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RE/SEARCH Newsletter #36, April 2005

RE/SEARCH Newsletter #36, April 2005
1. CounterCulture Hour airs tomorrow! – Sat Apr 9, 2005, 6:30pm (5th episode) with Mel Clay
2. APE SHOW Sat & Sun 4/9-10/05 – (tomorrow!) RE/Search founder V. Vale will be there, with Charles Gatewood & John Sulak. Visit!
3. Consummate SRL Show in L.A., April 2, 2005
4. What we’ve been reading, seeing, listening to…THE UNIVERSE WITHIN exhibition in SF!
**Dear Friends: Please note that our email address has changed to: (not:

1. CounterCulture Hour Sat, April 9 **(tomorrow!)**, 2005, 6:30pm, Cable Channel 29 (Sorry, Bay Area only, but watch for video releases on our website.) The 6th episode will feature MEL CLAY, a member of the Living Theater collective (’60s-70’s), founded by Julian Beck andJudith Malina. Mel Clay was in Tangier when William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Paul Bowles and Philip Lamantia were there, and he was privileged to read Naked Lunch while it was still in galley form. Then he joined the Living Theater and toured both America and Europe with the anarchic improvisatory theater collective. Rare live footage will be shown, as well as Mel’s posters for his theater events and readings. Also shown will be an excerpt from an amusing short film of Mel narrating a drive through North Beach.

The first CounterCulture Hour aired Nov 13, 2004, and featured Dirk Dirksen of the Mabuhay Gardens, S.F.; the second featured Oberon Ravenheart and Thorn Coyle from our Modern Pagans book; the third featured R.U. Sirius and Dan Joy, authors of “Counter Culture Through the Ages,” and the most recent two programs featured Winston Smith, creator of Dead Kennedys LP covers. The CounterCulture Hour airs the 2nd Saturday of each month at 6:30pm, on an ongoing basis, on Channel 29 San Francisco. Your interviewing host is V. Vale, and the program is produced by Marian & Marian (aka Wallace and Wilde).

If you are interested in buying a handmade, autographed VHS dub of the show, please email to us and we’ll let you know when they’re available. Could be soon if there’s enough interest! Price per 2 episodes (2 hours): $15.00. We’re still working on getting them (or excerpts) up on the web, so watch for that!

2. APE (Alternative Press Expo) Sat-Sun April 9-10 – RE/Search founder V. Vale will be there, sharing a table with Charles Gatewood. Visit! Concourse Exhibition Center, 620 7th/Brannan Sts, Sat 12-6pm, Sun 11-5pm. APE (Alternative Press Expo) 2005 takes place this weekend, Saturday, April 9th and Sunday, April 10th at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. APE celebrates the incredible spirit of self-publishing and the alternative comics press. The exhibit hall features an unbelievable mix of new and old comics, mini-comics, zines, art books, original art and much more. Our friends Laughing Squid will be sharing a table with Attaboy�s Yumfactory. Other friends who will be exhibiting include: Last Gasp, Jim Blanchard, City Lights Books, and Manic D Press. This is an opportunitity to find rare signed editions, and independently-published things you never knew existed. The RE/Search backlist will be on sale, discounted, and you can get books autographed by both V. Vale, Charles Gatewood & John Sulak, co-author of Modern Pagans. Our impossible-to-find RE/Search tabloids #1-2-3, signed limited hardbacks of Atrocity Exhibition, Freaks and Torture Garden, and Search & Destroy #1-11 tabloids will be available. Admission is $7 or $10 for both days.

3. Consummate SRL Show in L.A., Sat. April 2, 2005
On Friday 3pm we drove down Highway 5 to Los Angeles for the Survival Research Laboratories show in front of Dangerous Curve Gallery. The event was curated by Susan Joyce, who is also trying to organize a New York SRL show in May–go to for updates on this. We’ve heard that it’s possible to do the drive in five hours, but we didn’t arrive at our friend Gary’s house in Fountain Valley until 12:30 a.m. Well, we stopped for a meal at the Red Robin that seemed to take an hour. And at 10:03 pm in Valencia right by Magic Mountain, the freeway turned into a Friday night parking lot…

At the SRL show, we met an old friend, Kent Beyda, who worked on Search & Destroy magazine circa 1977-79, and he remarked, “In Los Angeles, every time you get into your car, it seems to take at least an hour to get anywhere.” To us this seems just insane. Of course, we live in North Beach, San Francisco, where seemingly everything needed for survival is within literally a three block walk, thanks to Chinatown.

