Suing For Your Supper [Update]

Thanks very much to Burner ShaggyDog for this guest post about some of the legal issues surrounding the recent Quiznos parody.


The BMOrg has put out quite a bit of bluster regarding a certain ad for a sandwich company – one that pokes fun at Burning Man with a satirical caricature of some aspects of the culture (mainly the ones that have received the most attention lately – it comes not even close to capturing the full gamut of Burning Man). And though BMOrg’s intent may be to protect the culture from commodification, their PR department has come off looking pretty foolish for their efforts, with outlets such as the WSJ and the Young Turks satirizing the Borg’s response to this satire. Their response has also had the side effect of generating yet more free publicity for the very ad they were trying to squelch.
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Whether you love the ad or hate it (I thought it was on point and hilarious), it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t Commodification in some form. The more difficult question is what (if anything) should the BMOrg, and we burners more generally, do about it?
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BMOrg has opted for the route of legal sabre-rattling, but as Thomas Schelling taught us in his masterpiece ‘Strategy of Conflict’, for a threat to be effective, it must be a credible threat. How credible is the BMOrg’s implied threat within its Cease & Desist letter to Quiznos? Let’s take a look at what the law says.
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Intellectual “Property” – Trademarks and Copyrights
Intellectual property laws bestow certain rights on creators and persons to control how their creations may be used. In the USA, thanks to the American Enlightenment principles of the founding fathers, these rights are based in a utilitarian philosophy which recognizes the tradeoff between encouraging the creation of good works, and limiting freedom of expression. This is interesting, because we can recognize similar tradeoffs between conflicting (10) Principles – for example Radical Expression vs Civic Responsibility, or even vs Decommodification.
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IP protections includes copyright, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and a few other esoteric and less common constructs such as design patents and character rights. But the only protections relevant here are trademarks  and (maybe!) copyright.
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Copyright law exists to encourage the creation of art and culture, by granting their creator a limited monopoly to make and sell copies of their works, to create derivative works, and to perform or display their works publicly. The ‘limited’ part of the monopoly is important, and includes not only a time limit, but exceptions such as Fair Use.
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Trademark law, at least in theory, is primarily about preventing consumer confusion and protecting the consumer. It is helpful both to the business and to consumers to know that when they buy Spanky®’s meat tubes they are getting meat tubes that have in fact been produced by Spanky®, and not by an inferior competitor that may be using hazardous ingredients, or extruding them from a nearby communal Fleshlight.
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The Burning Man trademark
The BMOrg (or rather, the Orwellian-named Decommodification LLC) controls the trademark for “Burning Man”, allowing them to prevent others from attaching that name to their products and services to prevent confusion and protect their brand. But that isn’t a free rein to control any and every use of a trademark. Imagine if you had to seek permission every time you said to your friend “I’ve got an idea for an art project. Wanna go and photocopy our butts at the local Kinkos?”. Mayhem would ensue. It’s pretty hard to talk about visiting Kinkos without using the word Kinkos. And in fact this situation is covered under existing trademark case law – it is called “nominative fair use” and applies when you are using the trademarked name of a thing to refer to it accurately, there’s no other simple way to refer to it, and you do not imply any endorsement by the trademark owner. These all apply to the Quiznos ad, and so BMOrg’s trademark case is looking pretty anaemic.
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Add to that the fact that parody is typically afforded even more leeway in fair use rulings, and it’s clear the Borg’s case never really had legs. An instructive example is when Mattel sued MCA records, the label responsible for Aqua’s ‘Barbie® Girl’, over their use of the trademark. The case dragged on over 3+ years and several appeals, but Mattel lost every one of them. So the BMOrg were shooting blanks in their C&D, and one wonders what they hoped to achieve?
