Art on the Airwaves: Ryan King and Handsome, Well-Dressed Radio

Driving around the wilds of Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday mornings from 9-10 can yield unexpected pleasures. Tired of the endless commercial breaks on corporate radio, you fiddle with the radio dial and suddenly your ears perk up at the sounds of Cab Calloway cascading into poems or short stories finally eddying into interviews with artists. It’s intellectually stimulating radio, but not the NPR soul-deadening variety.

What you’re hearing is Ryan King’s Handsome, Well-Dressed Radio on WHUS 91.7 (also available around this earth on web stream). It’s an exciting new venture that will explore all kinds of creative writing percolating in the Connecticut region. After taking part in one of Ryan’s shows, I was curious about how it came into being and the challenges and rewards of transmitting creative writing from the page to airwaves. If you’re interesting vist the show’s blog where you can read Ryan’s thoughts on art and listen to podcasts of previous episodes:   http://handsomewelldressedradio.wordpress.com/

 Jared: How long have you been doing Handsome, Well Dressed Radio?

Ryan: Handsome, Well-Dressed Radio has existed as a radio show for a mere four weeks and as an idea in my mind for an even shorter period because I didn’t really process what was going on until around week two.

Jared: What inspired you to do the show?

Ryan: It was birthed by accident, as a roughly 40% of things in the world are: it was partially a desire to bring the surrounding arts into the radio format. The other part of inspiration is of unknown origin, possibly conceived in a daydream or overheard in passing conversation.

Jared: A related question: what are your ultimate goals for the program?

Ryan: I’d like to see the program become well produced and increasingly alluring in nature, offering topics that would be more insightful than every-day conversation but less mind-consuming that your standard lecture.

Jared: How did you come up with the name?

Ryan: I was in a folk band in high school called “Handsome, Well-Dressed Folk” or something like that, which died a terrible death as most high school folk bands do, and all I was left with was a name and an unexplained urge to do radio.

Jared: I know we talked about this, but could you explain how swing music got to be a part of the show?

Ryan: It gives a classy vibe to even the grittiest of subjects, but furthermore, it captures the audience’s atttention at the start and then leaves things off on a good note when the show closes. Also, most of the music I play on the show is within the public domain, so I won’t find a cease and desist on my doorstep after I release a podcast or two.

Jared: What are some of the rewards/challenges of bringing creative writing to the radio format? Does radio change how we perceive the writings?

Ryan: As for rewards, there’s no cash flow, so it immediately eliminates any capitalist incentives, putting us at a pretty honest place to start. Challenges include producing a show concurrent to being a full-time student, intern, and having a part-time job, arranging content so it’s captivating to an audience that is either used to a more refined product or not accustomed to radio-literature in the slightest. I think that while paying close attention to something being read to you might prove challenging to one’s attention span, if presented in an engaging manner using sound and editing to the producer’s advantage, it can be an effective way of garnering an audience.

Jared: How long does it take to plan a show?

Ryan: Planning a show is a constant process of writing ideas down, losing the paper where you wrote those ideas, salvaging what you remember in your brain, using those salvaged memories to ask questions based off an overarching theme, scrapping that overarching theme when the answers take a different departure than expected, and then crafting it into a semi-functioning radio show.

Jared: Do you have a sense of how many listeners are out there?

Ryan: As for those listening on the FM band, we’ll never know, though in theory, anyone living soul within 60 miles could be listening. The weekly online streaming average ranges between 20-30 listeners, which will probably fluctuate as people either become disenchanted or enraptured by the show.

Jared: How do you find out about your featured writers?

Ryan: I am fortunate to have many references given to my lowly intern self by my supervisors in the Creative Writing Department.

Jared: Any big plans for the future?

Ryan: Survival is among the top priorities. Other lofty goals include finding out what exactly poetry is and kicking the habitual coffee breaks.

So Much Depends on the Hinge, Part 3: Heller Levinson Interview

Jared: I’ve noticed for some time that you have been proposing Hinge as an antidote to what you dub, “rampant and pernicious commercialism.” How could Hinge help move us beyond capitalist modes of life?

 Heller:  The simplistic answer is:  By providing more enriching (i.e., Nutritious) options.

First we need to identify the problem before we can understand “moving beyond.” The Human Community has to reach an agreement that unbridled capitalism has reached the end of its tether.  This really shouldn’t require much convincing:  the planet is overheating, the glaciers are melting, the polar bears are dying, vegetation & wildlife are being destroyed, the global economic structure is one giant synthetic Ponzi scheme[1], our resources (oil, water) are ending or being contaminated, the gap between the haves & have-nots is growing, hunger is growing, rage is growing, fear is growing, & there exist over 55, 000 nuclear warheads that we know about.  The list of horrors could continue, but we all get the message.

This external damage is mirrored in the internal damage.  In 1985, Neil Postman published the now-classic Amusing Ourselves To Death.  Today, with all the gadgetry & digital devices campaigning for our attentions, this Self-Demolitioning can be ratcheted up manyfold.  The human animal is now something of a hybrid:  Part Human/Part Gadget (i.e. BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, etc.)  The whole notion of “Prolongation” which I discuss in our first interview appears to be more & more an exotic curiosity.

Our external landscape is befouling while our internal landscapes are besmirched & shrivelizing.

We are at the End Game.

Hinge Theory to the Rescue (read as the tune “Jim Dandy to the rescue.”).

I’ll include a quote of mine I rediscovered this morning when Felino Soriano sent me his new e-book (Divaricated, Spatial Aggregates):

“Hinge Theory is not a philosophy; it is a guideline to enable entrance to the Hinge Universe, which is a continuing construct of perpetually interconnecting, profusely propagating, contagiously enlivening multiuniverses of multi-complementary extensions.  We have identified language as alive . . . .” – HL

Hinge, then, can help us move beyond capitalist modes of life by providing a Richer Paradigm.  If one explores the Fecundating Plangency Rotational Cluster (in from stone this running, BWP, 2011), one can be initiated into Inner Landscape E(nrichment)xpansionism.  Or, for the more concrete minded, there is the Fecundating Stone Rotational Cluster (also in fstr).  If a person partakes in the Fecundating Stone Rotational Cluster, deeply inhales/imbibes, broods & meditates upon, mulls over, the belief is that the participant will never see a stone, or anything else, in the same way.  His/her “idea” of the stone will be newly-offered, a Perceptual InviGorAtion, an element of the universe will become achingly ALive for them, running/coursing through/with their being, their lives will become more highly sensitized, delightf(illed)ull, spilling into surrounding are(n)as, into trees, creeks, brooks, badger, bark, ancient burial grounds, their world will sparkle, they will rejoice, they will want to Intercourse more, they will lust to explore “love like apparitional joinery,” “lamentation like inglorious silk,” . . . I mean, — who can go shopping after experiences like these?  Wal-Mart will die.  Apple will die.  The Human Being will emerge Newly Flowered.

A note about my comment above, “. . . is Partaken of. . . .”  I’ve had people who have been reading Smelling Mary come up to me & say “I’m still getting through your book.”  Well, neither SM, nor fstr is intended to be gotten through.  Reading Hinge Applications should not be task oriented.  I much prefer — in fact,for the kind of immersion I’m suggesting, I would say it is mandatory — the approach of a reader who told me she had been spending two months on “in the temperature of barn” & was still exploring it assiduously.  This is the path of prolongation, of full absorption, of deepimbibeenthrallment.

Now I’ll need to drift[2] a bit to flesh out how Hinge can assist in correcting the current greed-oriented toxic situation.  We have to understand that the very foundation of the structure is faulty.  The Chairmen of the Boards of our large corporations have one singular raison d’etre, & that is to achieve profits for their shareholders.  That is the extent of their responsibility.  They have no moral imperative, no ethics other than to provide “profits” for their shareholders.  QED.  That sums up the dilemma right there.  As long as no more inclusive, Vitalistic-oriented considerations take precedence, pernicious toxicity is inevitable.  Which is where we are today.

My proposal, with Hinge Theory as a model, is to Revolutionize the way we Live, Eat, Learn; in short, — how we inhabit the planet.  I know it sounds wide-eyed & preposterous, but at this point in time, we either Radically Alter Our Lives or we will certainly Extinguish them.  The smugness pervading the land is remarkable, the empowerment engendered by the new technology illusory, one only has to go through a severe storm, or the Northridge earthquake (I did), to see our entire infrastructure disabled in 17 seconds.

We must begin with Education.  Currently, there is no such thing as “education.”  Our schools & universities are no more than vocational schools, training grounds to equip citizens to participate in the transactional climate that is killing them.  To “begin with Education,” we have to Hingify the Teachers.  They need to be Spiritually Conditioned.  Without leadership, without persons Lighting The Way, we are Doomed.

