|WELCOME TO V. VALE’s RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER #25, JUNE 2003. HERE’S THE NEWS FROM SAN FRANCISCO… ALL READERS ARE INVITED TO SEND CONTRIBUTIONS AND FEEDBACK!
**Dear Friends: Please note that our email address has CHANGED to:
1. WHY THE ECONOMY WILL NEVER GET BETTER:
Some things are so obvious it’s amazing nobody sees them. The economy won’t get better until our government gets pressured to **stop all overseas export of labor.** Are you or a friend out of a job? Historically, there are two basic ways humans have “made a living”: 1) you make something, like knitting a cap; 2) you provide a service (like giving someone a haircut). Yes, there are others ways, like: you harvest something from “Nature” such as trees and fish, or cultivate fruit, vegetables, rice, cotton and other useful crops. And what about Hemp? Hemp cultivation could end the chopping down of trees for paper, etc. But we digress…
Every day, thousands more jobs get exported overseas. Why? Remember, a corporation’s sole raison d’etre is: do whatever it takes to make maximum profits as fast as possible. If your widget can be manufactured overseas by Indonesians making 8 cents an hour, why hire an uppity American who demands $15 an hour? Who cares if there soon won’t be any Americans left with enough money to buy your widget? (“Not my problem…”) 2. THINK TANKS – START YOUR OWN!
Because every day there are fewer and fewer jobs, what can we do? I propose that all unemployed humans form THINK TANKS. Think tanks are traditionally employed only by right-wing corporate interests, not by workers, artists, musicians and activist/dissidents. But with so many unemployed languishing with vital computer, graphic design, marketing, branding, publicity, and business/management training, why not get together to create a job, in the “in unity there is strength” spirit of the early labor unions.
One person may not be able to create a job, but several people can. Why? Because when humans get together to focus on the same goal and pool their resources, their intelligence increases exponentially. And all worthwhile “jobs” involve providing goods/services which are “needed” to a “community.” Definitely, things are needed!
I propose regular, weekly 2-hour meetings with a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5-6 humans present. A sample topic: “What could we start whereby we could all make money together? What is really needed out there? What do we like to do?” Everyone is encouraged to carry around a small notebook to jot down ideas wherever inconvenient place they usually appear–in the shower, doing the dishes, waiting for a bus, walking on an errand, etc.
At the weekly meeting, all participants have a legal pad or 8×11″ notebook, and sit around a table, and the ideal table would be round, to minimize hierarchy-formation or kowtowing to whoever sits at the “head of the table.” The first 50 minutes is devoted to **uncensored** brainstorming. Any crazy, surrealist idea is encouraged–the wilder the better. Repeat, no censorship or critique or analysis — just spout ideas. (If anyone starts to “criticize,” the others must remind that person to shut down.) There is a 10 minute bathroom/beverage/snack break, while the ideas incubate in the collective subconscious.
The second hour is devoted to analysis, prioritizing and setting some kind of “do-able” goal or strategy or plan. Go through all the ideas looking for the most feasible ones. For tax reasons it can be attractive to think of adopting a structure (non-profit, foundation, church) whereby the least amount of tax goes to our warmongering government (which has unlimited funds for war, but zero for education).
At a certain point it may be useful to borrow a “How to Make a Business Plan” type book from the library and begin just that — a business plan. Just follow directions, and see what happens… Let us know if you actually do this! A THINK TANK is better than just random get-togethers with friends at a bar or club … something amazing could emerge from regular THINK TANK meetings, and besides they’re “free” too, or almost free… And arguably, it’s better to work for yourself than for somebody else!
3. FERLINGHETTI ON THE WAR ON IRAQ
The last time we talked to Lawrence Ferlinghetti we asked him for his thoughts on the aftermath of the War on Iraq. He immediately replied, “All my thoughts on the aftermath of the War on Iraq are contained in my poem, `Dragon’s Teeth,’ and I give you permission to reprint it.” (Note: besides patronizing Ferlinghetti’s legendary City Lights Bookstore at 261 Columbus, San Francisco, we recommend going to www.citylights.com and subscribing to their newsletter). City Lights just had a 50-year-anniversary celebration–that in itself is more amazing than it might seem.
