The Coincidental Hour

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Tomorrow I’m heading up to Providence, RI to start installing “Chairs; Drawings and Posters by Carl Dunn”. The opening is Dec 6 at 95 Empire, and it will run through Dec 27.
Carl recently made the beautiful clock logo for the Coincidental Hour as well as the other amazing poster posted here. I’m thrilled to be working with Carl, as his style immediately resonated with me, especially in relation to the Coincidental Hour. Chaotic, but detailed; Crazy, but grounded in it’s own subjective sanity; showy and eerie.  

 2608364063_701f0173fe_ocoincidental hour webch baltimore
More info:
Carl Dunn christens 95 Empire’s new space, The Psychic Annex, a gallery space connected to Psychic Readings, with a new collection of illustrations. The exhibit will combine a collection of show illustrated by Dunn, as well as a number of recent pieces from his ongoing exploration of the surreal and living contours of cushioned one-person living room furniture!
From the artist:
“Because of their unique relationship with human physiology, chairs are ideal receptacles for untethered souls.”Carl Dunn is an illustrator from Providence, RI. His work has been published in various magazines such as Rolling Stone, The Progressive, and The New Yorker.

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participation through play

Home after 10 days on the road with The Coincidental Hour. Feels good to just chill out with some internet, neosporin and Ben Gay. But tomorrow I’ll probably already start to lust for that adrenaline fix that these past few days relentlessly offered.
I could do this until I die, which wouldn’t take long.


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Fear the theatre

Hello from tour. Stuck in Detroit. Our Buffalo show postponed until tomorrow (hopefully) because Buffalo was just destroyed by snow.
Detroit show was ok. People seemed scared. One person afterwards said he had nightmares about me after seeing us last year! I sat down next to one audience member during the show last night and whispered to him that the only scary thing happening was theatre. And I believe that. The most inherently frightening thing that happens in The Coincidental Hour is the dancing, the looking directly at the audience, the makeup and the blatant theatricality.
Theatricality is frightening.
I believe audiences would prefer the “safety” of an acoustically violent metal or noise show or a raucous punk show to the mysterious internal squirming provoked by a man feverishly dancing with a rose in his mouth right in front of their face. You can be as vicious as you want behind that fourth wall, but the real devil is in the detail of the eyeliner.

ch butt

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If there were such a things as good and bad, this would be good. And bad.

Today Lucas, Alaina and I leave for tour. The Coincidental Hour and Ogg Myst.
I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve decided that people should see our show. Not enough people do. It makes me sad! It’s like we throw an Artaud-themed birthday party for the human spirit every night, and it’s heartbreaking when only a few people except the open invitation. It’s time I felt okay with being clear that I think the Coincidental Hour is good for you. Sometimes it’s bad for you just so it can be good for you!
Here are some chances to see the thing as well as some great video collages by Miles Pflanz:

11/13 – Philly — AUX Performance Space (W Cellular Chaos and Hunnie Bunnies)
11/14 – Baltimore — Red Room (W Lexie Mountain)
11/15 – Pittsburgh — At Chris St Chris St. Pierre’s place
11/17 – Detroit — Jam Handy (W Ursula Kennedy and TBA)
11/18 – Detroit — Special screening of G Lucas Crane‘s “The Crowbocop”! (No CH performance)
11/19 – Buffalo — Milkies (W Neil Louis Coletta, Jack Topht and a whole bunch of other things)
11/21 – Boston — Deep Thoughts (with Rick Weaver and Spiritual Recess)
11/22 – Providence — 95 Empire at As220 (W Bernard Herman)
11/23 – NY — Panoply Performance Lab (w Boom Bat Gesture Performance Group and Peter Mills Weiss)

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A gift is not a gift until the gift is not a gift

Last week we performed at The Ho_se in NYC, a spirited venue that was sadly closing a few days after our show, and subseqently slated for demolition. With a little help from the audience, that demolition came early.
This was what the venue looked like after our performance:


It was a rare experience to say the least. It got Dionysian. After an audience member put a hole through a wall with a cinder block I had attached to a chain, wrecking ball style, the rest of the audience eventually started tearing down the rest of the wall, then another wall, then everything else. This was happening while others danced to the blasting beat of Baltimore Club, or ate jerky and drank on the back porch, and there was even some random crying.

It was a bit frightening to me at times (even though I initiated it). Some moments glitched my mind, as I stuttered to be okay with a microwave being beaten with a pipe, or a ceiling being pulled down in large chunks – it didn’t seem fair, or possible. With such an intense expenditure of energy, there is a sense that there must be some consequence. There is no such thing as free destruction?
There was a certain darkness to this night. The certain darkness that either consumes and compels, or frightens and repels. From the side of participation, there is a release and connection to a fearless and powerful animal, from the other side, taboo and repression are born. Both dangerous, neither free from the powers of suggestion, and they are, ultimately, currency in a type of social economy. A type of economy Bataille defines in The Accursed Share:

“The living organism, in a situation determined by the play of energy on the surface of the globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintaining life; the excess energy  (wealth) can be used for the growth of a system (e.g. an organism)… it must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically”

It was a great waste; it was a great way to spend a night.

