Cough Piece (after Ono)

Clear throat during a concert or recital, to be performed during a leap second.

Composer's statement: Cough Piece (after Ono) continues in the Fluxus philosophy of questioning what constitutes "performance" by using as its medium a gestural act (the clearing of one's throat) usually considered to be prepatory for performance. By placing it in a concert setting, the piece is performed for an audience, albeit one which will likely either ignore or be perturbed by its execution. 

Note: The performance of Cough Piece (after Ono) should not last longer than one second and should only be undertaken at an interval when UTC time is adjusted by one second. A commiserate piece, involving coughing for an hour during a concert when Daylight Savings Time adjustments are made, is also permissible. A third variation, involving coughing for a full day, requires the performer to find and attend (but not organize) a 24-hour concert on February 29 of a leap year.

Performance note: Premiered at the Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park, New York City on January 29, 2015 at 8pm (00:00 UTC) during a performance of John Adams' Shaker Loops by Ensemble LPR. A recording of the performance can be found here

For more information, see the Leap Second Event Facebook page. 


some upcoming things i've got coming up.

should i have posted this earlier? maybe so. probably. but i'm playing twice this weekend and both are early starts so you might still be able to do that thing you really want to do after.

i'll tell you about them, then i'll tell you about the next wfmu literary guild reading and also i'll tell you about a new story i wrote. this is what they told us to do in journalism school. tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em what you told 'em. like that. telling 'em about telling 'em is my own innovation, tho. (in this example, you are "'em."}

ok, here goes. 'em ready?

i was flattered and pleased to be asked to be a part of the nyc book release party for nina hart's new collection of stories that bears the title somewhere in a town you never knew existed somewhere. it'll be a round robin of written word spoken and unwritten music played with miguel frasconi. besides playing a littel something with miguel, i'll be reading a littler something i wrote called mother's waiting.

Nina Hart Book Launch with Kurt Gottschalk and Miguel Frasconi
Saturday, May 16, 6-8 pm
Word Up Books
2113 Amsterdam Ave., (@ 165th St.)
Manhattan Island

then, the following day, nina, miguel and myself will head downtown to do something shorter at a benefit for abc no-rio. the music goes on 'till 10:30 or so but we'll be on from 5:40 till 6 in the back yard.

Inside / Outside COMA Benefit for ABC No Rio
Sunday, May 17, 5:15-10:30
ABC No-Rio
156 Rivington
Manhattan Island

then, on june 20, i'll be reading something shorter than the thing i'm reading this weekend, which even that isn't very long, at kgb bar. these have been really fun nights. looks like this time around will be bronwyn c., dave mandl, amanda nazzario, dan bodah and myself.

WFMU LIterary Guild Reading
Saturday, June 20, 8:30-10:30
85 E. 4th St.
Manhattan Island

ok, so one other thing. the latest of my holiday stories is posted at lulu. and get this: it's called "mother's waiting"! the same name as the story i'm reading this weekend! you can get that (and a couple few other things if you like) up at Lulu.


that's all for now. thanks for reading this. i've got some beautiful stuff pulled for the radio show tomorrow, so tune in to wfmu at 3 pm.

(p-funk, july 15)

happy spring. 



(found in an old notebook)

I like clapping
Like Christmas
Like ritual
Like noise
Like everything
Like everyone
Likes Christmas
Likes clapping
Likes ritual
Would it be easier
To start clapping?
To go caroling?
When everyone
Else does?

I like clapping
Like slapping
like monkeys
Like a moment
To misbehave
To make some noise
Wouldn't it be better
To do it all the time?

I like clapping like
Contusions like
Confusion like
Group dynamics
Like dynamite
Like everything might
Happen if I refuse
But nothing does
Just like applause
Like out of step
"Did you forget?"
Like firecrackers
On cue
Did you?

I like laughing
I like yelling
I like falling
I like things
When they
Don't happen
On cue.

ZS from TERROREYES.TV on Vimeo.


Take Your Action Figure to Work Day

Minotorious Rexenbottom joined me at WFMU yesterday to mark Take Your Action Figure to Work Day. I'm not sure he's an action figure. He's kind of lazy for all that, but we had a good day. 

First we stopped by Dichter Pharmacy for $1 bialy Friday. 

