Monday, July 24, 2017

A00763 - Margaux Fragoso, Memoirist Who Wrote Hauntingly of Sexual Abuse

Margaux Fragoso CreditSara Essex
Margaux Fragoso borrowed the title of her only published book, the memoir “Tiger, Tiger,” from William Blake. What divine presence, Blake wondered, could have created the tiger’s fiery eyes, burning bright? “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
Ms. Fragoso never painted herself as an entirely innocent lamb. Nor did she suggest that the man she called Peter Curran, the 51-year-old pedophile who began abusing her when she was 7 and who maintained their relationship for 15 years, was an irredeemably ferocious tiger.
Rather, like the stanzas in Blake’s poem, her book raised more questions than it answered. Reviews ranged from livid indictments of what was dismissed as exploitive pornography to ringing endorsements of Ms. Fragoso’s bravery as a catharsis for herself, and a cautionary tale for children and their parents — a “Lolita” from Lolita’s perspective. It was listed by several publications as one of the notable books of the year.
Ms. Fragoso died on Friday in Mandeville, La., at 38. Her husband, Tom O’Connor, said the cause was ovarian cancer.
Her memoir was eight years in the making — she had previously published a number of poems and short stories — and when it was released in 2011 it was nothing if not controversial.
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The book is set in Union City, N.J., where Ms. Fragoso lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her mentally ill mother, a former teacher at a day care center, and her abusive, alcoholic father, a jeweler. It begins at the end:
“I started writing this book the summer after the death of Peter Curran, whom I met when I was 7 and had a relationship with for 15 years, right up until he committed suicide at the age of 66.”
She wrote: “Our world had been permitted only by the secrecy surrounding it. Had you taken away our lies and codes and looks and symbols and haunts, you would have taken everything.”
She wrote that she introduced herself to Peter at a public pool, embraced him as a Peter Pan-like man-child and visited his home regularly, often chaperoned by her mother. They played games, including one called Tiger.
She graphically recalled their sexual encounters — so graphically and in such conversational detail that some reviewers questioned the memoir’s veracity and suggested that she should have written a fictionalized narrative instead. She said she had kept childhood journals, and jogged her memory by other means.
“Through her art she’s helped others who’ve been abused cope with the devastating complexity of that legacy,” Courtney Hodell, the former executive editor of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, her publisher, said in an interview on Tuesday.
Margaux Artemia Fragoso was born on April 15, 1979, in West New York, N.J., to Wilford Fragoso and the former Carol Brubaker.
She received a bachelor’s degree in English from New Jersey City University in 2002 and a master’s and a doctorate in English from Binghamton University in central New York.
Ms. Fragoso’s first marriage, to Steven McGowan, ended in divorce.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughter, Alicia McGowan, from her first marriage.
Writing about “Tiger, Tiger” in The New York Times Book Review, the novelist and memoirist Kathryn Harrison wrote: “It’s testimony to Fragoso’s narrative abilities that she can render both her own and Curran’s points of view convincingly, as different — opposed — as they are.”
She continued: “‘Tiger, Tiger’ forces readers to experience Curran simultaneously as the object of a little girl’s love and fascination and as a calculating sex offender.”
Ms. Fragoso acknowledged that some readers were offended because she had not depicted Mr. Curran as a monster.
“I’m an artist, not a prosecutor,” she told the literary journal The Tottenville Review in 2011. “I’m not writing a manifesto; memoir is subjective. My feeling is that writers should give readers the freedom to think for themselves and form their own opinions.”

