Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon Tour
Tour Log: June 14th
A conversation with Terry Flynn, Rich Martin, and Denis Mahoney
Terry Flynn is the editor of Gone.
Denis Mahoney is a guiding spirit in Black Pig Liberation Front and publisher of Ring Tarigh Press in Westerly, Rhode Island.
Jordan Green: You've been coordinating and facilitating the energy of multiple talents. How did you get the passion and desire for that role?
Richard L. Martin: A lot of nervous energy and fear of people drove me there.
Jordan: Fear of people?
Rich: I ended up doing a lot of stuff just on my own and then with close friends and that turned into ritual and it all arose out of not being able to deal with the norm, I think. Way back when we started doing all the press stuff and all of that. We didn't see anything going on that we felt like joining in on. We started forming our own little subculture.
Jordan: So it's a form of resistance.
Rich: I guess, yeah.
Jordan: Do you mean the norm as in the norm of literature or the norm of everyday life?
Rich: We are coming out of this area that our generation and I hate to put it in terms of generations, but we didn't have a space in our community to do the things we wanted to do. Nobody was helping us with that and so we had to keep creating that. Out of that came bands, 'zines, poetry readings, and subversive everything. Things that didn't exist before, we just created. So we had this great momentum for four or five years, putting out little chapbooks similar to these books, not bound perfectly, just stitched. Sharing poetry and sharing music. It wasn't anywhere outside of this area, just this small community of people sort of trading back and forth with each other. And that was enough. That was enough to build up this huge momentum that ended up getting us to you and Ron and this place. It all just started out as an echo in the void - answering the void.
Jordan: Tell me a little bit about this part of the world, of eastern Connecticut, the reality that you and your friends grew up in. There's a naval base and a submarine factory here?
Rich: Well, there's both. There's a naval base and they build the submarines across from here. Pfizer is here, a huge pharmaceutical company. The whole area up until about five years ago was defense-oriented. There's a lot of small companies and offices with the sub company doing research into sonar. Just a lot of governmental money doing top-secret things. This area had no soul for a long time, the way I look at it. Like my father, with an English major, ended up getting a job in the defense industry shaping these proposals for weapons systems. Because he was a good writer he got this great job that he could support our family. He went and did this work that he couldn't bring back to his family. When I leave work at the end of the day, I may have a flier or a book, or have seen a show that I can take back to what would be my family - my friends or my girlfriend or whoever my family is at that time and share that with them. In this area, everybody was doing stuff that they couldn't bring back.
Jordan: You're talking about this notion that people's work is completely alienated from
Rich: Their full lives. To the extent that I experience it. Because my father expressed some disappointment to me throughout the years. When you're building a nuclear submarine, it's not something that you bring home to your kids. It's what you do and there's a pride in it, but there's a certain way that you don't want to bring that home.
Jordan: Is there a certain way that that manifests itself in people's behaviors?
Rich: The way I look at it is, yeah, I think there wasn't this generational passing on of what community is because community was separated from the family. Like the work the community was doing had no effect on. I don't know; I'm not sure if I've really formulated this enough to go there. It relates into what I was saying about Mystic though. Mystic was this tourist center that was a beautiful town and was a community for a long time but then it became this place that was separate from the real sense of the town. Main Street, USA became Main Street, USA "trademark". It was a place that I as a kid needing a place to read poetry or put on a rock show or something was not accepted because it didn't fit in with the mall aspect of what the community had become. I think that's why our group arose and why all this stuff is happening. All of that was gone. There was no culture left anymore.
Jordan: You were telling me about trying to organize cultural events in Mystic and the older generation was not appreciating it.
