In the second installment, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to chronicle the life, legend and legacy of Robert Johnson, Bluesman extraordinaire. When Johnson returns to Robinsville , Mississippi – he blows the minds of his mentors (Son House & Willie Brown) who are convinced that Johnson has struck a Faustian bargain and sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for supernatural ability. Plagued with restlessness and wanderlust – Johnson and his Blues Brothers (like Johnny Shines) ride the freight trains, thumb rides on the back of pick up trucks and walk their way through the rural deep South. In Texas, Johnson gets the opportunity to make his monumental recordings on portable equipment , inside a San Antonio hotel room and Dallas warehouse. Then heads up North to St. Louis , Detroit, Chicago and New York. One Blues paradise after another , where he gets a chance to meet other great musicians , some of which Johnson has idolized since childhood. Despite enjoying urban culture , Johnson for some unknown and perplexing reason decides to return to the rural, segregated deep South. A fateful decision that sets his final days and the mystery of his tragic death into motion.
In the companion to GRR’s now classic program on the Faustian legend and the ongoing series of shows on the Blues, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the life, legend and legacy of Robert Johnson. A musician who has an extensive Mythology surrounding him. His most persistent themes were Religious and spiritual despair and he painted his musical imagery with scenes of constant traveling, degradation, and unbridled sexuality. The bluesman as Byronic poet whose life and art are inseparable, and whose art , mind and soul blaze with a divine and / or demonic intensity. In part 1 , Jack chronicles Johnson’s early life , born into utter poverty in the deep rural South – young Robert has a harsh and unhappy childhood. The only thing that soothes his troubled soul is the Blues, so he saves up his nickles , dimes and pennies and learns harmonica and guitar from listening to 78 RPM recordings. By the time he is sixteen, Johnson is playing in juke joints late night houses of Blues worship – overflowing with colorful characters , music, booze , drugs , sex , violence and sometimes murder. In part 1 – Jack also examines the many variations of the Crossroads Myth. A Mississippi Delta version of the ancient Faustian legend. someone who gains supernatural knowledge and ability by selling their soul to the Devil. a darkly romantic vision also claimed by other first generation Country Bluesmen.
In the fourth installment of GRR’s Brooklyn Quartet – Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia tells the little known tale of Lady Moody , a much neglected personality from the 17th Century , who played an unsung role in the beginnings of Brooklyn and the historical drama that is America. Born into a rebellious upper crust English family – who championed Civil Liberties and Religious Freedom. Lady Deborah, upon the death of her stuffy and much older husband (a Baron , no less) runs into trouble with the Infamous Star Chamber Court and escaping exile and execution decides to sail across the Atlantic. Upon arrival she joins the Church of Salem, Mass – and is soon arrested and thrown into the slammer on charges of Blasphemy and Heresy. Excommunicated , publicly flogged and pilloried – Lady M and her small group of disciples decide to take a gamble on the more tolerant Dutch, and the settlement of New Amsterdam. seeking their own New Eden, Lady M and her acolytes are given the opportunity to start their own Township . They decide on the gently flowing Hills of Gravesend, Brooklyn (what are now the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay).
In another entry in GRR’s series of programs on the City of New York , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia takes an imaginary walking tour of Greenwood Cemetery. A historical landmark that is filled with trees , flowers, birds , sacred silence , amazing stone carvings , landscaping and architecture. With the arrival of the industrial revolution New York expands at a rapid rate, the population explodes , diseases run amok and the bodies start to pile up – turning Manhattan into a charnel house. Untouched by New Yorks real estate boom, the green hills of Brooklyn provide the answer and with the arrival of Fort Hamilton in 1831 and lots of government contracts, Brooklyn’s scattered farms and villages consolidate into a city of its own. A city with lots of sprawling space for the new and radical concept of a public , garden type Rural Cemetery. Jack chronicles the real story behind the construction and evolution of The Queen of American cemeteries. A place that is not only the abode of the dead but a cultural institution for the living. A type of open air 19th Century musuem where people can walabout, contemplate and meditate.