This not being the appropriate time to submit a volume on Planetary Repair, suffice it to say that at this juncture we must reorient our lives toward Visions & Disciplines that offer Enrichment & Vitalism.

It has been a downhill slide from the sixties’ spiritual adventure of “Expand Your Consciousness” to the current Mantras of “LogIn,” and “Go Online.” We need to empower the Serfs of the Gadgetry Kingdom to release their Screen-Chains!

When they discover that there is more Satisfaction, more Pleasure, more FulFillment trekking the Inner Landscapes, they will toss their iPhones & stamp on their iPads.

They  will hear the Wake-Up Call to shift from a land of Narcoleptics to a land of Hinge-Devout Eureka Freaks!

So I say, — Get Freaky!


[1] see Joe Bageant’s “Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball:  Capitalism is dead, but we still dance with the corpse.”

[2] “Drift” is a Hinge activity, but gainful drift.

So Much Depends on the Hinge, Part 2: An Interview with Heller Levinson

Jared: In your last response, you mention that Hinge would be able to encapsulate everything from athletics to home cookery. That caught my eye. So far, we’ve talked about Hinge in very abstract/theoretical terms, but is it also a strategy for navigating through everyday life? An attitude, a frame of mind, more than a poetics? Is Hinge seeking to bridge that life-art gap?

 Heller:  For the past five years, I’ve been visited (as in visitation) by language springing with mutuality, beneficence, congregation, mobility, liveliness, curiosity, enterprise, expansionism, & reverence.  I also describe these years as a 5-year 7-month pregnancy.

Your question is profoundly prescient because just 3 weeks ago I began employing Hinge Strategies for “navigating through everyday life.”  The answer, then, to your question is “yes.”  How the “yes” is a “yes,” I will explore, with the caveat that it’s all so newly arriving that I’m not sure I can do it justice.

You will remember, Jared, that in our first interview – and the same would have applied a month ago — I expressed a disdain for biography.  I thought it the province of lower-order, trite-minded, applause-greedy, narcissists who could respond seriously to questions such as, “Do you have a writing schedule?”

A recent reunion after a 3 month break from my beloved has changed all that.  After reuniting, a tense situation arose between us, & I found that Hinge was extremely effective in orienting us toward a more productive, more enriching, more Loving approach.  (I’d like to signal “approach” as an area to investigate.)  So I am transforming from a hyper-private, semi-paranoid, hands-off-the-autobiographical stuff, into a balls-out, tell-all -confessionist.  Why?  Because Hinge demands it, as your question indicates.  My personal likes/dislikes, inclinations & prejudices, are immaterial in the light of Hinge Furtherance.

I will share an e-mail which I trust will illustrate Hinge Strategy In Action.

Background:  Mary was stressing from losing a renter and not regaining a replacement fast enough to sustain her relatively newly-purchased home.  I had distanced myself from her purchase of the home — I am uncomfortable with “ownership” — & told her from the get-go, she’d be on her own, don’t come to me for help.  The first medicinality was to examine why I had erected this artificial boundary.  Was I putting my beloved on trial?  She would have to prove herself?  Justify her purchase?  I was just going to sit on the sidelines with my arms folded in mock “I told you so” mode.  This no longer struck me as a rich posture for breeding Deep Intimacy.  Instead, I was Rupturing partnership, participation, & Intercourse because I had erected a static Division.  I changed my position & offered to rent the rooms to use as a weekend writing studio.  I asked Mary to be responsible for readying “my rooms” which, I did not realize at the time, put additional pressure on her already overloaded schedule.  From her point of view, she had suddenly acquired a third job.  Identifying this “Blockage” served to initiate a more prospering Hinge-To-Ward Her.  The e-mail:

Darling Mary,

I noticed “tensions” arising between us re:  the Heller rooms.

My thoughts:

1.  We go to marriage counseling

or

2.  We employ Hinge Therapy

I choose Hinge Therapy.

At this point, it is necessary to Re-Wind.  Why did Heller pay for the rooms in advance?  To Relieve Mary of Pressure, of Stress, so she could spend her time more Profitably, that energy going to her writing or some other area that was Productive, i.e., NON — Stressful.  By providing an Income Stream in advance, hoping to secure Security for her, it would also relieve her of Dealing with a foreign personality and the Stress of Worrying if it would work out.  The grand Design was all Pro Mary, to Further Her, Nutrition Her.

For Heller, it meant a)  Primarily taking care of his Honey’s concerns, and b) relieving Him of the stress of an Additional Personality, providing more private, romantic time for him and Mary.

What happened?  A number of things:  1.  Heller, gluttonously, under our toxic cultural conditioning, basked in having a City and Country Writing Studio, the Country Squire, his Very Own Studio Space in the Country.  2.  Mary and Heller thought it best to keep it a Business Relationship. — Wrong Wrong Wrong.  Let us De-Toxify.

We are not business partners, we are Lovers.  I want that space to be Our space, not MY space; I want it for US to enjoy, and since Mary is working there, at the present time anyway, more than Heller, who comes to relax and share time with his Cherished One, it is She who should employ the Work Space with the Preferred Light, it is She who should arrange the spaces that would most Profit her, . . . Heller initiated his “funding” to please Mary, to make her more Happy and Joyous, and that is the Focus I am now regaining. I am far more Interested in Intercoursing with Mary in Pruning practice than worrying about Spatial considerations.

Of course, I enjoy offering my tastes, opinions, ideas, & sharing together, . . . but I want it to be Mary’s Choices, … I started this for Her Gratifications and that is where this will end.  As of Now!

To Remark:

How immediate, spontaneously, and without Hesitancy, the WALLS erect/go up.

How much more Consideration, Meditation,  how much More CARE is required to bring them down.

With deep deep and deepening CARE & LOVE,

HELLER

I hope the e-mail illustrates how by first identifying the Blockage, & then seeking to eradicate/abolish/deconstruct that stance with Vital Circulation/Hinge-Throughs/Good Hygiene, a more rewarding Intimacy emerges. The e-mail was well appreciated by Mary & we deepened.

Dishing myself up as the sacrificial lab mouse, it is informative to note my transformation from our first interview, where my “aversion to the strictly personal” had me camouflaged as a Navy Seal specializing in Far East Intelligence to now, where I’m actually baring to the bone, or the bedroom, one might say.  I find it salient to share this — much as I hate having to expose myself — because I am now experiencing how Hinge is beginning to Shape/Lead/Alter Me.

For the first five years I feel I was immersed in Serving/Developing Hinge Theory.  Now I feel that Hinge is working on me, striving to shape/Fit me into the Ether it has achieved.  It is a strange concept that a creation can, in turn, turn around & begin to Create its Creator.  Since it is happening to & upon me, it doesn’t strike the “bizarre” note so much as it does the Miraculous, the Marvelous, the Sacred-Providential.

Lest this sound too new-age/hippy-dippy/artsy-fartsy/whacko Mystical, keep in mind that we have the proof, the skinny, the goods.  We have the material Evidence in all the applications, in the FRC’s, in the Fusion Reconnoiters, in the Intercourses with other Artists, it all Works.  We walk our talk.  This is not just “abstract/theoretical” babble because the Effectiveness of Hinge Theory is illustrated in the ongoing Work/Creation.  Talking about Hinge can distract us from the fact that we have profound evidence of its Effective Functionality.

What needs to be done is to study the Work, come to see how it behaves, & utilize it as a Medicinal Template, a Hygienic Paradigm.  Applying  elasticity, being in-service to the Particle, the notion of Mobilization/Densification/Complementarity & Extensionality to your everyday concerns, might assist you in Prospering your everyday life.

Drifting to home decorating, I will now note another incident which Reverberates Hinge Atmosphere.  [Your use of the word “encapsulate” would be antithetical to the Hinge Spirit since H releases/mobilizes/vivifies/liquefies —  expands & does Not compress.]  When Mary moved into her new home, the one tenet we agreed upon was not to make hasty decisions in terms of what belonged there & what didn’t, that each item admitted to the home must be Strenuously Precise, In Harmony, or Abandoned.  The first time I visited since our reunion, Mary showed me a lamp she had purchased for the living room.  I was stunned.  It was better than precise.  It was a Rarity.  Not only did it “serve” the room, it enhanced it, . . . Illumined in the truest sense.  She told me it cost $15.00, . . . I knew it to be priceless.  The Lamp looms so pregnantly in the Hinge Landscape that I am currently treating it as a Placement.[1]  A similar revelation was experienced when Mary introduce me to gardening one afternoon.  As primarily a city dweller, gardening had meant walking two blocks to the local florist & dishing out your credit card.  Digging, planting, turning the earth with your hands & fingers, Placing the plant for the appropriate sunlight for where the roots would best exfoliate, considering the watering, the height & configuration of the plant & how it coterminated with others, all the scrutinies involved brought to mind the considerations at work in an application.  I see that one can approach practices such as gardening as a Hingeful Discipline:  revealing Hinge Convergencies, Off-Shoots/Swells, . . . Tributarial Compoundments.  Nothing isolated.

