396. 2nd Annual Polish Hill May Day Parade Speech

- the streets of Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, us@

- Saturday, May 4, 2013, mid-day

- This was the 4th annual Polish Hill May Day Parade & the 2nd of my speeches given by request of people connected to the parade. [I originally had this listed as the 3rd of my speeches but as far as I can tell now, in September, 2015, it was really the 2nd - thusly throwing off my numbering in the movies I made of the following 2 years] This year's speech was about all the jobs I've had & about the latest dirty tricks that my current employer was starting to use to avoid paying me health care under the Affordable Health Care Act that I wouldn't've been eligible for anyway:

"They say the 1st one's free..

"But, then, before you know it, you're addicted..

"& your life is reduced to a miserable cycle of hustle & reward, you've become a Pavlovian Dog, a WORKER.

"My own sad tale begins with mowing lawns & taking out the trash & baby-sitting.

"Then I moved onto the hard-stuff. By 18 I had a pick in hand & I was trying to dig out a basement from solid rock. The next thing I knew I was selling my body for research, I was naked in front of strangers at art schools. I was doing "head modeling" for $2 an hour - as if I could take my head off & do something else with my body.

"From there it was just a never-ending hell-ride from one low-paying job to another - desperately seeking the ways & means to keep myself alive.. housed.. clothed.. fed.. drunk.. but I kept my head high, I remained defiant, I made my personality stronger, I started demanding MORE REWARDS for the sale of my soul, I upped my wage-slave market value..

"I worked as a driver for the Dundalk Marine Terminal, as a dishwasher for the Naval Academy, as a canvasser for Maryland Action & Clean Water Action & the Sierra Club, as a hard-wood floor finisher, as an English & Math teacher for the functionally illiterate, as a library worker, as a Film Repairer, as a Guest Lecturer at universities, as a book buyer & cashier, as a Peep Show Mechanic, as a raspberry picker, as a Wiring Installer for a medical lab, as a book store owner, as an exhibit builder, as a printer, a typesetter, a video installation installer, as a Museum Exhibit Technician, as an Archivist, as a Hot Air Balloon ground crew member. I've worked & struggled & barely survived.

"I've worked for the Maryland Science Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Heinz History Center, the Smithsonian, the Frick Fine Arts Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Natural History Museum.

"&, NOW, I'm at the top of my game! I've finally reached the point where, in exchange for the use of my skills, all these mega-wealthy institutions can try to screw me out of health insurance under the new Affordable Health Care Act! I've got so many skills I could work all those $250,000 a year Museum Directors under the table! So, of course, now they want to cut my hours back (not to mention my pay) to less than 25 hours a week MAXIMUM so that I can feel those thrills of being a starving human skeleton like I was in my early twenties!


- The movie from this is on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: http://youtu.be/7GHfd1JVuMQ

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE


397. "Banned Names"

- as part of "Tommy Amoeba's Rock N' Roll Birthday Gala Extravaganza and SubGenius Devival" at Howler's Bar, Pittsburgh, us@

- Saturday, June 22, 2013

- Tommy Amoeba & Phat Man Dee being 2 of my favorite entertainers around Pittsburgh, I was delighted when Man Dee invited me to participate in this Church of the SubGenius Devival. I was completely hooked when Man Dee told me that my old friend Reverend Ivan Stang would be a participant too! My history with the Church being torrid, to say the least, I hadn't participated in any SubG events since my ill-received subversion of the Boston Bobalon in 1987. SO, I hadn't seen Stang for 26 yrs!! At one time, he was one of my 5 main correspondents. Our correspondence has continued to this day but the thrill of it has long since been somewhat mitigated by things like the flatness of email (vs the excitement of packages received via snail mail).

ANYWAY, this was a very full evening, certainly one of the more interesting ones I've participated in in Pittsburgh, & it's outside the purview of these Mere Outline accounts to describe anyone's act in detail except my own but I WILL eventually put a movie of the event online & I must at least pay homage to my fellow weirdos by listting them:

The evening began with geek performer / songwriter Andrew the Impaled. Aside from sticking nails up his nose & having audience members put him in a straight-jacket that he escaped from, he played keyboard & sang some excellent original songs.

Eric Singer poured some goop down a board with nails sticking out of it. Contact between the goop & the nails triggered speech samples creating an hilarious SubGenius related blasphemous quasi-cacophony - mad scientism at its best!