Rich: You know, I think for a long time churches served those functions. Up until maybe 15 or 20 years ago even. The churches have not really won over these recent generations. The people who picked up the slack were sort of bar owners or VFW houses or things like that where it was guys who were getting money out of kids so they could drink more beer, but it wasn't something supporting the kids' culture. So there wasn't any real support from the elders in the community for what the youth were doing, which is good in some sense because it creates some rebellion. But I think if you grow up in a space, you should have your space there too. It's yours as much as anybody else's. We didn't see a lot of that. That's why I'm doing this right now. That's what everybody says when they come here is, "Finally, somebody's giving us a space for what we want to do."
Jordan: So do you think there's a real profound fear of youth and young people?
Rich: I don't know if it's fear, but it's definitely prejudice. Yeah, fear. I still get it. I'm still "young" in these ways that people don't feel they can support what we're doing wholeheartedly.
Jordan: (to Terry Flynn, who walks into the room) Do you want to be in this interview?
Terry Flynn: I'll be a silent guy. Or I'll speak when spoken to.
Rich: I've trained him well. (laughter all around)
Jordan: I was just gonna mention that my understanding of youth activity is that older people want something for kids to do, but they need to control that energy because they're not really sure how it's gonna be released. For that reason, they try to put a lid on it.
Rich: When we've been able to do good poetry readings, it's been in bars. The first major reading that we were able to do - we had a series that went on for two or three years and we got a lot of kids out because we got this room in a bar that was sort of separate from the bar. We were getting packed houses: 50, 60 people and a lot of them were under 21. They needed something to do and it ended up getting shut down because they were in this bar and there was no other place to go do it. There's no community centers for kids. The community center we have is sort of a country club with great aerobic equipment, but there's no cool room to hang out in. There's no place to skateboard without somebody yelling at you. That's what kids need, you know? A place to hang their artwork up and it's not gonna be pictures of boats or whatever, which is what the older generation likes around here. It's gonna be pictures of neon penises that hang up here (in the Temporary Autonomous Zone ). It's gonna be edgier and they're not gonna like it, but so what? The kids are gonna do what the kids have to do.
Terry: "The kids are alright."
Jordan: "Do what you have to and do it well" as the Bob Dylan song says. So the assumption that you're going on with T.A.Z. is that there are all kinds of creative, talented people out there and you just need to give 'em a forum to express whatever or do their own thing?
Rich: The idea is that it's a temporary autonomous zone where you come in, define that evening or that moment, that you do your thing. The next moment may be something totally different that you may never even think to associate your work with. It'll just be filled up with all these mad moments, our community, and our culture. We don't put any limits on what we're doing, I don't think. We keep this really open stance here that anybody can come in here. And the weird thing is that it all fits. We're not a hardcore club, we're not a heavy metal club, we're not a poetry house, but we're all of these things.
Terry: So it's like a punk rock kid can come in here and find himself having something important to say about how somebody's play should come off and the idea might get used.
Jordan: Do you think, in a way, that the interaction that can occur is more important than the work that comes out of it?
Rich: I think it's the development of the work. I always encourage writers to get involved with the magazine. Once you put your work out there, it creates a different dialogue even in your own head. Now you know that this person that you don't even know of maybe do know and respect has read your piece and it's now in the general dialogue. Hopefully, you start getting different kinds of comments from people on your work because they start to understand what you're doing and they watch the development of your work.
Jordan: How did you two guys get hooked up? How did you start doing this magazine Gone?
Terry: Actually, four years ago, Rich and his friend Brooks, who started (T.A.Z.) up, had a really kicking rock band, Grand Passion. Right around that time, there was an article in the New London Day about these Mystic kids who were grabbing the bull by the horns as far as the arts are concerned and I was really interested in that. Rich and I also had a mutual friend who put together a poetry reading to happen at this thing called the Hygienic Arts Show which happens once every year at the end of January. Rich and I both read at the same thing.
Rich: Yeah, then Terry started helping me bind books since I had two or three projects going at that point. He came in for the late night grunt work. We had a lot of red wine and glue highs (laughs).
Jordan: So what's the concept behind Gone?
