Monday, July 9, 2018

‘Alleyne apron presentation’

Save the date: Saturday, September 22, at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, for the Mid-Hudson District Grand Lodge Officers Apron Presentation. Bro. Oscar Alleyne, the Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden, with five other Grand Staff Officers, will receive their purple and gold.

Beyond the installation of officers, New York Freemasonry offers a terrific tradition of formally presenting the grand rank aprons in local settings. Details about this event are still to come, and I’ll share them here when they’re available.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

‘Summer Stories series starts next week’

The School of Practical Philosophy’s “Summer Stories” series is near. If you’ve never attended a lecture or taken a course at the school, this opportunity offers a great way to get acquainted with the quality of instruction and socialization at the townhouse.

We won’t know what the stories will be until we get there, but the schedule is:

Wednesdays July 11 and 18
Tuesdays August 21 and 28

Seven o’clock starts. Only $20 per person, which includes wine and light refreshments. Click here for tickets. The school is located at 12 East 79th Street, just outside Central Park.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

‘Masonry in the Age of Enlightenment’

If you were afraid of having nothing to do in the summertime, don’t worry, and get thee to Masonic Hall. On Saturday, July 14, a day of—well—enlightening lectures will be presented by four of the best speakers one could hope for. From the publicity:

Legends of the Craft
Masonry in the Age
of Enlightenment
Saturday, July 14
11:30 to 4:30
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan
FREE admission—Tickets here

“Since 1717, there have been over 1000 ‘Masonic’ degrees created. The most popular survived and are included in many of the rites, orders, and systems we know today. Like a meal, each degree is only as good as its creator. The recipe may include many of the same ingredients as other meals, yet taste completely different. By analogy, we may see many of the same ‘ingredients’ (features like the use of the term Scottish) in a number of degrees which teach completely different things. The predilections of a degree’s author affect the content as much as the taste buds of a chef. The ‘flavor’ of the foundational Craft degrees in various rites, orders, and systems (Webb working, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Swedish Rite, RER, etc.), differs immensely, and in the ‘Higher Degrees,’ the differences are even more dramatic and pronounced. Some are philosophical, others practical; some present allegory, and others offer discourses on symbolism or (quasi-) historical themes.”

Arturo de Hoyos
“Esotericism is a Matter of Degrees”

The Legends of the Craft Symposium “Masonry During the Age of Enlightenment” is a one-day educational experience for Master Masons interested in the development of many of our rituals. The focus this year is on degree systems and rituals developed during the 18th century in Europe. We’re filling the room with Brothers, Companions, Sir Knights, and Sublime Princes from around the nation. The Symposium is free and features a 30-minute talk followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. After, there will be an amazing Festive Board (only $55 per person).

The goal is to get the smartest minds in Freemasonry in one room, and then learn a whole lot from each other.

The hosts are Shakespeare Lodge 750, Continental Lodge 287, and

The Lectures

The Legend of Comte de St Laurent
and his role in Scottish Rite Freemasonry
By E. Oscar Alleyne

In 1832 there arrived in the City of New York the Count de St. Laurent. He was a member of the Supreme Council of France and Grand Commander (Ad Vitam) of the Supreme Council 33º for Terra Firma, New Spain, South America, Puerto Rico, Canary Islands, etc. He found the old council sleeping in consequence of political and anti-Masonic troubles existing at that time. This lecture discusses his role in resuscitating that council, and many of the mysteries connected to him as he introduced Scottish Rite to African-American Masons.

Early Scots Masonry, the Royal Arch,
and the Scottish Rite
By Arturo de Hoyos

In the early 1730s in England there were “Scotch Masons” or “Scots Master Masons,” a step after the Master Mason Degree (and apparently unrelated to Scotland). By 1742 in Berlin there was talk of “higher or so-called Scottish Masonry.” In 1743 the Grand Lodge of France adopted a regulation limiting the privileges of “Scots Masters” in lodges. It’s clear from these few mentions that something was going on behind the scenes with “Scottish Masonry,” but we’re not quite sure what. These developments were happening at the same time the Royal Arch was gestating before its birth. It’s even possible the Royal Arch and Scottish Masonry came from the same sources. We just don’t know, until now.

“Early Scots Masonry, the Royal Arch, and the Scottish Rite” explores the early migration of Scots Master from Britain to Europe, its association with Royal Arch Masonry, and how it became the foundation for the Scottish Rite degrees.