Phat Man Dee & the Cultural District followed next with Man Dee's jazzy vocals supported by a jazz keyboardist & acoustic contrabassist. Man Dee always puts her full heart & soul into it.

I was next with a simple sampler piece called "Banned Names". An in-depth description follows below.

The Reverend Ivan Stang gave an extended sermon/rant from behind a pulpit he brought. It was a great pleasure to hear his silver tongue at work. A humorless French heckler tried to get him to shut up.

Tommy's full-on performative tight rock band finished the night off. Tommy has a schtick like no other & seeing him go through his various costume changes is enough to keep me entertained & the band played good ole rock'n'roll with finesse. A great finale for a great night!

Sheesh! Someone even bought a copy of the "MM 26" CD that friends of mine & I recently published!

Compared to the rest of the evening, my piece was the LEAST performative but it WAS, at least, something that I was premiering there that WAS appropriate for a Subgenius Devival.

Backstory: I'd received an email with a link ( http://gawker.com/5982582/the-fifty+three-dirty-band-names-you-can-never-say-on-the-radio#13603499229444&{%22type%22:%22iframeUpdated%22,%22height%22:1285} )to an article entitled "The Fifty-Three Dirty Band Names You Can Never Say on the Radio"about a Catholic University banning certain band names & name of performers from being spoken over their radio station. The station, oddly, is heavy metal one AND is called a "pirate radio station" (at least according to the article). The "Dirty Band Names" is misleading. The names are chosen as either being irreligious, sexual, otherwise 'scary' (Cannibal Corpse?) or offensive (Art Phag?), or, in a few cases, apparently, just the names of popular musicians that the administration somehow finds offensive or threatening (Justin Bieber?!). The list is also 59 names.

I picked the following 53 names from the list:

Aborted Fetus

Abuses of the Clergy

Adolf Satan

Alabama Thunderpussy

Alien Sex Fiend

Anal Cunt

Angel Corpse

Angel Sin

Art Phag

Baby Jesus Hitler


Barbed Wire Condom


Cannibal Corpse

Cradle of Filth


Cock Spear


Cybernetic God Crusher

Dark Angel

Decrepit Birth

Death Angel


Deep Fried Abortion

Dying Fetus


Fullblown AIDS


God Dethroned

Heaven Shall Burn


Impaled Nazarene

The Jackofficers

Jesus Chrysler

Jesus Eater


Killah Priest

Morbid Angel

Mighty Sphincter

Nails of Christ

Nun Slaughter

Pre School Tea Party Massacre


Pussy Overload

Rhino Clit

Rotting Christ

Scrotum Staplers

Sexual Orange Master

Shit Scum

Smother Theresa

This is Hell

Upside Down Cross

Wall of Smegma

& then had my friend Deb from a Pittsburgh-based heavy metal band called "Lady Beast" enunciate each of the names & additionally make up 8 air guitar vocals & sampled all 61 to make the "Banned Names" sample set. These were then played in a substantially rehearsed loosely structured quasi-narrative sequence.

The movie that I made of the entire devival is on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel (highly abridged, as usual) here:


- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE


398. "Letter to "Kem""

- as part of "The Blasterthon!!!!!!!" in honor of the memory of "Blaster" Al Ackerman at the red Room, Normal's Bookstore, Baltimore, us@

- Saturday, June 29, 2013

- "Blaster" Al Ackerman & I started corresponding in October of 1980. In the world of Mail Art, where Blaster is probably best known, it's my opinion that a vast majority of the participants are content with little more than making easily mailed conventional artworks such as collages. Blaster & I immediately bonded by sharing the tendency of a very small subset of 'Mail Artists' (I always called myself a "P.I.N.-U.P." - a "Postal Interaction Network - Underground Participant" & never liked the term "Mail Art") to be more trickster oriented. We used multiple names, mailed things through a variety of intermediate addresses, & otherwise confused &, hopefully, stimulated our correspondents with socio-political-conceptual hi-jinks.

One of the 1st such things that Blaster & I collaborated on were letters to a woman whose 1st name is "Kim". In late 1980 or early 1981, I had seen an image of a 'Bat Duck' in a Mail Art related catalog with the address of Kim next to it. Since I was prolifically pursuing correspondents at the time I wrote to Kim in my usual highly calculated eccentric style. Kim replied in a way that was ultimately intolerant & insulting, claiming no knowledge of why her address was in the catalog & expressing irritation at the difficulties of my writing.

