Font Size

I find it sad that by not talking about who I sleep with, that makes me mysterious. There was a time when I would have been called a gentleman.“–Kevin Spacey.

I doubt this will be a statement greeted with acceptance by many however just as we today look back on the scandal that destroyed the life of Oscar Wilde so come tomorrow people will look at the scandal currently engulfing Kevin Spacey and wonder what the Hell was going on.

I know a thing or two about sexual assault. My second night in Toronto (I was 17) an older man who had offered to help me stood at the top of a very narrow stairwell with a hammer in his hand. He said, “Give me what I want or I will kill you.”

I also know what scandal mongering can do having felt the full brunt of an unceasing and ongoing campaign of hate for seventeen years now.

Kevin Spacey put NETFLIX on the map. He has an enormous body of work that is nothing less than exceptional.

Anthony Rapp, who started this, was 14, yes, at the time he describes. Spacey was 26 and unknown.

We were told Rapp went to a party Spacey gave, that he was bored and retreated to Spacey’s bedroom and that Spacey was drunk at the time.

Well, which of us has not done something stupid while drunk?

We are told some of Spacey’s co-workers on HOUSE OF CARDS felt threatened by him. Yes, well, even now homosexual men make a lot of people uncomfortable. The important thing is that Spacey did what he was hired to do. He gave a performance that put NETFLIX on the map.

The same holds true of THE OLD VIC in London. Spacey did his job.

When I was in Grade 13 we studied T. S. Eliot’s MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL. A touring company brought the play to town. My English class went to see it. While Eliot had four knights/murders the stage production had five. Naturally our English teacher asked us why we thought the director had changed the symbolism in the play.

Each student in a class of around thirty gave more and more elaborate answers.

My answer was short and simple. I said, “He is a very attractive young man. He is either the director or the producer’s boy friend.”

That answer led to a near riot. Shortly after I found myself in the principal’s office where I was told I had the wrong attitude and would starve in two weeks if I left school that day.

That night found me on the streets of Toronto from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I came to Toronto thinking I had a friend. I found out I did not. As I wrote, on my second night I discovered that a man who had offered to help me was a monster.

Well, I survived him.

More and more tales are springing up about Spacey.

Warren Beatty was the most successful star of his generation at getting laid. He tells us he was more than willing to bed playwright Tennessee Williams to get a part he wanted. Williams told him he needn’t go that far and that the part was his.

People forget (or seem not to know) that traditionally working in the theater has been viewed as one small step above prostitution.

John Barrymore was the first American actor to play HAMLET on the British stage. The day of his first performance he found himself so besotted by a woman that nothing else mattered. By the time he got to the theater after bedding her Barrymore was so drunk he could barely stand. During the performance he repeatedly puked his guts out in the wings. The critics hailed it as the greatest performance of Hamlet in the history of British theater.

I was surprised to learn that the real love of Lawrence Olivier’s life was not Vivien Leigh but comic Danny Kaye. Fuck, I was astonished to discover Danny Kaye was “bent.”

Jean Marais, in a recent film documentary, tells us that when as a struggling young actor he met the much older Jean Cocteau he had sex with him because he wanted the part. That was at the beginning. Then Marais fell in love with Cocteau.

The day Cocteau died the media came to Edouard Dermit to dish dirt. Dermit had started as Cocteau’s gardener. We could call Cocteau’s romance with his gardener sexual harassment. In fact, most today would.

Dermit replied, “I owe my life to this man”

Don’t get me going about teenage Arthur Rimbaud  snatching the much older Paul Verlaine from the bed of his wife.

There is a popular idea that if a man or a woman is bi-sexual and/or homosexual they are weak.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Said Cocteau, “Whatever the world condemns you for make it your own. It is yourself.”

To do that takes great courage.

Kurt Vonnegut was an atheist. He stated in his  commencement speech at Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia, May 5, 1999 as recounted in “If this isn’t nice, what is?” :

Everybody asks during and after our wars, and the continuing terrorist attacks all over the globe, “What’s gone wrong?”

What has gone wrong is that too many people, including high school kids and heads of state, are obeying the Code of Hammurabi, a King of Babylonia who lived nearly four thousand years ago. And you can find his code echoed in the Old Testament, too. Are you ready for this?

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

A categorical imperative for all who live in obedience to the Code of Hammurabi, which includes heroes of every cowboy show or gangster show you ever saw is this: every injury, real or imagined, shall be avenged. Somebody’s going to be really sorry.

When Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, he said, “Forgive them, Father, they know what they do.” Any real man, obeying the Code of Hammurabi, would have said, “Kill them, Dad, and all of their friends and relatives, and make their deaths slow and painful.”

His greatest legacy to us, in my humble opinion, consists of only twelve words. They are the antidote to the Code of Hammurabi.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The full video of Vonnegut’s Anges Scott College commencement is available on CSPAN:

“An eye for an eye and soon the entire world is blind.”–Ghandi.