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A00762 - Olive Yang, Female Warlord and Opium Czar in Myanmar

Olive Yang, in Muse, Myanmar, in 2015. According to relatives, she wore boys’ clothes and frequently fell in love with her brothers’ romantic interests. CreditGabrielle Paluch

MUSE, Myanmar — She was born to royalty in British colonial Burma, but rejected that life to become a cross-dressing warlord whose C.I.A.-supplied army established opium trade routes across the Golden Triangle. By the time of her death, last week at 90, she had led hundreds of men, endured prison and torture, generated gossip for her relationship with a film actress and, finally, helped forge a truce between ethnic rebels and the government.
Olive Yang grew up as one of 11 children in an ethnic Chinese family of hereditary rulers of what was then the semiautonomous Shan state of Kokang. According to relatives, she wore boys’ clothes, refused to bind her feet and frequently fell in love with her brothers’ romantic interests.
Concerned about their unconventional daughter, her parents arranged for her to marry a younger cousin. Shortly after she became pregnant, archives show, she left her husband to pursue a life among opium-trafficking bandits. Her son, Duan Jipu — named for the American jeeps Ms. Yang had seen in the Chinese city of Kunming during World War II — was raised by other family members.
Ms. Yang’s pursuit of a career as a militia leader and opium smuggler grew in part out of her desperation to escape traditional gender roles, her relatives said. “It was a temptation she couldn’t resist,” wrote her niece Jackie Yang in “House of Yang,” a family history published in 1997.
By age 25, she commanded hundreds of soldiers guarding caravans of raw opium on mules and trucks across the hills to the Thai border. Those trade routes served what would eventually become the world’s most productive opium-growing region, supplying raw ingredients for the heroin that was trafficked across the United States and Europe.
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Ms. Yang partnered with remnants of the Chinese Nationalist troops who had been defeated by Mao’s Communists but continued to fight from havens in Burma. Intelligence dispatches at the National Archives in Yangon described her as a menace to the peace.
The Nationalist troops had won support from the C.I.A. because of their shared interest in stemming the spread of communism during the early stages of the Cold War. The covert plan, called Operation Paper, included an agreement by which American weapons were airlifted to Southeast Asia using planes owned by the C.I.A., Alfred W. McCoy wrote in his 1972 book, “The Politics of Heroin,’’ as the Nationalists and Ms. Yang’s troops financed their operations through opium sales.

Ms. Yang, center at front, with her soldiers, circa 1956. CreditYang family

The C.I.A.-supplied arms found their way into Ms. Yang’s hands in 1952, as documented by the Burmese government in a complaint submitted at the United Nations General Assembly the following year. Ms. Yang’s army was observed traveling across the border to an airfield in Thailand, where an unmarked C-47 aircraft arriving from Taiwan, the seat of the Chinese Nationalist government, was reported to have unloaded weapons.
Shortly thereafter, Ms. Yang was intercepted by the Burmese authorities while traveling by car from the Thai border with her deputy, Lo Hsing Han. She spent five years in prison in Mandalay, on charges that she helped Chinese Nationalist soldiers illegally cross the border into Burma. It was the first of many imprisonments for Ms. Yang and Mr. Lo.
Mr. Lo would go on to earn the designation “kingpin of the heroin traffic in Southeast Asia,” by United States drug enforcement officials, after striking a deal with the Burmese military government that allowed him to resume trading in opium in return for assisting government forces against rebel forces.
After her older brother Edward abdicated in 1959, along with dozens of other hereditary rulers in Shan state, Ms. Yang took control of his former army, becoming the de facto ruler of the territory. She also, according to her relatives, entered into a relationship with a Burmese movie actress, Wah Wah Win Shwe, lavishing her with gifts and adding her name to the deed of her house in Yangon.
Ms. Yang’s family considered them a couple, though in an interview in 2015, Ms. Win Shwe, who still lived in a house on Ms. Yang’s former property, denied an affair. In any case, the arrangement came to an abrupt end in 1963, when Ms. Yang was arrested by police officials under Gen. Ne Win, who had seized power in Burma the year before. She spent six years in Yangon’s Insein Prison, where she reportedly endured torture.
Her career took another turn in 1989, when she was in her 60s. Retired as a warlord but respected among the ethnic rebel groups, Ms. Yang was recruited by the Burmese government’s chief of intelligence, Khin Nyunt, along with her former colleague Mr. Lo, to help negotiate peace agreements for the government. The agreement struck with Ms. Yang’s distant relative Peng Jiasheng and his Kokang rebel force, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, largely held until new fighting broke out in 2009.
Confined to a wheelchair, Ms. Yang spent her twilight years in relative obscurity, living in the care of her stepson and his militiamen in a compound in Muse. Visited there not long after she had a stroke in 2015, Ms. Yang said she was happy to be living surrounded by deferential soldiers. When shown a photograph of Ms. Win Shwe at her home, Ms. Yang responded with a knowing smile and a devilish laugh. With a Chinese cigarette in her hand, she said, “That whole property was mine.”
Ms. Yang, who died on July 13, is survived by two younger sisters and her son. None of her immediate relatives remain in Kokang. Ms. Yang’s eventual tomb, built for her with the help of one of her former soldiers, stands near Muse, just outside Kokang.
“It’s very sad for all of Kokang,” said the former soldier, Liu Guoxi, reached by phone as he was preparing for the funeral. “We have all come to say farewell to our leader.”

