Edmund White on writing, incest, life and Larry Kramer

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What you are about to read is an American life as lived by renowned author Edmund White. His life has been a crossroads, the fulcrum of high-brow Classicism and low-brow Brett Easton Ellisism. It is not for the faint. He has been the toast of the literary elite in New York, London and Paris, befriending artistic luminaries such as Salman Rushdie and Sir Ian McKellen while writing about a family where he was jealous his sister was having sex with his father as he fought off his mother’s amorous pursuit.

The fact is, Edmund White exists. His life exists. To the casual reader, they may find it disquieting that someone like his father existed in 1950’s America and that White’s work is the progeny of his intimate effort to understand his own experience.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone understood that an interview with Edmund White, who is professor of creative writing at Princeton University, who wrote the seminal biography of Jean Genet, and who no longer can keep track of how many sex partners he has encountered, meant nothing would be off limits. Nothing was. Late in the interview they were joined by his partner Michael Caroll, who discussed White’s enduring feud with influential writer and activist Larry Kramer.

Contents

  • 1 On literature
  • 2 On work as a gay writer
  • 3 On sex
  • 4 On incest in his family
  • 5 On American politics
  • 6 On his intimate relationships
  • 7 On Edmund White
  • 8 On Larry Kramer
  • 9 Source
 

Drug-resistant staph deaths surpass AIDS in the United States

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a drug-resistant strain of bacteria, killed nearly 19,000 Americans in 2005 alone, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That is more people than were killed by AIDS in the United States. More than 94,000 Americans were afflicted with MRSA infections in 2005.

Although the supergerm, or superbug, is primarily found in hospitals, a growing number of cases have been contracted at public gyms and schools. In Moneta, Virginia, a high school senior died from an infection that spread to his kidney, liver, lungs and heart. In Bedford County, where Moneta is located, school officials have reported five cases of the Methicillin-resistant strain of the Staph bacteria. County officials closed the schools to clean them.

“Certainly, MRSA now has to be viewed as a very important target for prevention and control,” said Dr. David A. Talan, an infectious diseases specialist at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.

 

Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evansville, Indiana, United States — This past week marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program, and this program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers and patrons.

The USI art gallery celebrated the Thursday opening with its display of Warhol’s Polaroids, gelatin silver prints and several colored screen prints. USI’s exhibit, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, is to run from January 23 through March 9.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at USI bases its exhibit around roughly 100 Polaroids selected from its collection. The Polaroids were all donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, according to Kristen Wilkins, assistant professor of photography and curator of the exhibit. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made two donations to USI Art Collections, in 2007 and a second recently.

Kathryn Waters, director of the gallery, expressed interest in further donations from the foundation in the future.

Since 2007 the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has seeded university art galleries throughout the United States with over 28,000 Andy Warhol photographs and other artifacts. The program takes a decentralized approach to Warhol’s photography collection and encourages university art galleries to regularly disseminate and educate audiences about Warhol’s artistic vision, especially in the area of photography.

Contents

  • 1 University exhibits
  • 2 Superstars
  • 3 Warhol’s photographic legacy
  • 4 USI exhibit
  • 5 Sources

Wikinews provides additional video, audio and photographs so our readers may learn more.

Wilkins observed that the 2007 starting date of the donation program, which is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, coincided with the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. USI was not alone in receiving a donation.

K.C. Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation, said 500 institutions received the initial invitation and currently 190 universities have accepted one or more donations. Institutional recipients, said Mauer, are required to exhibit their donated Warhol photographs every ten years as one stipulation.

While USI is holding its exhibit, there are also Warhol Polaroid exhibits at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an Edward Steichen and Andy Warhol exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. All have received Polaroids from the foundation.

University exhibits can reach out and attract large audiences. For example, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saw attendance levels reach 11,000 visitors when it exhibited its Warhol collection in 2010, according to curator Elaine Gustafon. That exhibit was part of a collaboration combining the collections from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also were recipients of donated items from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.

