Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Knoxville Plays Host

*Please be discretionary in viewing the links.*

Since January of this year, the springs have been wound a little tighter in Knoxville, after the atrocity of the double murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, and after all this time and much protest by the city (government, media, and citizens alike), a white supremacist (mostly, the Vanguard News Network) group used their Constitutional rights to hold a rally downtown. I called Kat, who was coming to pick me up from work, and told her not to go through downtown, though I thought of taking my camera and going there myself for purposes of group rememberance (oddly, in black and white), but the camera was in the car, and I couldn't get off work. Perhaps it was better that way.

The white supremacist group, led by Alex Linder (VNN) spouted off all the things one might imagine that they would (and some that one might not), and many citizens of Knoxville spouted off as well, in high dudgeon, of course.

A Bit of Coverage
Here is an article on the original murder that is quite difficult to make it through.

Here is a rather triumphant article mentioning the rally from this week's issue.

You can also view a few videos of the rally at this White Supremacist website.

The Skinny
I don't particularly know how to feel about a great deal of this, although it saddens my heart quite a bit for reasons manifold. There are so many issues wrapped up here that it's difficult to know where to begin other than to pray and ask for wisdom and peace (strangely, a personal peace that is given in the midst of "wars and rumors of wars"). It is an excercise in understanding, that Life is not about rightness and wrongness, but about following a Man.

You have to give the Mountain Justice folks (the clowns in the video) credit for their sense of humor though. I had to laugh at the guy asking the VNN folks for Vanilla Wafers...

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Radio

August felt the carpet under his bare feet on the way into his son’s room. He put his head through the half-open door.
“Goodnight. I love you.”

His son yawned across the pillow and the yawn traveled across empty space to infect him with the desire to share in its indulgence. August stifled the yawn, and the boy remembered something.
“Can we leave the radio on? While I’m asleep?”
“What if it helps me sleep?”
“You’ll have to learn to sleep without it.”
He began to leave, and the boy’s sense of crisis grew. August felt it, as it drew him back in the door and the debate.
“But it does help me sleep!” The boy lied. It did not really help him sleep, but it was an integral part of the dark, after all.
“Why don’t you tell my why you really want it on, and we’ll see.” The boy visibly retreated into stillness like a rabbit weighing its options. He reached into the future of his father to touch it, and see if it was trustworthy. He felt its feelings, and its reactions, the weight of its anger and the colors of its chuckling. It held soundly.
“The noise keeps the monsters away. Don’t tell mom.” The last phrase came out like a shield covering a retreat.
“I thought you said six-year-olds don’t believe in monsters.”
“Maybe I do,” but it was more in a questioning tone, to see if it was still acceptable to believe in monsters and Neverlands and wings if you knew how to use them. The thing hung in between them above the carpet, until August declined to indulge his matter-of-factness, so the radio came on, softly.

He felt the carpet again in the hall, and he saw the skyline of his wife’s curvature under the sheet against the glow of the clock. She breathed quietly, without the promise of conversation. He watched the dots on the ceiling and thought about all his words during the day. Every word he had spoken came back to him, maybe not with clarity, but in emotion just the same. Not every feeling passed his test. Something uncivil in him lifted its head and smelled the air in a short hungry sniff.

He looked over at the radio, and it sat, silently giving testimony to the time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

...and then there were Eight

Get ready.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Holy Joe's Review

Friday night, Ethan Norman and I played at Holy Joe's in Harriman, and after the aesthetic waltz that the building did with my senses when I walked in, I am forced to tell you about what an amazing place it is.

