The vernal equinox approaches. Time to step into the light!
SECULAR SPIRITUALITY: Author Bart Everson will participate in a discussion with the theme “Can we derive a secular spirituality from the seasons?” from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Jefferson Parish Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie. The discussion will be moderated by Charlotte Klasson, board president of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association. Everson will draw on ideas outlined in his book “Spinning in Place,” which presents a this-worldly approach to spirituality for the scientifically minded. (more)
PAGAN ROCK: As the live oaks release pollen, so Half Pagan releases a fine dusting of musical irritants to aggravate your soul. We finally got our first album done. Give us a listen at HalfPagan.com. Better yet, join us at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, at Dmac’s Bar and Grill, 542 S Jeff Davis Parkway, New Orleans. We’ll play the whole album, but it’s a short set, so don’t be late. And come hungry — Dmac’s has a fabulous kitchen! (more)
Friends, I’ve got a new podcast rolling. Literally.
It’s called Editor B’s Morning Ride to Work, and the concept is simple. I record a short segment as I ride my bike to work each morning. Each episode is five minutes or less. Just a little audio window into my world.
Subscribe via one of the major providers using the buttons below, or tune in directly on my Anchor station.
Veteran followers of this blog will recall that I tried something like this nine years ago. (Egad. Nine years?) The technical problems have been surmounted at last. As to the “general lack of interesting content,” well, that’s the challenge. That’s the draw. Tune in to see if I can pull it off, or if I wipe out. (Hopefully not literally.)
Then again, I’m more comfortable with silence than I was the first time round. Sometimes I get tired of this “chittering chattering blithering blathering bubbling babbling mind-boggling bullshit they call the Information Age.” Maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut sometimes and listen to the sounds rushing past me. That sounds refreshing.
There’s a postcard show at Skewer Gallery (located inside Kebab at 2315 St. Claude) which opens this Saturday, 9 September 2017. My daughter and I will have several postcards on display. (Mine all have an autumnal equinox theme.) All postcard art will be on sale for $5 with proceeds going to support L’eau Est La Vie Camp and efforts to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Make it a part of your second Saturday art stroll. Have some dinner too.
I’m honored to be reading my work at Antenna Gallery at 3718 St. Claude on Wednesday, 13 September 2017, for Letters Read: Regrets. This series focuses on “current and historically interesting letters written by culturally vital individuals.” If I am known for anything, surely it is my cultural vitality. Free and open to the public.
Come out to Banks Street Bar on the autumnal equinox to catch the debut of Half Pagan — my musical collaboration with Michael Homan. That’s Friday, 22 September 2017 at 8pm. Come early, we’re playing a short set.
Speaking of the autumnal equinox, if you are in Bloomington be sure to snag a copy of the current issue of The Ryder magazine. I’ve got an article in there on the subject. The rest of you can read see it online or better yet buy my book — it will be at a reduced price (Kindle only) until the equinox.
Here’s a review of the essay from one reader, who happens to be my father-in-law:
Loved “The Other Equinox.” Truly entertaining and well-written, and of much interest indeed! I love the weave of the themes of metaphor and gratitude, and the notion of how a certain childlike innocence (trees as entities, etc.) might actually involve a higher truth. Most of all, I loved the way it came off as highly intelligent yet down to earth. Done your pappy-in-law proud, son!!!
I recently made a trip to Indiana, as is my wont in the summertime. While I’m up there I always try to stir up some trouble. Some of my attempts are more successful than others. International Flag-Burning Day was a bust, for example.
But there is evidence that some of my other provocations were more successful. Audio evidence. These two pieces aired on WFHB yesterday.
Bart Everson, from Local TV Slacker-Provocateur to Atheist Religion Author ~ less than ten minutes ~ “This month marks the 25th anniversary of the first episode of Rox, arguably the most controversial show ever to air on public access TV in Bloomington. The program generated outrage and calls for its removal during its heyday in the early and mid 1990s. It has also been one of the most popular programs on Community Access Television Services.WFHB News Director Joe Crawford caught up with one of the producers of Rox, Bart Everson, who recently returned to Bloomington in support of a new book.”
