Choose Your Own Adventure

Friday, March 20

Animal Collective Auctions Test Pressings for Rarities Set To Benefit Doctors Without Borders

From Pitchfork:
A test pressing of an Animal Collective release is being auctioned on eBay. This is news? Not usually. But in this case, it's not just any Animal Collective release, it's the long-rumored live box set on the Catsup Plate label. And the auction is for charity.

Playfully titled Animal Crack Box, the 3xLP set gathers live material that was "recorded live to MiniDisc at various locations over the course of the course of the first three years or so of the band." The box set has been talked about for years (including in a recent Pitchfork interview), and now it looks like it's really happening. Catsup Plate, who released Animal Collective's Campfire Songs album, put up the auction to benefit Doctors Without Borders. Here's the story, cut and pasted from the listing:

"We never know what to do with test pressings here at Catsup Plate. Fairly soon after we approve them we have commercial copies of the record, so the test pressing usually go into a box somewhere. Save them for the grandkids or something like that.

For our upcoming 3LP boxed set of live and unreleased Animal Collective music, entitled Animal Crack Box, we've decided to do something a bit more positive with a set of the test pressings and offer them up for auction with 100% of proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, a Nobel Peace Prize winning medical humanitarian organization who do a tremendous job in offering impartial and non-political help to victims of violence, neglect, or catastrophe around the world."

So there you have it. A good cause and a lot of music, but it'll cost you a few bucks. No word yet on a release date for the proper set. Per the auction description, it will be limited to 1,000 copies and will not be sold in record stores.
Animal Collective Visited Soundlab on April 14, 2005

Thursday, March 19

Underground Comics Legend Harvey Pekar to Speak at Central Library 3/28 (Submit Your Questions Now)

This Saturday, March 28 at 2pm, local graphic novel advocates GetGraphic present "An Afternoon with Harvey Pekar" at the Central Library Auditorium, 1 Lafayette Square. Best known as the author of the autobiographical American Splendor (later made into a critically acclaimed motion picture), Pekar is a cult legend in the arena of underground comics.

From Wikipedia: Robert Crumb led to the creation of the autobiographical comic book series American Splendor, later adapted as a movie. Crumb and Pekar became friends through their mutual love of jazz records, and Crumb became the first artist to illustrate American Splendor. The comic documents daily life in the aging neighborhoods of Pekar's native Cleveland, where Pekar worked throughout his life (even after gaining fame) as a file clerk in a large Veterans Administration hospital.

American Splendor has been illustrated over the years by some of comics' best talents. Pekar's most well-known and longest-running collaborators include Crumb, Gary Dumm, Greg Budgett, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Zabel, Gerry Shamray, Frank Stack, Mark Zingarelli, and Joe Sacco; while recent years have seen him repeatedly team up with artists like Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld. Other notable cartoonists who have worked with Pekar include Jim Woodring, Chester Brown, Alison Bechdel, Gilbert Hernandez, Eddie Campbell, David Collier, Drew Friedman, Ho Che Anderson, Rick Geary, Ed Piskor, Hunt Emerson, Bob Fingerman, and Alex Wald; as well as such unexpected illustrators as Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner and legendary comics writer Alan Moore.

A critically acclaimed film adaptation of American Splendor was released in 2003, directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman.[1] It featured Paul Giamatti as Pekar, as well as appearances by Pekar himself.

GetGraphic want to know what you want to know from Pekar. Submit your questions here.

Hypertext Pioneer Robert Coover Buffalo Residency

By Christina Milletti for Artvoice:
Since the 1966 publication of The Origin of the Brunists (which won the William Faulkner Award for Best First Novel), renowned novelist, short story writer, and hypertext pioneer Robert Coover has been a one-man fictional tour-de-force, negotiating the elusive boundary between the real and the illusory with intrepid, unerring vision. Described by the New York Times as “one of America’s quirkiest writers, if by ‘quirky’ we mean an unwillingness to abide by ordinary fictional rules,” Coover makes fiction that examines darkly laughable elements of the human experience, drawing upon fairy tales, the history of baseball, religious cults, and perhaps most famously the presidency of Richard Nixon and the Rosenberg trials.