So here it goes:
A headless man was running
For every bomb that dropped
Like dragon�s teeth sown
As the smart bombs sowing hate
4. IF IT WASN’T DOCUMENTED, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN — OR, HOW TO SUCCEED AS AN ARTIST!
We have been talking with local artist/art writer Chris Cobb, and have learned a lot. Here’s some of what we’ve been discussing…
a) The necessity to document well. Lately we’ve been thinking about the relationship between “cutting edge” creative work and documentation/media dissemination. Much work that’s “ahead of its time” is simply not understood, or violates contemporary soft/hard taboos–or both. Most “edgy” creativity is thus labeled because it isn’t truly acceptable to the “status quo.” Being unacceptable, such work is often not documented adequately or “professionally,” and rarely receives the mass media dissemination which ensures the creator will “go down in history.” Especially in the field of performance art, many an artist does not understand the necessity for high-quality, full documenting of her/his performance. Thus that artist remains unknown … and in a worst case scenario — it’s virtually as if that artist never existed. This situation exists in all fields of creativity: writing, poetry, music, art, dance, film, theory, et al.
b) partner with a gallery/manager/somebody. As necessary to an artist as Leica-quality photography and video documentation is: partnering with a gallery, curator, manager, or **someone** visionary, connected, and capable, to promote, publicize, get gallery shows, press, publicity, interviews, reviews, etc.
c) An artist must be associated with a “group.” Even if this association is tenuous, insubstantial and oblique at best, to be comprehended, an artist needs a “group affiliation” or nobody will “get” what they’re about. If you can’t sum up an artist in one sentence (including a group affiliation), you won’t remember that artist. Memories are non-existent today; too much is competing for one’s attention. To build an artist’s “brand” (and that’s the right term), that artist must be affiliated with a group. The alternative is oblivion. The “smart” artists allow themselves to be associated with as many groups as possible, while remaining somewhat independently aloof. Example: Yoko Ono, associated with Fluxus (Events, Objects), Conceptual Art, Performance, Music, Happenings, Underground or Avant-Garde Film, Books (“Grapefruit”), Pop Culture, Activism (“No War” full page ads in NY Times), etc.
d) If you aren’t in a book, you don’t exist. This book will probably lose money (you’ll notice that most “art” and “photography” books are underwritten by various grants, gifts, etc, in the fine type on page 2) but an artist absolutely must have a book on her/him to be taken seriously at all. In fact, having several books or catalogs out is even better! It also helps to be mentioned in the indexes of other art books.
5. Martin Denny’s 92nd Birthday in Honolulu
Recently we went to Honolulu to help celebrate pianist/composer Martin Denny’s 92nd birthday at the Elks Lodge, April 10. A number of surviving musicians who had worked with Mr. Denny showed up (to “Marty’s” surprise), and for more than four hours there were various jam sessions–it seemed almost everyone at the party was a musician! Of particular note was a specially-modified version of “Pennies From Heaven” with “Denny’s” substituted for “Pennies”–it was hilarious, but you had to have been there. BTW, Martin Denny is the creator of “Exotica” music, whose signature sound incorporates various bird calls mixed into a fusion of classical-lounge-South American rhythms-et al…his Number One hit was “Quiet Village” back in 1959, a time when he had three albums on the best-selling LP charts. Denny’s album covers were among the most beautiful of all time, featuring the beautiful Sandy Warner in many “exotic” settings and with various hair colors and styling. (An interview with Martin Denny is available in Incredibly Strange Music, Vol One, from www.http://www.researchpubs.com).
Martin Denny is in a wheelchair, and it was poignant seeing his reunion with multi-percussionist Augie Colon, who showed up in a walker. More than 45 years ago, Augie began contributing his bird calls to Marty’s music–without them, “Quiet Village” would probably not have become a hit. One thing about being a musician–you can probably keep playing until you’re 100–and after one performance, Marty arose and was surrounded by about a dozen white-haired women “fans” (or is it “groupies”?) in their seventies… One of Marty’s fellow musicians was an 89-year-old banjo player who was still lightning-fast on the strings; he sported a John Waters moustache and was married to a beautiful Asian woman who looked about 25…
Now, for a long period of time most of Martin Denny’s music was out-of-print and he had been forgotten. Denny himself credited the RE/SearchIncredibly Strange Music with reviving his career–i.e., causing many of his albums to be brought back into print. It seemed necessary for him to appear in a “book” to ensure his place in history; Mr. Denny probably thought he had just “faded away” in the public eye, which for a while he indeed had. He laughed when we suggested his music was as timeless as that of Beethoven…but indeed he has created music unlike any other, and a handful of bands continue to develop his “Exotica” genre: Don Tiki, the Fishermen, etc…This music is the soundtrack to the subcultural “Tiki Revival” which is slowly gaining adherents, more or less, thanks to the efforts of Otto Von Stroheim (publisher of “Tiki News”) and others…
Recently we have been graced by a visit from the NYC Fluxus/meat artist/’60s “happenings”/cutting-edge art pioneer ROBERT DELFORD BROWN, who is still not exactly a household name. We first featured him in our PRANKS! book, and regarded him as one of the most ground-breaking artists alive. DELFORD BROWN is now 72 years old, and we are happy to announce we will be publishing the first monograph on his life/creativity, scheduled for either a December 2003 or Spring 2004 publication date.
