Symposium with Accordion Accompaniment, V. Aristophanes’ Imperfect Circles

Andew Silence Equals Death

Andrew Grimes Griffin at Gay Pride in Ottawa…sometime in the 90s.

V. Aristophanes’ Imperfect Circles
or, Slicing Hard Boiled Eggs with a Hair.

Patrick was the blond American
boy next door
I met in Ottawa.
He called me Mr. A.
I called him Yankee.

Ernest said he went
quickly, so quickly
that one day Patrick,
in a voice of broken reeds, said,
“I’ve grown old, so old, so fast.”

Patrick died six months after
being diagnosed HIV positive.

Ernest said the eighty pounds
Patrick had become
was easy to hold,
but hard to carry.

And Oscar Wilde was almost right.
Friendship is far more tragic
than love
because it lasts longer
– if you’re lucky.

If you’re not
then you can
put it down
to an accident,
put it down
to an act of god,
or simply
put it down.

But, regardless
of what we do,
there are times
when we walk around
in profile
like relief carvings
on tombstones.

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Depth Charge: It seems that the darker side of the late-Eighties and early nineties is emerging with the release last year of How to Survive a Plague and the upcoming Dallas Buyers Club. By 1989, my friend Patrick was already dead and I composed this poem as part of a cycle based on Plato’s Symposium. I am posting it today as a companion piece to Facebook Photo and Why Someone Has To Die.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. Sock Puppets Speak

Sock-Puppets-Speak

A page of quotes included in the program for Sodom etc. Mar 28, 1992, Gallery 101, Ottawa

Sodom etc. drew on a vast variety of texts for direct and indirect inspiration: Oscar Wilde, The Koran, The Bible, W.B. Yeats, Chinese poetry, A.E. Housman, St. Augustine, Irish folklore, Shakespeare, Plato and the Physiocrats, to name a few. The goal to was trace of filigree of faggotry from the earliest times to the present, to reveal the layers of thought and desire that accumulate in the heart of the modern homo.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. Eurydice and Lot’s Wife

Sodom etc. Cuimhnígí ar bhean Lot - Remember Lot's Wife

Cuimhnígí ar bhean Lot Lúcás 17, 32 Sodam agus araile /Remember Lot’s Wife, Luke 17:32 Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. was a call for a re-examination and re-evaluation of the stories and myths that had been used to define gays and lesbians. It encouraged the audience to look back with a critical and playful eye, with a warning that doing so carried both reward and danger.

Two figures from mythology who paid a heavy price, one for looking back, Lot’s Wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other for being looked back upon, Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus who was returned to Hades because he lost faith and looked back to see if she was indeed following him.

The piece ended with a conversation between these two cautionary tales.

Eurydice and Lot’s Wife

E:         I’ve always meant to ask you, My dear, Your name?

LW:     I’m so used to being called Lot’s Wife That my own name Is quite beyond recall.

E:         How very strange that seems; We’re both women of some fame.

LW:     But isn’t it always the case. Those who name look back And those who are named Are looked back upon.

E:         To much the same effect, I dare say.I was whisked back to Hades, You were turned Into a pillar of salt, Hardly desirable fates, Either one.

LW:     True. It is hard to judge Whether it’s better to be shot The backward glance Or sneak a peak yourself.

E:         Given the chance.

LW:     Yes, given the chance, Should one take it?

E:         Or is it better To have no choice or say? But I have been holding out on you And I feel we are close enough That now I may speak the truth.

LW:     Which truth might that be?

E:         The truth about Orpheus and me It’s about time I used my own voice.

LW:     You mean we haven’t heard The whole story. Do tell! Do tell!

E:         I was surprised and flattered When Orpheus showed up in Hell.

LW:     Well naturally, It would be quite a compliment.

E:         But upon hearing the deal struck, I became hesitant. Knowing Orpheus and his vacillating ways, I knew he could not make it Without checking to see If I followed; so, I stayed.

LW:     You didn’t even try to go?

E:         No, I would rather rest in darkness Than endure his haughty eyes Turned back on me.

LW:     Then what is this  We’ve heard about you Following obediently.

E:         I can only imagine Orpheus, After the shock of turning To embrace only empty air, Concocted the entire charade In order to save face.

LW:     That sounds like my dear Sodom. Its destruction was A showpiece, a scapegoat, A Grenada, a Libya.

E:         You must be joking. I’ve heard that in that town Not even ten just men Could be found.

LW:     I can tell you, sister, There were more than Just ten men Who were more than Just O.K.

E:         Indeed! That was the thing…

LW:     This was it…

E:         That was what?

LW:     It was like My daughters being offered To the crowd.

E:         That part, you say, is true?

LW:     There’s a little truth In everything one hears But one must learn To pick and chose.

E:         And what about your transformation Into a pillar of salt? If you had it all to do over again Would you still chose to be A common condiment?

LW:     Without a second thought. You must understand That I was struck down Because I looked back. I saw That the Cities of the Plain Were NOT in flames. But the sky was falling (Not to mention the stock market) And thousands of people were running, Afraid to look behind.

E:         That’s quite a claim. Have you any proof?

LW:     I will take you there, Any time you wish to go. Although, I warn you, The place is deserted, Falling into disrepair, And only I who dared Look back Know the correct path.

E:         My dearest, I’d be delighted To take a little tour And see For myself For a change.

LW:     Then let us be as vultures And eat of the dead That we may take to the air.

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21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. Bhí Sodomach ag Damhsa

Bhi-Sodomach-ag-damhsa

Bhí Sodamach ag damhsa ar an tsráid aréir. Cá bhfuil an fear sin anois? Sodam agus araile./ A Sodomite was dancing in the street last night. Where is that man now? Sodom etc.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click on the Sodom etc. tag below to see everything posted.

