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Andrew Carnegie’s Palace of Culture October 30, 2011

Posted by homolog88 in Travel Dispatches.
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At the peak of his earning power, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was deemed the second richest man in America, coming in after J. P. Morgan. Unlike Morgan, Carnegie made philanthropy one of his life goals. According to his famous dictum, a man should spent the first third of his life preparing for the acquisition of wealth, the second third obtaining that wealth, and the final third giving it away. “A man who dies rich dies disgraced,” he pronounced, although he didn’t take his own advice. Carnegie, who had grown up in Scottish poverty before he made his fortune in railroad and steel, was a devotee of education and culture. We have all heard about Carnegie Hall in New York, and many of us also know about the Carnegie libraries that were donated to cities around the country. (Oakland received five of these buildings in 1899, including the downtown building that houses the African American Library.)

 

In the manner of Victorian grandees, Carnegie wanted to create institutions that would promote High Culture: music, natural science, painting and sculpture … the usual list. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History present an unusually pure lineage of descent from its Victorian beginnings. Built in 1895, Carnegie’s original “Palace of Culture” always housed both exhibits on natural history and fine art, and such is still the case. One ticket admits the visitor to both sets of collections, now housed in different wings. But back in the day, what were the “must-have’s” of every museum with aspirations to major standing? – classical statues (check), fine art (check), Egyptian antiquities (check), and DINOSAUR BONES! Remember that the end of the 19th century witnessed a dinosaur craze. Bustled ladies and hatted gentlemen milled in wonder around terrifying skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in unlikely battle against a ceratosaur.

 

Carnegie wanted dinosaur bones for his Palace of Culture, and he got them. He financed a whole institute, and in 1899, his paleontologists scored their first big find, an 84-foot sauropod (affectionately dubbed “Dippy”) christened Diplodocus carnegii in honor of its adoptive dad. Dippy was only the first of Pittsburgh’s big dinosaurs. Between 1909 and 1922, 350 tons of dinosaur fossils (mostly discovered in New Mexico) were shipped to the Carnegie Museum. Consequently, Pittsburgh is one of the best places on earth to see dinosaur bones. The Dinosaurs in Their Timeexhibit is highly informative, beautifully mounted, and will take even a jaded adult back to childhood wonder.  Set up with theatrical flair, the dinosaur exhibit places its classic skeletons in painted recreations of the Jurassic world in which they lived.

Jurassic scene

Remember those hokey dioramas of African wildlife in the natural science museums of your youth? They’ve fallen out of fashion, but the Carnegie Museum has maintained them in their pristine glory. I’ve been to Africa many times, and I still got a kick out of checking these out. Behold the Arab Courier Attacked by Lions.

Arab courier attacked by lions

Postmodern theorists would have a field day with such simulacra, but I will spare you the theoretical implications. Except to say that I found it interesting that Hall of Ancient Egypt and the Hall of American Indians were also part of the Museum of Natural History.

 

Carnegie paid for the Fine Art side of things too. In 1896, Pittsburgh hosted the first of the Carnegie Internationals, the oldest ongoing exhibition of contemporary art in the New World. Consequently, the museum possesses examples of many important artists of the 20th century, including one of Monet’s Water Lilies. Of course the collection can’t compete with major art powerhouses in Paris, Washington, London, and the like, but for a mid-sized city in the Midwest . . . pretty damn good.

 

There are some fun hangovers from the Victorian legacy. The Grand Staircase houses a turn-of-the-century mural that is touching in its innocent celebration of work and industrial power.

Carnegie Museum Grand Stairway

The Hall of Architecture houses the largest plaster cast collection of Greek and Roman buildings in North America. In our age of mass international travel, the necessity of recreating Classical masterworks of sculpture and architecture for home-bound artists and consumers of culture has gone the way of dodo bird. There’s a stuffed one on display in the Hall of Birds. (I only hope I live long enough to see the day when Tea Partiers will be considered candidates for taxidermy.)

