Jean Genet

Jean Genet was a French novelist, poet and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but he took to writing, his major works include the novels The Thief's Journal and Our Lady of the Flowers, the plays The Balcony, The Maids and The Screens. Genet's mother was a prostitute who raised him for the first seven months of his life before placing him for adoption. Thereafter Genet was raised in the provincial town of Alligny-en-Morvan, in the Nièvre department of central France, his foster family was headed by a carpenter and, according to Edmund White's biography, was loving and attentive. While he received excellent grades in school, his childhood involved a series of attempts at running away and incidents of petty theft. After the death of his foster mother, Genet was placed with an elderly couple but remained with them less than two years. According to the wife, "he was going out nights and seemed to be wearing makeup." On one occasion he squandered a considerable sum of money, which they had entrusted him for delivery elsewhere, on a visit to a local fair.

For this and other misdemeanors, including repeated acts of vagrancy, he was sent at the age of 15 to Mettray Penal Colony where he was detained between 2 September 1926 and 1 March 1929. In Miracle of the Rose, he gives an account of this period of detention, which ended at the age of 18 when he joined the Foreign Legion, he was given a dishonorable discharge on grounds of indecency and spent a period as a vagabond, petty thief and prostitute across Europe—experiences he recounts in The Thief's Journal. After returning to Paris, France in 1937, Genet was in and out of prison through a series of arrests for theft, use of false papers, lewd acts, other offenses. In prison, Genet wrote his first poem, "Le condamné à mort", which he had printed at his own cost, the novel Our Lady of the Flowers. In Paris, Genet sought out and introduced himself to Jean Cocteau, impressed by his writing. Cocteau used his contacts to get Genet's novel published, in 1949, when Genet was threatened with a life sentence after ten convictions and other prominent figures, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso petitioned the French President to have the sentence set aside.

Genet would never return to prison. By 1949, Genet had completed five novels, three plays, numerous poems, many controversial for their explicit and deliberately provocative portrayal of homosexuality and criminality. Sartre wrote a long analysis of Genet's existential development, entitled Saint Genet, anonymously published as the first volume of Genet's complete works. Genet was affected by Sartre's analysis and did not write for the next five years. Between 1955 and 1961, Genet wrote three more plays as well as an essay called "What Remains of a Rembrandt Torn into Four Equal Pieces and Flushed Down the Toilet", on which hinged Jacques Derrida's analysis of Genet in his seminal work Glas. During this time, Genet became attached to Abdallah Bentaga, a tightrope walker. However, following a number of accidents and his suicide in 1964, Genet entered a period of depression, attempted suicide himself. From the late 1960s, starting with an homage to Daniel Cohn-Bendit after the events of May 1968, Genet became politically active.

He participated in demonstrations drawing attention to the living conditions of immigrants in France. Genet was censored in the United States in 1968 and expelled when they refused him a visa. In an interview with Edward de Grazia, professor of law and First Amendment lawyer, Genet discusses the time he went through Canada for the Chicago congress, he left with no issues. In 1970, the Black Panthers invited him to the United States, where he stayed for three months giving lectures, attended the trial of their leader, Huey Newton, published articles in their journals; the same year he spent six months in Palestinian refugee camps, secretly meeting Yasser Arafat near Amman. Profoundly moved by his experiences in the United States and Jordan, Genet wrote a final lengthy memoir about his experiences, Prisoner of Love, which would be published posthumously. Genet supported Angela Davis and George Jackson, as well as Michel Foucault and Daniel Defert's Prison Information Group, he worked with Foucault and Sartre to protest police brutality against Algerians in Paris, a problem persisting since the Algerian War of Independence, when beaten bodies were to be found floating in the Seine.

Genet expresses his solidarity with the Red Army Faction of Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, in the article "Violence et brutalité", published in Le Monde, 1977. In September 1982, Genet was in Beirut when the massacres took place in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila. In response, Genet published "Quatre heures à Chatila", an account of his visit to Shatila after the event. In one of his rare public appearances during the period of his life, at the invitation of Austrian philosopher Hans Köchler, he read from his work during the inauguration of an exhibition on the massacre of Sabra and Shatila organized by the International Progress Organization in Vienna, Austria, on 19 December 1983. Genet was found dead on 15 April 1986, in a hotel room in Paris. Genet fatally hit his head, he is buried in the Larache Christian Cemetery in Morocco. Throughout his five early novels, Genet works to subvert the traditional set of moral values of his assumed readership, he celebrate

Balmy Alley

Balmy Alley is a one-block-long alley, home to the most concentrated collection of murals in the city of San Francisco. It is located in the south central portion of the Inner Mission District between 24th Street and Garfield Square. Since 1973, most buildings on the street have been decorated with a mural; the earliest murals in the alley date to 1972, painted by Maria Galivez and children in a local child care center. Artists Patricia Rodriquez and Graciela Carillo had rented an apartment on Balmy Alley and painted their first mural in the Alley, a jungle-underwater scene, in 1973, their two-woman team soon became known as Las Mujeres Muralistas. Fellow member Irene Perez painted her own mural on the alley in 1973, depicting two back-to-back figures painting flutes. In 1984, in a second significant wave of murals in the alley, Ray Patlan spearheaded the PLACA project to install murals throughout the alley featuring the common theme of a celebration of indigenous Central American cultures and a protest of US intervention in Central America.