The Magician, the Mystic,
and the Mason:
The Unlikely Origin of the Rectified Rite
By Piers A. Vaughan

Pasqually, Saint-Martin, and Willermoz are names which are revered in continental European Freemasonry, yet are scarcely known in England or the United States. Nevertheless, their influence has spread far beyond the borders of France, and what they established has affected Freemasonry—and other Orders—ever since.

In this talk, you will learn how an almost chance encounter between these three men in the latter part of the 18th century led to the creation of one of the most astonishing orders in Freemasonry, one which still exists and which is considered one of the highest honors to be invited to join. Yet few of its members really understand the gnostic, theurgic, and symbolic underpinnings of an order which, had the French Revolution not taken place, was set to become the standard work across Europe for the following centuries. Had this order become the basis of Freemasonry, there would have been no doubt that the fraternity would have indeed been based upon deeply spiritual and magical practices, and would indeed have been full of “secrets!”

Stephen Morin
and the Baylot Manuscript:
The Origins of the Order
of the Royal Secret
By Josef Wäges

One of the most elusive questions of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite concerns its origins. Where exactly did it come from, and from what source do its rituals emanate?

Many scholars have rightfully determined that Étienne Morin, also known as Stephen Morin, is the founder of this system, but it is even less certain precisely from whence his authority came, let alone who Étienne Morin was. The truth is that we only have a partial picture of who he was and the circumstances concerning his authority to establish the rite. Nevertheless, when one assembles all of the evidence and gathers still more, there is still enough light left in the fragments to project a more complete vision of the truth.

A close examination of the Baylot Manuscript, in comparison to the Francken Manuscripts in particular, is necessary because it reveals that this manuscript forms the nucleus of what became the Order of the Royal Secret, and later the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

‘Masonic researchers festive board’

I screwed up by not posting this a month ago, when I should have, but fortunately the secretary says there still are seats available—including for non-members—even though the RSVP deadline passed, so check it out.

Maryland Masonic Research Society
15th Festive Board
Monday, August 6
Social hour at 6:30
Dinner at seven o’clock
$50 per person

S. Brent Morris will present
“The Evolution of the Mason Word”

10150 Shaker Drive
Columbia, Maryland

Freemasons are notorious for their “secrets”—real or imagined, benign or sinister. The year 1637 saw the first known mention of the “Mason Word,” the Freemasons’ method of identifying (and commanding?) each other. This paper looks at the known references to the Mason Word during the eighteenth century and follows the evolution of public understanding of this central piece of Masons’ identity.

Bro. Morris, 33º is a Past President of the Maryland Masonic Research Society, and a Past Master of both Patmos Lodge 70 in Ellicott City, and of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in London. He is the managing editor of The Scottish Rite Journal, is Grand Abbot of the Society of Blue Friars, and is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on Freemasonry. He is a mathematician by training and a magician by inclination.

RSVP here.

Monday, June 25, 2018

‘New Masons Reception: A worthwhile exercise’

A blog post today by the secretary of Covenant Lodge 4344 under the United Grand Lodge of England offers a great idea others might want to adopt:

New Masons Reception

A little more than a month ago, I responded positively to an invitation to arrange for any new members of the Covenant Lodge to attend a welcome presentation at our headquarters in Great Queen Street, London.

For anyone who has not previously visited the building, I heartily recommend it. It is open to the public most days of the week. That said, I booked two tickets that covered the cost of wine and canapés, after speeches and presentations.

What a surprise and delight it all turned out to be! I speak as a long-in-the-tooth Freemason of many years standing. We were treated to a very good “no holds barred” speech by one of our Assistant Metropolitan Grand Masters, followed by a most erudite, amusing, and informative mini-lecture on the topic of the history of Freemasonry.

We broke off from that and adjourned to a warm reception of wine, food, and chat in an area packed with new Freemasons, their friends and partners. I was most impressed with the energy, enthusiasm, and general level of intellect of all the newcomers to Freemasonry I encountered that evening.

The new member of Covenant Lodge and I then adjourned to a nearby pub for further chats, and then home.

