Woe be the artist who doesn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Who would expect to have that song become a YouTube sensation, or that illustration to end on on the cover of a magazine? FaceBook and Google+, etc. may weasel in on your rights too, if you post things on there. After the success, what do you have if you haven’t covered your ass?
I stare at the radar screen, showing colors of a storm across the Bay Area. Yellows are the worst of it, poring down out my window in the darkness of my back courtyard area. The flood light went out after they flipped the fourth and final one bedroom back there. I emailed the landlord to tell her three weeks ago and she said it would be fixed. It is still broken and I guess all the new folks living back there do not mind walking through the dark up the stairs to their places.
I have been thinking about silence today. I know someone that talks constantly. Almost nonstop. I won’t go into details because this person could actually wander over to this site and figure out who I am talking about. But all the talk makes me think of not talking. I hear enough talking in my mind. Nonstop monkey brain. Planing planning planning. Getting caught up on inner criticisms and the hustle for work and living.
But I do not feel like I have to open up my mind’s words into actual verbal words. I do not feel that strong of a need to connect with someone just to connect. I do like connecting, but I like to use my words with care. They can easily hurt or be too aggressive. They can easily be taken the wrong way and misinterpreted. One thing I have learned in my Paralegal classes is that words matter. In law, like life, what you say can and will be held against you.
But I get caught up and attached to the frustration and anger that arises when I hear nonstop talking. I don’t want to be around it! Some of it offends me. Some of makes me want to argue a counterpoint. Simply put, there can be unskillful means within the confines of the chatter.
On the flip side of this, I have had an exquisite conversation with a familiar stranger these past three weeks. I do not know her but I do know her. I have not spoken with her but we have spoken. I savor the words that she uses and I try to give thoughtful replies. I fret over my word choices and feel like I may say too much. I have edited myself and tried to keep a more refined persona. We are email pen pals with a few snail mail cards thrown in.
While I still go over to FaceBook, appreciating the silence and the pointed choice of words to a pen pal has added another layer of my disdain for social media. I look upon the feed(s) with a clouded confusion. Some of it is self-promotion which I do not mind. Most of it seems like chatter. And I get frustrated at the uselessness. While I translate Italian subject lines and watch shared videos, the FaceBook stream looks like this (and this is the current stream of useless chatter):
OK. I just looked at FB and I cannot bring myself to judge. I do not want to judge. I do not want to feel like I’m sucking sugar water in a rat maze as the feed ticks on. Maybe it is useful chatter for others. Maybe it is teaching me a lesson in my practice. Notice it and let it go. Do not let the mind get caught in the FB stream!
The rain continues outside my window. Not as loud as it was 15 minutes ago. I feel the laptop on my lap. Hear the ticking of the space heater. See the words appearing on the screen. This is now. Just notice this, now.
Yes, today is one of those days where you just go with the flow and take it for what it is. It began with the end of a seder for Passover. Done Project Artaud/Mission/Reb Le stylie. Biked home from that around 3am this morning, with mystical discussions and mad laughter ringing in my ears. Got home and continued to read Catching Fire, Book II of the Hunger Games trilogy. Slept in and had a futzy morning and finished the book, made final plans for the tour this afternoon, ate some food. Just chilled on a Shabbas morning. Gave the tour for a party of 9, a surprise birthday party for a man’s wife. She announced to her friends that she was pregnant. Weather was great. They loved the walk. Off to CC and Addie’s place for pre MAPP cocktails of egg-white pisco sours. Dangerous concoctions! Visits with friends and making new friends. Then out and about the Mission for tacos, galleries, and spaces packed to folks enjoying music. Discussions of murals, meetings with new and old friends, hugs all around and then back home to end the night with Mockingjay Book III beginnings, pb and honey sandwiches, the daily blog post, and a sticky mouth. Continue reading “Sticky Mouth”
Back in 2003, a major shift had happened at CELLspace. Events had been shut down and a large group of volunteers had pretty much left 2050 Bryant to start the Mission Market back on Florida Street. Tensions were high, people were burned out, and CELL needed to pay rent. CELL had had one of its few retreats to try to reform the regroup after many caretakers left in a huge pile of animosity. Then the war in Iraq started. We had all been protesting to not start this war and most of us saw the meta-narrative of CELL’s plight as that of the world’s.