He has played many roles in his many, varied books: author, ringmaster, wizard behind the curtain. Coover’s work relishes mythmaking, with none of the avuncular simplicity that tends to accompany washed-up notions of the surreal that dominate the present moment. In his world, the imagination is perilous and heady, the origin of infinite creation, and therefore the source of all downfall—a place of fetish as much as fantasy. But what is clear above all is that Coover is not so much a master of illusion as its willing servant, lavishing its many secret nooks with an elegant hand and a cheeky slap. His work ethic is outrageous: 20 books in 40 years. He is always on the move.

Like his long list of well-told fictions such as Briar Rose and Pinocchio in Venice, Coover’s most recent novella, Stepmother, gives the infamous fairytale figure new life and a modern edge. Carefully peeling back layers of easy narratives that have conventionally portrayed stepmothers as self-centered and cruel, he instead reveals a powerful woman—trickster and temptress both—who is as loyal as she is full of equivocation; above all, a protector of the women who fill the text: frisky maidens who aren’t willing (or capable) of behaving as they should, even when their missteps get them into trouble they can see coming miles off. In this case, the stepmother’s efforts are wholly directed at saving a daughter who has been accused of castrating the king’s addle-headed son (a crime she did not commit). Though impressive and full of magical powers, the stepmother’s skills prove off the mark; her daughter is executed—drowned as a witch—in a particularly horrifying way. The reader knows it’s coming and wishes it otherwise. But both their fates were written long before the book began: The stepmother’s revenge will certainly be deadly, vile, and deserved in the face of a mother’s incalculable loss.

One of the most renowned American novelists writing today, Robert Coover will take part in a three-day residency at the University at Buffalo, March 25-27, under the auspices of a Morris Visiting Artist Grant. His visit—designed to highlight UB’s long tradition of fostering eminent avant-garde and postmodern fiction writers such as John Barth, Donald Barthelme, J.M. Coetzee, Raymond Federman, and Samuel R. Delany—is the signature fiction event of the Spring 2009 season of the Exhibit X Fiction & Prose Reading Series.

Coover’s residency will culminate with a fiction reading at the Albright-Knox Gallery on March 27 at 8pm. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about Robert Coover’s visit, see the Exhibit X Web site:

Friday, March 13

New Films, Video & Installations from Squeaky Wheel's Artists-in-Residence Showing 3/14

Each year, Squeaky Wheel offers local artist access residencies to four exceptional local media artists. Chosen artists receive equipment and a small stipend to produce new work that premieres at Squeaky Wheel. This year’s artists, Aimee Buyea, Christine Davis, Thomas Holt and Elizabeth Knipe, have created a diverse selection of media art.

Aimee Buyea’s Re (memories) is an interactive exploration of her past and identity created using hand processed super 8mm film with an accompanying performance. Aimee is a self-proclaimed hoarder- holding on to mementos from my past including tickets stubs, love letters, postcards, bills, post it notes, photos and other ephemera- amassing several boxes collected since middle school. Aimee documented her attempt to let go of the past and live in the moment, processing her experiences through the making of this film-a film that becomes a symbol of memory and a piece of ephemera of its own.

Christine Davis’ Beyond Recognition is a short narrative about choices and how the choices we make ultimately effect our lives.

Tom Holt’s Signals ( Skulls and Candy as Metaphor for Life ) is a short animation about communication and non-communicable information. The video visualizes how and where energy travels. Signals string together surreal and psychedelic clips in a way that is loosely logical. The video is constructed from frame by frame manipulated photos, drawings, and paintings. The audio heavily makes use of a circuit-bent Casio S-K 5.

Elizabeth Knipe’s RoomBionic II is the second in a series of installations featuring an autonomous display system that projects a robotic vacuum cleaner’s interactions with human life and its detritus. In this episode, Squeaky Wheel’s new street-level gallery has been transformed into a studio apartment patrolled by the RoomBionic. The room is clean to the point of sterility and the RoomBionic has little to do but wander around, remembering the way it used to be and projecting memories of piles of clothes, dirty dishes and unmade beds.