Standing Room Only: Can we derive a secular spirituality from the seasons? ~ almost an hour ~ “On July 7, Bart Everson spoke about eco-spiritual practices at The Venue in Bloomington. A longtime atheist, Everson emphasized the celebration of living on Earth and the process of becoming better citizens of the planet. Much of Everson’s talk revolved around ideas also found in his book Spinning in Place: A Secular Humanist Embraces the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year.”
It’s almost that time of year again, so I thought I’d share this original song for the winter solstice. It may not be a genius composition, but it’s fun to sing around the bonfire with family and friend. Try it! And by all means make up your own lyrics. You can certainly do better than us.
Below you’ll find an audio snippet from our 2015 rendition, to give you an idea of the melody, as well as a copy of the lyrics suitable for printing.
There’s so much good music coming out these days it’s stunning. Don’t believe me? Give this a listen. It was almost painful putting this mix together because I left so much out, but what’s left just feels absolutely essential to me. Further more I’d wager that you haven’t heard of virtually any of these artists. And I know y’all could put together a stunning mix of artists that I’ve never heard. That’s what a rich time we live in. Happy new year.
Listening notes: This mix is about two hours long and tends toward mellow and bittersweet, but there is enough pop and rock to keep you awake and maybe even something to make you laugh buried in there somewhere.
As if breaking into the print medium wasn’t enough, I’m on the radio too. More specifically, the inestimable Brian Turner played some of my stuff on WFMU a couple weeks ago. Check the playlist and see (or listen) for yourself. Yeah, there was a little confusion regarding the name of the artist (Editor B) and the name of the album (A vs. B) but I’m not complaining because he did indeed plug the site. This might be a good time to remind the world that A vs B can still be had free despite its questionable legal status. Get it now before the Man shuts it down!
I’ve just published my second album on Bandcamp. It’s called “A vs B” and it’s available free.
It has to be free, I think, because I didn’t generate any of the source material myself. I used audio from diverse sources to create something new. Most of these mashups are of the simplest sort, two tracks played simultaneously: A versus B. The bulk of these tracks were constructed in 2008, with the remainder coming in dribs and drabs over the next six years.
It’s about that time. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about: the equinox. No, not that equinox — the other one.
I thought I had little or nothing to say about the subject. As is so often the case, once I got to writing, I discovered how wrong I was. The result is a column so monstrously large, it had to be split in two.
A fresh mix for that most obscure of holidays. You should listen to this sometime in the next week or so, preferably whilst fashioning corn dollies, baking bread or imbibing your favorite malted barley beverage.
I rented a car and drove west. All by myself. I drove and drove and drove until I got to Austin, Texas. And I thought to myself, how uncharacteristic. I felt like I hadn’t done anything like this before, at least not for a very long time.
There was a reason for this pilgrimage, of course. Over thirty years ago, a woman named Lisa and a man named Brendan began a musical collaboration in Melbourne, Australia. Later they moved to London. For the better part of two decades they made amazing music together under the name Dead Can Dance. Then they broke up in 1998. During all that time, I never heard them, never even knew of them. They got back together for a world tour in 2005, but I was still entirely ignorant. I only discovered them around the time my daughter was born. To say I found their music transformative would be an understatement. They’re the only act in recent memory that I would actually want to see live — and they aren’t even together anymore.
Except now they are. When they announced a new album and a new tour, I bought tickets at the first opportunity. The closest they got to New Orleans was Atlanta. I opted for Austin, which is almost as close, but home to many more friends, even some relatives.
That was some six months ago. Xy thought I was crazy and vehemently disapproved. If Hurricane Isaac had come a week later, we might have evacuated to Austin and everything would have worked out nicely. As it was, we were just getting back to normal and it didn’t feel quite right to run off. I mailed my tickets to PJ in Austin. Then I talked to Xy; she’d had a change of heart and wanted me to go, with her blessing.
So I went. PJ came to see the show with me.
And the show was really good.
After the show we stopped to see some of PJ’s friends and jammed until the wee hours of the morning.
I spent the night at PJ’s house. It was great to see Andrea and the kids.
The next day I drove back home. In total I was only gone 32 hours, I think. I felt bad about burning all that gas just to move my body a thousand miles. If I’d had my act together I might have car-pooled with some other fans. But I’m glad I made the trip.