What a worthwhile exercise.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

‘Thursday: Mystical Symbolism and Music’

The Fourth Manhattan District of the Grand Lodge of New York (my home district!) is the sponsor of the next lecture at the Livingston Library on Thursday. Free and open to the public. Photo ID is required to enter the building. From the publicity:

Lecture No. 6:
“Mystical Symbolism and Music”
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library
Thursday, June 28 at 6:30
Masonic Hall
71 W. 23rd Street, Manhattan

Sponsored by the Square Club of the Fourth Manhattan District, Thursday, June 28, the Livingston Masonic Library will host Bro. Tony Crisos and Bro. Angel Millar, who will present a lecture and concert titled “Mystical Symbolism and Music: a Salon de la Rose Croix Lecture and Concert.”

The short introductory talk will be on the Salon de la Rose Croix and on the relationship between music and spirituality. A musical performance will follow the lecture with four original compositions utilizing the Hermetic Laws as they appear in the Kybalion and as inspired by the Orphic, Hermetic, and Rosicrucian traditions. The evening is fashioned aesthetically after the famous Salon de la Rose+Croix movement which took place in Paris, France, between 1892 and 1897.

Courtesy Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library
Angel Millar and Tony Crisos.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

‘How can YOU be free?’

This class is selling out very quickly. If you are interested, act now.

The School of Practical Philosophy will remain pretty busy during the summer recess with a variety of special events. Such as:

A Lecture with Mr. Russell Bosworth
Monday, July 16 at 7 p.m.
12 East 79th St., Manhattan
Tickets, at $25, here

The Truth Will Set You Free

Who are You?
What is Truth?
What is Freedom?
How Can You Be Free?

Throughout the ages, philosophers of East and West have responded to these questions through thoughtful analyses and inspiring stories and myths. Join us for an entertaining evening exploring the profound wisdom these sages present, and discover time-tested practices that can set us free today—free from anxiety, free from fear, free to realize our true potential, free to be happy, free to be oneself.

Tickets, at $25, which includes light refreshments, are available here.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

‘Square Club launches book club’

I floated the idea of starting a book club in my lodge a number of months ago, but it didn’t catch on, so I’m very happy to see the Square Club of the Fourth Manhattan District is launching a book club for all our lodges.

The first meeting will be Wednesday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 1615 at Masonic Hall. The chosen reading is A Pilgrim’s Path by John J. Robinson.

I read this one during my early years as a Freemason, and I’ll need to revisit it to refresh my memory. Robinson also is the author of Born in Blood, the maddeningly fanciful theory of medieval Templar origins of Freemasonry. Robinson was not a Freemason when he wrote that one but, if memory serves, he had become a Mason by the time he’d written A Pilgrim’s Path.

Book clubs provide possibly the best way for Freemasons to learn together. It’s not about ritual performance, etiquette, or anything formalized, so there’s no pressure. Just read the book, and come discuss. RSVP here.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

‘Sankey in September’

The 2018 Dr. Charles A. Sankey Lecture has been rescheduled for Sunday, September 9.

Hosted by the History Department of Brock University in Ontario, in cooperation with the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, the annual affair will host William D. Moore, who will present “Catechism, Spectacle, Burlesque: American Fraternal Ritual Performance, 1733-1933.”

Moore is director of the American and New England Studies Program, and is associate professor of American Material Culture of the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University.

The event will take place in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre at Brock University. All are welcome, and tickets are available here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

‘French Rite EA° on Tuesday’

Have you seen Garibaldi Lodge’s Italian-language Entered Apprentice Degree? You will have a chance to see the same ritual in its original French on Tuesday, when l’Union Française Lodge 17 will initiate four candidates at Masonic Hall. From the publicity, courtesy Bro. Francis:

The oldest lodge of the 10th Manhattan District, l’Union Française 17, will initiate candidates Tuesday, June 19, in the French Doric Room on the 10th Floor of Masonic Hall, located at 71 West 23rd Street. We open at 6 p.m., and the degree should start around 6:45. No one can be admitted after the degree has begun. Please have your current dues card ready for the Tiler.

Our First Degree does include the rites of purification of Rosicrucian origin, not seen in the traditional American degrees, which we have kept alive since 1797. This degree will be conducted in French by our Worshipful Master with the able assistance of our Senior Deacon and his College of Officers in the intimate setting of our regular lodge room, which gives every visitor the instant feeling of being actively part of the proceedings.

There will be a post-meeting dinner in the restaurant Saju (120 West 44th Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, near Times Square) at the cost of $50 (cash) per person, including wine, tax, and tips. You can make your necessary reservations with our Secretary here.

