Gig #1 (10 December 2004)

January 14, 2017

Going through old journals last night, I came across this report. I’d forgotten I’d written it!

12-10-04 Well actually 12-11, since it’s past 3 am.

LaunchPad has played gig#1 What an awesome night. We are so grateful to Tina Ovulator for inviting us to play with them. And Shawn the Audio Schizophrenic was such a hot DJ between sets and closing. So many people came up to each of us afterward and said they LOVED us. Amazing. Wow. On stage we felt not all that hot. David’s gear was having problems. At the end of our set, he was on his knees playing the flute into the microphone that was sitting on a broken mic stand that was just propped up against his table. Great flute solo. But y’know I think we kept it together pretty much all through the show. We had a great vibe, according to more than one person. And The Ovulators had one of the best most rockingest shows ever.

Kava kava might be a good idea next time.

What’s funny is that this could be the summary of almost every single one of our shows over the last 12 years. I do remember we felt like we hit the ground running as a band. (Or rolling across the sand after we ejected from our spaceship when it crashed-landed on this strange planet.)



LaunchPad’s first publicity photo,  December 2004 

Playback Infrastructure

January 10, 2017

I’m looking into Scrivener, the popular project management software for writers. It’s like ProTools for novelists, but at a fraction of the price. That’s what I like about writer’s gadgets—they’re so cheap compared to music gadgets, let alone video gadgets. Writing gets way more bang for its buck. That’s not to say, for most writers, sadly, that it gets many bucks for its bang.

I worry about the playback infrastructure for writing. Writing’s playback infrastructure (compared to music’s hopeful market saturation of cd players or mp3 players or Spotify subscribers) is based on literacy. Literacy is the basic component in the playback of written language, which I would define as active reading, understanding, and ability to discuss literate writing. In music, market saturation of a particular playback format means that recordings in that format can be played by most people. Universal literacy means that written language (format) works can be read by most people. Where literacy fails—where many people are illiterate—written language has become a dead format. Written language is the container of so much planet-wide knowledge, culture, and entertainment, that the disappearance of the ability to play it back—read it!—would be devastating in terms of civilization and survival. Will writing become a dead format like Edison’s cylinders?  Or simply spend an afterlife as a boutique format like audio cassettes? I hope not!

That’s what I think—as a proponent and fan of writing and reading. But there is a post-literate viewpoint, an argument that things hybridize and change, and that (post?)humans might indeed evolve away from need for writing. And my rooting for the eternal success of written language might be based on a chauvinistic attitude, a pro-word stance that might actually be detrimental to the continuing evolutionary success of humankind! And then there’s the Language Is A Virus crowd. And the (perhaps-related) Language Enslaves crowd. “Break the word-hold, erase the words to erase the programming.” Isn’t that what Burroughs was about?  I think he also said writing came first, before speaking, and that an outer space virus caused the previously silent/writing humans to speak out loud—that spoken language is actually a viral symptom.

But back to my previously unwritten main question: can Scrivener help me write an entire book of pure, high-grade nonsense? I’m also looking at Bibisco, which is free and open source. I love idea of me working on a random nonsense book in novel-writing software. It just feels right—alchemical.

Icy Ruins

January 9, 2017

Saw this beauty in the dark on my slow, slippery walk to work this morning. Somebody spent a lot of time making snow bricks!

Reintroducing myself, an updated About

January 8, 2017

Hi, I’m Mr. Random. I started making art under that name in October of 1988, the 31st to be exact. Mr. Random was a Halloween costume. I painted and glued and stapled all kinds of stuff and images and text onto a pair of jeans and a white dress shirt. I think I had a hat, too, and I carried a small boom box playing a cassette of cut-up and collaged music and random sounds from the radio. I was Mr. Random, with a random costume, playing a random tape on my random sound machine, and we drove to Portland for a Halloween Party. After that night, I decided to make Mr. Random my permanent art name and started making texts and collages and paintings plus audio and video experiments under that name. That was 1988, and now in 2017 I’m still Mr. Random and still filling blank media with random cut-up automatic collage, montage, and improv.