I was mighty excited to see the Transit of Venus this past Tuesday. I set up a tiny mirror on a tripod in our back yard, which reflected the image of the sun through our kitchen and down a short hall into my darkened office.
This is called the reflected pinhole method, which is a safe and simple way to observe solar events.
So there’s another year gone. This was sure an interesting one from the planetary perspective, what with all the the revolutions and the Occupy movement. I remain skeptical, but also cautiously hopeful, that anything will come of all this foment in the long run. We desperately need revolutions, but are these the revolutions we need?
I will also remember 2011 as the year of Project Conversion, “twelve months of spiritual promiscuity” by a guy named Andrew Bowen. Simple concept, one new religion each month, lived and embraced with a genuine desire to understand. I first mentioned PC at the halfway point, six months ago; now it’s complete, and I feel like I’ve learned and grown from it. I found his journey inspiring, and it has influenced my own. By way of expressing my gratitude, I put together a tribute mix, featuring one track for each of the twelve religions Andrew explored.
It was a holy chore chasing down some of those tracks but I am happy with how it came out. I tried to aim for toward traditional sounds rather than contemporary stuff.
I think finding the Zoroastrian track was the hardest. Also, a quirk of 8tracks is that it will only let each listener hear the tracks in the specified order the first time. This is for convoluted legal reasons. Which is a shame because in this case the order will matter to anyone who’s been following PC for the past year.
And because I’m in New Orleans, the first and last tracks are from local artists. Strange but true.
(As a bonus, I threw together a little Gregorian Chant mix in honor of the final month, Catholicism.)
Of course the year wouldn’t be complete without a mix of my favorite 2011 releases. And here’s another tribute mix, my pick of the hits posted to Fluxblog over the past year.
But as a rule I’m not particularly focused on new music. Who cares if it was released in the last year or not? And so, I offer the personal discoveries from 2011 which excited me the most. Among them: Exuma (thanks to the American Zombie), Fikret Kızılok (thanks to Ghost Capital) and of course the late great Damien Tavis Toman (visit The Memorial Society).
Enjoy, and by all means let me know what you think.
You’ve just completed your first full month of school. Every day you are coming home full of songs and dances, art and ideas. You learned a new favorite phrase there too: “Everyone makes mistakes; that’s how they learn.” I had to point out that your mother learns a lot.
The only real sticking point has been lunch time. One day you wouldn’t eat the pasta that was served in the cafeteria. “It’s not Tuesday, and I only eat pasta on Tuesdays.” Since then the situation has deteriorated. You rarely eat much of your cafeteria lunch. It seems most of the three-year-olds are in the same boat. I’ve been offering you stickers as a reward — stickers are like gold to you — but so far no dice. If you don’t start chowing down soon we’ll have to start packing a lunch for you.
Speaking of mealtime, one evening at dinner I stretched to pick something off your plate, and you were amazed. “I didn’t know you could reach all the way across the table!” Out of sheer curiosity we got out the measuring tape. My arms are still more than twice as long as yours: 17″ vs 36″. That bears out the general principle that armspan is roughly equal to height. I’m 6’4″ while you are just half an inch shy of three feet.
Also on the topic of eating, one evening at bedtime you told me that “I don’t want to eat and drink anymore because I’m tired of going potty.” Fortunately you forgot about that resolution by the time breakfast rolled around.
One morning you ended up sleeping in our bed. I noted at one moment you were sound asleep, and then the next thing you were smiling and giggling. But your eyes were still closed. You were having a dream. You were laughing so loud I had to wake you up and ask what the dream was about before your forgot. You told me you were dreaming of a chipmunk. The funny part? Her name was Pencil.
You still love singing nonsense songs. You also like speaking in your own special language. You tried to pass this off as Spanish at first, but you’re actually learning Spanish at school, and this is distinct from that.
You’ve also started inventing your own exclamations. The first one I heard you say was “Oh, suckers!” But you’re happy to incorporate anything in your line of sight. “Oh, bicycles!”
