Originally written in 1990, The Combine Plot was widely published in such publications as P-Form Magazine and Short Fuse.
For months I have been thinking about writing a piece about what I call the plot of fragmentation. It would be about the aspect of the plot that focuses on making us think that to do anything meaningful, to be an effective force for change, you have to reach a large number of people, commonly known as THE MASSES or THE MASS MARKET. I was going to talk about how this aspect of the plot has limited art by making artists and galleries think that to reach this market, or at least a fraction of it, artists have to reach levels of educational, technical, and marketing skills which are set by, and acceptable to, the real world of mass communications.
Moreover, the subject matter was set to certain “in fashion” areas such as AIDS, feminism, the homeless, the environment, etc…what are “in fashion” subjects keep changing every six months or a year (obviously, the homeless people did not get homes nor did people stop dying of AIDS…rather, the glamour attention‑span wears off and the focus quickly switches before things crack through the surface into the uncomfortable depth of universals where issues explode, leaving us trying to live together).
This aspect of the plot leads artists on a chase of college degrees, of skills to operate high‑tech art‑making machines, of money or positions that will give them the opportunity to do art, even when the style, the subject matter, and maybe the content of the art is dictated by this chase, by the combine plot.
This was what I was planning to write about. I was going to call it THE PLOT OF BIGNESS. But the plot has overtaken me during my thinking about the article. I see in the press that Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher have nominated me, along with Annie Sprinkle, Karen Finley, Johanna Went, Cheri Gaulke, as well as other unnamed artists, to be the next target in their war on art. By doing so, Dana and Jesse have given us artists a platform from which to fight the plot. Because doing battle with the combine plot is one of the main functions of an artist, I am flattered to be nominated as one of the top ten on the new McCarthy hit list. I was feeling left out. All my heroes in the past were banned, jailed, harassed for their work. Artists such as Finley who I respect have been fighting the censors for years. My ego was crushed when I saw Rohrabacher on CNN label Annie Sprinkle a threat to the established moral order. After all, my work is as threatening as hers. But days later, someone sent me the NEW YORK CITY TRIBUNE (Feb. 5) special report that named names, and my name was there. What a relief! I only wish Dana and Jesse had invited me to testify. Jesse, I am available.
I know the last paragraph sounds like light humor…not taking the war seriously. It is a serious war with the high stakes of freedom and liberty for everyone. But you must understand the nature of the combine plot. It does not understand humor or the personal level. It can crush you if you operate by the mass rules and try to fight it on its terms. But once you drop out of the mass headset, the plot becomes very fragile, very threatened. This is why the plot’s Helms is after me and you. Because of this, my article is forced to take on a larger scope and a certain nonlinear quality. Please bear with it.
To understand what is really going on under this “sex” witch‑hunt, it is important to understand the nature of the general plot of fragmentation, the combine plot. I took the word “combine” from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. In the book, the combine is a fear machine network which secretly installed pacemakers of fear, doubt, and mistrust in almost everyone in childhood. This made people much easier to control. It isolates people into cells padded with fear and doubt, making the people part of the combine. There are some misfits whom the combine missed with its fear pacemakers. In others, the fear pacemakers blow their fuses. These people without the fear pacemakers are very dangerous to the combine because if they are not checked, destroyed, discredited, isolated, or enfolded into the combine, they can show others how to blow out their own fear pacemakers, can show others how to be free humans linked to other free humans. The combine rarely has to directly destroy the misfits itself. Just direct eliminations would reveal the existence of the combine. So such direct eliminations are kept to the minimum. The real tool of the combine is a vague sense of uncomfortableness, of inferiority, and of mistrust within the victims of the combine. The setting of the novel is a mental ward in which most of the patients are self‑committed. They believe themselves weak, unable to cope with the outside world. They believe the fear comes from themselves, not from the pacemakers. They just have to start believing in themselves, and they could pull out the pacemakers and walk out of the hospital. But every time they reach this threshold of freedom, the combine, by clever remote manipulation, turns up the vague uncomfortableness and mistrust. The victims themselves do the destroying of the misfit either in themselves or that con man pied piper who laughs at their fears and limits, who shows them the way to freedom. It is the victims who do most of the censoring.
A family friendly poetry reading? Really? Do you mean like READERS’ DIGEST? MMMM… I suppose some poets would go along with it… The kind in READERS’ DIGEST The kind who don’t see Don’t mind The command For “self” censorship Tucked neatly in the warmly caramel apple Phrase Of FAMILY FRIENDLY There ain’t no “self” censorship You are censoring art, Words, Intensity, Truths, The Audience Down into nice mellow Fascism
I suppose some are willing to accept this…. The kind who don’t question Questions like Which family? It definitely ain’t my family Not any of the expanding rings Of my family In fact It is down right hostile To my human tribal family Which teaches our kids How to use words To communicate with all kinds of people In all kinds of contexts Openly Deeply Freely Exploring all life With a passionate honesty, Sitting together In the yummy smelling kitchen Of Life Sitting together Around the tribal fires Generations sitting together Passing the talking stick around Telling their stories Revealing their desires and fears, Wisdom and folly Exploring myths… Listening and telling Into the center of respect and acceptance… All the family listening All tell In their own ways… Silly little sister Wise grandma Hot angry brother Mother finding new words Dad listening to family voices… All beyond taboos In this sacred ritual of telling.
