This is a reanimation of the Vicaribus blog as lived by Miro Kazakoff and Ehren Foss in 2004 and 2005.
The photos may be spotty.
Posted by Miro
Itís time to go home.
Iím lying in bed on Sunday and that idea is echoing through my brain as I try not to sweat through in my bed. After a half hour of that I climbed out of my room and declared to Ehren it was time to head home. Heíd been sometimes gently and sometimes not so gently suggesting that we skip RAGBRI and head for Wisconsin. He seemed to feel torn about not packing as much activity and adventure as possible into our last week, but really aching to head to Wisconsin now that we were so close. I think heíd do RAGBRI if I felt passionate, but his heart lay in Wisconsin. And, my heart lay in going home.
Unfortunately, I actually have no idea where home is. I have no apartment. Iím pretty sure Iím headed back to Boston to anchor a job search there, but Iím not positive where Iíll end up. Still, I have a powerful urge to go some place I can call home. I think the party on Saturday night reminded me of how much I miss friends. Iím looking forward to returning to people I know and a sense of community. Something I can usually reliably find (at least for a weekend) in both Boston and New York.
So today weíre on the road to Wisconsin. As Iíve told many people, Wisconsin has this feeling of pilgrimage for me. I have so many friends from there and have now met almost all of Ehrenís friends from high school (at least the ones heís still willing to talk to). In the true sense of the pilgrimage, Iím visiting a place that has deep emotion significance for me even though Iíve never been there.
I got to catch a show last night put on by a friend of mine from high school. Heís touring the US with some other performers. While they claim to eschew the aesthetics traditionally associated with the genre, the best description of their music is ďnoise.Ē Itís atonal, non-rhythmic combinations of feedback and electrical-acoustical effects played very loud.
Iím sorry to say that I couldnít really appreciate what was going on onstage. Itís not clear to me how the performersí actions, turning various knobs and buttons, linked up to the sounds coming out of the speakers. Iím not so sorry to say that the show was a challenge for me to really enjoy. This stuff, like most experimental art, challenges the audience to expand their definitions of art, deliberately so, and tries to get away from the paths we have traditionally followed.
That said, experimental stuff, even when challenging to listen to, can be great fun to describe. While I donít have the expertise to understand the electronics and mechanics that created the sounds, hereís what I saw.
The first act, I think was called ďRight Arm Severed.Ē I only caught them through the doorway of the record shop where the performance went down. They appeared to have split old stuffed animals down the back, ripped out the stuffing and stuck their heads in there so they couldnít see. Perhaps they started with instruments, but by the time I arrived they were in a pile on the floor on top of a speaker. While ear-drumming splitting feedback played, they tackled each other hard and slammed each otherís heads into the floor. This went on for 5-10 minutes. When one guy took off his teddy bear I could some pretty nasty rug burns on his head.
Next up were Jesse Kudler (my friend) and Jason Zorn. They each had equipment in front of them: a board with hundreds of patch cables connecting various ports for Jason and a set of effects boxes and foot pedals for Jesse. Jason also held a device that looked like a Jeopardy buzzer throughout the performance. From their set I primarily remember one sound that went off periodically and sounded like a capacitor being discharged or a Jacobís Ladder spark.
After that, Jason Zeh performed with about 10 tape decks arrayed around him on the floor. If I read the tape labels correctly, most of the tapes had some form of feedback recorded on them. They were played overlapping each other while manipulated by other effect. Through most of the performance Jason held the magnetic strip of one cassette in his hand. He was manually pulling it through the tape head, controlling the sound through the pressure and speed at which he tugged. Lest you get the impression I didnít enjoy the show, let me say that this was a pretty cool effect: the kind of thing I would play with myself if it had occurred to me (but it didnít, which is why I wasnít onstage).
Mike Shiflet was the hardest for me to describe as he pretty much had a single effects board that he was manipulating. So I canít describe the equipment. His set was probably the most auditorily assaulting. It was well timed though and ended just about when I couldnít take any more.
The final group was Occasional Detroit: described in the show promotionals as ďreally fucked up.Ē The act was one guy and one girl. They wore baby powder caked over their faces and hair. The guy alternated between using a microphone and a set of headphones plugged into the microphone jack. The girl was exclusively on headphones which she wore like a surgical mask with the other ear piece over top of her head.
They had a drum machine providing an occasional beat. The ear phones turn the human voice into a distorted soup of sound, and I think they were mostly shrieking into it rather than talking. The guy did do some talking into the mic. It was largely unintelligible but occasional snippets would come through: some were graphically sexual and I got the impression he didnít think much of the audience. At one point, he seemed to reenact birth on the ground in front of the stage. Then he asked if anyone had a sandwich.
At one point he went up to the girl working the drum machine. He starting biting her arm and then rapped about how she hasnít showered thatís why she wears baby powder.
At one point in the set, he went over and played a video game on one of the racing machines in the corner. Then rapped while he was playing. As I said, the raps were mostly gibberish, but I think he rhymed Minnesota with Winnesota.
Now, I thought this was hysterical. Really silly and entertaining. I had seen the guy walking around earlier. He looked sane, but on stage I thought he did a convincing performance as someone totally out of his mind, but based on the deluded logic the insane specialize in. I was smiling most of the show and occasionally laughing until I looked around. The crowd was totally into it, but in that super-serious way. They were bopping to the beat and nodding their heads in understanding. I think I caught a few people smirking, though.
After 15 minutes, the guy stopped the music, thanked the crowd and took a bow. After the applause died down, he picked up the mic again and yelled ďPsyche!Ē The show went on for another 10 minutes.
If you out there, check out the rest of Jesseís tour: THE ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC PUNCH IN THE FACE
On Tuesday, Ehren and I went to the Mall of America with Jason (Ehrenís friend from high school and one of our hosts) and Amy (a friend of Jasonís we met on Saturday night). Every guidebook and description of the place warns: ďItís just a Mall.Ē
Frankly, I donít think that does it justice. At any single point in the shopping concourse, the MoA looks like an average American mall, but after 45 minutes of walking you still havenít doubled back on yourself or seen the same store twice. And they have every single store. Not just every major chain, but every possible store. There was a bean bag chair store and a Wisconsin-goods store (just east of the Minnesota-goods store).
The shopping concourse is a giant circle that encloses an atrium with amusement park. Thereís a full size roller coaster and several carnival rides all based around a Peanuts Gang theme. Amy and I caught a bit of the Charlie Brown stage show and recoiled in horror at how grotesque Lucy looks as an oversize character.
I picked up a pair of cheap bike shorts and some t-shirts at Old Navy. Part of my re-acclimation to stationary life will include the purchase of an entirely new wardrobe. Itís an excuse to actually try and develop a look for myself. I think the theme I want to go for is: clothes that fit properly. Perhaps a secondary goal will be a kind of fused redneck, hippie, intellectual aesthetic. So I bought some new black t-shirts (only $6 at Old Navy). Amy was goading me to buy an orange t-shirt. Actually, she didnít so much goad as casually mention that orange is sometimes a nice color. I bought one. Iím saving it till after moving off the bus, though, since orange is Ehrenís color. I guess Iíve warmed up to it given that the entire interior of the bus is painted orange. Actually, itís painted two different subtle shades of orange that only Ehren and I appreciate the difference.