It was required viewing in Britain every Saturday evening for eight years. To almost everyone everywhere Kojak means Savalas and vice versa, but to Savalas himself the series was merely an interval, albeit a long one, in a distinguished career.”

Kojak aired on CBS for five seasons from October 24, 1973, until March 18, 1978, with 118 episodes produced. The role won Savalas an Emmy and two Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Co-stars on the show included Savalas’ younger brother George as Detective Stavros – a sensitive, wild-haired, quiet, comedic foil to Kojak’s street-wise humor in an otherwise dark dramatic series – Kevin Dobson as Kojak’s trusted young partner, Det. Bobby Crocker, who’s on-screen chemistry with Savalas was a success story of 1970s television, and Dan Frazer as Captain Frank McNeil.

Due to a decline in ratings, the series was canceled by CBS in 1978. Savalas and Frazer were the only actors to appear in all 118 episodes. Savalas was unhappy about the show’s demise but got the chance to reprise the Kojak persona in several television movies, starting in 1985. The first film, subtitled The Belarus File and broadcast in February 1985, reunited Savalas with several of his co-stars from the series: younger brother George, Dan Frazer, Mark Russell (Det. Saperstein) and Vince Conti (Det. Rizzo); this marked those actors’ final appearances in the Kojak franchise. A further six Kojak TV movies were produced, titled The Price of Justice (1987), Ariana, Fatal Flaw (both 1989), Flowers for Matty, It’s Always Something – with Kevin Dobson reprising his role of Bobby Crocker, now an Assistant District Attorney – and None So Blind (all 1990).

In 1992, he appeared in three episodes of the TV series The Commish (his son-in-law was one of the producers). This was Savalas’ final television role. He would appear in two further feature films before his death, Mind Twister (1993) and the posthumous release Backfire! (1995).

As a singer, Savalas had some chart success. His spoken word version of Bread’s “If” produced by Snuff Garrett reached No. 1 in both the UK and Ireland in March 1975, but just No.88 in Canada, and his version of Don Williams’s “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” topped the charts in Switzerland in February 1981. He worked with composer and producer John Cacavas on many albums, including Telly (1974) which peaked at number 49 in Australia and Who Loves Ya, Baby (1976).

He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983. In 1999, TV Guide ranked him number 18 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.

Savalas was married three times. In 1948 after his father’s death from bladder cancer, Savalas married his college sweetheart, Katherine Nicolaides. Their daughter Christina, named after his mother, was born in 1950. In 1957 Katherine filed for divorce. She urged him to move back to his mother’s house during that same year. While Savalas was going broke, he founded the Garden City Theater Center in his native Garden City. While working there he met Marilyn Gardner, a theater teacher. They married in 1960. Marilyn gave birth to their daughter, Penelope, in 1961. A second daughter, Candace, was born in 1963. They divorced in 1974, after a long separation.

In January 1969, while working on the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Savalas met actress Sally Adams, an actress 25 years his junior whose daughter from a previous relationship is Nicollette Sheridan. Savalas later moved in with Sally, who gave birth to their son Nicholas Savalas on February 24, 1973. Although Savalas and Sally Adams never legally married, she went by the name Sally Savalas. They stopped living together in December 1978; she filed a palimony lawsuit against him in 1980, demanding support not only for herself and their son, but also for Nicollette.

In 1977, during the last season of Kojak, Savalas met Julie Hovland, a travel agent from Minnesota. The couple were married from 1984 until his death and had two children: Christian, an entrepreneur, singer and songwriter, and Ariana, an actress and singer/songwriter. Savalas was close friends with actor John Aniston, and was godfather to his daughter Jennifer, a successful TV and film actress.

Savalas held a degree in psychology and was a world-class poker player who finished 21st at the main event in the 1992 World Series of Poker. He was also a motorcycle racer and lifeguard. His other hobbies and interests included golfing, swimming, reading romantic books, watching football, traveling, collecting luxury cars, and gambling. He loved horse racing and bought a racehorse with movie director and producer Howard W. Koch. Naming the horse Telly’s Pop, it won several races in 1975 including the Norfolk Stakes and Del Mar Futurity.

