A few weeks ago, our friend Mike Collins committed suicide at his home in New Orleans. I feel I've disrespected Mike a bit by not mentioning it until it was convenient, but better late than never.
I can't say Mike was a close friend -- I don't know what his middle name was and we didn't hang out every time he was in town. But in 2001, he was one of the first friends I made when I began my life in Columbia. We called him Bike Mike, because his name was Mike and he rode a bike, for which he had very strong feelings. The feelings of friendship that I had for him sprang less from familiarity than respect. Mike was one of those guys who seemed to have life fairly figured out. He saved his negativity for causes that couldactually be impacted by it, and he had an innate sense of physical comedy. Mike just always seemed like he had carved himself a purpose, and it was to enjoy life and to help other people, near and far, be free to enjoy theirs.
I feel safe in saying that Earth's people will feel Mike's absence for the next 50 years. He was an individual who inspired me and others to step up to the responsibility of being a citizen of the world, without being a dick about it. I don't know why he did what he did. I can't say I don't understand it. But that doesn't make it any less of a huge fucking loss.
Leo tells me that Mike didn't like having his picture taken, as evidenced by his Myspace page which is modeled after a Trailer Park Boys character. Back in summer 2002, when I was doing my very first big installation/performance, I had the good fortune to count Mike among the ranks of my ready 'n willing friends. The performance was titled "In Memoriam: the Works and Life of Channing Kennedy", and was an absurdist comedy wake for myself (I'm not reading too much into that). Mike's role was as the MC who started to tell stories about me but which all ended up being about himself and how great he was. At the end, when the players and audience members were hawking prints of my works to each other, Mike would have autographed 8"x10"s of himself in provocative poses.
Well, the self-centered MC bit didn't entirely manifest in the improv, though what did happen was just as good. And the glossies bit didn't manifest at all, as evidenced by the fact that I found the undeveloped unidentifiable roll of film in my desk a couple of months ago and was astonished when they came back. Jacqui Ruoff, who took the photos, must have known how to work her model.
Here's the video of the performance, in two parts. After Mike's MC bit, he reappears as one of the moon-dwelling veal calves, and makes up a story for the Prozac collage.
So what am I doing to honor Mike's memory? What should any of us do? Well, I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm living my life in a way I feel is just and which brings joy and thoughtfulness to the world. I'm composting. I'm trying my best not to be a sheep or a dumbass. Speaking for the Mike that I knew, which is all I can do: the things he asked of people weren't unreasonable. And that's it. So do it.
If anyone else has less greeting-cardy thoughts about Mike, please share.
Cat Jams would like to thank the following for their help with our June 25th show, dANCxpERIENz: Gregg and Kyle (aka Dude, Magnus would hate you vs. Gungan2Gungan) for their wonderful cuntry 'de'-myxs and cool backing video; Gregg for an inspiring performance as Entei; Channing and other person for videotaping; Toog for creating the entertaining video; the Boeckmanns and Dynamites and Millers for letting their children perform; Marcus for performing with me; Bob for playing along with my outrageous ideas; Luke, Duncan and Channing for participating in the Jordan Knight dance competition; Luke for being host of the Gong Show/hitting me after I threw his gong; Bob for drumming; Bob's mom for bringing drums; my parents for bringing my keyboard; Stephen for the mesmerizing video performance; Channing for spending hours and hours editing/creating said video and also for his amazing MC Cat Genius performance; audience for coming; Channing for spending at least $250 (that he knows he probably won't get back) on the releases; Ragtag for so generously letting us perform in your theater; Ragtag staff for staying/helping; the entire comomusic.com community for caring; Pete Bland for your blog mention; myself for writing the press release; everybody who designed a poster; Channing for putting up posters; me for putting up one poster.
I definitely won't get the $250 back. Also, it should be pointed out that Chris is being sarcastic about comomusic.com (the local music website community notorious for its consistent failure to be aware of anything arty) and also Pete Bland (the local music columnist who didn't get time to squeeze in a mention of our event -- give him a break, Chris, we got him the press release like an hour before printing/blogging).
I'm getting Luke to write a comprehensive show review. Whatever he doesn't mention that I feel he should, I'll add in upon receipt.
One thing I can tell you, though: the day of the show, I got mad and decided it would be a good idea to kick a (non-empty) box. Genius that I am, I carried this plan out while wearing my Crocs (basically foam rubber shoes if you don't know). Unlike regular shoes, which protect the foot, the Crocs amplified the impact tenfold. So no my right big toe is a lovely shade of plum, and has been so since Sunday. Well at least it matches my eyeshadow.
