Journal of a Journalist

Links, Articles & Self-Promotion

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Over fifty years ago, a group of pranksters founded a satiric religion devoted to creating conspiracy theories so insane that nobody would ever believe in conspiracies again. They called themselves the Discordians. And their weird ideas are still influencing us today.

Welch’s reaction when he received a letter on Bavarian Illuminati stationery in 1970. Welch was the founder of the John Birch Society, a conservative group with a paranoid bent, mostly focused on communist conspiracies but also willing to expand its gallery of villains to include other secret cabals. The Illuminati are an 18th-century secret society whose alleged efforts to control the world were regularly decried by groups like, well, the John Birch Society.

Welch may have been a nut but he wasn’t a fool, and he was probably pretty sure someone was pulling his leg by the time he saw that the note had been written by “Ho Chi Zen, Cong King of Gorilla Warfare.” But I like to imagine that curiosity compelled him to read on.

The Greatest Fake Religion of All Time

Filed under religion history

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Before the civil war in Syria destroyed ancient religious sites — and scattered some of the oldest Christian communities in the world — Jason Hamacher made several trips there, taking photos and recording ancient Sufi and Christian chants. The project got its start when Hamacher read in a book about “the world’s oldest Christian music.” He tracked down From the Holy Mountain author William Dalrymple, who told him there were no recordings of the music — and that “it’s not a monastery in the desert; it is a Syrian Orthodox church in the middle of the city of Aleppo.” Hamacher ended up staying at that church as a guest of the archbishop, who has since been kidnapped by rebels. As Hamacher tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, he is planning a series of albums called Sacred Voices of Syria. The first, which was released this summer on his own Lost Origin Productions, is called Nawa: Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs From Aleppo. Hamacher isn’t coming at this from the perspective of a musicologist, or as a member of a religious community. He’s a drummer who’s played in several punk bands in the Washington, D.C., area
Before War, A Punk Drummer Preserved Syrian Chants : NPR

Filed under music syria

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Everything I want in life is a charcuterie plate with whiskey pairings. #food (at Root 246)

Everything I want in life is a charcuterie plate with whiskey pairings. #food (at Root 246)

Filed under food

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Falling people public art in LA subway station. (at Civic Center (Los Angeles Metro station))

Falling people public art in LA subway station. (at Civic Center (Los Angeles Metro station))

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Buzz Aldrin's New Mission: Life On Mars

I just interviewed Buzz Aldrin for work. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan was standing a few feet away, and we were at a landmark Beverly Hills house best known for standing in as Jackie Treehorn’s pad in The Big Lebowski. Aldrin is in his eighties and more spry and active than most people half his age. And the interview turned out great.

Filed under science

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Jimmy Carr is by no means the first person to run into trouble putting on a gig in Dubai. In the 90s there were attempts to stage a Cure concert in the Emirate. All was going well - tickets selling briskly, venue booked - until the Ministry of Culture asked to hear some of the band’s songs.

'Killing an Arab' was the first song on the CD unthinkingly sent from London by the record label. The concert was cancelled.

FYI: Russell Brand intended to kick off his Messiah Complex world tour in Abu Dhabi last year. As soon as the authorities got wind of what he would be discussing, plug pulled.

Popbitch explains the difficulties of setting up concerts in Dubai.

Filed under music