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The Embrace copyright
Matthew Schultz has also written some heartfelt posts about the exploitation of his work – the Embrace sculpture – in this ad. I really feel for Matthew, and Embrace was an incredible achievement, one that it is hard not to feel is cheapened by such a use. But the law is likely not on his side, and even less on that of the BMOrg. In fact, BMOrg don’t even have standing to sue over the inclusion of Embrace in the ad, because they don’t own the copyright – the Art Grant contract gives them only a perpetual unlimited license, which does not provide the right to sue.
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Matthew could assign them co-ownership so they could sue on his behalf, but that would not achieve much either, because the real problem here is that the use of the copyrighted Embrace design and image here is very likely protected by Fair Use.
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Copyright fair use is determined by a four factor test – Purpose and character of the use, Nature of copyrighted work, Amount and substantiality of portion taken, and Effect of use on potential market.
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Though the commercial nature of the work would go against a fair use finding on the “purpose and character of use” factor, the other three factors are pretty clearly in Quiznos’ favour.
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The use of the work was not only transformative, but parodical (and parody is seen as an exemplary fair use). The substantiality also favors fair use – it was shown incidentally in the background for a split second only. And the effect on the potential market is also in favor of fair use – as there is no secondary market for a work that you burn. It is a somewhat bitter irony that the Decommodification principle ensures that the market for the work was never really a motivation to begin with.
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So on both the trademark and copyright aspects, this is a very tough case for anyone wishing to sue Quiznos. So what should the BMOrg have done?
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The Streisand Effect and the Internet Outrage Machine
Perhaps confusingly, I think the answer is probably very little. The BMOrg doesn’t have the ammunition it needs to make credible threats to Quiznos. And on the internet things like threatening to sue (which is all a C&D letter really is) have a terrible habit of backfiring.
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Trying to bury something on the internet is basically impossible – as EFF founder and long-time burner John Gilmore said “The Net treats censorship as a defect and routes around it“. Without the ability to censor, pushing back on something has the opposite effect to that desired –  it draws more attention to it! This is the infamous Streisand Effect, named for the incident in which Barbara learnt this valuable lesson. With so many tech-savvy folk at the Burn and in burner circles, you would expect the Borg to know better.
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So the best course of action for the Borg was probably to ignore this and let it blow over. Maybe write a little blog on Voices of BM, but don’t go threatening anybody, play it down, and ignore these tacky fuckers commodifying our Burn. Expressing any kind of moral indignation is a lightning rod on the internet – outrage attracts eyeballs, and with them clicks and advertising dollars. So much for Decommodification.
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Community Solutions?
So what is left to us? We can’t rely on some omnimpotent (sic) authority figure to solve this problem for us. Is there anything we as a community can do?
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Sure. Don’t buy Quiznos. Don’t share the ad. That’s easy right there.
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More challenging and more risky would be to hijack their message, and make it work against them. There are some precedents to hijacking PR messages and turning them against their creators. Anonymous is a master of this sort of thing with its constant fuckery with online polls and the like. But even arguable failures like Fitch The Homeless are instructive here. The notion is to co-opt in turn those that are co-opting our culture, and do things they don’t like with their brand. On the FB Victor suggested re-purposing Quiznos subs as buttplugs – this is exactly the kind of message hijacking that might work.