I was personally down about the war and CELL. I’d backed off a bit to take a break, but I was answering the info email address (because no one else was). Since 1996, CELLspace has inspired many people to start their own space. There’s the Crucible, the Box Shop, and many others. From time to time, people would stop by to study CELL. And we would get emails asking about how to start a space. At the time I was answering info@cellspace, I got an email from Bucketworks in Milwaukee, WI (now in its 9th year!!). They were starting up a space and had great questions about how to do it. They caught me at a time where I must’ve been ready to talk raw and candidly about what was going on at CELL.
CELL had just turned 7 when the email arrived. I had just finished co-producing the Funky Puppet Supper, which was an amazing show that touched on CELL’s plight and the plight of war with Iraq. I pulled the original emails off of the Oblio hard drive last week, and decided, for CELL’s 16th Birthday (this Spring Equinox), to post it on here in its entirety. It is emotional, raw, unedited (well, I did take out a few bits that were too personal). It is a great snapshot of how I saw CELL back in 2003.
I had no help in answering the questions. I did not answer this based upon any horizontal process. So do not expect this to be the definitive angle on what was happening at the time. Remember, I was going to CELL meetings with about 3 other people while about 12 people were meeting and running the Mission Market. And a group of workers had left the space. These were hard times.
Being a lover of history, I cannot pass up adding the following Q&A about CELL to my Month of Blog. Happy 16th birthday CELLspace! So many amazing and intense memories.
In the past few weeks, I have become tired of seeing my mind work like a FaceBook post. I actually started noticing this on the 2009 Stencil Nation tour in Europe. As Pod and I wandered around Vienna, Austria, we realized that every city we toured, the word “FaceBook” kept showing up in random places. And we both realized that we were beginning to think as posts to FaceBook. “Woah, that’s funny. I should share that on FaceBook.” I didn’t have a phone in the EU and Pod’s phone was a cheap “dumb” phone, so we couldn’t go from thought to FB in a matter of seconds.
Beyond the concept of having a huge corporation enter my brain as a way to express myself, I have begun to worry about the content that I post on FB. Google just changed the way they gather user information. I’m sure you saw the ads all over the place telling you about Google’s plan to consolidate their user experience, and thus their user’s thoughts. Buddhist ads have begun to appear on FB. I don’t want to buy any buddha t-shirts, but FB thinks I do. As the FTC mulls a “do not track” rule, and Google and other companies get busted for accessing too much user data, I’m beginning to wonder if my already slim profile on FB (and Google+, which I rarely post to), is a bit too much. And as FB changes their format (and user agreements) every 3 months, I am growing tired of the overflow of information. I hear this FB burnout from other people as well, and I think that the FB OD is one reason Google+ just isn’t happening. Most people appear to be thinking “You mean I have to go to yet another website to post my life?!” Continue reading “Month of Blog”
Like holding a hand-full of sand, the Iranian/French/Tunisian film “Bab Aziz” sifts through my memory of visual and audial delights. It played to a small screen here in San Francisco, and I was fortunate enough to see it. Certain scenes of this “Iranian Cenemapoem” gave me shivers, touched my heart, and gave my soul a layer of the joy of living. My soul knew, absolutely, that when I die, and I will die eventually, heaven or eternity will be similar to this movie. Ever since seeing this movie, the idea of wandering in a desert, telling stories and dancing, meeting poets, musicians, and madmen, all for the eventual discovery of a spiritual music and dance gathering HAS TO BE ETERNITY.
