September 16, 2013
First Things' remembrance of Warren Zevon has some surprising songs in it.

The admiration for Catholicism from outside should be no surprise, really. But some of the tracks linked in there are really not what you’d expect.

And are good.

June 13, 2013
"

All agreed that the worst abuse was directed at Falun Gong members who refused to renounce their faith. In addition to giving the electric shocks, they said, guards would tie their limbs to four beds and gradually kick the beds farther apart.

Many inmates described the time spent in Masanjia’s workshops as a respite from mistreatment or the hours of “re-education classes” that often were endless recitation of camp rules or the singing of patriotic songs while standing in the broiling sun.

Much of the work involved producing clothing for the domestic market or uniforms for the People’s Armed Police. But inmates say they also assembled Christmas wreaths, coat linings stuffed with duck feathers that were labeled “Made in Italy” and silk flowers that guards insisted would be sold in the United States.

"

"In box of decorations, a cry for help from a Chinese labor camp", Seattle Times, 11 June 2013.

February 26, 2013
I'm doing it again. Reading Ezekiel.

Gotta love that Bible.

May 15, 2012
Danmatic's latest mix

Includes a 9-minute Afro-Caribbean blessing to Ayizan.

Dan owns many vinyl treasures. And sometimes… he shares them with the rest of us.

March 1, 2012
More on the rumba yambu here and here. It’s a slower, older version of the rumba - both in the sense that it came first and also, as afrodiaspores quotes Ned Sublette, “The movements of the yambú mimic the movements of an older couple; they are relatively soft edged, and sensual rather than sexual.”
This is also, as you might (or might not) guess, a religious ritual. Or celebration. Just like "Babalu".From La Verne University:
Dancers Juan Carlos Blanco and Kati Hernandez showed the audience what a traditional Afro-Cuban ceremony might have looked like by demonstrating traditional dances that reflected the personalities of the deities associated with each piece of music.

…

Each dance performed by Blanco and Hernandez was unique to the deities for whom they are performed: Eleguá, the messenger of the Orishas and owner of the crossroads; Obatalá, the Orisha of peace, wisdom and purity; Ochún, the Orisha of sweet waters and of romantic love, laughter, and dance; and finally Yemayá, the Orisha of the sea and mother of the world.

There are two main categories of Afro-Cuban music: religious and profane. The songs performed on Monday were of the religious category.




Photo credits: 
Juan Carlos Blanco and Kati Hernandez performing rumba yambú, by Warren Bessant, 2010

Blanco, born in Havana, had been performing professionally for 15 years  before coming to the United States and has also founded his own  Afro-Cuban music company Omo Aché. Hernandez, also a native of Cuba, has  been dancing since age 9 and graduated from the Escuela National de los  Artes, Havana’s national school of art. 


[via afrodiaspores]

More on the rumba yambu here and here. It’s a slower, older version of the rumba - both in the sense that it came first and also, as afrodiaspores quotes Ned Sublette, “The movements of the yambú mimic the movements of an older couple; they are relatively soft edged, and sensual rather than sexual.”

This is also, as you might (or might not) guess, a religious ritual. Or celebration. Just like "Babalu".

From La Verne University:

Dancers Juan Carlos Blanco and Kati Hernandez showed the audience what a traditional Afro-Cuban ceremony might have looked like by demonstrating traditional dances that reflected the personalities of the deities associated with each piece of music.

Each dance performed by Blanco and Hernandez was unique to the deities for whom they are performed: Eleguá, the messenger of the Orishas and owner of the crossroads; Obatalá, the Orisha of peace, wisdom and purity; Ochún, the Orisha of sweet waters and of romantic love, laughter, and dance; and finally Yemayá, the Orisha of the sea and mother of the world.

There are two main categories of Afro-Cuban music: religious and profane. The songs performed on Monday were of the religious category.

Photo credits:

Juan Carlos Blanco and Kati Hernandez performing rumba yambú, by Warren Bessant, 2010

Blanco, born in Havana, had been performing professionally for 15 years before coming to the United States and has also founded his own Afro-Cuban music company Omo Aché. Hernandez, also a native of Cuba, has been dancing since age 9 and graduated from the Escuela National de los Artes, Havana’s national school of art.