I hope that the length of your cable tow will permit you, and all other interested Brothers who may want to come with you, to join us for this ancient esoteric ceremony, and to help us welcome these four candidates into our Royal Craft.

RW Francis Dumaurier, 33°, MSA, KYCH
Grand Representative of France

Sunday, June 3, 2018

‘Vernacular Universalism: Freemasonry in Haiti and Beyond’

Previous Magpie posts on Haiti have been getting a lot of traffic the past few weeks, so I went looking for reasons why—and found this:

The Abrazo Interno Gallery of The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center in Manhattan is the place to see the exhibit “Vernacular Universalism: Freemasonry in Haiti and Beyond” through June 23. There will be a panel discussion on Friday, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. From the publicity:

Courtesy The Clemente

In Haiti, during the colonial era, the Freemasons were one of the few European institutions that allowed black membership. Freemasonry still thrives in contemporary Haiti, and its visual world pervades the Haitian imaginary. The symbols that recur throughout this exhibition once tethered a web of ideas that stretched across the Atlantic, encrypting the most precious values of the Enlightenment.

Courtesy The Clemente

This exhibition aims to visualize the mesh of magic and reason; alchemy and science; trade and metaphysical exchange that has stretched into the 21st century. By focusing on Haiti, this exhibition sheds light on the relationship between colonized peoples and the Enlightenment. It suggests that for some, Freemasonry offered a path to becoming an agent of modernity, rather than its reviled “other.” This exhibition will be a timely and significant contribution to an understanding of Freemasonry through the lens of the Black Atlantic.

Courtesy The Clemente
This exhibition is compiled by Leah Gordon and transgresses the borders between fiction and non-fiction; reality and imagination and will feature original and commissioned works by Haitian, American, and European artists Yves Delva, Ernest Dominique, Marg Duston, Andre Eugene, Leah Gordon, Lazaros, Michel Lafleur, and Molej Zamour. The pairing of document and artifact mirrors the binaries between Magic and Modernity inherent in Haitian Freemasonry.

(The title is from a conversation about Haitian Freemasonry between Sibylle Fischer and Katherine Smith, and I thank them for their generosity in granting me permission to temporarily adopt it.)

The Clemente is located at 107 Suffolk Street, between Delancey and Rivington streets.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

‘NJ LORE to meet next Saturday’

New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786 will host its quarterly communication next Saturday with an interesting full agenda.

Worshipful Master Bob has been undertaking a review of the Masonic life of James Anderson, the Presbyterian minister who authored Freemasonry’s first Book of Constitutions, and will report his findings.

Senior Warden Michael will present his analysis of the Scriptural passages employed in the three Craft degrees. In New Jersey, they are Psalm 133, Amos 7, and Ecclesiastes 12. Other jurisdictions use different verses, so I’m curious to see if this talk will cover those also.

Bro. Don will review Margaret Jacobs’ book The Origins of Freemasonry, Facts and Fictions.

Enlightening discussions always ensue, and are worth the price of admission themselves.

Saturday, June 9. We meet at Hightstown-Apollo Lodge 41, located at 535 North Main Street in Hightstown, not far from the Turnpike. Opening at 9:30. Wear a suit and tie. Bring your regalia and membership card. All Master Masons are welcome, not just LORE members. We’ll most likely close around 1 p.m.

Friday, June 1, 2018

‘MRF Symposium plans announced’

I see the MRF website is up. Click here to start planning your trip.

The Masonic Restoration Foundation’s Ninth Annual Symposium will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico August 10 through 12. The host lodges will be Montezuma 1 and Cerrillos 19, which is the Observant lodge in the jurisdiction.

‘The 2019 Prestonian Lecturer will be…’

Congratulations to Bro. Michael Karn upon being tapped to serve as the United Grand Lodge of England’s Prestonian Lecturer for 2019! His paper is titled “English Freemasonry During the Great War.” I hope his travels take him to New York City.

Michael Karn
Wearing Royal Arch regalia.
Bro. Karn has been a Freemason 31 years, during which time he has excelled in the field of Masonic education, having written and presented numerous works of research, and has held all kinds of stations and places and ranks. He is very keen on music as well, being an organist and a vocalist—and is a member of a lodge of musicians too.

(You may recall I reported his paper was honored with the Norman Spencer Prize four years ago.)