In his capacity as producer for Kojak, he gave many stars their first break, as Burt Lancaster had done for him. He was considered by those who knew him to be a generous, graceful, compassionate man. He was also a strong contributor to his Greek Orthodox roots through the Saint Sophia and Saint Nicholas cathedrals in Los Angeles and was the sponsor of bringing electricity in the 1970s to his ancestral home, Ierakas, Greece.

As a philanthropist and philhellene, Savalas supported many Hellenic causes and made friends in major cities around the world.

In the 1980s, Savalas began to lose close relatives. His brother George Savalas, who played Stavros in the original series, died in 1985 of leukemia at age 60. His mother, Christina, who had always been his best friend, supporter and devoted parent, died in 1988. On November 22, 1989, Savalas was diagnosed with transitional cell cancer of the bladder.

Savalas died on January 22, 1994, one day after his 72nd birthday, of complications of prostate cancer at the Sheraton-Universal Hotel in Universal City, California. He had lived at the Sheraton in Universal City for 20 years, becoming such a fixture at the hotel bar that it was renamed Telly’s. Savalas was interred at the George Washington section of Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. The funeral, held in the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, was attended by his third wife, Julie, and his brother Gus. His first two wives, Katherine and Marilyn, also attended with their own children. The mourners included Angie Dickinson, Nicollette Sheridan, Jennifer Aniston (his goddaughter), Kevin Sorbo, Sally Adams, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, and several of Savalas’s Kojak co-stars – Kevin Dobson, Dan Frazer, and Vince Conti.

For the people who are old enough (lol), I still watch Kojak on video occasionally and I still enjoy his acting, the stories and the scenery of New York in the seventies. It takes you back to the free days of the Big Apple. I always found him to be a witty, funny, apt and strong individual.

Check him out (or not):

https://youtu.be/F0xG888KrTk

https://youtu.be/JIAVQ-0J-OA

https://youtu.be/L7qah1O6MGg

https://youtu.be/dPp5RHpka5E

https://youtu.be/-8hbUqhKM38

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas 















Featuring: Siomone de Beauvoir

Today I’m featuring Simone de Beauvoir, a very remarkable woman who is a most interesting figure in history, a French existentialist philosopher, writer, social theorist, and feminist activist. Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, and even though she was not considered one at the time of her death, she had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory.

Beauvoir wrote novels, essays, biographies, autobiographies, and monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues. She was known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women’s oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism; and for her novels, including She Came to Stay (1943) and The Mandarins (1954). Her most enduring contribution to literature is her memoirs, notably the first volume, “Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée” (1958), which has a warmth and descriptive power. She won the 1954 Prix Goncourt, the 1975 Jerusalem Prize, and the 1978 Austrian State Prize for European Literature. She was also known for her open, lifelong relationship with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Beauvoir was born on 9 January 1908 into a bourgeois Parisian. Her parents were Georges Bertrand de Beauvoir, a lawyer, who once aspired to be an actor, and Françoise Beauvoir, a wealthy banker’s daughter and devout Catholic. Simone’s sister, Hélène, was born two years later on June 6, 1910. The family struggled to maintain their bourgeois status after losing much of their fortune shortly after World War I, and Françoise insisted the two daughters be sent to a prestigious convent school.

Beauvoir was intellectually precocious, fueled by her father’s encouragement; he reportedly would boast, “Simone thinks like a man!” Because of her family’s straitened circumstances, she could no longer rely on her dowry, and like other middle-class girls of her age, her marriage opportunities were put at risk. She took this opportunity to take steps towards earning a living for herself.

She first worked with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Claude Lévi-Strauss, when all three completed their practice teaching requirements at the same secondary school. Although not officially enrolled, she sat in on courses at the École Normale Supérieure in preparation for the agrégation in philosophy, a highly competitive postgraduate examination that serves as a national ranking of students. It was while studying for it that she met students Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Nizan, and René Maheu.

Writing of her youth in ‘Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter’ she said: “My father’s individualism and pagan ethical standards were in complete contrast to the rigidly moral conventionalism of my mother’s teaching. This disequilibrium, which made my life a kind of endless disputation, is the main reason why I became an intellectual.”