Because of the endless driving syndrome considered “normal” (not psychotic) in Los Angeles, and because everything seems to take longer in a stranger/warmer urban sprawl, we didn’t arrive at the SRL show location until almost 6pm–three hours later than our original goal of 3pm. We were told this was near “downtown” L.A., and except for a few shopping cart homeless folk, the neighborhood seemed oddly deserted. As we first caught sight of the location, we noticed a great “art car” parked by the road and knew we were where we should be. Immediately the setting itself seemed pleasing — the warehouses on both sides literally “curved” along a full city block — a welcome relief from the usual rectilinear urban situation.

A huge “vintage” mahogany Trojan Horse looking like something left over from the curvaceous Art Deco 20s era stood on wheels, and large blow-ups of damaged or deranged soldiers leaned against the walls. (I couldn’t believe it when the Trojan Horse was later reduced to a pile of cinders; it seemed like a genuine “antique”–it must have taken a lot of craftsmanship to make it–and it seemed kind of, well, “cute.” Maybe it was a survivor from D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” or another silent sword-and-sandal movie. Oh well–as the Weirdos once put it, “In this world, nothing lasts! It’s got to Blow Up! Blow Up!”) There was a sort-of merry-go-round with four sheep-like creatures attached (bleeding from their posteriors), and about eight “sneaky” soldiers were being prepared to do battle. Other larger veteran SRL menacing machines were scattered throughout, on the pavement. A very intricate flame-producing setup (?) was at one end of the street. One warehouse wall was covered with old mattresses to receive the beneficence of the Pitching Machine …

Dangerous Curve Gallery is described as “a new downtown Los Angeles experimental exhibition and performance space located in the Arts District on Fourth Place between Molino and Mateo Streets. We are open Wednesday through Saturday 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Street parking is plentiful.” ( Allegedly this will be the next Yuppie loft neighborhood… On Saturday night it definitely still felt abandoned; block after block of large dark warehouses and empty streets can do that. Far in the background was a lit-up, high-rise, city-looking landscape (the “real” downtown) under a huge expanse of sky. This being Southern California, the temperature was balmy–T-shirt weather.

The show was scheduled to begin at 8:30 but it probably didn’t start until around 9pm. Amazingly, just enough people showed up–probably about a thousand total. The two viewing areas were at either end of the closed-off street, and if more people had appeared things could have turned “bad”–simply because there was no more viewing area.

Then the show began somewhat unannounced, in fits and starts, bringing the war in Iraq to Los Angeles, with unbelievably intense sounds, explosions, lights, shockwave-cannon bowel-rearranging blasts, etc. Every time an SRL show happens, it seems unbelievable, just because no other show on earth provides such pure intense sensation… And you can tell it is not perfectly orchestrated; there’s a randomness and slightly chaotic edge; things don’t feel 100% under control, even though historically the 47 or so SRL shows have had an admirably “safe” track record in terms of actual audience casualties recorded (close to the zero mark). Nevertheless, one constantly feels ready to duck, just in case that 2×4′ piece of lumber goes the wrong direction, or …

One reason every single SRL show is worth attending is because an SRL show provides a physically-measurable, pushing-the-limits, sheer intensity of experience in two major sensory areas: sound and smell. You can’t experience this anywhere else, to our knowledge. The frequent explosions must surely go off the dial of any db meter–earplugs are 100% necessary. (And, earplugs are given away free at every SRL show.) We were fortunate enough to see the show from one of the warehouse roofs, and several times thousands of sparks (from the rail gun, wielded by Karen Marcelo) narrowly missed us, caroming off the wall of the higher building a few feet to our left. We were told they were “harmless,” but they certainly don’t **look** harmless as thousands of bright lights head directly your way…

At two points we were so engulfed with huge swirling volumes of white smoke (thanks, Kimric!) that we had to run away in the opposite direction, just to be assured of finally breathing some fresh air. The smoke was acrid and toxic-smelling and one almost had a moment of panic (similar to when holding one’s breath underwater), but then the smoke seemed to disperse upward quickly. Take our word for it–you did NOT want to breathe in deeply that smoke twice in a row…