At a time when educators and librarians are being harrassed, books are being banned from the shelves if not burned to a crisp in bonfires and literature itself seems to be under attack . Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia plays storyteller and recites the ancient cosmic legend from land of the Nile, The Book of Thoth. In the sacred story , Setna a son of Ramses The Great is a gifted scribe, healer and magician . One fateful day while rummaging through some old and dusty scrolls he comes upon the tale of another son of a great Pharoah who lived hundreds of years earlier and was also a scribe, healer and magician – the greatest Egypt had ever known. For this long dead magus had gained posession of the sacred Book of Thoth and learned all its spells, hymns and incantations. He became one with the sun, moon and stars and got to see the faces of the Gods. Now Setna is on an obsessive and dangerous quest to locate the sacred Book of Thoth , learn all its divine wisdom and become one with the universe and the Lord of Heaven and Earth. But first he must overcome cosmic and deadly obstacles like Kas or spiritual dopplegangers and a beautiful but malevolent priestess / sorceress who not only desires his body but also craves his immortal soul.
Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the ancient and persistent legend of the cosmic warrior , healer and magician whose sacred writings The Book of Thoth and The Emerald Tablet, speak of a universal truth and may offer us a pathway for the expansion of spiritual consciousness and the regeneration of humanity. First up, ts Thoth – the Man God from the land of the Nile and the Lord of writing , healing and magic. He played a major role in Egyptian Astral Spirituality and religious texts , spells and incantations. Then its – The Mischevious Hermes – the Greco/Roman messenger of the Gods and also a great healer and clever Magus of wisdom and spiritual illumination. with so many parallels and similarities between the two Gods – they soon become fused into one Deity and the legend of the Cosmic writer becomes humanized in the sacred story of Hermes Trismigustus – the philosopher / king who is credited with being the founder of Hermetic Philosophy.
Having consolidated his political power , John Y McKane The Grand Poobah of Gravesend ( now the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay) makes himself the chief of police and grifters, theives, pickpockets, bouncers , bank robbers and cut throats – file through his office becoming his special officersand tough devotees. Chief McKane builds his own sinister looking , fortress like police station / court house on West Eighth Street (the future home of the 60th Precinct) and rules the township with an iron fist. A sadistic and violent man among his favorite past times are evicting widows and orphans into the street and whipping suspects derrieres into a bloody pulp. The business men of Gravesend are thriving and making lots of money and look the other way as bribery, blackmail, extortion and real estate fraud becomes a way of life – something that sadly still goes on to this very day.
A lifelong Southern Brooklynite, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the darker side of Coney Island and the police shenanigans that have been a tradition in the neighborhood for over 150 years. First up, its a brief history of the police in the city of New York- from the arrival of the Dutch in the 17th century to the establishment of a modern constabulary. The remarkable lawlessness and corruption of the Tammany Hall / Boss Tweed era spills over in the township of Gravesend (Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay) when the Grand Poobah of the town John Y McKane starts his own police force – a private thugs army of 100 coppers recruited from the worst rat holes in the city. Then its the neighborhood of West Brighton, the home of the amusement district during The Gilded Age and the birthplace of Vaudeville and Burlesque. The dividing line was Ocean Parkway and the corrupt Coney cops kept away – immigrants, socialists, bohemians and the working poor from the Elite East side.
Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia (who grew up in Brighton Beach) examines the Jewish Festival of Freedom , Pesach or Passover. First up its the Jews in Egypt and The Book of Exodus – essentially the national epic of ancient Israel from both a spiritual and historical perspective. Then its the how and why two separate Jewish springtime festivals (unleavened bread and the Paschal Lamb ) were fused together into one mega-celebration. Next up , King Josiah (640-609 BC) and his progressive social and religious reforms plus the Roman Flavian Dynasty (69-96 AD) whose persecution of the Jews and destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem is a further step in the evolution of the modern day Passover celebration. Then its Haggadah – the sacred Passover text and a living historical book that is filled with legends , miracles , prayers , songs , stories and parables. And last but not least its The Seder Meal itself – a culinary celebration that unites the entire family with a festive spirit , ancient traditions and religious observance.
In the conclusion to GRR’s highly acclaimed groundbreaking mini series, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia chronicles the works of writers and dreamers from the 1980’s into the 1990’s. First up, its Pat Cadigan – whose dark and comprehensive Cyberpunk visions feature a dystopian world dominated by Mega corporations and the intricacies of the human computer interface. Then its , C.J. Cherryh – whose vast, extensive and complex science fiction mythos is not always easy to follow but well worth the effort. Up next, Joan D Vinge, whose sci fi work is grounded in fairy tales and fables. Followed by Nancy Kress – who has a gift for assimilating complex subjects and topics into her fascinating prose. Next up, Connie Willis – whose time traveling tales showcase a sense of style , an eye for detail and a gift for empathy. And last but not least its Lois McMaster Bujold- who takes joy in telling her stories and conveys that delight to the reader.