Having enjoyed Trevor Stewart and other Prestonians discuss the First World War in Masonic contexts, I very much look forward to Bro. Karn’s lecture.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

‘Freemasonry and Existentialism’

The Masonic Philosophical Society will have its hands full two Sundays from now, when the topic of discussion will ask “How does the Existentialist viewpoint influence our reality?” From the publicity:

Masonic Philosophical Society
How Does the Existentialist Viewpoint
Influence Our Reality?
Sunday, June 3 at 2:30 p.m.
Whitestone Masonic Temple
149-39 11th Avenue
Whitestone, New York

June’s topic will be conducted by Bro. Anthony Sokol on a study of “Freemasonry: How Does the Existentialist Viewpoint Influence Our Reality?” After a short lecture, a discussion and debate by the group will follow.

The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey and Ed Harris, is a movie about a television show starring Truman who lives his entire life in a fabricated reality. In the movie, the focus is on the philosophy of existentialism and skepticism. As with existentialism, the character Truman explored the questions: Is our existence absurd? Where am I going? What is the meaning of life?

As in this movie we can ask ourselves if what is true for one person is true for another. We then have to ask ourselves if truth is perhaps subjective. Join us this month as we look at how Freemasonry relates to existentialism as we explore it against the backdrop of The Truman Show.

‘A Masonic view of Yale’s campus’


I don’t know about you, but the closest I’d ever get to Yale University would be as a tourist. Fortunately, the research lodge that meets in New Haven will host a presentation Wednesday that will Masonically decode the university’s campus.

Bro. Larry Bowman will deliver his research paper titled “Masonic Insignia Around Yale’s Memorial Quadrangle” at the New Haven Masonic Building (285 Whitney Avenue) at 7:30 p.m.

Take that, you Bonesmen, with your really running the world and all that!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

‘Call for papers: ESSWE’

In preparation for its Seventh Annual Conference next year, the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism has issued a call for papers. “Western Esotericism and Consciousness: Visions, Voices, Altered States” is scheduled for July 2-4, 2019 (NOT June 25-27, 2019 as announced previously) at the University of Amsterdam. From the publicity:

The history of Western esotericism from antiquity to the present is filled with reports of unusual and sometimes spectacular experiences that are claimed to convey higher, deeper, or even absolute knowledge about the true nature of reality. Some typical examples are the many references to direct supra-rational gnosis, ecstatic experiences, and states of divine manía (madness or frenzy) or possession from antiquity to the present; visionary travels to other places, other worlds, or other levels of reality, as well as to past or future periods and events; visionary encounters with intermediary beings (for instance angels, demons, spirits, elementals, ascended masters, divinities); the hearing of inner voices, receiving or “channeling” of spiritual messages, and communication with disembodied entities; and ineffable experiences (for instance apophatic unity) that are difficult or impossible to express through normal discursive language. Common to all such reports is that they fall within the general phenomenology of human consciousness and seem to require some kind of modification or alteration of the normal or average mental states that allow us to negotiate consensus reality. All this makes the experiential dimension of Western esotericism (in both its historical and its contemporary social manifestations) extremely relevant to academic disciplines such as cognitive studies, consciousness research, psychology, or psychiatry. ESSWE7 will be the first major international conference to bring these perspectives in conversation with one another in the context of the study of Western esotericism.

On the level of the humanities and the social sciences, we hope that the conference will provide participants with an ideal opportunity for learning about the phenomenology of unusual experiences across the entire historical spectrum of Western esotericism from antiquity to the present. Here the emphasis will be on empirical research and specialist knowledge about specific historical and contemporary cases. Furthermore, on the level of the study of consciousness, we hope to explore larger and more theoretical questions concerning such topics as the taxonomy and etiology of altered states, their neurobiological foundations, or their relevance to wider concerns such as cognitive functioning or mental health. Here the emphasis will be on how such approaches may help us understand and even explain the rich record of historical and empirical materials central to Western esotericism and, conversely, how these can serve as case studies for the study of consciousness more in general.

ESSWE7 will also be an occasion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam.

