Let it all hang out. Put together that live set you want. Make a “meeting” happen, “not a planned performance.” Need inspiration? It was a “typical [June] day in Coney Island,” the boardwalk buzzing, and Sun Ra met John Cage for a live set.
Even the setting was incredible – the fabulous Sideshows by the Seashore, which still stands today as home to the Coney Island Museum and theater, that storied land of mermaids and freaks:
Mid afternoon on Sunday 8th June, 1986 and concert producer Rick Russo is looking nervously down the Broadwalk. Sun Ra’s vehicle is lost in Coney Island, and it’s getting dangerously close to the curtain call. Inside, roughly two hundred students, avant-garde enthusiasts and promenade day trippers are sitting in folding chairs eating popcorn under canvas posters heralding Snakeology, the Asian Flesh-Eating Fish, a Midget Kangaroo and a Mermaid Parade that hang from the ceiling of Sideshows By the Seashore. This former penny arcade and freakshow on the Coney Island Broadwalk is the unlikely setting for the avant-garde concert of the century.
Marshall Allen opens with an EVI wind synthesizer. Sun Ra’s keys (on DX7, no less) are interspersed with poetry and Cage’s Empty Words – cosmic ages and space ages, silent duets, June Tyson vocals, “wisdom as abstract planes.”
Sun Ra and John Cage “play” silence together.
Sun Ra’s words seem even more prophetic now – “we be potential.” Other lines read differently in a New York whose skies this June are scorched-orange, choked by apocalyptic climate change.
The recording has made its way to several locations, thanks to the legendary UbuWeb, repository of all weird, now-past “contemporary” recordings, especially from the New York metro area. That concert and first pressing was produced by Rick Russo,
Some things never change. Rick Russo notes “The New York Times is driving me crazy. / So why do you read it?”
Modern Harmonic rereleased this some years back, so it’s possible to actually buy the thing (though the Modern Harmonic site I couldn’t get to load).
We Hold This Myth To Be Potential
“We hold this myth to be potential
Not self evident but equational:
To another kind unknown living live-life.
This myth are these
This myth are and is
We be potential
This myth is not that which you know…
What you know is the knowledge
But beyond that is the separate of the ignorance
The greater wisdom is the unknown-ignorance
Which you do not know…
And is the knowledge beyond the knowledge
For beyond the knowledge is the infinity:
The uncharted ignorance.
You cannot measure that which is the ignorance;
Thus because of your limitations,
You are of the limited ignorance…
If you are only of the earth mind
You have not as yet seen
That there is a mirror between you and the universe;
And all you see is your reflection-thought.”
The Damned Air
“Around the earth circles the eternity of the damned air
the damned inheritance of the heart
are the same vibrations it ever was
We need new air
We need the air
that vibrates with the sound of
another kind of mind
We need the beam of the future
to strike the earth like the lightning
And the power of a thunder bolt
in order that the dying embers of the past
should suddenly be extinct
There is no place for the past in the realm of the future,
expect temporarily as an exhibit of that which is taboo
Because the past is the past and the future is the future
The eternity of the limited past was for those
who were taught the limited darkness
The unlimited reach of the future is another kind of forever
There is an inner darkness and there is an outer darkness
Those who become subjects of the outer darkness
shall dwell there-out
Out is the way of the outer and in the way of the inner
The in of the inner in is different from the end of the outer in
Because the outer in is the outer on
Yes… out is the outer and in is the inner,
the way out is the way to living breathing life
Let’s blast the damned air
and claim the right to be a part of the outer heavens in outer space
that we might live and breathe and be eternally alive forever
Let’s blast the damned air,
the imprisoning circle that bands the earth
with the echoes of the dead truth of the damned word
Lets the light shine upon the darkness
that enchains the meaning of the knowledge
that has been used as the law to destroy”
The Living Parable
“Wisdom an abstract planes
Uses myth as medium to understanding.
Thus a living parable to the outward or the inward truth
Is every myth;
And from the base and crest of the myth
You can see like from an all revealing eye
The comparison symbol-blueprints of the truth…
Like from a picture
You can see the likeness of a person
And know the person when you first meet,
For the image pictured symbols
Knock boldly upon the door of darkness
And voices speak from without.”
The Cosmic Age
“This is the space age
The age beyond the earth age:
A different direction beyond the the gravitations of the past.
This is the Space Age:
The disguised twin of tomorrow
Striking upon the earth with relentless power
Like a perpetual whip.
This is the Space Age – – – –
Prepare for the journey!
You have a rendezvous
With the Living Wisdom
Of the unadulterated fate.
Prepare for the Journey!
Like a happy child
You will step out of the pages
Of the blinding blend of the Book,
And gaze astounded
At the endless space of the Cosmo-Void
Your new course is the Cosmic Way – – – –
Your new vehicle is the cosmic plane;
You are to reach/approach the Omni-Cosmo Way
You will learn to journey with courage…
With fiery aim to find
The even greater day of the greater tomorrow…
The Cosmo-timeless realm
Of the Omni-Everlution-Immortalic day.”
PS, if you want to see what Photoshop’s new beta Generative Fill does if you let it fill in that blank space above, it looks like this – meet the Uncanny Coat:
There is more coming in the mermaids – and – experimental music category, so stay tuned.