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Houston Breakthrough, July 1980 - August 1980
Page 5
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Houston Breakthrough, July 1980 - August 1980 - Page 5. July 1980 - August 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. May 28, 2015. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/262.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(July 1980 - August 1980). Houston Breakthrough, July 1980 - August 1980 - Page 5. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/262

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, July 1980 - August 1980 - Page 5, July 1980 - August 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed May 28, 2015, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/262.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, July 1980 - August 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date July 1980 - August 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 33 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 5
File Name femin_201109_562ae.jpg
Transcript West feature?" Reading Zelda helped me figure out their attitudes, so alien to the way our parents and my friends reacted to our relationship. Scott said that he realized his friends were unanimous in advising him against marriage to Zelda and that he was used to it. "No personality as strong as Zelda's could go without getting criticism...I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self-respect, and it's these things I'd believe in even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all that she should be...I love her and that's the beginning and end of everything ... " Zelda, p. 60 On our wedding day, the best man cried. I was deeply touched. Two years later, he told me why: "I thought I'd never see James again. For our wedding waltz, the Georgetown band played — what else — Love is Blue. My mother cried as I danced in her 1935 Harlow satin wedding gown. George Stevens, Jr. filmed us in Super 8. James and I were married in Washington, D. C. on Thanksgiving Day 1968, and soon after, moved to Houston. Our packed VW van was as full of dreams as possessions. It was our covered wagon. We camped along the way and slept under the stars — like the pioneers or so we thought. I left behind the American Film Institute and James finished editing a documentary modestly-titled A Few Notes on Our Food Problem. It was two years of his life on a 40-minute reel. When it was nominated for an Academy Award the next year, I remember the filmmaker Charles Guggenheim teasing James, "You'll never win an Oscar with a title like that." He didn't but Charlie did that year for Robert Kennedy Remembered. James' film career during the sixties could have taken him to Hollywood. After all, he was only 30 when he directed a feature film The Olive Trees of Justice, which was awarded the Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. A New York Times review praised the film: "Mr. Blue should definitely be making films somewhere." And Pauline Kael, the former New Yorker critic lamented, "There is little interest in the work of gifted, intelligent men outside the industry like James Blue who are attempting to make inexpensive feature films as honestly and and independently as they can." Whether James turned his back on the industry or they backed him up a- gainst the wall is a mystery. I know his experience as assistant director on the film Hawaii had something to do with his decision. Even though Olive Trees was made in the midst of the Algerian Revolution, the experience of working in Algeria with friends from his Paris film school days was less stressful than directing an ASC (American Soceity of Cinematographers) camera crew off in Tahiti. "I know they were thinking that (producer) Walter Mirisch was bringing in some boy-genius, so they were ready to run over me," he once told me. He said it was a "near mutiny" until Mirisch sent back accolades on the first rushes. I must admit I never did see Hawaii but as James used to remind all of us, 'The first four and a half minutes are mine." His friends would continue to wonder why he gave up Hollywood for Houston. George Stevens, Jr., the former director of the American Film Institute, said James was "the youngest person ever to retire from film directing." The late Bob Hughes, another filmmaker, pressed him about not doing features. James wrote me that evening from London (January 2, 1972): "I start feeling guilty for not living up to his and other standards of successful filmmakers making films...Then, a little switch goes click in my head and I know that I have to live out my own adventure my own way, and I am the only one who can do it — so my courage picks up..." James loved the idea of coming to Texas. So much was already going on on both coasts. They were covered, so to speak. In January 1969, Texas was new territory for his ideas about film and a film culture. His philosophy was quite simple. He wanted to see film become "a democratic art." In a eulogy at James' funeral service, Richard Blue said, "My brother was a democrat, in the best meaning of that word." James felt film should be "as accessible as canvas and a paint brush," — as inexpensive as possible. Super 8, he believed, was the key to the film revolution. He could never quite accept the elitism of film and the notion that only those with money and big budgets should shoot them. I don't know if James originated the following thought, but I