Olive Yang (Chinese楊金秀pinyinYáng Jīnxiù; also known as Yang Kyin Hsiu, nicknamed Miss Hairy Legs) was the half-sister of Sao Edward Yang Kyein Tsai, the saopha (chief) of Kokang, a state in post-independent Burma from 1949 to 1959. She received an education at Lashio's Guardian Angel's Convent School.[3] At the age of 19, she organized ethnic Kokang forces, nicknamed the Olive's Boys, an army of over a thousand soldiers and consolidated control of opium trade routes from the highlands to lowlands.[4] She dominated Kokang's opium trade from the end of World War II to the early 1960s.[5] In the 1950s, after the Nationalist defeat and their subsequent expulsion from mainland China, she partnered with the Kuomintang to establish opium trade routes along the Golden Triangle (Southeast Asia).[6]
From 1948 to 1950, she was married to Twan Sao Wen, the son of Tamaing's chieftain, and had a son, Duan Jipu (段吉卜), in 1950.[2] Her son is a teacher in Chiang MaiThailand.[1]
From the 1950s to the mid-1960s, she was the commander of the Kokang Kakweye (People's Defense Forces).[7] She was a prominent figure in opium trafficking and gold trading.[7] She was arrested in 1962, along with her brother Jimmy, a member of parliament in Yangon, by Burmese authorities, to remove them from power and place Kokang territory under Burmese administration.[5][8] She was imprisoned at Insein Prison and released in 1968.[2]
Yang was known to be a bisexual who carried on affairs with film actresses and singers, including Wah Wah Win Shwe (ဝါဝါဝင်းရွှေ).[3][7] In the late 1980s, she was recruited by Khin Nyunt to help broker ceasefires in Burma with ethnic rebel groups.[9]
After her release, she reportedly spent her final years as a nun.[4] In 2003, after a period of chronic illness, she returned to Kokang, where she lived until her death at the age of 90.[10]

