Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Twinks

The Yellow-Wigged Toad Struck Again.

Cartoon by Gary Larson

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?

Nous allons entrelacés
Et le jour n'est pas plus pur
Que le fond de nos pensées,
Et nos rêves sont d'azur ;

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dylan Steven Geick via Instagram

Friday, September 08, 2017

Vibes by Jonas Huckstorf — By Vanity Teen

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

An Underground Life
Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin

That a Jew living in Nazi Berlin survived the Holocaust at all is surprising. That he was a homosexual and a teenage leader in the resistance and yet survived is amazing. But that he endured the ongoing horror with an open heart, with love and without vitriol, and has written about it so beautifully is truly miraculous. This is Gad Beck’s story...

"WHEN I GOT to know Jizchak Schwersenz there were still about ten Zionist groups in the city. Each one had about twenty members, both boys and girls. It was possible to join more than one at a time. I really liked the chance to get to know so many new people and new things.
"In Erwin's group we were preparing a theatrical reading of Schiller's Don Carlos. Goes to show that we certainly didn't only choose Hebrew or Jewish authors. We weren't so stupid as to think that Judaism was the absolute epicenter of the intellectual or cultural world. So we chose Schiller. The roles fit each of us as though they had been written with us in mind. Erwin played the king; his pretty sister was the queen. My sister was Eboli, a certain Manfred Lewin was Carlos, and I was the Marquis Posa. And how could things have gone any other way: Carlos and Posa fell in love. After the passionate crush on Reuwen, Manfred was my first big love. I didn't really even notice him at first. When he was chosen to play the role of Carlos I was skeptical. He stuttered a little when he read and didn't seem very sure of himself as an actor. He was medium height, strong and athletic, with soft brownish eyes and brown wavy hair that was sometimes messy in a cute way. His lips weren't especially pretty, but full. None of his individual features were all that beautiful; in general he gave a soft and somewhat awkward impression. But he could also be rather spirited. Then the words would just tumble out of his mouth. He would get worked up about our work, Zionism, our message and our goals. The bond between us developed first at an intellectual level. 
"We rehearsed using the small beige booklets put out by the Reclam publishers. We scribbled all over them with notes and underlining till they bordered on the illegible. Once there was something he couldn't read, so he leaned over my shoulder. I felt his breath on the back of my neck, pleasantly prickling and warm. I caught myself thinking, Yes, stay right there in that position. . . . Something sparked in me. 
"We started getting together more often to rehearse. I immersed myself deeper and deeper in the character of Posa. It's no wonder we fell in love. I think these two roles are definitely gay. This effusive, typical "oh!" of Schiller's —it couldn't be gayer. When Don Carlos and Posa appear on a stage, there is no doubt that they are a couple in love. Whoever doesn't see that just doesn't want to see it. Manfred and I took it a bit further than how Schiller wrote it. 
"But first I had to woo him. There were so many people all around Manfred—his large family, the group, diverse activities—that I had the feeling he was out of reach. My only chance was in the play. I knew exactly what I wanted; I wanted to go to bed with him. And then it happened, after our group meeting one night, on the roof of the building of the former Jewish teachers' association, on Artilleriestrasse. We were camping up there the whole weekend. We had packed food, sleeping bags, a guitar. It was the only alternative we had to a "field trip," since we were no longer allowed to go on outings outside of Berlin. 
"WE NEEDED WEEKS, even. months, until Manfred felt okay about himself. Long, deep, heavy conversations, feelings of guilt, "We can't see each other anymore, especially not at night," and then we would indeed get together again and the conversations continued. Finally I suggested that we just wait and see what happened. Either we would "indulge in our weakness," as he called it, or we would see each other and be able to abstain. Both scenarios would give us some kind of clarity. I just couldn't stand endlessly talking about it anymore. And of course, I was absolutely certain how things would progress. The group often met at Manfred's place. The Lewin family also lived in the Scheunenviertel, on Dragonerstrasse. There were seven of them in three little rooms. The five children all participated in our groups. 
