Rev. Ivan Stang's Report
|STARWOOD PHOTO GALLERY|
For Starwood info: http://www.rosencomet.com
Back from 5 days at the 23rd Starwood festival, 271 emails to check, muscles slowly coming unbruised from the walking and dancing, Slack overcharge still peaking out the meters.
The devival was most successful (packed house), Chaz's T-Base party likewise, Princess Wei sang with ESO for the first time, and many of us have learned how to make fancy crop circles, thanks to Rev. Circlemaker. There were fantastical GIGANTIC PUPPETS everywhere -- or else I was on much stronger drugs than I thought I was on.
The only moment of terror and antiSlack came 15 minutes before we got home last night, when I came tearing around a curving entrance ramp onto a highway in my heavily loaded van, and collided head-on with a DARK GREEN PLASTIC CHAIR that was sitting calmly in the very middle of the on-ramp. Luckily unoccupied. I had to pull over and pry it from underneath the car. Gave us quite a start there. I thoughtfully did NOT put the mangled chair BACK in the road.
I keep wanting to say things like "tally ho" and "pip pip and all that" because of this cerealogically inclined Welshman who's been staying with us. Rev. Circlemaker's stay has been great fun and very educational for all of us. But his presence has made my mouth want to talk CRISPLY, like his does. I just dropped him off at the airport and I'm still THINKING with a charming and CRISP Welsh accent.
Rev. Circlemaker seems very happy with his visit. It must have helped when he approached Tranquillity Base and saw that the camp next door was displaying his national home flag of Wales! He attended a Gilligan's Island Party hosted by the owner, a Welsh American we know as Naked Bob -- who happens to be distantly related to Rev. Circlemaker and has the same human last name! However, the significance and meaning of Gilligan's Island had to be explained to Rev. Circlemaker. Unlike The Beverly Hillbillies, it wasn't a hit in the U.K.
Dr. Legume's imposing presence made this a memorable Starwood, especially to his victims. Rev. 808, squatting at Brushwood since 6X-Day along with Revs. Skully and Kitty, GAVE UP HIS HAIR to Dr. Legume. The formerly bald-shaved, Quequeg-like Legume now has a LONG BRAIDED PONYTAIL, and Rev. 808 looks like Prince Valiant. A hunting knife was used as barber shears. Rev. 808 happened to be strapped to a torture board at T-Base when this haircut and brainwash occurred. The strange event is known as "the Secret X-Day." Revs. Ed Strange and Kathy opened their yurt and grill to all the many SubGenii in range. Rev. Bleepo Abernathy did some Starwood Radio hosting, and I got to help, as did his keeper Allie and his now moderately large kids. Our Brushwood point man, Pater Nostril, gave us the passwords to numerous special devices normally kept secure, plus the SECRET hot tub, so we didn't have to mess with love juices from Church of All Worlds gentle giants in the public pool.
The renowned 1082-year-old Egyptian composer, Halim El-Dabh, wotanned with ESO on the Friday night main stage, debuting a dramatic, semi-operatic true-story rant-song about the time he survived being struck by lightning. For me, this was one of the high points of the festival, for Halim is one of my heroes. Halim looked like he was being struck by lightning while he was ranting. It looks that way even on the VIDEO.
We watched Ron Slabe's incredible fireworks-and-synthesizers show from the two-story treehouse platform built into Ed Strange's forest compound. The juggling SubGenius known as Naked Bubble Man, or "Neil," was up there with us the whole time -- AND YET WAS COMPLETELY INVISIBLE TO ME! Stranger than fiction. Might have been the drugs. He might have been taking invisibility drugs, that is.
It rained horribly for the first three days, yes. But for Friday and Saturday, the weather was BEYOND PERFECT, and the mighty bonfire lighting and subsequent cavorting and paganning went hitchlessly, at least for the worthy. This was the first time that Princess Wei wasn't part of the bonfire lighting ritual crew; this year she was named Keeper of the Can of Ashes from All Previous Starwood Bonfires, aka "Cinderella," by the first Keeper, Raphael, who unfortunately suffered health problems WHILE transferring the responsibility to Wei. Odd how that worked out... She smudges the Sacred Fire Bearers with a mystic symbol using these Ashes of Continuity, so to speak -- spreads them to the four corners of the new bonfire, and then collects ashes again at the end. Thus, thanks to Raphael, who developed this ritual, the vibes have been passed down from bonfire to bonfire for 16 years... the intense vibes of all that Zombie Trance Frenzy dancing, open-field public copulation, and maybe even just a couple of molecules off Pater Nostril's feet.
