Oo Là Là! Paris to Host 2018 Gay Games


Bonjour, handsome! Paris has secured the right to host the 2018 Gay Games, beating out Limerick, Ireland and London, England. Next year’s Gay Games 2014 will be held in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, which should be pretty darn fun too!

Founded in 1982 as an alternative to the Olympics, the Gay Games changed its name after its inaugural year because of legal complaints lodged by the the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) over name rights.

The Gay Games–open to to all, regardless of sexual orientation, religion or nationality–include up to 36 sporting disciplines and draw upwards of 10,000 participants.

RIP: Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet, Nobel Laureate

Nobel Laureate and Irish poet Seamus Heaney, whose work affected and influenced generations, has died at age 74. From the Irish Independent:

Seamus Heaney, who has died in hospital in Dublin at the age of 74 after a short illness, was probably the best-known poet in the world. He is irreplaceable, and for his many friends and admirers there will be a tremendous sense of private as well as public bereavement.

Heaney, born in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, is considered the greatest Irish poet since Yeats. He also was someone I knew as brother-in-law of one of my oldest friends, so the loss hits on a personal level. He and his wife, Marie herself the author of several books including Over Nine Waves, A Book of Irish Legends, lived in Sandymount, Co. Dublin, in a house with gardens overflowing with plants and flowers, including the hard-to-grow California native, the Matilija poppy. Stunning to see its white petals and yellow center against the low Irish clouds.

Heaney’s death has made the world a smaller place: He was a warm, kind and strong intellectual presence; vibrant, funny, charismatic. His poetry readings drew voracious crowds, so entranced that they were dubbed Heaneyboppers by the media. Heaney began to write poetry while a student at Queen’s University in Belfast, and began to publish his work in 1962. He married Marie Devlin in 1965, the year his first book of poetry, Eleven, was published. A year later he was appointed lecturer at Queen’s College, Belfast and his second book of poems Death of Naturalist, was published. The book, which included the poem “Mid-Term Break,” won the Eric Gregory Award for Young Writers and the Geoffrey Faber Prize. “Mid-Term Break” (and the later “The Blackbird of  Glanmore” from District and Circle) focus on the death of his younger brother Christopher, who struck by car at age 4 while Heaney was in boarding school.

As he continued to write and publish poetry, Heaney became a guest lecturer at University of California, Berkekey before returning to Ireland, where he began to teach at Carysfort College in Dublin (he would go on to become the Head of  English there before leaving to lecture at Harvard in 1981) and to give public readings of his work.

Heaney’s Selected Poems 1965-1975 and Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968–1978 were published in 1980. When Aosdána, the national Irish Arts Council, was established in 1981, Heaney was among those elected into its first group, and later elected a Saoi, one of its five elders and the IAC’s highest honour, in 1997 . Heaney felt it important to acknowledge and assert that he was Irish not British, and his work reflects his Irishness, his sense of growing up Irish, his view of the world as an Irishman.

Heaney went on to become Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and to be awarded the  Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 for what the Nobel committee described as:

works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.

Actor Liam Neeson, also born in Northern Ireland, told the BBC:

With Seamus Heaney’s passing, Ireland, and Northern Ireland especially, has lost a part of its artistic soul. He crafted, through his poetry, who we are as a species and the living soil that we toiled in. By doing so, he defined our place in the universe. May he rest in peace.

Former President Bill Clinton was also a close friend of Heaney, visiting the poet in hospital after his stroke in 2006; Clinton also named his dog Seamus in honor of the poet.  He had this to say of Heaney’s passing:

His uniquely Irish gift for language made him our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives and a powerful voice for peace.

Clinton used Heaney’s phrase

when hope and history rhyme

from Heaney’s play Cure at Troy in his 1995 speech in Derry, and went on to use it for the title of his 1996 book detailing his vision of the USA in the 21st Century.  At the memorial service for Sean Collier, a campus police officer who was killed in the line of duty during the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, Vice President Biden quoted the whole phrase from Heaney’s version of Sophocles’ play Philoctetes.

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

One of the most lasting memories that I have of Heaney, who I last saw in 2009, is of him and his wife Marie at a Horslips concert, where he sang along with the lyrics, excited and smiling to see the band which takes traditional Irish tunes and themes (including Irish mythology like the Tain and the Book of Invasions) and rocks them out.  No stranger to pop culture, in 2003 Heaney praised rap artist Eminem, saying:

He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.

Heaney himself created a sense of what is possible and made it so, sending a voltage around several generations with his vast knowledge and verbal energy. Rest in peace.

100,000 Protest in Dublin Over Irish Economy

0002165c10dr.thumbnail.jpgOver 100,000 people marched in Dublin, Ireland Saturday to protest the government’s handling of inflations, job loss and economy. The march was organized by Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), and many of the demonstrators were protesting plans to impose a pension levy on public sector workers.

 The government said the levy was


and reflected

the reality that we are not in a position to continue to meet the public service pay bill in the circumstances of declining revenue.

Sally-Anne Kinahan, Ictu’s secretary general, told the BBC:

Our priority is about ensuring that people are looked after, the interests of people are looked after, not the interests of big business or the wealthy

The Itcu is offering a ten-point plan which is

not perfect but that it was the best offer that it [the Government] would get

said Ictu general secretary David Begg. Additionally Begg called for the nationalization of the banks and said that

if the taxpayer was taking responsibility for the cost of the €300 million in loans for the ten members of the so-called “golden circle” who were involved in investing in Anglo Irish Bank that the people were entitled to know their identities at the very least.

Also marching were working from the private sector where the economic crisis has been deeply felt. Delegations from Waterford Crystal and SR Technics, two especially hard hit companies, led the march which began in Parnell Street and moved to Merrion Square.

A collapsing real estate market and a huge downturn in construction have helped fuel Ireland’s recession, along with worldwide market downturns.

The president of Ictu, Patricia McKeown called for action at the ballot box where power can be most felt:

If our Government and the elected politicians are not prepared here and now to pledge that they will act now and act on our behalf and act on the proposals we have placed before them then you must be prepared to deny them even a single vote and to send that message out loud and clear.

In a statement issued this morning, the Government said there was a considerable amount in Ictu’s Plan for National Recovery that was "entirely consistent" with its own agenda–and then went on to discuss how necessary pension cuts were, a completely inconsistent  point to the trade unions’ stance.

One demonstrator told the BBC:

 I’ve worked all my life, I’ve never broke the law, never walked out on strike. Instead I’ve went to work and done my job. I’ve a mortgage to pay, I’ve children to put through school, and now I’m being told I have to take cutback, after cutback, after cutback.

Ireland’s employment figure–based on people receiving benefits–rose to 326,000 last month, the highest number since record keeping began in 1967. The country, once one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union, officially fell into recession in 2008.