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Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival — Day 1 October 24, 2011

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I’m having a bit of a Burning Man experience here: my mind is mildly blown by my introduction into a new world to which I have gained unexpected access. The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, now in its 20th year, is seriously about the documentary genre. All of the film makers are documentarians, documentaries are the principal topic of conversation, and the audience—inhabitants of this middling town in the Ozark Mountains —love documentaries. That’s what blows my mind. For ten days from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. two, sometimes three screens show documentaries simultaneously, and from the shows I’ve been at, they’re well attended, garnering audiences of between 40 and 80 people.
My own screening took place at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. There were 60 to 70 people in the audience. I was part of a program that included a bad short short (6 minutes) and a beautifully shot black-and-white documentary aboutNew York subway performers. The director of the bad short and I fielded questions for a good 15 minutes after the screening, and people continued coming up to me the rest of the day to tell me how much they liked (or wished they had seen) TNB.
The HSDFF is a bit of a shaggy dog, unkempt and extremely lovable. It’s all about the filmmakers and their films. The financial resources are not great, but, this being the South, the hospitality is unparalleled. Filmmakers love coming to this festival. There are parties, workshops, and receptions throughout the week. The festival provides hospitality to broke filmmakers; I’ve been given my own down-at-the-heel condo for the four nights I’m in town. A couple of rooms in the upstairs of “the historic Malco theater” are reserved for filmmakers and well stocked with snacks, refreshments, and even hard liquor. The historic Malco theater itself might be uncharitably described as “old” rather than “historic”: unrenovated, well used, but with two medium sized screening rooms that always have people in them. This year the festival is screening 110 documentaries of various lengths (chosen from over 700 submissions), and each doc receives two screenings.
On any given day there seem to be at least 10 filmmakers in attendance. That’s pretty impressive for such a small film festival. All of us showed up at 6:00 that day in one of the screening room for a visiting filmmakers forum, and we had an audience! The filmmakers range in experience from seasoned pros (one guy from Baltimore worked as a shooter for The Wire) to newbies at their first film festival. And we ended up having a pretty interesting discussion about the documentary as a genre and where it fits in to the current cultural landscape. Love of the genre suffused the room, both in the passion of the filmmakers and the interest of the audience. I was—have I said this before?—blown away. When I am at LGBT or mainstream film festivals, documentaries are usually the stepchildren of the film family. Narrative films are prized above all. Not in Hot Springs. There is a Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute: threadbare offices next to “the historic Malco theater” that operates year ‘round with an archive of 15,000 films.
That evening saw a reception at an art gallery with live music (no tip jar!), lots of delicious food, and the leather art of Winfed Rembert newly installed. More on him later; he was not only in attendance but the subject of a documentary that screened the next day. At the reception I met a woman who works as a physical therapist at the Hot Springs hospital named after my great great uncle, Leo Napoleon Levi. She urged me to call her the next morning so she could arrange for me to be taken around.
I ended the day at a bar hosting a performance of a heavy metal band, Slow Southern Steel, that had been the subject of a documentary screened earlier that evening. Three ear splitting numbers later, I packed it in and called it a night.

The Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival October 21, 2011

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They claim it’s the fifth or sixth oldest in the country, and at 26 years, they might be right. And it’s a long one, stretching over 10 days. It gets all the big films populating the film festival circuit this year (Gun Hill Road for the men; Hannah & the Hasbian for the women). It benefits from good business support, a cadre of dedicated volunteers and the tireless leadership of its president and programming chair, Mitchell Leib. Also, its printed program is worthy of an A-list festival, glossy and beautifully produced.

 

And yet, the PILGFF is second-rate, as Mitch ruefully confessed during our first conversation. There is no expectation that filmmakers will come, and when they do, not much is made of that. Unlike Rochester, a smaller town by far, the film festival draws only middling crowds, provides no accommodations to visiting filmmakers, and its film festival events seem to be limited. (I was only in attendance from Monday thru Wednesday, so can’t really judge the quality of the parties.) The film festival trailer preceding each showing was lackluster (Rochester’s, by contrast, was fabulous—in both the superlative and queer sense).