Then we caught the A train downtown, 

transferred to the D at Columbus Circle, 

then caught the R at Herald Square. 

We had a little time to kill so we stopped by the Strand

before heading over to Grace Church for the Bach Meditation. 

Leaving a can of soup in the basket,  

we headed into the chapel and took a seat. 

We particularly enjoyed the Prelude & Fugue in E-flat Mayor, which was divided to open and close the recital. 

Afterwards, we got back on the R

and got off at the huge new Fulton Street station.

then walked over to the PATH station to catch the train to Jersey City.

After stopping at the Curry Hill truck to pick up lunch

we headed to the station, did our chores and some show prep and we were on the air!

You can listen to yesterday's show by clicking here. And please consider supporting WFMU. 


Ebb of Year Report

Mindy told me I had an ebb year last year. She wasn't judging, she was reacting to my saying that I felt like I hadn't gotten much done in 2014. This was back in the fall, on the telephone. Mindy lives in Chicago.

She said that it was OK to have an ebb year, that everyone has them, but I didn't like the sound of it. I don't want an ebb year. I suppose it gave me a bit of a start.

Or a restart. It pushed me to finish two stories for my collection of holiday tales – one for Thanksgiving (simply called "That Thanksgiving") and one for St. Lucy's Day. I wanted there to be a name day story in the collection and St. Lucy's story is so great that she inspired me to write about my own Lucy, or Lucia, in "The Enculeation of Lucia."

OK, give me a second here. “Write a short story every week," Ray Bradbury once said. "It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” I still haven't been that productive but having finished two more stories made me feel like a first draft of the collection is within grasp. I am working on a rather vulgar thing for St. Patrick's Day now and finally have an idea for a Mother's Day story and I think then I'll be nearly done.

That said, I'm in no way convinced that it's impossible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.

Anyway, what's your favorite holiday?

As for the stories, I've been continuing to make them available for limited times via Lulu and I've had occasion to read two of them out loud via the WFMU Literary Guild reading series, which happens once per quarter at KGB Bar in the East Village. You can see a video of me reading excerpts from one of them (a series of imagined letters to Prince) as well as my stand-up comedy debut and retirement here.

So yeah, that's something else I did this year. In keeping with my general policy of saying "yes" to whatever people ask me to do (this is not a binding rule so don't get any bright ideas), I accepted an offer from a fellow named Andrew Singer to do five minutes or so of stand-up. He runs a night at Sidewalk Cafe that is all people he invites who have never done stand-up comedy before.

Another thing I did was travel, which is my favorite thing to do. Was lucky enough to make another trip to my beloved Prague (where I saw Bob Dylan for the first time) and went back to Lisbon as well, while covering a couple of very nice music festivals. I would link to the articles but they were for publications that don't put stuff online. Funny, I used to prefer writing for publications that didn't put stuff online. And I spoke on a panel about the future of music at the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium in Ontario which was kinda hilarious.

I was also – and this was exciting – asked to contribute a chapter to a book by the brilliantly mad Jon Rose. He was soliciting fake music criticism written prior to 1985, all of it to be published under pseudonyms. There is, of course, huge concept and backstory to the book, which I suggest you buy. I'm not telling anybody what I wrote but if you correctly guess which one is mine I'll tell you.

Other than that it was business as usual. I contintued to listen to and write about music I love. I continued to make music as well, if only occasionally, but Ecstasy Mule played a piece I conceived called "Wild Bill's Burro" at the WSB100 William S. Burroughs centennial festival in NYC. And I entered my 8th year of broadcasting at WFMU.

Speaking of WFMU, I am involved in a tribute to the Residents on January 31 at Art House Productions in Jersey City. It's kind of a jukebox musical spearheaded by Amedeo Turturro with musical direction by Scott Williams and a host of your favorite WFMU on-air personalities performing. You can find more information here.

I also wrote a profile of the Residents which will be in the upcoming issue of White Fungus.Oh, and I decided somewhere along the line that I should have a website, so I made one on one of those rinky-dink free services. It's imperfect but, hey, it exists.

Here's to mo flo in 2015!



Corporate Rock Does Still Suck, Right Stevie?