Friday, July 21, 2017

A00761 - Isaiah "I. K." Dairo, Father of "Juju" Music

Isaiah Kehinde (I. K.) Dairo, a Nigerian musician who was an important innovator in juju music, died on Wednesday in Efon-Alaiye, Nigeria, where he lived. He was 65.
The cause was complications from diabetes, said Chris Waterman, the author of "Juju" (University of Chicago Press, 1990), who worked with Mr. Dairo.
Mr. Dairo took juju music -- Nigerian pop built on Yoruba drumming -- and added new rhythms and instrumentation to reach a broader audience. He played accordion and talking drum, both of which he introduced to juju, as well as guitar. Through his group, the Blue Spots, juju became an intricate mixture of traditional Yoruba songs and praise poetry, African and Latin-American rhythms and Christian hymns. In a five-decade career, Mr. Dairo made hundreds of albums and toured the world as one of Africa's first international stars. He said that songs often came to him at night, in dreams, borne upon the wind and the wings of angels.
Mr. Dairo was born in 1930 in Offa, in the state of Kwara, and was educated there at a missionary school. He joined his first juju band in 1942. Through the 1940's, he was a part-time musician while supporting himself as a cloth seller and laborer; he worked for a time with an early juju band leader, Ojoge Daniel.
He formed his own band, the 10-piece Morning Star Orchestra, in 1956, changing its name to the Blue Spots in 1959. While adding new elements to juju, he also incorporated traditional songs and rhythms from various Yoruba subgroups, reaffirming the music's roots, while his arrangements reshaped the music to work within the three-minute limit of early recordings. When Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960, Mr. Dairo's music embodied the nation's cultural autonomy.
In 1963, Mr. Dairo was made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. Through the 1960's he was overwhelmingly popular in Nigeria, providing a model for such younger juju musicians as Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade. His audience continued to grow in the 1970's and 80's, as he toured internationally. Working for musicians' welfare, he helped to found the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria and was a president of the Nigerian chapter of the Performing Rights Society.
He was also the leader of a syncretic Christian movement in Lagos, Nigeria's capital, where his Seraphim and Cherubim Church stands on I. K. Dairo Street. In 1994 and 1995, Mr. Dairo was a member of the ethnomusicology faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle.
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He is survived by his brothers Michael, Sunday and Sola and a large extended family, including three wives and 24 children.
Isaiah Kehinde Dairo (1930) MBE (1930–1996) was a notable Nigerian Jùjú musician.

Early life[edit]

I.K. Dairo was born in the town of Offa, located in present-day Kwara State; his family was originally from Ijebu-Ijesabefore migrating to Offa. He attended a Christian Missionary primary school in Offa, however, he later quit his studies due to a lean year in his family's finances. He left Offa and traveled to Ijebu-Ijesa where he chose to work as a barber. On his journey, he took along with him a drum built by his father when he was seven years old. By the time he was residing in Ijebu Ijesa, he was already an avid fan of drumming.[1] When he was unoccupied with work, he spent time listening to the early pioneers of jùjú music in the area and experimented with drumming. His interest in jùjú music increased over time, and in 1942, he joined a band led by Taiwo Igese but within a few years, the band broke up. In 1948, he went to Ede, a town in present-day Osun State where he started work there as a pedestrian cloth trader and played music with a local group on the side. One day, while his boss was away traveling, I.K. Dairo decided to join his fellow friends to play at a local ceremony, unknowing to him, his boss was coming back that same day, the boss was furious with the act and he was relieved of his job as a result.[2]
IK Dairo later pursued various manual tasks after his firing and was able to save enough money to move to Ibadan, where Daniel Ojoge, a pioneer Jùjú musician usually played. He got a break to join a band with Daniel Ojoge and played for a brief period of time before returning to Ijebu-Ijesa, most of the gigs he plays with Ojoge's band were at nights.[3]

Musical rise[edit]

I.K. Dairo's musical career entered the fast lane when he founded a ten piece band called the Morning Star Orchestra in 1957. In 1960, during the celebration of Nigeria's independence, the band was called on to play at a party hosted by a popular Ibadan based lawyer and politician Chief D O A Oguntoye. With a lot of prominent Yoruba patrons at the venue, I.K. Dairo showcased his style of jùjú music and earned attention and admiration from other Yoruba patrons present, many of whom later invited him to gigs during cultural celebrations or just lavish parties. In the early 1960s, he changed the band's name to Blue Spots and he also won a competition televised in Western Nigeria to showcase the various talents in jùjú music. During the period, he was able to form his own record label in collaboration with Haruna Ishola and achieved critical and popular acclaim and fame.