Hello Columbia honchos, I'm writing you to let you know of an upcoming Cat Jams release show/dance party at Ragtag Cinema. Starting at 8:45 sharp on Sunday, June 25, we'll be throwing Cat Jams dANCxpERIENz, a celebration of three new releases and a few re-releases. Attendees should bring dancing shoes and be prepared to cut it up. The cost? Sliding scale: $1-$5
Playing at the show will be:
- Dude, Magnus would hate you vs. Gungan2Gungan (noise remixes of early '90s country music jams)
- Entei (Radish Wizard follows up his all-MIDI debut with this airy blackmetal sludge slab)
- Bob Dynamite vs. Tape Store (Tape Store's 'indescribable crap' music meets its match with Bob Dynamite's gorgeous Casio compositions)
- OBELISK & MC Cat Genius (two rappers of different species join together to ignite a show-closing dance fever more passionate than the new Dixie Chicks single. Since OBELISK will be out of town touring with his side project Umbros, he'll be rapping via satellite on the Ragtag screen.)
The Tape Store / Bob Dynamite set will be introduced a special video message from Toog, a French musician with albums on Le Grand Magistery and Karaoke Kalk. Toog worked with Italian film royalty Asia Argento on his album Lou Etendue.
about the three new releases:
JAM-033, Entei (self-titled) -Craving some blackmetal that tastes like burnt waffles? Then get your hands on this debut from Entei aka Gregg Lewis aka midi-artist Radish Wizard aka remixer Gungan2Gungan. Think Burzum, but without any bandmates to murder. Fresh from the toaster, this release is packaged in silkscreened felt cases that double as wall scrolls. Pick one up, and before you know it, you'll be shouting 'L'eggo my Eggo!' at the top of your lungs, really slowly, while laying on your bedroom floor with your eyes wide open.
JAM-034, Dude, Magnus would hate you vs. Gungan2Gungan - Cuntrymyxys -DMWHY is Kyle Tolson, a co-worker and friend of Gungan2Gungan (Gregg/Entei). Together, these two taco-loving noise chefs conjure up some odd, loud remixes of country tunes; no friend, we're not talking about some lame-ass Loretta Lynn songs. We're talking about those rocking country jams that you'd hear in a mid-Missouri mall parking lot circa 1992 (i.e. "Baby Likes To Rock It"; "Hillbilly Rock"). Y'all excited? This release is going to be laminated onto unfolded tape liner; bring your own case. YeeeehRAWRRR!
JAM-035, Bob Dynamite vs. Tape Store - Polyvinyl Chloride - So picture this, bad analogy lovers: two teenage aliens from different planets are flying on spaceships when all of a sudden, they crash. The two swap insurance cards and create an album together while their ships are in the repair shop. This album, "Polvinyl Chloride," is what that album would probably sound like. On this 80-minute 99-track single audio CD, 49 of the tracks are original Casio compositions by 14-year-old 'postgender' graphic artist Bob Dynamite, and 49 tracks are remixes of said compositions by 16-year-old 'postcool' tape screwer-upper Tape Store (Chris Boeckmann), using various tools that were at his disposal (i.e. pianos, tape players and D4L). The last song on the album is a remix from a wonderful L.A. outfit called the Mae Shi. This release will be packaged with a folded-up note handwritten/stolen by either Bob orTape Store (they're all different). Named after the chemical that raver pants are made of, "Polyvinyl Chloride" is a Cat Jams 2K6.5 release in the truest sense.
about the re-releases:
OBELISK - Now I OBELIXTape my nuts to ev'ry ho - Some homeless man stole almost every copy of this mixtape out of Channing's bag when he played a show at Lumpen's Version06 Festival in Chicago... While some would report this crime to the police, Channing looked at the bright side of things; there's no doubt that now OBELISK's hot rhymes and beats are the talk of Chicago's bums. Each CD comes in a sewn-shut pillow stuffed with a surprise substance.
Tape Store VCD is a video cd of Tape Store's various video projects (i.e. rejected True/False film entries, astonishingly fake documentaries and other inspired weirdo films) and live shows (including his brilliant last place performance at the Jefferson Junior High School Battle of the Bands).
Neighborhood Cats - These free samplers consist of unreleased tracks by Cat Jams artists and friends, ranging from Soccerboy's fast and fun remixes to a beautiful Hiroaki Koshiba ballad.
As with all Cat Jams releases, these will be available for free download on http://archive.org/details/catjams sometime after the show, along with album art and background stories.
Cat Jams: here Cat Jams MySpace: here Dude, Magnus Would Hate You vs. Gungan2Gungan MySpace: here Bob Dynamite vs. Tape Store MySpace: here The Mae Shi: here Toog's Blog: there Ragtag: here
There's lots and lots more videos on the Cat Jams YouTube page that I've uploaded in the last coupla days. You need to go look at them!
As stated in the RagTag calendar, there is a Cat Jams show on Sunday the 25th of June at Ragtag. It will feature acts such as
Gungan2Gungan / Dude, Magnus Would Hate You (noise remixes of country songs) Entei (solo blackmetal from the Wizard of Radishes) Bob Dynamite vs. Tape Store (15-year-old Casio/tape battle) OBELISK & MC Cat Genius (cures for many diseases)
There will also be at least three new Cat Jams releases on hand, and maybe some reissues too. You should come!