So, ultimately, the **entire body** seemed potentially at risk…and there’s nothing like a **genuine** physical threat to paradoxically create a genuinely pleasurable exhilaration when the threat has passed — a kind of **survival euphoria.** This glandularly-felt experience gifts us with a much-needed counterpoint to the suffocatingly **virtual** media-immersive universe we now seem to inhabit 24/7…where everything is symbolic, electronic, digital waveform-generated, and nothing is “analog” anymore…all our experience is coming in the form of sampled digital bits. And everything is too perfect, bright and shiny now, especially on TV. One antidote is an SRL world where everything looks old, weathered, distressed, rusting, recycled, mottled–anything but “modernist,” brand-new and “slick.”

A final word to thank Susan Joyce for navigating the bureaucratic jungle to get the requisite permits, food and shelter arranging for forty-plus people, and 1001 other details that made the SRL L.A. 4/2/05 show happen–seemingly without a hitch. And Cathy/Tim of Dangerous Curve(possibly the most cutting-edge gallery in L.A.) for hosting the physical location, the crew itself, etc, with hospitality and humor. And the firemen (and the motorcycle cops too) who showed up and didn’t shut everything down, but instead listened to the Voice of Reason. And lastly, all the mechanical-ability-gifted eccentric individuals who did real work as part of the SRL crew, including founder Mark Pauline…

This show in particular seemed, at last, to be adequately documented. Practically the day after the show, hundreds of photos were posted on the Internet, “blogs” and reviews appeared, and even tiny “movies” which conveyed the experience of the show much more than any written article or still photo ever could. So, for the benefit of our newsletter readers, here are a number of URLs:

Karen Marcelo, SRL’s web director, is the primary source for links. She is regularly updating the below site, so check it periodically:
The below is what **we** compiled, prior to getting the above notice from Karen:

lengthy article from the LA Voice:

and a blog:

What a great show! Here are galleries of the photos I (Scott Beale) shot:
Friday setup

Saturday setup

Saturday show

Saturday post-show

I’ve put up reduced-sized images of all my photos.
hi all from karen m – check out what people posted on the message board:

“Driving through the back streets in my downtown L.A. neighborhood on Saturday night (4/2/05) I came upon a mob of onlookers. Thinking it to be a movie set I initally got pissed but soon learned it was a Survival Research Labs performance. Flames and hellish mechanics on the night the Pope died seemed so fitting.”

“Thank you so very much for Saturday night. It was my first SRL experience and I somehow managed to get onto a “pass only” rooftop and watch in absolute awe. I couldn’t help but think that this exhibiton of a mechanized hell laboring amidst a sea of flame, smoke and fumes – was the closest I will ever get to knowing what the current war in Iraq must be like. I went to bed with gasoline fumes burning my nose and lungs – the nightmares about war ensued – and I thank you for it.”

(more photos)
B&W photos of Sneaky soldiers by Ralf ?? at:
Violet Blue’s photos:
me waking up saturday:
a few videos here:
Some of Eddie Codel’s photos:

3. What we’ve been reading, seeing, listening to…
Since our mentor Philip Lamantia recently died, we’ve been re-reading his poetry books–right now there’s a beautiful display of Lamantia photos and books in the window of the Poet’s Gallery, Grant/Union St in North Beach. April 10 Sunday 7-10pm there will be a celebration for him there.

We are admirers of Julia Solis‘s work and recommend unreservedly, without having seen it, her recently published book chronicling her safaris into the New York sewer system. Go to and see for yourself…

We are interested in seeing the new, controversial, highly publicized movie by outsider-director Robert RodriquezSin City, with soundtrack byGraeme Revell (interviewed in the Industrial Culture Handbook, available for purchase online) We’ve read the reviews in the New Yorker and the New York Times, and reading between the lines have gleaned that in these times of near-total criminality, the best way to provoke people into pondering/thinking about morality and ethics is to present an almost totally amoral scenario… thus the viewers must provide the moral countervalence (that is, if they are capable) …

We read Michael Connelly‘s first Harry Bosch (police detective) novel, Black Echo, set in the sewers below Los Angeles, and which references the infamous tunnels of Cu Chi in Vietnam. For Freudian reasons, this may be our favorite Michael Connelly book so far…

We read five books by Dorothea Tanning…one of our Top Twenty living artists

We found a book by M.R. James, one of our favorite writers of ghost stories, titled Abbeys. Great photos of ruins. All in all, a beautifully eccentric dark vision from 1925.