victor facebook suggestion

This can easily backfire though, especially to the extent that this is a brand where “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is true (the Kardashians spring to mind).
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If we really are impotent to fight this sort of commodification, we might have to just be happy with building our own communities and living within them, and not paying too much attention to this sort of exploitation by external actors. Really that’s what we’re already doing.


Burners.Me:

Just to add further to ShaggyDog’s excellent commentary. There has been an attempt to “fuck with the fuckery” – replacing the audio in the Quiznos ad with “eat a shit sandwich”. This is a more “Burnery” approach, IMO.

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In the final Supreme Court ruling on the Mattel vs RCA Barbie Girl case, the judge ordered the parties “just to chill” . Mattel eventually chose to embrace the Aqua song, using the music in official Barbie TV advertising in 2009.

 

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Uproxx in an article titled Our Nonsense Is Serious! Burning Man May Sue Over Legitimately Funny Sandwich Ad compares the situation to the Book of Mormon. Rather than suing the South Park guys behind the spoof, the church embraced them – advertising in the musical’s playbook, and even sending busloads of churchgoers to Broadway to see the show (if you’re lucky enough to have seen it, you’ll know that it’s harder on the Africans than it is on the Mormons).

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Other Burners have raised the example of another recent parody “Burning Man – The Musical!”, which BMOrg seem to have allowed so far.

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This article at TechDirt Myth Busting – Yes, An Advertisement Can Be Fair Use Parody has some good information and further links.

 

A few choice comments from Reddit:

HotterRod:

The primary protection for trademarks is to prevent consumer confusion. No one is going to confuse a sandwich with an arts festival, so that’s obviously not in play here.

The secondary protection is dilution of the brand (in this case tarnishment: “association arising from the similarity between a mark or trade name and a famous mark that harms the reputation of the famous mark”), which is covered by the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006. Section 3.b & 3.c explicitly exempts news and noncommercial use from charges of dilution, so the rest of the act covers commercial use. The Act section 3.a.ii defines fair use as:

identifying and parodying, criticizing, or commenting upon the famous mark owner or the goods or services of the famous mark owner.

Personally I think Quiznos’ ad is obviously fair use and the Org’s purpose here is to scare off other people who might make parodies and don’t have a legal team to defend them. It’s sad that the legal system works that way. 🙁

Deckard256:

I think the bmorg is gonna have a hard time on this, and quite frankly I think it’s a bit hypocritical to piss on Quiznos over it. How many parodies of business has burning man hosted over the years? Wall Mart, Costco, Starbucks, jiffy lube, and Wall Street are just a few of the brands major theme camps have parodied. The org should lighten up a bit. If a samich shop can make everyone giggle like this, then maybe they’re saying something about the event that everyone else seems to be clued into. 

Larry Harvey: (not on Reddit) 

“Gift giving networks can produce massive amounts of social capital, and the rate of return on social capital is a lot better than the rate of return on normal capital investment in the market world”

ABurnGuy:

They took that social capital right to the bank!

And now with the hordes, sufficiently convinced by what they read in the brochure about ‘decommodification’, bring the pitchforks out whenever it isn’t Blessed By Larry. Of course they don’t seem to care about it if Larry Likes It.

A dumb internet video? We need the lawyers, they’re profiting off of our brand!

People running for-profit camps at Burning Man itself, directly profiting off of the brand and experience? Oh, just have some token effort to pretend you’re a “theme camp,” it’s okay, commodification is a spectrum!

(Spark BluRays on sale near the door. Make sure the last one to leave turns out the light.)


Now that BMOrg have come out and said “People at our office thought the video was clever and funny” and “we are not threatening to sue Quiznos”, I wonder if the Burnier-Than-Thous will change their tune also? Burning Man was never supposed to be serious.


 

[Update 9/17/15 7:34am PST]

The Voices of Burning Man have finally spoken. It seems they have a brilliant sense of humor, and really enjoyed this funny joke. It’s just, they have to stick up for the poor artists who got no compensation for someone else making money from their work.

As creative and funny as it was (we had a good laugh, we’ll admit), clever unfortunately doesn’t trump our commitment to protecting our community from commercial exploitation. We’ve been fielding anguished calls and emails from participants and horrified artists whose creations were used in the video without permission, a number of whom who have issued take-down requests of their own accord. We can laugh at ourselves. But we’re not laughing when a corporation exploits the artwork of others under the guise of poking fun at our event.

Brings to mind Green Tortoise, the exception that proves the rule of how they protect our community from any commercial exploitation.