Beauvoir pursued post-secondary education after completing her high school years at Lycée Fenelon. After passing baccalaureate exams in mathematics and philosophy in 1925, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique de Paris and literature/languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. She then studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and after completing her degree in 1928, wrote her Diplôme d’Études Supérieures Spécialisées (roughly equivalent to an M.A. thesis) on Leibniz for Léon Brunschvicg Her studies of political philosophy through university influenced her to start thinking of societal concerns rather than her issues.

Beauvoir was raised in a strict Catholic household. In her youth, she was sent to convent schools. She was deeply religious as a child, at one point intending to become a nun. At age 14, Beauvoir questioned her faith as she saw many changes in the world after witnessing tragedies throughout her life. Consequently, she abandoned her faith in her early teens and remained an atheist for the rest of her life. To explain her atheist beliefs, Beauvoir stated, “Faith allows an evasion of those difficulties which the atheist confronts honestly. And to crown all, the believer derives a sense of great superiority from this very cowardice itself.”

From 1929 through 1943, Beauvoir taught at the lycée level until she could support herself solely on the earnings of her writings.

Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre met during her college years. Intrigued by her determination as an educator, he intended to make their relationship romantic. However, she had no interest in doing so. During October 1929, Jean-Paul Sartre and Beauvoir became a couple. After they were confronted by her father, Sartre asked her to marry him on a provisional basis: One day while they were sitting on a bench outside the Louvre, he said, “Let’s sign a two-year lease”. Though Beauvoir wrote, “Marriage was impossible. I had no dowry”, scholars point out that her ideal relationships described in The Second Sex and elsewhere bore little resemblances to the marriage standards of the day. Instead, she and Sartre entered into a lifelong “soul partnership”, which was sexual but not exclusive, nor did it involve living together.

Sartre and Beauvoir always read each other’s work. Debate continues about the extent to which they influenced each other in their existentialist works, such as Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay and “Phenomenology and Intent”. However, recent studies of Beauvoir’s work focus on influences other than Sartre, including Hegel and Leibniz. The Neo-Hegelian revival led by Alexandre Kojève and Jean Hyppolite in the 1930s inspired a whole generation of French thinkers, including Sartre, to discover Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. However, Beauvoir, reading Hegel in German during the war, produced an original critique of his dialectic of consciousness.

Beauvoir’s prominent open relationships at times overshadowed her substantial academic reputation. Beginning in 1929, Beauvoir and Sartre were partners and remained so for 51 years, until his death in 1980. She chose never to marry and never had children. This gave her the time to advance her education and engage in political causes, write and teach, and take lovers. She lived with Claude Lanzmann from 1952 to 1959.

Perhaps her most famous lover was American author Nelson Algren. She met him in Chicago in 1947, she wrote to him across the Atlantic as “my beloved husband.” Algren won the National Book Award for The Man with the Golden Arm in 1950, and in 1954, Beauvoir won France’s most prestigious literary prize for The Mandarins, in which Algren is the character Lewis Brogan. Algren vociferously objected to their intimacy becoming public. Years after they separated, she was buried wearing his gift of a silver ring.

Beauvoir was bisexual, and her relationships with young women were controversial. French author Bianca Lamblin wrote in her book Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille Dérangée (A Disgraceful Affair) that, while a student at Lycée Molière, she was sexually exploited by her teacher Beauvoir, who was in her 30s. Lamblin had affairs with both Jean-Paul Sartre and Beauvoir.In 1943, Beauvoir was suspended from her teaching position when she was accused of seducing her 17-year-old lycée pupil Natalie Sorokine in 1939. Sorokine’s parents laid formal charges against Beauvoir for debauching a minor (the age of consent in France at the time was 15, and Beauvoir’s license to teach in France was revoked, although it was subsequently reinstated).

In 1977, Beauvoir signed a petition seeking to completely remove the age of consent in France.

Beauvoir published her first novel She Came to Stay in 1943. It has been assumed that it is inspired by her and Sartre’s sexual relationship with Olga Kosakiewicz and Wanda Kosakiewicz. Olga was one of her students in the Rouen secondary school where Beauvoir taught during the early 1930s. She grew fond of Olga. Sartre tried to pursue Olga but she rejected him, so he began a relationship with her sister Wanda. Upon his death, Sartre was still supporting Wanda. He also supported Olga for years, until she met and married Jacques-Laurent Bost, a lover of Beauvoir. However, the main thrust of the novel is philosophical, a scene in which to situate Beauvoir’s abiding philosophical pre-occupation – the relationship between the self and the other.