There are further examples, but I think the message is clear:  Hinge is Ever-Present, & Omni-Pariticipatory, not some Monopoly gobbling up & “encapsulating” in any narrow Corporate-Minded sense, but an Invisible Hygienic Vitalistic Radiation underlying a planet currently besmirched by rampant & pernicious commercialism.

I am considering notions such as:  can a Universe breed from an Insight?  Are Universes operative because of Insight?  What would a Universe be like Void of Insight?  What is Art if not Insight?  Why is Insight Non-Spellable?  Is Hinge an Insight Sales Team?

The next part of your question:  Is Hinge “an attitude, a frame of mind, more than a poetics?”

First off, Hinge is not Hierarchical, it isn’t more or less than anything.  As has been pointed out, it is its own Integrally Universal Wholeness.  But I would certainly agree that an attitude, a frame of mind, evolves for anyone who spends any time practicing &/or studying Hinge.  It is unavoidable.  I have just finished illustrating this by showcasing my own conversion from being overly privatized to now offering disclosure.  I woke up this morning caught in the clutch of your question — “an attitude, a frame of mind,” to which I added, because I thought it was in your question, . . .  approach.  I thought I remembered that as an area I had signaled for further investigation, & sure enough I had, & although not directly embedded in your question, it certainly lies there.  I will spend a little time on this because it represents Hinge in action.  How significant is “attitude” to “approach?”  How does attitude differ from approach?  What elements in approach are not to be found in attitude?  Consider approach & outcome:  effects upon, balances/imbalances, equatables, what manner of ://:.[2]  Approach as a Determinant of Outcome.  Do Discrete Discriminations produce Determinates?  Note how Fundamental Approach is to hunting & fishing skills, to agriculture, to interpersonal skills, to improvisation, to dressage, to tango.  Future projects for Heller:  “in the mold of approach this fire,” “with approach this stalwart,” “from approach this ambidexterity,” “approach like amplitudinous skins,” “approach in the fawn of  Bedouin dawns,” “approach dawning in antediluvian storm,” “approach perfervid like annunciatory rash,” “upon parliamentary intrusion approach announces desultory as the law of the land,” etc.  We have, then, prepared to fertilize “approach” through an FRC treatment which, in turn, should provide us with a more Intimate, Enlivened, Respectful, Informed, Mobilized, Deepened, Inhalation of the word “approach.”

In the same tone, I would have to answer “Is Hinge seeking to bridge the life-art gap” by saying that Hinge isn’t “seeking” anything.  It is rather that we are seeking to understand Hinge.  Its tenets.  Its magic.  Its Multiordinality.  It is We who are Uncovering/Un-Hiddening all that has been clogged, suffocated, & maligned.  Reading D.H. Lawrence’s Apocalypse clues us into the Sumerian Intimacy with their Universe, their Connectedness, their Oneness, seemingly so less Alienated than we are today from our surroundings despite, or because of, all our sophisticated gadgetry.  And certainly, Yes, Hinge does Not admit of any life-art gap.  Gaps are man-made suppressants inadmissible in a Universe of Flow-Through Explosively Radicalized Fully-Extensional Reproductive-Minded Exuberances.


[1] For explanation see from stone this running.

[2] see fstr for “cogitation upon ://:”

So Much Depends on the Hinge: Heller Levinson Interview, Part 1

 Heller Levinson’s just-released from stone this running contains little stone, but much running. Readers will observe a poetry that runs, marathons, leaps, surges, and pirouettes across the page. The poems seem to squiggle and transform before one’s very eyes.

It’s the latest manifestation of Levinson’s Hinge project, a fascinating approach to the arts:

Jared: You previously described Hinge as an organic, constantly evolving project, so could you update us on the new developments that Hinge poetics has taken?

Heller:  Thanks for the question, Jared, . . . it’s good to be back.  Well, first off, we have the new book — from stone this running— from Black Widow Press.  I term this book a second-stage Hinge Enactment because it not only multiplies the initial modules that broke ground in Smelling Mary, — (for example, there now exist over 150 “withs,” and that’s only from my pen) but it introduces some thrilling new behaviorisms.  I won’t go into detail — that is what the book is for.  I will say, however, that in fstr, New Hinge Outcroppings are making their appearance for the first time.

Substantial new developments I can point to are my Hingings with the Artists [any Artist I Intercourse with qualifies as a Hinge Artist]:  Linda Lynch, Michael Dominick, Felino Soriano, Joe Giglio, Sedric Choukroun, & Elmar Lemes.

Linda and I made our debut on alligatorzine.be with a piece called “with lines.”  That Intercourse has bloomed into 35 pages of material that will be included in my next book, Wrack Lariat, a book devoted to Hinging with the visual arts.

In addition, Linda, Felino, & myself have performed the first Hinge Trio Event, with — Hinge Trio Performs Pathos (about 27 pages, currently looking for a publisher).  Here we have three artists impregnating the Particle[1] “pathos,” two (Felino & Heller) using the Lingual, & Linda utilizing the Visual.  Linda is decisively Not Decorating the “performance” with design, . . . she Is Drawing Pathos.

At Joe Giglio’s studio, I initialized The Interbreeding Amplitudinous Lyric Splash.  This Activity consists of the Hingist splicing existing lyrics with original applications.  The song I Hinged to was  “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” as sung by Fred McDowell.  You can see me performing this on YouTube.

[An aside:  I often think what distinguishes 21st century romances is their YouTubing one another.]

My Intercourse with Michael Dominick is recent.  He & I simply ignited.  I applaud his Curiosity, his Authenticity, his Lust to know about Hinge and how it behaves, his enthusiasm to Enlarge together, his Respectfulness (I’d better stop “applauding” or my hands are going to get raw) . . . .

I will be reading from a portion of “painting in the mold of fire,” (a Hinge Treatment in progress dedicated to Michael) to introduce his Gallery Event at the Red Tin Shack in Red Hook, Brooklyn on October 1st, my birthday.  I find it propitious that our first Live Intercourse together will be on my natal day, … it’ll mean a Double Birthday!

Michael & I are in discussion on a variety of ideas, some of which will be inclusive of the Hinge Artists mentioned above.

Joe Giglio, along with Sedric Choukroun, Elmar Lemes, & Frederic Legrand at the Brasserie Julien [2] developed “part beatitude/part beast.” For the first time, in “pb/pb,” I incorporate “the body” into the performance.  I was shy about doing this.  I was fearful it would be construed as some vain, narcissistic boob flapping his ass around.  I shared my concerns with Joe who said, “Why wouldn’t it work?  . . . Do it.”  So it was, I wanted the body to Be There, along with the African Olatunji drums, the physical pulse, the throb of rhythm adjoining the text, muscling the performance. We never rehearsed.  First time was the only time.These are what first come to mind; of course there have been other “alightments,” but I think these are some of the majors.

Jared:  I notice you use the word “Intercourse” instead of the more common “Collaboration” — is there a reason for that?

Heller:  Yes.  Hinge strives to protect & foster Integrity & Hygiene.  It is of High Importance that every word calibrate to this Salutiferous Ether.  One could view this as Word Conditioning.  It must be Fit, posess a certain Fit-Ness.

“Collaboration” is a reject.  It fails to qualify.  It is Un-fit.  “Collaboration” has a tony ring to it when it is expressed.  It suggests you are currying Societal Endorsement.  It sounds Self-Important.  It reminds me of when I lived in L.A. and every other person I met said , “I’m in a band,”  as if that magically assigned some Seal of Approval.

“Intercourse,” on the other hand, qualifies because it is FUN!  There is Activity:  Inter = “between,” “in the midst of,” “mutually,” & Course, = “forward or onward progression,” “to run, race, or move swiftly,” (like “running” in the title of this book), etc.  It is fecund, it breathes, it travels, it is, . . . well, I’ll just say it — Fucky.

Jared: Many artistic developments  have come with their own theoretical articulations–for example, it’d be hard to see how Modernism would have evolved  without its million gadzillion manifestos–but Hinge is especially complex,

complete with explanatory notes, appendices, & a vocabulary that borrows from scientific discourse. Since most artists are notoriously inarticulate about their process, what spurred you on to describe Hinge in such a precise way?

