Far flung and close to home: New Mercury reading Saturday

Political and rights activists, punk band leader, among headliners at venerable nonfiction reading series.

Bill Hughes and Geraldine Fagan read from their nonfiction at the Windup Space

Bill Hughes and Geraldine Fagan were part of an eclectic collection of nonfiction authors reading at the Windup Space’s New Mercury series Saturday

Photo by: Doug Birch

East met West at the Windup Space Saturday for the latest in the New Mercury nonfiction reading program, in an eclectic program that included D.C. rock legend John Stabb’s recollections of being an angry young punk and religious rights activist Geraldine Fagan‘s readings from her forthcoming book, Believing in Russia – Religious Policy After Communism.

Bill Hughes – author, videographer, political activist and Brew contributor _ told the harrowing tale of a merchant seaman whose Liberty Ship was torpedoed in the Indian Ocean during World War II who wound up, after a second ship was sunk, as a Japanese prisoner of war.

Fagan, who recently moved to D.C. from Moscow, has monitored the struggle for religious tolerance and freedom in the former Soviet Union for a decade through her work for the Forum 18 News Service, a rights group based in Norway.

She recounted some of the history of the Old Believers, who fled to Siberia to escape persecution by the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church centuries ago, and whose communities still exist in some parts of Russia’s wild east.

John "Stabb" Schroeder

Former angry young punk John "Stabb" Shroeder, center, read from his forthcoming memoir at the Windup Space Saturday

John “Stabb” Shroeder, former frontman for the legendary D.C. hardcore punk band Government Issue, read from the manuscript of a memoir he was writing and improvised for the audience, recalling the grief he took from other punk musicians for the lyrics in “Rock and Roll Bullshit” that included: “I don’t want to go to camp.”

Now I’ve got it/I’m insane/Van Halen gives me a pain/And Supertramp gives me a cramp/And I don’t wanna go to camp

“It rhymed,” Stabb explained.

Baltimore satirist D.R. Belz, author of White Asparagus (Apprentice House, 2010), read from some of his recent essays, including “Occupy My Pants,” a gently mocking sendup of the protest movement.

For tips on other cool things to do in the coming weeks, see The Brew’s new Coming at You calendar page.

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