I loved the movie so much, I begged my friend Jeff Stot, an amazing Middle Eastern producer and musician, to come and see it. He enjoyed it and saw it a second time with some Persian musicians he worked with (they were not as enthused as we were about the movie). I rarely see a movie twice, but I had a hunch that “Bab Aziz” would not be for rent any time soon in my local video store (or, more presently online).
I was correct in assuming this. Not knowing Farsi or Arabic, I have tried to purchase this DVD over the years. I went to many many DVD stores in New York City looking for it. I’ve looked online too, but there is not really an English audience for this movie. I frequently go to YouTube to find segments of “Bab Aziz” to share with people who seem to have a mystical or spiritual depth. Doing this a few days ago, I discovered that Middle Eastern people are posting the full-length movie on YouTube. I found one with no subtitles, and another with Turkish subtitles. Then, I found one in 9 parts with English subtitles. The person who posted the videos describes the movie as an “Iranian Cinemapoem; A poetic glimpse of ‘Sufi-Darvish’ vision and way of life! A philosophical Sufi story.”
Yes to all three. Finally, after years of watching the segments of the movie sift from my memory, I got to watch it again. It was a little bit-mapped, but the tears and shivers came again. And the deep soul-knowing of my connection to music, as natural as walking or breathing, rang true again. Like a meditation bell or a soul clap: we can feel the truth when it comes to us.
Please watch… sharing this movie may help one understand parts of themselves. It is also from a country much maligned in the US media right now. Iranian leaders may call us “satan” but Iranians are humans after all, and some are capable of making great art.
When the apple trees fruit, the humans must step in to take off the weight. If not, bears like Henry will climb over an eight foot high fence and tear off the branches so he can enjoy the sweet treats. If not, bees of all stripes will descend on the dropped fruit and enjoy the rotting, juicy goodness. If not, our community will not have any cider and sexy apples to chomp on. For about a month now, the forty or so apple trees up on the Three Banana Ranch have been peaking. But Aaron Bassler, his killings, and the wild west manhunt that ensued, almost got in the way of our planned picking and packing.
The 3BR apple harvest was set for this past weekend before Bassler began to elude dozens of Northern California police, sheriffs, and SWAT commandos. I first heard about Bassler two Fridays ago, from Terri, just before the San Francisco Chronicle started reporting on the “largest manhunt in California history.” Bassler grew up in the Mendocino woods between Ft. Bragg and Willits. He had a system where he’d break into vacation cabins, steal what he needed, and disappear into the woods again. He’d killed two men and was now shooting at police. Like a typical outlaw, Bassler had a disdain for authority.
Arriving into the Willits area just after three Sacramento police had snipped Bassler and shot him seven times in the chest (just like the wild west movie “True Grit”, the authorities had a fire-road intersection staked out, using scopes and high-powered rifles from up on a ridge). At the hardware store in Willits, an employee mentioned that the German shepherds that had found Bassler early in the hunt, bit him quickly and retreated. So he was bleeding for the last week. “You won’t hear about that in the papers.”
Down on the Skunk Train trail, where police commandos would commandeer the train when they needed it (and tours still continued during the manhunt!), there were other stories. Reverse 911 messages sent out to property owners said, in a robotic feminine voice, “The Sheriffs will visit you. If you hear a knock at your door, please do not answer while holding a weapon.” One police said that night vision goggles were useless in the dense forest because of all the animals roaming at night. So many eyes; too much going on. The police spotted about 12 bears, ran some of them out of their territory from all the ruckus, and two camouflaged commandos had a bear walk right over them.
The property owners down on the Skunk Train trail had a party during the peak of the manhunt, heavily armed, and practically ran off the authorities. It was a huge show of community, mutual aid, and firepower. General consensus held that the interloper cops, from all over Norther California, were scared shitless of Bassler. He had the upper hand on them, hiding in shallow, leaf-covered holes, humping gear and guns about 4 miles an hour, over treacherous terrain that police feared to tread. Bassler had outflanked them, escaped a gauntlet of about 50 of them, and, when shot, had his finger on the trigger of his own high-powered automatic weapon.