The building itself has to have been some sort of town hall of some kind years ago. The heart pine floors lead you in past two storefront-style windows, and the first thing you see is a behemoth old upright piano sitting on your left. It has that honky saloon sound, muffled and mellowed just enough to make it beautiful in its stuttering. Past that is the counter/coffeebar on the left, with some classy glass tables on the right. But the real eyecatcher is the venue itself. Upon the hardwood floor sits an enormous area rug, and upon that sit the seats of the auditorium - old bus station seats. These are the kind with the black vinyl covering partitioned by gleaming metal arms on like legs, clustered into groups of three. I want some for a house I don't have, to go against a wall somewhere and look artistic no matter what the case. Beyond the seats is the stage of like flooring with beautiful rounded steps descending from the apron. Heavy navy curtains grace the sides and back of the stage to complete the ensemble (I was so pleased that they didn't have those vomit-hued monstrosities that assault the eyes from every middle school auditorium). Ethan and I spent a good twenty minutes marvelling at the place itself, including the acoustics, which are amazing.

The lady who runs the place is a kindred spirit named Mary Kaye Eisenberg, and she also is striving (with some success) to create an arts community there in Roane County. She runs an organization called the Creative Arts Co-Op. You can see some pictures of a show that they did here. If you are in the market for getting your music out and making contacts in artistic communities, Mary Kaye is someone you need to see. As with all things in small towns, advertise a lot.

We ended the night by meeting some folks (by coincidence, or perhaps not) who came to the show and eating at Long John Silvers. I haven't eaten there in ages, and it was, at least for the one time, amazing. I love fish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Blood and Football

I went today to give plasma for the first time.

If you know me, then you know I am about as good at handling needles as I am at basketball, and I am abyssmal at basketball. But I went nonetheless, thinking to myself, "It will be a good experience to finally do that which I've avoided for years." I can't say it wasn't, but the wooziness is still in my head, and the thought (even after the fact) of small, sharp, metal impliments piercing my skin in the tenderest places still gives me something resembling the heebie-jeebies. Or it could have been the koobie-charlies. I can never be sure.

In other news, I went to my brother's last AYSO soccer/football game of the season. I went to support him in his goalie ability (which is considerably amazing for a twelve-year-old), and what I received in addition, whilst upon the sideline, was an education in obsessive and harmful stupidity. We sat beside a few pairs of parents who were there to cheer, or for posterity's sake, let us say, bully, their children into success. I naively thought that the Angry Sports Parent was simply a phenomenon relegated to specials on Dateline and 20/20. I can see John Stossel's imposing mustache and hear his appalled cries of, "You actually believe that?!" giving cadence to videos of polo-shirted middle-class white dads going ape on unsuspecting twenty-something referees and umpires. But, silly me. We sat there with our umbrellas (looking a bit out of place) giving us portable shade from the blistering sun, and they sat next to us, giving us testimony to the general condition of the human race. Perhaps you've seen them, or are them. You know who you are...

The Angry Sports Parent Criteria
(it could happen to you!)

1. They travel in packs that speak a language revolving almost solely around the logistics of children's sports. Cell phone conversations count here.

2. They cheer *sorry* yell for everything. (Our stereotypical neighbors were actually yelling, coaching-style, for their children to drink while in between quarters.)

3. A referee in favor of the other team on any call is blind, dang near certifiable, or never made it out of the third grade.

4. A referee in favor of their child's team is unnecessary, superfluous. Their child's team is always right, and they don't need an official to tell them so. A subset of Criterion #4 is that their children are always perfect. They could keep for the Tampa Bay Mutiny if they were old enough.

5. They live under several persistent delusions, not the least of which is that their child is going to go pro someday, and only they have the foresight to see it. They must tell everyone. This is a mere step from the guy wearing a "The End is Coming" sign and giving out Pixie Sticks for your salvation.

6. They are too out of shape to actually play the sport themselves (not that soccer/football is a good place to begin if this is you) and seem to be living vicariously through their children, in a sick and twisted sort of VR.

7. You cannot reason with them. Attempting to do so results in violence including but not limited to yelling, cursing, spitting, general tantrums, the throwing-around of weight (literally), suckerpunches, rabbit punches, uppercuts, roundhouses, haymakers, knees to the groin, mauling, stomping, inducing general hysteria, mob violence, the use of firearms, lawsuits, death, dismemberment, scalp-itch, jaundice, and getting your GED.