I don’t really know what to make of this Hostile FAMILY FRIENDLY… Ok, I do. This is making poetry, All art, Into a hallmark lapdog Of the brainwashing “socialization” Of little lily and billy Reinforcing SCHOOL/CHURCH/CORPORATE shallow Dogma, Using us poets To be the shallow virus dogma carriers, Thinking FAMILY FRIENDLY can ever be Anything but enforced shallow reality On everyone
Sure, When I read at schools I play by THE RULES Not because of the kids
But to get into the brainwashing camps To slip the kids A subversive potion of Words/ideas/images
But shoot me If I ever read at a FAMILY/KIDS FRIENDLY POETRY READING… No… Shoot the fascist’s parents!
An excerpt from the conversation on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, recorded March 14, 2004.
Michael Parenti: Look at it this way. If it means that you can get ten million dollars by stripping and destroying a natural forest that had certain species and had other things and had other uses and fishing … and you can walk away with ten million dollars, you’d do it. Because the gain is immediate, it’s immense. It involves billions of dollars in an oil fueled economy, for instance. Hundreds of billions of dollars. And the costs are, the dis-economies, are thrown onto the public for the most part. It’s true some of that comes back to them. It’s true Betty Ford got breast cancer, you know … and others. But that’s a small price to pay for your hundreds of billions of dollars.
I don’t think we properly understand the mentality of the aristocratic, wealthy class. Their wealth is their essence. They kill for that wealth. They will kill and destroy whole countries to maximize that wealth. Maybe you could get a sense of it if you understand the Mafia. We’re always concentrating on the Mafia. The Mafia is penny, nickel and dime stuff. But it’s exactly like the Mafia.
It now comes in and it gets its cut … it wants a cut of any human activity that’s going on. That’s why it has to be privatized, so that they can come in. The mafia made it that way. They go to a store owner and say, “you make so much a month, from now on you give me a hundred dollars a week of that money”. That’s all. They just come in, don’t do a thing, don’t provide any service, they just get a cut. And that’s what these guys are doing to this day. It’s not the peanuts, the way the mafia makes it. It’s billions of dollars. They do not want any kind of activities, any public sector going on, and pension disabilities, survivors’ insurance, which is what Social Security is … they don’t want that. They’re not making any money. It’s billions of dollars and they’re not making a penny on it. It kills them. Public housing … the landlords don’t make a penny on public housing. So, that’s what their passion is. So when you come along and say “pollution” … so, a river … who gives a god damn about a river? (Frank laughs) They’re very good at attacking things that can’t defend themselves. They’re good at attacking children, the elderly, the disabled. And they’re very good at attacking the environment, because the environment can’t defend itself. The environment is there, and seen as raw materials infinitely … that they can use indefinitely. They believe they have complete right to all the natural … whatever natural resources are left in this world … that they have a right to access all of those resources, to use as they wish. They have a right to dump their dis-economies back into that environment. That is their mentality. And the goal is to get richer, and richer and richer and richer. As Marx said … there are three words he used in Capital, Volume 1 … accumulate, accumulate, accumulate. And that’s the madness that we’re facing.
Frank Moore: What will happen when there is nothing to accumulate?
Michael Parenti: Well, they will go on doing what they do now. For instance, we hear that the Pentagon is now developing contingency plans for global warming wars. That is … this is the level of insanity that capitalism brings people to. They don’t say, “This could lead to a catastrophic disaster”. They accept the catastrophic disaster! They don’t say, “We should change our methods of production, our energy systems, our transportation systems” and all that, to reverse this. They say, “This is coming and there are going to be many people, there are going to be massive riots, there are going to be whole countries where people are going to be starving or inundated by floods or by freezing temperatures if the gulf stream gets smothered by the melting ice, fresh water from the North Pole …”, and they’re developing plans to … so those plans are simply the same pattern of response they’re doing now, for instance, against terrorism. They don’t say, “We should change our policies, because our policies are creating terrorists”. The terrorists keep saying to us, “We fight you because you are in our region, you’re destroying our countries, you’re taking over our countries, you’re destroying our cultures, you’re doing this, and you’re doing that … and so we want to bring the war home to you” and all that. They don’t see that! They say, “Oh, the terrorists fight us because we’re … as Dan Rather said, “We’re winners, and they are losers, and that’s why they hate us”. Other … these right wing media pundits who over populate the TV stations, have all said the same thing, “They hate us because we’re free, we’re prosperous, we’re democratic, and we’re secular … that’s why they hate us”. But when you read what they say, the terrorists who did the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden, several of his interviews, I’ve got them all in a new book I’m doing, they don’t say that, they don’t say, “Oh, we hate you because you’re so free, and prosperous and good looking and all that stuff”. (Frank laughs) They say, “We want to get you off our backs. We want you to get out of here. We are retaliating.” They see their war as a retaliation against the things the U.S. has done. And the ruling class simply doesn’t look at it that way because they’re using the terrorism more for their own agenda, which is, higher military spending, larger permanent military bases through Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Southwest Asia. Everything the Project for the New American Century has talked about, they’re doing. And so it’s very clear that the war on terrorism, they don’t want to end the war on terrorism. They want that war on terrorism to keep going on. I mean, Bush lets it out sometimes, “This is the first war of the twenty first century. This is an era of perpetual war. There are a whole bunch of countries we’re going have to confront”. They want this to keep going on because it serves their purposes. It gives them runaway military budgets. It gives them a militarization of the whole society. It gives them license to go and attack and bomb and kill people all over the world, and to build military bases. The plan is to finally put a global lock on all the resources of the entire world. A global lock on all the populations of the entire world. To impose upon all of those populations, including the one in this country, a free market system, where there’d be no public sector, no protections, no regulations of any kind. Where the right of capital, and the powers of capital will reign supreme. It’s a very rational policy. That’s not my conspiracy theory. You can go onto your computer and just click in “Project for a New American Century” and they got it all written up there, they put it up on their website now, their plan.