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November 2014 Avant-Vaude tour with Ogg Myst

Touring doesn’t get old the older I get, but it does get different. Over the past year, the most important part about touring has been old school pre-internet connection with friends. From the folks that run the venues like Nick Williams or John Berndt, to the folks who set up the shows like Jack Topht or Vanessa Cronan, and to the other acts on the bill of course, this tour is already a deep weaving of weird love.
All shows below are with Ogg Myst (Nonhorse and Alaina Stamatis)

10/25 – NY — The ho_se (w Power Animals and Matt Thurber)
11/13 – Philly — Aux (W Cellular Chaos and Hunnie Bunnies)
11/14 – Baltimore — Red Room (w Lexie Mountain)
11/15 – Pittsburgh — Chris St. Pierre’s warehouse
11/17 – Detroit — TBA
11/18 – Detroit — Screening Crowbocop at the Vanessa and Ben’s Supperclub (no coincidental hour)
11/19 – Buffalo — Milkies (w Neil Coletta)
11/21 – Boston — Deep Thoughts (w Spiritual Recess and Rick Weaver)
11/22 – Providence — 95 Empire (w Bernard Herman)
11/23 – NY — Panoply Performance Lab (with Boom Bat Gesture and Peter Mills Weiss)

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I just realized that we don’t have any songs in the Coincidental Hour, they are all jingles. Like jingles for commercials, the songs are just there to make the message go down a little smoother, to hook the content in your head with some simple, repetitive deet, deet. And here is the newest Coincidental Hour jingle. I think it says much by saying nothing!
There is nothing more potent than looking into the eyes of the audience and having nothing to say, but opening your mouth anyway.

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Avant Vaude tour 2014

Coincidental Hour is putting together a quick and dirty tour for November. My main priority for this tour is to just play with some of the weirdest acts, especially those that would fall into what I like to call “The Avant-Vaude”, which mixes a touch of the bizarre with heightened theatricality.
We’re willing to make a loop from boston, down to baltimore, out to michigan or beyond, and then back, so if you want to play with us, or set us up a show anywhere within that wide area, let me know. We just want to see you.


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the mind cuts across what the map divides

Two straight weekends in the woods certainly influenced this past weekend’s performances in New England. In Boston, we performed on a steamroller, and then in Providence, we spun out of control nicely and several of us bled together.

Three weeks ago I officiated the wooded wedding of my pals Angie and Lucas (Coincidental Hour collaborator), then followed that with Fields Festival in the Maryland.  And I made sure to bring the woods back with me, at least for a little while.
I think it’s important to bring the woods back with you. Or the open road, or the water or anything that widens the eyes, adjusts perspective beyond the boundaries of private property, ownership and restriction.
Of course, the city will close you back up, and to some degree it should. Or else:
There are instructions everywhere asking to be followed, in order for order. And I think order is beautiful. Structure and restriction are my pals. But as much as I can, I like the start with the open field, and from there test which boundaries are necessary and important, and which are relative, ambiguous or, even worse, insidious and oppressive.   
The map creates borders where the open mind can cut across.

photo 2

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safe words

I have a couple shows coming up soon, Boston at Whitehaus (Aug 28th) and Providence at 95 Empire (29th).
I’ve been amused by the number of people that have been titillated with concern by the idea of The Coincidental Hour at Whitehaus. Apparently, Whitehaus has become associated with some hyper-functioning political correctness. I’m not sure how true it is or not, but regardless, some folks anticipate high tension when The Coincidental Hour meets Whitehaus.
Honestly, I have no problem with political correctness. As Stewart Lee cracks, “it’s better than what he had before”. When operating at it’s best, political correctness is an important rudder that positions hate speech and ignorance in the direction of obsolescence while guiding language towards a cultural inclusivity.
But it’s a funny term, isn’t it, “politically correct”? “Correctness” implies that there is an agreed upon fact used to measure accuracy. It sounds like an effort to apply scientific method to the mutable and subjective nature of political beliefs. The whole thing lends itself to potential clumsiness, misuse and abuse.
When political correctness aims at carefully negotiating beyond attitudes and opinions that are based on ignorance or lies, by employing and promoting inclusive language, then it’s being used as a tool of progress. But when political correctness is used as a method of blatant censorship, no matter how much I might politically disagree with what is being censored, then I personally find that… incorrect.
At any rate, I’m not worried about offending people at the Whitehaus or even in the boycott-happy town of Providence, nor am I trying to offend. It will happen, and people will like it or not. I feel very strongly that the Coincidental Hour is indeed politically correct, but it just may not be correct according to the politics of some people.

