s. chatted happily as he drew. drawing colorful characters was his business. it was just for practice. but now and then, people paid and kept the drawing.
today it was fortuitous… gil gordon, his subject that day at the 'circle', brought s. back to his place on the lower east side. after a session at his storefront on suffolk st., gil arrangened for s. to rent the storefront next door. it turned out to be very valuable. he met other artists on the block. chuck bowers two doors down. bowers was an abstract expressionist. he said s. should be an illustrator.
two doors north was chicarelli. they called him 'chic'. chic took s. with him to the "living theatre" where judith malina and julian beck were rehearsing the avante garde production of "the brig".* an interesting 'live' sort of theatre verite', always improvised, a day in the life of recalcitrant sailor-soldiers 'doing time' in the brig. chic was an instrumental player. "the brig" was a noisy full of violence diatribe; definitely anti-war.
another of the artists on the block was a silkscreen amatuer cartoonist who was working independently on a full length comic book. this 'kid' apprenticed himself to the 'master' of "the bread and puppet theatre" the words of peter shumann:
OF SMALL PLANETS
CHEESE IS CLASSICAL
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. RADICAL CHEESE
IS HUMAN FERMENTATION + THE NEED
FOR HUMAN FERMENTATION.
THE CALL FOR FERMENTATION IS PRIOR TO THE CALL
FOR UPRISING BECAUSE UPRISING NEEDS ALL THE
WILD YEASTS OT THE MOMENT TO BE WHAT IT IS.
HUMAN FERMENTATION CONCERNS THOSE
PARTS OF THE HUMAN BODY
THAT ARE NOT GOVERNED BY
LIKE THE GUTS AND THE
GUTSY PART OF THE BRAIN.
IN THIS DEMOCRACY WHICH
TEASES CITIZENS WITH
THE POSSIBILITY OF
DEMOCRACY, CITIZENS ARE
RAISED LIKE MILITARY
DOWN TO THEIR PREDICTABLE
MINIMUMS YIELDING CONTROLLED
FRUITS THAT LACK THE ECSTACY OF NATURE.
FERMENTED CITIZENS ARE CORRUPTED
BY THE ECSTASY OF NATURE + FROM THAT CORRUPTION
DERIVE STRENGTH TO CORRUPT NORMAL MILITARY-
APPLE-ORCHARD CITIZENS. ONLY BY THE SPREAD OF
SUCH CORRUPTIONS CAUSED BY FERMENTATION CAN
UPRISINGS OCCUR. UPRISINGS ARE NOT POLITICAL
ACTIVITIES BUT THE OPPOSITE OF POLITICAL ACTIVITIES:
ANARCHIC EXERCISES IN THE HUMAN POTENTIAL
OR ANARCHIC BLOSSOMINGS OF DESIRES WHICH
ARE HIDDEN CAPABILITIES.
THE WORLD THAT ADVERTISES ITSELF AS
THE WORLD IS THE WRONG WORLD. THE
BLOSSOMING OF DESIRES AGAINST THIS WRONG
WORLD IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE
GARBAGE SPIRITUALIZATION AS PRACTISED BY
they put on street shows mainly, but under the studio there was also a stage. the puppets were enormous; the heads alone were bigger than a child. at first the stories played were 'old world' stories. shumann was like a gypsy philosopher ashok. he and his wife made chunky bread which was passed out to the audience during the performance.
s. was watching robin splash around in chic's bathtub; they only had a shower at their place. it turned into a violent fight and robin tried to scratch s's eyes out. then robin confessed to having an affair with chicarelli while s. was still in florida.
s. felt that he had left robin in good hands with three friends living in close proximity. s. had noticed that robin was much changed. first of all, she was taking birth control pills and her body, formerly slim and nubile, had become chunky and muscular. she had now become a wee bit bitchy. when he got back from florida, they had both pretended that they could just pick up love where they had left off. s. felt that their few love making episodes were perfunctory and not at all satisfying spiritually. so they broke up. robin moved in with chic. they all remained friendly on the surface.
and, from shumann:
"We sometimes give you a piece of bread along with the puppet show because our bread and theater belong together. For a long time the theater arts have been separated from the stomach. Theater was entertainment. Entertainment was meant for the skin. Bread was meant for the stomach. The old rites of baking, eating, and offering bread were forgotten. The bread decayed and became mush. We would like you to take your shoes off when you come to our puppet show and we would like to bless you with the fiddle bow. The bread shall remind you of the sacrament of eating.
We want you to understand that theater is not yet an established form, not the place of commerce you think it is, where you pay to get something. Theater is different. It is more like bread, more like a necessity. Theater is a form of religion. It is fun. It preaches sermons and it builds up a self-sufficient ritual where the actors try to raise their lives to the purity and ecstasy of the actions in which they participate.
*( "During the 1950's and early 1960's in New York, The Living Theatre pioneered the unconventional staging of poetic drama – the plays of American writers like Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Paul Goodman, Kenneth Rexroth and John Ashbery, as well as European writers rarely produced in America, including Cocteau, Lorca, Brecht and Pirandello. Best remembered among these productions, which marked the start of the Off-Broadway movement, were Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Tonight We Improvise, Many Loves, The Connection and The Brig.) http://www.livingtheatre.org/history.html
unique people will always stick to their guns. individualists to their last breath. as seneca says, "the superior man is always 'similar' to himself."
one world with multiferous differences…. live and let live.