Why would RE/Search founder V. Vale publish a book on ROBERT DELFORD BROWN? 1) He’s associated with FLUXUS
In June, Robert Delford Brown staged a private “60’s Happening” (which he termed a “Sacred FunkuPagan Action Glueing”) at the San Francisco Art Institute, in which about twenty children and adults cut out brightly colored pieces of paper and pasted them on two huge backdrops–assemblages. As he put it, “The artist as `individual’ is dead. The future belongs to people working together.”
On December 6, 2003, Delford Brown will stage a more complex public “happening” at San Francisco’s premiere performance space, THE LAB, 2948 16th St (near Mission St), Sat, 6-9 PM. More on this later.
Publishing a book/monograph on Robert Delford Brown will help insure that he regains his rightful recognition in the history of American performance and avant-garde/conceptual art-making. We aren’t sure why Delford Brown isn’t already better-known, but suspect it has something to do with his former uncompromising anti-careerist attitudes and lack of “schmoozing.” He also has an abrasive personality–that didn’t help. Nevertheless, he did the work, so shouldn’t he get the recognition?
6. What We’re Reading, Seeing, Listening To..
The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard is 1,200 pages and at present is only available in a British edition (about $30, plus shipping). And this writer is aware of at least one story not included–admittedly, not a truly “Ballardian” story. Nevertheless, this is an amazing book filled with ideas to spark the imagination. We recently re-read Ballard’s Crash and was amazed at how “honest” the author was, in a seemingly autobiographical sense, at micro-detailing his sexual obsessiveness. The true genius of the work is in its details, uncompromisingly noted and recorded with the objectivity of a medical student–which Ballard once was.
Oddly enough, at the San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair this spring (one of the only such fairs in the U.S., and one which attracts the “most interesting” social demographic), we recently purchased Julio Cortazar‘s All Fires the Fire and noted that the first story seems almost “Ballardian,” as it deals with an endless traffic jam and the responses of various drivers to this all-too-common modern scenario. Cortazar is perhaps in danger of being forgotten, yet he is one of the wittiest, most amazing writers of the 20th century–our favorite is his random-access novel Hopscotch, whose chapters may be read in any number of sequences. Cortazar penned the story which was the basis of one of our favorite films, Blow-Up, which is now being “revived” for its vivid documentation of Mod “Swinging London.” Who can forget the at-first-puzzling performance of guitarist Jeff Beck destroying his guitar in perhaps the best recorded version of “Train Kept A Rollin’, a Yardbirds classic.
Almost overnight the seemingly hundreds of books that have recently appeared on the topic of “U.S. vs. The Middle East” seem–wearying, even though they contain much incendiary insight on the history and “issues” surrounding American Imperialism in the Old Testament Holy Land…the holy crusade for oil. Therefore we are looking forward to Michael Moore‘s forthcoming documentary exploring the connections between the bin Ladens and the Bush family!… Although it was sobering and quietly shocking, we recommend the screened-at-the-Castro Theater documentary “Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky In Our Times.” Now if only all the exposes of the political/economic rulers of the world could be not only concise, superbly documented and funny!
At the Anarchist Book Fair we picked up a free one-sheet, “Shop Against Terrorism,” which was hilarious–perfectly written satire. These folk must be the answer to the question “Where are the New Generation/Inheritors of the Situationists?” For your free copy send an SASE to “The Coalition Against Underdeveloped Terrorism,” POB 700754, San Jose CA 95107-0754.
Another nouveau-Situationist meisterwerk in sound is Frank Discussion/Feederz‘s new independent CD release, available fromwww.feederz.com. This uncompromising chainsaw of a recording illustrates that time need not dull one’s sword, so to speak: “In this long awaited third release, the Feederz offer up a fresh batch of rancor and more of the “unflinching gall” they are so well-known for. From the cover art depicting a cop being smashed in the face with a rock to the last searing note, “Vandalism: Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop’s Face” delivers once again the sense of rage and biting wit that are the Feederz’ trademark. “Break It All” and “No Shopping Today” are invitations to the the pleasures of riots and looting, while “Owned” reminds listeners that hacking is “the sabotage of the new millenium.” Never before has sheer insubordination, sabotage and subversion seemed like so much fun… MP3 Copies of all the songs are also included on the CD for your file trading convenience.” Incidentally, the CD features more gorgeous “detourned” artwork from Frank Discussion, e.g., “Oh mommy–shoplifting makes me so hot!”