heard him say it so many times that I feel he is the author: "We live in a new age of scribes. In the early days, people went to scribes, calligraphers, high priests and shamans to have their letters written. Today, people go to filmmakers to do their films. In the 20th century, we risk becoming a society of visual illiterates." Fortunately for James, he met Dr. Gerald O'Grady, a medieval scholar and a 20th century thinker, someone influenced by Marshall Mcluhan and someone who shared James' vision. Gerry interested the art patrons Jean and Dominique de Menil in backing a media center for Houston. The de Menils generously endowed it for five years (1969-1974) - first at the University of St. Thomas, then, at Rice. It seemed like the golden age of media. Directors came with their films. Years before Donahue taped his first show, James would run up and down the aisles at the Media Center, involving the audience in a dialog with a visiting director — Roberto Rossellini, King Vidor, Francis Ford Coppola, Shirley Clarke, Milos Forman, Ivan Passeur, George Stevens, Sr. Later, in California there would be Jean Renoir, Frederico Fellini and others. James was inquisitive, curious about everything and had a kinetic energy that would not allow him to sit and read for hours. So he learned by asking questions, making relationships, and conducting interviews. In a tribute to James in this issue (see page 24), Gerry O'Grady says, "He learned more from conversation than anyone I've ever met." James made conversation an art. "If I learned anything from James Blue," a friend recently wrote me, "it was about the intensity of enjoyment possible in one's work." While a virtue, it would annoy some of the people who worked around him. He was always the first one at the Media Center in the morning and the last to leave at night. A great challenge was to get him to Leaving Washington for Houston, Janice and James Blue, December 1968: "Our packed VW van was as full of dreams as possessions take a vacation. In one interview before our marriage, he told a reporter, "I've never learned to take a vacation. I mean I take a month or so off and I think about one thing — work. I wish I were working. That's the only time I really feel good." At our wedding dinner, I asked him where we were going for our honeymoon. He drew a blank — obviously, the matter had not even occurred to him. Then he turned to his best man who, in turn, drew a map to Mte. St. Agathe, a ski area in Quebec's Laurentian Mountains. It was the first and last time we ever skied together. He denied himself but he never learned to say no to others. If a student asked him to critique a film, if someone wanted to tour the Rice Media Center, if he was asked to judge a film festival in Tours, France, give a lecture in Juneau, Alaska, preside over a conference in Canberra, Australia, or teach a course at Yale, Columbia, the Museum of Modern Art or the National Film School of England, he would do them all. There was a dark side to this restless creativity. He was wearing himself out. That was the price for people pulling you in all directions and permitting it to happen. I was surprised to hear James quoted in an interview saying, "I wish I were in Buffalo more often and I could settle in. I'm over-committed to too many areas and projects." (Spree, Winter 1979) The writer, George Sax, observed that the Victorian gray-frame house James occupied for over a year still looked like he was moving in. "Blue seems to be caught between two simultaneous flight patterns, both coming to roost and taking off at the same time." There is always the unfinished business when someone dies suddenly. I will always be grateful for his phone call to me last Christmas before he left for a teaching post in England. We talked for almost an hour. At one point, I said to him, "Let me tape this . You're making me feel so good." Those documentary instincts still intact, I recorded the conversation. He was full of compliments about Breakthrough, particularly last fall's election issue. "You've got something that stirs things-up. Texas is ready for it. And the quality of journalism is way beyond all the alternative sixties hype. You're creating an alternative that is a force... You did it on your own with the help of a lot of friends, but you organized it. I have total admiration for you, Janice, and I'll help you in any way I can...If I could come back and deliver newspapers for you, I would do that, too." I'm glad we were able to re-establish ourfriendshipin the last year. Our marriage was over, but what we had started building was a true, equal friendship — a rare thing in or outside a marriage. James was an infuriating person, self- absorbed, loathe to accept criticism, autocratic. He was also one of the innocents of the world with a breath-taking sweetness and guilelessness. I will always remember our first date — which I had arranged. James was over a half hour late and I was sure I had made a big mistake. Finally, I heard his steps outside my Georgetown apartment. I was ready to apologize for my boldness, when he smiled and said, "Well, do you like my neck tie?" All I could do was stare at the busy red and gold paisley design while he finished his sentence. 'The guys in the editing room picked it out for me. They thought you'd like it." I wish I could say I'd framed it like Cecil Beaton did with the rose that Greta Garbo kissed, but I didn't. I sold it at a garage sale in 1973. I let go of a real treasure. JULY/AUGUST