8619 - Poetry Music Quilts

- Beth Anderson / Gayle Hanson - $6.00


["OP" solicited an article re Widemouth from me. As a result, the following 2 articles were written at my request by Pam Purdy & David Yaffe (2 Baltimore writers) as an overview of a selection of Widemouth tapes. Each of them was given about half of the tapes published as of that time to write something about. David's article was too long to print so I edited it by extracting all of the similies. The allusions to Poetry Music Quilts are accentuated with a larger font size]

From: "OP" "W" issue - May-June '84 - us@

Widemouth Tapes

by Pamela Purdy

"Hi! I'd like to read you this poem," Chris Mason says on the phone. "Well I don't think I want to hear it if it needs a reaction," says his first callee, hanging up. But some of his subjects are willing to give it a shot. They'll play the critic: to listen, to understand, to interpret. Says one, "And you can be locked up underground without being locked up. You know?"

Along with Patti Karl and "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE," Chris Mason is one of the publishers of Widemouth Tapes: notes from underground, talking messages in acetate bottles.

Alec Bernstein makes "the music of dead trees" with driftwood and marimba in an abandoned quarry near Penobscot Bay. This is the sound of the tree that falls in the forest.

"Is anybody out there?" asks one of the callers on It's not 9 o'clock!, a collection of items related to the lifetime of a particular number on the BUTN (Baltimore Underground Telephone Network). "Why is it always busy, but nobody ever talks?" another caller complains. And also the voice of a network critic: "That tape really sucked...Any asshole could put something like that together."

Voices in the air, Mr. Christian sparring with callers about teenage sex. VD Radio solicited tapes on their telephone network and got "urban folk music" from kids who grew up around a stereophonic campfire: disco, Top 40, and jazz-rock fusion, plus an elaborate collage of movie soundtracks, musical comedy, pop songs, newscasts, and other fairy tales. Also philosophy: "We are all aliens, and we will always be aliens to ourselves and to others as long as we shut our minds to the inevitable death of culture in a plastic society...."

Doctors for "Bob," from the Dallas-based Church of the SubGenius, celebrate the golf tips of Arnold Palmer and dream of a golfer head laundry [launching], "a fabulous, fun-drenched heaven on earth." DC's Doug Lang is stuck on Kim Novak, and New York's Charles Bernstein makes poetry from dialogue in On the Waterfront, Lang recites a litany of jazz musicians, and Bernstein, ever more hysterical, counts to 100.

Why these particular obsessions? It's not hard to understand Gayle Hanson's preoccupation with the rootlessness of an adopted child ("{for Mom} whoever you are?") or Beth Anderson's "Ode" to her father, an auctioneer, Anderson composes poetic music from a tobacco auctioneer's chant.

Great Monach is inspired by the love songs of the rhinoceros ("Foneron 79-5") and constructs her Zwevingen from "concatenations of letters which overlap." Her infatuation with the rhinoceros was shared by Ionesco, who concocted his first play from the (to him) meaningless sentences in an English phrasebook: "I think you are in league with the butcher."

Words mean what we say they do. Say otherwise, and reality becomes a banana peel. Tina Darragh is fascinated with chants that depend on the "call words" at the top of dictionary pages. Sometimes she reads backwards, sounding like a stroke victim. Can we say what a stroke victim means? No more than an auctioneer, but we don't doubt that they mean something. It's just that we lack the Cliff's Notes, the skeleton key.

"I too say text is about itself, and world is text," writes Charles Stein in theforestforthetrees, the April 1982 version of a poem 45 minutes long. "Reality is conventional. People sort of 'hang out,' trying to get together about how things are." He describes his work, an enormous undertaking, as "little bits of writing chipped from the cave. Obsessed."

To own a Widemouth Tape is to share another's obsession. Kirby Malone and Marshall Reese recite work that sounds from a distance like the barking of dogs. Ups close it resolves into fragments of their lives, their obsessions.

You can stand back and judge or jump in and drown. Or you can hang up without listening.


What are Widemouth Tapes Like?

8602-With ruth in Mind-Anselm Hollo

8606-At the Festival of Disappearing Art(s)-Mitchell Pressman & Alec Bernstein

like a trash can; like an oriental gong; like a pianissimo NY subway; piano-like; tone-like; like other instruments; like a melody; like ducks and other birds; electronically grating squawks; wood-like; like a surprised voice; like double-takes; like "Do tell!"; like way in background some soul record vocals; like acceleration or lift-off of something; like a railroad; like Stravinsky Rite of Spring or the like; like hits on wood: as in the woods.