Finally, at the Anarchist Book Fair we found two more perspectives on our human condition today. One, whose back cover proclaims, “Now that fascism has descended upon us, Freedom finds its neck on the chopping block…Already the jackboot of repression and censorship grinds against the throat of the disinherited, crushing its windpipe…” is published by local firebrand Mitchell Cowen Verter, and is titled Dreams of Freedom, Vol. One, by Ricardo Flores Magon. For a copy of this hard-to-find independent publication write firstname.lastname@example.org. The second book isSlavoj Zizek‘s Welcome to the Desert of the Real, which is sold by City Lights Books. A far more “poetic” take on post-Sept 11 events, this book “points to our dreaming about the catastrophe in numerous disaster movies before it happened, and explores the irony that the tragedy has been used to legitimate torture. Last but not least, Zizek analyses the fiasco of the predominant leftist response to the events.” Right–WHAT leftist response? If anything illustrates that the Democratic and Republican parties are identical, it’s this War of the All-Powerful, All-Seeing Technological Godzilla on the Low-Tech Little People of Iraq. That’s the real archetypal issue, and it is truly frightening. Perhaps relevant here is one of our favorite protest signs spotted at an Anti-War demonstration: “THINK…WHILE IT’S STILL LEGAL…”
A FEW MORE RECOMMENDATIONS:
() Therese Taylor’s “The Cryingness of Your Crying When You Cry” — beautiful songs, unexpected melodies, from a local singer (www.teresetaylor.com).
More than ever, it’s necessary to support independent book/magazine publishers,independent bookstores, record stores, farmer’s markets, etc. Try to buy direct from the artists and producers themselves…Amazon is convenient, but it’s even better when, say, small publishers like us get the full 100% benefit of your largesse…
7. ARTICLES ON US AND OUR BOOKS
We are grateful to ASIAN WEEK for printing a large color feature on the history of RE/Search and founder V. Vale, whose Asian background was spotlighted for the first time ever in print, anywhere. RE/Search was never an “ethnically subcultural” enterprise, yet in a number of subtle ways the publications have been informed by the upbringing of its editor/producer. The website (www.asianweek.com) seems to be (temporarily?) down as we go to press, but we’ll send you a copy if you haven’t seen it — just write in your request. Editor Neela Banerjee and photographer Jennie Sue (Canon S30 digital camera) deserve our personal thanks. That was the fastest photo shoot ever!
Last Gasp recently published a four-color paperbound 9×12 artbook,Recent Litter from the Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company: Chuck Sperry and Ron Donovan, featuring a lengthy interview by V. Vale. The artwork is compelling, beautiful, sexy and incendiary, and the interview gives much-needed depth; too many “hipster graphics” books these days can be “consumed” in less than an hour, leaving the reader dissatisfied as to “who the artist really is.” Chuck and Ron have a lot to say about the function of art in a corporate world, and how anarchist collectives in Italy may give us a glimpse of A Better Tomorrow (thanks, John Woo)… This book can be ordered from us direct: email@example.com. We will reply with total price including shipping.
MODERN PAGANS “The companion volume to 1989’s seminal Modern Primitives, which examined cultural precedents for tattooing, piercing, and scarification, Modern Pagans is an important sourcebook…
“The companion volume to 1989’s seminal Modern Primitives, which examined cultural precedents for tattooing, piercing, and scarification,Modern Pagans is an important sourcebook…”
“…outlaw Paganism, where embracing the spirituality of nature and the Goddess means choosing alternative styles of living, relating, working, and dressing. From tattoos to environmental activism to group marriage, the many possibilities in the Pagan community are celebrated by the people interviewed in this entertaining anthology.”–Carl McColman, Aquarius Weekly
REAL CONVERSATIONS 1 – To find out more about Real Conversations 1 (called “inspiring” by numerous readers), and read excerpts: See more! Click here!http://www.http://www.researchpubs.com/rc1/rc1prmain.shtml
5″ x 7″, 240 pages, 30 illustrations
8. About Us: What Is RE/Search?
NOTE: The Los Angeles Times printed a comprehensive and insightful article on the history of V. Vale‘s publishing, written by Susan Carpenter: “So cutting edge that no one else was publishing such things.” It was reprinted in the San Mateo Times, the Japan Times, etc. (N.B.: Watch for Susan Carpenter’s book on Pirate Radio.)
JUNE 2003 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale
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