Rich: We're trying to create a forum and we want that forum to grow exponentially in every direction. So the idea is, I think, very simple - to give people that forum and trying to shape the submissions we get into something that stands on its own, that is editorially strong, but also being receptive to newer writers who aren't maybe used to getting published. Because most of us aren't, you know?
Jordan: What is the phrase "Gone to Croatan" (in the title of the magazine) all about?
Terry: That came out of the Hakim Bey book, T.A.Z. , which actually Rich loaned me. That was the original title (of Gone). We found out later that there was another book published by the same press ( Autonomedia ) that published Hakim Bey's book.
Rich: Actually, Hakim Bey published that book.
Terry: Anyway, Rich suggested to me that we should try to come up with something alchemical, which is actually interesting because I was in the middle of trying to create my own sort of mythology as well out of things that I've read about - actually, that'll take me down a different avenue, so scratch that. But "Gone Croatan" was something that was posted in Roanoke Colony by the first wave of (English) people that came over there. Basically, the second wave of people went to this colony and they found it abandoned. What was said about the thing in school books was "froze to death, starved to death, killed by Indians", but the sign suggests something else. It suggests dropping out; it suggests assimilation with a culture that knew how to live here. The suggestion that was made in this book was the reason that we're taught that is because as a society we're uncomfortable with the idea of dropping out, making an individual choice like that. That's why it's so hard to move from one place to another. That's why you have to notify the IRS and get your address changed and all that kind of stuff. (Denis Mahoney and Ron Whitehead walk into the room.) By simply moving around you have this golden opportunity to become a criminal. And all you are is a human being walking around on the planet. There's that aspect of it. There's an embrace of individual choice of freedom in the original title.
Jordan: That story "Gone to Croatan" is in a William Carlos Williams book too called In the American Grain that's kind of real and obscure American history. That's been out there for awhile.
Jane Anderson Gin The glass of gin, a tiny winter liquidized, the final distillation of juniper berries dusted with the scaly peelings of bird talons Atop lacquered tables it sits clean and scoured, as if resting in a snowbank kind and sinless It has the clean burn of inoculation that tamps the skin causes the virus to loose its logic, its thread of seduction upon the cinches membrane of the cell. It calls for ritual the hollowing out of a rosestem to spill the terrible swell upon the lips and throat. It calls for the slaughter, making a slipknot of the face. The eyes are shot through with firethorn. The hands unhinged, flapping like large stuttering tongues. It was then I heard you, in the attic, as if carrying some weapon you could not quite handle. As if scraping your feet across the jagged poison of coral. Juniper wretched, you were a permanent implosion, trimming your thoughts to airy bursts of baby's breath. Up there, you set down a glass anchor, observed its label, Art Deco, nearly lit up like a miniature marquee. All the world a muffled drop away, a thimbleful of noise dwindling to the stillness of silicate published in Gone, Issue 1, Spring 1998, Hozomeen Press
Jordan: How long has the Temporary Autonomous Zone been open?
Rich: About eight months now. It started off really slow, like every other weekend. Then it got to every weekend and now it's going full-time.
Jordan: So tell me how that ties into this idea that I guess Hakim Bey popularized?
Rich: It goes back to the forum idea where each person comes in and defines the space for a moment. Tonight was a part of the economy that happens. Different minds get together and create a different situation and they create a community for the moment. And then it changes.
Terry: The only thing that stays the same is that Sammy Davis, Jr. is always above the organ.
(We shift gears since Ron has agreed to interview Denis Mahoney.)
Ron Whitehead: By 1994, by May or June, I had already heard about Rich Martin and Denis Mahoney time and time again from Lee Ranaldo and Leah Singer. And finally, after the 48-hour music and poetry insomniacathon which Kent Fielding and I produced to kick off NYU's 50 year celebration of the Beat Generation, Lee introduced me to Rich and Dennis and I have been working with them in one capacity or another ever since as publishers, as performers, as friends, as partners, as editors. The nature of our work continues to grow. Even though I'm tired and I may sound like I don't have too much energy, I've been excited about this. Yeah, there have been up's and down's, but there are in any relationship. But it seems like we're all in tune, on track now, and I'm looking forward to the months and years ahead of working
Denis Mahoney: You still love me and Rich.
