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NOTES from the ALLEY #5
HAPPY Birthdays, Endings, and EUROVISION
in no particular order…
If you have a moment to spare for a tragically important anniversary, tomorrow marks 50 years since the UpStairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans. On June 24, 1973, an arson attack on a queer nightclub in the French Quarter killed 32 people and injured 15—the worst act of mass murder against queer people in the 20th century. It is still virtually unknown even in the LGBTQ+ community.
“Let the Faggots Burn” by Johnny Townsend is a history of the incident, titled after a comment overheard by survivors.
The Nation posted a good article on the tragedy HERE.
This was within my lifetime, in case anyone is wondering why we still need a Pride Month and celebrations marking the struggle for recognition of our full humanity.
And now on to happier topics…
A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY HUSBAND! We’re going to Bilbao for a few days next month to celebrate, but first, dinner out for the The Big Day: Forty’leven.
You haven’t heard of Forty’leven, you say?
Forty’leven (40+11) is the magical year one gets after the Big 5-0, when the clock turns back a final time to one’s 40s and all the youth and vigor that implies, a temporary reprieve from aging—if 50 is the new 30, your 40s are your new 20s, right? Something like that.
It derives from the ridiculous John Denver song, Grandma’s Feather Bed, which I’ve appropriated for people who are having a difficult time adjusting to a new decade. 50 is a big one—one imagines by 60, birthdays are just ignored outright, so Forty’leven might in fact be the last year one can properly celebrate with a fair number of people “somewhere between 40 and death” who would prefer the word “birthday” were forgotten entirely in the context of themselves. If one were to make it to that next most august number, Eleventy-one (111), it would be cause for celebration indeed.
It works equally well with Twenty’leven and Thirty’leven, one assumes, though anyone who says that 30 and 40 are Big Numbers just sounds silly to anyone on the other side of half a century.
Please don’t make the mistake of over overpronouncing the syllables, as the birthday boy invariably does, erasing most of its charm.
It is not Forty-eleven, but Forty’leven (FOR-tee-LEV-en.)
Happy Birthday, Ducks! 💚🦆💚
Watched The Lost City of Z (it’s Zed instead of Z in the movie) and I gotta say, while it was all very interesting and historical, and Charlie Hunnam so dreamy, the ending in particular moved me very much.
It’s foreshadowed in an earlier scene during WWI, when a French fortune teller predicts real-life explorer Percy Fawcett is fated to find his lost city, “bejeweled with peoples,” (LOVE that) which he had failed to locate on two previous attempts in the Amazon. His destiny is ultimately fulfilled, in a touching and mysterious final scene with his son. Unfortunately, the only Youtube video is split in two and incredibly dark, but as its the ending of an interesting historical drama anyway, maybe go watch it on Prime and see for yourself.
It reminded me so much of two other perfect endings in modern memory, both intentionally ambiguous and poignant—the wondrous Thelma & Louise, of course…
…and Finding Neverland (2004), the climax of which never fails to move me to tears.
It’s been a monthish since we attended our first ever Eurovision party, at the home of English friends who assembled a mainly American crew of expats to watch the yearly pageant of pop music and over-the-top performances.
The winner this year was the Swedish singer Loreen, a repeat, as she had won once before in 2012. “Which one won?” I was asked. “The one with the nails,” I replied.
It was a wonderfully supportive show of the effort in Ukraine, the home of last year’s winner, staged in Liverpool instead of Kyiv as would be traditional. It was all a lively and besequined scream, and good fun.
It’s worth mentioning that though we had never watched it before, and the whole spectacle is ignored in the U.S., it’s a European institution which has been running since 1956; played host to such competitors as ABBA, Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias, and Olivia Newton-John; and single-handedly revolutionized my own understanding of “bearded ladies” in the person of 2014 winner Conchita Wurst.
If you have not already seen the Ukrainian contestant from 2007, you must watch the following video—Verka was in the house this year, fetching as ever—and it will show you absolutely everything you need to know about Eurovision if you have never experienced it. 💙💛💙💛💙💛