Heller:  Curious question, Jared, because it has a curious answer.  The short answer to the question is that I never wanted to discuss Hinge.  I have an aversion to the “discursive,” preferring the realm of what Artaud refers to as the “Affective Imponderable.”

When I moved to NYC (with only 6 or 7 “withs” applicated) & dined with  Mary Newell, I would regale her with tales from the Hinge Laboratory, — the curious behavior of the “word”  (particle) when it gristled with the “with” (the pivot/combustion/launch).  Then Outcropped the “road to ______ road” module & I marveled at how the same particle/subject would be complemented & extended (in mutation, transformed/re-disposed) when chambered in a Modular Alternative.

Salutations to Mary Newell for tolerating such single-minded, manic explosions after enduring a full day of teaching & a two-hour commute. Mary Newell began identifying & discussing the behavior I was submitting.  She is the person who gave us the name “Hinge.”

I felt Safe simply being immersed in the Magmatic Enormity of the material.  I feared if I talked about the creating, I would lose it, as Rilke feared that he would lose his writing ability if he underwent psychoanalysis.  I shrank from identification/discussion/analysis.  I preferred bathing in the Magic.

The first time I was called upon to “say about” was when meeting Mary Newell & Andre Spears to discuss their Dialoguing Hinge, per the suggestion of Michael Annis. After Andre & Mary had discoursed for a while, Andre turned to me & said, — “And of course you have some thoughts.”  Well, of course, I didn’t.  Nada.

I informed Michael Annis of the meeting and he was pleased Andre & Mary were on board & informed me — when I told him of Andre’s remark, & my inbred resistance, he’d have none of it.  Michael said I have to Talk About Hinge because no one else is qualified to do so.  And he didn’t want a guide.  He demanded the inner guts.  So, with trepidation, I began the Hinge Theory Diagnostic (page 71, Smelling Mary, Howling Dog Press, 2008).  While creating the “Diagnostic,” I realized I had been condemned.  Clearly, I could not pass this off on anyone else.  I could no longer just participate in what thrilled me, I was now Obligated to expose/deliver/offer/submit the very Magic that so Enthralled me.  I’ll include a fragment of an email to Michael that platters forward the original flavor:[3]

[right on … I’m becoming a Hinge Scientist as well as an artist, … something I never envisioned, you got me doing all this “talk,” … I actually enjoy the creating the best, but, we have something so vital here that it’s beyond what I “enjoy,” I feel an obligation to share it and continue to shape/explore it … as you’ll see in my last e-mail to Anthony, the point to Olson (John) was to try and help him see the vastness involved, and that it’s not at all splashed haphazardly together, it’s very precisely “geared,” like planetary orbit … Mary Newell put it this way:  “Hinge is material of connectivity and introduces an intentional and generative biasing.  Like a pool table with all the balls commotioning and someone lifting the pool table slightly so all that activity is directed.  (With the additional image that new balls are being added all the time as the pool table itself enlarges).”]

 That should partially answer your question, Jared, about what “spurred me to describe Hinge.”  I wasn’t “spurred” so much as Compelled.  The “Choice” was not for me to make if I was to go forth Honorably.

This leads to an interesting point, and why expressing my accounts of Hinge Theory are Mandatory, in my opinion.  Not better, mind you, than other accounts,  just Necessary, for I don’t go outside of the Framework, the ConteXtual Behaviorism of Hinge to describe Hinge.  I attempt to shy away from any Referential Matter.  It is fine, good, & appropriate, — even Necessary — that it is being done, and will continue to be done, by others.  To quote myself:

“One must resist the temptation to enclose (circumscribe) the newly emerging with the already existing.  Such tendencies will sacrifice ‘novelty’ to the safety nets of the familiar.”

Another element in your question interests me: — your labeling HT an “artistic development.”  I find that restrictive/reductive.  We would not term the creation of our Universe as an “artistic development,” although we can appreciate viewing it that way, —  as an additionality, as prospering Perspectival Furtherances.

HT is Emphatically Not another artistic development like “Surrealism” or “Post-Modernism,” … it is Vaster.  It is Inclusive of artistic movements, as it is inclusive of musical/athletic/lovemaking/home decorating/cooking & dog- training parallels.  But it remains its own Integrally Unique Creation.  The Integrally Whole must be segregated from Fragmentary Movements.  An Ocean is not a bottle of Evian.

I would like to consider your comment — “. . . have come with their own theoretical articulations.”  I don’t see myself articulating theory.  I  Messenger Marvels.  I unwrap them for you, I fondle them, I gush, & I  rhapsodize, & when called upon, — I Remark.

Further, We don’t “borrow from Scientific Discourse.”  Striving for greater & greater precision, we Utilize from Anywhere/Everywhere.  When a scientific term is most accurate, we use that; if an athletic or dance expression is, —such as “pivot” — we use that, . . . Hinge is Non-Boxable.  “CrissCrossery” used to cogitate upon ://:, probably derives from my image of Pick-Up Sticks.

Curiously, science uses precision to arrive at provability/demonstrability/measurability/accountability/predictability & Explicability. HT employs precision to arrive at the Mysterious/the Infinities/the Magical/the Im-measurable/the Boundless … the IN-explicable.

ExplicitNess to Un-Describe.  Merely to Offer, to Present, — a Cosmic Gift, Eureka after Eureka AWaiting you.

As a Manifesto:  Follow the path of Hinge — you have nothing to lose but your Misery!


[1] See first interview in Jivin’ Ladybug.  These terms are also explained in both Smelling Mary and from stone this running.

[2] Venues constitute Hinge Components — a special salutation to Frederic Legrand & the Jivin’ Ladybug for featuring the performance on their site.

[3] A special note of Regard for Michael Annis (HDP) who has been instrumental in partnering this Hinge forward.

Chasing Sounds: An Interview with Wayne Marshall

In our fast-paced globalizing, loco translocal world, new musics are birthing themselves at an astonishing rate: reggaeton, bhangra, jungle, bubbling, tribal guarachero, funk carioca, etc. And these musics aren’t staying put either. They’re circulating around the planet, both following the geographic paths of their diasporic creators and spreading through social media networks.

We’re not dealing with old-school scenarios of Western cultural imperialism here. Instead, when these musics find new homes, they get reinvented and transformed into something entirely new.

It takes a lot of dedication to chart out these emerging musical trends and figure out how they are transforming our collective sense of musical creativity. Wayne Marshall has been patiently and lovingly doing that work for years now. Both a musicologist and a DJ, Marshall provides astute cultural insights and an intimate familiarity with the process of making music.

I first encountered his work in 2009’s Reggaeton, an academic collection he co-edited with Raquel Rivera and Deborah Pacini-Hernandez. In his opening essay, “From Musica Negra to Reggaeton Latino: The Cultural Politics of Nation, Migration, and Commercialization,” Marshall meticulously charts reggaeton’s evolution from Jamaican dancehalls to worldwide sensation, even analyzing the distinctive rhythms employed by reggaeton musicians.

Given his special attention to how musicians appropriate existing forms and adapt them for their own purposes, I decided to ask him some questions about the emerging trends of music making in the 21st century.

For more information about Marshall’s scholarship and creative projects, check out these links:

His blog Wayne and Wax:

http://wayneandwax.com/

Marshall’s DJ mixes and mash-ups:

http://wayneandwax.com/?page_id=2

“Love That Muddy Ether: Pirate Multi-culturalism and Boston’s Secret Soundscape”

http://www.theclustermag.com/blog/?p=2179

Marshall’s talk “The Unstable Platforms and Uneasy Peers of Brave New World Music” at Harvard’s Berkman Center

http://wayneandwax.com/?p=4760

Jared: How does your DJing & academic work connect with each other?

Wayne: I discover a lot of music in my research, and DJing allows me to “activate” these tracks in a new social setting, to sit with them and hear and feel them in new ways, and to share them with other people. As someone who studies DJ culture, and as something of an old-school participant-observer, I think it’s pretty crucial to put my intellectual work into practice in this way. Another way to look at it, though, is that my abiding love for music propels all that I do, and I’ve managed — or attempted — to chart a course where sharing music is central to my life and work.

Jared: What got you blogging so extensively?

Wayne: I started blogging back in 2003 when I moved to Jamaica to do research for my dissertation, which largely consisted of visiting dancehall events and recording studios and turning my own apartment into a collaborative space for making and talking about music. (One result of which, apart from the dissertation, was my self-released album, Boston Jerk.) Initially I figured the blog would only be read by academic peers and family and friends, but I was happily surprised when it turned out that a wider readership of people who were interested in taking hip-hop and reggae (and their interplay) seriously had also found their way to my research-in-progress and thinking-aloud. More than anything, the deeply encouraging feedback loop of a community of co-readers (for I think of myself as engaged in a collective process of interpretation) is what turned the blog from a research experiment into the most important and fulfilling part of my work.

