2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

CRUISING UNDER THE WEST PIER:GHOSTS. AN EXPERIMENT IN MULTI-GENRE WRITING. BY STEVEN BENSON

I went down to see the wreckage of the West Pier, a silent beacon, and the very last vestige,stranded and cut off from the land now.

It was merely a barely supported tangle of rusted iron: a metaphor for all the obvious things like general transitoriness, mortality(some psychogeographical skeleton), decay; but also some defiant withstanding of the elements (most recently the battering storms of last year).

I had just read the “Disappearance Boy”(this, that which I am writing now, is a “story”, so I have changed HAVE just read-in reality-to HAD just read, this  in the interests of proving some point about my much commented on self-referentiality and over-explication!) by Neil Bartlett, (one of the great novels of 2014); and prior to that, Bethan Roberts’ “My Policeman”(2012), both novels set in Brighton; and the former (possibly the latter too, though I cannot quite remember) includes a powerful and eerily, queerly poetic scene whereby Reggie, the protagonist, wanders in the fog under under the ( this time) still extant Palace Pier, amongst the corroded pillar supports and sees the shadowy shapes of men looking for sex/love with other men; flitting around like spectres.He even kisses one man, but flees back into the (literal and metaphorical) fog; metaphorical in that it is the narrow confines of his magic act and closet.It is the 1950s. “My Policeman” tells of the tripartite situation between a woman, her (suppressed,gay)policeman husband and his (self-acknowledgedly gay)lover, set at roughly the same time. So, both novels inhabit the liminal under/half world of pre-Woolfenden legalisation of male-to-male sex “acts”; a world which is undetermined and largely unsafe; Bartlett’s evocative  under-the-pier cruising scene summarising up that atmosphere all too well. So, both books were/ are in my mind fairly freshly………….

I had been, that day, in the gay village in Brighton(St. James Street); encountered the “clappies” (as my Brighton friend affectionately calls them, because they clap their hands with excitement, like seals), these being the extrovert (and, sometimes, bitchy) queans who throng the area; everything now, thankfully, now in the open,unlike the shrouds of Reggie’s day…….

But, the West Pier by night; I said “I” at the start of this “story”; it was actually “we”- myself and the partner I still have; the reticence of changing to the first person SINGULAR due to unknown internalities of self-oppression and, thereby, self-censorship. WE went down to the wooden stumps, which were all that remained of the pier on the shore side; it was pitch dark……

In the 80s and 90s the derelict (even then; it was closed from 1975) Pier was a gay and bisexual male cruising site, and, intra-textual hommage notwithstanding, I too now imagine (looking back to then) the wraithes of gay men of yore(some dead of AIDS), haunting those stumps even now, looking for love, some of them pretending it was only for casual sex.(The cruising still occurs on the beach, I think around the Palace Pier)…..

Polemically,it makes me think how far we have come -albeit very recently-so that I now feel safe enough to read this piece here, sans significant censorship, in this group, right now. Also, that lgb people (and we ARE people)-and, less so, transgender people (who still have a distance to travel)-have only recently, in this country(and not at all in some other countries) had HUMAN rights, that is, since 1999; for instance, as regards housing succession, partner pension rights, civil partnerships, and(from this year) equal marriage rights(except for in Scotland). How- like women, working class people, ethnic minority and disabled/ill people, formerly (and STILL, to an extent, under the current disingenuously “ideological” government)- we were less than even second-class subjects. We were pariahs, our own doppelgangers,and (here the polemic metamorphoses back into my story/”story”, via an image) we were wraiths, slithering between the pillars of established, acceptable “society”. And, slithering back into the polemic, most lgbt peole do not want to know of our past;nor do some non lgbt peole want to be reminded: of the unavoidable fact that we have only had significant human rights for FIFTEEN years, thanks to the likes of Blair,Cameron, Tatchell and Stonewall(behind the scenes) and the influence of the European Court of Human Rights, and every lgbt activist and supporter who lobbied to make us human in law.Extraordinarily,John Major  started it, two years earlier, with the lowering of the age of consent to 18(not equal but a beginning)…..

Anyway, self-referentially,back to my “story” story: explaining away as I go !(all the modernists and postmodernists did it, sometimes with acute self-awareness and openness, so there !:); well, there is…. NO STORY, as such; there IS:

1.a potted history of lgbt rights(VERY potted!)

2 an image/metaphor.

3.a polemic.

4. an overt homage to the beauties of Bartlett’s and Roberts’ texts; and…(lurking there somewhere amongst the gloom of the Brighton fog)

a hiraeth for the West Pier and its heyday QUA a pier; a poignant, voyeuristic interest in its subsequent , gradual decay; and in the shadowy (under)world of gay men cruising…..