We read Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz…truly a unique, demonically imaginative work of fiction–and like Isidor Ducasse, the author died young.

We interviewed for a future CounterCulture Hour the amazingly futurist Canadian couple, Arthur and MariLouise Kroker… Their books are available at City Lights Bookstore, which recently hosted a book signing for them plus their friend DJ Spooky… Google them.

We interviewed Steven Brown and Peter Principle of Tuxedo Moon for a future CounterCulture Hour… Write us if you’re interested in seeing that!

Lastly, our latest book, J.G. BALLARD QUOTES is available direct from us at www. Needless to say, we highly recommend this as one of the most amazing books to come out in some time. Reading this will definitely expand consciousness; doubtless, many of Ballard’s insights will become your own in time. It’s as witty as Oscar Wilde, and far more sinister–yet in a sunlit way. Circa 1972 Ballard said, “Sex times technology equals the future”–well, think of the Internet where allegedly 60% of all traffic involves sex sites. In 1992 he predicted that “the Arab world would replace the U.S.S.R. as the great bogeyman” for the U.S., and has that come true or not? He predicted Reagan would become President at least 15 years before it happened! We really think you can’t afford NOT to read the J.G. Ballard Quotes book…

But don’t just take **our*** word for it. Here’s what one reader wrote in, excerpted: “I finally fully finished reading Quotes: JG Ballard. I was taking it in bitesize chunks because (A) I have been working a lot at the one-inch-away-from-total-chaotic-collapse nursing home that is my workplace and (B) my head hurt whenever�I tried to read too much of it in one�go. It’s like a fine wine, each quote to be savored for its lucidity and elegant genius escape-velocity-from-contemporary-reality beauty, as opposed to gulping down the whole syllabic brainburn bottle… As you said, I too believe that Ballard is the ‘most relevant living philosopher’ and I never fail to come away from reading something of his, or his thoughts on something, without taking something away with me.

I never fail to be staggered by the man’s supremely, exhilaratingly unconventional views on something-nothing-everything, and there were points in that book that made my head swim and, indeed, actually made me cry. I had almost forgotten the incredible beauty of the prose poetry in The Unlimited Dream Company, and will have to go back and re-read it again soon. Anybody who says that Ballard is exclusively a cold, cool, calm, collected, clinical writer simply hasn’t read that amazing book, which I always read as a love letter to his deceased wife.

I know that the Quotes book is one to which I will return to many, many times in the future, and will always find something new to think about in its incredibly-far-ahead-of-practically-all-humanity pages…

I must say, Vale, that you have performed a very valuable service by collecting Ballard’s thoughts in such an accessible, interesting, well-produced fashion; I would even say a service for humanity, and wouldn’t regard that as pushing it. People like Ballard and yourself are like an oasis of intelligence and sanity in an increasingly dumb-brain, no-thought world, and it’s such a lifeline and relief to read such great brainfood stuff.” – G.R.

** If you’ve actually read this far, you may already know that THE UNIVERSE WITHIN, by strange coincidence an exhibition similar to, but different from, the “BodyWorld” show which has received massive publicity, can now be seen in San Francisco. THE UNIVERSE WITHINexhibition is at:

The Universe within,
Nob Hill Masonic Center,
1111 California street (at Taylor), San Francisco
Tickets: 415-292-9191
Truly, not to be missed, unless one is already one of the Living Dead… We recommend getting tickets immediately and not waiting… Don’t say we didn’t warn you! (thanks, Staffan, for heads up!)

Sadly, there was a theft from the recent L.A. “Body World” Show. An intriguing surveillance tape may be viewed here

A Brief RE/SEARCH History
With $100 each from Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in 1977 V. Vale founded SEARCH & DESTROY to document Punk Rock. In 1980 Vale founded RE/SEARCH which has produced to date about 30-odd projects, most notably the Industrial Culture Handbook, Pranks, andModern Primitives — a book which changed the world. BTW, many people don’t know that the original Search & Destroy (1977-79) tabloids are still available (11 issues, $40) and the rarer-still RE/Search #1-2-3 (1980-81) tabloids ($20, only 3000 or so were printed) fromwww. or call 415-362-1465.

June 2005 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale & contributors. Newsletter and website powered by

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