Enough about the Aaron Bassler manhunt.
Excited to begin the harvest, Terri and I got started as the late-wakers began their breakfast. We used a ladder and some apple picking devices (a small cage on the end of a pole) to quickly fill up some wheelbarrows with our harvest. We didn’t really know what the system was going to be, but it easily worked itself out after we started piling the apples up by the hand-cranked press.
First, dump the apples on the tarp by the press. Second, sort the apples: wormy ones in one pile or bag (to be cut up for sauce, cooking, etc.), bumpy ones in the pressing pile (closest part of the tarp, with a piece of cardboard separating the sorted from the unsorted pile), and sexy ones in the “stick in your face and eat” pile. Third, get the press going.
To press the apples, we eventually found all the right tools for the job. Turning the grinder crank so that the teeth hit the apples from above, the apples suck and mulch down into the bucket with a “suction” of momentum. It is good to have a second person there to feed apples into the grinder. We tried three kinds of fabric filters to put in the mulch bucket below the grinder. The cheese cloth lasted about 4 pressings. The game bag lasted barely three. Terri’s flannel pillow case did at least a dozen pressings and was still going at the end of the day!
There is a crank missing for lowering the press onto the mulched apples. We found that a short 2×4 worked best. Once the juice starts flowing, we had a 5 quart bowl, with a strainer, under the drain. We used a spoon to clear out the schmutz from the drain hole and save the insects who wanted to drown themselves in sweet apple cider.
We found that one pressing took about 15 quarts of apples and made 5 quarts of cider. We put the cider in an Igloo container and jars. In one day, we made about 10-12 gallons of cider.
We baked some apples too! We made apple crisp, apple sauce, apple pancakes with apples on top, and roasted apples. The children left a trail of nibbled fruit; we cut off the bitten parts and threw them in the pressing pile. To celebrate “Peace on Irmulco” (aka the death of outlaw Aaron Bassler), the property owners had a covered dish party at the “Y” (an actual road intersection that is Y-shaped). We brought along some cider with spiced rum. It was a hit.
Terri and a crew also harvested some pears. She found them to be juicier so the pressing went faster for them. Of the apples varieties, the enterprise apples were less wormy and sexier than the rest. One tree had three varieties on it. Some tasted better than the others, but in the end, the cider was awesome!
Questions still remain about how the authorities handled the Aaron Bassler manhunt. Opinions show that the police bungled the operation a few times. Though there was no “shoot to kill” command for the police who killed Bassler, one property owner was told to shoot to kill by a police at some point during the manhunt. Questions arose about how to handle a delusional psychopath whose father begged the authorities to commit and medicate. When the snipers saw Bassler’s finger on the trigger of an automatic, they chose to not risk calling out to him. He’d probably jump into the woods and cause another week of tension and anxiety. So they took him out. This seems to be the trend for police in Northern California: shoot first, ask questions later. Before you judge either way, you should read up on the manhunt and try to work out the facts.
And, though the Bassler affair was an odd addition to the weekend, the apples still tasted sweet. Like nature in general, the apples do not judge the acts of humans and so the fruit cycled through like they naturally do.
For our first season at the Tree Banana Ranch, we did our best to trim the apple trees. We saw the flowers, then the early fruiting. We began picking them a month ago, before the manhunt broke a record dating back to the wild west era. And this weekend, we harvested, sorted, and pressed the fruit that once hung about 100 feet away. The trees seemed happy to have all that weight taken off. And as the rains come, the new season begins.
With the rains, the fresh memories of the Bassler manhunt will fade from memory, only to be brought up around campfires, beers, and possibly at the next apple harvest. Like tree roots and mycelia, the two are now entwined in the history of a new homestead.
Join me Wednesday on 24th St. when I speak for only 10 minutes at A Vayable Idea
Join me Satuday with TransportedSF for the Banksy Tour. I will guide you through the six remaining Banksy pieces via a biodeisel bus (drinking and fun allowed).
