May 29, 2015

The Site of a Perilous Quest

The Stonewall Inn in New York City is finally being recognized for its significance in the struggle for equality. (Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.)
In the recent news coverage of the Islamist take-over of Palmyra, I felt that too much was being made of the ruin’s significance, and too little of the human suffering that was to follow. There is no doubt that place matters, but no one alive today remembers the life of Palmyra. We rely on historians and archeologists to explain its importance. These thoughts resurfaced today when I received a “breaking news” item from Andrew Berman, an acquaintance of mine who happens to be the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Andrew was writing to announce that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee would finally be considering the Stonewall Inn as a site worthy of recognition—due in large part to GVSHP’s efforts. In his statement, Andrew said: “This is a long-overdue move to recognize the incredibly important role this site and the riots connected to it have in the struggle for LGBT rights in this country and worldwide.”

Unlike Palmyra, the bar has not stood for millennia, but it is a symbol that can be understood by any human being who has been cast as an outsider—and everyone engaged in the struggle for equality.  While buildings and monuments should be preserved as important reminders of great suffering, they should also evoke the ongoing quest for identity and acceptance. That long journey in the LGBT community began at Stonewall.

A Postscript on DropBox

A human being from Dropbox responded to my complaints (explained in the post below this one); while the pattern of ascribing wrongdoing to the user remains intact, the instructions I received from Vinny fixed the problem. So, all links to PDFs are now working. Film Journal International links, however, may still not contain my byline. Headlines also remain corrupted.

May 26, 2015

DROPBOX Dropping the Ball . . .

It seems that some of the links to PDFs that I have recently posted here, and that should take readers directly to the article in my pre-2012 public folder on Dropbox, require them to log in to an account. I have written to Dropbox about this problem, but the management there is invisible. (They may all be robots--or are we calling them cyborgs now?) In the meantime, if you do not have a Dropbox account and want to read one of my articles, you need only send me an e-mail, and I will reply with a PDF.

It seems to me that so many of the services and websites we depend upon start out free of charge, and remain free, but suddenly do not work as they did when we first signed up for them. Knowing that users cannot get hold of a real person, and do not want to waste time on a "community forum" (Dropbox has questions about the issue I have identified here that have gone unanswered for 5 months), they force them to upgrade and begin paying for the service. On a business profile website, which will go unnamed but that everyone reading this will know, I cannot do things that I used to be able to do quite easily in the past. I also suddenly have feeds that I have not subscribed to on my page.

Try writing directly to these websites (you need the skills of a seasoned journalist to ferret out the "contact" link) and you may get a reply that blames the dysfunction on you or your browser. Bollocks, as the British say . . . I am convinced that the problem I am describing, and all such problems, are thinly disguised scams to get users to upgrade and pay!

Please write to me or comment if you are reading this and having similar problems with Dropbox. In the meantime, I refuse to "share" a file on Dropbox. I will just send you the article you want to read, hoping that you will respect the copyright I hold.

May 24, 2015

Spring Cleaning

This is a photo of Australian Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Thorn Djandilga's "Tortoise."
I was cleaning out old paper files today, to make room for new ones, and I found an article I wrote in 1999 for Windspeaker, a Canadian newspaper which follows the lives of indigenous people from around the world. "Dreamings, An Art Form from Down Under" is both a primer on Australian Aboriginal art, and a piece about four women artists. It includes interviews with three of the artists and Djon Mundine of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, then the only Australian Aboriginal curator in Australia. I hope that you will read about these remarkable women who paint not to create art, but as a ritual to celebrate their "Dreamings." (I am posting it under the heading of "Archives.") The article, scanned from old newsprint, can easily be read but was hastily clipped; so, please excuse the rough edges.