Jared: Does this “world music 2.0” (or as you cheekily dub it “global ghettotech”) phenomenon, this global mix n’ match of genres, leading to greater musical variation or homogenization? In other words, is it a scenario of capitalism doing cultural colonization or is it reflective of increased diasporic movements?

Wayne: As much as I’m suspicious of how capitalism shapes and circulates culture, I don’t buy the “cultural grey-out” anxiety that haunted so much globalization theory in the 1990s. Examining hip-hop or reggae as a global phenomenon (which is to say, a trans-local thing) gives the lie to any sense that local transformations of these forms are simply imitative. It has been well observed, of course, that capitalism thrives in the production of novelty, so one could argue that the lack of homogenization is, in a sense, just as useful for selling things. At any rate, I think it would be hard to make a case for anything other than greater variety in terms of the music to which we have access today, and whereas “world music” used to be a fairly exotic product, I find some optimism in the newly quotidian qualities of “the world out there” in an age when media travels so instantly and rapidly, especially when coupled with an increasing recognition that our own neighborhoods (at least in fairly cosmopolitan cities) are amazing and rich repositories of world culture. To the extent that exposure to new sounds — rather than simply the products of the media capitals of the US — might engender a more mutual regard for each other, a respect and tolerance for difference, is about as good as it could get. That, and radical wealth redistribution. (But I wouldn’t wait on “world music” to deliver that.)

Jared: Are these emerging musical trends sticking around or do they rapidly rise and fade? Who are the primary producers and consumers?

Wayne: The whole “world music 2.0” scene is still pretty small and definitely marked by a hype-cycle dynamic. This is perhaps reflective of the “Western hipster” base for a lot of this stuff — at least once it’s been remediated by DJs and bloggers. But for every bandwagoneer, there are people whose interest in new sounds serves to drive their curiosity about other places, about other histories and narratives, and even about other people in their own local communities. Of course, we shouldn’t let out of sight that lots of these exciting sounds from around the world are emerging from rich local scenes which could care less about a few downstream DJs and bloggers (although, on the other hand, there are clearly some opportunities to be had, lest only the middlemen make the metropolitan money). But the production of the music that circulates on blogs and Soundcloud as a sort of “WM2.0” is no longer entirely “outsourced,” if you will. Rather, instead of simply “digging” for far-flung sounds and scenes (a la funk carioca, kuduro, cumbia), as the case of moombahton shows, new genres have emerged that partake of the templates and circuits for “global ghettotech” while being almost completely unmoored or grounded in any particular place, hence inviting a broader sort of participation (especially from more privileged corners) and perhaps entailing a different approach toward exoticism.

Jared: Why do economically disadvantaged urban areas (the ghetto, favela, barrio, shantytown, and its many other manifestations) play such a prominent role in the circulation of this material?

Wayne: For all their actual impoverishment (or one might say because of it), ghettos are also immense sites of creativity — and, part and parcel of that, powerful repositories of authenticity. I would alter your question to note that while these places play a prominent role in the production of this material, they are less involved in its circulation. Increasingly, grassroots producers from around the world are using “social media” to share their productions with their peers and wider audiences, but a lot of the wider circulation of these genres is being initiated by web-trawling bloggers and DJs who are enthralled by the stuff they’re hearing. Sometimes the grounds for that fascination and/or empathy are spurious, sometimes sincere.

Jared: Do you see any political ramifications to this increased cultural dialogue?

Wayne: It’s not always clear to me that this phenomenon entails a “dialogue” except in a rather vague (and one-sided) sense. I do think that playing music for local audiences (say, here in the US) which is not what they typically encounter can do a sort of political-cultural work insofar as it reforms ideas about us/them. I tend to reserve my greatest hope for the locally transformative power of these engagements — that is, we can work in Boston or New York to reshape our own sense of our soundscapes and our neighbors, and ourselves.

Jared: What makes the contemporary musical practice of appropriating and recontextualizing sounds so prominent and attractive?

Wayne: The relatively novel ease of cut-and-paste is what accounts for the prominence of these methods. As for their attractiveness, I think that recontextualization, reframing, and remaking culture is simply an elemental way that we make sense of the world and share that sense with others. Of course, the advent of the global internet also means that distant appropriations are easier and more commonplace than ever.

Jared: You’ve talked about how this emerging global musical culture is precariously archived within corporate platforms. How could we create a public, non-privatized space on the internet?

Wayne: This is a serious problem for posterity, and even for present practice. It reflects both a corporate capture of “public” spaces as well as a new prioritization on the part of music-makers and -sharers toward immersion and participation. Toward remedying that — to the extent that people care to — I think we really need to develop (and invest in) new platforms that allow people to personally host (or better, collectively distribute) the media that we make or care to share. I wish there were a will to do this at a municipal or even federal level — to really do it with public funds, as an investment in infrastructure — but there are too many conflicts, I suspect, to make this possible now. So, this has to start with a collective but individual move toward our own servers, and with insisting that we keep copies of everything we post to the corporate platforms whose only value — beyond the user-interface they provide — is entirely generated by our presence and participation there. An open-source alternative to Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud / YouTube that allows people to maintain more control over their digital culture would be a killer app to be sure.

Jared: In both your essays and your mixes, you chart out the routes of particular sounds such as the dembow riddim or the “zunguzung meme” as they get reappropriated in a variety of different contexts. What kinds of insights about contemporary musical culture does such a method provide?

Wayne: Since — as I think such mixes make audible — it’s not so easy to generalize about “appropriation” when a tune or drumbreak can clearly take so many forms and support such a diversity of messages, the most consistent insight has more to do with the fundamental flexibility and reconfigurability of musical forms (and cultural forms more generally). Although I think this phenomenon far predates the age of technological reproducibility — and results from the essentially mimetic basis of culture — I do think that, with regard to the contemporary, these mixes show not only that it’s easy and commonplace to appropriate or allude to or otherwise invoke and rework previous performances, but that a great deal of creativity, and localization of the power to affect an audience, is very audibly a part of the process.

Jared” Which of your currents projects are you most excited about?

Wayne: I’ve got an ongoing project about the Boston soundscape that I’ve just extended recently with the publication of “Love That Muddy Ether” / Boston Pirate Party — a brief reflection on the rise of Caribbean low-power / pirate radio here in Boston and an audio collage that tries to encapsulate, and take some poetic liberties with, this city’s segregated soundscape. I’m also embarking, after a couple trips to Rotterdam last fall, on a book project about bubbling, the Dutch-Caribbean hyperactive twin of reggaeton, which seems, like kindred genres such as jungle and bhangra, to speak volumes about the musical mediation of a changing sense of place.

Terrestrial Terroaring: A Dialogue with Horst Haack

In the glossy &colorful March/April 2011 issue of Art Actuel, there is much for the eye to feast upon. However, amidst the retinal smorgasbord & “innovative” brouhaha, there are four full page spreads, featuring 22×17 cm. square upon 22×17 cm. square of human bodies morphing full-on mutant against a dense multilingual curtain of text.

The vying violence lances at you amidst a fragmented landscrape of phrases detritused from English, German & French as bio-illogical forms are freeze-framed into an eternal scream, as if the Emergency Broadcasting System screep blossomed into cyclone-clots of color.

These panels are the latest additions to Chronographie Terrestre (Work in Progress), the 30-year long opus of German artist Horst Haack. Diminutively dubbed a “visual diary,” Haack counters our GO! GO! GO! capitilesst attention spans & carefully & obsessively chronicles how we’re collectively swallowed by the avalanching discourse that surrounds us.

What’s striking about Haack’s work is the infinite variation that he finds in repetition: while each 22 X 17 cm. frame in Chronographie (& oftentimes his other works) has the same basic layout, the images always present a new angle upon the work’s larger themes.

A witty and sometimes whimsical commentator, Haack generously agreed to an email exchange. (For more pictures and information on Haack, visit his website:  http://www.horsthaack.com/index.html)

Jared: Your art makes extensive use of written texts from multiple languages. For me, your use of these texts seems to have two thrusts: 1.) they are words to be read and 2.) material objects to be manipulated. How do you see the written word operating in your art? What do you see as the relationship between word and image here?

Horst: Yes the words/phrases, text-collages in my art are meant to be read. They function in a field, where colors, forms and images stimulate the text. They paint and tint the meanings/semantics and vice versa. Or boy meets girl, word and image alternate and produce another third body of meaning.

Jared: I’m interested in this 3rd body of meaning! Do you see this body of meaning as another form of visual communication or does it use the combination of word/image to create meanings beyond the visual realm? In other words, does the juxtaposition of images and words produce meanings that are not physically present within the work?