In the novel, set just before the outbreak of World War II, Beauvoir creates one character from the complex relationships of Olga and Wanda. The fictionalised versions of Beauvoir and Sartre have a ménage à trois with the young woman. The novel also delves into Beauvoir and Sartre’s complex relationship and how it was affected by the ménage à trois.

She Came to Stay was followed by many others, including The Blood of Others, which explores the nature of individual responsibility, telling a love story between two young French students participating in the Resistance in World War II.

In 1944, Beauvoir wrote her first philosophical essay, Pyrrhus et Cinéas, a discussion on existentialist ethics. She continued her exploration of existentialism through her second essay The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947); it is perhaps the most accessible entry into French existentialism. In the essay, Beauvoir clears up some inconsistencies that many, Sartre included, have found in major existentialist works such as Being and Nothingness. In The Ethics of Ambiguity, Beauvoir confronts the existentialist dilemma of absolute freedom vs. the constraints of circumstance.

At the end of World War II, Beauvoir and Sartre edited Les Temps Modernes, a political journal which Sartre founded along with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others. Beauvoir used Les Temps Modernes to promote her own work and explore her ideas on a small scale before fashioning essays and books. Beauvoir remained an editor until her death.

The Second Sex, first published in 1949 in French as Le Deuxième Sexe, turns the existentialist mantra that existence precedes essence into a feminist one: “One is not born but becomes a woman” (French: “On ne naît pas femme, on le devient”). With this famous phrase, Beauvoir first articulated what has come to be known as the sex-gender distinction, that is, the distinction between biological sex and the social and historical construction of gender and its attendant stereotypes. Beauvoir argues that “the fundamental source of women’s oppression is its historical and social construction as the quintessential” Other.

Beauvoir defines women as the “second sex” because women are defined as inferior to men. She pointed out that Aristotle argued women are “female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities”, while Thomas Aquinas referred to women as “imperfect men” and the “incidental” being. She quotes “In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.”

Beauvoir asserted that women are as capable of choice as men, and thus can choose to elevate themselves, moving beyond the “immanence” to which they were previously resigned and reaching “transcendence”, a position in which one takes responsibility for oneself and the world, where one chooses one’s freedom.

Chapters of The Second Sex were originally published in Les Temps modernes, in June 1949. The second volume came a few months after the first in France. It was published soon after in America due to the quick translation by Howard Parshley, as prompted by Blanche Knopf, wife of publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Because Parshley had only a basic familiarity with the French language, and a minimal understanding of philosophy (he was a professor of biology at Smith College), much of Beauvoir’s book was mistranslated or inappropriately cut, distorting her intended message. For years, Knopf prevented the introduction of a more accurate retranslation of Beauvoir’s work, declining all proposals despite the efforts of existentialist scholars.

Only in 2009 was there a second translation, to mark the 60th anniversary of the original publication. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier produced the first integral translation in 2010, reinstating a third of the original work.

In the chapter “Woman: Myth and Reality” of The Second Sex, Beauvoir argued that men had made women the “Other” in society by the application of a false aura of “mystery” around them. She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy. She wrote that a similar kind of oppression by hierarchy also happened in other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion, but she claimed that it was nowhere more true than with gender in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy.

Despite her contributions to the feminist movement, especially the French women’s liberation movement, and her beliefs in women’s economic independence and equal education, Beauvoir was initially reluctant to call herself a feminist. However, after observing the resurgence of the feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Beauvoir stated she no longer believed a socialist revolution to be enough to bring about women’s liberation. She publicly declared herself a feminist in 1972.

In 2018 the manuscript pages of Le Deuxième Sexe were published. At the time her adopted daughter, Sylvie Le Bon-Beauvoir, a philosophy professor, described her mother’s writing process: Beauvoir wrote every page of her books longhand first and only after that would hire typists.

Published in 1954, The Mandarins won France’s highest literary prize, the Prix Goncourt. The book is set after the end of World War II and follows the personal lives of philosophers and friends among Sartre’s and Beauvoir’s intimate circle, including her relationship with American writer Nelson Algren, to whom the book was dedicated.