Halcyon aka Pink Jesus has weighed in on QuiznoGate (I was calling it SandwichGate to avoid promoting the brand). Facebook users can follow his new “happy happy joy joy” page Pink Hearted at Burning Man and Beyond. Even BM’s biggest fan is outgrowing the NV Burn…

 

Video

Mad Max: Road to Burning Man

First we had Game of Thrones opening their fifth season with an episode named “Burning Man”. Now this…

I can’t wait for the new Mad Max movie, which critics have said is like Burning Man gone wrong.

[Update 4/14/15 5:38pm]

The name of the Game of Thrones episode was “The Wars to Come”. The misinformation came from Forbes, usually a fairly trustworthy source.

Bleed Pretty For Me: Al Ridenour and the Art of Bleeding

by Whatsblem the Pro

Al Ridenour resting comfortably -- Photo: Art of Bleeding

Al Ridenour resting comfortably — Photo: Art of Bleeding

As our regular readers will recall, Whatsblem the Pro attended the shenanigans at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, where Chicken John Rinaldi’s Institute of Possibility staged an unauthorized guerrilla book signing to celebrate the release of TALES OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CACOPHONY SOCIETY.

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THE ART OF BLEEDING is Al Ridenour’s brainchild, a dark and surreal parody of elementary school health and safety assemblies. The troupe’s videos and live shows blend a profound sense of innocence with a grimy, paranoiac’s awareness of the Great Darkness of existence, drizzle it with burlesque, and wrap it all up in pubescent body shame and the aesthetics of a medical appliance fetishist. Featuring characters like Abram the Safety Ape, RT the Robot Teacher, a bevy of tantalizing nurses who will apparently do ANYTHING for art’s sake, and sometimes Kim Fowley, the Art of Bleeding puts on jaw-droppingly original shows that often test one’s fortitude even as they entertain and enlighten.

Ridenour is notorious as an old-school member and sometimes leader of the Cacophony Society who, for a time, successfully transplanted the beating heart of that august body into the shambling corpse we call Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of speaking with him backstage at the Castro Theater on May 31st, 2013.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Who are you people, what the hell do you think you’re doing, and for God’s sake, why?

AL RIDENOUR: After the LA Cacophony Society burned down in the early 2000s, there were a number of us wandering in a daze, picking at scabs, squinting at reflective surfaces, or straining to make out messages broadcast from our dental fillings. There was much confusion. The desires were still there; we merely lost the structure for effectively processing said impulses. One of the few Cacophony events that survived outside that old, ambitious regimen of two to five monthly events, regular newsletters, planning meetings, and all that, was the Museum of Mental Decay. This was our semi-beloved/feared version of a Halloween haunted house, or as we liked to call it, “a walking tour of a diseased soul.” It was a grotesque living tableau ranging from derelicts gathered around a dumpster trying to sell passersby buckets full of human hair, a Catholic abortion clinic, a clown version of Abu Ghraib, and the like. In particular this was an event that showcased LA Cacophony’s love of horrifying theatrical spectacle. Some serious stagecraft and marvelous performances actually went into this event, and I mention it here because I feel like Cacophony’s vitality in LA was largely due to the city being a magnet for people with creative aspirations. Once those dreams were crushed by the film industry or associated fields of commercialized ‘creativity,’ Cacophony offered an outlet both for their creativity and their newfound misanthropy. Most of the members of the Art of Bleeding were involved with the Cacophony Society, and the Art of Bleeding is sort of a year-round Halloween show, with theatrical manner of presentation and preoccupation with grisly medical scenarios or repellent psychological realities.