8608-On His Own/The Other Side of Steve Benson-Steve Benson/Cris Cheek

Songlike; like after-the-fact expressive gestures; like tones of voice of a second order; like an architect's rough preliminary sketch of an ontology; like that of a cash register; like Benson in studying language; like Benson; like Benson.

8609-12-Testes-3 Broadcast Tapes-Testes-3

like Dial-a-Prayer; like Dial-an-Anomoly; like an auditory Allen Funt "Candid Mouthpiece"; like NY subway; like a racquetball hit hard; like being able to hear capitalism; like a voice imitating a jewsharp; elctro-bassoon-like; like explosions; like from notes of touch-tone phone.

8614-Pablo & the New Mexicans-TEC in FDA at WPA

like a hysteric's torment or a Good Humor truck; like those on 2-way radio; like Widemouth's; like a power drill or a vacuum cleaner.


like two bows; like several actors chiming in viewing it differently; like bell tone between that of wood & metal; like approaching traffic; like basso radio static; like grinding wheels; gunshot-like; machine-like; like outer space conceits; like wobble warble: what this creature does for a trill; train whistle-like; like drumstick dancing, ricocheting across a washboard of tuned glasses; like baby mermaids alarmed; like a bubble machine reving up mysteriously wavered as if from a distance; like petty elephant trumpeting at length with variety - with a complex burden of what to say; like protests; like creaky start-stop bird calls; like animated dialog; like the talk of a high soprano with tapes mouth but she wants to make her point; like epic film; like bowed bass string notes; somewhat "Happening"-like; group talk-like; like the radio; like a legal document; like a slightly slowed recording; like dogs baying; march-like; like people cheerily singing together something they know in the background as at a party; like distant hammer blows & dog barks; like the expectant tension & clarity of the urban outdoors; pile-drive-like; conch-shell-like; like machines.

8616-Public Language-Andrews & Bernstein & DiPalma & Gottlieb & Seaton & Sherry & Weiner

like being what it claims; like maybe edited of phrases which were excerpted from longer conventionally meaningful texts; largely dream-like; like unexpected (from a waking "rational" viewpoint) images in dreams; "like Magellan waiting for the first European woman to take off her clothes"; like a somewhat impassioned academic philosopher or a preacher in one of the more intellectual congregations; like AC betweenamong the suggestions of all its statements; like pig(eon)-Latin; like an image almost out of focus rather than marginally out or drifitng in & out.

8622-Scribble Music Sampler-Franz Kamin

Color & design sense are partly reminiscent of Russian futurism. That's what my example's like; like series of unrelated words, perhaps selected from newspaper headlines, read as phrases; like a yawn; like certain Turkish oboes.

8625-Accumulation/Great Moments in Odd-ball Sports-tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

like spice; like Grand Central Station; like harsh noises in machine persona rock & roll; like ocean breakers' surges; like my own intracranial/emotional overlay tape; melodic-like; like this; like high soprano humpback whale, a sort of Pekinese breed humpback whale; like a voluntary or optional reveille-if-you-want-to.


-David Yaffe (as edited by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE)


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to A Mere Outline for One Aspect of a Book on Mystery Catalysts, Guerrilla Playfare, booed usic, Mad Scientist Didactions, Acts of As-Beenism, So-Called Whatevers, Psychopathfinding, Uncerts, Air Dressing, Practicing Promotextuality, Imp Activism, etc..

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The reviews are not necessarily copied verbatim from the original. Usually, small apparent typos are corrected & obsolete addresses are removed. In some cases, I may choose to leave misspellings, misinformation, etc intact to demonstrate how sloppy the reviewer is. Of course, there may be times when the original packaging was confusing (deliberately or otherwise) which may effect the reviewer's comprehension. The more recent the tapes are, the less likely this is to be the case. Most of the recent tapes provide fairly extensive liner notes. In some cases, reviewers whose native language isn't English may be writing in English anyway for the sake of 'internationalizing' their reviews. Obviously, this may lead to what strikes native English speakers as 'bad' English. Hopefully, equally obviously, this should not be interpreted as a lack of intelligence in the writing. Editorial notes may be inserted into the reviews in [brackets]. In many instances, I (tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE) replied to reviews that I disagreed with strongly. These replies are included here. In some cases, I may add additional retrospective comments.