Flaming hair, flaming voice singing belting raging the blues, singing setting things right for the people, belting it, the spirit, out beyond her voice, flaming her voice hoarse beyond linear limits.
Listen very closely, carefully, focus on her breasts as she leads you by the arm through an ever changing nonlinear maze of stories, connections, names, human passions. You’ll need this focus point to surrender.
She, Jesse, can and will lead you skipping and dancing into the heart of all things, of all matters.
She has lived and danced upon this liquid lusty path, has lived deep hard soft in the not-so-clear/clean/pure waters of humanity long before, and will long after, us.
So surrender to the mad woman, to the senile bag lady, to the peter pan child… fall into her time warp hole… fall into Jesse, and you’ll be falling into wisdom deep and warm!
One of the significant achievements of the Frank Moore for President campaign was to research and catalog the requirements for qualifying as a write-in candidate for President in each of the 50 states. See http://writein2008.blogspot.com/ This proved to be a long and sometimes challenging task, and in the process the campaign not only forced several states’ elections divisions to clarify and refine their procedures, but in some cases, challenged the legality of elections procedures, and in other cases both challenged and changed those procedures both before and after the election. In states such as Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Nebraska and others, the campaign had the effect of familiarizing elections officers with their own procedures, which they did not know before the campaign contacted them.
In Arkansas, the campaign challenged the Elections Department’s stand that “Write-in candidates are not allowed in presidential, municipal, or primary elections.” With the invaluable help of Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, the campaign talked with Tim Humphries, the legal counsel for the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, pointing out that there is no basis in Arkansas election code for a prohibition of write-in candidates for President, and that in fact the state of Arkansas had allowed write-in candidates for President in 1972 and 1976. In the end, this served only as a challenge … Humphries would not admit that there were significant inconsistencies, and did not even realize that Arkansas was in a very small minority of states that do not allow write-in candidates for President. An article about this challenge is located here: http://writein2008.blogspot.com/search/label/Arkansas
In Pennsylvania, the campaign got an elections official to admit that Pennsylvania’s system is “archaic and not good”. He said that there should be some kind of pre-certification of write-in candidates like those that operate in other states, so that the county and state elections boards are all on the same page as to who the write-in candidates are, who to count votes for, etc. He said that if PA were to actually follow their own elections code which states that in order for a write-in vote for president to count, the candidate’s 21 presidential electors must be written in (and not the candidate’s name), it could be legally challenged, and the challenger would easily win the case.
In Wyoming, the campaign began correspondence with Kelly Dagostino from the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Elections office to find out what a write-in candidate needed to do in Wyoming. As we talked back and forth, she began to realize that what she thought we were asking about was not really it, and that she actually did not know what the procedure was for a write-in candidate for President in Wyoming, a candidate outside of the major parties, without the money it would take to get enough signatures in the state to get on the ballot … to simply be a write-in candidate and have his/her votes counted. She said, “What does this say about our country, and this democracy” that she didn’t know how this can work in Wyoming, that they were not set up for a candidate outside of the political machines … she should be the person to know, if anyone knew. She said, “But I am going to find out! And I’m going to call you!” In the end, the elections office in Wyoming refined and clarified their procedure through this correspondence, and it is noted here: http://writein2008.blogspot.com/search/label/Wyoming
With regard to Utah, it was Richard Winger who alerted us that the information we were receiving from the Utah Elections Dept. might be incorrect. We had ruled out trying to qualify in Utah because we were told by the Elections Dept., several times over the course of months, that a write-in candidate for President had to come to Utah in person and pay $500 in order to qualify. With persistence, we were able to get to Mark Thomas in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, who was surprised to learn of the information we had been getting from their Elections Office. He would have to make sure that they knew the correct process. Filing for write-in candidacy for President was a much simpler process, only requiring a form and a follow-up questionnaire by phone.
As the election approached, on October 24th Frank received a rejection letter from the Elections Division of the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. His filing for write-in candidacy had been received in early July, but they were only now writing to let him know that they had rejected it. The letter said: “Your document has been rejected because, for the office of President and Vice President, the candidates must be residents of different states.” Again, with the help of Richard Winger, the campaign challenged this rejection, and won! The Minnesota Elections Division consulted their legal counsel, and had to admit that the rejection was in error, and that Frank would be officially qualified as a write-in candidate for President in Minnesota. See: http://www.ballot-access.org/2008/10/25/minnesota-secretary-of-state-rejects-presidential-write-in-filing-for-frank-moore/
Several days after the election, Frank received a call from a woman in Santa Cruz informing the campaign of a vote-counting practice by the Santa Cruz County Clerk which would exclude write-in votes cast for President where the vice-president’s name was not also written in. This was not only a change in the way Santa Cruz county counted write-in votes for President, but went against the “voter’s intent” legal precedent already set in California and in most other states. The campaign consulted Richard Winger, and again challenged this procedure both with the Santa Cruz County Clerk and with the California Secretary of State. Due to this challenge, and the pressure put on the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s office by other interested parties, including supporters of Ron Paul (who was also one of the four certified write-in candidates for President in CA) the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that they would continue to count write-in votes for President where only the name of the presidential candidate was written in! See: http://www.ballot-access.org/2008/11/10/california-will-as-usual-count-write-ins-for-declared-presidential-candidates-even-if-voter-didnt-vote-for-vice-president/
The first time I received a note from Frank Moore, I assumed it was either spam or some bogus ruse.