It started with an ambulance -- Photo: AoB

It started with an ambulance — Photo: AoB

The exact form that the Art of Bleeding took was largely dictated by my hunt for a truck. In searching the Recycler for used trucks, I stumbled upon an ambulance, and pretty soon my more utilitarian notions of having a pickup that could transport lumber and thrift store furniture began to drift toward art cars. The ambulance I found seemed particularly suited for an interesting interior display with all those compartments that seemed perfect for miniature dioramas. I began imagining a sort of mobile “museum.” By the time I was recording audio tracks for the individual dioramas and designing a costume look for the museum guide, I realized my ambitions were spilling beyond anything that could be contained inside the vehicle. It just grew and grew in fitful bloody spurts, and once my wife gave me a gorilla suit as a birthday present, the idea of a gorilla as a sort of educational kiddy show host for a kid’s show dealing in distasteful subjects just captivated me.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: When you strip away all the trappings of elementary school health and safety assemblies, what are the real lessons that Art of Bleeding might impart to us?

AL RIDENOUR: Actually, if I would ascribe any seriously satiric intent to the whole mess, the target would in fact, have to do with education. Nothing to do with safety, really, but with socialization, and the notion of inculcating values and such. Even before this thing had taken a solid or at least semi-solid gelatinous current form, I spent quite a while agonizing over the name. There is a subtle (and admittedly failed) joke there, in that bleeding – being a completely autonomous bodily function – can hardly be an art. There is no artifice, craft, or purpose involved when you cut your arm and it begins spurting. So there was a joke there about the absurdity of imposing or pretending there is purpose and intent where there really is none. That’s all very abstract, but if I think back to when I was a kid in school, there are particular experiences that might make it more tangible.

I grew up in the 1970s, when our culture at large was coming to terms with issues of cultural pluralism and philosophical relativism. Maybe our educators were particularly awkward at this cultural stage in conveying these ideas, but I remember sitting in classes where the topic might be “values clarification.” Though it was presented in gentlest and utterly pedantic manner, this relativism was really the sort of gentle grade-school trickle-down version of the screaming meaningless void that existential philosophers had confronted decades before. How could a teacher, an authority figure positioned by centuries of tradition in a classroom, an educational system, and a nested series of sociological and culture structures presume to tell me that my ethical choices are as utterly subjective as my choice of a favorite color? If we are all just merely choosing arbitrary colors, why are we not just having art time instead of sociology? Why can’t we just be painting with our favorite colors? Or why can’t we just paint the room in the teacher’s blood?

So much more than just T&A -- PHOTO: AoB

So much more than just T&A — PHOTO: AoB

To me the dishonest and oxymoronic “everyone is special” philosophy behind a show like Sesame Street is much more sinisterly insidious than anything produced in the 1950s. There is such a profound laziness in that sort of thought, and it’s particularly well exemplified by the daffy mix-and-match laziness of New Age thought. So, the Art of Bleeding is probably more of a parody of that than anything else. The principle of “True Safety Consciousness” at the core of the Art of Bleeding mindfuck is not about a cautious distinction between ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe,’ but more of a New Age epiphany and experience of the boundlessness of The One.

Anyway, It’s not apparent to everyone, at first, but there was a taste of it in the show at the Castro with the robot’s psychobabble about the disfigured Dr. Sunshine representing the female counterpart to the robot’s masculine presence as part of “psychic unity.” There’s always that sort of nonsense in our shows, and of course there’s generally a 1970s feel to the old educational films I tend to remix for the shows. So, the idea of overlaying an ineffable experience with bunch of pedantic, faux-philosophical chatter is, in that way, like presenting the raw experience of bleeding as an artistic and thoughtful craft.

But that’s all a bit heavy, so I added the nurse T&A. That’s what most people remember anyway.

For those who like their satire more old-fashioned, I’ve also gone after more antiquated value systems with stuff like my coloring book, Crayons for Jesus, and countless churchy Cacophony events associated with my nom de guerre, “Reverend Al.”

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: You’re already in Los Angeles. Why don’t you have a show on Adult Swim or something? Is Hollywood too stupid and slow to pay heed to the Art of Bleeding, or is the Art of Bleeding too canny and agile to be co-opted and cheapened by the meddling ministrations of entertainment industry fools? What does the future hold for the Art of Bleeding?