Each collection donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program holds Polaroids of well-known celebrities. The successful UNC Greensboro exhibit included Polaroids of author Truman Capote and singer-songwriter Carly Simon.

“I think America’s obsession with celebrity culture is as strong today as it was when Warhol was living”, said Gustafon. “People are still intrigued by how stars live, dress and socialize, since it is so different from most people’s every day lives.”

Wilkins explained Warhol’s obsession with celebrities began when he first collected head shots as a kid and continued as a passion throughout his life. “He’s hanging out with the celebrities, and has kind of become the same sort of celebrity he was interested in documenting earlier in his career”, Wilkins said.

The exhibit at USI includes Polaroids of actor Dennis Hopper; musician Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran; publishers Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine and Carlo De Benedetti of Italy’s la Repubblica; disco club owner Steve Rubell of Studio 54; photographers Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos and Felice Quinto; and athletes Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis) and Jack Nicklaus (golf).

Wikinews observed the USI exhibit identifies and features Polaroids of fashion designer Halston, a former resident of Evansville.

University collections across the United States also include Polaroids of “unknowns” who have not yet had their fifteen minutes of fame. Cynthia Thompson, curator and director of exhibits at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said, “These images serve as documentation of people in his every day life and art — one which many of us enjoy a glimpse into.”

Warhol was close to important touchstones of the 1960s, including art, music, consumer culture, fashion, and celebrity worship, which were all buzzwords and images Wikinews observed at USI’s opening exhibit.

He was also an influential figure in the pop art movement. “Pop art was about what popular American culture really thought was important”, Kathryn Waters said. “That’s why he did the Campbell Soup cans or the Marilyn pictures, these iconic products of American culture whether they be in film, video or actually products we consumed. So even back in the sixties, he was very aware of this part of our culture. Which as we all know in 2014, has only increased probably a thousand fold.”

“I think everybody knows Andy Warhol’s name, even non-art people, that’s a name they might know because he was such a personality”, Water said.

Hilary Braysmith, USI associate professor of art history, said, “I think his photography is equally influential as his graphic works, his more famous pictures of Marilyn. In terms of the evolution of photography and experimentation, like painting on them or the celebrity fascination, I think he was really ground-breaking in that regard.”

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The Polaroid format is not what made Warhol famous, however, he is in the company of other well-known photographers who used the camera, such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton.

Wilkins said, “[Warhol] liked the way photo booths and the Polaroid’s front flash looked”. She explained how Warhol’s adoption of the Polaroid camera revealed his process. According to Wilkins, Warhol was able to reproduce the Polaroid photograph and create an enlargement of it, which he then could use to commit the image to the silk screen medium by applying paint or manipulating them further. One of the silk screens exhibited at USI this time was the Annie Oakley screen print called “Cowboys and Indians” from 1987.

Wilkins also said Warhol was both an artist and a businessperson. “As a way to commercialize his work, he would make a blue Marilyn and a pink Marilyn and a yellow Marilyn, and then you could pick your favorite color and buy that. It was a very practical salesman approach to his work. He was very prolific but very business minded about that.”

“He wanted to be rich and famous and he made lots of choices to go that way”, Wilkins said.

It’s Warhol. He is a legend.

Kiara Perkins, a second year USI art major, admitted she was willing to skip class Thursday night to attend the opening exhibit but then circumstances allowed for her to attend the exhibit. Why did she so badly want to attend? “It’s Warhol. He is a legend.”

For Kevin Allton, a USI instructor in English, Warhol was also a legend. He said, “Andy Warhol was the center of the Zeitgeist for the 20th century and everything since. He is a post-modern diety.”

Allton said he had only seen the Silver Clouds installation before in film. The Silver Clouds installation were silver balloons blown up with helium, and those balloons filled one of the smaller rooms in the gallery. “I thought that in real life it was really kind of magical,” Allton said. “I smacked them around.”

