Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

The United States is something of an outlier as a democracy that still uses the death penalty. Although a number of states have abolished or suspended capital punishment in recent years the Death Rows of a number of southern states remain crowded. In states where racism has been endemic for two centuries or more, the operation  of the death penalty, like the criminal justice system generally is tainted by it. If you are poor or black your chances of ending up on Death Row are significantly higher than if you are white and comfortably off. And if you are poor and black, and particularly if you are dependent on the Public Defender at your trial, you have practically no chance of avoiding it.   

Yet it needn’t have been this way. Fifty years ago   the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional and for several years there were no executions. This period ended in Utah in 1977 with the execution by firing squad of Gary Gilmore. In the case of Gregg v Georgia the Supreme Court had ruled that executions could resume and Gilmore was the first to die. Unlike pretty much everyone else executed since, Gilmore wanted to die and fought court battles against the ACLU which had successfully applied for several stays. On 18th January 1977 Gilmore got his wish. The floodgates of judicial killing had been opened.

While the drama of the crime and punishment of Gary Gilmore was being played out, over in Britain the hot summer of 1976 saw the rise of punk rock, an authentically do it yourself movement that produced a lot of raw and raucous music but also launched some lasting and musically sophisticated bands (once they had learned to pay their instruments!)

The Adverts were neither sophisticated not long lasting. They were formed in South London although the lead singer TV Smith and bassist Gaye Advert (who was a real punk icon) were originally from sleepy Bideford In North Devon. They recorded what I consider to be the perfect punk single, exploring taboo in a typically punk way with this clever song, imagining waking up in hospital having received a transplant of Gary Gilmore’s eyes.

Two minutes of punk perfection from the summer of 1977. Enjoy!

A post for Musically Ranting . Click here for more posts on 70s music.

Into Great Silence

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.” – Alphonse de Lamartine“

The wonders of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas are not always apparent to the teenage learner. For one thing most of them are beyond the learners technical abilities, particularly is they were me! Like many before me I concentrated on the two “easier” Opus 49 sonatas. They were drummed into me so well that I can still give a passable performance of the first movement of Opus 49 Number 1 that I actually performed in my Associated Board Grade Five exam. Then there were those frustrating sonatas that lured me in with opening movements that looked to be within my abilities only to dash my hopes with later movements that I could not even begin to tackle. But I had a go anyway and these (mostly early) pieces were the extent of my knowledge.

I was in my mid 30s when I attended a recital in my local church, the programme for which included the Opus 110 in A Flat. The performer had written programme notes in which he commented that Beethoven’s later sonata open doors.  

And they do. I think particularly of the final movement of the Opus 110  where Beethoven sets up a wonderful Arioso Dolente in opposition to a fugue with which it alternates before coming to a glorious resolution. And then I discovered the most wonderful sonata of them all, Opus 111 in C minor, 2 movements of deceptive simplicity, and the second one goes through a range of moods, a range of themes, even a section of syncopation that is quite startling when you first hear it (was this really written in 1822?)  before ascending to a finale of ethereal semiquavers that I can never listen to without feeling a tingle in my spine. And then it fades away to a quiet, totally undramatic ending. We have moved beyond language, we have moved beyond music. Alfred Brendel described this movement as “the prelude to silence” and that is an apt description.

There is actually one other piece that I always think of as a prelude to silence and that is Neptune in Holst’s Planets Suite, particularly the ending as silence is introduced by an eerie choir of wordless female voices. Neptune is the final planet in the solar system (Pluto, discovered in 1930, several years after Holst has composed the suite, has in recent years been downgraded from planet status) and beyond it lies an unfathomable vastness, beyond language, beyond music too.

There are simply things for which words are not sufficient. Music can take us further in expression, in feeling, but even music must eventually yield to the great silence in which our existence is grounded. And often it is in silence that I feel most closely connected to those I love, to the things I cherish. It is in silence that I open my heart, in silence that I love.      

A post for Qiote Quest. Check out how the quotation has inspired others by clicking on the badge

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THROUGH AGONY TO ECSTASY

“It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.” – Marquis de Sade

His Mistress set him weekly lines, 250 each time.  This task was tedious and irksome. It did not hurt but the repetition of the line burned the message into his soul. And his Mistress chose the lines appropriately.

He opened the e mail and read

“The lines that I require this week are ‘I will strive to achieve ecstasy through agony’ 250 times in green ink.”

He groaned.  He thought of the hours he would spend writing, working at this tedious and demeaning task, but as he wrote he reflected. And, reflecting, he learned. That was the point. His Mistress understood well the lessons to teach and how to bend her submissives to her will.   

