Thursday, September 07, 2006

some items of note

1.from the Mahablog:
Last night[i.e. 9.5.2006-JV] ABC’s Brian Ross reported that Osama bin Laden has been offered sanctuary in Pakistan. This morning ABC and other news sources are denying this report. You can watch the video of Brian Ross’s original report here. You can draw your own conclusions about who got to whom.
2. a fairly trivial article in Salon:

"Beyoncé Knowles, freedom fighter":Why "booty popping" will do to Islamic fundamentalism what rock 'n' roll did to Stalinism

the superficial B.S. of this piece really cheesed me. I may discuss this article at greater length in a subsequent post.

3.NYTimes: The story of Casa Susana, a transvestite safe-house from the 1960s:

Decades later, when Robert Swope, a gentle punk rocker turned furniture dealer, came across their pictures — a hundred or so snapshots and three photo albums in a box at the 26th Street flea market in Manhattan — he knew nothing about their stories, or Casa Susanna, beyond the obvious: here was a group of men dressed as women, beautiful and homely, posing with gravity, happiness and in some cases outright joy. They were playing cards, eating dinner, having a laugh. They didn’t look campy, like drag queens vamping it up as Diana Ross or Cher; they looked like small-town parishioners, like the lady next door, or your aunt in Connecticut.

Mr. Swope was stunned by the pictures and moved by the mysterious world they revealed. He and his partner, Michel Hurst, gathered them into a book, “Casa Susanna,” which was published by Powerhouse Books in 2005 and reissued last spring
it was only after the book’s publication that Mr. Swope and Mr. Hurst began to learn the story of Casa Susanna, first called the Chevalier d’Eon resort, for an infamous 18th-century cross-dresser and spy, and only in recent months, as they have begun working on a screenplay about the place, that they have come to know some of its survivors.
Robert Hill, a doctoral candidate in the American studies program at the University of Michigan who is completing his dissertation on heterosexual transvestism in post-World War II America, came across Mr. Swope and Mr. Hurst’s book by accident in a Borders last year, reached out to them through their publisher, and sketched in many of the details.

Casa Susanna was owned by Susanna herself — the court translator, otherwise known as Tito Valenti — and Valenti’s wife, Marie, who conveniently ran a wig store on Fifth Avenue and was happy to provide makeover lessons and to cook for the weekend guests. It was a place of cultivated normalcy, where Felicity, Cynthia, Gail, Fiona and the others were free to indulge their radical urges to play Scrabble in a dress, trade makeup tips or walk in heels in the light of day.

“These men had one foot in the mainstream and the other in the margins,” Mr. Hill said the other day. “I’m fascinated by that position and their paradox, which is that the strict gender roles of the time were both the source of their anxiety and pain, and also the key to escaping that pain.”