Horst: Think of a photograph showing a beautiful boy or girl. Now you have written information with it: “this person has tested HIV positive today.” Same picture but the legend: “this youth jumped off the bridge into the river without knowing how to swim and saved a child from drowning.” Would you not experience with the same picture two different “3rd bodies of meaning”? Now imagine the same two legends with the photograph of a dog.

Jared: Cool scenarios to illustrate your point! Now that we’ve discussed the word/image relationship, I was wondering if we could talk about each of them separately. Let’s start with the images. Whether it’s Chronographie Terrestre, your other installations, or your books, you produce these remarkable representations of the human body undergoing often violent transformations. What attracts to you to creating this kind of imagery?

Horst: In the old days, people used to go, on market days, to see the side show. They paid and looked at unbelievable things, like a woman with three legs or a calf with two heads. People love to experience the unusual; they still do nowadays in film and TV. Still, the artist wants to tell/draw what he feels, what he saw. He does not want to tell, that he saw nothing/felt nothing or very little. I do not see that I am exaggerating. What I do seems natural to me. I cannot see that I am overstating. I am probably born with this twisted view.

Jared: You’ve visually collaborated with a wide range of written texts: T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste-Land,” The Revelation of Saint John, a letter from Ulrike Meinhof, etc. What kinds of texts do you find particularly useful for your artwork?

Horst: The wide range of authors you talk about is rather narrow, four or five authors. Most of my books show my own texts. The Revelation is probably the most moving and mighty and original text-collage ever mounted. Beside this fact is The Revelation to me a very personal affair, an intimate affair with Albrecht Dürer. Exactly 5oo years after A.D. I simply tried to top his version. I chose Eliot because “The Waste-Land: is stuffed with powerful illuminated metaphors, also a collage. Eliot has to my knowledge never been done. When I read the Ulrike Meinhof letter first, it gave me the creeps, goose pimples… an account on her own “white torture”.  I had to get up, walk around while reading it. I decided to make the words visible. I am sure it is a German affair. And still like so many I am against torture.

Jared: Your last response opened up another avenue of interest: How much of your text-collages comes from other sources and how much is your own writing (from journals or what not)? Why is collage such a useful tool for your art? Is it meant to give your work more of a political edge by rooting it in society’s crazy intersection of voices and discourses?

Horst: Our thinking, awareness, our desires and souvenirs are collage. Our life is collage, our dreams. Isn’t it? Sources: about a third is written in German ( my journal, notes) also the meandering passages, the linguistic links to French and English (news, headlines, reports from nature, politics and arts, sports, curiosities, etc.) are given in German. I want my art to be rooted in the present.

Jared: What comes first in your work, the images or the texts? Or is it different with each work? Also, your imagery focuses extensively on biological life-forms and even at their most abstract, your pictures have a recognizably cellular quality. Is there a political/ecological advocacy in such a focus, an attempt to capture how the present day is affecting/transforming organic life?

Horst: In my Chronographie every sheet of every panel begins with the image. The text follows. No, there is no ecological quest. I am hardly aware of what you call “biological life-forms”. Even blindfolded (and I have tried) my drawings and scribblings turn into cellular structures. It’s like leaving your fingerprints while playing chess or piano without gloves.

Jared: Your work seems to be primarily displayed in galleries/museums, but you experiment in media associated with mass-distribution such as books. Have you thought of publishing your art in book form rather than displaying it in the gallery setting? Chronographie Terrestre would also seem to operate quite nicely as a book or an interactive digital archive. What do you feel the relationship between art and the emerging digital technologies should be?

Horst: Tapestry, mosaic, fresco, vase-painting, only to name a few, have already vanished. As serious art forms they don’t exist anymore. Lithography, etching, woodcut have become rare techniques. Painting, photography will probably follow. I am not familiar with digital art. I have done for some years lecture-performances with my panels via a video camera. I stopped that after having seen a film of one of the sessions. Not good enough, to my taste. Anyway, most video art I have seen looked like dilettante film to me. I am probably too old for these techniques.

Jared: Since I’ve been asking question primarily about your methods, I was thinking that maybe we could change gears & talk about your views on art overall. What do you see as art’s primary goal? Or does it (should it) even have one?

Horst: No Jared, I cannot tell what art is about. You are almost asking for the meaning of life. We don’t know it. Some need art to alter their existence, some need art to decorate their walls, others try to make money. There is no answer to what art is, to my knowledge. Nobody knows what art is, some will tell you what art is not. But that of course seems much easier. I think we should come back to simpler questions.

Jared: You seem to be a very international artist. Where do you find the best reception for your work?

Horst: My work has been shown in different countries, but that does not make me an international artist. Reception I have known little. Naturally, countries in which the languages English, French and German are spoken or understood are an advantage for the reception. Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and so forth. Small countries like Luxemburg are very good at languages and art friends there will probably have an easy access to my world.

Jared: How has your artwork changed over the years and what has prompted those changes?

 

Horst: One day when I had finished installing the cabinet/ cage consisting of 76 panels, I said to the friend who had helped me, “Amazing, how the images, how the whole work has changed through the years.” He looked at it. “Yes ,” he said, “naturally, it is because you’ve stayed the same.” He was right. The world had changed. It does so every day, every hour.

Jared: Despite the changes in your art, you consistently use very lush, violent, and brilliant colors. What kinds of colors do you find the most productive? What do you think color adds to an artwork?

Horst: Take a vermillion red, paint some cherries and you may get haiku. Take ink blue, do the cherries and you get none. That is what color adds. On one hand, you have color without form, on the other form without color. Both together will increase /heighten /enhance each other considerably. I don’t like colors that remind me of vomitus.

Jared: Do you seek to elicit certain kinds of responses from viewers of your art? Or do you do prefer to leave the interpretation open to them?

Horst: No. I don’t have anything to teach. I hope my images are precise and attracting enough to raise the right questions. It’s up to the viewer to find the right answers.

Jared: So then do your artworks try to start a dialogue with their viewers? During your exhibitions, have you gotten a chance to observe viewers’ reactions to those artworks? If so, what kinds of responses were generated? One question that has been in my mind for a while is how both writers & visual artists can still engage audiences in a contemporary culture bombarded with texts & images. How does one stop their work from being passively absorbed as part of the information-flooded landscape?

Horst: You are right: our presence is bombarded with information like never before, with images and words. Nobody can assure that an artwork containing these elements will not be consumed as a poster or an advertising. How does an active onlooker behave? I have no idea. Most the time, visitors to my exhibitions complain about the complicated interaction between image and word. Children and youth have no problem with diving into the wall of panels and discover. Having grown up with comics instead with Proust or Twain, young art-lovers have much less difficulties. A possible dialogue with the audience would be that I ask the questions and the viewer tries the answer.

Jared: How was the response to this most recent show?

Horst: It is complicated. If an artist asks you what you think of his work, he secretly or openly   wants to be praised. And of course, he wants you to say the truth. So I never ask.

Jared: What has attracted you to creating long-term projects like Chronographie Terrestre? Do such projects allow you to address topics or attempt experiments in a way that one-shot projects cannot? What’s keeps you motivated to adding to such projects?

Horst: I have artist friends whose studio, livingroom, bedroom, cave and garage are filled up with paintings that nobody wants. When I came to live in Paris in 1979, nobody wanted my stuff and I decided to shrink. Since I was poor, I choose a small format and poor materials, any piece of paper with the size 22×17 cm. It still is the same. 3o pieces made one month to begin with. As I said, nobody wanted what I was doing, so I was free to do anything of real concern without any consideration. The motivation was and probably still is to witness, to give testimony, to express: Horst has lived.

Joe Giglio Interview

Bop & Words: An Interview with Joe Giglio 

Jared: As I was stirring my brain & coming up with questions to ask you, I realized: why don’t we have an email dialogue instead you answering a list of questions?

 The interview all too often takes the form of an interrogation: bare-bulb glare in the face, “truth serum” swimming in the veins, shadowy, cigarette smoking “good cop” in the corner. . .

If we dialogue, I’ll be able to respond to your responses & the conversation can have a more coherent flow. . .

 First question: On your website, you mention that you teach improvisation. How does one go about teaching such a technique? How do you train students to acquire such a skill?