For achieving ecstasy through agony, and pleasure through pain was not something that would happen automatically, it was something to be willed, yes, striven for. He realised this the next time he saw his Mistress, and repeated the resolve to himself as she pulled the straps tight and secured him to the spanking bench. As she selected a cane, showed it to him made him kiss it, fled it, sent a practice stroke rushing through the air. He was afraid, he always was, but, as the first stroke landed, and he gaped at the pain, he knew he had the inner resources to handle it, to turn it to pleasure, This was an act of loving obedience.

And when she had finished, after the final few strokes that he had hardly felt, euphoria enveloped him. And when she undid the straps and hugged him after he had got unsteadily to his feet he cried.

He had got the reward of loving obedience. She had shown him love even as she made him suffer.      

A post for Quote Quest and Kink of the Week. Click on the badges to see what others have been posting.

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SoSS – January

We woke up on Friday 1st January to a smaller and diminished country, a country that has taken a turn towards isolationism and is mired in authoritarian populism. A country that has a Government utterly incapable of dealing with a worsening pandemic. We face the prospect of many more month of restrictions and lockdowns, Normal life seems a far away as ever. And that means that sex and kink are going to be in short supply, at least for me. So, just as reading and writing helped keep me sane in 2020, they are going to be my mainstay at least for the next few months. Here are some of the things that I enjoyed reading in January.

Some bloggers have been blogging every day as part of January Jumpstart. I haven’t as I lack the inspiration to blog every day and also, with retirement from my day job now only month s away, I need to devote time to paid writing. I liked this beginning from Violet Love about becoming more confident, obnoxiously confident as she puts it, but I really can’t think of her as obnoxious!

The theme for the first Sinful Sunday of the year was Silhouette and I particularly liked this clever pic by Sub Bee

The first Quote Quest of the year (to which I didn’t contribute – I promise to be here more in 2021!) was a look forward to the new year, its challenges and opportunities, and this by Alethea Hunt was a beautiful reflection.

I liked this guest post by Violet Grey on Girl on the Net’s site. Don’t Bury Your Gays discusses, amongst other things, something much talked about in recent years in DIVA, the way that LGBT characters in TV films always seem to come to a sticky end, Rana Nazir in Corrie for example. Lesbian bed death is a thing. Lesbian soap death shouldn’t be.

On Kink of the Week I enjoyed Floss’s reflections on what love means to her.

I have not written much about sex workers’ rights in recent times but am still passionately committed to the cause. Margo St. James, one of the founders of the sex workers’ rights movement in the US died in January. Maggie McNeill paid tribute to her in 2013 here. The San Francisco Chronicle published an obituary on 13th January

Meanwhile my collaboration with Posy Churchgate , Delphine’s Schooldays, continues. Posy’s latest chapter is here and the mystery of the incriminating documents continues.

Floss is one of my favourite bloggers and I make no apologies for including another post by her, this time from Sinful Sunday of Floss and her pregnancy pillow. This reminded me of what happened when Vanity Fair had a picture of a 7 months pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of its August 1991 edition and there were widespread expressions of outrage about this allegedly disgusting spectacle. I hope we have moved on from those days. Pregnant bodies are beautiful bodies, as Floss shows here.

2020 has been a year of predominantly solo sex for many of us and this post by May More spoke to me, as well as bringing to mind a wonderful memory from a few years ago, of which more another time.

ML Slave Puppet discusses here how she had a frank and honest conversation with her dominant about her specific needs and how they weren’t being met.

2021 is a year of significant musical anniversaries and this December marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the untitled album known to most people as Led Zeppelin IV. It seems hard to believe that there was once a world without Stairway to Heaven and I would have difficulty believing that anyone reading this has not heard it, probably several times. Which brings me to this post by Mr E and Lilly, bloggers who are new to me. I love this monochrome photograph which is atmospheric and doesn’t give up all its secrets on first viewing. There’s a feeling I get when I look to the West……..

As an avid reader I enjoyed Barefoot Sub’s reflections on libraries

This guest post on Girl on the Net’s blog is the first sex toy review I have linked to in a monthly roundup but I thought it was hot!

And finally something else from Quote Quest, a meme that attracts relatively few posts but which are always of top quality, like this by Tabitha Rayne.

And this year I am going to share with you some of my favourite music. I posted on the Musically Ranting meme the first time last week, a memoir of cars and songs and this song will forever be May 1985 at the wheel of a Cortina 1600E. Enjoy, and I will back next month with more things I have enjoyed.