Your favorite game right now is, without question, pretending to be lost. This follows a pretty strict formula. You’ll hide somewhere, under the table or in the bathtub usually, and start calling, “Help! Help! I’m lost.” When your mother or I come to your rescue, you’ll explain that you left your old home because your mother was mean. That’s standard fairy tale stuff — lots of mean mothers in those old stories. We offer to take you in and let you live with us. In your scenario, I’m a fisherman and Xy is the fisherman’s wife. I think you got that from the myth of Perseus.
You had a day off school recently, but Xy did not, so I took the day off work. We made a picnic lunch and took it to City Park. That was great fun. While we were eating, I saw an animal climbing in one of the huge live oak trees. I thought it was an anteater at first, but I didn’t say anything. I just pointed to it. When you saw it you exclaimed, “It’s an anteater!” Of course, it wasn’t. But it sure looked like an anteater, or else we have a shared congenital propensity to misrecognize raccoons.
Later, you asked me to tell everyone that you’re brave. “I’m not afraid of coyotes or werewolves or African wild dogs.” You are aware that I use my phone to send messages “to everyone,” i.e. the public internet, i.e. Twitter. So I posted that on your behalf. My network was very impressed.
After lunch, we went to the playground and you frolicked with some other children. You seemed to have a great time, but on the bike ride home you told me one of the girls shushed you. Apparently you’d made a loud noise that scared away the pigeons. “She said shhh!” You kept repeating this story. I asked how it made you feel. “Rotten,” you replied. It’s the first instance of social anxiety I’ve seen from you. There will probably be a lot more of that in your future if I know girls.
One day I got home from work, walked in the door and announced, “I’m home!” Your immediate reply: “Thanks for the warning.” I laughed pretty hard at that one. This could well be your first expression of sarcasm, though I’m not sure you really understood what you were saying. You might have just been repeating something you’d heard at school. Nonetheless it’s heartening. We have a friend who calls you “sassy,” and though she means it in a good way, it reminds me of how often I got called out for “sassy backtalk” as a kid. I honestly never understood why I was getting in trouble. I don’t think “talking back” will ever bother me. In fact I encourage it. The challenge for you will be to understand that not everyone feels the way I do.
Update: Figured I might as well stick all my related Tropical Storm Lee observations here.
On Friday, as I prepared to ride home through a gentle sprinkle, I was approached by a pair of slightly nervous students. “Are you from around here?” They were not. They wanted to know what to expect from this tropical storm business. I told them it looked like street flooding would be the biggest problem, so prepare to hunker down. You might have some trouble getting from Point A to Point B.
Early Saturday morning we work to wind and rain coming in bands. Persephone was mildly peeved that cartoons were preempted, but I was impressed that the paper arrived. The garbage was collected. The mail was delivered. Our house sprung a couple of minor leaks. But we did not lose power.
By midday we were catching plenty of sunny breaks. I made a run to the grocery. They had wild caught salmon at a great price, but you had to buy the whole fish. I ended up with farm-raised filets. That evening I found myself grilling in a heavy downpour. It’s easy if you lack all common sense.
That night Persephone put on a necklace “because I have to be very pretty for Tropical Lee.” Here’s her forecast:
Today, Sunday, was more of the same. During a break in the weather Persephone and I went for a walk around the ‘hood. We saw lots of downed branches, but they were all very small.
Our street never flooded, and we never lost power, so this whole storm is looking like no big deal for us. (It’s been a very big deal for other people in other places.) That leak in the kitchen is the only real problem. Perhaps insurance will help.
Gin & tonics seem to go pretty well with tropical storms.
As I write this, shortly after sunset Sunday, we’re getting another lashing of rain, but I think the worst has passed.
Twelve tracks about the streets of New Orleans. One song about a street in New York, but the singers are from New Orleans. A field recording of some high school students rehearsing in the street right in front of my house. Including music by Earl King, Montezuma’s Revenge and Johnny Vidacovich.
These are the ten tracks I’ve been digging the most over the last couple weeks or so, including music by Henry Mancini, Damien Tavis Toman, and Devo. I love these with an insane passion. I had to share that love.
Actually there is one 2011 release here. See if you can spot it.
In other 8tracks news, my Study mix has now hit 100 plays and 62 likes. That’s almost double where it was just two months ago, which is interesting considering it’s been online for almost two years now. My other mixes are languishing in obscurity, but “Study” is picking up steam.