 Joe: your words as filtered through my psycho pathology

 The inner-view calls to soften, partakes of the formless entity of a(n)(dis)integration:  threadbare radish (bealsa)bu(l)b(s) galore. pie in the face, (lack of) truth muse(r)um swooning in vain, share (a) dowry: trousseau dare.

chi garish dinette smoting no-good co-opt, a  stand-in for the crooner. . .

 and so it begins…

 improvisationà

 i imagine it is much like teaching creative writing – one needs: a fluency in language & writing skills; to be well read; critical feedback; guidance, life experience; many attempts; a touch of the loony; & the acceptance & appreciation that mistakes are our best learning tools. substitute: good instrumental/vocal skills; theo(he)retical knowledge of music; specific & broad listening experiences (live=the best, though not always the choicest); keep: critical feedback; guidance, life experience; many attempts; a touch of the loony & the acceptance & appreciation that mistakes are our best learning tools…

i must add that poorly read/lack of life experience musicians, share dusty shelf space in my ap/op/de/comp-art-me(a)nt with those writers of words who haven’t as yet accepted Thelonious Monk into their lives…

Jared: I like this idea of Thelonious Monk as a gift into one’s life. What specifically about Monk do you think wordsmiths could accept? Listening to Monk I am always amazed by how you can almost hear him reach for the next note, consciously deciding what path to go down. . .

Joe: reaching for the next note…that’s exactly what it is.

 thelonious monk was one of the greatest composers in any genre, in modern time. he wrote music that had never previously been heard, & played it in a way heretofore unequaled. he used space – positive & negative, like a cubist painter. some of his melodies/harmonies are so open that one might drive a truck through them; & many others so tightly woven that negotiating their paths is akin to threading a needle. in all instance though, the music is primary & the architecture secondary.

 in anything artistic that i attempt, i always ask where i am, to reveal & lead me to where I will go next. i accept it a blessing/gift/coupon…some may find it too prim(re)i(ac)tive.

when i improvise it is note|tone to note|tone – the many hours of practice/study/listening/gigg(l)ing, allow me to play from one note to the next rapidly. if i am playing  monk’s tune ’round midnight’, i see the melody/chords/pulse/beats, in my mind & in my (likely) vacant star(e)- quo fato vocant,,, & i just fill in some of the blanks & leave others as they were…

when i draw – (cave dweller) – it is line to line; color to color; shape to shape, mistake to mistake.

when i write words it is just like playing/improvising, except slower – but it really feels the same to

me -i look at the page & try to divine what will look good on that page.

 wordsmythes can gleen from monk’s m(us)(ing)(ag)ic the concept of accepting the creative flow & of being a channel for it.

 Jared: Reading your response, I was struck by these two comments. Let me juxtapose them together:

 “i look at the page & try to divine what will look good on that page.”

 “the concept of accepting the creative flow & of being a channel for it.”

 If the artist (musician, writer, painter, cook, etc.) becomes a channel that divines a “creative flow,” then how much control do you think the artist has over his/her artwork? Is creation more a collaboration with external forces?

 Also, what first attracted you to jazz instead of other forms of music?

 Joe: i grapple intermittently with the concept of ‘artist as a channel’…

one of my students mentioned that the ancient greeks used the term genius to describe another being/entity that guided them in their various artistic/academic quests – when they referred to their genius they were speaking of this entity. i suppose it is along the lines of a muse.

i have always known that i could do certain things. when i was 4 years old i asked for a guitar but got piano lessons with a semi-sadistic old women who didn’t like little boys – i quit. i kept wondering when i would get my guitar, because i knew i could play it. scroll forward to age 10 & it came together – i could play it from the first embrace, as i had already been playing it in my mind for years.

 now here’s the rub(ble): except in rare instances, i believe that no matter the level of one’s innate talent, one needs to nurture it, coax it out of it’s insinuation in the fibers of one’s being, dig the dirt, break the rocks & harvest the gems. this of course is studying, practicing, listening, feeling, interacting, acting, being sometimes dormant (or in the the case of the creative artist, a doormat…) i believe that one is given the talent & along with it the task of dealing with it. also, environment is a big factor, but one not really in the control of the child for quite some time. when i was a teenager i scoured the city for jazz records & memorized the liner notes, personnel & tune titles -i was fortunate that i could avail myself of these treasures.

 that said, many years ago i was hanging out with my 5 year old niece on the swings in her backyard. out of literally nowhere, she proceeded to freestyle some of the most amazing poetry i’ve ever heard. i thought i was dreaming & called out to her parents that she was a genius. she kept going for quite a while, & that day it seemed that she could access this material at will. i can’t explain it & neither can she. she remains brilliant in her young adulthood & works hard for her achievements, but this was a freaky deal!

regarding how i came upon jazz, one of my blessed curses is that i have been able to grok things that were well beyond my years/paygrade. it has been a great help, & at times a hinderence. i had a cousin 10 years my senior who was a jazz & general freak. i looked up to him & hung around him when i could. he played ‘ascension’ by john coltrane for me when i was 12. it is one of coltrane’s most ‘out’ records & i loved it. the rest as they say is mystery…

 Jared: I’ve been letting your words stew in my mind.

 “i kept wondering when i would get my guitar, because i knew i could play it. scroll forward to age 10 & it came together – i could play it from the first embrace, as i had already been playing it in my mind for years.”

I find your instant ability/attraction to the guitar fascinating. It almost seems that the guitar was a new kind of tongue that you knew had been missing all along.

 “i believe that one is given the talent & along with it the task of dealing with it.”

 Speaking of talent, you have worked with many different musicians and it seems that each group you’ve participated in has fashioned a different sound. In albums such as Threedom’s “Clairvoyant Avenue,” it is thrilling to hear how you and the other musicians work together, with all the instruments operating as a driving unison, but with each instrument also taking part in a responsive conversation. To add to that, the YouTube video of you and Jimmy Halperin offering a musical counterpart to Heller Levinson’s poetry emphasizes the affinity between different art forms, each art mutated by contact with the other.  

 All that being said, how do you know when you will work well with another artist?

 Joe: thanks for thinking on my thoughts!

 the guitar was like a picture of some delicious, succulent looking food & i was hungry; and/or like a video w/ sound of the ocean & i instictively know that i was spawned from those depths, plus i’m feeling hot & want to take a dip…

one does not have to do anything with, or about any thing – talent or otherwise; perhaps they are unaware of it or are re/sup-pressed: once they have found it they either deal w/it or deny their true nature.

‘threedom’ is a special musical entity for me & gratefully for some other folks. the group name explains it: 3 musicians playing together to make music that comes from a free(dom) place. we are gearing up for a new foray…

 the thing with jimmy & heller was the type of loony, typical of the 3 of us unleashed in the daylight. we had just finished recording ‘disassembly’ heller’s epic about global war(m)(n)ing & heller started this blame-blame thing & we just freaked on it – kind of a spastic-funk episode.

i can most often know how it will be playing with someone for the first time – but not always…sometimes i can tell by the music or lack of music in their speaking voice &/or in how they listen & interact in a verbal conversation.

with some it’s like meeting a new friend or lover & you have a history together before you meet, & one that you can both reference.

this of course relates 92% to creative gigs – comercial gigs not so much – on those, other forces are afoot & may be tripping or kicking you with that foot.

every so rarely though, i have played a commercial gig – (party/wedding/banquet/impeachment/divorce/human sacrifice) where the music becomes magic with either or both, the band’s interaction &/or the audience-band dynamic. when that solar eclipse happens it’s a mindfuck!

 and everything i just said applies to my poetry-were that it was true…

 Jared: I like how this interview is chugging along. . .each response seems to explode into a billion different directions. . .a lot like your poems.

 Speaking of your poetry, how did you start writing poetry? I am aware that Heller Levinson’s book has kindled your recent stretch of composition, but what has drawn you to writing, and poetry specifically. Also, how did you arrive at your aesthetic?  