Keynote lectures

Prof. Yulia Ustinova (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)

Prof. Karl Baier (University of Vienna, Austria)

Prof. Sonu Shamdasani (University College London, United Kingdom)

Call for Papers/Sessions

The academic ambitions for this conference are high. While we are aiming for a large and inclusive conference, paper and session proposals will go through a careful selection procedure so as to make sure that the final program will have a sharp focus on the conference theme. We encourage creative and innovative thinking across disciplines combined with deep analysis of specific contexts, materials, sources, or topics. As the ESSWE wants to provide a podium for intensive contact and exchange between scholars on all levels of the academy, graduate and post-graduate students as well as more experienced or established scholars are all encouraged to participate and submit proposals for papers. We are confident that ESSWE7 will be a foundational event for a budding new field of research that has considerable potential for the future.

Each conference session will have a length of 120 minutes, providing room for four papers.

Paper presentations should have a length of 20 minutes, leaving 10 minutes room for discussion.

Conference language: English.

Please send your paper or session proposal here. Before doing so, please have a look at the submission guidelines.

Important dates

Deadline for submission of papers and session proposals: October 1, 2018

Notification of acceptance and beginning of registration: January 15, 2019

Early bird conference fee: January 15, 2019

Normal conference fee: April 1 to June 25, 2019

Click here for ESSWE membership information.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

‘Philosophical ideals of friendship’

The next study day at the School of Practical Philosophy will focus on Transcendental ideals of friendship, with an examination of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. From the publicity:

Emerson and Thoreau on Friendship
School of Practical Philosophy
Sunday, June 10, 8:30 to 1 p.m.
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan
$30 per person—Register here

Come be inspired by the fine principles of friendship, as expressed in the writings of two great American philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The guidance and insight they provide apply to all of us and can be of great benefit in our lives. Their friendship reflected the ideal of Transcendental philosophy, which is that true friendship requires the best of us: honesty, sincerity, equality, and reverence. A friend stands for all of humanity and is a gift from God. They inspired each other, challenged each other, had several rifts with each other, but they always had total trust and faith in each other. Each sought to help the other with genuine acknowledgement and affection, while addressing the need for self-reliance and love of freedom.

All are welcome. No prior study is required.

Sign in at 8:30 a.m. Brief introduction at nine o’clock, followed by two study sessions in small groups. Reading materials and light lunch included.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


When Freemasonry’s ritualists added the Liberal Arts and Sciences to the lodge’s purview centuries ago, and rhapsodized about music—that “elevated science”—I can’t imagine they could have envisioned Kinky Friedman, but that’s their loss. The Texas troubador is emerging from some kind of semi-retirement these days, and will be touring with Brian Molnar.

Kinky and Brian: together again.

I think it is safe to say that Friedman has performed with no other Past Grand Master of the Cryptic Rite of Freemasonry. If I’m wrong about that, I’ll happily correct the record. (Brian’s band is named the Naked Hearts, get it?)

The two, who have toured together several times previously, will perform in Jersey City soon. Tickets available here. And they will play City Winery in Manhattan too. Tour dates here. From the publicity:

At long last, Kinky Friedman’s second musical act begins. With the proclamation that it “is what music was, before it came homogenized, trivialized and sanitized,” Kinky is dropping his first all new CD of original tunes in four decades. Called Circus of Life, it presents a side of Kinky that few would have suspected in the halcyon days of the Texas Jewboys, laying perhaps legit claim to the title “The Leonard Cohen of Texas.”

And on July 6, he will be releasing it on his own terms and on his own Echo Hill Records label. A monster summer tour will follow. Yep, Kinky is finally doing it his way. Harking to his early years, he has chosen to ignore the Nashville ethos, that all must be concertedly “radio friendly,” sweetened, and over-produced. What he and producer Brian Molnar have delivered is simply one of the most beautiful albums of this year or any other. The first single, Autographs In The Rain (Song to Willie), is already in heavy rotation on SiriusXM Outlaw Country, and there are at least four more top shelf A sides.

Speaking of Brian Molnar, he will be touring as Kinky’s opening act for most, if not all shows, promoting his new CD Within Blue, also on the Echo Hill Records imprint. Kinky and Brian have worked a number of tours together and now deliver a seamless performance, opener to headliner.

It started with a call from Willie Nelson, who asked Kinky what he was doing at that moment. Kinky answered truthfully that he was watching Matlock, the old TV chestnut, to which Willie replied, “That is a sure sign of depression, Kinky. Turn Matlock off and start writing.”