 

As I’ve frequently remarked, film festivals provide a reflection of their respective communities, and if Rochester, though small, bespeaks a remarkable intersection of homosexual community and film fandom, I’m not sure what the PILGFF says about Pittsburgh. Perhaps that the place is big enough to provide money and resources but that the centrifugal demands of a fast-paced urban life (so much to do! so little time!) have fragmented the community. The venue provides a spacial metaphor. Southside Works Cinema is a gleaming, new multiplex in a soulless, renovated section of Pittsburgh’s  gentrifying south side. The audience watches the films in the 21st-century comfort of large screens and stadium seating, yet upon exiting the screening room, the generically Hollywood setting—eye-popping carpets, attractive posters of current attractions at the 9 other screening rooms, brilliantly huge concession counter—obliterates any sense of individuality or community the films might have created. One becomes, has always been, a pampered consumer.

 

(Once again, by contrast, the Rochester film festival took place in two characteristic venues: the quirky downtown art theater, small and unrenovated; and the large modern screening room connected to the George Eastman house.)

 

“T’A’in’t Nobody’s Bizness” showed with an eclectic mix of other shorts in Wednesday night. Around 65 men and women scattered themselves around the large screening room—really a respectable number for a week night. The Q&A was lively, a good 2/3 of the audience stayed for that, and, as usual, I fielded most of the questions. The reaction to the short was quite positive. (But, of course, anybody with a negative opinion would keep it to themselves.)

 

Another filmmaker was present, a New York graduate of Hunter College who made a personal documentary about his small-town family’s slow move toward accepting the presence of his long-term partner. The documentary was so-so—a good subject amateurishly handled (he said loftily)—but the filmmaker was excited to be there, and I ended up having a fascinating discussion with his partner as we sat in a bar afterwards. (Scott was pretty much a white guy who had been adopted by middle-class Black parents, so you know I found his story way more interesting than the one that had been told on screen.)

 

I was in attendance with my “nephew” (actually a cousin), Jeremy Philipson, who is in his last year at Carnegie Mellon Institute. He had persuaded three of his classmates to go as well, so I was part of a student pod, great fun. Since they were straight, shorts that I found tiresome in their “please-accept-us-we’re-human-too” message struck home with them. Good! I think LGBT film festivals should sponsor “bring a breeder night” with special programming, free admission for straight companions, and raffle prize copies of Loving Someone Gay.

Pittsburgh: The Pleasures of a Third Tier Town October 19, 2011

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Pittsburgh in oil

Who travels to Pittsburgh for tourism alone? Although there is plenty to do here, few people would purposely fly any great distance to visit the Andy Warhol Museum or ride the wonderfully restored Mt. Washington incline railways. Everyone knows of Pittsburgh. Who hasn’t heard of the Steelers? Andrew Carnegie?U.S.Steel? All of these people and institutions have left their stamp upon this small city, yet it remains just that . . . a small city.San Francisco  too is small city, though a Second Tier one. And Savannah,Georgiais even smaller. Yet Savannah is a tourist destination in a way that Pittsburgh is not.

Of course Pittsburgh is a regional hub, Pennsylvania’s second city and the largest city of the Appalachian Mountains. People come here for other reasons. I myself am here for a film festival (another LGBT one) and to visit my young cousin Jeremy, who is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University. However, I also have a bit of past with Pittsburgh. When I was a young man, working as a mid-level bureaucrat for Peace Corps/Washington, I spent my Christmases in  Pittsburgh, with the family of friends from Peace Corps days who had settled there. This was in the 1980s. And through five or six successive Decembers, I got to know this charming city somewhat well.

Pittsburgh across the Monangahela River

Pittsburgh deserves consideration as a travel destination. Its physical setting is quite beautiful, bordered by great rivers and spanned by picturesque bridges.

