An excerpt from the show featuring Linda Mac and Mikee LaBash with host Chuck Gregory … starts @ 25:50
Listen to the complete show here:
Chuck: Before we move on, can you tell us a little bit about what you are doing to celebrate Frank’s work. You’ve got a lot going on about Frank Moore! Tell us about it. (laughs)
Linda: Yeah. Frank died ten years ago. Mikee and I went from having our entire life, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, totally focused on what we were doing with Frank. And Frank was full of ideas, we were always performing, and we had an internet radio station … we were just constantly, constantly going. And after Frank died, Mikee and I were, like, OK, so now what? (laughs) We realized that we always had a sense in those … I was with Frank 38 years … in those 38 years, that we were living like three lives at one time. We didn’t sleep much. We were constantly, constantly, constantly doing things. So Mikee and I realized that Frank graciously (chuckles) left us this huge archive of stuff to do something with. So, over the course of the ten years it’s just evolved and become clearer to us what we need to do. We immediately … the first book we published after Frank died, Frankly Speaking, got a lot of people interested and that hooked us up with The Bancroft Library in Berkeley, part of the U.C. Berkeley system. I casually mentioned to them when we brought them a copy of the book, that we’re looking for a place to give Frank’s archives to and they said they were happy to take it. So, that was in place right from the beginning. We knew at some point we had to organize that stuff and get it to them. We initially gave them maybe ten boxes of stuff, stuff we knew we wouldn’t need, as like a down payment (chuckles). Because Mikee and I had a lot of ideas. So, from that point on we did a twenty-episode video series based on Frank’s book, Art of a Shaman, where we contacted a lot of different people that had been important in Frank’s life and asked them if they would read a chapter. We used that as the audio track. And then Mikee edited in all this stuff, like visual things. We got people to do music for us that had been part of our art community. So that took a bunch of years to do that. And we published a bunch of books. And now it’s getting more down to the nitty gritty because we realized we have to … it’s time to start giving Bancroft Library more of the things. In the period, in that ten years since Frank died and we first talked to them, it seems like they’ve gone through a lot of changes and now it’s more bureaucratic. There are attorneys involved (chuckles). They want to know about copyrights.
Linda: So, we’re dealing with that.
Mikee: We’re in the process of a big batch of stuff going any time now.
Linda: So, there is a lot of hustle! Mikee is scanning things like crazy, so that we get everything digitally before we give it to them …like the photo binders. The one thing about us was that we kept everything. So, because we were so involved in a bunch of different sub-cultures … mainly because the different sub-cultures that we would get involved in … there’d always be that line where they supported what we were doing until Frank turned his gaze to what was going on in that community.
Chuck laughs heartily.
Linda: And then we became outlaws (chuckles) … like, for example, as a really vivid example, there was a point where we had stumbled into the art world because we didn’t even know that what we were doing was called performance art. That’s a long story, but we ended up at the San Francisco Art Institute. Frank was getting his second Masters. We found out that what we had been doing was called performance art. So, like, oh, OK! So that opened up the whole art world. And there was a point in the art world where people were afraid to book us and there was a whole thing that happened and the poets rushed in and said, yes, we support you, Frank! And we ended up doing this street performance in San Francisco in front of The Lab, which had booked us and then canceled it. So, that’s a whole story in itself. So, the poets were 100% behind us.
Mikee: So, we were part of the poetry scene for quite a while.
Linda: So, we archived all of that. So, we have a huge collection of poetry stuff. And then we crossed the line with them. Frank was booked to read his poems at a café in Oakland, and the week that that was happening, we were on the front page of the ….
Mikee: East Bay Express, which is a weekly.
Linda: It’s a weekly paper in the Bay Area, very popular. The cover photo was a picture that Annie Sprinkle had taken of Frank and I in the 1980s where I was naked.
Mikee: And body painted.
Linda: And they put that on the front of the paper (giggles). And it was everywhere! You ride down the streets and there are those little boxes with the papers and there it is.
Linda: And we were impressed that they did that. And inside there was a bunch of nude stuff too! It was a really good article, really good. The reporter was great. He spent a lot of time with us. But the person that had booked us read the article and freaked out. And she called us as we’re walking out the door … we’re loading Frank in the van, which is not a small thing, it’s a whole process. So, he’s halfway out the door and she emails and says they read that paper and they’re nervous about what Frank’s gonna do! And they need to know exactly what he’s going to do! So Frank says, and this is him sitting in his chair, halfway out the door, and I’m spelling him out … he says, I have a policy of never saying what I’m going to before a performance …
Chuck laughs heartily.
Linda: … but I’ll tell you this. I always get asked back. (giggles) That didn’t mean much to her. First of all, we were booked to read poetry so obviously that’s what we were coming to do. So, it never came up in our minds that we were doing anything other than going there and reading poetry. So, she says, well, then I’m cancelling! So Frank says, well, you know, we’re on our way out the door … She says, I’m cancelling you as the featured reader. He says, well, you’re still having a poetry reading tonight? She said, yes. He said, well, we’re on the way out the door, we’ll just go anyway.
Chuck laughs heartily.
Linda: So, we had planned on going early and having something to eat. They had a little café. So, we get there and that turned into a whole thing. The owners of the café came down when they found out we were there. Everybody was freaking out. They cancelled the entire reading, even though there was a roomful of poets there ready for this.
Linda: So, they cancel the reading. So, Frank says, well, we have a bunch of poets here anyway, let’s just read poems together. So, Jesse Beagle gets up. She’s in her seventies at that point. And she starts reading a poem. The owners called the police! The police show up and Jesse won’t stop reading. She’s very feisty. And they drag her out of the café. Literally drag her.
Linda: And they won’t talk to Frank. The cops won’t talk to Frank. Finally, Frank has me go over to them and say, you know, Frank is the person that was booked. Frank is the person behind this. Why won’t you talk to him directly? Because they have to read his letterboard, right. So finally, one of the cops comes over and once he starts talking to Frank, Frank is very engaging. And by the time he’s finished talking to Frank, Frank says, well, can we read poems out on the sidewalk here?
Linda: And the cop said, well you know Frank, if you sit on their bench, you can’t do it. Frank says, well, what if we don’t sit on their bench? The cop said, well, legally I can’t stop you if you’re just standing on the sidewalk.
Mikee: If you’re not blocking the sidewalk.
Linda: And he wishes us good luck! So, Frank says, can I just go inside for a second and tell the poets that we’re going to do the reading out on the sidewalk. So, the cop says, sure. And he walks us into the café and walks over to where all the poets were sitting, and the poets literally turned away from us and pretended they were reading something and acted like we weren’t standing there talking to them. So we ended up doing the reading on the sidewalk with most of the poets sitting right inside the glass being uncomfortable that we were sitting outside and they couldn’t leave until we were gone because they were too embarrassed.
Linda: So that’s an example of how we move … there’s a story like that with every subculture we’ve ever been part of … where Frank stands up for something he believes in and it crosses a line for the rest of the people. So, in terms of the archiving, Mikee and I realized at a certain point that we basically have archived the small press during a period of time because we put out a zine. We have a pretty good archive of poets. We had a radio show online, one of the first ones.
Mikee: In the 1990s until 2010 or something like that.
Linda: We had DJs recording shows from all over the world and sending them to us, and that’s a fraction …
Mikee: We have hundreds of cassette tapes and all kinds of things.
Linda: So we feel obligated and a responsibility to find good homes for all that stuff. So, that’s what we do! (laughs)
Linda: And taking opportunities like this, Chuck, that you gave us, to let people … put out, you know, Frank!
Chuck: That’s fantastic!
Ends @ 39:00