The Miracle of Birth -- PHOTO: AoB

The Miracle of Birth — PHOTO: AoB

AL RIDENOUR: I have not pursued that, namely because I am very bad at marketing. I would so much rather be making the shows than shopping them around. I’d even rather be making shows than presenting them, and for that reason there are even a few Art of Bleeding shows that have only been presented one or two times. But I’ve always been a fan of what’s presented on Adult Swim, and in particular, I’m a huge admirer of Tim and Eric. They also presented a brief run of a British show called Look Around You, which was much less franticly amusing than Tim and Eric, but brilliant, and eerily close in subject matter to what we do, i.e., a direct parody of educational films of the 1970s and early ‘80s. While we’re at it, a tip of the hat to Wonder Showzen, a PBS kid’s show parody that went to vicious extremes in its satire. Both Wonder Showzen and Look Around You I only discovered once I was well underway with the Art of Bleeding.

Lately, I’ve been moving the Art of Bleeding more toward video production than live shows, not that I ever want to give up the live shows, but it’s so nice to shoot video with the ability to get things exactly the way you want them. I worked ten years in computer animation, and have found myself finally able to go back and enjoy this kind of work again, now that I’m not getting paid. I guess I’ve just never associated making money with doing what you love. That may be a problem too.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: How did you first get involved with Cacophony? What are your fondest memories of participating in the Society and other, similar groups? What does Cacophony mean to you?

Abram: Safety Ape -- PHOTO: AoB

Abram: Safety Ape — PHOTO: AoB

AL RIDENOUR: It’s nice to say that it began with a prank. . . on me. It’s not entirely true, but true enough in a pretty, poetic way. Basically, the Cacophony Society has always been pretty wily in defining itself. It’s kind of an absurd concept to begin with – an insider’s club for self-identified outsiders – and then there’s that paradoxical slogan, “you may already be a member.” So, I suppose I was a member all my life, but became more aware of it back in 1990 when I began seeing these flyers around town announcing that the Cacophony Society “is everywhere.” They’d been distributed by the always enigmatic M2 (one of his more permanent Cacophony aliases, though to the Burners, he would be better known as Danger Ranger). M2 was down from SF working temporarily on some consulting job (for the LA Department of Transportation or something like that) and was eager to sow the seeds of Cacophony down here after having made a “Zone Trip” or two down here with his Society comrades. A “Zone Trip” was what they called Cacophony outings up there when they involved some sort of geographic travel, as with the infamous Zone Trip #4 to the Black Rock Desert. There will always be some confusion with Hakim Bey’s concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone because both notions arose at about the same time and both involve experience of a highly subjective alternate reality, or one of one’s own choosing.

In any case, M2’s flyers announced some semi-fictitious events, which I never attended, and I suppose it’s this sort of shifting sand involved in our foundational myth, but I never attended these. Eventually I managed to contact M2 through the post office box listed on the flyer, and we planned our first collaborative event, an infiltration of the UFO Expo West, where we posed as representatives of “the Brotherhood of Magnetic Light.” It was for that event I chose my alias of “Reverend Al,” as it fell to me to preside as spiritual Poobah over a ritual cleansing of the “saucer landing site” advertised in the literature we distributed. M2 attended to constructing the mylar/candles/dry-cleaning bag construction that served as a saucer. I screamed and ranted to confused onlookers about the coming New Age, and vodka and fireworks were involved.