Influences and inspiration[edit]

I.K Dairo emergence at the end of the 1950s coincided with the rising euphoria towards independence. He was seen then as a premier musician who could capture the exciting moment preceding the nation's independence and briefly after independence. The musical taste during the period had graduated from appreciation of solemn music to much more intensified sounds. The period was also one of lavish parties with musicians as a side attraction.[4]
I.K. Dairo musical success in the 1960s, was influenced by different factors including a resort to include traditional sounds, the political life of the 1950s, which inspired him and a focus on Rhythm, beats and tempo that reflected different ethnic sounds and in the process leading to his appeal rising beyond his primary ethnic group.[5]His band experimented and played with musical styles originating from different Yoruba areas and also utilized the EdoUrhoboItsekiri and Hausa language in some of their lyrics. The band's well organized and slick arrangement, Yoruba and Latin America influenced dance rhythm and patronizing lyrics on the entrepreneur pursuits of patrons were factors that contributed in his rise to the height of the Juju and musical arena in the country. He also employed musical syncretism, mixing the Ijebu-Ijesa choral multi-part sound with melodies and text from Christian sources.
In 1962, he released the song 'Salome' under Decca records. The song mixed traditional elements in Yoruba culture and urban life as major themes. The song was a major hit of his. Another song of his which was quite popular was Ka Sora (Let Us Be Careful), the song is sometimes described as predictive of the Nigerian civil war in its warning about the pitfalls of unreasoned governance. He also released other popular hits including one about Chief Awolowo, who was incarcerated at the time the song was released.


The band made use of an amplified accordion, which was played by I.k., and he was the first high-profile musician to play the accordion. Other musical instruments used by the group includes, electric guitartalking drum, double toy, akuba, ogido, clips, maracas, agogo(bell), samba([a square shaped drum]).[6]

Later career[edit]

Dairo's stay at the top in the Nigerian music scene was short lived, by 1964, a new musician in the person of Ebenezer Obey was gaining ground and by the end of the 1960s, both Obey and King Sunny Adé had emerged as the popular acts of the period. However, Dairo continued with his music, touring Europe and North America in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also involved in a few interest groups dealing with the property rights of musicians. Between 1994 and 1995, he was a member of the Ethnomusicology department at the University of Washington, Seattle.[7]

Partial discography of I.K. Dairo and the Blue Spots[edit]

  • Ashiko, 1994, Xenophile Music
  • Definitive Dairo, Xenophile Music
  • I RememberMusic of the World
  • Juju Master, Original Music
  • Salome 92
  • Ise Ori Ranmi Ni Mo Nse
  • I Remember My Darling,
  • Erora Feso Jaiye
  • Se B'Oluwa Lo Npese
  • Yoruba Solidarity
  • Mo ti yege


Considered by many to be the "father of juju" for his many innovations, Isaiah Kehinde Dairo was born in Kwara State, Nigeria, in 1931. One story has it that his lifelong love of music stemmed from a drum that his father, a carpenter, made for him in his youth and that accompanied him wherever he went. In early adulthood, Dairo tried earning a living as a barber, a construction worker, and a cloth merchant, among other jobs. Dairo sat in with early juju bands at night, led by musical pioneers Ojoge Daniel and Oladele Oro. In the mid-'50s he formed his own group, the ten-member Morning Star Orchestra, which gained fame later as the Blue Spots.
Though highlife was the most popular form of band music in West Africa at the time, Dairo and his band released a long succession of influential singles that, by the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, helped establish juju as the premier Nigerian sound. Dairo changed the tenor of juju by introducing the accordion and talking drums to the orchestra and singing in a variety of regional dialects, which widened the rural appeal of the music. When his appeal began to wane at the end of the 70s, he gave up performing, turning first to managing clubs and a hotel in Lagos, then to a ministry in the Cherubim and Seraphim church movement. In 1990 he recorded his first album in 15 years with a re-formed Blue Spots band.