The Church of Coltrane, the Ecstasy of Easy-Mode Video Games, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we’ve got an essay about the Church of Coltrane, which is facing eviction from its space, as well as a piece on the stress-free ecstasy of playing an adventure game on the easiest mode possible. Also is a long, fascinating read about the Oneida Community, as well as a briefer piece on why Silicon Valley, a show about heterosexual men in the tech industry, is maybe the gayest show on TV.

Archbishop Franzo King got the idea to start the Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church — also known, simply, as the Church of Coltrane — with his wife after the two of them attended a 1965 performance by Coltrane at the San Francisco Jazz Workshop, where they say they experienced a “sound baptism.” Pitchfork’s David Chiu dives into the fascinating history of the church while explaining its pending financial problems, a sad fact that’s entirely understandable give the warped, gentrified climate of San Francisco in the past few decades — though the church as it is and where it is today did not come about until the ’80s.

After Coltrane’s death in 1967, the Kings’ interest in the saxophonist expanded from hosting listening parties to the formation of an actual movement. Over the years, the group underwent different names and was at one time associated with Coltrane’s widow, the pianist Alice Coltrane. In the early ‘80s, the organization joined the African Orthodox Church, which recognized Coltrane as a saint, and the group was renamed the Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church. Since then, the popularity of the church has extended to media coverage (including The New York Times and The Guardian), a 1996 documentary, and a weekly Coltrane radio show hosted by Pastor Stephens.

Uncharted 4 is the final installment in the recent series of games that follows Nathan Drake, an attractive Virtual Reality man who loves treasure-hunting and also one-liners. At Wired, writer Chris Kohler takes the easiest route, eliminating the need to focus during the extended gunplay sections of the game so that he can truly digest the beauty of the puzzling and climbing portions. You know, because everything is more enjoyable when you’re not worried about getting shot in the head.

If anything, the things I noticed the most about Uncharted‘s storytelling are the things I think they’re hoping you don’t notice. The lighting, the detail, the mocap and animation of the characters, the delivery of the dialogue are all so near-flawless that I forgot I was watching computer people. It just felt like a movie. The transitions between cinematic scenes and gameplay are seamless. The load times are non-existent (unless you jump around from chapter to chapter or reset from a previous point). And the game just keeps going and going and going, introducing massive, beautiful new locations that you spend very little time in, one after the other.

The New Yorker, which has, more than most legacy publications, embraced television, today ran a piece that makes the claim for Silicon Valley‘s gayness. And it’s pretty compelling; I myself noticed that the main character of the show seems to have a Cruising poster on his wall, even though he’s apparently heterosexual. (Aside from between horses, sex is barely showcased on this series.) Read Daniel Wenger’s take.

Even after it is funded, the startup seems to have only three female employees: Jack’s two secretaries and a saleswoman (who calls herself “Jan the Man”). This is hardly surprising: about seventy per cent of tech employees in the real Silicon Valley are men—but it is intriguing that the men understand their work in terms of reproductive potential. (“Me and my product feel pretty fucking compromised right now,” Richard tells Jack in the stables.) As Andrew Sullivan wrote in “Virtually Normal,” his 1995 book about homosexuality, those with a “literal inability to have children” tend to possess “an extraordinary desire to beget figurative children: in the teaching professions, the arts, the military, political and intellectual life, areas where the talents of a person freed from genetic family obligations can be used to enrich the social family at large—especially its future generations.”

This last one may seem biased, but it’s not. (OK, maybe it is, a little bit.) Former Flavorwire EIC Judy Berman writes at Gawker about the Oneida Community, which was, at first glance, very cult-like, and also very sexual. It’s astonishing that the history of the community is relatively unknown, perhaps overshadowed by the subsequent flatware empire that sprung forth from the group’s demise. Here, Judy talks to Ellen Wayland-Smith, the author of a new book, Oneida: From Free Love to the Well-Set Table, about all sorts of stuff — but, most fascinatingly and disturbingly, sex.

The women were introduced to sex whether they wanted it or not, when they were 12 to 14,” says Wayland-Smith, noting that the age of consent in New York at the time was also, unfortunately, 12. “The thing that bothers me is that the people who initially signed on to this thing were consenting adults. Then what happened, once the new generation came up, was they were born into it. They didn’t know anything else. Their parents gave them over to the Community and part of being in the Community was that you had to have sex. And they were not consenting because they weren’t of age [by contemporary standards].”