The Local Artist Access Residency is for emerging media artists in Buffalo. Artists-in-Residence receive one free workshop, 100 hours of access to our digital and film post-production suites, two days free quipment rental, and a $100 stipend for supplies. The deadline for the 2009 residency is June 16th, 2009. The application is available online at

Tomorrow Night (3/14) - 8pm @ Squeaky Wheel. $6 non-members / $4 members

Thursday, March 12

Experimental Theater Icon Richard Foreman Brings Ontological-Hysteric Project to Buffalo

From Artvoice's Theater Week, by Anthony Chase:
Richard Foreman is universally regarded as one of the great pioneers of the American theater. His two-week visit to Buffalo (March 16-29) with his collaborator, Sophie Haviland can, therefore, be seen as something historic. During their residency at the University at Buffalo, Foreman and Haviland will conduct an intensive theater/film workshop for students in the UB departments of Media Study and Theatre and Dance as part of “The Bridge: An International Art Initiative.” The general public will have an opportunity to see Foreman at an event on March 23.

Known for his non-narrative theater projects, Foreman has been recognized with numerous honors, including multiple Obie Awards (five for Best Play of the Year), and is the director and designer of more than 50 plays.

Begun in 2004, the Bridge Project promotes international art exchange through a collaborative process. Reached by telephone in New York City, Foreman described the Bridge Project as a kind of artistic sharing.

“My collaborator, Sophie Haviland and I, have taken the Bridge Project to nine different countries,” says Foreman. “Buffalo will be the first American city to host the project. We will work with a group of performers and technicians provided by the University. Each participant will create independently shot film in the style of the project, and we hope that they will then use this material to create their own original works, their own short films. The interesting part is that all of the participants will have access to all the footage shot by other participants, so the Buffalo participants will have access to film shot in Portugal, or Australia, or Japan, and so on.”

I ask Foreman to describe “the style of the project.”

“That’s very difficult to say,” he answers candidly. “I’d say it has a quality of ‘presentation,’ of performers looking into the camera. And in every image, a sense that something is about to appear or occur, a strange sense of expectancy.”

Much of Foreman’s work has been done at his own “Ontological-Hysteric Theater,” which he founded in 1968. According to its web site, OHT exists “with the aim of stripping the theater bare of everything but the singular and essential impulse to stage the static tension of interpersonal relations in space. The OHT seeks to produce works that balance a primitive and minimal style with extremely complex and theatrical themes.”

In Buffalo, OHT certainly will find kindred artistic spirits. Most prominent among them is probably Dan Shanahan, founder and artistic director of Torn Space Theatre, who happily acknowledges Foreman’s influence on his own work. Shanahan has made his reputation for large non-narrative theatrical presentations as the Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle, the old Central Terminal, and the Ukrainian center on Broadway.

“I think Foreman’s biggest influence on me has been in the way he uses theatrical time in his productions,” says Shanahan. “He analyzes time while he manipulates time, fracturing it, going backward, repeating it. I used it in Architect the most, and also in Area, because in both instances the production confined the characters and took away their autonomy. The production, itself, was an outside force that the characters were living in.”

Shanahan thinks that bringing the Bridge Project to Buffalo makes perfect sense.

“There is plenty of experimental work going on here; we have a lot of well-informed people who are connected to the larger theater world. I think the upcoming production of WoyUbu is an example. There’s Alt Theatre, and what’s being done there. There is a lot happening.”

The Foreman piece that resonates most vividly in Shanahan’s memory is My Head Was a Sledgehammer, which he saw at St. Mark’s Church in New York City. In describing the piece, Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote, “the most recent offering of Mr. Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater, is to be swept into a dazzlingly self-contained, thoroughly exhilarating universe that seems in the viewing—as does the best of Mr. Foreman’s work—logical, rational and disturbing in the way that individual dreams can be. It is a testament to Mr. Foreman’s hypnotic artistic control that only afterward do you scratch your head and wonder what it was all about.”