Elements of the Zeitgeist were also playfully recreated on USI’s opening night. In her opening remarks for attendees, Waters pointed out those features to attendees, noting the touches of the Warhol Factory, or the studio where he worked, that were present around them. She pointed to the refreshment table with Campbell’s Soup served with “electric” Kool Aid and tables adorned with colorful gumball “pills”. The music in the background was from such bands as The Velvet Underground.

The big hit of the evening, Wikinews observed from the long line, was the Polaroid-room where attendees could wear a Warhol-like wig or don crazy glasses and have their own Polaroid taken. The Polaroids were ready in an instant and immediately displayed at the entry of the exhibit. Exhibit goers then became part of the very exhibit they had wanted to attend. In fact, many people Wikinews observed took out their mobiles as they left for the evening and used their own phone cameras to make one further record of the moment — a photo of a photo. Perhaps they had learned an important lesson from the Warhol exhibit that cultural events like these were ripe for use and reuse. We might even call these exit instant snap shots, the self selfie.

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Children enjoy interacting with the “Silver Clouds” at the Andy Warhol exhibit. Image: Snbehnke.

Kathryn Waters opens the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the Andy Warhol exhibit, hosts document all the names of attendees who have a sitting at the Polaroid booth. Image: Snbehnke.

Curator Kristin Wilkins shares with attendees the story behind his famous Polaroids. Image: Snbehnke.

A table decoration at the exhibit where the “pills” were represented by bubble gum. Image: Snbehnke.

Two women pose to get their picture taken with a Polaroid camera. Their instant pics will be hung on the wall. Image: Snbehnke.

Even adults enjoyed the “Silver Clouds” installation at the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people from the area enjoyed Andy Warhol’s famous works at the exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Katie Waters talks with a couple in the Silver Clouds area. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people showed up to the new Andy Warhol exhibit, which opened at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the exhibit there was food and beverages inspired to look like the 1960s. Image: Snbehnke.

A woman has the giggles while getting her Polaroid taken. Image: Snbehnke.

A man poses to get his picture taken by a Polaroid camera, with a white wig and a pair of sunglasses. Image: Snbehnke.

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Finished product of the Polaroid camera film of many people wanting to dress up and celebrate Andy Warhol. Image: Snbehnke.

 

Kenya government fires health worker strikers over failure to ‘report back to work’

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Kenyan government has dismissed 25,000 striking health workers, mostly nurses, citing failure to heed government orders to recommence work and concern for the welfare of hospital patients. Speaking on behalf of the government, Alfred Mutua stated the workers were dismissed “illegally striking” and “[defying] the directive … to report back to work”, which he called “unethical”. The government asks that “[a]ll qualified health professionals, who are unemployed and/or retired have been advised to report to their nearest health facility for interviews and deployment”, Mutua stated.

The workers, who had been on strike for four days, were wishing to have improvements made to their wages, working conditions, and allowances. The strikes have caused a significant number of Kenyan hospitals to cease operations. According to Kenya Health Professionals Society spokesperson Alex Orina, the average monthly wage plus allowances for health workers in Kenya is KSh25,000 (£193, US$302 or €230) approximately. With an increasing number of reports of patients neglected in hospitals emerging, two trade unions met with the Kenyan government yesterday and negotitated a return to work, although a significant proportion of demonstrators defied the agreement, The Guardian reported.

Orina told Reuters the dismissals were “cat-and-mouse games, you cannot sack an entire workforce. It is a ploy to get us to rush back to work, but our strike continues until our demands are met”. Frederick Omiah, a member of the same society, believed the government’s actions would “make an already delicate and volatile situation worse”, expressing concern that demonstrations may continue in the capital Nairobi, amongst other locations. Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union chairperson Dr. Victor Ng’ani described government actions as “reckless”.

Mutua said the health workers were “no longer employees of the government” and had been eliminated from the payroll. While Ng’ani told the BBC of difficulties with finding other workers as skilled and experienced, Mutua reportedly stated that this would not be an issue. “We have over 100,000 to 200,000 health professionals looking for work today,” Mutua commented. “There will be a lag of a day or two … but it is better than letting people die on the floor, at the gate, or suffer in pain”.

