HL Mencken on the first great evolution trial…

I’ve spent a LOT of time putting together a series of 13 podcast episodes of HL Mencken’s Baltimore Evening Sun reports on the Scopes trial from Dayton, Tenn. I’m releasing them in somewhat “real time”, according to the dates they were published 85 years ago. I’d like my visitors to this blog to hear them, and if you enjoy it, please pass a link along to others.

First, a list of the episodes and dates they’ll be released, I’ll link them up as they come out:

June 29th – Homo Neanderthalensis
July 9th – Sickening Doubts About Publicity
July 10th – Impossibility of Obtaining Fair Jury
July 11th – Trial as Religious Orgy
July 13th – Souls Need Reconversion Nightly
July 14th – Darrow’s Eloquent Appeal
July 15th – Law and Freedom
July 16th – Fair Trial Beyond Ken
July 17th – Malone the Victor
July 18th – Genesis Triumphant
July 20th – Tennessee in the Frying Pan
July 27th – Bryan
Sept. 14th* – Aftermath
*Will be released by July 30th.

The full text of the report at the end of the blog!

As frequent readers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of Mencken’s writing. He’s got a viewpoint that is hardly expressed anymore – a no-bullshit commentator on the follies of his day. Moreso, much of what he criticised then has only gone downhill, and his mockery and scathing verbiage is a balm for the mind appalled by the utter stupidity of the modern scene. The only man I’ve read that was able to mix his best elements together with style was Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey introduced me to Mencken, as well as any number of authors, philosophers, artists and ideas. LaVey is indeed the proverbial gateway drug. It is the opposite of the religions of “the book”, his was a religion “of the world”. When Adversary Recordings rereleased his “Satan Takes a Holiday” CD, and I was tasked with writing promotional copy, this is the tail end:

“…as with most of the work that Anton LaVey has done, it’s a small door to a sometimes unseemly and Satanic world. Applying the true definition of “occult” to these songs is probably most appropriate, as they are hidden wonders.”

A few of the folks who didn’t get turned onto LaVey get real tripped up on the S-word. I’m not going to go into apologetics here, but I think I will be doing an episode on the topic. Let me assure you that you are nowhere near the first person, if you’re like many, to ask “But why not just call yourself ______?”

***

I’m not a writer. There are a few things that I’ve pecked out on the keyboard that I’m proud of, but I hold no illusion that they could even serve as an introduction to Mencken’s own words. Though mecken has penned a few pithy quotable lines, there has been one that I’ve found most reflects my own lifelong work, and I’ve used it many times. It is, in fact, the very first quote on my quotes page:

“I hope I need not confess that a large part of my stock in trade consists of platitudes rescued from the cobwebbed shelves of yesterday… This borrowing and refurbishing of shop-worn goods, as a matter of fact, is the invariable habit of traders in ideas, at all times and everywhere. It is not, however, that all the conceivable human notions have been thought out; it is simply, to be quite honest, that the sort of men who volunteer to think out new ones seldom, if ever, have wind enough for a full day’s work.”

-H.L. Menken, from “In Defense of Women”

***

July 6th was my 35th birthday and the 2nd anniversary of Underworld Amusements (I made a public announcement in October of ’08, but July was the time I started working on it seriously… well, as seriously as I’ve had spare time for). I’ve done quite a bit in the last two years under the banner of UA, but I’m reevaluating it as one should do everything. The podcast started in

The past month and a half I’ve been running ads on Facebook. It’s as cheap or expensive as you want to make it, so I made it cheap and tried to target the people I think would be most interested. It’s brought traffic to the site, but the idea of paying .15 to .50 cents for someone to merely visit the site is hard for me to do. UA is a no-budget operation, more or less. The meager profits from books just go to spending money on website hosting and whatever expenses come along.

This isn’t a wind-up to hitting you up for donations, though it probably sounds like it. No, this is a wind-up to ask anyone who has enjoyed a podcast or book released under the Underworld Amusements banner to occasionally, or at least once, post a link on facebook, write a review on itunes, or do some simple free task to promote what I’m doing. After 14 podcasts, including a number of interviews (from Oscar winner HR Giger, to one-time “worlds worst person” John Derbyshire, to Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, among others), I’ve received exactly one review on iTunes, and that I hounded a friend for.

