“Eat the book”: Electric Evangelists 2

Saint Francis @ Walmart

This second and likely last installment of Electric Evangelists (see Part 1) looks at longer works by two composers, both choosing to present religious texts simply spoken atop electronic scores. The third and fourth pieces are artifacts of pop culture, coupling SoCal evangelical eccentricity with European élan. The last composition contains no text at all. Continue reading ““Eat the book”: Electric Evangelists 2″

Falling Awake: Joseph Shuldiner (1957–2019)

Joseph Shuldiner

Yesterday my friend and collaborator Rob Berg messaged me that my old, dear friend Joseph Shuldiner died. Of a brain tumor. It’s a cruel joke: I’m the one bingeing on cheddar cheese, and last week I was told to go on statins.

My heart goes out to his spouse Bruce Schwartz, his sister Judy, and to all he’s touched.

Joseph and I go a long way back, but hadn’t corresponded for several years. Looking for a photograph last night I came upon a half-dozen file folders containing the following mementos. Continue reading “Falling Awake: Joseph Shuldiner (1957–2019)”

Rosenberg Resistance

Léger - Mockup for a scarf

The year 2003 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Their killing had a great impact on my wife Andrea Carney (see Part 1 and Part 2 of our trilogy). Somehow I learned that a major commemoration would be held in New York City on June 19, the same day they were killed. It was produced by the Rosenberg Fund for Children, founded in 1990 by the Rosenbergs’ son Robert, who was grateful for the support he and his brother Michael had been shown during the jailing of, and after the killing of, their parents. The fund’s purpose is “to find and help children today who are enduring the same kind of nightmare he endured as a child.”1 Continue reading “Rosenberg Resistance”

Acts of Faith: Electric Evangelists 1

Behind The Scenes With Kathryn Kuhlman cover image

Exactly a year ago my discussion with a comrade about music-compelled-by-struggle led to my first original post here, Attica: Coming Together. Last Friday, talking with this same friend caused me to create a list of musics that employ the spoken word—faith-based speech specifically. After jotting down a few titles I came across an extensive list posted for Easter 2013 by one Mr. Fab, a Los Angeles-based deejay and musician. He helpfully includes the name of each orator, which indicates the popularity of two in particular, R. W. Schambach and Gene Scott. My list nearly ended with Praga Khan’s setting of the former in 1991, but Fab provides twenty more years of titles.

My Friday conversation involved Brian Eno and David Byrne’s album My Life In the Bush of Ghosts for which they used the voice of Kathryn “I Believe In Miracles” Kuhlman. While her estate wouldn’t approve licensing, a 1980 UK bootleg of the intended track and others circulated apparently before the official album was released in early 1981.1 Bush of Ghosts was completed in October of 1980 and Eno and Byrne must have scrambled to replace Kuhlman’s vocal: the substitute was an “unidentified exorcist” recorded the previous month in New York. Both these speakers are acts in their own right, with the exorcist commanding (below), healer Kuhlman exploring (at least initially).
Continue reading “Acts of Faith: Electric Evangelists 1”

Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire

KKK Letter

We’re all familiar with the Charlottesville chant from two years ago: Jews Will Not Replace Us.

It’s a perennial paradox. Torch-bearing worshippers of an almighty God who answers prayers with miracles, and devotion with salvation, at the same time have an inferiority complex as vast as their numbers. In 2014 the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study reported that if the U.S. had a population of only 100 (adults) there would be two Jews, one Muslim, and 71 Christians. Verily: Jews will not replace Christians. But what might rightly rile these folks are two other Pew stats: 1) only 47 of those 71 nominal Christians are white and 2) as many young people identify as “unaffiliated” as they do “Protestant.” (Earlier I discussed how sex surveys of young people show that about 1 in 5 don’t ID as straight—about the same percentage as the unaffiliated total in the Pew poll.)

KKKpleton

When my wife Andrea Carney and I first moved to our Denver neighborhood in 2005, Andrea found it was named for a mayor who had profited politically from the prototype of what we saw in Charlottesville. We were heartened in 2015 when Black Lives Matter began an effort to change the name.

Town Center Sign
A Black Lives Matter 5280 banner is draped over our local town center sign in August 2015. The oblong Stapleton logo below the LED screen no longer appears on the sign, an indication of how the name is being removed from public display, little by little.