Sodom etc. drew heavily on celtic folklore and legend, and particularly fairy-lore. After Christianity arrived, the Celtic gods were relegated to the shadows as the “Na Daoine Maithe/the Good People” or “Na Síoga/the fairies.” One tradition held that the fairies were fallen angels. Sodom etc. played on this by saying that the fairies, Sodomites and queers were all fallen angels–eternal outsiders with their own shadow histories.

As part of a non-advertising campaign posters were posted around Ottawa written in Irish Gaelic–Gaeilge–a near-dead language intelligible to only a very few, purveyor of a shadowy, lost tradition , the distinctive angel icon linking them to English language posters.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. What Sodomites Have to Offer

POSITIVE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

POSITIVE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING was the slogan cribbed from the Queer painter Francis Bacon to encapsulate the philosophy of Enlightened Nihilism.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click on the Sodom etc. tag below to see everything posted.

What follows is the artists’ statement from the program of Sodom etc.  A few historical notes: first, it was 1992 so there was still no effective treatment for HIV/AIDS, the “cocktail” still being 3 years in the future; second, this marks the first explicit statement of the philosophy of Enlightened Nihilism:  “there’s nothing, absolutely nothing. You are born, you die and then there’s nothing. Now, given this fact, you have two choices. You can be either optimistic or pessimistic about absolutely nothing.We Sodomites argue for optimism.” The slogan POSITIVE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING comes from a documentary about the Queer painter Francis Bacon, discussed here.

What Sodomites have to offer

I think when it comes down to it, what we Sodomites have to offer is a belief in the supremacy of pleasure and a recognition that the only real human right worth anything is the right to that pleasure.


And we don’t mean simply food and fucking. We imagine as yet unnamed pleasures, waiting to be revealed by someone clever, like you.

Think about it. A world where people are taught that if it feels good do it. If it feels good, but you are hurting yourself, or others, then stop doing it, or find a better way to do it.

Take Safer Sex for example. Sodomy is pleasurable, but we learned the hard way that AIDS meant it was decidedly unwise to engage in it. Did we stop? No. We found a way through condoms, toys, love and lube to do it without the negative side-effects. Resourceful, aren’t we?

The other thing to keep in mind is that no one else can give you pleasure. You have to make your own, possibly in concert with others, but it is ultimately your responsibility. You can’t delegate it.

We have a bit of news for you humans: there’s nothing, absolutely nothing. You are born, you die and then there’s nothing.

Now, given this fact, you have two choices. You can be either optimistic or pessimistic about absolutely nothing.

We Sodomites argue for optimism.

It may be hard when so many friends and lovers are struggling with AIDS, when so many of the girlfriends seem determined not to have fun, when the rate of addiction in our community is three times that of the general population, when our Dyke sisters are still systematically discriminated against because they are women, when we are verbally and physically attacked in the street, but, just remember, nothing is bigger than you, hold onto nothing.

Frankly speaking, we are getting worried with the way things are going. Angels are forever, but Sodomites will exist only so long as there are humans. If you continue trying to dominate nature in order to create profit for the few instead of pleasure for the many then you won’t be around for long.

Toodles.

Festively yours,

The Sodomites with Flashlights

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 As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. The Sodomites with Flashlights

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Cast of Characters

Andrew Griffin as Terence

Andrew Grimes Griffin wrote and directed Sodom etc.

Terence(Forneus): played by Andrew Grimes Griffin. A fallen angel. A Sodomite. Sióg (a fairy). He has lived with the Celts in Ireland before migrating to Canada where he has lived in Prince Edward Island and Ottawa. Associated with the Queen of Cups, The Moon, The World and the Hanged Man.

Carl Stewart as Belphegor

Carl Stewart also designed and produced the costumes.

Belphegor(Belle): played by Carl Stewart. A fallen angel. A Sodomite. He has lived with the Ancient Greeks, in the Court of Louis XV and Montreal. He is associated with the Queen of Pentacles, The Tower, The Wheel, and The Chariot. He is known as the seducer of mankind and a Moabite god of licentiousness.

Michael Leon as Azazel

Michael Leon also wrote and performed the music.

Azazel(Zazie): performed by Michael Leon. A Fallen Angel, associated with the Islamic Angel Iblis who asked, “Why should a child of fire bow down to a child of clay?” A Sodomite. He is a musician and has never been incarnate. He is associated with The Queen of Wands, The Devil, The Lovers and The Fool. He is credited with teaching men how to make swords and shields and women the art of make-up application.

Melanie Willis as Sariel

Melanie Willis also contributed writing to Sodom etc.

Sariel(Sari): played by Melanie Willis. A Fallen Angel. Bean síghe (a fairy woman). A Sodomite. She has lived with the Celts, the Greeks, the Native Americans, and currently resides with the rest of Sodomites in Ottawa. She is associated with the Queen of Swords, Temperance, Judgement and The Magician. In the war in Heaven Sariel lead one of the 4 Towers, or fighting units, against god.

Gilbert Gignac as Lot's Wife

Gilbert Gignac also produced the fallen angel backdrop.

Lot’s Wife: played by Gilbert Gignac. A fearsome drag queen.

Barb Lougheed as The Sock Puppet Sodomites

Barb Lougheed also contributed writing to Sodom etc.

The Sock Puppet Sodomites: played by Barb Loughheed. Our own little Greek Chorus.

Robb Cannnon Stage Manager

Robb Cannon provided technical support for sound and lighting.

Stage Manager: Robb Cannon.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. 21st Anniversary

Sodom etc poster

Sodom etc. It’s about salvage, not salvation. Marcb 28, 1992 Gallery 101 Lisgar St Ottawa 8 pm $5 General/$4 Gallery 101 members/$3 Sodomites If you say you’re a sodomite, we’ll believe you.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.