One day, I MIGHT write a (derivative) “real” story of two gay men who started with sex under Brighton’s old West Pier, met again, and fell in love…

Relegated Areas

Originally posted on Time's Flow Stemmed:

20140728-064326-24206140.jpg

For me parks are good when first of all, they’re not impeccable, and when solitude has appropriated them in such a way that solitude itself becomes an emblem, a defining trait for walkers, sporadic at best, who in my opinion should be irrevocably lost or absorbed in thought, and a bit confused, too, as when one walks through a space that’s at once alien and familiar. I don’t know if I should call them abandoned places; what I mean is relegated areas, where the surroundings are suspended for the moment and one can imagine being in any park, anywhere, even at the antipodes. A place that’s cast off, indistinct, or better yet, a place where a person, moved by who knows what kind of distractions, withdraws, turns into a nobody, and ends up being vague.

My Two Worlds
Sergio Chejfec (trans. Margaret B. Carson)

View original

BARRIERS AND DEAD END.PHOTO POST. BY STEVEN BENSON

IMG_5033IMG_5014IMG_5015

BIENNIAL(CONTD)INDEPENDENTS:”NOT DARK YET”(PAUL MELLORS),GOSTINS.BY STEVEN BENSON.

I rather liked these:a contrast of dark colours and themes; and bright colours and themes

menacing wavy lines; what lies beneath?

menacing wavy lines; what lies beneath?

 

The spectator?

The spectator?

Lovely landscape;a sort of Klimt feel:)

Lovely landscape;a sort of Klimt feel:)

 

FROM DARK INTO LIGHT

IMG_4988

 

Whats on that seat?

Whats on that seat?

CONFINEMENT.THE KEY(S).LIVERPOOL PICTON LIBRARY EXHIBITION.POETRY AND PROSE. BY STEVEN BENSON.

Its so

THEM and

Us;

CONFINED, in an

Exhibition

Of

Frozen

Keys.

———————————————————–

Obviously, this is not (just) about keys, literally. Keys seemed a symbol for MY confinement within my illness; though I have done my best to re-invent myself and keep as much freedom as I (realistically) can.

————————————————————————-

The man said

“Don’t touch the

Keys”IMG_4966

Which made me

Feel

Imprisoned

Even

MORE.

Why did he

Say that?

(I had not

Tried to touch

Them);

People KNOW

You do not

Touch

Exhibits

In

Galleries).

Then he spoke:

I thought,

As if

To say,

Do not

Talk or

Even whisper

In this

Repressed

Whispering

GalleryIMG_4972

—————————————————————-

Trapped in time(I feel, can’t/do not want -quite- to articulate, verbally,what I mean……..)

———————————————————————————————————

Again, behind the symbolism of the key(s), the beautiful but archaic clock, the whispering(the silence, otherwise; ENFORCED) lies my baggage of repression, resentment of homophobia(internalised, particularly then, in the 80s), a lot of it connected with silent stuffy libraries. Rules, confinement, telling me how to be (heterosexual/”normal”).

So the key which is, now, the way OUT(sorry re the clichéd symbolism and metaphor!):….IMG_4968

I feel fairly free, however, in the NEW aery library:”that was then…. this is now”.

——————————————————————————

So, it’s upto ME to keep unlocking the doors, with MY key. I enjoy that part of the library I re-claim:reclaim for NOW/TODAY; and remember that I am a new self-made person and most of the internalised homophobia has gone now, (though the illness remains). This NOT the Hugh Owen Library at Aberystwyth in 1982; it is Liverpool Central Library -AND myself- re-invented, for 2014; so I can unlock the doors of painful memories and let the light in.:)

———————————————————————————-

PS. Photography was allowed!

———————————————————————————

See also this posthttp://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/the-new-central-libary-liverpool-impressionsramblings-and-more-linksintra-textualities-by-steven-benson/

 

 

BIENNIAL, POST 3. I CURATE MY OWN BIENNIAL OF QUIRKY LIVERPOOL PHOTOGRAPHS AND THE NON RE-USE OF UNUSED SPACES.BY STEVEN BENSON

Grim; this was the official Independents Biennial; "The Brink"

Grim; this was the official Independents Biennial; “The Brink”

Who has the power to curate?

Musical Lampshade, Mello Mello; this is certainly art!

Musical Lampshade, Mello Mello; this is certainly art!

Notice of closure

Notice of closure. You can see the famous spectres of Bold Street; remember, this shop was the ghostly remains of Cripps dressmakers

 

What will happen to this beautiful former Bookshop, ex Waterstones, Bold Street

What will happen to this beautiful former Bookshop, ex Waterstones, Bold Street

There, once, was the cute Costa Coffee, in former Waterstone's, Bold Street

There, once, was the cute Costa Coffee, in former Waterstone’s, Bold Street

 

Typing misty, time-ridden scripts, Mello Mello

Typing misty, time-ridden scripts, Mello Mello

The reeling of time has stopped here; but it reels ruthlessly outside this tape recorder, Mello Mello

The reeling of time has stopped here; but it reels ruthlessly outside this tape recorder, Mello Mello

Why isn't this in the Official/Indie Biennial?;street art, Slater Street

Why isn’t this in the Official/Indie Biennial?;street art, Slater Street

Rural, with urban intervention

Rural, with urban intervention

Mello Mello; open for a few more months; what then?

Mello Mello; open for a few more months; what then?

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