Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

What It’s Like to Be A Christian Artist

I told myself I’d write about Waste Land, the incredible documentary my partner and I saw last night. However, I’ll hold off on that blog post, as it needs more reflection than I’m capable of now.

What does interest me is the band Danielson. Mostly because I just read Rick Moody’s thoughtful tribute/wrangling/personal symbiosis with the Christian band.

Here’s a sampling of the group’s eerie, completely entrancing music:

Here’s how Rick describes an extended “truly magnificent instrumental coda” from a song by Danielson called, (dubiously, at first glance), “Can We Camp at Your Feet”:

there is a beautiful overdubbed exhalation, by the vocal chorus, and this exhalation, the breath of God, I guess, recurs through the chord progression…and the song threatens to end three times, always with these exhalations, the breath of God, the thing worshipped brought near, away from the history of a religion, away from the religious controversies of the moment, away from the history of a religion, away from the religious controversies of the moment…

Now I’m not a faithful man. But I do view those with true faith with a kind of awe. Awe at their faith, but also in their security with doubt.

Daniel Danielson, lead singer and songwriter, performing in a tree costume.

Seems like Rick and the Danielson band live with both. It’s also clear that Rick’s affinity for the Danielson Famile (the band consists not only of songwriter and leader Daniel Danielson, but also siblings Rachel, Megan, David and Andrew on everything from vocals and percussion to flute, organ, and drums) lies not only in the hypnotic, Yo La Tengo-esque soundscape, but in the group’s unwavering devotion to a generous God, a difficult, larger-than-body spirituality. Rick was one of my mentors in grad school, and in this essay he again reminded me of his mastery, subtly structuring/moving the essay from a straightforward magazine feature to something that works as a subtle meditation on his own faith.

And the Danielson music he’s writing about is damn good.

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Filed under: literature, music, religion, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dan Savage to CNN: Stop the Hate

“We need a cultural reckoning.”

This is Dan Savage’s response to a CNN reporter’s question of how mainstream society can increase acceptance for gays and lesbians. Savage goes on to make his point even more unequivocally: Stop providing hate groups like the Family Research Council to spew hate under the guise of impartial journalism. Said Savage:

“There are no ‘two sides’ to the issue of LGBT rights. Right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on CNN.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently added 13 virulently anti-gay organizations to its list of “hate groups”–a designation based on each group’s propagation of lies against the minorities it wishes to demonize.

Savage lambasts CNN for its seemingly innocuous journalism. Why shouldn’t the cable network question the anti-gay–now officially categorized as hate-mongering–“experts” that it regularly provides a megaphone for?

Filed under: hate, media, , , , , , , , , ,

The Boys of Glee

Happy Thanksgiving Eve (or, as I sometimes say if I’m in a particularly sour mood, Happy National Day of Mourning). For the break, I’ve been indulging in TV, and it’s been heartening to watch glee of late; they’ve toned down the celebrity tributes to Britney Spears and Rocky Horror (though I did love reminiscing about midnight showings of Rocky at the Omaha shopping mall).

This week’s story of Kurt’s anti-gay bullying–and his support network of family and Glee Club members–was timely and entertaining. Where it could have taken a wrong turn into after-school special zone, glee creator Ryan Murphy managed to bring to the fictional story a sense of community responsibility. Hell, even Sue Sylvester stuck up for the bullied teen.

Seems like Season Two is turning out to be focused on Kurt. Next week, after his transfer to the private boys’ school Dalton Academy, he participates in a version of “Hey Soul Sister” with his gay mentor, played by Darren Criss. Looking forward to it. My dirty little secret: I’ll probably always be a sucker for everything musical theater.

Filed under: entertainment, music, television, , , , , , , , ,

Oprah’s Audience Loses It (Again)

I don’t know how to rectify my antipathy towards Oprah with my adoration for the woman. Her pseudo-spiritual, self-help, consumer-is-king unapologetic-ness wears on me. But she has done amazing things for the publishing industry, so she ain’t all bad.

Yesterday her favorite things schtick reached an apex. I can’t help but crack up at her audience’s reaction to the announcement that they would receive the biggest and best of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

Reminds me of Sarah Palin and Tina Fey’s impression of Palin; in my mind, I can’t separate Oprah’s real audience crying, hugging, and pentecostal zeal from the Saturday Night Live skit in which her audience member’s head explodes from excitement.

Filed under: comedy, consumerism, pop culture, television, , , , , , , , ,

Carrey to Letterman: “It is Ok to Be Gay”

Jim Carrey won’t play into homophobia.

On the Late Show last Friday, Letterman asked Carrey about playing gay. Carrey is unwilling to crack jokes at the expense of gay folks, however.

Asked Dave: “And, in terms of a leading man, a heterosexual playing a homosexual, do homosexuals say ‘well, that shouldn’t have been a homosexual’ or do you worry about your image as a heterosexual leading man playing a homosexual?”

Replied Carrey: “Boy, we haven’t grown at all, have we? We haven’t grown at all…. We’re still children in the schoolyard. Honestly. No offense Dave, for god’s sakes, have you ever seen a gay man? Are there gay people in Indiana? Is it ok to be gay there, is what I’m asking. There’s not a policy against gay people there or here?”

It’s heartening to see a major Hollywood actor acting as an ally and standing up for mainstream acceptance of gays and lesbians. All before breaking into a rendition of A-ha’s classic, “Take on Me.”

Filed under: film, gay rights, homophobia, television, , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
November 2010
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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