Ron: That's right. And you know it's love when you go through hard times together and you still work it out and get back on track and keep going again, which we are. I'm happy to be here in New London, Connecticut. And this interview is with Denis Mahoney. After I did my first and last interview with William Burroughs, I swore that I would never do another interview, so this really isn't an interview; this is a conversation. I'm really uncertain about how to enter it or how to begin it. Denis is one of the most interesting people I've met.
Jordan: Well, ask some questions.
Ron: So what happened then? Black Pig Liberation Front. Dennis is a founding member. A multimedia band unlike any other I've seen. Dennis is the poet of the band. I'm not sure he likes that word, but from my perspective, that's what he is. He is the voice, the spokesperson, the bard, and the poet for Black Pig Liberation Front. When was Black Pig formed and can you give a little background on the history of Black Pig?
Denis: Four or five years ago. Me and Neil. I hate poetry readings. Like they bore the hell out of me.
Ron: Yeah. I know that. But it was exciting tonight, wasn't it?
Denis: The way you read poems I think that's the only exciting thing in the world. I told Jordan I thought he was phenomenal. Poetry just bores the hell out of me. I hate hearing people's opinions. And who cares - description? It's totally, completely boring.
Ron: Ha ha ha!
Denis: Who cares? I hate the idea of an individual saying my opinions count for so much. I hate music like that. I hate art like that.
Jordan: This is the question I've really been wanting to ask you: I think we live in an incredibly individualized, alienated society and it seems like you're trying to do something that's totally opposite from that in channeling some diverse cultural energies from different areas (of the world) and putting it out there without a personality necessarily attached. Is that accurate to say?
Denis: Yeah, in a way cos we just try - I hate individual work. Like I was there for just five minutes at the Ginsberg thing (Convocation of the Best Minds, New York City, June 12, 1998). This girl's telling some story about "I did this, I did this". Who the fuck cares? It's boring. Like everybody sees the sunset. Everybody does this Great poets of the 1880's, 1890's did way more. I hate the Beatniks. Allen Ginsberg is the greatest jackass on the planet.
Ron: This is one reason and only one reason that I like Dennis so much because of his brutal honesty.
Denis: I mean it's just like the poem "America" (by Ginsberg) like how many times he fucked Neil Cassady up the ass. I think it's enjoyable for him, but I don't need to know. Maybe I do need to know, but who cares? It's not major literature.
Jordan: What is this crazy mesh of nerve and sight and sound and energy that's coming together with the performance of Black Pig Liberation Front. Where does all of that come from? How does it coalesce?
Denis: Tonight was horrible. Even like writing something. I disagree with copyright. I just put everything together like a collage to create consciousness, whether it's chant-wise or ... Just so that when something is read it'll, not transform consciousness, but put you into something else. It's not like I call what I do poetry.
Ron: Yeah, but what you do is poetry. And it is mm magic and alchemy. And spiritual alchemy, to me, is central to life, to my life. And that's, on a deep level, why I'm interested in poetry. And that's also why I'm interested in what you're doing and what you're all about. And your objection to the Beats, to poetry, to narrative, to description does not offend me in any way. I can see, I can understand where you're coming from. And I want to hear what you have to say because your criticism helps me define and refine my own expression on life. My wife and I, we've been married 26 years and it's rare, once in a blue moon, that we agree on anything, but we have this incredible relationship and I wouldn't be married 26 years if I wasn't passionately in love with her. So I don't think people have to be coming from the same place in order to get along, in order to be friends. We can be coming from apparently opposite places and I don't think we're coming from opposite places.
Denis: Not at all. We come from the same place.
Ron: I think so.
Denis: I've talked to you about this before. I hate the stupidity of individualistic arts. In your poems, your "I's" are not about you. It's about this grander, wider "I".