Kinky did just that and started writing the songs he hadn’t written or even contemplated for decades, tunes like “Jesus In Pajamas,” “Me And My Guitar,” and “A Dog Named Freedom.” After writing several songs, Kinky called Willie to let him know how successful his advice had been. When Kinky asked Willie how he was doing, Willie replied, “A little up, a little down. By the way Kinky, what channel is Matlock on?” Circus of Life, by way of Matlock—via Willie.

With Joe Cirotti on multiple instruments, and Mickey Raphael, Augie Meyers, Original Jewboy Little Jewford, Clay Meyers and Jim Beal providing amazing grace notes, not a single track on the album fails to reach its very high mark. Kinky may “just have to stick with songwriting” after all. To verify this, he’s taking it on the road, for one of the longest, most comprehensive tours of his storied career. After flash mob-style appearances in Galveston, Houston, and Nacogdoches, the Circus Of Life Tour begins in earnest in Pittsburgh, and rumor has it that it will continue forever. Yes, the second act has begun. May it never end.

With each of Brian Molnar & the Naked Heart’s last three albums, peaking out over fixtures of their genre on radio play charts all around the country, it would not be surprising to have an overwhelming feeling of comfort and familiarity when experiencing their music for the first time. For nearly a decade Brian Molnar has been carrying his acoustic guitar and wrought melodies back and forth across the United States connecting audiences with a feeling of American tradition and unique thoughtfulness that has been too often diluted in recent memory. Now with a full supporting band behind him, sharing the stage with contemporaries such as Ralph Stanley, Chris Hillman, Bernie Worrell, Garth Hudson, and Neal Cassal, it seems that a genuine Americana resurgence is upon us, with each new Naked Hearts’ release setting its tone.

Brian Molnar’s newest release, Of the Fall, spent four weeks standing strong at No. 1 on the World Wide Roots 66 chart, and remains in the top 10 nearly four months after its release. The band’s prior live record, Miss You, hit No. 7 on the Roots Music Report chart in New York, and No. 36 country-wide, while the band’s previous studio work, Temperance & the Devil, peaked at No. 27 on AMA (Americana) chart, and 9 on the FAR radio chart in Europe and the USA. With such a promising track record and constant live appearances by Molnar with and without the Naked Hearts, the sky is the limit, and makes Brian Molnar a name to remember in the coming years.

“...they continue to push the boundaries of Americana in sound and spirit beyond what has become an ossification too frequent in the form.”
Chris Spectre, Midwest Record, on Of the Fall

“The Naked Hearts play Roots Country with conviction… the band demonstrates a thorough understanding of what it takes to make authentic music.”
Steven Stone, Vintage Guitar Magazine, on Of the Fall

“Treading the midnight highway dividing line between country and the Ash Grove, he evokes a turning point just before everything changed and too much got lost.”
Mark S. Tucker, Fame, on Of the Fall

Friday, May 11, 2018

‘Livingston Library lecture for May’

If it’s May, it must be time for the Livingston Library’s fifth lecture of 2018. From the publicity:

300th Anniversary of Freemasonry
Presented by Bro. Jorge Luis Romeu
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library
71 West 23rd Street, 14th floor
Thursday, May 31 at 6:30
RSVP here
Photo ID is required
to enter Masonic Hall

Last year, Freemasonry, as it exists today, arrived at its 300th anniversary. On June 24, 1717, four London lodges met to create the first grand lodge. Before that, Masonic lodges had existed, but mostly operated independently from each other. The new Grand Lodge of England provided Freemasonry with structure, common rules, visitation rights, and a modern philosophy: the Enlightenment. It was the beginnings of modern civil society.

Freemasonry introduced several concepts revolutionary for their time and place. Men were assessed by their merits, and not by their wealth or social status. Lodge leadership was elected, not hereditary. Members observed religious tolerance. Such ideas had a strong impact in the development of modern Western thought, as well as in the histories of many countries in Europe and the Americas.

The study of the history of Freemasonry has become an academic topic. CEHME (Centro de Estudios Históricos de la Masonería Española), a European academic organization, holds an international meeting every three years, most recently in Spain, and soon in Portugal. REHMLAC (Revista de Estudios Históricos de la Masonería Latinoamericana y Caribeña), a sister Latin American academic organization, also holds similar meetings. In the United States, UCLA also has held such seminars, among other academic institutions.