Bubbles La Blanche -- PHOTO: Al Ridenour

Bubbles La Blanche — PHOTO: Al Ridenour

Many of my favorite Cacophony memories are a bit smudgy with booze and smoke and the glare of fireworks. It would be hard to recall as well as pick a favorite, but I do have exceedingly fond memories of a particular moment at a particular event involving the disinterment and planned resurrection of a mummified dead stripper, Bubbles La Blanche, buried in my backyard. The mummy I had so carefully constructed is still proudly displayed in my home, near a prize black velvet painting I discovered on a trip to Ensenada. The painting I had purchased years before the event, and it had always been one of my most cherished oddities as it featured a skull-faced Mona Lisa holding a skeletal fetus. It was not the work of some ironic hipster in LA, but an even more mysterious black velvet surrealist of Ensenada. No one who saw it failed to be impressed. . . but the night we dug up Bubbles La Blanche, the picture got knocked from the wall and the velvet was torn. It was at the end of the evening, and the Cramps were blasting on my stereo, and people dancing on Bubbles’ coffin had knocked the painting from the wall. The coffin had also been damaged, and dragged inside by partygoers not aware of or indifferent to the crickets that I had hidden in the coffin before burying it hours before the party. The crickets were everywhere, the coffin was damaged, and my favorite piece of art torn. But I remember laughing that night, and it still gives me pleasure to see that tear in the velvet. Things break, and it was not only fine, but amusing.

Now Cacophony is eager to preserve what it can of its legacy with the museum show, the documentary, and the new book, and I understand that side of the life cycle too, but it was nice back when we were all wild tadpoles.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: What did you think of the show at the Castro Theater last weekend?

AL RIDENOUR: It was really a dream show for us. To be surrounded by all that talent, and people I’d admired for years. I was such a huge fan of the Church of the SubGenius and vividly recall shuddering with baffled delight as I flicked the pages of that first book back in 1983. Having our videos on the giant screen was particularly satisfying. But I’m also aware of the friction involved with the authors not being involved. I was housemates with Chicken (John Rinaldi) during his L.A. years when he discovered Cacophony, and from years of experience with him, know that he is perfectly happy to cause friction and make enemies. But he’s also changed a lot too, and probably for the better if you believe in all that good/bad stuff. Other than that, I really don’t want to comment other than to note the obvious and amusing absurdity of an un-author-ized publication party. If only the squabbles themselves were more of an actual prank!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Do you have any plans or any desire to bring Art of Bleeding to Burning Man this year?

RT, the Robot Teacher -- PHOTO: AoB

RT, the Robot Teacher — PHOTO: AoB

AL RIDENOUR: I feel that it’s not monumental enough to be noticed. Don’t you have to do a little more to engage folks up there nowadays? Encase an ocean liner in an iceberg and surround it with a steam-powered army of dancing giraffes, stuff like that?

I enjoyed doing the installations we did with Cacophony back in the smaller days but Art of Bleeding is already of a smaller scale than stuff I did back in 1999. But I’m grateful for the vibrant subculture Burning Man has fostered and happy we can reach those people through online videos and the occasional live show.

Particularly as the Art of Bleeding has moved more toward video, and especially as I spend more hours in isolation with complicated post and animation, I do miss interacting with crowds of weirdos, whether Cacophonistas or Burners (if such distinctions must be made).

My latest project, however, is bringing me back to the “festival arts” of celebrations like Burning Man as well as the guerilla street theater of Cacophony. It’s all about Krampus, a series of Krampus-themed events for December 2013 including an art show, shows with themed performances (hopefully including a Krampus Mass in an old church) and also public Krampus Runs. My wife and I had just visited Austria and Germany, in part to attend Krampus runs there, and when I returned, I learned that old Cacophony comrades-at-arms were interested in staging the same for LA, so we’re all working on suits and carving masks these days. I think it’ll be a big thing. Hopefully big enough to at least justify the mess I’ve made of my house with goat hair and bits of horn everywhere.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Can hot nurses and other people get involved with the Art of Bleeding?

AL RIDENOUR: Yes, and yes! Info@artofbleeding.com always works. There’s also info@krampuslosangeles.com if you’re more into fur and horns. . . and you can connect with us on Facebook via the Art of Bleeding page, or through the Krampus Los Angeles page.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Thanks, Al. Break a leg!