Oh, another year has begun and another amazing performance starts it! A week ago I had to cancel THE SHAMAN’S DEN because I felt pale shitty physically. I wasn’t that hot this Saturday either. But I hate to cancel! So there I was, just drifting floating on the radiancy music of Tomek. Then people started coming in from their life quests, with their questions, their vague feelings that they had detoured from their childhood passions and hopes and joys. And they started asking! It got deep fast. Me, I was half-baked, running on fumes. But the performances are never about me! So everything read or muttered by me ignited insights in the people who stayed [I don’t know about the people who left]. They started running with these insights on their own! Most of them said they will start doing art that they had stopped doing. They will start because of what they have experienced in the performance. They came up with that on their own! Shit, can an artist ask any more before he admits success? Yes, I take the credit for the success even when I was half-baked and ran out of gas during the jam when everything that had been explored verbally /intellectually was becoming musical /physical. Hey, I am the star!
It was great to be extra early, knowing that we were down one person! Being early helped, but it also felt like it was just very easy to set up ... and we hustled! Everything was ready at 8pm, as the first people walked in ... a young couple, the woman wearing an SFSU nursing sweatshirt, and the guy wearing a middle eastern scarf ... Frank and Linda asked them to come on in and sit down ... and Frank was soon talking to them ... It wasn't long before the room was filled with people, coming in waves ... a big tall black guy arrived, an older white guy who said later that he had been to one of Frank's performances in SF, a young girl who was a student at CCAC, a young man who had brought his flute to jam ... a curly haired man came later and sat in the back ... then a woman joined him and they stayed for a short time, but left ... and then at some point we saw him come back again and stand in the back for a while ... Tomek was there, providing the great background soundtrack to the whole night ... A few people came in and didn't stay for more than a few minutes before getting up and leaving ... Michael Rosen, a veteran of our performances, came for a while, but left also! There was a young man with a mustache who came very late in the performance, and wasn't very communicative ... just smiled a lot and talked cryptically! Frank eventually said, "One of those, eh?" It seemed like there was always one of those that came to the performances ... they come late, and act a little loony, and they don't give Frank a straight answer! But this guy stayed until the end and even played in the jam that ended the performance ...
It was really amazing to see all the people that came, in a month where we thought the fliering was compromised by all the rain. On the contrary, most of the people came from seeing fliers!
So Frank talked with the first couple, the woman first ... why did she come? She said it looked like fun ... she had seen a listing somewhere online ... Frank asked what she did for fun? What we remember is her talking about playing this game that kid's play, called "Foursquare", with a big rubber ball. She gets friends to play it with her! At some point, she said she noticed Attaboy's toys over to the side, and said that they looked like fun ... Frank said that she could have one of them if she promised not to use it during the performance! Ok! She went and picked one out, a bubble "gun" ... a bazooka! She said they were going to have fun with that tonight! Frank said that at the very least then, if nothing else happens, she has that toy! Then he talked with her friend ... she had dragged him along, a surprise ... and they do that with each other ... "mystery nights". He is also a nursing student, and likes to draw, and to read, and Dungeons and Dragons ... Frank asked him what he likes to read, and he mentioned magic, philosophy, comparative religions ... You guys wondered if there was anything in the free stuff that fell into that category, and we thought that there was ... we remembered one book in particular, or perhaps a series by the same author, Michel Mery ... "Pyrexia" was one of the titles ... it was about magic, we thought ... maybe he found it! Frank said he should look through the free boxes, and pick some things out ... We saw him pick out several things ...
Then Frank was talking with the big black guy ... he had seen the flier on a pole outside a restaurant ... He said he didn't really know why he was at that restaurant, or why he happened to be standing next to this pole with this flier on it, so it all seemed to be somehow coincidental ... but the flier seemed to resonate with everything he had been reading lately ... Frank asked him what he has been reading? He said that it would probably fall into the New Age category ... books about living in the "now", and things like that ... After talking with him for a bit, Frank asked him what would he like Frank to do in the performance? He asked, what were the options? The parameters? Frank said, anything! But he couldn't really answer ... he said he didn't really know what was supposed to happen, what it was about ...? He asked Frank to tell him what Frank was trying to communicate/accomplish with the performances? Frank asked him to come up and read his latest two chapters from his novel ... He was willing, and he came up and read the two chapters, really well! Meanwhile, Frank asked the nursing student if she would undress Linda and Erika, and put the costumes on them? She was willing ...
The nonlinearity of Frank/Aurora did not seem to really catch him off guard, he just read right through it, and it seemed like everyone in the room was able to really take it in. We had the same experience as Linda described later, of wondering if this was all going to seem too personal to us for anyone to really get, since the last chapter especially was all about Jen leaving us ... But as it turned out, everyone seemed to get a great deal from it!