Algren was outraged by the frank way Beauvoir described their sexual experiences in both The Mandarins and her autobiographies. Algren vented his outrage when reviewing American translations of Beauvoir’s work. Much material bearing on this episode in Beauvoir’s life, including her love letters to Algren, entered the public domain only after her death.

Beauvoir’s early novel Les Inséparables, long suppressed, was published in French in 2020 and two different English translations in 2021. Written in 1954, the book describes her first love, a classmate named Elisabeth Lacoin (“Zaza”) who died before age 22, and had as a teenager a “passionate and tragic” relationship with Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty, then teaching at the same school. Disapproved by Sartre, the novel was deemed “too intimate” to be published during Beauvoir’s lifetime.

Beauvoir wrote popular travel diaries about time spent in the United States and China and published essays and fiction rigorously, especially throughout the 1950s and 1960s. She published several volumes of short stories, including The Woman Destroyed, which, like some of her other later work, deals with aging.

1980 saw the publication of When Things of the Spirit Come First, a set of short stories centered around and based upon women important to her earlier years. Though written long before the novel She Came to Stay, Beauvoir did not at the time consider the stories worth publishing, allowing some forty years to pass before doing so.

Sartre and Merleau-Ponty had a longstanding feud, which led Merleau-Ponty to leave Les Temps Modernes. Beauvoir sided with Sartre and ceased to associate with Merleau-Ponty. In Beauvoir’s later years, she hosted the journal’s editorial meetings in her flat and contributed more than Sartre, whom she often had to force to offer his opinions.

Beauvoir also wrote a four-volume autobiography, consisting of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, The Prime of Life, Force of Circumstance, and All Said and Done. In 1964 Beauvoir published a novella-length autobiography, A Very Easy Death, covering the time she spent visiting her aging mother, who was dying of cancer. The novella brings up questions of ethical concerns with truth-telling in doctor-patient relationships.

Her 1970 long essay La Vieillesse (The Coming of Age) is a rare instance of an intellectual meditation on the decline and solitude all humans experience if they do not die before about the age of 60.

In the 1970s Beauvoir became active in France’s women’s liberation movement. She wrote and signed the Manifesto of the 343 in 1971, a manifesto that included a list of famous women who claimed to have had an abortion, then illegal in France. Some argue most of the women had not had abortions, including Beauvoir. Signatories were diverse as Catherine Deneuve, Delphine Seyrig, and Beauvoir’s sister Poupette. In 1974, abortion was legalized in France.

In a 1975 interview with Betty Friedan Beauvoir said “No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

After Sartre died in 1980, Beauvoir published his letters to her with edits to spare the feelings of people in their circle who were still living. After Beauvoir’s death, Sartre’s adopted daughter and literary heir Arlette Elkaïm would not let many of Sartre’s letters be published in unedited form. Most of Sartre’s letters available today have Beauvoir’s edits, which include a few omissions but mostly the use of pseudonyms. Beauvoir’s adopted daughter and literary heir Sylvie Le Bon, unlike Elkaïm, published Beauvoir’s unedited letters to both Sartre and Algren.

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex is considered a foundational work in the history of feminism. Beauvoir had denied being feminist multiple times but ultimately admitted that she was one after the influential Second Sex became crucial in the world of feminism. The work has had a profound influence, opening the way for second-wave feminism in the United States, Canada, Australia, and around the world. Although Beauvoir has been quoted as saying “There is a certain unreasonable demand that I find a little stupid because it would enclose me, immobilize me completely in a sort of feminist concrete block.” Her works on feminism have paved the way for all future feminists. The founders of the second-wave read The Second Sex in translation, including Kate Millett, Shulamith Firestone, Juliet Mitchell, Ann Oakley and Germaine Greer. All acknowledged their profound debt to Beauvoir, including visiting her in France, consulting with her at crucial moments, and dedicating works to her. Betty Friedan, whose 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often regarded as the opening salvo of second-wave feminism in the United States, later said that reading The Second Sex in the early 1950s “led me to whatever original analysis of women’s existence I have been able to contribute to the Women’s movement and its unique politics. I looked to Simone de Beauvoir for philosophical and intellectual authority.”