Mr. Random may have emerged as a name and focused art persona in 1988, but I was interested in randomness, divination, and cut-ups long before that. In 1983, after programming a Tarot shuffler and an I Ching thrower, I made a random poetry generator on my VIC-20 computer and a couple years later upgraded it to a program called “Dichter” on my Commodore-64. (Several years after that, it became Dichter II for DOS, written in Pascal.) I’d been writing in a quasi-automatic style since 1977 or so. I was influenced by Patti Smith and Jack Kerouac early on, and later by William Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson. I played dice baseball when I was 11, and D&D with friends in college. Randomness, simulations, experimental writing and art and music, all of this began to interest me when I was young. Mr. Random was a coalescing of this interest and activity under a proper name when I as 28 years old. Now it’s 28 years later! I’ve been Mr. Random for half of my human life.

I used to work a lot more with third-party material, appropriated from magazines and junk mail and books, and later the internet. I enlisted mixing and randomizing procedures to transform it syntactically, radically rearranging the order of words, or in the case of collage, shapes and images and colors. “Machine text” was something I made with a computer and the Dichter program, which was basically just a random number generator and a big list of words. I also made macros (mixit1, mixit2, mixit3, etc.) in Word Perfect that changed the line length of texts and sorted on different word-positions repeatedly to yield long arbitrary cut-ups. I sampled chunks of the resulting material (from Dichter output and mixit macro results) and created hybrid/cyborg finished pieces from this raw text spawned by computer programs. Basically I was editing computerized gibberish, airbrushing it and raising its level of grammaticality–its readability–by adding conjunctions or making verbs and adjectives from nouns or vice versa, adding punctuation and capital letters at the beginnings of “sentences” and periods at the end. I was using what was there, taking what the program and macros produced, and trying to make it “readable”–in the sense of flowing off the tongue easily if read aloud, not “this makes sense.” It’s more like editing music, maybe. Rhythm and sound are more important than what the words may mean.

At some point, after working/playing for years with so much machine-generated and cut-up text, editing and revising it in my image of what was humanly consumable (if not comprehensible), I started writing by and for myself, unaided by machine logic (except to type on), and making a style that looked and sounded a lot like edited machine text. Apparently I’d assimilated that style and could now just spit it out on my own. You could just put me in front of a keyboard and watch me go! Human powered nonsense! The machinic “style” and my early/continuing propensity for run-on and surreally changing sentence structures combined to give birth to this new Mr. Random style of writing. I suppose it’s properly a member of the “literary nonsense” genre, maybe at an extreme edge of it, I don’t know. I’m not sure that “genre” applies to the work of someone who is largely indifferent to marketing his writing. Genre deals in fulfilling expectations. My random writing is almost the opposite. My genre is “anti-genre”!

My new typer, brightened up!

January 6, 2017

AlphaSmart Neo2 with Mighty Bright dual LED clip-on lamp

In progress, draft excerpt

January 6, 2017

File 8. The door to space. Don’t shy away because that’s too hard. It’s not that way at all. Too hard is nothing, it’s too soft, and fireworks calm the night. We spread the flags above and the kitties slept through it all. Bombardment no, the causality is fraud, nothing blares more than misfiring publicity. Sugar magnolia, wacka doodled ooh! Shunted miracle patsy weapon vishnu shoulder romping shampoo stampede wicker canoe spray food isn’t ever as dry as it should be, and barn dance zigzag cigarette farewell spurns utopia. North shipments made ferry under regulated standard solar time, in the media certain statements, and so on, vigorous denials, and such. We sit and eat and drink and sleep and punish the reborn with satire and old keystrokes. Nothing in retirement is to be issued finally, the wondering and the pardoning soaking the wakened and the poor in water and shine. That was a gimmick, certain as I am of anything, and the box of tape and pencils and rulers is astray and the asking price this afternoon was utter equivalency and I laughed and I ran toward the other line of reasoning and made certain of a segmented campaign, and progress is supplementary and rigorous fantasy is made for a dime. Pragmatic granola fiduciaries sometimes lie through barbed entrails and sick voter lividity. Running straight through the diagonal is faster than harpists’ grins, so like the awkward minutia to creep up like this at the last minute.

Taped Ruminant

January 5, 2017