 

Spelbound declared winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

An acrobatic group known by the name of Spelbound has been declared as the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010, a televised variety talent show competition broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom. As the winning act of the show, Spelbound have won £100,000 (US$144,580, €120,313, A$175,079) and a place at The Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala evening that is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family.

In no particular order, the top three acts were revealed to be two dancers known by their stage name of Twist and Pulse, gymnastic group Spelbound and Kieran Gaffney, whose act involves playing on the drum kit. After Kieran Gaffney was revealed to be in third place, Anthony McPartlin, who hosts Britain’s Got Talent with Declan Donnelly, said to Kieran: “Well done Kieran. Kieran, you’re a star, you came back, you got all the way to the final. I know you’ve loved this. You’ve loved this, haven’t you?” In response to this, Kieran Gaffney stated: “Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone for supporting me. Thank you.”

Shortly afterwards, on the episode that was broadcast live on ITV1 on Saturday, Anthony announced: “After tens of thousands of auditons, five semi-finals and an amazing final, this…this is it. One of you is about to walk away with £100,000 and a place at this year’s Royal Variety Performance. The winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010 is…Spelbound!” Glen Murphy from Twist and Pulse commented about finishing in second place, stating: “Yeah, it’s amazing. I can’t even believe it. I can’t believe it at all.”

Alex Uttley, a 24-year-old member of Spelbound, commented on the gymnastic group’s victory, commenting: “Oh, my god. This is unbelieveable. We just want to say thank you to everyone out there. It just shows that all our hard work has paid off.” One of the coaches of Spelbound, named Neil Griffiths, stated about Spelbound: “Oh, they’ve worked so hard over the last few weeks. Um, since the semi-final, we…we really had to pull out the stops to try and up the game. They’ve not known they’ve worked in the gym from six in the morning till twelve…twelve o’clock of the night. I couldn’t have asked for more. Um, it’s a team of coaches. I don’t take all the credit myself. There’s, uh, two people up there that know who they are who’ve been fantastic.”

Spelbound consists of 24-year-old Alex Uttley, Nicholas Illingworth, aged 24, Adam Buckingham, aged 21, 20-year-old Adam McAssey, 19-year-old Douglas Fordyce, 18-year-old Edward Upcott, 18-year-old Leighanne Cowler, 17-year-old Katie Axten, 17-year-old Lauren Kemp, 15-year-old Jonathan Stranks, Abigail Ralph, aged 15, 13-year-old Hollianne Wood and Amy Mackenzie, aged 12. Bookmakers had previously predicted that Spelbound would be the most likely act to become the winner of the series.

The running order for the final started with Twist and Pulse. The second act to perform was Liam McNally, a 14-year-old singer. The running order subsequently continued with 40-year-old impressionist Paul Burling, singer Christopher Stone, aged 28, Tina & Chandi, a woman and dog dancing act, Connected, a five-piece singing group, Kieran Gaffney, aged 12, 22-year-old Tobias Mead, a dancer, 80-year-old singer Janey Cutler and Spelbound in that particular order.

Earlier on in the final, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has stated to Spelbound: “We are hosting the 2012 Olympics and I think ‘what a brilliant opening act’.” Fellow judge Piers Morgan also commented that “[t]he purpose of this show is to identify hidden great British talent. You are that act.” After Spelbound won in the final, another judge, named Simon Cowell, stated that “the right boys and girls won on the night” and that he could “only say on live TV that that was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. Seriously.”

 

Wikinews 2014: An ‘Original reporting’ year in review

Wednesday, December 24, 2014With the English-language Wikinews continuing to increase the amount of original content published, we take a look back at some of the eighty-plus original reports from our contributors during 2014.

 

Texans vote online for new license plate

Monday, February 4, 2008

For the first time in Texas’s history, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is conducting an online vote to help decide which license plate design the state will use beginning in early 2009.