Reflected buildings in the Golden Triangle

 

 

 

 

 

 

The downtown area, known as the Golden Triangle, is cute and compact, a walkable mixture of 19th century and contemporary architecture. Major money from the steel industry heyday created buildings with magnificent interiors, and Pittsburgh, for whatever reason, not only survived the demise of its industrial base but successfully replaced it with a mix of service sector businesses (finance and health care).

What’s interesting about Pittsburghas a case study in tourism is that it boasts all of the generic attractions of a city of any importance. It possesses big cultural institutions (the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), major sports teams (the Pirates), important museums (the Carnegie Museums), the above-mentioned downtown area, gorgeous parks (Schenley – really pretty now due to fall foliage). You can find the same in Cleveland, Providence, and Richmond—other cities that are not really tourist destinations in themselves. Ditto the neighborhoods, wide array of restaurants, and Famous Names. (Did you know that Stephen Foster was born and raised in Pittsburgh? I didn’t.)

The Cathedral of Learning from my hotel balcony

Yet Pittsburgh has its quirky sights, things that are unique to this endearing town that doesn’t puff itself up. The Universityof Pittsburgh’s kitschy Cathedral of Learning  houses 24 classrooms reflecting the culture and history of the various ethnic groups that make up the city’s population. The Mt.Washington incline railways are a wonderful time capsule into the 19th century as well as a magic carpet rise to spectacular views of the city and its rivers. And, for history buffs (I’m one), the Ft. Pitt Museum housed in a rebuilt rampart of the original structure, provides an entertaining and scholarly overview of how nakedly and shamefully the French, British, Americans, and Indians strove for power and dominion. (The 1763 Indian uprising, Pontiac’s War, was a revelation to me. Now, of course, the Ottowa Indian chief brings to mind only the brand name of a vintage automobile. Sic transit Gloria mundi.)

Image Out–The Rochester Lesbian and Gay Film Festival October 10, 2011

Posted by homolog88 in film festivals, ImageOut (Rochester LGBT), Uncategorized.
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My posse at the Image Out screening

It’s a good one, really one of the best I’ve attended. The prestigious LGBT film festivals—Frameline (San Francisco), Outfest (Los Angeles), New Fest (New York)—are associated with big cities, but ImageOut of Rochester, NY lasts 10 days and boasts the same line-up. Of course it doesn’t have the big names (Chaz Bono of Becoming Chaz showed up for the screening of his documentary at Frameline) nor do the programmers of other film festivals attend to see what they might solicit for their own, but the programming is top-notch, the community support, unparalleled, and the vibe is wonderfully hospitable. (The film festival put me up in the downtown Radisson for a couple of nights.) A 10-day festival is no joke to put on, and ImageOut does so with the help of over 100 volunteers. The excellence of the programming is due to the hard work and enthusiasm of its programming co-chair, Micahel Gamilla, a charming and seemingly tireless film buff. Other board members work hard at their functions AND hold down full-time jobs. The end result is an upbeat and well-run event, one that everyone seems delighted to be involved with. I got a fair amount of love and respect as a film maker, but the work I put into my short pales in comparison to the efforts of ImageOut’s principal movers. Over and over I said, “I’ve been to a lot of film festivals, and this is one of the better ones”—and it was nothing but the truth. And it surprises me that I have been to a lot of film festivals. How did this happen? I still don’t think of myself as a film maker.

I might have to revise this opinion given the success that “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness” has met with. People at ImageOut loved the short. The woman photographing the event for the festival asked me to autograph her program—a first. In fact, I was taken aback. Having published two books, I’ve autographed before but never for a film.

The screening took place at 11:00 a.m. on an unseasonably warm and beautiful Saturday morning. I joked with my nephew Joe, his girlfriend and roommate that we might be the only four people who showed, but in fact there were around 50 who forewent an Indian summer day (all the more precious because of the long, frigid winter that is inexorably on its way) to sit in the large theater attached to the historic George Eastman (Kodak) mansion.  “TNB” screened first, and then I was called up for a Q&A session. The audience seemed genuinely interested in the subject matter (no Blacks in attendance as the main attraction to follow had  no racial content) and asked good questions about the historical context and its possible distribution. I was pleased. Michael Gamilla moderated, and he’s a witty guy. He said he liked to listen to the blues when he was doing his nails. I countered that I listened to the blues while combing my silken locks. “When they’re on the stand?” he asked. The photographer caught my laugh.

