19 Performance Art

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The party raged on.  Whenever a keg was blown, a collection was taken and a new one was replaced.  The first keg was financed by collecting the returnable bottles on the breezeway that had been accumulating since the beginning of the term.  The breezeway had held about four hundred bottles.  At ten cents per bottle, and forty dollars a keg, our drinking for the term had financed the first keg that would get the party started.  That was the only good thing about the returnable bottle law in Michigan that had taken effect the year before.  When the return bottle policy came into effect we all hated it.  At 10 cents per bottle that meant that your six pack of Stroh's would cost 60 cents more.  What fucking right did whoever it was have to charge us more for a six pack?  Shit.  It paid off at party time, otherwise more than professors needed to be pied.

The other six kegs that we would go through came from contributions.  It was later estimated that about two hundred people had shown up that evening.  

I took a piss and poured myself a beer in the downstairs bathroom while staring at the poster above the toilet.  It was of the Creature from the Black Lagoon coming out of the water with the caption: "All right, who peed in the pool?"  It was now time to wander downstairs to see how things were going in the Litchi Room.

The Litchi Room was packed.  Another keg was at the bottom of the stairs.  I filled up my second beer there. 

"Hey, how's it going?"

"Hey, what's up?"

"Hey, have a beer."

"What are you?"

These greetings all bounced off of my eardrums as I wandered through the crowd.  The eight millimeter silent Keystone Cops movie that I had checked out of the library was playing on the screen.  A conga and barstool stood nearby.  I spied Mick who was looking around the room with a beer in his hand.  Our gazes met.

"Hey man, where've you been?" Mick asked.

"I was up in the attic "

"This party is great, man." Mick marveled, sipping on his beer.

"How's the acid hitting you?  I wanted to compare trips.  The rush had leveled off so that I was able to cope on a somewhat normal level of sorting out information.  Or so I thought.

"Yeah, it's still there, " Marcus said.  "I'm able to maintain now, but when the place first started getting crowded it got pretty intense."

"I'll bet.  Hey, do you want to do some beatnik poetry now?"

"Sure.   Did you write anything?"

Suddenly I remembered that I had gone upstairs at nine thirty to write something to perform and never seemed to get around to it.

"No, I'll go upstairs and put something together now.  Let's do it at midnight."

"Okay", Mick said.  "I'll be down here."

I made my way through the crowded party to the attic room once again.  I passed a couple of guys on the first floor wearing yarmulkes who were leaving with their girlfriends in a huff, grumbling something about Terry being dressed as Hitler. 

I settled down in front of the typewriter and wondered what I should write before show time. 

"Hmmm, why don't I just say occasional words, like a baby learning English." I thought.  Then it came to me “Why don’t I just write baby talk?  One word per page, then I'll dramatically throw the page over my shoulder after I read it."

            I typed up what I thought would be a reasonable facsimile of baby talk, one word per page, and then went downstairs.  It was nearly midnight, the witching hour.

"I'm ready, man", I told Mick as I came downstairs. 

We situated ourselves in the Litchi Room's performance area.  The Keystone Cops movie had ended and the carpeted area in front of the screen was bathed in a yellow glow from the basement lights that hung nearby with their pull-strings dangling.  The stage area was in the corner of the room and we were surrounded by guests, some sitting on the couches, some at the counter lining the stage while the others stood around, swaying in various stages of intoxication.  Mick manned the conga and I held the typed sheets on a clipboard.  There just happened to be a mannequin head lying nearby, so I saw this as a performance opportunity.  I picked up the head, set it on the barstool, and recited the poem to it as the befuddled crowd started to take notice and began to gaze our way.

"Goo", I yelled to the head, tearing the page from the clipboard and throwing it up in the air.  Mick began beating a rhythm on the conga.

"Goo, goo", I continued in the same fashion. 

"Goo, goo, gah.” 

“Goo, goo, gah, gah."

            The crowd began to notice that something different was going on and started to pay attention, like the students did who were seated in the hallway outside of the first pie hit nine months earlier.

"Goo, goo, gah, gah, eh?”

            “Goo, goo, gah, gah, eh,eh?”


“Poo, poo.”

“Poo, poo, pee.”

“Poo, poo, pee, pee." 

I continued to throw the a pages over my shoulder after each word.  The crowd went wild.  I then began rambling in baby talk until I ran out of words, whereupon I paused and yelled,

"Ka and ka-ka again!" 

The laughter was hard. Everyone was fucked up.   I rambled baby talk again until the ending that I cued Mick on.  Mick stopped playing the conga and we both dramatically stated;  "Death mask for an existentialist." 

The crowd loved it.  Mick and I repeated the performance upstairs in the living room, which was packed with an even larger crowd.  It worked there too.  When we finished I saw Carol, a stout, budding lesbian friend, picking up one of the pieces of paper.

            "He actually had those words typed out!" she said, laughing. 

            Without realizing it, Mick and I had just done what we would soon come to know as "Performance Art".  To us, however, we were just screwing around on acid.

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