Some thoughts about Street Art Tourism in SF
Sometime around 2002, when an article about “The Mission School” of public art appeared in the SF Bay Guardian, the alleys where I wandered to photograph stencil art. Of course, this was around the time Banksy was becoming a sensation, Melbourne, Australia’s walls were exploding with public art, and Tristan Manco released his book “Stencil Graffiti.” As books began to get published, websites like MySpace and Flickr began to allow massive photo and info sharing, and digital cameras became cheap and easy to use, people started noticing that I was taking photographs of the sidewalk (and other strange locations). People started asking me questions about the art. Then I eventually saw people taking their own photographs. Prior to about 2005, very few people documented what was now being called street art. But this began to change. Like me, people were traveling around the world to see the art, the exhibits, and the freshest city walls. One of the pillars of street art entailed that artists had to travel and put their art up all over the world. It was only a matter of time before this all went mainstream.
When Banksy wandered through the USA about two years ago, there was a frenzy of Tweets and posts sharing the locations and art he left behind. I jumped into the frenzy and saw many other people wandering San Francisco to snap up photos of the fresh work. A few who scooped Banksy’s visit ended up on TV, and the blogosphere many cities ate up his art (and the eventual removal of much of it). In my mind, the sensation had arrived. Irionically, Banksy was promoting his documentary that looked at the hollow sensation of art’s next greatest thing.
I wasn’t surprised when I was asked to speak as an expert for a Banksy tour in May. With only six pieces remaining (well, one is totally destroyed but still possibly relevant), and a law in the books where drinking alcohol on a bus is legal, there was a good combination for a fun Saturday afternoon. The tour sold out, and we all had a great time. I know that Precita Eyes gives mural tours, and Chris Carlsson gives FoundSF tours, both of whome fill in gaps where the mainstream double-decker buses never tread. Antenna Theater developed the Magic Bus as a multimedia bus show, but demand was so high, they turned it into an ongoing “tour”. There are other tours that I probably do not know about, and some, like the Barbary Coast, Dashiell Hammett, and Beat Generation tours are a bit more mainstream. Jeremy Novy has an exhibit titled “A History of Queer Street Art” which is closing just in time for Pride Weekend. I am sure that people here for Pride are going to this exhibit and then looking for the illegal art afterwards.
Prior to the Banksy tour, I had wondered how many people came to San Francisco to seek out the painted alleys and walls. As street art became a topic of LA tabloids (“Is Banksy going to appear at the Oscars???” “The Art in the Streets show is causing more graffiti!” ) and Shepard Fairey became a household name, I saw the back streets of San Francisco turn into photo opportunities. Back when I visited Melbourne, Australia in 2008, their official tour brochure boasted that tens of thousands of tourists came to the city to see the painted laneways. As I visited the Citylights gallery just off Hosier Lane, I saw Japanese tourists snapping photos, a newlywed couple posing in front of the walls, and even a school group of young children looking at the art. This was only in maybe an hour of visiting the area!
As San Francisco spends $22 million a year to erase graffiti and street art, these changes beg the question “just how much money is the City making from all the graffiti and street art?” The best way to find out would probably be a funded study of underground and subculture tourist trends. If two people stood at both ends of Clarion Alley on a Saturday, and asked a small list of questions, I assume that the results would be surprising for the bureaucrats that only see vandalism. Then there are the stores that cater to the culture of street art. Upper Playground reigns supreme in the Haight. 1AM holds it down in SoMa. White Walls makes the illegal walls quasi-legal with their top shelf legal walls.
This is what I hope to talk about Wednesday night A Vayable Idea. This is a start up dot com that allows people to purchase tours from everyday people who love their cities. I’ve already done a few tours through Vayable and they’ve been great. My tourists have been curious about all the art that they see around them. I try my best to answer all their questions and show them the best spots. There are skateboard tours on Vayable, available in SF. There’s another underground tourist source that is understudyed. Our hills are famous for skating down. So I’m putting the word out: Who is catering to alt-tourism and why isn’t San Francisco paying attention? I’m crious to see what happens. Hope you come by and visit so that I can hear what you think about it all.