Topics of the murals included the Nicaraguan revolution, Óscar Romero, the Guatemalan civil war. This culminated in the addition of twenty-seven murals during the summer of 1985, funded in part by a grant of $2,500 from the Zellerbach Foundation; this art project proved influential, inspiring the La Lucha Continua Art Park/La Lucha Mural Park in New York City the following year. Painting continues in the alley, including new murals about gentrification and police harassment in 2012 and a restoration of one the PLACA murals in 2014. Besides those listed above, artists who have produced murals in the alley include Juana Alicia, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Marta Ayala, Brooke Francher, Miranda Bergman, Osha Neuman, Carlos Loarca, Xochitl Nevel-Guerrero, Sirron Norris; the Balmy Alley murals have been described, along with San Diego's Chicano Park and Los Angeles' Estrada Courts, as a leading example of mural environments that reclaim spaces for Chicanos and give expression to a history of Chicano displacement and marginalization.

The mural grouping in the alley is internationally recognized, both as an exemplar of activist art and as a tourist destination. The Mission District has San Francisco's densest concentration of murals along political themes, sometimes described jointly as the "Mission School" of muralism. Balmy Alley is cited as the leading concentration within the Mission. Nearby Clarion Alley, another mural grouping by local artists, was inspired by Balmy Alley. Precita Eyes, a mural arts education group, located near Balmy Alley San Francisco Mural Arts gallery of works in Balmy Alley Balmy Alley website


Diazotrophs are bacteria and archaea that fix atmospheric nitrogen gas into a more usable form such as ammonia. A diazotroph is a microorganism, able to grow without external sources of fixed nitrogen. Examples of organisms that do this are Frankia and Azospirillum. All diazotrophs contain iron-molybdenum or -vanadium nitrogenase systems. Two of the most studied systems are those of Klebsiella Azotobacter vinelandii; these systems are used because of their fast growth. The word diazotroph is derived from the words diazo meaning "dinitrogen" and troph meaning "pertaining to food or nourishment", in summary dinitrogen utilizing; the word azote means nitrogen in French and was named by French chemist and biologist Antoine Lavoisier, who saw it as the part of air which cannot sustain life. Diazotrophs are scattered across Bacteria taxonomic groups. Within a species that can fix nitrogen there may be strains that do not fix nitrogen. Fixation is shut off when other sources of nitrogen are available, for many species, when oxygen is at high partial pressure.

Bacteria have different ways of dealing with the debilitating effects of oxygen on nitrogenases, listed below. Anaerobes—these are obligate anaerobes that cannot tolerate oxygen if they are not fixing nitrogen, they live in habitats low in oxygen, such as decaying vegetable matter. Clostridium is an example. Sulphate-reducing bacteria are important in ocean sediments, some Archean methanogens, like Methanococcus, fix nitrogen in muds, animal intestines and anoxic soils. Facultative anaerobes—these species can grow either with or without oxygen, but they only fix nitrogen anaerobically, they respire oxygen as as it is supplied, keeping the amount of free oxygen low. Examples include Klebsiella pneumoniae, Paenibacillus polymyxa, Bacillus macerans, Escherichia intermedia. Aerobes—these species require oxygen to grow, yet their nitrogenase is still debilitated if exposed to oxygen. Azotobacter vinelandii is the most studied of these organisms, it uses high respiration rates, protective compounds, to prevent oxygen damage.

Many other species reduce the oxygen levels in this way, but with lower respiration rates and lower oxygen tolerance. Oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria generate oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, yet some are able to fix nitrogen as well; these are colonial bacteria that have specialized cells that lack the oxygen generating steps of photosynthesis. Examples are Nostoc commune. Other cyanobacteria lack can fix nitrogen only in low light and oxygen levels; some cyanobacteria, including the abundant marine taxa Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus do not fix nitrogen, whilst other marine cyanobacteria, such as Trichodesmium and Cyanothece, are major contributors to oceanic nitrogen fixation. Anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria do not generate oxygen during photosynthesis, having only a single photosystem which cannot split water. Nitrogenase is expressed under nitrogen limitation; the expression is regulated via negative feedback from the produced ammonium ion but in the absence of N2, the product is not formed, the by-product H2 continues unabated.

Example species: Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Rhodopseudomonas palustris, Rhodobacter capsulatus. Rhizobia—these are the species that associate with legumes, plants of the family Fabaceae. Oxygen is bound to leghemoglobin in the root nodules that house the bacterial symbionts, supplied at a rate that will not harm the nitrogenase. Frankias—much less is known about these'actinorhizal' nitrogen fixers; the bacteria infect the roots leading to the formation of nodules. Actinorhizal nodules consist of several lobes, each lobe has a similar structure as a lateral root. Frankia is able to colonize in the cortical tissue of nodules. Actinorhizal plants and Frankias produce haemoglobins, but their role is less well established than for rhizobia. Although at first it appeared that they inhabit sets of unrelated plants, revisions to the phylogeny of angiosperms show a close relatedness of these species and the legumes; these footnotes suggest the ontogeny of these replicates rather than the phylogeny. In other words, an ancient gene, unused in most species was reawakened and reused in these species.

Cyanobacteria—there are symbiotic cyanobacteria. Some associate with fungi as lichens, with liverworts, with a fern, with a cycad; these do not form nodules. Heterocysts exclude the oxygen; the fern association is important agriculturally: the water fern Azolla harbouring Anabaena is an important green manure for rice culture. Association with animals—although diazotrophs have been found in many animal guts, there is sufficient ammonia present to suppress nitrogen fixation. Termites on a low nitrogen diet allow for some fixation, but the contribution to the termite's nitrogen supply is negligible. Shipworms may be the only species. In terms of generating nitrogen available to all organisms, the symbiotic associations exceed the free-living species with the exception of cyanobacteria. Marine Nitrogen Fixation - The Basics Azotobacter Rhizobia Frankia & Actinorhizal Plants