That man who threatened my life did not, could not wound me. Only I could wound me. Only I could cripple myself with hatred. I forgave him not for his sake but for my own so that I would not all into the bottomless pit of self pity.

In Place of a Curse, by John Ciardi

At the next vacancy for God, if I am elected,
I shall forgive last the delicately wounded who,
having been slugged no harder than anyone else,
never got up again, neither to fight back,
nor to finger their jaws in painful admiration.

They who are wholly broken, and they in whom mercy is understanding,
I shall embrace at once and lead to pillows in heaven.
But they who are the meek by trade,
baiting the best of their betters with extortions of a mock-helplessness,
I shall take last to love, and never wholly.

Let them all in Heaven – I abolish Hell –
but let it be read over them as they enter:
Beware the calculations of the meek, who gambled nothing
gave nothing, and could never receive enough.

Yes, beware the calculations of the meek who gamble nothing give nothing and can never receive enough.

I have met many who call themselves meek. Funny thing, they all come off like Uriah Heep.

Had I not walked out of high school that morning I would have starved.

Because I did that I met two remarkable women. The first was the author Jane Jacobs (THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES, DARK AGE AHEAD). The second was the author Judith Merril, the mother of modern science speculative fiction.

From Jane I learned that we are born with adult minds. I learned that the concept of childhood (and adolescence) is a recent invention.

Judy Merril was fond of saying, “We only really learn in conversation after sex.”

In his obituary published in the GLOBE AND MAIL SF writer Robert J. Sawyer wrote, “In the early 1950s, Judy had belonged to The Hydra Club in New York, a group of young SF writers who provided networking and support for each other. She was asking us all to gather at Toronto’s Free Times Café to create “Hydra North.”

“Hydra North is still going strong 13 years later. But Judy only came to four meetings in all those years.

“That was typical Judy. She was a catalyst, a great starter of things: founder of Hydra North; founder of what’s now called The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, part of the Toronto Public Library; founder of the Tesseracts series of Canadian SF anthologies published out of Edmonton.

“She was, I think, always looking to recapture the past — perhaps an odd thing for a science-fiction writer to long for. Her Hydra Club in New York had included a lot more than just gossip about the publishing business: there’d been a fair bit of bed-hopping, as well, and Judy, right until the end, was a lusty woman.

“She made passes at more than one local SF author. Until declining health forced her to curtail her traveling, she wintered in Jamaica where, as she used to often observe with a twinkle of her piercing gray eyes and a lascivious grin, men don’t mind older women. Indeed, I remember being quite flustered interviewing her in 1985 for CBC Radio’s Ideas series; she kept making comments about the phallic nature of the microphone.

“Anyway, the members of Hydra North were too Canadian, too sedate, too yuppie for the Judy who used to be a Trotskyite; for the Judy who came to Canada to protest the American involvement in Vietnam; for the Judy who had lived at Toronto’s notorious Rochdale College; for the Judy who smoked pot. You could hardly call someone who was born in 1923 a child of the Sixties, but, really, she was precisely that: a believer in free love and a radical.”

Judy was never one about recapturing the past. Of her J. G. Ballard (author of Crash and Empire of the Sun) in 1992:

“Science fiction, I suspect, is now dead, and probably died about the time that Judy closed her anthology and left to found her memorial library to the genre in Toronto. I remember my last sight of her, surrounded by her friends and all the books she loved, shouting me down whenever I tried to argue with her, the strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men.”

We live in a time filled with timid and weak men.

That is why it is so important that we be strong enough to stand alone.

Kevin Spacey made a pass at you and you did not accept it? I feel sorry for you when I think of all you could have learned from this remarkable man in conversation after sex.

I’m with Judy. I’m ready to stand condemned.

One day Leonardo Da Vinci saw a street boy who captured his attention. “Take me to your parents,” he said.

To then he said, “How much do you want for him?”

Many might say what followed was disgusting and criminal.

To his parents that boy was nothing.

To Da Vinci he was something.

Da Vinci, gave him love, a life and the Mona Lisa. Think how immensely poorer that boy would have been had Da Vinci passed him by.

Whatever the world condemns you for make it your own. It is yourself.

TORONTO LIFE called me Canada’s most loved and loathed film connoisseur.

It is the loathed part that means the most to me. It means I am actually doing something.

Shortly after I arrived in Toronto I met by chance and became friends with the young man who had played the extra part in MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL. “Why were you in the play?” I asked him. He replied, “I was the director’s boy friend.”

No one with an ounce of knowledge of the theater and the movies (and that includes those writing about this) was blind to its truths. They are just pretending to be.

The atheist gets what those who call themselves believers are blind to.

Not too many people got a fan letter from the greatest thinker about cities of our time.

–Reg Hartt 2017–11–05.ì#/media/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Angelo_Incarnato.jpg

« »