Last weekend, producer engineer, musician and self-appointed conscience for the spirit of rock Steve Albini spoke at the the annual Face the Music conference in Melbourne, where he argued that digital distribution has given musicians the power to control and market their own music. Ever a champion of the DIY aesthetic, his viewpoint is limited but isn't wrong. Musicians who were making money are making less thanks to online streaming and lagging record sales. But more musicians can record their music at home and make it possible for people around the world to hear it. Whether or not that's better for the industry, that much is true, And it's at least a better lot than that of centuries of musicians (right up until the last one) whose music is lost forever. When people say musicians are making less money from their music, they time and time again don't figure in the musicians that used to make nothing and now might make enough for a case of beer - or build enough support to venture a regional tour. 

Those are the artists Albini is speaking for, and he's right. For struggling musicians (who aren't guaranteed a record contract to begin with) things certainly aren't worse anyway than they were in teh heyday of the record industry. Albini likes to talk about the industry and in general he's pretty good at it. But speaking at Melbourne he chose a strange target to represent the dying dinosaur of the big record label. 

“If your little daughter does a kooky dance to a Prince song don’t bother putting it on YouTube for her grandparents to see or a purple dwarf in assless chaps will put an injunction on you," he said. "Did I offend the little guy? Fuck it. His music is poison.”

Prince has notoriously fought against his music being posted on YouTube. I'm not sure why that resulted in so much derision being cast his way because posting songs or albums to YouTube is essentially bootlegging and with crap sound quality to boot, but there you go. He became the source of a lot of jokes for not wanting his work distributed for free and without his permission. I don't know that he ever went after someone for posting a video of their child dancing to one of his songs, however. The Recording Industry Association of America threatened to as a general principle, but I don't know that Prince did.

[EDIT: A reader reminded me of the 2007 case Lenz v Universal Music Corp., in which the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use when issuing take-down notices for videos posted on the Internet. The case concerned a video of a young girl dancing to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" and was filed by the Universal Music Corporation at a time when Prince wasn't under contract with the label, although he did issue a statement at the time saying he intended to "reclaim his art on the internet." This is no doubt what Albini was referring to, but doesn't affect my larger argument here.]

The RIAA, according to its website, "supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies." Not individual artists but companies. Now this is going to get a bit cloudy (as things often do with Prince) but let's think about what a company is. Most people who aren't Mitt Romney don't think that corporations and people are the same thing. The RIAA represents the industry - corporations - and, by extension, artists who are a part of that industry. 

In 1994, Prince declared himself dead, taking a symbol as his name because his record label, Warner Brothers, wouldn't let him release what he wanted. In essence, he said, he didn't own his name. The two parties went through five years of hostile (and sometimes hilarious) negotiations before Prince was finally freed from his contract and took back his given name. 

From 1999 until 2014, Prince acted as the biggest DIY artist on the planet. He recorded and produced his own albums. He paid for the compact discs to be manufactured and he hired record labels (EMI and then Universal) to distribute them. The labels didn't get a share of profits, they were paid for a service. 

And what was Steve Albini doing in 1994? He was producing a record by Bush for Interscope Records that debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts. At the time 53% of the Interscope's stock was owned by Atlantic Records. The following year it was bought out by MCA Inc. Today it is a part of the Universal Music Group. So who's industry here?

OK, so I'm stacking the deck a bit. Albini has by and large not only championed independent artists but worked in his own studio with punk/indie artists and labels. But what's his beef with Prince? The assless chaps were decades ago and "purple dwarf"? Potentially offensive but more than that, Prince had a better line anyway with "from the heart of Minnesota, here comes the purple Yoda."

"Did I offend the little guy?" Albini carried on. "Fuck it. His music is poison." What, Mr. Albini, does that have to do with anything. Prince should be a champion to DIY artists. He spent 15 years exploring how huge artists might survive without record labels. Sure, being a millionaire doesn't sound very punk, but faulting someone for their success is pretty petty. And unless all the contestants on American Idol have given up fantasies of dizzying wealth and popularity, living at the top of the heap without relying on record labels is a relevant part of the equation - and something I don't see Paul McCartney, Madonna or Taylor Swift risking to venture. I'm sure Albini doesn't like them either, but perhaps he should think again about what Prince has accomplished. Whether or not he likes the music, Prince is hardly corporate rock. And corporate rock still sucks. 

SST gif stolen from WFMU Station Manager Ken.