I had just produced my first music video, for Chris Hatton’s “Facebook Licks My Balls.” As editor in chief of an underground arts & culture magazine called Kotori, and a wannabe filmmaker, this was a big deal, even if the production was about as low-budget as one could get. The video was shot entirely on a point & shoot Panasonic Lumix; all the locations were either rooms in my house, friends’ homes, or bars we had sweet-talked the owners into letting us use; all actors were friends; I had no clue how to edit video.
But it was a creative project I had finished, and dammit, the world needed to see it! Slapping the Kotori Films moniker on it, I sent out a newsletter to Kotori’s 30k subscribers.
2/22/11, 4:10pm, the virtual beacon went out to our mailing list. A mere 35 minutes later, I get this in reply:
HEY! I will play this sick video on my Berkeley community public access show! Send more! And get sicker!
I knew very little about Frank Moore at that time, but I knew of him well enough to recognize him as a true luminary. Which, of course, kept me skeptical of such a quick, enthusiastic response to an admittedly silly video.
Right, I thought, Frank Moore is personally replying to me about this smartass video, and wants to play it on his show.
It took me a full 12 hours to decide that I’d humor the note, and see where it took me.
“Haha,” I replied, “are you serious? If so…can you let us know when?”
His response came later that afternoon…and sure enough, it truly was Frank Moore, digging our little video! He played it on his show several times, and while the video didn’t necessarily go viral, the fact that Frank Moore championed the project boosted my ego like I had never felt before.
From there on, Frank welcomed our videos and other work with open arms. Every time we sent him a trailer or new movie/video, he’d add it to his broadcast. He encouraged me to keep being weird and beautiful, to keep digging deep into my soul to find what I really wanted to say to the world. All the while, he kept up a sneaky, depraved sense of humor, occasionally teasing me about each new clip or article I’d send his way. Nonetheless, he embraced what I was doing, because he could see that it came from my heart.
Fake was perversion in his eyes, and I knew that only the realest of the real would get him engaged.
It was because of Frank Moore that my first movie as an actor & producer- Bob Freville’s jarringly warped yet tender Of Bitches & Hounds– found the audience it truly deserved, as Frank gladly shared it with his widespread followers. He praised our performances, and treated the movie like it was a solid masterpiece. He was totally genuine about this; you knew there was no lying from Frank, so when he claimed to dig something, it had to be great.
But who was this generous, inspiring man on the other side of my computer? As any half-assed journalist would do, I somehow conned Frank into doing an interview for Kotori, in an effort to exploit him for my gain…I mean, get to know him better.
As I was doing my research for the questions, I noticed a peculiar feature on Frank’s website: a constant video feed, from at least one camera, pointed at Frank’s desk. 24/7, Frank let the world into his life, a constant performance of many different shades.
I sent him my questions, then for the next week, I kept a window with his live stream open on my computer. I’d watch him laugh at things on screen, and hope that was him reading my notes. I’d even occasionally drop him random emails while watching him, to see if I could trigger a reaction.
Sure, this may be obsessive and a little creepy- but Frank Moore was that fascinating. Here was this brilliant human spirit, nestled within the confines of a man with cerebral palsy, and even that wasn’t enough to hold him back from conquering the world in his own way. He had total confidence; he was the master of many domains, and I felt honored to be connected with him, even in such a detached way.
He was most likely toying with me a bit throughout the course of our interview, and that made it all the more fun. He’d deflate any ego I might have about journalism, while in the next breath encourage me as a writer and artist.
At the end of the day, Frank was an unstoppable force of pure art. He didn’t just create art, he WAS an evolving piece of art. It was as if the roar of artistic creativity coming from his soul was so powerful, it made him spastic and bound to a wheelchair. Naturally, he treated his physical state as an advantage, a superpower that let him get away with all sorts of things that nobody else could pull off.
As he put it, “My body gives me a tool that other artists spend years to create. Most artists are not as lucky as me. They do not have the built-in advantages and shields that I have. They need to resist the real world, the normal world, more than I do…
“I am or have been a dancer, writer, poet, performance artist, painter, composer, promoter, director, actor, activist, producer, father, film /video editor, singer, piano player, television talk show host, publisher, critic, philosopher, dj, manager [of bands, singers, a night club (THE BLIND LEMON), etc], presidential candidate, shaman, relationship counselor, business counselor, clothes designer, interior decorator, journalist, teacher, lecturer, hole digger, distributor of music and publications, founder and general manager of LUVER, minister, among other things!”
He was an untamed powerhouse of any and everything creative. He reminded us to embrace the unique beings inside each of us, and celebrate that individuality in every manner possible. The end result might just bring us all together as one human family. As he told me, “My art is rooted in breaking out of isolation.”