[poster by Carl Dunn]

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Haunted NYC

This past Friday I was taken on a haunted tour of the financial district in Manhattan, led by Bernard Herman (Barkev Gulesserian). It was a performance piece billed as “Haunted New York City”, where people can sign up for a 30 minute slot from 12am to 4am for a “one-on-one guided tour down the lonely streets of Manhattan Island’s Financial District after dark”.

Despite the fact that it has provoked a lot of curiosity from folks who heard about the event, I decided that I’m not going to say what exactly happened on the tour. I feel like it was an event that sits best as private, partly because of the intimate nature of the event, but also because the content of the event created a weird esotericism that I feel reluctant to betray.
But what I will say is that it was wonderful and so truly bizarre that it barely feels like it really happened. I’m sure experiencing it at 2am helped make it feel so dreamlike in retrospect.
I see too much performance work by scared artists. Scared to make themselves vulnerable, or scared of failure, or scared to really open their mouths and say something without irony or indifference. Reticence has become a standard gesture in the vocabulary of performance. It’s rare to find art experiences like Barkev’s “tour”, wherein a subject is explored through touching it with your hands, feeling it in your flesh, and consuming it with as many senses as possible. It was a fearless piece surrounded by dangers uncanny and actual. But it never lingered on the danger, which would have been an easy thing to do. Instead, the sense of danger and eeriness was just a backdrop out from which Barkev continuously emerged with a series of crafted interactions and tableaus of the macabre and cabalistic.

This is the kind of work that inspires me. It’s horror theatre, which is a tag I often give to my own work, specifically the Coincidental Hour. It was somewhere between a haunted house and Grand Guignol, two other types of veritable horror theatre. But the safety net of a group experience or conventions of form were completely removed in this case. For me, it was a thrilling combination of some of my favorite things; it was sex, ghosts, food, stage makeup and the sense that anything can happen.
It was a palpable engagement that certainly made me feel something, and I still have the band-aid to prove it.

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Nothing, Nothing, Nothing.

Humor is a lot of math. Math and horror. The end of logic. Paradox at the end of a long line of thought that can squeeze out nothing but a goofy paroxysm (laughter), somewhere between sneezing, farting and cumming.  Doing something funny in order to make someone laugh is not only boring to me, it feels bad. It’s rudimentary arithmetic.  There are so many other affects/variables you can tie to a moment of humor besides laughter. There are some “jokes” that splinter when cracked, provoking tension, thought, fear, anger and/or any number of potentially “unfunny” responses to complicate the equation.

The humor in the Coincidental Hour always adds up to zero. A frightening number, both absent and infinite.  This includes the running Coincidental Hour “joke” of the cash prize that ends up to be zero buy the end of the show, or jokes like, “Let me see a show of hands, how many of you are not raising your hands?” which follows a similar structure to other hilarious paradoxes like Zeno’s or Russell’s.
Nothing makes me laugh more than nothing. It feels like the root of the laugh, a hysterical response to the realization that the sum of life always equals… nothing. LOL.

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Charitable Violence

philly wedgie
This picture was taken in Philadelphia, during an episode of the Coincidental Hour at The Vat, 2013.
There are five men in this photo: me, three other men “engaged” with me, and one man watching. If applying the World Health Organization’s definition of violence, which states that it is “the intentional use of physical force or power against oneself, another person…which either results in or has likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm”, I believe this was indeed an act of violence.  Yet, as at least one of the faces indicate, this was also an act of entertainment;  there was some amusement indeed. As far as I can know, everyone in this photo (and perhaps everyone else in the room not pictured), enjoyed this moment, in one way or another.
This is some good Christian imagery here.
Morality does it’s best to keep us safe, but only does so through a ruthless system of simplification. The moral mind proudly serves actions, judgments and consequences with clear boundaries of right vs wrong, good vs evil. Violence, quickly processed through traditional moral thought undoubtedly in the category labelled, “wrong”. With its sharp blade that slices off the imperfect edges of our complicated existence, morality in itself is violence.
While Nietzsche attempted to unhinge the codifying Christian morality in Beyond Good and Evil, he wrote, “One should open one’s eyes and take a new look at cruelty”. But can there be such a thing as “positive cruelty” or “healthy violence”? Is it possible for violence to empower without victimizing? If one does as Nietzsche, and looks at the roots of tragedy (those bloody, violent Greek tragedies) where catharsis through depictions of violence were a community service, one might be inclined to say yes. But even the definitions of catharsis (purging, cleansing) and what it was supposed to do for a viewer, is not very clear. And that’s fine by me. It shouldn’t be clear. This is beyond morality. Just as I am skeptical that various acts of charity, philanthropy or generosity are all “good”, I equally doubt that all acts violence and cruelty have no productive value.
In actions like this one pictured, I let myself – and hopefully others – feel the rush of complication and the energy of transgression, yet do so with only enough guilt to heighten the tension. It’s all relative, of course. Some leave offended, others leave without questioning enough. But that’s always the case, the best I can do is try to put the concepts in play/on display and hope that we all have fun then think about it, make a mess then clean it up, be violent and take care of each other.