Blk/Mas @SPNF 2017

Last night, Blk/Mas took part in the landmark 10th annual St. Pete Noise Fest. I’ve been lucky enough to be included many times in the last ten years, and last nights show was yet another stellar showcase of challenging sounds. This years edition took place at Cage Brewing, an hip little craft brewery in a thriving downtown…. right across from Haslams Bookstore (a huge and highly recommended bookstore that the late Jack Kerouac himself frequented, and some even believe he still haunts). We were lucky enough to check out sets from Vasectomy Party, Hell Garbage, Durastatic, Whitey Alabastard, as well as discover several others new acts.

It’s been a fun decade, here’s to ten more!

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Blk/Mas returns to Noise Fest

It’s almost that time of year again! Central Florida’s loudest tradition returns on November 11th when St Pete Noise fest returns for its historic tenth year. Taking the form of a single day onslaught, SPNF will feature a myriad of some of the harshest, weirdest, and eclectic group of sound artists both local and national. The party starts at noon downtown in Williams Park and continues through the evening at Cage Brewing.

I played my first SPNF way back in 2010 with Stickfigure, and have played several since as one-half of Blk/Mas. I am happy to be a part of the milestone tenth anniversary, and to be a small part of the last decade of noise.

If you’re a fan of strange music/sound, or just plain curious I hope you’ll check out SPNF in some capacity. Click here  for the complete line-up of acts.

Come on out and say hi!

 

Thoughts On The New Language

Writing is not a dying art form, but it is rapidly changing. Writers typing words into computers like this is becoming a thing of the past. Of course, writers and luddites alike have been saying for a long time that technology is killing writing; the only difference now is that I am not sure it is entirely a bad thing.

William S Burroughs stated that words are a virus and cited the advantages of hieroglyphic language. He also stated that words were tools of the control machine and used cut-up as a means to subvert said machine and reality as well. The cut-up method lives on to this day and has been utilized by artists far and wide both underground and mainstream, myself included. We all came to cut-up for varied reasons, but largely because ordinary writing had reached an impasse. Cut-up was taking us places that traditional language could not go. We knew, at least subconsciously, the limits of language. Experimental literature is alive and well albeit still in the fringes of modern literature. Some authors are moving beyond language entirely and defining (or re-exploring) the boundaries of ascemic literature.

However in the everyday world, language and how we perceive it may be changing more rapidly than it is in the art world, we just don’t think about it. Whereas outdated notions of tradition or formula inhibit many artists, technology adheres to no such boundaries.

The internet has changed the way we receive information and it would seem language is going through a slow metamorphosis. People are putting down magazines and newspapers to gather information online. Books and chapbooks are giving way to e-books. Blogs have given way to Facebook which has given way to 140 character tweets. Language is getting lean, like haiku. It is mutating and merging with image. The new language is a strange synthesis of words, images, sounds, hyperlinks, hashtags, and emoji. Literature is changing, as well as how we disseminate information. The way we “read” is changing accordingly.

It’s an exciting time to be a writer, provided you are not bound by the printed page. Of course the theories I am expounding are nothing new. There are innumerable artists far more talented than I that have experimented with form, communication and the new language for much longer than me and with much more precision. They too have realized the limits of language and how to overcome these limits. Still yet, I feel the need to reiterate and express the ideas to myself at the very least. You see, for all of my experimentation and grand ideas sometimes I still get hung up on words. I still get stuck on the label of “writer” which often leads to frustration as an artist. After all, how can the concept of “writer” remain the same if the concept of “reader” has evolved? Basically, how do I sell something no one is buying? We too must evolve and drop all notions of what a writer is. We must purge ourselves of noir imagery of the alcoholic writer with a cigarette dangling from his mouth slamming keys on an old Corona typewriter. Exterminate all rational thought. That is another lesson Burroughs taught us, but like the Buddha in the road we must also slay Uncle Bill and all of his wisdom. Nothing must stand between the artist and total freedom. Not you, not me, not words.

Rebooting Me

Recently my old laptop died. I hadn’t even begun to start moving things to this Mac yet, and unfortunately, I had not backed up any files in quite sometime. I lost tons of writing, hours of sound work, and thousands of photographs. I felt gutted… like a part of me had died, and of course, it had. So much of my heart and soul gone forever. It’s hard to see the positive in all of this. However, maybe it had to be. Perhaps that is the only way one can start over fresh.

You see, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of “rebooting” myself.

So I have started this reboot in earnest, trying to get myself out of this creative rut that has plagued me of late, and back to a good place both physically and mentally. I’ve been exercising a lot, getting back into zazen and learning Tai Chi. I’ve even quit drinking beer! Maybe it’s partly because I’m getting older, or partly because of this creative stasis , but regardless of the reason, the results have been fruitful. Mind, body, and soul I have been feeling much better than I have in years.

I received validation for my efforts at my yearly physical today, I cut weight, and my blood work was excellent… and for everyone wondering where in the world vegetarians/vegans get their protein, my proteins were high and healthy. I’m not usually one to post stuff like this, but I thought maybe I would for the benefit of anyone else out there in a rut. I figure if I can “reboot”, anyone can.

Is Traditional Publishing A Black Hole?

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I didn’t write that.

I found this graphic somewhere or another on the internet when I should have been writing or working instead. It stuck with me, and while I may not agree or disagree with it, it proposes serious questions.

Is traditional publishing a black hole?

In 2017, is there still a stigma against self-publishing?

As with most topics, it depends on whom you ask. I’ve never had a problem with it; in fact, out of my six chapbooks two were self-produced. There is a lot of bad self-published work out there, but there is a lot of bad writing put out by major publishers as well.

However, I would hesitate to call out editors as elitist with asinine egos. Firstly, that is not fair. Secondly, I’ve been on that side of the desk and can assure you that editors are not out to destroy the dreams of their writers… that would be rather counterproductive, don’t you think? I would also hesitate to call these small magazines pathetic. The small press has been very kind to me, and while I am far from famous, the only reason anyone knows who in the hell I am, is because of the small press magazines/presses which found some sort of value in my work.

I don’t have a problem with the publishing game. I don’t have a problem with the hustle, the research or submission process. I don’t even have a problem with the rejections. It’s all part of this writers life we committed to.

For me personally, the problem is a lack of truly experimental presses. To make it worse, out of the handful of experimental publishers I find, most of them do not accept unsolicited submissions, or are closed to submissions entirely. I’ve been sitting on two manuscripts for quite some time, submitting them when I finally find an appropriate publisher… obviously that has not been fruitful. It’s frustrating. Because of this, self-publishing has an appeal.

Does it matter how these manuscripts find their way into the world? I’m not going to become rich and famous writing experimental texts. The type of people who would look down at my writing because it is self-published, would likely look down on it even if it was published by Penguin.

Ironically, I have self-produced noise/sound art for many years, as have most of my contemporaries. In the music world, D.I.Y. art is not looked down upon, but celebrated. Why the difference between the music world and the literary world, are we as writers that pretentious and self- important?

So what do you think?