Sadly, he shuffled off this mortal coil before I got to make it up to Berkeley for one of his live performances. Meeting with Frank was actually an impetus for me to move from Cleveland to Los Angeles, and I had every intention of figuring a way to shoot up the coast, simply to hang out with Frank for a spell. He often invited me to come on his show when I thought I’d be in town, and even joked about shaving my balls live on camera…and without a doubt, I would have gone along with it. It would have been funny and weird and pure, and assuming he didn’t have a spasm and slice off my penis, I would have proudly shared the story with anybody willing to dive into such a bizarre, human experience.
There you have it: Frank Moore was such an amazing person, I would have let him shave my balls in front of a worldwide audience, just to be part of his creative process.
The expansions and contractions are the natural cycles of growth. They are life breathing. Each cycle is different in length, depending on what is happening in the life.
Both the expansion and the contraction phases have their own dangers of illusions. In expansions, things open up and become easy. Opportunities and people are attracted to the student by the chero. When this happens, the student is tempted to throw away her framework, or to go outside of it, to pursue, to run after these opportunities and people. If she does this, she loses both her base and what attracted these things to her in the first place. She finds herself out of power.
Another common reaction to expansions is to think one is not worthy enough, not able or strong enough to handle all of the good that life suddenly offers her. Such a person destroys the expansion, her framework, and sometimes even herself to avoid having her “unworthiness” be found out, to avoid the responsibilities that being happy and creating a full life bring. This reaction is more widespread than one might think. The student usually has little problem accepting criticism from the teacher. But when the teacher starts talking about the student’s strengths, abilities, and potentials, the student very often forgets her pact of trust, and starts arguing with the teacher. This is because if the student accepts her worthiness, her strengths, abilities and potentials, she is admitting her responsibility for creating her life and reality, and the effect she has on others. The student should trust the teacher even when the teacher is praising her, although this praise may be rare.
In contractions, the student faces a different set of illusions. In contractions, everything seems, appears to be falling apart. What the person thought would be a direct path to what she wants falls apart. People start flaking out on her, leaving her. Things get hard and difficult. Things seem to stop happening for her. Her life sphere gets small. The pace of living becomes slow.
Most people panic in contractions. They feel trapped, penned in. They feel like they are losing everything, going backward, dying as who they thought they were. When this happens, they grab onto things and people to save themselves and to get what they want; or they give up, thinking they are not strong or worthy enough to get to all possibilities. They usually tell themselves they really do not want all possibilities, they really want less. They lie to themselves to make their settling for less more livable.
In reality, contractions are periods in which the old phase is being rearranged to prepare for the new expansion that is coming. Some old stuff has to be burnt away to make ready for the new. Some valuable stuff is stored away to be used later. This feels like losing. This loss is not real. The creative progress in contractions is far too complex for us to rationally, logically understand or try to rationally plan out. Evolution is an automatic process when you let go into it. When you know that after every expansion comes a contraction, you will be less tempted to break out of your framework to pursue some glamorous or exciting avenues that appear to be more direct routes to what you want. You can be sure they are not.
When you know that after every contraction comes an expansion, you can better practice active passivity, which is the key to using contractions as a quiet building of creative potential. In this way, in both expansions and contractions, you can maintain the even focus that puts you in control of your reality. By knowing the cycles of expansions and contractions are irregular, you can relax, not holding on to anything, but not waiting in dread for the next contraction to hit. This is one of the aspects of erour, the vulnerable power.
Frank originally wrote the poem “Season of Hidden Hope – a radio musical” for his appearance on Barb Golden’s KPFA radio show, Crack O’ Dawn on December 2, 1993.
Here is the original script with the poem and songs that Frank would sing as part of the reading of the poem:
Walking along cold dark homeless roads clogged with ice fears my only friend is the wind chilling my bones into longing and lost and beyond… into a cynical loneliness. Herding my sheep, looking in windows of unattainable desires, looking at presents useless because I don’t have anyone to give them to, looking into the past soft colored warm homes that are no longer mine. Everyone has left, everyone is gone. Even the sun has left long ago, long before the manger. And the sun will not come back ever again. This is the season of dark depression and fragile suicide. Yes, I know I can always bum up the $29.95 to buy the plastic hope and faith at 7 Eleven and pretend it is my wonderful life playing in the video store’s window. But instead I wrap myself in a jaded pretense of dry ice isolation of not caring, and drinking the stale but warm wine of regrets.
1. Meatloaf’s “2 out of 3” 2. Dodie Steven’s “Merry, Merry Christmas Baby” 3. Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”
The birth of new hope has always been hidden within the long cold winter darkness. Huddle together, clinging to our tribal warmth as our only protection against dying into the scary black unknown, we always have been blind to the evergreen hope of life. It has always been the first time the sun and easy hope have gone away. So we always think they will never come again. The evergreen hope has been hidden away in the womb of the humble and in children’s dreams. The forces of greys have always overheard the possibility of the hidden hope…have always searched for it to pervert it into human isolation…or, failing that, to kill it for all time. But the forces of power always overlook the hidden human hope rocking in the baby’s cradle. As power goes on a desperate killing, chopping hacking gorging, eating the old world up……we huddle together in the silent night upon the hill, rocking together in our tribal body warmth. The shaman, the holy woman, the medicine man have always shifted our attention away from the dark cold outward fear, have always shifted our gaze to the guiding light of new birth…at first in the stars, then in the roaring tribal fire which pulled all human feelings within it, and still later into that corny home hearth crackling with bright colors popping. Into this fire we have always gone, hearing the drumming of our innocent heart beating in a slow excitement, meeting again our love of life. We curl up with our love and wait for warm spring to arrive…as hope grows into knowing.