[via afrodiaspores]

February 29, 2012
Erdangela Polonio by Victor Block, ca. 2011

An amalgam of the Carib and Arawak Indians who first migrated to the Caribbean and later intermarried with West African slaves who escaped to St. Vincent in the 1600s, the Garifuna have a colorful history combating the British before settling in Honduras and British Honduras (now Belize) in 1832.Although there are about 7000 Garifuna currently in the country, the spiritual population is a lot larger. “Our ancestors are all about us…Just as we must eat and drink to live, so must they be nourished as well.” This is something the ancestors take very seriously…In the town of Seine Bight, the task of healing falls to 78-year-old Erdangela Polonio, the chanting woman behind the curtain. As the village Buyei, or healer, she has been appointed by the spirits to carry forth the practices and ceremonies that hopefully will appease the ancestors and restore health to the afflicted. This is no simple task. The ancestors are not easily appeased.
The Buyei knows whether the illness is of the spirit world or the modern one, and if caused by an ancestor, what he or she wants. This knowledge comes at a price but not a high one. When I asked what happens if the ailing can’t afford the costs of healing, she replies that any kind of offering would do. She illustrates by holding up a candle, a plantain, and finally a bottle of light-colored liquid: “The spirits love rum,” she declares, with no hint of irony in her smile.


[from afrodiaspores]

Erdangela Polonio by Victor Block, ca. 2011

An amalgam of the Carib and Arawak Indians who first migrated to the Caribbean and later intermarried with West African slaves who escaped to St. Vincent in the 1600s, the Garifuna have a colorful history combating the British before settling in Honduras and British Honduras (now Belize) in 1832.

Although there are about 7000 Garifuna currently in the country, the spiritual population is a lot larger. “Our ancestors are all about us…Just as we must eat and drink to live, so must they be nourished as well.” This is something the ancestors take very seriously…

In the town of Seine Bight, the task of healing falls to 78-year-old Erdangela Polonio, the chanting woman behind the curtain. As the village Buyei, or healer, she has been appointed by the spirits to carry forth the practices and ceremonies that hopefully will appease the ancestors and restore health to the afflicted. This is no simple task. The ancestors are not easily appeased.

The Buyei knows whether the illness is of the spirit world or the modern one, and if caused by an ancestor, what he or she wants. This knowledge comes at a price but not a high one. When I asked what happens if the ailing can’t afford the costs of healing, she replies that any kind of offering would do. She illustrates by holding up a candle, a plantain, and finally a bottle of light-colored liquid: “The spirits love rum,” she declares, with no hint of irony in her smile.

[from afrodiaspores]

February 26, 2012
I'm doing it again. That is, I'm reading Jeremiah at Reading Jeremiah.

Because there’s nothing like rambling notes on 2,500-year-old poetry.

February 3, 2012
"

One Glorious Day (1922)

Psychologist Professor Botts (Will Rogers) is chairman of a spiritualist society who claims he can to leave his body and reappear in ghost form. As it happens, “Ek”, a violent spirit from Valhalla, enters his body during the ritual, and the two set off to thrash scheming politicians and the scoundrel who has designs on Botts’s secret love, Molly. When the spirit leaves, Botts returns to corporeal form, learns Molly’s feelings are reciprocal, and is nominated for mayor as direct result of the Ek-inspired exploits.

One Glorious Day was a childhood favorite of monster connoisseur Forrest J. Ackerman, who once claimed it was the first movie he had ever seen (and would later coin the term “science-fiction” as an indirect result). Over the years, he was able to collect a number of promotional images and materials for the film, but unfortunately, never a print itself. The premise, and name “Ek”, would also inspire Dave Wood and Sheldon Moldoff with the creation of Batman villain Dr. Simon Ecks, (Doctor Double X) as well as the title creature of an Outer Limits episode, “Behold, Eck!”

"

- from Weird and Wonderful Movies That You’ll Never Get to See, on io9.com.

As a side note to this, not only may this missing film have inspired the genre of “science fiction” (thank you, Mr. Ackerman), but I’d be stunned if it wasn’t related to Eckankar, the religion based on Eck, the Holy Spirit.

I can’t be the only ones who remembers Eckankar, can I? Very 1970s “spiritual path” group, very into meditation and astral projection - sort of yoga meets ESP in maroon turtlenecks and bell-bottoms. Their books used to turn up in rummage sales all the time.

Somebody back me up on this. There has to be a connection between a lost movie about a wandering spirit named Ek and the me-generation pop religion based on Eck, the spirit, who teaches you the secrets of spiritual travelers. That EK logo was hanging in a lot of New Age bookshops for a while.

February 3, 2012
"Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii, episcopi et martyris, liberet te Deus a malo gutturis, et a quolibet alio malo. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen."

By the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God free you from illness of the throat and from any other sort of ill. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

(It’s throat-blessing day.)

December 8, 2011

- “God of Concrete, God of Steel,” by Ganbatte (Seth Cooke). In case you miss it in the show notes, part of this live performance consists of recordings made inside a nuclear power plant’s cooling tower.

Lyrics to Frederick R.C. Clarke’s “peculiar 1971 hymn” are also at the link.

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