The same is often said of Dan Shanahan.

The general public will have an opportunity to interact with Foreman on March 23 at 7pm, when the University at Buffalo Center for the Moving Image (CMI) directed by Emmy Award-winning arts filmmaker Elliot Caplan, UB professor of media study, will host “An Evening with Richard Foreman,” free to the public, in the Market Arcade Theater. Foreman will discuss his work and screen material selected from 25 years of his plays, as well as his last film production in Japan and the UK.

More information on Foreman can be found at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater site: Additional information on the Bridge Project is available at

Boris, sunn O))) Soundtrack Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control

By Tom Breihan for Pitchfork:
The last time I noticed a celebrated indie filmmaker using a heavy dollop of doom metal to soundtrack a movie, it was Harmony Korine using Sleep and Eyehategod in Gummo. The music is easily the best thing about that sensationalistic trainwreck of a movie, with the cinematography a distant second.

Judging by the trailer, Jim Jarmusch's forthcoming The Limits of Control includes the following things: Ghost Dog's best friend as the lead, the ridiculously beautiful Paz de la Huerta never taking off her Weezer glasses, Tilda Swinton wandering around in a white wig and a cowboy hat, Gael Garcia Bernal with a gigantic scar on his face, Sadly Bemused Bill Murray, cinematography from the great Wong Kar-Wai collaborator Christopher Doyle, and "graphic nudity and some language." Based on all available evidence, it is going to rule. And the music might still be the best thing about it.

As the Playlist points out, in the quick flash of credits at the end of the trailer, we see something encouraging: "Music by Boris." And as sunn O))) mastermind Stephen O'Malley wrote on his website last week and the bands' publicist confirms, the soundtrack includes music from Boris by themselves, sunn O))) & Boris together, and Earth.

Jim Jarmusch has a history of using great music in his movies: eerily ringing minimal Neil Young guitar chords in Dead Man, sparsely chilly RZA beats in Ghost Dog. And he knows that titans of drone-metal go with mysterious outlaw movies like champagne and strawberries. He is a smart man.

The Limits of Control gets a limited release on May 22, and I can't wait.
See the trailer here & here.

Sunn O))) played Soundlab in July 2004. Boris followed its Tralf appearance by blowing out the power at Soundlab in December 2008.

Wednesday, March 11

Adolescent's Field Recordings of Ithaca Video Game Arcades 1982-1988

This is an admirable collection of digitized audio casettes capturing 80s kids playing video games:
"In November of 1982 my best friend had a Sony TCS-310 Stereo Cassette Recorder. Audio cassette tape was the affordable recording medium at the time and one wintery day while on our way to the arcade 'Just Fun' in Ithaca, NY, we came up with the idea to record video game sounds in the arcades.

We recorded our video game experiences from 1982 until 1988 in a variety of locations on the east coast. Most of the recordings come from Ithaca, NY, Albany, NY and Ocean City, MD. Other locations include Lancaster, PA, Falmouth, MA, Rehoboth Beach, DE and Key West, FL.

Luckily I stored all fourteen audio tapes in a safe place and rediscovered them when I moved the rest of my stuff out of my parents house in 1997. In the last several years I digitized these nostalgic recordings to preserve and share them.

Experience the magic and the wonder of the early years of coin-op video games. Hear the classic arcade ambience like you haven't heard it in over a quarter of a century! The blend of several video games being played simultaneously, the kids yelling and the quarters clanking. We will never hear such beautiful chaos quite the same way again...."

Courtesy of

Mono Gets Symphonic

According to Pitchfork, "Mono, the Japanese masters of slow-building epic metal, absolutely crush live. They do not need the help of a 22-piece orchestra to melt your eyeballs. But on a May 8 show at the Society for Ethical Culture in New York City, they'll get one anyway. That's right: Mono is the latest of a seemingly unending string of bands to play a show with an orchestra. Who will be next? Crystal Castles? Lil Boosie? Hatebreed? Probably Hatebreed. In other, probably more important news, Temporary Residence will release Hymn to the Immortal Wind, Mono's awesomely titled fifth album, on March 24. Steve Albini produced it, and it includes two different songs with the word snow in their titles."

