Monday, January 19, 2009

Bishop Robinson's Prayer -- that NPR, HBO and the papers didn't air

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January 19th

1887 - on this date the American intellectual, critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine, and a member of the Algonquin Round Table, ALEXANDER WOOLLCOTT was born (d. 1943). Moss Hart's brilliant farce "The Man Who Came To Dinner" is about the caustic "Sheridan Whiteside" who, after injuring himself slipping on ice, must stay in a Midwestern family's house. The character was based on Woollcott. Woollcott didn't seem to mind. In fact he later toured in the role around the country. Woollcott's review of the Marx Brothers' Broadway debut, I'll Say She Is, helped highlight the renaissance of the group's career and started a life-long friendship with Harpo Marx. Harpo's two adopted sons, William Woollcott Marx and Alexander Marx, are named after Woollcott.

Woollcott was one of the most-quoted men of his generation. Among Woollcott's classics is his description of the Los Angeles area as "Seven suburbs in search of a city" — a quip often incorrectly attributed to his friend Dorothy Parker. Describing The New Yorker editor Harold Ross, he said: "He looks like a dishonest Abe Lincoln."

His judgments were frequently eccentric. Dorothy Parker once said: "I remember hearing Woollcott say reading Proust is like lying in someone else's dirty bath water. And then he'd go into ecstasy about something called, Valiant Is the Word for Carrie."

Woollcott, who claimed the "Brandy Alexander" was a concoction named after him, was known for his savage wit. He once said about another contemporary wit and piano player: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with Oscar Levant that a miracle can't fix." He also was known to greet friends with, "Hello, Repulsive." Famously, he published the shortest theatrical review in history by submitting to his editor simply: "Ouch." The letters between Woollcott and his good friend and penpal Noel Coward are worth the price of admission of the recently published Letters of Noel Coward. They're all sharp wit and staggeringly good fun. In preparing today's Gay Wisdom, I came across this lovely line about democracy:

"I'm tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn't work. Of course it doesn't work. We are supposed to work it." - Alexander Woollcott

1921 - the American author PATRICIA HIGHSMITH was born on this date (d. 1995). Born Mary Patricia Plangman just outside Fort Worth, Texas, Highsmith is known mainly for her psychological thrillers which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Strangers on a Train has been adapted to the screen three times, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. In addition to her acclaimed series about murderer Tom Ripley, she wrote many short stories, often macabre, satirical or tinged with black humor. She famously preferred the company of animals to that of people, and once said, "My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people."

Highsmith never married but had a number of affairs with both men and women. In 1949 she became close to the novelist Marc Brandel. Between 1959 and 1961, she had a relationship with Marijane Meaker, who wrote under the pseudonyms of Vin Packer and Ann Aldrich, but later wrote young adult fiction with the name M.E. Kerr. Meaker wrote of their affair in her memoir Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s.

Her recurring character Tom Ripley — an amoral, sexually ambiguous con artist and erstwhile murderer — was featured in a total of five novels, known to fans as the Ripliad, written between 1955 and 1991. He was first introduced in The Talented Mr. Ripley (Coward-McCann, 1955). After a January 9, 1956 TV adaptation on Studio One, it was filmed by René Clément as Plein Soleil (1960, aka Purple Noon and Blazing Sun) with Alain Delon, whom Highsmith praised as the ideal Ripley. The novel was adapted under its original title as a 1999 film by Anthony Minghella, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett. A later Ripley novel, Ripley's Game, was filmed by Wim Wenders as The American Friend (1977). Under its original title, it was filmed again in 2002, directed by Liliana Cavani with John Malkovich in the title role. (The editors thought is a botched effort).

1941 - on this date the Canadian former professional wrestler PIERRE CLEMONT was born. Better known by his ring name "Pat Patterson," the former wrestler is currently working for World Wrestling Entertainment as a Creative Consultant. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. He is openly Gay.

1943 - the rock and blues legend JANIS JOPLIN was born on this date in Port Arthur, Texas (1970).

1983 - The Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer from Apple Inc. to have a graphical user interface and a computer mouse, is announced. How did we live without a mouse?

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Today's Gay Wisdom comes from the :

As many of you know, the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly Gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, gave the opening prayer at yesterday's Lincoln Memorial event. It was the first event in the inaugural festivities this year. HBO, which had paid for exclusive rights to the event chose not to broadcast Bishop Robinson's prayer. So if you watched there you wouldn't have caught it or even known that it occurred. NPR didn't air it either. There's no record of it in images placed on the sites of Getty Images, New York Times and the Washington Post.

It's a complete erasure of his ever having delivered the prayer.

Such is the continuing policy of silence and erasure we have to live with from people who should know better. We are used to this. If you know your Gay history this has happened again and again. In fact this little list-serve is really about recovering the truth in our history and celebrating it.

So we're going to celebrate it by providing here the full text of Bishop Robinson's prayer. I suggest you forward this around so that everyone has a chance to enjoy it.

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:

"Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


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