When he finished reading, Frank asked him if he could sum up what he got from the chapters? What we think he said was that the main thing he got from them was to live and act truthfully and simply, not being boxed in, living outside the boxes. But he wanted to know how to do this, how to live simply, to get out of your head, to stay true to yourself ... something along these lines ... Linda talked about how Frank always says, and it has been her experience that it is through relationships that she can keep that simplicity, and be truly "herself" ... that it is by staying focused on her relationship with Frank, that everything comes out of that ... he wondered what their relationship was? It was mates, and had been since 1975 ... He was really trying to get down what Frank was saying ... but he was talking in terms of a division between relationships and yourself ... Frank asked him what is "matter"? It is the relationship between two points ... the points don't have any real existence without their relationship to each other, which is the "matter". At some point he said he had just been reading something very much like this ... he asked Frank at one point, "Why am I here?" Frank said it was a good question, for him ... He asked Frank how he could hold onto this feeling he got from reading Frank's chapters and talking with him and Linda, when he leaves the performance that night ...? He seemed to want a kind of 1-2-3 for staying true to oneself, staying simple, not being boxed in ... Frank told him not to worry, he was already "infected"! Frank said that he was "in the groove", which was why he was experiencing this feeling of synchronicity ... Frank said to not worry, and be available!
When Frank talked to the young indian man who had come in with a backpack, it turned out that he had come to jam ... he had gotten the impression that this was to be a music jam ... Well, he was right! But it obviously didn't meet his pictures of what that would look like ... Frank said, "Get to work!" Frank and Linda invited him to join Tomek and jam ... but he didn't do it ... And yet he stayed for the entire performance. At the very end of the night, he did finally pull his flute out and played!
We think it was around this time that Frank asked the nursing student woman to use him to have fun ... She wanted to know what he meant? How? Frank said in any way ... This invitation seemed to totally stymie her ... she said the concept of using someone to have fun was foreign to her ... she couldn't think of what to do ... It was one of those uncomfortable moments! Then Frank asked the same of her partner ... but he couldn't think of what to do either ... he said that he would be interested in going further into something that had come up earlier, which was channeling ... The big black guy had brought that up ... it was one of the kinds of things he had been reading ... and Frank said that he had done that "gig", and he and Linda described the channeling at the commune and afterward ... So now, the partner was interested in going into that further ... Frank said, "Haven't I been doing that?" He said yes ... and he talked about how he has been feeling like he has been getting information and inspiration in that way, but something along the lines of wanting to be more open to that ... Frank invited him up to read, The Magical Act of Doing, which he already had picked up a copy of ...
He read the whole piece, which was always really neat to hear, and the core group stayed ... Afterward, Frank asked him to talk about it, and he spoke about how it resonated with a lot of things that he has been thinking about recently, especially the feeling that he has been unable to really just let go and do his art ... how he used to just sit and draw without worrying about what it was going to be, how it was going to look, what others might think ... and he felt that Frank's piece was reconnecting him with that experience ... Frank said, "wow ..." It was amazing to hear the effect of the piece ... And she said that one, it was amazing to see him read out loud ... apparently, it was not something that he normally did! So that was the first thing she said ... But she also talked about her own experience of moving into adulthood, and basically feeling the loss of innocent creativity ... she talked about a friend of hers who had always inspired her ... she aspired to the level of creativity that her friend had, in her writing especially ... and she talked about she recently mentioned that to her friend, who is now in art school, studying graphic design, but who is doing much less art than she ever did before, and there was the feeling that it had been dampened, or was harder to access ... She herself had not chosen an "artistic" path, but felt the same desire to have a connection to the freedom and creativity and exploration of the past ... and while he was reading, she had just picked up her notepad and started doodling, something she had not done in a long time, and it felt really good ... it felt like something had opened up ...
Frank invited her to come up and read a few of his poems ... "Creativity is like shitting" and "I Came To Play". She really enjoyed reading them, and Frank asked her, "Now wasn't that fun?" She said yes it was! "See how easy that was?"
At some point around this time, Frank asked the girl from CCAC to talk about her experience of the performance ... She said that she really enjoyed it, and that it made her feel that she does not have to have a reason to do art ... she can just do it, not for any purpose, but just to do it ... and it made her feel more free ...
Now, we can't remember how it happened, but Frank asked someone to join Tomek, to jam with him ... we think it was the nursing student guy ... and then she joined him, playing the drums ... the young guy pulled out his flute and started playing ... the big guy picked up the toy xylaphone ... and Frank invited the CCAC girl to come up and sing with him, which obviously put her through it! But she got up there and did it! It was amazing to see everyone up there jamming, and the energy lifted ... it was a kind of release, an active expression of the things that they had been talking about all night ... and it felt like they were just getting started when Frank said "the end". Frank was under the weather, but he never cancelled a performance, and this was why! It really only ended 15 minutes early. Another amazing performance!
