When I peruse the conquer’d fame of heroes and the victories of mighty generals, I do not envy the generals,
Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in his great house,
But when I hear of the brotherhood of lovers, how it was with them,
How together through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging, long
Through youth and through middle and old age, how unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they were,
Then I am pensive–I hastily walk away fill’d with the bitterest envy.
– Walt Whitman
My transatlantic pen-pal and envious lyricist of the brotherhood of lovers Steve Zeeland has updated his Postcard blog.
This is not exactly a regular occurrence, but as he explains, this is largely because he’s been trapped in the Third Reich, finding out why those shirts were brown.
Steve has made a name for himself with his remarkable books of confessional, often almost poetic interviews with charmingly guileless yet button-bright US military boys about the role that homoerotics plays in khaki camaraderie, about the tender love that fighting young men can have for one another. This is why I once dubbed him, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, an ‘Oprah Whitman for our times’.
Having produced three loving volumes, one devoted to soldiers, sailors and Marines each, Zeeland once joked to me that, ruling out a book on the Air Force ‘for obvious reasons’, all that was left for him was a book on ‘Homoeroticism in the Salvation Army’.
However, the Salvation Army will have to wait as Steve has chosen to give the Nazis his attentions instead. And not just because their uniforms are rather better.
I’ve had the privilege of reading excerpts from Steve’s work in progress and I can say with confidence that this book will help reassess our understanding not just of the Nazis but also of the history of 20th Century ‘sexuality’. It will also make it clear that the Nazis grasped from the earliest days the importance of homoerotics between young men and that this helped them to gain power, tighten their grip on it, and also to wage the most terrifying and destructive war in history.
Steve envies not the generals, nor the President in his Presidency. Steve is a pacifist. And one of the most genuinely moral, kind and thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Which, in addition to his back catalogue, not to mention his wry and edgy sense of humour, makes him best qualified to write this Big Book of Queer Nazism.
But it also, of course, makes him very short of dough. If only he had spent more time envying the rich man in his great house! During this era of ‘endless war’ when the mainstream media is lining up to gang-bang soldiers on prime-time, and politicians of all stripes all claim shrilly to have the ‘interests of our fighting men at heart’, Steve finds himself unable to cash in. He feels it’s ‘wrong’ to make money out of war. How sweetly mid-Twentieth Century.
Working on the premise that a fat, richly-deserved cheque from the Rockefeller Foundation isn’t going to show up anytime soon, Steve the real ‘lover of soldiers’ draws our attention to his non-profiteering wares:
- a limited number of double-signed copies of ‘The Queen is Dead’, our fin-de-siecle literary correspondence (filled with the bitterest envy)
- a limited edition CD-R of his Genet-esque photos of Bremerton ‘low-life’
- his pioneering early 80s industrial music CD Heartland, worth the $9.95 cover price just for the haunting – and eerily prophetic – opening track ‘All Night War Film’
For my part I would I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Steve has a chronic and degenerative lung disease and no health insurance. In a country without socialised medicine.
Or much time these days for consumptive poets.
The Queen is Dead is a great book and gave me false hopes that epistolary books were making a comeback.
It’s an odd thing, a guy who loves military fellas but hates war. I really did enjoy his other books and would actually look forward to reading his book on Nazi homoeroticsm. There seems like there is a lot of material there but it is hard to get at. I’d love to get my hands on a book of their posters–which were awesome–for a reasonable price. Everything about ze Nazis is so politicized and buried in disclaimers it is hard to know what is an honest, fair observation and what is objection for the sake of good manners. I hope he doesn’t editiorialize *too* much. I wish him the best–it sounds like a neat project.