I forwarded this correspondence to some of the more stimulating mail friends I had at the time - wch included Blaster & Reverend Ivan Stang of the Church of the SubGenius. Blaster then wrote 2 utterly hilarious letters to Kim, renamed as "Kem", & sent copies to me. Stang did something similar. All of this correspondence then made it into 2 small books of mine documenting the process. I reissued this documentation in a book made especially for the June 22, 2013 Devival in Pittsburgh & for this Blasterthon!!!!!!!.


In honor of Blaster's highly revered memory, I then read a "Letter to Kem" for The Blasterthon!!!!!!! too. I also premiered the movie I made honoring Blaster entitled "This Will Explain" - something Blaster often wrote on things he sent people in the mail. A movie I made of this reading augmented by a relevant section from my memorial feature is on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here:


A movie of the entire 4 day Blasterthon!!!!!!! is here:

Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:


Day 4:


It was a truly incredible & touching homage to a truly great man.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE


399. ""MM 26" CD release #1"

- as part of Anthony Levin-Decanini's "Crucible Sound #4" at Modernformations Gallery, Pittsburgh, us@

- Thursday, July 8, 2013

- In November of 2011, I started a series of get-togethers at my house & elsewhere called "mm"s (pronounced "mmmmm.."). "mm" stands for "m(usic(ian's))m(eetings). I started these because I missed the luxury that most people have in their late teens & early 20s & then lose as their lives become more bogged down with adult responsibilities: namely, the funof just hanging out with friends & talking passionately about & listening to music. As of this writing (July 18, 2014), there've been 45 mms.

In addition to discussing & listening to other people's music we often play music of our own. In early 2013 I thought it would be fun to put out a CD that represents some of the talents of some of the core participants. This resulted in 7 of us putting out a CD in an edition of 500 that can be bought online & elsewhere.

Anthony Levin-Decanini is an mm participant. He also founded & curates a sereies of free improvisation concerts at the Modern Formations Gallery in Pittsburgh. The rule for participation in these concerts is that the players have never played together before. For the 4th of these, Anthony decided to host the 1st of 2 MM 26 CD release events. Anthony also has a blog promoting these concerts & in anticipation of this one he went all-out by polling me on favorite records here:


& then he recorded an interview with me that was so long that he edited it heavily & still had to break it into 2 parts:



Of the 7 contributors to the MM 26 CD, 6 were available (one, Unfinished Symphonies, was on tour playing keyboard for a a rock band). In keeping with Anthony's preference that the participants should be playing together for the 1st time, we had 2 sets: one consisting of a trio that'd never played together before: Rey Freme: analog synthesizer, Matt Aelmore: French horn & electric bass, & Anthony Levin-Decanini: electronics; the 2nd consisting of the same trio joined intermittently by myself (tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE): sampler, wave-table synthesizer, sampler-mixer, roll-up keyboards, amplified fingertips, Speaker Switch Suitcase (& CDs prepared for playing through it), percussion, etc, Kenny Haney: alto clarinet, & Ben Opie: alto sax & electronics. We all eventually played together at the end regardless of the fact that Kenny, Ben, & I had played many times before. Additionally recruited from the audience to play a roll-up keyboard was my friend Elisa Schwenniger.

I had decided to make setting-up be a primary focus & to not let the audience know that that was what I was doing. With that in mind, I brought a huge quantity of equipment. During the 1st trio set I kept going on stage & futzing with my equipment while the other guys played a fairly slow atmospheric set. At one point, I sat on the edge of the stage & ate some of a sub sandwich.

Next on the program was a screening of the 1st of the many mm movies that I've made, a quasi-documentary of the 5th mm:


This was probably followed by an intermission & then the last set. I had a plan to try to get through an intimidatingly large number of procedures in this last set. It was also my intention to use samples usually reserved for specific pieces & not meaqnt for egenral improvisation purposes - this was for the sake of breaking my my own rules. SO, I started off playing Cds that I'd made from frog & toad recordings from a Folkways record. These were directed through the use of my Speaker Switcher Suitcase (see my movie about that here: http://youtu.be/sXdMjUdEMsk ) to 7 speakers scattered around the floor. Then Kenny came on stage for 10 minutes or so & played a very soft & subtle clarinet. I velcroed on the 2 roll-up keyboards to my pantsl egs & put on rubber gloves that I'd attached contact mics to the fingertips of & plugged those into my sound system. This was to amplify the sound of my fingers touching things. I asked Kenny to leave the stage & I began exaggerating doing things with my hands like scrtaching my underarms & torso. Eventually, I started pulling percussion out of a suitcase-full that I had on the floor in front of the stage. I focused particularly on a small Chinese gong. Ben came on stage next & sat at its edge playing a small electronic device called the Board Weevil.