Mono performed at Soundlab with Eluvium in April 2005 and again in April 2007 with World's End Girlfriend.

Magik Markers' "Balf Quarry" Hits 5/5

From the press release:
BALF QUARRY, an old stone pit just outside of Hartford, Connecticut, represents a central place for Elisa Ambrogio and Pete Nolan, the duo who call themselves Magik Markers, and is the apt title of their forthcoming May Drag City release. Unearthed from the mines of Connecticut in 2001, Magik Markers have been brutalizing audiences with their shattering live appearances and recordings since the first part of this century. They are now living and creating on opposite sides of the country. Elisa Ambrogio recently moved to Seattle from San Francisco and Pete Nolan resides in Brooklyn, but they came together in Elisa's new city to record BALF QUARRY with Scott Colburn (Sun City Girls, Animal Collective, Sir Richard Bishop). BALF QUARRY has moody space in its soul, and on this album you'll find Elisa and Pete locked together, beating it out, listening to and feeling the sound of their earth quake. And slicing through all the atmosphere, Elisa's voice is a spear of light, splashes of mud, and an acid purple flashback. Listening to BALF QUARRY is like immersing yourself in a great horror film, complete with mental dissipation, catharsis for the ears, and the most satisfying psychotic listening experience you'll have this year.

Magik Markers visited Soundlab with Sunburned Hand of the Man as part of its Fall Brawl Tour in 2005. The following footage, shot by John Long, also includes documentation of the opening act, Buffalo noisemakers Caustic Solution.

Forever 21 Sold Bootleg Minor Threat Shirts: Butt Ugly Ones at That

A huge part of the story of Dischord Records-- still one of the greatest indie labels ever to exist-- is the label's general longstanding aversion to commercialism. Fugazi, for instance, always refused to license their name for T-shirts, which forced kids who still wanted to publicly claim allegiance to the band to spend the 90s walking around in bootleg "This Is Not a Fugazi T-Shirt" T-shirts. (Yeah, I had one.)

So when teenybop mall fashion institution Forever 21 welded the logo of Dischord flagship band Minor Threat onto what looks like Hair Cuttery wall art from 1986 and then slapped it on a shirt, it's a problem. The resulting atrocity, which looks like some bullshit that Jenny Humphrey might design on "Gossip Girl", can no longer be found on the Forever 21 website, and we might have the band themselves to thank for that.

The image of that shirt above comes from the blog You Thought We Wouldn't Notice, who first caught onto the Forever 21 shirt. When Tripwire reported on it, Dischord's Alec Bourgeois gave them this statement:

"This is an unauthorized shirt and it is still unclear whether the shirt was produced by Forever 21 or if it is a bootleg that they just happen to carry. Either way the members of Minor Threat are looking into it and Forever 21 will be asked to stop selling it.

"In the beginning, Minor Threat did not license anything and any shirts you saw were screened by band member Jeff Nelson. But Jeff stopped screening shirts and over the years the band members realized that the shirts were going to be made with or without their permission, so they may as well authorize a couple friendly printers in order to better control the quality, content and revenue.

"The band and the label tend to deal with bootleg shirts on a case by case basis, acknowledging the vast difference between kids screening shirts for friends and professional printing studios screening shirts for profit. Obviously this absurd Forever 21 shirt falls under the 'unacceptable' category."

This isn't the first time Dischord has had to deal with Minor Threat-related copyright infringement. In 2005, Nike launched a skateboarding tour called Major Threat. On their poster, they used an almost exact copy of the image that originally appeared on the first Minor Threat 7". After the campaign pissed off enough people, Nike pulled the poster and apologized.