4. Elvis’ “Silent Night” 5. Johnny Mathis’ “Do You Hear What I Hear?” 6. Bing Crosby’s “Little Drummer Boy” 7. N.K. Cole’s “O Holy Night” 8. John Lennon’s ”Happy Xmas (War is Over)”
Here is the recording of the reading of the poem from the show:
Below is the front and back of the postcard that was mailed out to Frank’s mailing list (snail mail at that time!) promoting the show:
Photos from the postcard “photoshoot”:
Here is the complete Crack O’ Dawn show from December 2, 1993:
In the early days of people being diagnosed with AIDS, one of Frank’s students, Carlos, got the AIDS diagnosis. Frank told him his job now was to bring death into life and to live and die joyfully. Carlos followed Frank in this and was a joy and inspiration to all of us around him.
Frank believed in type casting. After Carlos found out that he had AIDS, Frank cast him as the “dying man” in his performances. At the 5+ hour ritual performances Frank had nude, body painted Carlos wearing his “I have AIDS” sign around his neck inside of a small tent. Each audience member was led into the tent before entering the performance space and Carlos talked to them briefly about death, that it is not something to fear, that it is not painful in itself, it is part of life. When Carlos passed away he was in a very peaceful, joyful state of mind. When we got the word that Carlos had passed we looked at each other and said let’s have ice cream sundaes!! (Eating ice cream was one of the indulgences Carlos allowed himself with Frank’s encouragement, as part of his dying process.)
Below is a transcription of an excerpt of a conversation recorded December 10, 1995 at Father George’s house in San Francisco. Frank Moore, Linda Mac, Mikee LaBash, Corey Nicholl, Father George, and Louise Scott were present. (Father George was a friend of Frank’s during his time in Santa Fe, New Mexico when Frank lived with Louise Scott and her family.)
Linda: What, the house? No, Carlos? Um, one of Frank’s students, Carlos, died of AIDS-related stuff. And he’d been working with Frank for a few years when he found out that he had AIDS. And Frank said, “O.k., your job is to die as lustfully as you’ve lived, and to bring death into life.” ‘Cause it was a whole group of us that were part of like the community that were working with Frank, and doing performances and stuff too. And so, well he did fine for a long time …
Frank: I …
Linda: … You cast him, Frank cast him as the dying man in performances, after he found that out. And so people, it was in the all-night ritual performances, people are lead in by nude body-painted dancers, and it’s like all very ritualistic and quiet, and there’s body music playing. And they would be lead to this little kind-of cave made out of back-drops, and Carlos would be in there, nude and body-painted with a sign that says he’s the Dying Man. And it would be like two people at a time, and they’d be left in the room with him for like a minute or two, and he’d give them a rap about death. And he said, that death is not painful in itself. And it’s not something to be feared, that it’s just a transition. And then they’d be lead out. And most people actually didn’t realize that …
Louise: … that he really was.
George: … that he was really dying.
Linda: … the dying man. And …
George: Did he do it when he was really sick? I mean, did he continue doing it?
Linda: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah, right up to the time he died. And at the point where his body really started to go … he was like really fine up until that point. And then, he moved upstairs with a couple that had been his friends, so they could take more care of him. And they called us, and they said, they called us one afternoon and they said, “We’re worried about Carlos because he won’t get out of bed and he won’t eat.” And we had a tour coming up to Portland that Carlos was planning on going on with us. And so, Frank gets in the car, we drive over to San Francisco. Carlos is lying in bed, doing this Camille thing, you know, that was his like picture of himself dying. (all laughing) And Frank said, “Look, you have to look and see if you’re dying or not. If you’re dying, tell us, and we’ll help you die. If you’re not dying, (Frank screams), you have to eat, you have to start having fun with us. Eating, you have to be in shape to go to Portland.” And he said, “Take the night to think about it, and tell me in the morning.” And he said, he told Carlos that people are afraid to push him because they’re afraid that he’s gonna die if they push him. And he said, “I don’t care if you die, because it’s better to die than to live and be a wimp.” And so, you know … and next morning they call us and they said, “I don’t know what you did, but not only is he eating but he insisted on getting up at the table.” (George laughs)
And it kind of went up and down for a while. We started going to his house for sessions ’cause he was too sick to come to meet with Frank. And Frank had everybody …
Frank: He came to …
Linda: Oh, an all-night thing? Yeah. He had never gone to one of the twenty-four hour, like Frank does these twenty-four hour like workshop type things …
George: Carlos had never gone?
Linda: … and Carlos had never done one of them, and he really wanted to. So we had one scheduled, and he was in the hospital, and he got out like the night before, he was in and out of the hospital a lot. So he shows up with like, it was like a portable hospital room … Well he was late. O.k., so … when he had first started meeting with Frank years before, he was late for everything. And that was one of the first things that Frank said had to go. You know, “you have to be on time anytime you say you’re gonna be some place.” So he was always on time then. And now, here he is, like really sick, depending on other people, and he’s like a couple hours late for this thing. And so, while we’re waiting for him to come … a lot of the people that were in the workshop had never, didn’t know any of us. They were just doing this workshop they had signed up with to do with Frank. So Frank said, “Well I have someone coming who’s gonna be playing the part of a dying man.” And he starts giving this whole rap about how he’s gonna pretend he’s dying of AIDS, and he’s going to da da da da … And so Carlos shows up then two hours later with his entourage of like he’s on oxygen, he has all these medications for his skin and all this stuff. And he’s in tears. He’s so upset ’cause he’s late. And he comes in, “Frank!” You know, and he’s like … and Frank, you know, lets him talk for a minute, and he turns to everybody, he says, “This is him. See?”