"Manfred's father was a barber for Jews and thus had a profession that was secure in times of crisis. We held our meetings in the same room where he attended to his customers, and Manfred slept there too, in a corner separated off by a frosted glass window. Due to the nightly curfew, there was nothing more natural than my often spending the night at Manfred's, in his bed in fact. His parents were very generous. Space was very tight, and the beds weren't the cleanest either. They didn't bother themselves about who was sleeping in them. For Manfred and me, these nights were our "test." And very soon it became clear that we couldn't and didn't want to abstain. We "indulged" profusely, and finally Manfred managed to work things through with himself and admit his love: "With you it's okay!" I can still vividly remember, it was around my birthday, at the end of June—and the best present I could imagine. 
"Of course, his parents and siblings noticed our relationship, but it didn't have to be talked about. We were friends, and his parents didn't really want to know the details. They were happy when their children were doing well, when they weren't lonely, when they seemed happy. Anyway, there really were other things to worry about. 
"There were millions of bedbugs all over the building the Lewins lived in. I think it was the central bedbug office for all of the Scheunenviertel! And the picture of Theodor Herzl that hung in the apartment over Manfred's bed must have served as the main headquarters. I suppose you can get used to anything if you have to. We were lying in bed naked, and the creatures were happily strolling back and forth between us and over us. Sometimes Manfred would stand up, take the picture off the wall, and stick it in a pail of water. Then you could really see them—hundreds swimming around!
"Our love had lasted through its first summer. Manfred and I were a couple; all our friends knew. I made sure that [my best female friend] Mamsi met him too. One morning, after an air raid patrol, I dragged him with me onto the U-Bahn that Mamsi took to Lichtenberg, so the two of them would meet. The fact that she liked him immediately made me feel all the more in love and helped me forget all the many problems. Strangely enough, I never doubted our feelings for a second. Even later, I often had relationships with men who were actually straight, for whom I was the only man they ever had anything with. Manfred wanted me as much as I wanted him, and that was all the commitment I needed. He would certainly have become a father of six children if he had survived. Maybe back then we had a different conception of masculinity, but the kind of men called drag queens today, who certainly also existed back then, never attracted me much. My preference for youthful, athletic types—it's really just a matter of taste—made it easy for me. The kind of guy that excited me was all around. I never felt like an outsider because of my homosexuality. We were all united by a strong sense of solidarity. We were oppressed and persecuted, and we had no desire to become people who discriminated against others. 
"The Nazi pressure entered a new, more severe phase in the fall of 1941. The Jewish youth leadership found out that deportations of Jews were to begin shortly from Berlin, as they had already started in other areas of the Reich. The official Nazi terminology was "migration" or "evacuation" to "work camps" in the east. Step by step the last Jewish institutions were dissolved: the Youth Aid, the remaining Hechalutz facilities, the classes in the Youth Aliyah School. All that was left were the controlled Reich Association of Jews and the politically relatively inconsequential Jewish Community. 
"In late September 1941, right on time for Yom Kippur, the official Jewish Community was told by the Gestapo to convert the synagogue on Levetzowstrasse into a pre-deportation assembly camp for one thousand people, in anticipation of the "evacuation" of residences needed by the "Aryan" population; that meant organizing personnel, food, medication, and beds. This measure was part of preparations for the overall plan for the "final solution of the Jewish question," which the Nazi Party had resolved at the end of July. In October the first "transport" started rolling from the Grunewald freight depot toward the east, destination Lodz, in Poland.
"On September 1 the wearing of the yellow star with the inscription Jude was made compulsory for all Jews six years of age and older. We were supposed to pick up the star patches, at first four per person, at a central office of the Jewish Community. We had to pay for them, and they were not cheap! Faced with this situation, the main thing I felt— typical —was a sense of community among us who were affected by this inconceivable measure. For the still very fashion-conscious Mamsi, the world had collapsed. She tried however she could to cover up the hated patch with scarves and fur collars."

Excerpted from "An Underground Life - Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin", Gad Beck,  University of Wisconsin Press, August 2000. Paperback: 176 pages. ISBN-10: 0299165043,  ISBN-13: 978-0299165048.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?

 - John Ashbery, At North Farm (excerpt)

"This city belongs to sleepwalkers.
Where are you, in what bed, in what dream?"

“One day you fall for this boy. And he touches you with his fingers. And he burns holes in your skin with his mouth. And it hurts when you look at him. And it hurts when you don’t. And it feels like someone’s cut you open with a jagged piece of glass.”

Monday, September 04, 2017