Let us sum up to say that, if this applies to you at a child's sporting event (it's not just a game), you might need to see a specialist about reattaching your brain stem to your spinal cord. You have lost touch, the foam (or the cell phone frequency) has gone straight to your brain. Please drop what you're doing and seek assistance immediately. Above all, I am not a medical professional, so feel free NOT to share your personal hysteria in this fashion with me and those I love.

Monday, May 14, 2007


In the farcicle world of MySpace, I am increasingly confronted with folks who parade under the moniker of "Christian-Other" as their religion. I'm not sure if this is a default by MySpace, that those who choose to be witnesses (?!) in this way are, ipso facto, lumped into the "Other" category as well. This could be the case. Or they could be choosing it as a reasonable alternative to being associated with those Christians they find to be too closed-minded, or too progressive, or too stiff, or too liberal, or too purple, or what have you. It's been said to me that the Emergent movement is made up, in a basic sense, of Christians who hate church. I don't know that this generalization is entirely true, and furthermore, I don't think that generalizations serve us very well in dealing with problems, but I digress.

Perhaps the Christian-Other is the careless child of folks who consider themselves Christians and yet do not, for whatever reason, like or approve of being part of a local church body or some activity or belief in which that body is engaged. To begin with, this is kind of like the tight end leaving the team because the center sucks. But that is not what most strikes a doleful chord with me. I am most frustrated in finding that many of these people, many of them my friends from days of yore at Carson-Newman and so forth, are so disenchanted or so deceived or so lost that they find debauchery to be acceptable Christian behavior, and they talk about it proudly to their MySpace "friends". I understand that these sins are no worse than my own, the greatest of which are usually pride, cowardice, and disbelief.

However, this seems to be a stubborn, heels-dug-in problem in my generation. I'm sure there are a great many goats and a great many wolves in the fold, and it is difficult to sort out one from another some days. But, as a follower of Jesus, a Christian (yes, those two are actually the same thing!), I feel increasingly frustrated by the believer who has no real purpose, and no real direction. They get lost in the mix, and disenchantment follows disenchantment. I still, however, have great hope in the fact that my Lord is not a cynic. Why don't you do something, you say? Well see, I've thought about that. I'm not quite sure that a 'MySpace Comment' would be the best of venues for confessing our sins one to another, and restoring each other gently. It might do more harm than good if I go about pridefully spouting off the faults of my brothers and sisters over the internet. Besides, more and more the Spirit leads me to pray, and less to speak. Too often I have spoken, as if any words I could muster would be equal or akin to the help I can beg from my God.

I don't suppose this is much of anything, this post. It seems to be more informative of a present and coming crisis than anything. So here I stand, a salesman from a circus kiosk, and I harangue you, dear passer-by, hoping you are my brother and sister, and hoping that you have a care for the Bride.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mindless Maundering

I was having a conversation with a fellow last night, who is living with my friend Ethan Norman. Ethan being the songwriting fellow that he is, his roommate has been continually exposed to the staunch and often seemingly inflammatory opinions about everything in general that artistic people seem to possess. So, after I had earned a few enemies and debunked a good portion of modern art (even in context, thumbing your nose at the mainstream isn't very artistic), he asked me to define art. This is like trying to pick up water between two fingers. Common sense will tell you what is water, what is not, what is wet, and what is dry. But beyond common sense, you have no physical ability to grasp water. I was listening to Alastair Begg on the radio yesterday, and he brought up the interesting bit about today's culture having no common sense. Anyways, there are three portions of an interview with Dick Staub on the Resurgence website. As a believer, they are worth watching. As a person who is thinking, they are worth watching. As a person with no common sense, you might need to get off the internet, and go walk around and get some air.