All the heroic elders whose opinions mean the most to me said they liked my devival rant -- notably Paul Krassner, Halim El-Dabh, my mother-in-law, and Frank Barney. The youngster SubGenii and Little Topless Paganettes also said many kindly things to this Old Scribe, and, most complimentarily of all, bought lots of Church swag. (That is by far the best way that any SubGenius can express appreciation to me.) My three enemies out there must have been absolutely livid with hatred and envy, watching me have such a great time with such a fine and jolly looking topless audience. AND I GET PAID FOR THIS!! EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT, PURSED-LIPPED ACADEMICS AND WOULD-BE "BLACK MAGICIANS"! Cower before me! Your silly powers of over-analysis, and your superstitious hexes, are but PUNY CLASSROOM SPITWADS, compared to the VAST UNRELENTING DYNAMO CANNON of MY HEARTY SUBGENIUS GOOF-LAFFTER!
There were at least two bands each night, and my feet temporarily humped gravity itself to the likes of Janah, which does somewhat Turkish influenced rock, and Alma Melodiosa, which does GYPSY TECHNO. (Gravity later got revenge on me for humping it like that.) One of my fave bands, The Peachy Nietzches, pummeled the Pufferdome. The main musical stars were famous drummer fellows like Muruga Booker, and a many-piece Afro-Celtic combo called Baka Beyond. On Friday night, the revised Einstein's Secret Orchestra premiered several new Chaz songs as well as a new guitar player, a new second keyboard player, and new female backup vocalist and flute player, Princess Wei R. Doe. WITH Dr. Legume on harmonica. For the climax, Halim El-Dabh joined Raven, Thunder, Raphael, & other drummers on the Final Lightning Strikes Halim Jam.
While Starwood is not a SubGenius event, there are SubGenius events within Starwood, and almost sufficient numbers of SubGenii to enact a small X-Day Drill. Neo-pagan, political, alternative medicine and etc. are discussed in dozens of workshops scattered hither and yon among the hundreds of acres of campground. Attendance was around 1600, I was told, including the numerous children. Apparently, hippiedom is being repopulated.
There were fresh new SubGenius-Pagan intersex meetings and even matings, which has happened before, a LOT -- one reason there are so MANY brats, elf babies and yard larvii frolicking around Brushwood now.
Being lazier this year, I got to pal around more than usual with the esteemed Paul Krassner, as well as my many fellow "Hilaric Tradition" cult administrators such as Anomie of the Anomie cult and Dennis and Linda Murphy of the Cult of the Living Bull. (Isaac Bonewitz, head of the American Druids, came up with that "Hilaric Tradition" business.) Even my mother-in-law, The Queen Mom, was at Starwood. She's a big Paul Krassner fan from back in The Day, who has been attending ever since ACE started flying Krassner in, and they have gotten to be good buddies. In fact, I actually found myself bird-dogging Princess Wei's MOM whenever that rascal Krassner was around. Chaperoning. You have to watch these kids when they get to be over 70 or so.
As usual, I spent most of my time at Starwood standing in the middle of the road, yakking with folks. Hundreds of folks. This was my 13th Starwood. I have become quite adjusted to waking up to the LOUD tweeting of birds, the squeals of children, the yakking of hippies, and DRUMS. DRUMS THAT NEVER EVER CEASE. Drums that drive the loins lustfully forward. HEUNH!!
If you are an aficionado of the semi-unveiled female hominid plumper form, Starwood is HEAVEN. If you are an aficionado of the semi-unveiled female hominid skinny super model form, Starwood is HEAVEN. If you are an aficionado of the semi-unveiled female hominid ordinary garden-variety everyday form, Starwood is HEAVEN.
If you need air-conditioning, nice shiny clean vinyl floors, and spotless sidewalks, Starwood is UTTER HELL. After the rains, the place looked like a medieval village, or the Wild West. I have learned to expect this condition half the time at SubGenius outdoor activities. You get to where you almost DIG it. In fact Chaz Smith, for his workshop on the origins of American rock and roll, had his students literally digging up balls of mud and caring for these balls of mud as if they were the students' ONLY POSSESSION. (Had to do with slavery, birthplace of the blues.) Hours afterward, people were still carrying their mudballs, often having clothed and decorated them adoringly.
There is a mini-cult within A.C.E. which secretly runs Starwood (well, it was secret up until now), called The Chameleon Club, which was started around 1980 by the corest core of A.C.E. people. Not everybody in this club is what you would call a "Bob" fan, but many are, just as I was a Chameleon even before I moved to Cleveland. The surrealists of ESO Swamp Radio, Chaz and Lonesome Cowboy Dave, were not originally part of A.C.E., but the SubGenius devivals served as a suturing, and now these weirdos of various stripes are stitched up cooperatively. A.C.E. has managed to do that with many disparate groups of creative mutants. It goes without saying that this cooperation between eccentrics also engenders much inevitable bad blood, gossip, infighting, etc., but, due largely to the astounding, Slack-imbuing diplomatic skills of the two original main Chameleon fellows, Jeff Rosenbaum and Joe Rothenberg, the whole unwieldy machine keeps shambling along and making these marvel-filled Starwoods happen.