People filed out, and took stuff from the free table ... we started packing things up, dismantling, talking about the performance with Tomek ... You guys soon were ready and headed out to get Frank home. We finished packing everything up and swept up, shut everything down and locked up! Then we caravanned home, talking about the performance ... we really felt what Linda had said right after the performance ... how the act of staying vs. leaving really was responsible for how the performance went ... the fact that the core group of people stayed for the whole performance seemed to mold the performance around them, and made it very fulfilling and transformative ... And the way that Frank always "stays", no matter how things "appear" ... makes everything possible ...
We got to the space early and unloaded the stuff from the two cars. It worked really well to take all the stuff in the two cars. Soon Alexi was putting up back drops and Christmas lights and Corey was doing the front table set up. I put down the mats and the blankets and then set up the jewelry. Linda set up the toy instruments and Mikee was doing the tech set up. Just before 8:00 people started showing up. First there was a couple who were both studying to be nurses. They had come because the woman had seen a posting for the performance and he came along with her. It sounded like they took turns taking each other to mystery places. They really enjoyed picking out toys from the spread of toys from Attaboy. Many of the people who came tonight had seen flyers up and one person said that she had been seeing them for a year and finally made it.
Frank went around and asked people how they had heard about the performance and what they each did or did for fun. There were the two nursing students, a guy who had been reading a lot of mysticism stuff, a woman who was an art student, a guy who brought his flute and a guy who had seen one of Frank's performances about five years ago. One of the guys was very interested in learning about how life works. He said that he had been doing a lot of reading lately. He wanted to know where Frank got his information from and Frank said "From Life." He went up to the front with Frank and read the last two chapters of Frank's novel and Tomek was playing amazing music behind him. He did a great job reading Frank's novel. Frank asked him afterwards if that answered his questions and he said yes, that what he got from it was to not live in boxes but to live life in freedom without limits. He said he was grasping it but that he wanted to know concretely what to do when he left the performance to stay on that track. Linda talked about how relationships are the most important thing, that the "other" is not separate from yourself and that what life is all about is your relationship and focusing on the daily aspects of life and enjoying being together. Frank talked about what happens between two points (people) and that there really aren't two points. It is really all about what happens between them. You are mirrored in the other. The man said that he was starting to get it but that he did not want to loose what he was understanding after he left the performance and Frank pointed to the warning sign and that he did not need to worry. The changes would continue to affect him. Frank and Linda talked about following life, seeing opportunities and following those opportunities rather than having pictures about how you think things should be. If you do that you miss a lot of opportunities. If you follow the opportunities everything opens up. Frank is really good at recognizing and seizing opportunities.
There was another guy who came up and read The Magical Act of Doing. He was in nursing school and often stopped himself from doing art because he thought he wasn't as good as he was in the past. There was always something in him that was stopping him. After he read the Magical Act of Doing he said that things felt like they were changing within him about just doing it and not stopping himself or having pictures about the value of what he was doing. He said that he had been thinking a lot about that lately and it was really amazing that it was all coming up this way tonight, that Frank had asked him to read about exactly what was up for him. The woman he came with could also relate to this and said that she had freely done art when she was a kid and then stopped somewhere along the way. She said that that had also been the experience of a close friend of hers. Again there was something in her that stopped her from just making art. During the performance she got her notebook out and started drawing. There was another woman who was an art student who had also been thinking about the importance of just making art even if nobody ever saw it. Wow, it was amazing how people were articulating how they got Frank's writings and what Frank and Linda were talking about. They were all blown away by how they had been thinking about these things lately and now they were coming up tonight. They were hungry for a deeper understanding.
Tomek was grinding away at the music during the night and was for most of the time the only musician playing. There was a guy who came with his flute to jam but when Frank told him to get working he did not go up until the end when others went up too. In the end several people joined in with Tomek and started jamming. Everyone there seemed to come hungry for some deeper understanding and really enjoyed playing with Frank through reading his writings. The one woman who was a nursing student undressed Erika and Linda and put them in costumes but when Frank invited her to do anything with him that she wanted to do to play with him she said that she did not know what he meant or what to do. Then she came up and read a couple of Frank's poems, "Creativity is like Shitting", and "I came to play," and then got up to play music with everyone. After she read the poems she said that it was easier than she thought to come up and have fun with Frank. It was neat to see how her face had changed, melted, relaxed during the evening, and how people concretely were taking in what Frank had to say and allowing it to change them. The people who came to the performance were ready for intimate cozy conversations about how to live life and to create art to open up possibilities. Frank showed up even though he was under the weather, never cancels a performance and so much happened! We never know what is going to happen and we always go on a magical journey. Tomek said that he always has an amazing time at the performances, they are always great! Throughout the night I felt how crazy it was that Jen had left all this, all of us, this amazing life.
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