Sunday Streets was a great time on 19th and Valencia. I barely saw any other part of the event, but managed to hula hoop more than ever in my life. Got the hang of it and then started another trick. Will have to work on it next time. Bay Area Hoopers really filled out CELL’s area. We had maybe 15 hoopers at the most, many of them children who couldn’t resist trying it out. I didn’t realize that BAH has been spending wet season at CELLspace for 8 years now! Laura baked cookies and lemon squares for Sat. night’s Funkathon, so we had the extras to hand out and try to sell. I tried to get a Funky Puppet Supper reunion together for the day, but it just didn’t happen. The most committed alum, Nate Holguin, had to work an emergency shift at the Brava Theater. A few others alums stopped by to say hey and hang out.
After running an errand, I finally made it over to CELLspace for the birthday bbq. Dave X had several grills going, and Antonio and some of the hoopers had beaten me there. Nate was there, so I was glad to get to catch up with him after a long time of no seeing. Ben Smith, an early co-founder of CELLspace, stopped by as did several folks who saw the bbq advertised online. Soft, a former caretaker, just happened to be biking by, so he stopped for a burger and some hanging out.
Photographer Steve Rhodes showed up too. When Dave saw his camera, he asked if Steve could take a group photo by the Doggie Diner Heads. And he did. You can see them all here, along with some other photographs of the murals and Jeremy Novy’s latest additions. Right before I left for my 7pm appointment, CELL’s birthday cake was cut and being consumed. For some of the group shots, we sang “happy birthday” to CELL and then gave a hearty pirate “arrrrgh!” If you care to know, back in the CELLspace days of collective meetings, we approved all passed agenda items with a loud “arrrgh!” Makes sense that the crowd at the bbq was more into the scream than the banal birthday song.
CELL:15 ended a great success. We got some press, made a little money, created a whole lot of community, and shared some good times with new and old friends. Like I said on FaceBook… “now we return to the regular program.”
Words. Thousands and millions of words. Constantly getting churned out from keyboards around the world. A never-ending stream of thoughts and details, facts and admissions. Spilling out into the Web at a Class 5 rapid rate.
History. Analysis of the past in the present. Constantly changing, being reframed, deconstructed. Not necessarily too far back and possibly instantly expounded upon. Usually avoided by the technical elite as not worth remembering or thinking about.
Choice. Where do you stand on a subject? What words have you picked to explain something that has happened? What parts of history have you chosen to remember and how clear are your details? What has been LEFT OUT of the word stream? How do you choose to fill your time in the present moment?
News. Must get click-throughs. Must appease advertisers and corporate bosses. Must not upset fragile political alliances. Cowers at lobbyists who scare advertisers. Selectively edited to cause a flood of emotions and then moves on to the next potentially dammed site. Hopefully opens the flood gates before other sources push their own buttons. No topic too banal or useless, especially if it gets click-throughs, thus appeasing advertisers and corporate bosses. News cannot keep up with the speed of words these days. News can only follow social media at times to keep pace with history. News has very few filters with stories that do nothing but waste time for readers.
Readers. Have phones. Read phones. Demand instant words. Usually do not understand history. Get caught up in latest breaking news. Tsunami. Then movie star scandal. Whatever appears in phones is what is discussed with friends. In the flood of words, they skim the surface like insects. Only what is instant is gleaned. Little historical analysis is added to the words. Making a choice about news from a small, consolidated corporate pile of sources. A small percentage of readers go against the stream, but their efforts are large and their needs unattended.