Starwood must REALLY be fun to people who have no RESPONSIBILITIES for it. This time, my responsibilities were ditched by Saturday night. I wasn't helping with the bonfire OR filming OR M.C.ing, so I put the gobble on a couple of wads of magic beans and had me a WONDERFUL crazy Saturday night, wandering with Wei from bonfire to Tranquillity Base to Ed Strange's compound and back around. I heard there was some "Special K" going around, that is, some kind of fiendish modern psychotomimetic drug, so some folks were doing the old John Lilly/ Altered States routine. I was too chicken to try this... until late Saturday, but by then it had all been consumed by my fellow Intrepid Trippers. The moral -- if you don't act decisively, your fellow SubGenii will honk up all the Ketamine, and it'll be no one's fault but your own for hesitating.
Taking Ketamine was described by one person as "being drunk on a fifth of vodka but without swallowing." However, when he said these words to me, he didn't sound the slightest bit drunk. Another Sub described it as a disassociation of mind from body, so that you become rather numb bodily, but sink into another world inside your head.
I am much more cautious nowadays with potentially life-changing psychedelics. If I needed my life changed it might be different, but lately my life has been PERFECT, and I haven't the slightest urge to rock the got-damn boat, know'm sa'in'?
I mentioned the torrential rains early in the week and on Sunday. These were periods of ENFORCED SLACK, of which Wei and I took every advantage. However, the rain wrecked any chance of finished a crop circle at Brushwood during the weekend. A wonderful design was dreamed up in the workshop, though, and I got a good look at all of Rev. Circlemaker's equipment, so I am confident that we can start making "prank calls to the aliens" both from Brushwood and, hopefully, from some remote areas in Texas. If my brother will let us do that to the hay fields.
After watching Circlemaker's slide show and explanations, I will never be able to look at a crop circle photo again without seeing all the tell-tales, clues, and mistakes. If you know what to look for, the mystery vanishes from crop circle photographs.
...BUT! According to Rev. Circlemaker, all the magic RETURNS when you go out into a field in the dead of night with your poles and boards and ropes, and goggles and surveying devices, and diagrams, and MAKE THE CROP CIRCLE. The aliens don't make the crop circles, but sometimes they come to watch the ARTISTS make the crop circles.
You know the "missing time" that is stolen from abducted UFO believers? The aliens turn around and GIVE THAT STOLEN TIME to the crop circle artists. For they sometimes report "EXTRA time," that is, nights when they're struggling to finish an especially complex diagram in the fields before sunrise, and time seems to slow down or stretch out just for them, so that they can finish the circle with what later appears to have been supernatural speed.
We do not know what the one true J.R. "Bob" Dobbs was up to. He was not posting to alt.slack, nor was he at Starwood, except in graven image form. He was all OVER the place in graven image form. I remember a time when the Dobbsheads were visible mainly as removable sheets of paper tacked up on walls. Now they seem mostly to be permanent etchings rendered on HUMAN OR SUBGENIUS SKIN. (Not mine! NO SIRMA'AM!)
Did I mention the PUPPETS? Larger-than-mansized rod puppets, some outlined in colored neon tubing so that at night, from any distance, they looked like glowing giants stalking around the tents and fires. In the daytime, a lot of them had a Mad Magazine monster look to them. I believe that most of these were made by a troupe called WAKING DREAM. I am looking for contact info on them. Their talents would sure be useful at X-Day Drills.
Princess Wei shot digital stills and I shot video for A.C.E., although sometimes we traded cameras. Our edited -- and, in some cases, GROSSLY TWEAKED -- stills were posted to alt.binaries.slack in fairly large size. A gallery of somewhat smaller, more easily viewed versions is on SubSITE at:
There are many good shots of many great puppets. There are also good shots of some BAAAD people.
I shot a lot of DV video of various aspects of the event -- mostly my friends, and bands, people that I knew wouldn't sue us for putting their pic online somewhere. Likewise, Rev. Circlemaker and Chameleon Mike Z. If I get a chance I will try to make some kind of mini-edit or frame grabs from this material. I have to deal with 6X-Day also. And before I do any of that, I must clear the remnants of 5X-Day off my drives. Let the party never end! Even after it leaves Brushwood.
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