I went into the audience & put a roll-up keyboard on Elisa's lap & asked her to play it. She wasn't expecting this. Eventually, I took her & the keyboard to a table in front of the stage where I plugged a cord into the headphones jack that then went into a pitch-to-MIDI converter that then controlled my wave-table synthesizer. I didn't explain this to Elisa. Since plugging into the headphones jack cut the sound coming out of the roll-up's built-in speakers, Elisa became confused because it seemed that she couldn't hear her playing because she didn't realize that the wave-table sounds were being triggered by her. She probably pulled the cord out & then I cam over & plugged it back in again. My intention was to bypass clichés of performance by keeping things in a state of uncertainty.

I'd already played my "Skeletal Remains" samples at some point so now I returned & played my "The Only Jealousy of Cascando McKenna" ones. By this point, we were all playing together & Ben played in a wind trio with himself on sax, Kenny on clarinet, & Matt on French horn - along with the rest of us on electronics. I eventually went back to a more active spatial manipulation of the frog recordings through the Speaker Switcher. To make things even more complicated & confusing for Elisa I sampled her playing of the the wave-table sounds & played that sampling back looped while she continued to play the roll-up. I then switched to the "Banned Names" samples - at which point Elisa sat down again. I started throwing my percussion around - especially the Boom Whackers that're pitched tubes sound by striking. I bounced these off the stage steps so that their pitches could be heard.

At some point I started using toilet-paper rolls to try to focus feedback from my mic-ed fingers & then to amplify my voice & I gave them out to the audience to encourage to participate similarly. My final set of samples was the "Rasps" set culled from the same Folkways record that the CDs played through the Speaker Switcher were.

An abridged movie that I made of this event is ony my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here:


- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE


400. ""MM 26" CD release #2: Amir ul-Kuffar presents "The Only Jealousy of Cascando McKenna""

- Melwood Screening Room, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh, us@

- Tuesday, July 13, 2013

- Wanting this to be a substantially different event from the preceeding "MM 26 CD release 1" of only 5 days before, I structured it around mm-related movies separated by short performances by the few contributors to the CD who were available (Unfinished Symphonies was still on tour, Anthony had gotten sick, Rey was away & wasn't sure he could get back on time, Ben had another gig).

I had been given what I took to be a Russian Army Medical Corps Major General's uniform by a friend of mine that I hadn't done anything with other than a series of photos. (I've recently been informed by a Russian I met in a bar that the uniform is fake but that the hat is real) I introduced myself as Major General Amit ul-Kuffar ("Commander of the Unfaithful" in Arabic) & explained in an extremelt unconvincing Russian accent that the mms were spy meetings made up of double & triple agents speaking in code language. Then I screened the "mm 05" movie:


Matt Aelmore was up next. He passed around some CDs of music he likes - simulating what happens at mms (m(usic(ian's)) at my house. Then he played a recording that he'd made by mixing such music together while he played electric bass 'ovcertop' of it.

I screened "Ben Opie" next:


followed by "Babelization Party" (not online yet).

Kenny Haney followed with a set of old-timey songs played on banjo - thusly demonstrating his musical skills that're quite fifferent from his clarinet playing. He introduced the songs with relevant stories about their histories.

I screened "mm 22" next which was the the mm where we discussed, amongst other things, modern dance. That was followed by "J from A to Z" which was recorded at another mm:


I finished off the evening with the premier playing of my "The Only Jealousy of Cascando McKenna" which is a piece consisting of samples from 3 realizations of Yeats's play "The Only Jealousy of Emer" + 3 realizations of Beckett's radio play "Cascando" + an excerpt from a spectacular performance by Irish actress Siobhan McKenna. Here's my keyboard mapping score for it:


A somewhat warped movie of this event called "The 29 Mmmms" is on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here:


- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE



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