The week-long vote is being held at dot.state.tx.us. It started Monday at noon and will end on February 11 at the same time. Anyone can vote for one of five license plate designs, including the current design.

The designs are:

  • Traditional Texas — This simple design features blue highlights at the top and bottom and a gold star.
  • Lone Star Texas — This design uses a mountainous landscape under a bright, cloudy sky as its background. In the top left corner is a white star amid a splash of red and blue.
  • Natural Texas — The background is a field filled with wildflowers.
  • New Texas — This red, white and blue design features a skyline composed of landmarks from major Texas cities including Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. A large gold star is faintly visible in the background.
  • My Texas — This is the current license plate that was introduced in 2000. It features silhouettes of a desert landscape with an oil derrick and a man on horseback, as well as a starry night sky with a space shuttle.

All of the designs incorporate the state’s name, an outline of the state, and the state’s nickname, “The Lone Star State”. TxDOT says they took legibility and reflectivity into account when making the designs, in order to promote safety and law enforcement.

The decision to allow a public vote was made because the state was running out of six-character combinations to assign to drivers. The new license plates will have seven characters, regardless of the public’s decision.

“By the end of this year, we will be out of license plate combinations for the three letters and three numbers that we currently put on the general-issue plate,” said Rebecca Davio, director of Vehicle Titles and Registration. “Because we need to change the plate, we thought it was the perfect time to invite Texans to participate in a design selection.”

According to TxDOT, it took 33 years to exhaust the number of six-character combinations, and using current population growth figures, they project it will take 35 years to run out of seven-character combinations.

The Texas Transportation Commission must give final approval of the design. TxDOT says the commission is “enthusiastic” about giving the public an opportunity to vote for the new design.

TxDOT considered allowing the public to submit designs, but ultimately decided that it would use a “substantial amount of state-worker time” and wouldn’t be a “prudent use of taxpayer money”.

At the time of this writing, an unofficial vote count showed the “Lone Star Texas” design in first place with over 22,000 votes. “Natural Texas” was second with over 14,000, followed by “Traditional Texas”, “New Texas”, and the current design “My Texas”.

 

UK Wikinews Shorts: March 14, 2010

A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, March 14, 2010.

 

US Congress by new law can request President Trump’s New York state tax returns

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The state of New York passed a law Monday allowing the United States Congress to receive an individual’s NY state tax returns via a formal request, including a New York resident, such as current U.S. President Donald Trump. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to sign it into law, which would allow the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation to request Donald Trump’s tax returns.

The law requires the committees provide a request for a, “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.” The law does not target Trump by name. Rather, the U.S. Congress can obtain personal financial records without a warrant. Republicans in the New York legislature claim this gives legal coverage for the federal government violate an individuals privacy and conduct “fishing expeditions.”

The fourth amendment of the United States Constitution says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

During the 2016 United States presidential race, Trump declined to release any of his tax returns, saying they were under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. It is not required by law for candidates to release this information, but it us unusual for one not to do so.

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US plan for broadband Internet released

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The United States Federal Communications Commission released a plan to provide broadband Internet access to at least 90% of the American population today, and sent a copy of the plan to Congress, which will consider whether to introduce legislation to enact portions of the proposal. Other parts will be decided on by various government agencies.

The plan is intended to spur adoption of broadband Internet in the US by extending broadband access to areas of the country, such as rural areas, that do not currently have such access, as well as substantially increasing the speed of existing broadband installations. Currently, only around 65% of American households have broadband connectivity; if approved, the new plan would increase that number to 90% by 2020. According to a statement from the FCC, the plan would provide a “foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.”

Opposition to the plan is largely based on two points, which are cost, estimated be as much as $350 billion, and the effect on current users of airwaves, which new broadband access would use. According to the FCC, the plan would end up being revenue-neutral, thanks to income from the auctioning of airwaves, although in past such auctions revenue has gone to the US government. Separately, the proposal would include some changes to regulations over Internet lines, which are largely opposed by the industry, as well as plans to introduce a new fee for use of the airwaves, which are currently untaxed.