Publications
The Blues Aesthetic of Albert Murray (AWP 2022) Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

AM(Panel on Writing & Music, AWP, March 25, 20022)

The Blues Aesthetic of Albert Murray

To say that Americans in the 2020s are suffering from our tribal divisions is nothing new. But what of the divisions based in our hyphenation: African, Asian, Hispanic, Native, and the dwindling majority, white? These identities range from economic to ethnic to racial and extend further to gender and sexuality. But for each assembly there’s another category: the Other, the caste of that which your group is not. Such as Black is not White; Asian is not Native. And so on. Then there’s a third identity, which we might label trans: those who prefer an amalgam, a yesteryear phenomenon, the American. This singular cohort makes the most sense to me as a critic when I talk about the art of music and the art of writing about music

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Film Review: Procession (Netflix 2021) Print E-mail
Criticism

Procession film(The Truth Seeker January-April 2022)

Director Robert Greene took three years to make the Netflix documentary Procession, which premiered in late 2021. However, the lives of the six grown men the film charts, raped as adolescents by priests in the Kansas City Catholic diocese, have been shattered for decades. The violence and disregard done to them includes the agony of the abuse itself and the humiliation they endured after the scandal broke in 2011. By my count, the six were attacked and injured three times: by a priest known to their families, by the church and its coverup, and by the lack of prosecution, which, as a third crime, aids and abets the first two. Indeed, either by death or a financial settlement, a couple dozen pedophiles dodged justice; that also goes for their Catholic overlords who declined to be interviewed for the film. With epic ambition, Procession documents the psychological toll on six middle-aged men as well as adopts an experimental form to render the abuse’s stark effects. It dares to present their stories in conflictual terms: an artistic primal scream of a feature film amid the therapeutic reenactments of the men’s irreversible shame.

The rest of the review is available here for purchase: www.thetruthseeker.net

 
Review: Seeing MAD: Essays on Mad Magazine's Humor and Legacy Print E-mail
Criticism

713ov6iagDL(Another Chicago Magazine October 26, 2021)

In 1966, I was a junior at St. Louis’s Kirkwood High. After the teachers let us monkeys out at 2:50, I lazed about, often trekking to a friend’s home to talk antiwar politics or Salinger stories. I was a serious kid, some days lying on one of the twin beds in Ken Klotz’s room (his unlucky brother off in Vietnam) where we were hypnotized by Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and the literary dazzle of “Visions of Johanna”: “The ghost of electricity howls from the bones of her face.” But then some days I needed a break.

I got one hanging out with Clay Benton. Clay, a wunderkind with a reel-to-reel tape machine, recorded parodies of Superman—the Caped Crusader of comic book, radio drama, TV show. His sendup was Space-O-Ace Man, a half-doofus, half-hippie hero who also flew in to fight crime but whose dorky moves ruined everything. After he and I roughed up a script, we’d record a show with daffy voices and sound effects. We mimicked a big-bosomed girl Clay and I salivated over in class, who needed rescuing. We shielded her from Ming the Merciless with our own bodies in response to her cries of Help!

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The Amish Atheist Print E-mail
Criticism

kenneth copp amish atheist(The Truth Seeker October 1, 2021)

In the long history of free thought and the millions who’ve come into the light of reason, there are a few examples of men and women who have retained the best parts of their religious past and their secular present. One such is Kenneth Copp, the “star” of the new film short, Amish Atheist, an affecting portrait of a cultural Christian reborn in a freethinker’s body. Copp, a Maine woodworker, was raised in a Pentecostal church; under his parents’ tutelage, he practiced the carnival sideshow of “speaking in tongues.”

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What's in His Wallet? An Addendum to the Texas Abortion Law Print E-mail
Articles

6c4d22f7c2a14f7c1a701e281e06dc54(First published in Times of San Diego September 9, 2021, later revised)

Everyone knows—or should know—how burdensome a pregnancy is on a woman. It’s especially hard now if you live in Texas where a fetal heartbeat detected at six weeks means by law the woman cannot terminate her pregnancy; she must carry it to term. The burden of having a child, whether planned for or forced, is made worse by the financial responsibility of raising that offspring, for parents and families, through childhood and adolescence, the next eighteen years. Would any man argue that such a load, for poor women in particular, is among the toughest things she’ll ever face?

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Unchurched Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20210901(San Diego Reader September 1, 2021)

In 2011, Colby Martin, an assistant pastor in a Gilbert, Arizona, evangelical church near Phoenix, was summoned one day to a board meeting of the elders. The concern was a Facebook post Martin shared about President Obama lifting the ban on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military regulation by which an LGBTQ person keeps that fact private. To the post, Martin appended six words: “I’m glad this day finally came.” Martin, who is 39 and met me for breakfast in Del Cerro, possesses a confessional well-being, equal parts vexed and resolute. Rigorously thoughtful, he took his time with my questions, waiting a bagel slathered with cream cheese. For those six words, a storm blew in. Further comments on Facebook hatched his superiors’ suspicions, and he was called on the carpet.

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The Multimedia Art of Chauvet Cave Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

chauvetpan(3QuarksDaily July 12, 2021)

In 1994, Chauvet cave was discovered near the township of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in southern France. The cave is a spectacular venue for the earliest known rock art made by our ancestors and in no way “primitive.” Deep inside the limestone cavern are hundreds of highly animated wall paintings of bison, bear, ibex, lion, rhinoceros, hyena, wooly mammoth, and horse, “signed” by the red-ochre handprints of the artists.

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