At one point in the early seventies, Beauvoir also aligned herself with the League for Women’s rights as a means to campaign and fight against sexism in French society. Beauvoir’s influence goes beyond just her impact on second-wave founders, and extends to numerous aspects of feminism, including literary criticism, history, philosophy, theology, criticism of scientific discourse, and psychotherapy. When Beauvoir first became involved with the feminism movement, one of her first objectives was that of legalizing abortion. Donna Haraway wrote that, “despite important differences, all the modern feminist meanings of gender have roots in Simone de Beauvoir’s claim that ‘one is not born a woman (one becomes one) ”.This “most famous feminist sentence ever written” is echoed in the title of Monique Wittig’s 1981 essay One Is Not Born a Woman. Judith Butler took the concept a step further, arguing that Beauvoir’s choice of the verb to become suggests that gender is a process, constantly being renewed in an ongoing interaction between the surrounding culture and individual choice.

Beauvoir died of pneumonia on 14 April 1986 in Paris, aged 78. She is buried next to Sartre at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. She was honored as a figure at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights around the time of her passing.

In Paris, France Place Jean-Paul-Satre-et-Simone-de-Beauvoir is a square where Beauvoir’s legacy lives on. It was named after the French philosopher couple, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and is one of the few squares in Paris to be officially named after a couple. The pair lived close to the square at 42 rue Bonaparte.

Slightly controversial, I admire this intriguing woman for her strength and her thoughts on existentialism.

Check her out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Brian Setzer

Today I’m featuring a very talented, rebellious and sweet musician who goes by the name Brian Setzer. Somewhat underrated, this cat with enormous flair and musical soul is a great entertainer and live performer. He put rockabilly back on the map, reinvented it, and gave it world wide fame with his band the Stray Cats.

Setzer was born April 1959 in Massapequa, New York. He started on the euphonium and played in jazz bands when he was in school. He found a way to hear jazz at the Village Vanguard, though as he got older he became more interested in rock, punk, and rockabilly. He was a member of the Bloodless Pharaohs and the Tomcats, which he began with his brother, Gary. The Tomcats became the Stray Cats when double bassist Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom joined and Gary left the band. In 1980, thinking they might have more success in England than in America, they sold their instruments to pay for airplane tickets and flew to London.

After performing in London for a few months, they met Dave Edmunds, a guitarist and record producer who shared their love of rockabilly and 1950s’ rock and roll. Edmunds produced their debut album, Stray Cats (1981), which yielded two hit singles, “Stray Cat Strut” and “Rock This Town”. The second album, Gonna Ball (1982), was less successful. The band returned to America and released Built for Speed (1982), produced again by Dave Edmunds, with songs collected from their first two albums. Helped by their music videos on MTV, the Stray Cats became popular in America. Their next album, Rant n’ Rave with the Stray Cats produced the hit “(She’s) Sexy + 17”.

The Stray Cats disbanded in 1984, though they occasionally reunited, recorded, and toured. After recording three albums with different producers, they returned to Dave Edmunds for Choo Choo Hot Fish (1992).

After the Stray Cats disbanded in 1984, Setzer began a solo career that included working as a sideman for other acts, such as the Honeydrippers led by Robert Plant. On his first solo album, The Knife Feels Like Justice (1986), he turned away from rockabilly and moved toward rhythm and blues (R&B) and the heartland rock of John Mellencamp. The album was produced by Don Gehman and featured Kenny Aronoff on drums. Both men had worked on albums by Mellencamp. His second studio album Live Nude Guitars followed in 1988. While this album retained some heartland rock elements, it found Setzer moving in more of a straight-ahead blues rock direction, comparable to George Thorogood’s style; Setzer served as co-producer along with Larson Paine, Chris Thomas and David A. Stewart. He went on tour with Thorogood later that year.

Setzer returned to his love of music from the 1950s, this time the jump blues of Louis Prima. Whereas he had resurrected rockabilly in the 1980s, he resuscitated swing in the 1990s. He assembled the Brian Setzer Orchestra, a seventeen piece big band that got the public’s attention with a cover version of Prima’s “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” from the album The Dirty Boogie (1998). The song won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, while “Sleep Walk” from the same album won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

The album Wolfgang’s Big Night Out (2007) featured Setzer’s interpretation of classical pieces, such as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” and “Für Elise”. Wolfgang earned Setzer his eighth Grammy nomination, this time for Best Classical Crossover Album.

