Obtainium — the world’s most precious element. That which others throw away.
Remember the TV show Family Ties? It was an ’80s series about a left-wing family with a right-wing son named Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox. His sister Mallory on the show always dated Nick, an attractive jumpsuit-welder-artist-environmentalist guy who made art out of junk. That was the punch line. “So, Nick, what do you do?” … “I make art out of junk.” ::canned laughter::
“What’s so funny about that?”, we always thought, even at a tender TV-watching age. Nick seemed like not only the most appealing person on the show, but on television in general.
This must be what imprinted us on the prototype — this and weekly trips to the junkyard with our super-handy Grandaddy — because for a decade and a half now, life has been full to bursting with Nicks.
We figured it out as a tot: Nick probably didn’t watch TV, and had a better time. Here’s some photos of what we did this summer, clowngineering-wise.
The Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse had the distinct honor of assisting Wavy Gravy for the 2013 Saint Stupid’s Day Parade in San Francisco. Wavy has to be helped into and out of chairs because he was beaten up by the cops so severely in the ’60s, they broke most every bone in his body, more than once. Talk about a SOLDIER, fighting for Americans’ rights against the encroaching police state. Please watch his documentary “Saint Misbehavin’” and give cash to his charity SEVA. He is a saint, a trickster, a smoother-over and a High Holy Fool. He’s even sitting in Gary Warne‘s chair.
The King of Clowns, escorted by the Holy Trio of the Dogminican Order, oversees the silliness he hath wrought in part. We kept jumping off the parade float to take pictures for him on the smartphone so he could see the action at the Stations of Stupid.
Next, it was the ‘Tales of the SF Cacophony Society’ book opening party at City Lights Bookstore. The Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse was there with a homemade poli-tickle sign, and other protestors had similar ideas. Photo: Rusty Blazenhoff
Fake-calmly reading one of our pieces from the book, freaking out that our first book reading ever is in the same room where Ginsberg and Kerouac and Diane diPrima and other giants of literature hung out. City Lights Bookstore – home of the beatniks, and, as we found out that night, managed for decades by a Cacophony member.
The first book autograph we ever signed, Momma. uhh didn’t know what to say.
Photo: Eddie Codel. The Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse trolled the Castro, America’s most famous gay neighborhood, with the same sign. If we had to guess by the number of photographs taken by laughing Castro residents, this sign ended up on Facebook manymany times the next day. Truly, for every prank or irritaining stunt, the reward is that moment of Cacophony when the faces of passersby morph from palpable confusion and/or indignation into glee … or at least a more pronounced palpable confusion.
We took horrible photos at Agents of Chaos, but here’s one of noted author Brian Doherty speaking about how Cacophony is good for America. Did you know? 48% of tourism in American cities has now shifted to secret underground exploration. Also they are 33% more drunk. Because of the Cacophony Society. We heard it from a patriot. Santa suit industry? Saved by Santarchy, America.
Cyclecide Bike Rodeo brought some of our pedal-powered carnival rides and freakbikes to the Maker Faire in San Mateo, once again, just like all the other interlocking friendgroups of ours who make weird stuff out of obtainium in the “Greatest Show and Tell On Earth.” New Cyclecide banner: 10hrs work; free material. Good thing we took this one photo of the new banner because it’s already missing, somewhere in the bus or clubhouse. Or stolen. Always with the.
That Cacophony moment when even adults turn back into kids, and remember to be free in all they do … Free to hurt themselves while thrilling themselves on Cyclecide frankenbikes. Rider assumes all risk, always.
See Momma, we really do have friends who make huge hydraulic robots out of discarded industrial parts. And mostly they crush things, explode, or set other things on fire. For the lulz. Makers and volunteers took turns obliterating hunks of metal with this giant articulated hand, made by Justin Grey. LULZ, we tell you.
Speaking of crushing things, the Lifesize Mousetrap’s two-ton safe whomped the above vehicle for cheering throngs at Maker Faire all weekend. We sold T-shirts in the merch shack while clowngineers wrenched on the Rube Goldbergian sculpture with dancing mice. Esmerelda Strange’s “The Machine Is Broken” song from the Mousetrap soundtrack is still stuck in our heads.
Dana Albany and Flash Hopkins’ new spaceship landed at Maker Faire at night, and required a few adjustments before children swarmed it the next day. Luckily Bill the Junkman was there to help load, because the thing weighed a ton. Uh we mean it was weightless, because it was a spaceship. It’s going to be at Burning Man, too, where we’re already setting up the city.
The other new Cyclecide banner we made with obtainium debuted at the Lagunitas Beer Circus in Petaluma. Cyclecide brought the Cyclofuge, Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Kiddie Carousel, and the Dizzy Toy. Which is all great for drunk people. Adults love a good pukey spinning ride or four. Vau de Vire’s circus performed and Angelo from Fishbone starred with Gooferman in a real-live big-band punk-rock circus extravaganza. Also: Contortionists and beer.
Cyclecide’s Ferris Wheel and Cyclofuge pose proudly in front of a whole, whole bunch of beer.
Since it always takes Cyclecide so long to load out anyway, why not sit on top of the Cyclofuge for a minute and get a better view. Note: Patrons cannot do this — only the clowns and carnies who carry the poles to and fro, and wrench the thing apart and together. It’s actually calibrated and stuff. Safety third.
Later on into the summer, at Lake Lodoga in central northern California, we debuted the remix of our ‘bohemian tent’ at Camp Tipsy 2013. Last year was our first; this year topped it. Making boats out of junk and helping / watching people nail, tie, and screw stupid items together to see if they’ll float? Sold.
It was all well and good at Camp Tipsy until we got chased by a horrible, scowling monster. Even this puppet was running from Chicken John. Just kiddin’ Chicken; thanks for heading up this watery good-clean-funtime.
… and we know summer’s almost over when we land here in Gerlach, Nevada, on our way to the Black Rock Desert to help set up and tear down Burning Man for the mmmm-teenth year. It’s already rained like a mug, a couple times — stranding the workers, who had to shelter in place and repair blown-down structures. There have been three separate weather incidents at least. If you’re going to Burning Man this year, remember that flash flooding is real, and if not likely, possible.
Photo by Michele Ravera of organized4good.com. Burning Man DPW setup 2013, after a squall blew through the playa this week. Cacophony pro tip: Life is most exhilarating when lived on the edge of your comfort zone.
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