The Videos

-Interview, Portions 1 & 2

-Interview, Portion 3

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Book of the Law Found

We walked across the parking lot to McKay's followed by the smell of a rain-thankful earth. Casually glancing in the first of the free book bins outside provided little in the way of promise, but the second yielded a sparse crop of treasure. Kat unearthed an old black Bible, leather bound, appearing to have suffered through years of feast, famine, and oily hands. Upon picking up this tattered relic for further inspection, a picture fell out from under the from cover.

A couple, circa 1945, sits on a couch in what is presumably their home. The room is decorated in that stuffy wood-and-gilding style that I remember from my great-grandfather's house. Resting placidly in the background on the sculpted carpet (stiff and yet wonderful on children's bare feet) are two opulently carved mahogany rocking chairs with loose flowered cushions in the seats. Between them, a matching table holds a crystal candy jar up to the sunlight feeling its warm way in from the next room. I can see the corner of an end table cut off by the edge of the photograph. It is done in that refined style that was so pervasive before the laughability of art-deco invaded the furniture industry to satisfy the young housewife. The couch the couple sits on is covered in painstakingly crafted white doily work, gathering the lovely smell of old cologne and starched shirts to plant it forever in the dark velour upholstery.

The man and woman sit there posing. He is a stern fellow with amazing eyes that attain that rare mix of a realistic responsibility and a ready chuckle. His long, indestructible hands sit at rest, one in his lap, and one on the couch arm. He looks in a puzzled and yet calm manner at the camera, here to remember him in his black suit and vest, in his stiff white collar and patterned Windsor-knot tie. His lovely white hair attests to his age - born before 1900, before the horseless carriage became known as an automobile, then a car. Before the world went to war. Before the economists patted themselves on the back one minute and then leapt out of Wall Street windows in the next.

His wife sits next to him, hands neatly folded in her lap, left over right. The look on her face is one of that set of generations that put stock in the appearance, but before the appearance was merely a facade to cover what actually happened. She does not hide. She sits beside her husband, the stern man, wearing the customary pearl necklace and gold band bracelets, the elaborate engagement ring and its partner, the plain and powerful wedding band, on her left hand. Her shin-length silk dress is light and not flashy, and her forearms show lean muscle through the wrinkled softness of the years, a testimony to the belief they share in the virtues of hard work. The light reflects off both their glasses as they watch this moment pass in time, neither waiting nor aggrandizing. Soon, they will arise from the sofa and continue to create marriage inside the old house, both of them like two sides of the same coin, ringing in the air with a shimmering timbre when flipped with the thumb.

There is no date on the picture. No name. There is a place at the top where it was stapled to something, a wall, a bulletin board, some place of rememberance. There is only a small "x" pencilled on the back, the mark of someone with organization in their fingers. I can tilt the photograph slightly up and the light parts of their faces disappear in the glint of silver nitrate. They are nameless, but for the legacy they've left in an old book. There is a bookmark at the beginning of Numbers. There are three tear-shaped pressed rose petals deep in Judges, marking the sad story of the Benjamites and the ill-fated concubine whom they abused to death far into the night. Then, there is the silken marker itself, so customary of Bibles. This one, once navy, now a rich periwinkle, lies in the crook of Proverbs, keeping its point on the creation and the call of Wisdom.

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

Proverbs 9:8-11

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Thanks be to Jesus and God the Father, I have been blessed lately with the opportunity to really prepare some of my songs to share with folks. I'm recording at a place called The Garden with a fellow named Nathan Head. We've got a couple songs set down already and we're working on a third. He's on the ground floor of doing this as a business, so let me know if you, dear reader, are in the market for someone to help you record songs on a friendly-yet-professional level, and I'll pass the word along.

For a small taste of what's going on, go to my MySpace and listen to the "Pilgrims rough mix" track in the player. I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am with how things are going sound-wise. I really think this is going to be good.