The laugh

The film that followed was an hour-length documentary called The Tents, about the New York fashion week shows that took place in Bryant Park for a period of about 20 years. The Tents was made with money and access to famous people—Diane von Furstenburg, Isaac Mizrahi, and Tommy Hilfiger—and also benefited from good cinematography and dynamic editing. But . . . it lost its story arc and ultimately, its audience. Too many digressions. It needed to be cut by at least 20 minutes. Joe and his roommate Christian left the theater before the end. And, as one of the film goers said to me afterwards, “The Tents needed to be shorter and yours needed to be longer.” “I can’t tell you how many guys have told me that,” I replied, going for the easy laugh.

Although I was only at the festival for its first 3 days, it was a packed 3 days. There were films I’d missed at Frameline that I wanted to see at Image Out. The festival put on a great opening night party—no music but excellent food (good priorities)—where I hobnobbed with real film makers (a gay couple screening their fourth feature film) and newbies (a straight couple flushed with the prospect of their first screening ever).

Film festivals reflect the character of their communities, and this seemed to be true of Rochester as well. Upstate New York—Buffalo, Syracuse, Ithaca, Rochester—are bastions of liberalism. I tend to associate small towns and cities with more conservative attitudes, but upstate New York has deep roots in the abolition movements (Frederick Douglass published The North Star from Rochester), women’s liberation (Seneca Falls), and Progressivism. Rochester’s lesbian and gay community is strong and visible. Their newspaper, The Empty Closet, is the longest continuously published print newspaper in America. ImageOut is the centerpiece of gay life in Rochester (there are only two gays bars in a town full of bars), and it holds pride of place. The gay and lesbian community loves and supports its film festival, and rightfully so. As the festival’s board chairman remarked, “Culturally, Rochester punches above its weight.”

Calling the Kettle “White”: My Interview with JD Dragan October 8, 2011

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Photographer JD Dragan


JD Dragan is a gay white photographer who has made a career of photographing Black male nudes—a perfect subject for my current film project on gay interracial desire. JD lives in Philadelphia, a town he doesn’t particularly care for, and had a one-man show early in the summer entitled, “The Modern Slave.” As opposed to pictures he had taken where lighting, symmetry, and the body beautiful were paramount (he is technically superb), the pictures in this show featured specifically political content: these same models with symbols associated with slavery and oppression such as a noose, cuffs, an American flag.

Article 1

All of JD’s models are physically stunning, many of them body builders, so the presentation of Black gays in such a context by a white photographer generated the expected controversy. In fact, when I first read an extended review of the show in The Philadelphia Weekly , I myself was sure that here was another chocolate queen blowing his obsession up into Art. (A slight case of projection, perhaps?)

Then I interviewed the guy, and I had to change my mind.

Certainly JD is a chocolate queen. And, like most gay men, he is obsessed with physical beauty. Yet his idealized portrayal of Black men springs from a genuine love of the species, a profound belief that reducing them to walking genitalia is profoundly racist. Of course their bodies are beautiful, but so are their faces, their spirit, and their intelligence. There are white men who desire Black men to reinforce their superiority in the Western racial hierarchy, but there are also those who desire Black men out of Afrophilia, if I may coin that term. (A slight case of projection, perhaps?)

So I ended up liking JD quite a lot. Of course I find his images beautiful and erotic. Amusingly, he says the top three categories of his collectors are 1) white gay men, 2) Black gay men, and 3) straight Jewish couples. Now I doubt that the gay white men buying JD’s pictures do so out of desire to restore full humanity to portrayals of Black men. (I can’t tell you how many reproductions of Michaelangelo’s David I’ve seen in queer living rooms.) I get JD’s point, and I find it admirable. However, the eroticism of the image trumps any liberating agenda—at least for me.