He executive produced the album Ready Steady Go! (2014) by Drake Bell and played guitar on two songs.

Setzer has sold 13 million records and received the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award throughout his career as founder/leader of the Stray Cats, the 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra, and a solo artist.

Setzer has been married three times, most recently in 2005 to Julie Reiten, a former singer with the Dustbunnies, and lives in Minneapolis.

Brian Setzer has a very large guitar collection which spans many decades and brands. He favours vintage equipment and hollow body guitars, and currently endorses Gretsch guitars. At one time Setzer stated: “Nothing feels right after a Gretsch”.

In 2019 Setzer had to cancel his Christmas tour as a result of severe tinnitus (noise/ringing in ears). He has always liked playing loud.

On June 25, 2021, Setzer announced a new solo album, his first in 7 years, titled Gotta Have the Rumble. The rumble is about his love for motorcycles and hot rods, which have been a part of Brian’s life since he was 15 years old. He loves the adrenaline rush he gets by going fast.

According to Brian, the “rumble” also refers to two other things, one musical and the other medical. Brian likes to stand quite close to his vintage Fender Bassman amps to get his trademark sound, which causes his guitar to “rumble.” Unfortunately, the loud sound exposure has caused what Brian calls a rumble in his ears because, as aforementioned, he has developed a hearing loss with tinnitus. Fortunately, Brian’s symptoms have improved with a decrease in noise level exposure.

This awesome vocalist and guitarist has always pulled my heartstrings with his sweet rocking’ chords, and humbleness has turned this man into a fine individual.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas©️

Featuring: Harry Crews

Today I’m featuring a man, an American writer and philosopher, a very peculiar individual who always had a good story to tell. He often made use of violent, grotesque characters and set them in regions of the Deep South. I first spotted him in one of my favorite documentaries: Searching for the Wrong-eyed Jesus. Sometimes in life you come across people who alter your way of thinking or add freedom to it. This Bard of Bacon County is such a man.

Harry Crews was born June 7, 1935, during the Great Depression to two poor tenant farmers in Bacon County, Georgia. His father died while he was still a baby, and his mother soon remarried to his father’s brother. Crews was unaware that this man was not his biological father until years later.

As a child, he suffered two near-death experiences. When he was just five he contracted polio, causing his legs to fold up into the back of his thighs. He was originally told by doctors that he would not be able to walk again. After about a year of being immobile, except crawling with his hands, his legs straightened again and he was able to walk. Soon after this experience, he then fell into a vat of nearly boiling water, which was being used for soaking dead hogs before they were further prepared. His head did not go under the water, which saved his life, according to doctors. He suffered extreme burns on most of the rest of his body. He once again was unable to leave the bed when he was healing. Crews wrote in A Childhood: The Biography of a Place: “Nearly everybody I knew had something missing, a finger cut off, a toe split, an ear half-chewed away, an eye clouded with blindness from a glancing fence staple. And if they didn’t have something missing, they were carrying scars from barbed wire, or knives, or fishhooks.” These experiences later influenced the freakish characters he wrote about, although he did not like to use the term “freak” to describe them.

While Crews was still a child, his mother left his stepfather, and he and his brother went with her to live in the Springfield section of Jacksonville, Florida. Crews finished high school there as a below average student. After graduation, he joined the Marines during the Korean War. After his service, he attended the University of Florida on the G.I. Bill. Here, Crews became a student of Andrew Nelson Lytle, who had also taught Flannery O’Connor, and James Dickey. Crews and Lytle kept in contact for years afterwards, and Lytle provided criticism of Crews’s early work.

After an unplanned pregnancy, Crews married Sally Ellis, who gave birth to his first son, Patrick Scott. Sally soon wanted a divorce due to his infidelity and obsessiveness with writing. “I was obsessed to the point of desperation with becoming a writer,” he wrote, “and, further, I lived with the conviction that I had gotten a late start toward that difficult goal…Consequently, perhaps I was impatient, irritable, and inattentive toward Sally as a young woman and mother.” However, he soon convinced Sally to remarry, and they had a second son, Byron Jason.