Ron: That's exactly right. And that's my intent.
Denis: But most people who write poems are just telling stories about themselves. What for?
Ron: Therefore it's narcissistic, egocentric
Denis: I don't care. They deserve a kick in the ass. You did this, you did that. Who cares? Everybody else did too.
Ron: Yeah, Amiri Baraka is putting that by a lot of his stuff too. "So what?" Even his own poems. He'll write a poem and then he'll say, "So what?" Who gives a shit? I'm not even sure I do. And yet he's one of the most passionate people you'll ever meet. And he does care. And so you're anti-copyright, you're anti-rock star, anti-personality, really.
Denis: Personality in art - I understand self-expression when it's expressing something grander than yourself. I just get really disgusted when I hear these personal stories. Everybody sees, everybody thinks, everybody feels, but why do I need to hear 85,000 different version of what they saw?
Jordan: What about the notion of casting spells? Of several people committing themselves to opening themselves up to a change in their basic state of being? How is that different from
Denis: I definitely believe in the magic of the word and I definitely believe in the magic of spells to transform reality, whether it's in words or chants, I definitely believe that spells can work subconsciously to transform things.
Jordan: Is it fair to say that Black Pig is working on a linguistic and rhythmic level to just create an interaction?
Denis: Oh totally, that's the only reason we've ever done anything: to create chants, music, to create a ritualistic atmosphere that would present words and that would transform consciousness. Even if it doesn't transform, to create this mix between people and us that would just change things even if it's just a ritualistic moment.
Ron: So it produces an energy which is itself a revolution, but a revolution in the sense of being a renaissance in that revolution, more often than not, implies violence, destroying what has been in order to create something new. It seems to me and this is the way I am, the way I act in the world, part of my purpose is to create a new energy that is more attractive than the old so that the revolution is that the appeal of this new energy is so strong, whether it's conscious or unconscious, that people will be attracted to it and they will leave the old and go to the new, so that the old will not be fed any longer, and it will die.
Denis: See, I actually don't care about that.
Ron: Okay. Don't give a shit about that.
Denis: I'm not trying to subvert people. Let people do what they want. I don't even think culturally you need to have this message to send. You just do word collage, something like "The Revolution of Everyday Life" or "I Will Not Bow Down". You spout your little crap, but you're just like a peon in
Ron: Yeah, go to New York City and look out of a hotel window
Denis: Your reality is dealing with your lover, your wife, whether you have a kid or not. You're just trying to do the best you can.
Ron: I like that.
Denis: But I also believe in mysticism and magic and spells and I also believe that words have the power to transform reality. Through words you can manipulate objects. Through words you can manipulate reality. Through words you can make different kinds of consciousness.
Jordan: Okay, another thing I wanted to ask you about is you have hip hop beats and then you have Arabic liturgical music, and then an alchemical chant, all these diverse cultural strains from all over the world. What effect do you think that has when it comes together and meshes?
Denis: Well, tonight it didn't come together, but normally if we had a good show Like everything is there to be used. I do think there's an aspect of respect involved, but I also think all sounds, all concepts can be thrown into the pot. It's an age that you can talk to anybody in the whole world. It's so different than 100 years ago. And I do with have problems with disrespect towards a religious attitude, like samples, stuff like that. Then again, it's just like what the fuck? I throw it all into the pot like a gigantic stew.
Rich: Because that's what our daily lives are full of anyway now, just this media overload, so I think any true art coming out of this time really needs to be this amalgam. That's what you get in concerts like this. You don't know what elements are gonna pop up. And they all should. That's the click click of daily life that we're all
Dennis: There's a teeny bit of guilt involved like in the use of Islamic music. But the world is just open right now.
Ron: The performance tonight I felt represented what you're talking about. It brought all these diverse elements together into the polyglot commingling of energies.
Jordan: Japanese poetry from the early 1900's
Ron: And it was beautiful, I mean, it was esthetically pleasing to me; it was attractive. I liked it a lot.