At the CELL Events meeting several months before this event, we looked at the proposal that City Lights had filled out. Woah… David Byrne, Dave Eggers, and Michael Chabon reading at the CELLspace! I had read Eggers and Chabon, and loved house managing these type of events (you know, the events that end by midnight and have sober, adoring fans that don’t destroy things or fight). So I instantly offered to work this event.
When the day rolled around, I showed up a bit early, thinking that this was going to be a great opportunity to hang out with some amazing artists and writers. I was correct in thinking this: City Lights was well equipped to handle this event and showed up early as well to get things set up. The line of fans started early too, possibly three hours before the doors opened. Because of the stars in the house, I had a great crew of CELLspace folks helping with the set up. Pod was on tech and I can’t recall who was on the video. Actually, I think everyone who was working at CELL showed up to help out. Deborah even showed up and helped with the set up (she’s always good with event aesthetics).
When Byrne, Eggers, and Chabon rolled in, they were the most laid back bunch. David Byrne had no ounce of pretension on him. I introduced him to Pod, who got to work intimately with Byrne’s laptop. He was here to do a PowerPoint presentation after all. The line kept growing outside. I kept checking on them, making them laugh, answering their questions. They were extremely happy to be there, so that they could see David Byrne in an intimate warehouse setting. Local celebrities started showing up prior to doors. Beth Lisick and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were there, probably a pile of other people I have forgotten. Lisick wrote a great account of the reading portion for the SF Chronicle:
David Byrne was wandering through the capacity crowd at CELLspace last Sunday trying to find the bathroom, looking like somebody’s cool dad who’d gotten a little lost. The cavernous performance space was the perfect spot for the hundreds of fans who showed up to check out the triple-threat lineup of lit star Dave Eggers, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon and the visionary Byrne.
Eggers got things started with a few pieces he’d written under pseudonyms, immediately wrapping the crowd around his little finger, while Chabon read an excerpt from a story published in The New Yorker last April. (I was struck by the fact that when Chabon uttered the phrase “orange and purple velour” during his reading, no one made a sound, but the exact phrase, if uttered by Eggers, would have drawn a ripple of laughter from the room.)
But Byrne’s PowerPoint presentation about his new book, “The New Sins,” a written and photographic examination of religion, love, the afterlife and the human soul, was definitely the highlight. Funny, far out and gratifyingly profound. As he presented his ideas about virtues that are actually sins and why graphic designers have their own place in hell, I imagined a future with David Byrne as some sort of universal leader.
Lisick must have left after the readings, along with hundreds of other people, because she failed to write about the most amazing part of the night. As Byrne hung out with fans, some of whom gave him pieces of art, I stood at my usual by-the-bathrooms House Manager perch. Paradox Pollack, a caretaker living in 2048 Bryant, ran up to me from the main entrance. “I’m sorry! I can’t stop them!” he yelled at me in a pleading tone. “What are you talking about?” I asked.
Just then, from outside, a snare drum ratatatted loudly, echoing through the gallery. Then about 15 drums started, along with maybe a dozen horns. I looked at Paradox with surprise. “Extra Action Marching Band,” were the four words he told me, just when the motley crew entered the gallery space loud as hell. I turned around and considered running to Eggers and Byrne, apologizing for the anarchistic intrusion. Instead, I decided to let things run their course. Whenever Extra Action rolled into CELLspace, they did whatever the hell they wanted to do.
David Byrne loved the interruption from the fans. He’d been super nice to everyone who stood in line to meet him, but now he got up on the table where he was signing autographs and danced to the marching band. I walked over to stand with Pod and enjoy the moment. Paradox told us that Extra Action had gathered at 16th Mission BART and played all the way to Harrison Street. They then got quiet and walked to CELLspace so that they could make a surprise entrance. Paradox just happened to be on the sidewalk when they rolled up. So here they were, hurting our ears and making David Byrne laugh and dance.
Byrne liked them so much that he had Extra Action play with him at a concert in SF. He then took them on tour for a while. Eggers’ McSweeneys and City Lights had several more events at CELLspace around this time, mostly with authors that I’d read.