And Carlos is looking, and Frank said, “I told them that you’re playing the part of the dying man.” And Carlos just looks at Frank and goes, “O.k., Frank!” You know … (all laugh) And Frank had set it up so that he could set his own pace, ’cause we didn’t know like what he’d be up for. And he said, just join in as much as you want. And by the end of it, he was off oxygen. He like was totally, you know, back into everything and he was involved in everything, through the whole thing. He didn’t like take a break at any point. And he said that it, you know, he felt a lot better at the end of it. And the process of him, he would kind of go in and out of being o.k. …
George: Yeah. That happens pretty regularly.
Linda: Yeah. At one point when we were over there, he told Frank that Frank didn’t know what it was like to have to depend on people for your every need. (all explode screaming/laughing) Which he denied saying. He said, “Frank, you made that up. I never said that.” The thing would be, Frank had, you know, everybody that was part of this little community, somebody was with him all the time, and they’d just hang out with him, or play cards or just whatever, you know. And he would be this, (plays Camille) like “Ohhh … you knowww … I’m in soooo …” Like that. And then we’d get a card game going. Boom. He’s sharp, he’s fine, nothing hurts, he’s winning. (all laugh) You know, and so … that was like during his period when he’s going in and out of things. One time he’s in the hospital and the Portland trip is approaching and Frank had told him he has to be able to walk, you know, to go on this tour. And, we get there and it turns out, he’s not walking. He’s not getting out of bed, he’s not moving.
George: He’s in the hospital at this point.
Linda: Yeah, he’s in the hospital, this is one of those like three or four day things, and then he’d be in and out for different things. And, Frank said, “O.k., I told you you should be walking. I want you to lean on Michael,” and another guy that was with us, Rourke, “and walk as far as the door and back to your bed.” And he says, “Well I’m not gonna lean on anybody then. I’m just gonna walk.” He gets to the door, and the door is open. He waits ’til he gets to the frame so that he’s in view of the nurse’s station, and GRABS onto the frame, trying to get Frank in trouble!
And Frank just yells at him, and says, “I told you to lean on Michael and Rourke. Now you lean on them to get back to bed.” And that all happens, and he goes through this trauma over that, and we play cards, he’s fine, you know. And we’re leaving and the nurse calls us over and she said, “What did you do to get him to walk?” It turns out that they’d been trying to get him to walk. He said he needed a physical therapist. They brought a physical therapist. The physical therapist said, “You should be able to walk.”
“Oh no, I need a doctor.” They bring a doctor: “You should be able to walk.” No, he can’t walk. And then they see him walking, you know. And so Frank said, “Well, not only that. He’s supposed to walk a step more each day.” The nurse said, “Fine, I’ll enforce that.” (all laugh)
So by the time he died …
George: You should have billed him. (all laugh)
Frank: Uh huh!
Linda: You did! Oh yeah, he paid. He paid all the way to the end. By the time he died he was pretty consistently at peace with it, and a pretty jolly soul with it all. It was very neat, and … so it actually felt, you know, it wasn’t as drastic a thing when he died, ’cause he was so kinda right there with us. Yeah.
Frank: We ate …
Linda: Right. The day he died, we decided … you know, his whole thing when he was dying was that, his fantasy had been having ice cream or something, something like that. And Frank said, “Pffft, you know, you’re dying, have as much ice cream as you want.” So he used to have the people he was staying with make him milkshakes, so he could get up in the middle of the night and drink a milkshake if he wanted it. So, the day that he died, we’re sitting there, and we said, “Well, let’s have a sundae.” You know, so that started like a ritual. So on his birthday and on his death day we go out and we have these decadent sundaes, and it never makes us sick, you know …
George: (laughing) Banana splits …
Louise: Right, you just do it.
Linda: … if we did that on any other day, it would be like “Ooohhh.” You know, but we do that …
George: Oh jeez … People do dance around dying, though. We’ve certainly, we have people who come this close, you think they’re gonna be gone in two hours, and then they back away. And then … for another couple months, and approach it again, and back away. Just never know …
George: … but we’ve never had anyone eating ice cream on the way out. (laughs)
Frank: Carlos was joking …
Linda: … with the nurse, as he died. Right. He was getting a transfusion, and he was joking with the nurse, and he just passed.
George: He was getting, what, how did, did he have cardiac arrest, you know, was that the thing …?
Linda: I guess that was it. Did he have cardiac arrest as he was having the transfusion? (Frank – yes) Yeah. Yeah.
This is the text that displayed in the “Dying Man” tent along with a large photo of Carlos wearing his “I have AIDS” sign at performances after Carlos died:
I AM CARLOS. FOR THE LAST YEAR, MY ROLE IN THESE DREAMS HAS BEEN TO GREET THE PEOPLE, AND TO PREPARE THEM FOR THEIR DEATH WHICH THEY (AND YOU) WILL EXPERIENCE IN THIS DREAM. I TOLD THEM THAT DEATH IS NOT SOMETHING TO BE FEARED, SOMETHING THAT IN ITSELF IS NOT PAINFUL. I TOLD THEM, IN MY MARVELOUS VINCENT PRICE VOICE, THAT DEATH IS A PART OF LIFE TO BE LUSTFULLY RELISHED AND ENJOYED.