Rich: I think, along the same lines, I'll see a hardcore show here and it's like six or seven bands. Not that I don't like hardcore, but I don't want to see seven bands going "rawr rawr rawr!" all night long. I'll watch a hardcore band and then watch somebody do a poem, maybe a monologue and an acoustic set. That mixing up of things is really what all our brains can handle anymore. You can't stay focussed on one thing long enough to give it that kind of attention.
Ron: Okay, so Denis, where are you now? Where are you going?
Denis: I'd like to see the death of the image. I just really hate description. I could really just care less about somebody like - let's just say Ron Whitehead looks at something, sees something and he describes it for me, even though you're a pretty good describer. Okay, I'm there; I see it. I just don't get why you have to describe 8,000 times. And I also hate the idea of describing "it's all me, poor, poor me - this is what I see." It's boring. Nobody cares. I would like to see writing that transforms - into a form of chant, that takes you into a musical realm, writing that brings you out of the individual. You're out of yourself. It brings you (connection) with other things.
Ron: That's what I try to arrive at through my writing - is to create this energy, to become a pure channel of energy. And the energy is what connects. If you give a fuck about connecting. I do.
Denis: I do too.
Ron: I think you do as well. So would you say
Denis: But look at the difference (between) let's say like Yeats (writing) an "I" in a poem and one of the lesser Beatniks; it's just a little self-centered crackle. Whereas your poems - you're using different religions. It's totally different. It's like the "I" between Walt Whitman and someone talking about themselves. The "I" is a grander "I". That's the sense I get when I read your poems. Who is "I"? The rage that's flowing through my body?
Rich: (to Ron) Now, you often go into another persona too.
Ron: Mm hmm But I believe that I am, that each one of us are
Denis: A big piece of shit?
Ron: Yeah, we're a big piece of shit. We're also a big piece of this earth, of this spirit, of this earth. And so part of my goal and mission is to transcend boundaries, all the boundaries, to knock down all the fuckin' walls I can in my own life. By doing so, I connect, I believe, with the experience, with the lives, the energy of others. So Dennis, are you then, as a writer, expressing yourself? Are you more interested in theory, in philosophy.
Denis: Yeah, theory and philosophy. I'm not at all interested in expressing myself.
Terry: I don't think voice and "I" are similar. I think voice is probably, even with the ideas that you've expressed, something that resonates beyond even the text.
Denis: When I'm writing now, I'm just sampling. I'm into manipulation, playing around. Like if I had a computer program that would mix up words, I think that would be a riot. I think that's fun and different and interesting.
Ron: Let me ask you this: are you reading anything right now? Are you interested in any particular writers?
Denis: Kathy Acker . I've read her before and then ever since she died I'm on a big Kathy Acker kick.
Ron: And what about music? Is there a particular band, musician or group that you especially like?
Denis: I just got a couple discs by this group called Muslin Gauze (link?) that's great. I really like new Massive Attack .
Ron: Okay, and what's coming up for you?
Denis: We're doing the Alchemical Circus tour together.
Ron: The Alchemical Circus in September in Europe.
if we have any power at all it is in each other
This is the revolution of the event of Living Now
The tragedy of modern mainstream civilization
we must have faith that we are not stuck
every human being is an artist
the greatest enemy of individual freedom
there are things that can be known
make use of what you can
there are no beginnings or endings or climaxes
past and present in the poetic consciousness
root rot giggle done mound past in dark brown chamber earth
opening as beautiful as Mallarme's
we will live and create now
a generational mixing of ideas images distortions contours
show by example
cast knots in patterns on top of patterns
free yourself of hierarchization
develop action thought desires
dwell in paradox and mystery
mistrust all rigid categories and logical alternatives
destroy the repeated forms of expression immediately
destroy all forms of oppression
assemblage Denis Mahoney
originally published as #37 of the Published In Heaven Poster
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