Friday, February 27, 2009

25 albums

Ten Albums from my Youth
Whipped Cream & Other Delights – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Fascinated first by the album cover, then by the music. It led to Mangione, Miles Davis, and even jazz played on instruments other than horns.

Saturday Night Fever – soundtrack
Possibly the first album I ever bought. It led to other pop & dance music, and toward classics (Night on “Disco” Mountain?!?!?)

Kiss Alive II - Kiss
The other candidate for first album I ever bought. Hard rock is still essential, if perhaps less frequently played.

West Side Story – Broadway cast version
I loved the rhythms and the emotions; I am more familiar with show tunes and soundtracks than opera, but I like them all.

Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
I rejected it as “drug music” earlier, then rediscovered it at 13 or so. A long dark cry for help, it matched my teen angst perfectly. I still love everything Roger Waters creates.

Cheap Thrills – Big Brother & the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin
The cover may have helped stimulate my lifelong love of comics; Janis’ emotionality kept me listening. This led to Suzanne Vega, Chrissie Hynde, Ani Difranco, Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, et al

Little Drummer Boy - Harry Simeone Chorale
I love lots of Christmas music, but HSC *is* the sound of family, to me.

Grand Illusion – Styx
The first band I obsessed over, and bought every album.

Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon
Dark, creepy, passionate and witty. I miss him.

Briefcase Full of Blues – Blues Brothers
Yes, this is white guys covering other peoples’ music, but it led me to the real thing

Two Albums that Actually Changed My Life
Dawn of Infinite Dreams – ShadoArt Productions
Overheard in a store, it led me to Shadowbox Cabaret, which taught me a ton *and* produced three of my plays

American Beauty – the Grateful Dead
I didn’t actually buy this until I’d traded for dozens of bootlegs. I’m so much a Deadhead that I preach about them.

Five Albums Listened to Regularly, for Decades Now
Chess – original concept album
Complex and singable, this replaced "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the rotation

Live at Carnegie hall – Renaissance
Gorgeous prog rock, featuring Annie Haslam’s incredible voice

Neck and Neck – Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler
After criticizing country music as a kid, I appreciate it now—-including bluegrass, folk, “Americana” and storytellers like Johnny Cash

Still in Hollywood – Concrete Blonde
Edgy, angry, poignant…and Johnette Napolitano’s voice. Plus she covers Bob Dylan.

“Best Of” – Beautiful South
Actually a mix CD made by an old friend; this is happy-sounding music with an edge

Six Albums Representative of other Loves in my Life
Blue Devils / Garfield Cadets
There is no summer without drum & bugle corps.

TBDBITL – The Ohio State University Marching Band.
Go Buckeyes!

Woyaya – Osibisa
Roger Dean’s cover art—and wild wonderful jazz rock
Here also representing the Unitarian Universalist hymn supplement.

Imperial Bedroom – Elvis Costello
Catchy music with smart, socially-conscious lyrics. Here representing Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, et al

Indiscipline – King Crimson
Representing other Prog Rockers like Marillion, Yes, et al

Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls
We sang “Closer to Fine” at my wedding.

Two Jazz Albums
Octet – Steve Reich
I like his later stuff, and Glass, et al, but "Violin Phase" stays with me.

Koln – Keith Jarrett
Such passion and intensity—his solo piano concerts are events.

Friday, February 20, 2009

beheading a human crime

Aasiya Hassan was beheaded last week, allegedly by her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, in Orchard Park, New York. I grieve for Ms. Hassan, and her children and family—and for the entire Islamic community in the United States. This crime will exacerbate the mistrust and fear with which many view Muslims. Indeed, the first headlines focused on the irony that Mr. Hassan ran a television station dedicated to overcoming negative stereotypes about Muslim-Americans. Mrs. Hassan asked him to create “Bridges TV” so that her children would not have to grow up amidst fear and hatred.

Islam is a peace-loving religion. Radical fundamentalist groups within it use bombs and terror to combat the stereotypes they learn about Modern Western culture.

This clash of cultures is but one of many divisions we draw, including race, class, religion, sexuality—and the most basic division, male and female. We fear those who are different; and too often, we respond to that fear with violence. This was not an Islamic crime, it was a human crime. If we wish to honor Mrs. Hassan’s death, let us do so by pursuing her dream of understanding. Let us not fear each other, but together work to overcome ignorance.

Friday, February 06, 2009

*not* an ashtray!

After lighting a chalice--the symbol of our faith tradition--PLEASE do not then drop the still-smoldering match into that same chalice. It is bad enough when lay people do this, but when trained clergy, people supposedly versed in the power of symbolism and ritual, do this, it just astounds me. Maybe it is a sign of our anti-authoritarianism (and clerical self-loathing?); maybe it is simple laziness, but I implore us all to take better care of our beloved chalice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

open letter on sexuality education

Please sign the Open Letter to Religious Leaders about Sexuality Education (pdf). Produced by the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, it begins:

"Religious traditions affirm that sexuality is a divinely bestowed blessing for expressing love and generating life, for mutual companionship and pleasure. It is also capable of misuse, leading to exploitation, abuse, and suffering. Sexuality, from a religious point of view, needs to be celebrated with joy, holiness, and integrity, but it also demands understanding, respect, and self-discipline. Our traditions affirm the goodness of creation, our bodies, and our sexuality; we are called to stewardship of these gifts..."

They're hoping for 1,000 signatures by February 17th. Please read it, post it, and consider signing it.