I WISH YOU COULD HAVE HEARD MY VINCENT PRICE. I TRIED TO GET HERE IN MY BODY, WHICH WAS FINALLY FITTING THE BODY OF THE DYING MAN. I EVEN FANTASIZED ABOUT DYING HERE WHILE I WAS TALKING TO YOU ABOUT DEATH. BUT THAT WAS NOT TO BE. 2:35 P.M., JANUARY 30, 1989, MY HEART STOPPED. BUT I AM HERE WITH YOU BECAUSE LIFE, WHICH DEATH IS A PART OF, GOES ON.
WHEN I FOUND OUT A YEAR AGO I HAD AIDS, THE KNOWING I WAS DYING LIBERATED ME SO THAT I COULD LIVE MORE FULLY, MORE HAPPILY, MORE OPENLY, MORE PEACEFULLY THEN I EVER LIVED BEFORE. FRANK, ALWAYS A BELIEVER IN TYPE-CASTING, CREATED FOR ME THE DYING MAN ROLE TO SPREAD THE LIBERATION TO PEOPLE WHOSE DEATHS ARE NOT IN SIGHT. A LOT OF PEOPLE THOUGHT THE “I HAVE AIDS” SIGN I WORE AROUND MY NECK AND THE DYING MAN WERE FICTIONS OF THE ART. BUT WHEN THEY DISCOVERED THAT I WAS REALLY DYING, THE DREAM BROKE OUT OF ART, AND INTO THE REALITY OF EVERYDAY. I HOPE BY MY BEING WITH YOU IN THIS WAY IT WILL SPREAD THE LIBERATION TO YOU.
Videos with Carlos
EZTV – Wrapping/Rocking & Statues Los Angeles, California, September 9, 1988.
Playing with Reality (in two parts) Berkeley, California, November 19 & 20 1988
The Outrageous Horror Show Berkeley Square, Berkeley, California, October 29, 1988
Hi. I am Frank Moore, the producer/host of the targeted UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES and the sponsor of the targeted SUSAN BLOCK SHOW. It is interesting that this proposed ordinance is designed to target shows by an uppity crip and a smart sexy woman…or is it a smart sexy crip and an uppity woman? My show is politically, culturally, and artistically radical, offering in-depth conversations about issues that affect us all with a wide range of people, live music, and cutting-edge performances, films, and art. We throw everything in this stew for social change, explore everything, including eroticism, to find alternatives. This is what got me targeted by Sen. Jesse Helms in the early ’90s. And this is why our shows are being targeted now. A few people, including some on the City Council, want to sweep these alternatives from public access because they are threatened by these alternatives.
Councilmember Betty Olds, who introduced this ordinance, has publicly proclaimed that if she had her way, she would ban these alternatives from our public access channel. She bemoaned the fact that it is illegal to censor or ban community shows on public access channels. This ordinance is an attempt to get around this legal fact. Olds actually has said she would take away B-TV, the channel of the community, if that was the only way she could force the removal of the shows that she doesn’t approve of. So the real targets and victims of this ordinance are not our two shows, but the people of Berkeley, their freedom of expression on their channel.
This ordinance came about when both the staff of B-TV and the board of BCM refused to adopt a censoring scheduling policy, following their mission of promoting free speech and diversity. They knew getting some complaints is always a part of running a free speech channel. All of us producers were acting responsibly, requesting that our shows be aired after 10pm, the standard “safe harbor” for adult content. But the City Council, fueled by very few complaints, decided to ignore B-TV’s staff and producers and the BCM board. It decided to issue rules controlling what could be shown on B-TV when. When politicians do this, it should always set off loud alarm bells.
This ordinance is a dangerous product of this misguided adventure. It purports to protect children from “indecent” programs. It doesn’t do this. Again Olds has admitted that protecting children is just an excuse to get rid of shows that she and people like her find unsettling, etc.. This ordinance does not provide cheap hardware to concerned parents that allow them to block any program they deem unfit for their kids. Instead, it does away with the “safe harbor” of the 10pm-6am timeslot for adult programming. In its place there will be an “indecent” timeslot of midnight to 6am. Except for the shows which fall into a very narrow definition of what “indecent” is as defined in this ordinance, all other shows can be shown anytime! As Councilmembers Spring and Maio pointed out as they voted against the ordinance, the two targeted shows are not indecent. In fact, B-TV doesn’t have any shows that are indecent as defined in this ordinance.
In reality, this ordinance is not about protecting children at all. It is about chilling free speech. It is about forcing people to do “acceptable” shows. Under this ordinance, a producer is expected to label her show as indecent or not. If she doesn’t label it as indecent and somebody complains, there is a hearing. This hearing, its process, its rules, etc. are not remotely spelled out in the ordinance. If the show is found “indecent” in the hearing, the show is exiled to after midnight. But if the show is found not to be indecent…well, the complainer can do it again next week…until the producer is ground down into watering down her program. This is the real goal of this ordinance, not protecting kids!
Well, Suzy and I are not chillers. We do not chill. We boil. If this ordinance passes, we will fight lustfully! And we will win. We have to because, as Kriss Worthington keeps pointing out, this would give this and other city councils the power to control what we do and say on OUR public access channels…and freedom of speech dies!
By the way, are we going to let them limit our possibilities?