Man in Polyester Suit

In response to the criticism JD frequently encounters that he is a Mapplethorpe knock-off, JD responds that, unlike Mapplethorpe, he loves and respects his models. JD feels that Mapplethorpe, though rigorously aesthetic, reduces his Black men to sculptural objects, that as a photographer he is cold and classist. JD is appalled at the famous Mapplethorpe image, “Man in a Polyester Suit;” would NEVER reduce a Black man to a penis. I’m not sure, however, that I can tell the difference between a Dragan image of a perfect Black nude and one by Mapplethorpe.

And other questions come up for me: what about Black women? Are their images not also reduced by racial stereotyping? What about Black men who don’t have perfect bodies? JD might justly respond that he works his corner of the field and that others are free to work theirs. But then one is drawn to the question, how effectively can a white man liberate the image of a Black man? (A slight case of projection, perhaps?)

Dreams of Empire: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal October 2, 2011

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I have just returned from a week long bike ride that took me from Washington, DC to just outside Pittsburgh, PA. The first 184 mile of this ride was mostly along the C&O Canal towpath, a lunatic idea that actually bore some fruit, supported by American hubris and 19th century technology.

The idea of a commercial route linking the fertile Ohio River Valley with the Eastern Seaboard was the dream of many an early entrepreneur, but the canal version received a particularly powerful boost from none other than George Washington Himself. As a young man (19), Washington had crossed the Appalachian Mountains in early skirmishes of the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763), had seen the possibilities of the land there, and acquired more the 30,000 acres by 1772.

Young Washington strikes a heroic pose in Cumberland, MD

The Revolutionary War and the two terms as the nation’s first president diverted His attention somewhat, but Washington founded the Patowmack Company in 1785 in order to develop what He considered to be the most viable route to the west. There were some slight obstacles to using the river, namely cataracts and a mountain range, but wasn’t this the 18th century when all things were possible?  The reason that the nation’s capital was placed where it was on the Potomac was because 15 miles upstream flowed Great Falls, the first of these challenges.

A slight obstacle 15 miles upstream from Washington, DC

Given the technology of the times, the only way to bypass these was by building a series of locks and canals. Washington encouraged the use of the Potomac route by introducing a bill that established a federal armory upstream at Harper’s Ferry. (The Civil War battle of Antietem revealed just how disastrous this location would prove, but that catastrophe lay in the future.) Washington died in 1799, but the locks at Great Falls were opened in 1802, and the river was now navigable up to Seneca Falls.

So far so good. However, New York and Pennsylvania were proceeding with their plans to build canals to the lands beyond the mountains. (The Erie Canal opened in 1825.) Alarmed by the competition, influential leaders in the mid-Atlantic region convened a convention in 1823 and pushed the unfeasible idea of a canal running either from Baltimore or Georgetown (a “suburb” of DC) through the Cumberland Gap to the westward running rivers that would end up at the Ohio River. When Georgetown won out as the canal’s starting point, Baltimore, in a fit of pique, funded the equally speculative idea of a railroad line linking their city with the Ohio River Valley, the birth of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

As a matter of fact, both projects broke ground on exactly the same day: July 4, 1828.

When the U.S. Board of Engineers priced the C&O project at a staggering $22 million, the shocked canal lobbyists ordered a second survey which reduced the estimate by almost half. In a remarkable foreshadowing of defense contracting practices, this was . . . optimistic. The C&O Canal took 22 years to complete, included 11 hand-hewn stone aqueducts, 74 locks, each with its own lock keeper’s house, and almost 13,000 other structures (i.e., bridges, flumes, waste weirs). The most ambitious of these was the Paw Paw Tunnel a 3,118-foot boondoggle that took 12 years to build, bankrupted its subcontractor, and almost put the C&O Canal Company out of business. It’s pretty cool to walk through, however.  It had poured the night before (much of the weather sucked during our ride), which created spectacular waterfalls at the entrance.

