Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spiritual Interlude: Forrest Church, R.I.P.

Years ago I taught U.S. history. In reading about the deism (and unitarian proclivities) of many of our nation's founders, particularly Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, I became curious to know about this somewhat mysterious denomination called Unitarianism that Jefferson was supposed to sympathize with. I was looking up histories of it in the public library and stumbled across the books of The Rev. Forrest Church, who had been the minister at All Souls Church in NYC for years and years.

He seemed to know a lot about U.S. history and could convey it passionately and clearly. I took to his writing. His book God and Other Famous Liberals aimed to recapture notions of God, the flag, and family values for the left and liberalism. Church argued convincingly that "God" can be a liberating and non-sectarian notion, while liberation itself can be patriotic. His dad was the Democratic senator Frank Church from Idaho, who similarly wrote a book defending Second Amendment rights from a liberal standpoint (esp. for women). Anyway, I recommend God and Other Famous Liberals, as well as Forrest Church's edited compilation of founding documents relating to the separation of church and state. As I write this, I notice that the Beacon Press edition of The Jefferson Bible is within arm's reach, with an introduction by Church.

All this is why I am sad to learn he died three days ago. But I am not surprised. I knew he had been suffering from cancer. He wrote a book about confronting death, and had a healthy agnosticism about the life hereafter. Life before death is what's truly meaningful, and it was a comfort sometimes to know there was a man-of-the-cloth who bothered to articulate that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beer Isn't Good For You

Finally, somebody posted some Unit 3 with Venus. This song "Beer" has gone through my mind many times since I last heard it some 25+ years ago. When asked "What does it mean to be a punk?" Venus just says "I don't know. I just like it." That's a good punk answer. Also a good kid answer. Pretty much a novelty act, but a fine performance on the kid's part. A very Darby-like intro.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Atahualpa Rock!

About the same time that Die Kreuzen was putting out October File, another band was making metal in Ecuador. This is so great on so many levels.

Die Kreuzen's Echo-And-Gloom

I recently found the promo materials that came with the used lp I bought of Die Kreuzen's October File. It was one of my favorites in 1986. It's art-death-metal, industrialized echo-and-gloom, and hardcore all in one gloriously grayscaled package.

A not-so-gloomy pic of the band:

And a review written by none other than Steve Albini:

Nice to see that the awesome and underrated Slovenly were on Albini's radar:

Incidentally, the one time I saw Die Kreuzen was at the Anti-Club on a bill with Slovenly in, I believe, 1987. A strange match-up, but exemplary of the blessedly scattered direction that punk bands took post-hardcore and post-post-punk. They were a great live band.