In July of this year, we and our neighbors (property owners only, no renters) voted whether to retain the neighborhood name Stapleton, which we inherited from the former airport on which our plots are platted. (Our true legacy, of course, is from indigenous people, as explained here.) Continue reading “Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire”

The Summer of Our Discontent

Paul Goodman Article image

The same edition of Gay & Lesbian Review that I touched on last time—its Stonewall Special—contains an essay by author and publisher John Lauritsen: “The Rise and Fall of the GLF.”1 I reread the piece last month.

Shortly after Stonewall in the summer of ’69 Lauritsen attended a meeting of gay people who were debating whether to align with the antiwar movement, with which John had been involved since 1965. He and the other radicals at the meeting carried the day and so the group eventually was dubbed Gay Liberation Front, a nod to the National Liberation Front—aka Viet Cong—of Vietnam. This is an example of the overlap I always saw as perfectly natural. As a kid I organized against the war in high school and and also wrote a book report on James Baldwin’s Another Country.2 Others might have preferred cubbyholes over connections. Continue reading “The Summer of Our Discontent”

Stonewall, the Great Gay Migration and the Monumental Divide

West Virginia Hero Shirt design image

Last Wednesday I watched a somewhat slimmed-down version of the new documentary Lavender Scare, based on the 2004 (!) book of the same name by David K. Johnson.1 In the film Meryl Streep’s narration explains how the influx of homosexuals from rural to urban regions began in the 1930s, the start of the Great Gay Migration.2

Washington was a boom town. The government was creating thousands of new jobs to combat the Great Depression. Many of the young men and women who came for those jobs were homosexuals. They grabbed the chance to experience a new level of acceptance and friendship in a big city far from home.

I was reminded of a recent essay, “Forget Stonewall,” in the May/June edition of The Gay & Lesbian Review, by Yasmin Nair who reminds readers that the source of that influx still exists. Continue reading “Stonewall, the Great Gay Migration and the Monumental Divide”

Atoms for Peace

Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Tower photo image

I hadn’t intended to post more than one or two entries per month here, but stuff keeps coming over the transom. Bear with me. This is a first look at the embrace of nuclear by environmentalists and climate scientists.

Back in November I sent my wife Andrea Carney yet another TED Talk. By chance I would catch parts of these talks on public radio during my drive home from meetings. If something interested me I’d pull up the talk on YouTube. Michael Shellenberger’s topic, “Why I changed my mind about nuclear power,” struck me because I’d recently tracked down a hazily-remembered segment regarding nuclear power from years ago on Democracy Now! that featured columnist and environmentalist (and near-vegan) George Monbiot (I kept spelling his name wrong).1 And I’d forgotten it was a debate—with anti-nuclear (weapons and power) champion Helen Caldicott, who was considered a 20th century hero.

In his March 30, 2011 debate with Caldicott, Monbiot expressed sympathy for the people of Fukushima, who had experienced an earthquake-caused tsunami as well as the ensuing nuclear power plant failure. But he hoped the disaster wouldn’t cause a global retreat from nuclear and a return to coal.

In China alone, last year, 2,300 people were killed in industrial accidents to do with coal mining; purely by coal mining accidents, 2,300 killed. That’s six people a day. That means that in one week, the official death toll from coal in China is greater than the official death toll from Chernobyl in 25 years.

Continue reading “Atoms for Peace”

Survives of the Rich and Famous

Robot photo image

Over the weekend my wife Andrea Carney told me that Greenland is experiencing another heatwave, not unlike in 2012. And as always the opinion of an expert, at an institution forty-five minutes away from me, brings the iconic island and its—our—challenge ever closer.

It reminds me of a topic I’ve intended to cover here.

Survivor: A Reality Competition

I once got burned, listening to and then watching a TED Talk by someone who claimed to be able to turn desert into meadow. So enthusiastic was I that I sent the talk to family and friends, only to be told by one friend, who had ranching experience, that the claim was preposterous.1 When I looked into it I found out my friend appeared to be right. So, caveat lector; I don’t think I could confirm or deny what follows as easily.

I came across an article online last October and made a note to write about it. Checking now, wouldn’t you know, the author did his own TED Talk in December. When reading the article, all I knew about Douglas Rushkoff was that he often is invited to speak at gatherings of—well, the conclave he discusses in the article was of “a hundred or so investment bankers.”2 I could have moved on at that point but his title and tagline were too intriguing: “Survival of the Richest. The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind.” Continue reading “Survives of the Rich and Famous”