Southern entrance to the Paw Paw Tunnel

When the Canal finally opened up to Cumberland in 1850, the railroad had beat it there by 8 years. However, railroad engines were still weak affairs, and trains couldn’t haul nearly as much as canal boats, so the C&O Canal Company had that advantage. They had the disadvantages of dry spells, floods, and winter freezes, however.

Nonetheless, after the Civil War, the Canal began to make money, peaking at 1/2 million in tolls in 1874, carrying mostly coal. Railroad technology continued to improve, however, and the Canal lost business to the B&O Railroad, which was able to carry goods to Baltimore’s deep water harbor. The C&O Canal Company slid toward bankruptcy and a devastating flood in 1899 would have halted operations permanently, but the B&O Railroad had purchased the canal in order to prevent another railroad from building on its right-of- way. The deal was, however, that the railroad (now “transportation”) company had to keep the canal open and running “at a profit.” This fiction was put to an end by another flood in 1924. The Canal went from artificial life support to suspended animation. And there is stayed until the federal government acquired it in exchange for collateral and debt forgiveness in 1938.

For the next two decades, the government tried to figure out what to do with this property. Of course a dam was proposed, then a parkway along the lines of the Blue Ridge highway. Justice William O. Douglas of the Supreme Court led a famous 1954 walk on the towpath to call for the canal’s conservation. Finally in 1971 the C&O was designated a National Historic Park in a bill signed by the Great Satan of the time, President Nixon.

It took our bike tour 4 days to follow the Canal towpath from Georgetown to Cumberland. The weather was often wet but not cold: green and lush landscapes, many beautiful water views of the canal and the Potomac. Not all of the canal had water in it, but there were many sections that carried the peacefulness of elongated pools. Some canoeing, some fishing, biking, historical structures galore, and the consistent crunch of the towpath. Because of the unseasonably wet weather, we biked through many puddles. My rental bike had no fenders, so staying clean was simply not an option.  Fun . . . dirty fun.

Mud tail

The bike trip begins in DC September 24, 2011

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In front of the WWII Memorial

Before my trip to Rochester, I am going on a week-long bike ride along the C&O Canal route from DC to just outside Pittsburgh. I am participating in a supported bike ride of the Adventure Cycling Association, which is a pretty cushy way to go. Although I’ll be camping, my gear will be trucked from one campsite to the next and, best of all, all meals are provided by the Association. I love my adventures to be catered!

A Slew of Video Acceptances September 8, 2011

Posted by homolog88 in film festivals, Hot Springs Documentary FF, ImageOut (Rochester LGBT), Pittsburgh Gay and Lesbian FF.
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picture of film festival laurel leaves

My latest video, “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s,” has garnered a bunch of acceptances on the film festival circuit lately. Film festivals tend to bunch up in the fall and spring. I knew the film would do well, and the early spate of acceptances has justified my optimism. As of this writing, the video has been accepted in the following film festivals:

  1. Outflix (Memphis Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)
  2. Pittsburgh Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  3. Northern Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Shreveport)
  4. Austin Gay Lesbian Film Festival
  5. Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (Arkansas)
  6. Some Prefer Cake Lesbian Film Festival (Bologna, Italy)
  7. ImageOut (Rochester Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)
  8. Reel Affirmations (Washington, DC)
  9. Queer Black Cinema Film Festival (New York)

The screening dates for all of these festivals fall in September and October. I’m still waiting to hear from film festivals with later screening dates.

As you’ll note, the vast majority of film festival accepting this film are gay and lesbian ones. This, of course, makes perfect sense given the subject matter. I do not confine myself to submitting  to LGBT film festivals, but those are the ones where I stand the best chance of getting accepted.

I am particularly pleased, however, when one of my videos gets accepted to a film festival outside the LGBT niche. Therefore the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is of particular interest to me. It establishes my bona fides as a documentary director, not just a director of videos only of LGBT interest.