Bro. Romeu is a dual member of the Grand Lodge of New York and the Gran Logia Soberana de Puerto Rico. He is a Lodge member of Liverpool Syracuse Lodge 501, The American Lodge of Research, Western New York Lodge of Research, and Jose Celso Barbosa Logia 106 in Puerto Rico.

Jorge Luis Romeu
He received a Ph.D. from Syracuse University in Operations Research in 1990; a Masters from Syracuse University in Operations Research in 1982; and his Licenciado from the University of Havana in Mathematical Statistics in 1973. He is a Senior Specialist in the Sponsored Research Office at the State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome, as well as a Senior Science Advisor at the Reliability Information & Analysis Center at Quanterion Solutions Inc./RIAC. He also serves as a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Research Professor at the L.C. Smith College of Engineering & Computer Science at Syracuse University. His expertise is in statistics and operations research modeling and analysis; quality, reliability, SPC/DOE, industrial statistics, international education, and engineering education research.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

‘Grand Honors!’

Courtesy Bro. Bruce B.
Bro. Oscar Alleyne
RW Junior Grand Warden
At the 237th annual communication of the Grand Lodge of New York today, these brethren—arguably the A-Team—were elected and installed:

MW Grand Master William Sardone
RW Deputy Grand Master Richard Kessler
RW Senior Grand Warden Charles Roberts
RW Junior Grand Warden Oscar Alleyne
RW Grand Treasurer Steven Adam Rubin
RW Grand Secretary Richard Schulz

Courtesy Bro. Giovanni L.
MW Bill Sardone, left, is our new Grand Master.
MW Jeffrey Williamson, right, left office today.

In addition, the new DDGM of the Glorious Fourth is RW Michael Sternfeld. He will convene a town hall meeting next Wednesday at Masonic Hall.

(That’s all the information I have so far.)

Brethren, wherever dispersed over the face of the earth and water, how about Grand Honors, taking time from yourselves. And throw in a Vivat! Congratulations to all!


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

‘George Washington’s beer brewed anew’

Courtesy Anheuser-Busch
George Washington was on many Masonic minds yesterday, the anniversary of his first presidential inauguration. There was a day of celebration at Federal Hall, including the annual re-enactment of the swearing in by a group of New York Masons. Not to eclipse any of that bonhomie, but Anheuser-Busch, which isn’t even an American company any longer, announced this morning it is brewing a beer based on Washington’s own handwritten recipe from 1757. From the publicity:

Budweiser Celebrates Summer
with Freedom Reserve Red Lager

The new beer will continue Budweiser’s
support of Folds of Honor

Today, Budweiser unveiled the newest addition to its Reserve Collection: Budweiser Freedom Reserve Red Lager. The new beer was specially brewed by Budweiser’s own veterans and builds on Budweiser’s long-standing support of American veterans with a portion of proceeds sold this summer benefiting Folds of Honor, a non-profit organization providing educational scholarships to military families. As of this year, the company has raised $14 million in support of Folds of Honor.

Courtesy Anheuser-Busch
Freedom Reserve Red Lager is the second specialty lager to appear in Budweiser’s Reserve Collection, and is inspired by George Washington’s hand-penned recipe from his personal military journal dating to 1757. Packaged both in a vintage stubby bottle and also available in a one-pint can, the Red Lager is brewed with toasted barley grains for a slightly sweet aroma with a touch of hops, a rich caramel malt taste, and a smooth finish with a hint of molasses.

Freedom Reserve will be available beginning in May through September 30, or while limited supplies last.

Courtesy Anheuser-Busch

Marking the seventh consecutive year Budweiser is teaming up with Folds of Honor, the brand brought together a select group of Budweiser brewers who are also proud veterans to brew Freedom Reserve and their signatures are prominently featured on each bottle and can.

Budweiser, an American-style lager, was introduced in 1876 when company founder Adolphus Busch set out to create the United States first truly national beer brand-brewed to be universally popular and transcend regional tastes. Each batch of Budweiser stays true to the same family recipe used by five generations of Busch family brewmasters. Budweiser is a medium-bodied, flavorful, crisp and pure beer with blended layers of premium American and European hop aromas, brewed for the perfect balance of flavor and refreshment. Budweiser is made using time-honored methods including kraeusening for natural carbonation and Beechwood aging, which results in unparalleled balance and character.

I was a beer snob by the time I reached high school, and I wrote off Budweiser when I was 14, but I definitely will try this brew.