However, Bourgeois downplays any connection between the Nike case and the Forever 21 one. He tells Pitchfork, "It's apples and oranges. Minor Threat shirts get bootlegged all the time and, as is the case with all bootlegs, it's a simple case of selling something under the false pretense that it is band approved and that the band will see some of the revenue. In the Nike example they were attempting to hijack Minor Threat imagery in order to link themselves to the band's legacy as a means to sell something completely unrelated to the band or the label."

So, small potatoes, I guess. In any case, the offending Minor Threat shirt is now gone from the Forever 21 website. Bourgeois doesn't know if the band or the label were involved in their removal. "I just know that the band was making some calls," he says.

But if you really need to get a piece of strident hardcore agitprop band merch at Forever 21, this Public Enemy shirt is still available."

Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye seems to visit Soundlab every two years with his new band The Evens. We hope to see him again soon!

009 Buffalo Small Press Book Fair 3/21: Zines, Comics, Small Press, Letterpress, Oddities

From the press release:
The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is a regional one day event that brings booksellers, authors, bookmakers, zinesters, small presses, artists, poets, and other cultural workers (and enthusiasts) together in a venue where they can share ideas, showcase their art, and peddle their wares.

The 3rd Annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair will be held on March 21, 2009 at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 453 Porter Avenue, Buffalo, NY. 12pm-6pm. 716.2894338."

Monday, March 9

WoyUbu: An Intermedia Mash-Up at IPSpace

From the Press Release:
WoyUbu: An Intermedia Mash-Up is a collaborative production involving the Intermedia Performance Studio (IPS), experimental performance troupe the Real Dream Cabaret, and the Department of Computer Science at Canisius College.

This performance and interactive installation invites audiences to watch or play as we upload Georg Buchner's prescient unfinished crime drama (begun in 1836), Woyzeck, and Alfred Jarry's perverse 1896 fantasy, Ubu Roi, to the digital world using virtual reality, performing robots, and surveillance technology.

Mash them together, and you have WoyUbu, a play performed in separate but adjoining spaces, mediated through projections and video feeds. Individual audience members have a choice: either to watch Woyzeck's crime drama as it plays out in live action and projection, while having little say in the events. Or, to venture to the other side of the wall, the interactive digital dream realm of Ubu, where low-resolution surveillance cameras and video game controls send feedback to and from Woyzeck's grim reality.

Will you watch . . . or PLAY?

Fridays and Saturdays 8PM March 13-28
IPSpace - 1716 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209
$10 General Admission $5 for seniors and students
Tickets and Information at, 1.716.568.4855 or email

Saturday, March 7

The Most Unwanted Music in the World

From Quick Study, An Arts Journal Weblog:

I have been trying for some time to track down a recording from the mid-1990s. A couple of Russian-born conceptual artists had determined, via a poll of listeners, what the most unappealing kinds of music were -- then created a piece embodying all of them. For example, people hate songs about holidays, choirs, and kids singing. So there was a passage where a children's chorus singing about Labor Day.

My efforts to Google it kept failing, and it started to seem like something I might have imagined. And now, out of the blue, here comes Phil Ford to prove that it was no hallucination.

He quotes an account of how the sonic parameters were selected:

The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance--someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example--fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.

Well turns out I'm one of them.

Hiphop tuba plus a soprano rapping about the Old West -- what's not to like?

Read the whole story here.

Friday, March 6

Two Minutes and 42 Second in Heaven: Clocking the Perfect Pop Song

In this amusing article from The Morning News, Joshua Allen riffs on the need for economy in songcraft, and in the process determines the formula for pop perfection:

I schedule 35 minutes a day for recreation. That’s all I need to refresh myself from the rigors of punching holes through the guts of this world. Recreation typically consists of lifting something heavy or posting a new sonnet to my blog. But sometimes I want to unwind with a fine carafe of Popov and some good tunes on the hi-fi. I yearn to—in the words of Boston—lose myself in a familiar song, close my eyes, and slip awaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Here’s the problem: “More Than a Feeling” is four minutes and 47 fucking seconds long. I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense. That’s, like, one-seventh of my recreation right there.

Click here for the complete article.
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