 Joe: i began to write songs before i played guitar, but they were only for me-i either sang them in private, or in my mind’s ear.

this was sporadic & perhaps random, until i was about 10.

i like(d) the sound of words individually & collectively, & would read passages in books over & over-kind of like letting the hot water in the shower spray on your neck long after you are clean, because it just feels good…

when i became aware of bard bob dylan i began to swim in words – surrounded by guitars – haunted by his mournfully happy voice.

it was blues poetry, acid tripped, Beujelais washed, angry-lovesome music – it was me!

 around this time i also heard Coltrane, & that was as i have before said, life changing…my religion was (maybe is) dyl-tr-an-e-icism.

 i went to a liberal-excellent high school with some unusual & inspiring teachers. one math teacher had played with the ‘mothers of invention’ (frank zappa), many were anti-war activists, many were writers/poets.

i wrote songs about the war in vietnam, played protest rallies & coffee houses & really interacted with my peers & advisors in a creative-collective way.

a 9th grade teacher, alan shapiro totally affected my outlook. he was an amazing person & helped me to not be scared & also to be terrified.

but rather than to be fearful of the red menace, i learned to recognize the true threat that was insinuated into our daily lives.

we were told to drink milk & eat fruit/vegetables for our health, but weren’t informed of the toxic pesticides/hormones/antibiotics/tortured animals/chemical fertilizers…we were taught to believe in our government, but were deceived about the atrocious criminal actions & freedom stripping practices of our leaders. from  him i learned that power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutely!

 i wrote poetry & song lyrics, & found them to be different views of similar emotions. if i wrote song lyrics it was always w/a guitar in hand.

poetry/prose was played with a pen & paper – never did they meet under my watch.

 college was fast & tense for a while, & i wrote a lot of papers, which at the time were holding my words for ransom. i tuned in/dropped out, part-timed & studied creative writing with richard stack at purchase college.

he was very encouraging & helpful, & the contact led me to more writing.

i dropped the 3rd class i was taking w/him when he shouted the praises of a poem read in class that basically chronicled a classmates orgasm, complete with concomitant desk pounding-breathing & shrieking sound effects…

little did i know that a few years later this scene would be reprised in ‘when harry met sally’. the point being that i can recognize bullshit as well as can any other fly on the wall.

 jazzjazzjazzjazzjazzjazz…sporadic poetic forays…jazzjazzjazzjazzjazz…some philosophy readings…lots of thinking…jazzjazzjazzjazzjazzjazz…heller levinson-the most musical of poets…jazzjazzjazzjazzjazz…

 heller read my composition columns in just jazz guitar magazine, called me when he got to town – came to a giglio-halperin gig…in the recording studio we improvised along w/his recitation of his epic poem: Disassembly..i read his books, wrote him a cute response to his latest:’Smelling Mary’, sort of in the ‘hinge’ mode…he dug it & suggested i submit it to you jared…i thought he was daffy (which i liked)..sent it in…& now i can’t stop…blame him!

 seriously though i am very grateful to heller in so many ways. he has encouraged me, advised me, shared material w/me & has given me many volumes to read that he thought essential to my writing – along w/his invaluable erudition…he’s a cultural treasure!

 my asthetic as it were, is really sound oriented – i will complicate this by saying that it is also very important to me how the words, (p)unctuation & symbols

look on the page. sometimes it is essential that they have motion, other times i need them to look like they are moving, but sound like they are standing still.

i think about how to communicate the sometimes extreme (p)unctuation were i to read these poems aloud. i also have written a number of things w/no punctuation at all.

 i really love mystery & subterfuge – there are many, many layers of meaning & interpretation in what i write. i do not claim this to be good or bad, only that it really does represent how i think-feel-am.

 Jared: What I like about your work is that it seems to show little interest in narrative. Rather, it explodes with fragments of narratives that bump against each and have a fearsome dialogue. Since many artists have worked on denaturing narrative, but all for different reasons, what is your reason for exploring other ways of communicating?

 Your idea of conveying motion on the page is really interesting. It startled a question into existence for me: while the page is undeniably static, can the written word acheive motion through multiple readings? For example, the gnarled syntax and punctuation of your poetic line seems like it could give rise mutiple interpretations, essentially implanting a different poem in each reader’s brain.

 You mention that you have been thinking of ways to perform your poems’ sometimes extreme punctuation. What hypotheses have you come up with so far?

 Joe: 1.)  i like lots of possibilities & always have…

 i do think that it is  inherent in my nature – when i learned of improvisation i knew i had found my life’s work.

for tune’s rhythm: co(de)-authored sidestep wise

(ever) clear blues guise,distingué in silhouette…

 

most often when i am writing a cover letter, something for a music magazine, border treaty, or text for my jazz website, i strive to create a linear  word-flow & an absence of ambiguity – at these moments i tend to yearn for  verbal exchange – while i respect & am to a degree capable of eloquent/articulate writing, i suspect that vocal dynamics & facial/body expressions add a significant other dimension. when i write creatively i am drawn to ambiguity-multiple interpretation-language visuals-subterfuge; i grew up in an era fraught with paranoia, an uncertain future,  fallout shelters, etc – as a result i may write in code  at times, but it is all there hiding in plain site…

 

when collections of tallies, housed in leather bound hope chests

stand in silent blasphemous prayer, so am i  without  re-course/source,

relegated to the role of my keeper…

 

2.) motion in poetryà

                   downdraft upwind of the outcast’s (de-)(en)(tr)(c)(ampment),

                                                                                                                                                  encircled fully

ß|tree-line|ß sigh(t)ing

 

                          |O>O| – facing southeast

                                                                           cantering (dis)gracefullyß

 

3.) i may have to substitute unctuation  for punk…

      but seriously i believe after shamefully little thought, that the poems will have a new  inca(r)n(t)ation when spoken  aloud…

      

re-torn promised vilifications scatter mood swings: sees awed clusters

peopled from the growing underclass created by no win saturations

shelves lined with non-perishable good intent.

 Jared: For my next question, I am curious about your relationship to New York City. Have you always lived there or did you move there?

How does the City treat its jazz musicians? Is there a supportive artistic community in them there parts?

 Joe: i grew up in a town about 15 miles from manhattan & about 2 miles from the bronx. as migration tended to proceed at the time, people moved away from the city as they prospered – so i was always surrounded by ny’rs – one example being my father, who was born in little italy on elizabeth st., grew up in brooklyn & practiced law there into his 70’s.

 as a teenager, along with friends – mostly musicians & those that fancied musicians, i would train to nyc to attend concerts, hang around the village, buy insense, romanticize voluntary poverty/hallucinagens/hippie girls-communal living/etc.

 like much of the world, to me nyc was/is the destination.

i moved here 10 years ago & live on the upper westside where you can’t throw a stick w/o hitting a liberal; bass player; poet;  columbia university professor; trust fund baby; master barista, it’s a place to be…

 the relationship of jazz to it’s environs is often by nature difficult, & nyc despite it’s mecca like status in the artisitic world is not very different. jazz was a dance oriented music in the 20’s; 30’s & much of the 40’s. as such it was widely appreciated – pop music of the time.

with the advent of be-bop in the mid 40’s; cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz in the 50’s, & free jazz-avant garde, & jazz-rock in the 60’s, it established itself on the fringe or in the underground, depending on one’s perspective.

 in my jazz liftime thus far, i must say that it has never been easy to subsist as a jazz musician, & never as difficult as it is currently. i have always taught guitar & jazz improvisation both as a means of self-support & because i enjoy helping aspiring musicians to develop the skills needed to find their voice & because: i refused to be a fool, manipulated like a puppet dancing on the strings held by the men on high…

 nyc is one of the most difficult places to find decent jazz gig – sounds crazy but it’s true. though it is a jazz mecca in print, or if you are wynton marsalis, chick corea, pat metheny, et al, the many amazing musicians here compete daily & seemingly with desperation, for the same few low paying gigs in noisy restaurants, or in soon to be gone, well intentioned non-corporate jazz cafes/bars: clawing at the gates for bread…

 in addition as it is nyc, there are a multitude of aspiring players willing to play for free & the concomitant number of restaurant/club owners who can’t discern the difference between apprentice & master. this doesn’t at all imply that i object to one’s honing their craft on the job, i encourage my advanced students to sit in w/me on many of my gigs, & in my teaching emphasize the developing of practical skills so as to be prepared for the real world.

in other parts of the country club owners view live music as a means of attracting customers. in oregon, texas, ohio & minnesota for example, friends of mine gig 4 -6 nights per week.

 here in town even well known jazzers playing in neighborhood eateries/bars, worry about attendence – either they bring in an audience of eaters/drinkers, or they don’t work. club owners generally don’t advertise, & expect you to do all the leg work, & even with this they can’t understand why their business suffers. it amounts to a pay to play situation – it’s not about how well you play or how deep you dig, it’s about asses in the seats – period(.)

but hey, i’m not bitter…

 so why am I here? well, someone stole my wallet & i’m just trying to raise enough money for a knish & a train ticket back to parsipanny, nj.

so if you can spare some change…

 

Hey Joe:

 

As a last question, why don’t we look towards the future?

 

What kinds of projects are you currently working on & what should we be looking out for in the future?

 

For now,

Jared

 

Joe: low overhangs & random flying objects…

 

i am excited about writing – both poetry & music; & about doing some more drawings. for me, playing  (& singing) music is autonomic – a guitar in my hands & a song rising from my lungs depicts my default state of being – true love.

 

i have a number of projects percolating: a new recording fom ‘Threedom’;

a solo guitar cd; a book of original music compositions; much more poetry-perhaps gathered together & laced with string…

 

practice/practise/smile/hope/walk/teach/learn/listen/think/clear/

play/ply/ploy/dance/request/grant/watch/feel/fool/seek/blank out/

opt inout/tread-to read- thread/appreciate-appropriate/groove/

& stop talking – for a moment…

 

thanks/jared/angela/ladybug/best/joe