Geoff Geis

Icon

The Rev. Howard Finster, Man of Visions, Talks about R.E.M.

I recently found this interview with Howard Finster on Youtube, which reminded me of the time I talked to Howard Finster.

r.e.m-reckoning

Reckoning was R.E.M.’s second full-length.

When I was a kid I bought the No Alternative AIDS benefit album because it had an unlisted Nirvana song on it. I didn’t listen to much of the rest of the album, but I liked this song by Pavement called “The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence” because it was about my favorite band: R.E.M.

A good chunk of that Pavement song is just Stephen Malkmus listing the titles of songs from Reckoning, R.E.M.’s second album. The cover of that album was painted by The Reverend Howard Finster, who also did the cover of Talking Heads’ Little Creatures.

Finster's philosophy is spelled out here.

Finster’s philosophy is spelled out here.

Howard Finster  lived on a plot of Georgian land he’d dubbed “Paradise Gardens” and turned into a wonderland of religious art made of broken glass, concrete, bicycle wheels, and more. Years before, Reverend Finster had a vision from God, and after that he started junked materials for building a chapel. Over the decades, he constructed a masterpiece.

The members of R.E.M., being drawn as they were to Southern eccentricities, went to Paradise Gardens a lot in their early years and filmed the video for “Radio Free Europe” there.

I, of course, was drawn to anything and everything that was related to R.E.M. So, when my church’s youth group had a field trip to Paradise Gardens, I went. It was the first church field trip I ever went on, and in order to go I had to promise I’d become active in the youth group.

This chapel is made of what other people considered trash.

This chapel is made of what other people considered trash.

We got to tour the garden and meet Rev. Finster, who was sitting on the porch with his banjo looking exactly like he does in the above video. He talked to me about R.E.M. and about Elvis, and he gave me a quaint and totally ineffective 2-minute banjo lesson. It was an enriching afternoon with an ancient man who was simply effervescent, and I still have a picture of the two of us together. I found it recently, but I didn’t scan it for some reason and now it’s in a box somewhere.

I did not live up to my promise to become active in the church youth group.

Easyhome

Here’s Howard.

Advertisements

Filed under: Human Interest, , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Music

This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

%d bloggers like this: