542> Camper lot + cassette culture in the sunblind dayz of Ethereal Aether (Santa Cruz, Q1 1989)

treeleaf pinhole camera prism

22 AUG 2017 | DC> Went to Capitol Hill yesterday + met P for tacos... our 1st time back in that hood since we left, xactly 1 yr ago. Then walked ∀ll the ways back along the mall as the sun eclipsed... 82% in any event. Considered going out to Oregone or sumthin to see it, but we dint know fer sure when we weed git A Raft Manifest back form the printers + seems they jacked ticket prices to PDX. We was living in Portland during the last U.S. solar eclipse in '79, in the 100% swath, but it was overcast. Happend in the morning as we recall, just when it got light it got pitch dark again + ∀ll them dogs started barkin'. But u cdn't see the sun himself thru the clouds. And here, only partially eclipsed, aint mush to see ether. We witnessed the eclipse of 1991 (@ our mom's place in Mexico that just so happend to lay in th maximum line of fire, w/ clear skies)—that 1 lasted almost 7 minutes (per wikipedia, the most "central" one in 800 years + there won't be another as intense for 800 years). But wheel recount dat story in a future post (gots to do w/ how we met our bedder-½) when we get to our 1991 journel (wherein we found our old eclipse glasses which we also used to watch this uneventful 1 today), right now we're on a mission to finish chronicling the 80s...

The last post brought us up to 1988, in Santa Cruz, living in a camper in "Rebirtha's" backyard. In '89 we got into the camper lot on campus, the sort of outlier "8-½ college" of UCSC populated by hippies, nudists + other counter-culture freaks. It cost a little more then living in Rebirtha's backyard ($150/mo as we remember) but they had a shower + bathroom facilities + communal room w/ a kitchen, TV etc. + was on campus, so we could walk to class... more like hiking since the camper lot was up in the northwoods + each college separated by swaths of redwood forests w/ a network of trails running between them. Great running too, right out our door trails + fireroads went off for dozens of miles thru forests + oak woodlands, all the way down to the ocean (if u were up for an 18-mile run). We haven't shown our camper yet, so here's Wally, painted (in Pollock-style, by chucking paint) to camouflage into the surrounding trees (before this he was an unsightly bright turquoise + white color):

We have a journal from 1989, but again, it mostly contained song lyrics/recording notes like we've already shown in previous posts, w/ an occassional doodle.

random doodling from this "Transformations" notebook

We journaled back then w/ music, on cassette. Before '89, we made mixtapes we'd share w/ family + friends + traded w/ other home-recorders + mail artists... there was this whole network of DiY musicians then that would sell or swap tapes thru the mail, organized thru various zines or by word of mouth ...

we had crates of vinyl too, but gave them all up to live in the camper

In early 1989 we decided to put together our first official "release," entitled The Ethereal Aether:

"Tapestry Tapes" was what we called this camper-grown cassette-making venture. A lot of our indie/DiY ethos in forming Calamari Archived we inherited from Tapestry Tapes. There was no manual on how to do this stuff + no Internet, so u found out by asking around. Like here's a letter we kept from another home-taping enthusiast who called himself Smiling Weasel:

In the margins we scribbled some quoted numbers for duping tapes + the name "Batish" who we remember now was this bad-ass Indian dude that looked like Cheech Marin + played sitar, guess he's still doing his thing—Ashwin Batish, the Sitar Power Man. He had, maybe still has, a 24-track recording studio in Santa Cruz where we also duped tapes in bulk. The labels we'd photocopy by hand, as well as a lyric sheet we included w/ the cassette (photocopied onto brownish paper, this was the template)(click to view larger so u can actually read it):

We'd shed our punk/industrial ways by this point, at least w/ these more folksy home recordings that focused more more on song-writing (we still jammed w/ others occasionally, but nothing that materialized into a band). Here are the tracks from Side A (btw, back then we put the (c) on the tape out of expected habit, but anyone is free to do whatever they want w/ this music (if someone w/ a better voice wants to redo them, have at it)):

1. Pain in your Thumb

2. Fossils

3. Branch there Lays

4. Beauty to Rage

5. News

6. Sea Swollen Rain

7. Stranger to Myself

8. Lines

9. Grazing

(listening now, as an editor/producer, we would've cut the tracks we scratched above to make a shorter album). And Side B [click to view larger]:

1. Motionless Roadside

2. Monument

3. Wind Swept Leaf

4. Isla Mujeres

5. City Soiled in Tears

6. Silence Comes and Goes

7. Glimpse on a Sphere

8. Don't Ask

So, once u made a cassette, what u did was send it around to places that might review them (like Factsheet Five) + list yr contact info, etc. or to radio DJs that wd play such stuff (like on Don Campau's "No Pigeonholes" show in Cupertino... in fact, he's still doing it + Ethereal Aether is listed in the archives). Some folks wd buy them, but mostly it was other home-tapers + mail-artists wanting to swap cassettes or art. We also got a distributor at some point (Missing Link Distribution) that carried all sorts of cassette releases on consignment.

review in Factsheet Five

... some things never change, seems more than 1 person since (2-3 decades later) has reviewed our books as "head-scratching". We kept some of our correspondence from those days, back when people used mail + typed or hand-wrote letters. Part of the etiquette in cassette culture was that if u swapped or even bought a cassette u'd let them know what u thought.

Strange to look these people up now, some have an Inurnet presence, others like us have effectively disappeared (if u try to look us up by name). Anyhow, that's pretty much ∀ll we did in the 1st months of 1989, b-sides study. Meanwhile Chaulky was off on his big transiberian world trip that inspired his 'SSES" 'SSES" fhesis, the journals of which we've included in our recapitulation: 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' vols 0-1.

Speaking of cassette culture, back in real time + place (DC, AUG 2017), we've been reading Sunblind Almost Motorcrash by Daniel Mahoney. Mahoney was the wise elder leader of the whipper-snapper Bateau Press interns who had a table next to us @ AWP earlier this year. Not only is the book a compilation of reviews (in the spirit of Lester Bangs or Camden Joy) of fictitious albums by fictitious bands, but it comes w/ a cassette of music, of the fake tracks reviewed (in a brilliant reversal of logic, he got indie bands he liked to contribute songs to fit the reviews). Some genius shit that will probly fall on deaf ears cuz who the fuck's got a cassette player in this day + age? Even we don't + we was cassette fanatics. Fortunately the contents of the accompanying cassette have been bandcamped so u can listen while u read along.

where we read Sunblind Almost Motorcrash

[postscript: some of these tracks have since been compiled + rereleased on the unheard tapes.]

[9/1/2019 addendum: after discovering negatives + photos we'd never scanned in... here's a few more shots from our camper lot days in Santa Cruz:



+ sum additional art shots here.

 541 <( )> 543 > Whorl, e + fractalian flicker noise (SC/Bay Area, Q2 1989)

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