Crews graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in English, and eventually received a graduate degree of education. Crews then began teaching English, which he continued to do for the rest of his career, along with his career as a writer. In 1963, he had his first story published: “The Unattached Smile”. In 1964, he published another short story, “A Long Wail”.

In 1964 his first son, Patrick, drowned in a neighbor’s pool. Crews tried to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but this proved ineffectual. After the death of his son, Crews continued writing his first novel, The Gospel Singer, which appeared in 1968. Just after this publication, another came for his second novel, Naked in Garden Hills. Both were well received by critics at the time. In 1972, Sally asked for a second and final divorce. Crews did not marry again.

After Crews’s first two novels, he wrote prolifically, including novels, screenplays and essays, for journals including Esquire. He often set precise due times to finish whatever he was working on, and so had quick turnaround between writings. Once he published The Gospel Singer, he began to write eight novels, publishing one almost every year. Much of Crews’s work is now out of print.

His works were known to feature “freaks”, and “outcasts”, usually from rural areas. In Car, a man consumes an entire car by slowly eating piece by piece. In The Knockout Artist, a poor, Georgia-born boxer with a glass jaw knocks himself out at parties for money. A Feast of Snakes, one of his best known, and most provocative novels, has been banned in South Africa.

Crews felt strongly that authors should write about experiences that they have actually had. In his personal life, he often moved from obsession to obsession, and became knowledgeable on many subjects. Crews and Sally learned karate together, which then influenced Karate Is a Thing of the Spirit. In addition, The Hawk is Dying features an amateur hawk trainer who deals with condescension from college professors, and features a son-figure who drowns. Crews himself had a fascination with hawks for a period of time, and even trapped and trained them so they would sit on his arm. Body is a story about a competitive female body builder, her trainer, and her lower-class family from Waycross, Georgia. Crews himself trained his girlfriend, Maggie Powell, who would become a Southeast bodybuilding champion.

During his time writing for Esquire, he wrote a column called “Grits” for fourteen months in the 1970s that covered such topics as cockfighting and dog fighting. Filled with rough experiences he had outside of urban life, “grits” became a term he used to describe the tough southern characters featured in his writing.

Crews continued writing and publishing his entire life. As his reputation grew, he became a favorite of Madonna, Sean Penn, Kim Gordon, and Thurston Moore. Madonna and Penn discussed making film adaptations of his novels, but these never came to fruition. Crews’s final novel, An American Family, featured a blurb on the cover from Moore, saying, “God bless Harry Crews, America’s best writer. He’ll break your heart but he’ll always bring you love.”

Harry Crews’s work has become synonymous with the genre Grit Lit. Crews is considered a major influence, alongside Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Barry Hannah, along with later writers in the genre including Larry Brown, Dorothy Allison, and Donald Ray Pollock. Grit Lit is usually set in rural areas and often in what has been called the “Rough South”. Larry Brown, one of the most celebrated writers in the genre, objected to the term “Grit Lit”, but he dedicated his novel, Fay, to Crews, calling him “my uncle in all ways but blood.” He and Crews remained friends until Brown’s death in 2004.

Grit Lit: A Rough South Reader, defines the genre as “as typically blue collar or working class, mostly small town, sometimes rural, occasionally but not always violent, usually but not necessarily Southern.” The subjects of the stories often have to deal with extreme circumstances for survival. The characters usually use their roughness, depravity, and violence as a means of living. Crews’s work has become synonymous with the “Rough South,” though he did not like the label “Southern writer”. Grit Lit itself can become an “acquired taste”, for those not from the South.

Harry Crews’s experiences as a poor boy from Bacon County, Georgia, have made a major impact on his own stories. Many other Grit Lit writers are from working-class backgrounds as well, and use their experiences as a tool for writing their stories with accuracy. Crews has said, “A writer’s job is to get naked, to hide nothing, to look away from nothing, to look at it. To not blink, to not be embarrassed by it or ashamed of it. Strip it down and let’s get to where the blood is, where the bone is.”

Crews died on March 28, 2012, from complications of neuropathy. His sole surviving son, Byron J. Crews, is professor of English and Dramatic Writing at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. and is the personal representative and acting executor of the Harry Crews Literary Estate.

I love this man and his way of thinking, raw honesty!

Check him out (or not):

A brilliant thing he says about the process writing:

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas©️