A few folks have been very supportive, and I’ve done my best to reciprocate. That’s how I roll. I’ve done my best to avoid SPAMMY behavior. I haven’t trolled social network sites begging for folks to “friend” me. I rarely do it on my personal profile and just as rarely do it on my “business” pages. I promote other projects and publishers directly on the UA site and moreso on my personal site. This respectable method isn’t working. Paying for clicks is, but it’s also spending the little money I make that could be spent on new projects or making ongoing projects better.

***

I’ve tried thinking of ways to organize some sort of project that would assist others who are working on projects or have blogs or books to promote to do so easily. Something either a little more targeted than “facebook”, but not a whole separate system that competes with the established sites. I don’t want to build a social network for misfits, but I would like something like an Instapundit for misanthropes. Something that’s compelling enough to bring returning visitors, but not so involved that people have to set up identities, and something that can push that same info out to folks.

I’m not sure what form it’ll take, but it has a name and a url, though I’m not letting that on right now, as it could radically change or not happen. It’d be like telling you my sons name while still a virgin (well, technically, after I had the first two kids aborted, and was planing on making another kid).

Listen to me!

Or don’t. I’ve put a new episode of the Variety Hour up. Later than expected and I’m less than satisfied as usual. I explain in the intro that my plans tend to be too big, or complicated, or rely on me writing something really clever (hah)… and things don’t fall into place, the show gets pushed back and then finally I just do some recording one night to wrap it up and send it out. There are some glitches in the recording, where the audio skips and I didn’t catch it and record back over it. I’m trying to listen to the episode now, but I’m just tired of hearing myself talk for the time being.

If I’m putting them out once a month, I want to do something a little more polished and/or complex than what I’ve done. I had my first caller in the show and I was going to do some commentary and that involved a quick interview with someone else. I never got that done, so I ended up having to take the caller out of the show. I think it would have pushed the whole thing well past the hour mark anyway.

I’ve recorded a couple of Ingersoll speeches for an Infidels.org / AAI project where they’re taking works on freethought/atheism and making audiobook versions available for free. The one in the podcast is “Should Infidels Send Their Children to Sunday School?” and it was written in the latter half of the 1800’s. I’ve attached another short one to this post, titled “How to Edit a Liberal Paper“, you know I had to jump on that one – it only runs about 5 minutes.

I’ve recorded a third, but haven’t edited it yet. The recording unedited is over an hour… I was tired of talking by the end of it, and it’s just really long. I’ll post it when I’ve edited it.

YouTube :: Stephen Kasner on Objective Measures of Art

The most recent of the YouTube series…

In case the above video doesn’t show up in whatever feed your reading this on, here is a direct link to the video.

Stephen Kasner talks about art and objective measures of talent with host Kevin I. Slaughter. Interviewed by phone shortly before the opening of the Germophilia gallery show, curated by the host and residing in the Jennifer Bates Memorial Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Stephen was one of the nine artists featured in the show. Germophilia was open from 8-7-09 until 9-20-09.
Kasner studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art, earning a BFA in 1993 with a major in Illustration, and double minors in Drawing and Photography. His interest in marrying art to music blossomed very early on, and has continually surfaced throughout his career. He has contributed visuals to many eclectic musicians and albums, including Martin Grech, SUNN 0))), darsombra, Khlyst, Integrity, Lotus Eaters, Justin Broadrick/Final, Skullflower, Runhild Gammelsæter, and many others. Kasner pursues his own personal exploration and experimentation in music under the moniker, Blood Fountains, and is currently collaborating with Dwid Hellion and Jacob Bannon as a trio, Irons.
Stephen Kasners work has been exhibited worldwide, with exhibitions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Berlin, and throughout Australia. His work has been featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post, SECONDS Magazine, Parable Visions, NY Arts, Descent, and most recently, Coilhouse.
His first solo exhibition in New York City was held at Last Rites Gallery in February 2009.
This is an excerpt from the Underworld Amusements Variety Hour podcast.