Matthew A. Cremer reporting = 0 )
So I’d just magnificently eluded none other than the Cosmic Giggle incarnate and Daniel Pinchbeck himself. Yes, you are reading that correctly – Daniel motherfuckin’ Pinchbeck. Oh boy, if that’s not one of the most outrageously filthy 1-2 power combos ever to defile a singular space, then I don’t know what could possibly be! Never ever did I imagine a search for a steaming pile of nachos becoming such a heroic journey through the perversely alternate universe of a Trans-fixated sock hop jamboree. Surely it would earn me a medal of honor from the brass at Glitter Magazine or at least some half-off coupons to Forever 21. Gee willickers – talk about a fucking toss-up!
Yes, I was quite proud of my brave scramble through that heinous tunnel of pirate love masquerading as a raunchy hospitality tent. So proud of myself that I gracefully transitioned from skipping into more of a casual power walk in order to savor my peanut butter and jelly sandwich conquests. Although I tried to engage the two sandwich creations in an enthralling fake conversation about who should be the next hot shot to host the Kids’ Choice Awards, my determination managed to get completely thrown off. Damn it, I was just getting to the juicy, good stuff too! Practically wandering right into it, I had arrived at an alien-looking contraption of some design out in the middle of the field. Indeed, the near collision had caused jelly dab spillage from my glorious sandwiches. Before bemoaning the jelly transgression, I realized what was before me – the Tipi!!!! Ahhh yes, so this was where the Natives set up their filthy gift shop/cheap tobacco hub. As I took a closer gander inside though, it appeared the establishment was nothing but a fake-out decoy. In fact, there wasn’t one gosh darn Indian pow-wow or souvenir peace pipe to be found anywhere. And there especially weren’t any of them peyote vision crusade thingies happening either. Not even a super duper informative how-to class on making your own beef jerky sticks! Good lord, just what had this insane world come to anyways? Insteaaaaad, random heathen banshees were slowly trickling in for what appeared to be yet another of those stupid, sweaty workshops. Again with these freaking things! It’s like, damn it Gratifly, can’t you just let me revel in my own towering feat of excellence and enjoy fistfuls of PB&J globulence? Always tryin’ to fuck up a good thing completely! Well gosh darnit poop, might as well just stick around for a lil bit and see what the fuss was all about.
After collecting my bearings, it was clear I wasn’t the only one coming in hot and sideways. Looked like most of these crazy kids had been sniffing glue out in the sun all afternoon. Filthy rascals! After very cautiously consulting with one of the glue sniffers, I discovered a “Vocal Improvisation” class was getting ready to begin. What the heck does that even mean – Vocal Improvisation? Maybe I’m already going out on one hot doozey of an investigative limb here, but I’d venture to say this was one of those swinger circle jerks or god forbid maybe even – a sing-along. Who knows what kind of Wrestlemania shit-show it would erupt into? Because you know if that little 5 foot, glittered-out, fairy girl with the hula-hoop had the chance, she’d smash a folding chair right over your silly, fucking head! Oh good golly!
Upon starting, our instructor lady person had about a dozen of us sit inside an almost too-intimate-for-comfort sized circle. Looking around at this collection of banshees, I figured I might have to liberally squirt industrial strength body sanitizer at any son of a bitch who made eyes at me. For one can never be too careful in such unsanitary, exotic locales. Still though, even if I’d literally been blind-sided by the class, I was ready to get down to the bottom of this dirty “sing-along” affair. As much as it hurt my noggin, perhaps I could attempt to be somewhat open-minded for once. The key word here being “once” obviously. Duh. I mean, maybe that’s the whole point of these bizarre playtime workshop activities anyways.
Getting into a seated position, we began with a “light meditation,” as they called it. According to this Jessica Fein character (aka the teacher), by settling into the ground below us, the idea was to sit up as straight as possible and let our spines become elongated. “For when your spine is at its longest, it allows your heart to open and be in tune with your breath.” Damn it, why am I just now finding out about this??? Amidst a jumble of noise pouring into the open Tipi from nearby riff-raff festivities, the time was now for this rag-tag group to get dialed-in to whatever the hell was about to take place. For as tempting as a killer game of “Follow the Other Guy’s Bliss” or “Hippie Phonogram” sounded, this would not be the place for such unbridled hedonistic pleasures. The Fein took the platform with cool authority before any of it could transpire:
“The intention of this workshop is to invoke the divine, creative spirit within everyone – as in all of us…It doesn’t matter if you have vocal training or you consider yourself a singer or not. What does matter is that you’re open, playful and aware of your surroundings – conscious of space. This is a supportive, loving space. Any sound that comes out of our bodies is completely okay. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect…a lot of being a creative person is getting out of your own way. Allowing for something deeper than your mind to come through and guide you.”
Looking around the circle, I could tell everyone was fairly focused on this teacher woman she-devil from the filthy onset. Exuding almost too much of a presence of welcome-ness, I sensed this Fein character might’ve had ulterior motives. I mean, just how goddamn loving and welcoming do ya need to be anyways? And just what exactly do you mean by this “getting out of your own way” business? Was that a top secret Indian code for something? Because if it was, then I was gonna crack that mofo wide open, spraying code juices all over the sweaty guy sitting next to me!
As she led us through a series of vocal calisthenics, each one of them meant we had to playfully create a sing-song completely off the good ole cuff. Perhaps this was where that raunchy “Improvisation” word came from. However, it didn’t take long before I realized this wasn’t a total hippie-love-in-free-for-all. Of course, there would have to be boring-ass structure underlying it all. Yawn. Then again, as much as I hated to admit it, for every Miles Davis swimming off in the deep end, there’s always a Billy Cobham on percussion to hold down the musical spaceship. And somewhere in between, that Herbie Hancock wizard and John McLaughlin are space jizzing all over the place. FYI – I actually pulled that hot doozey of a gem verbatim out of my Encyclopedia Britannica travel set. Boy, that Miles horn man sure did a lot of blow back in the day! So yeah, structure. Just where would we be without it? Probably having intercourse with monkeys – that’s where. I mean, am I right or am I right? But anyways, for our group to even begin “vibe-ing” off each other, it sounded like we might need some of that “structural ingenuity” nonsense in order to build this…this…this…dare I say – “Bridge to Anywhere.” (That’s my super swell catch phrase I just made up for this dirty adventure. I hope ya like it!) And where this decrepit sing-along bridge was gonna take us, I had no freaking clue. But with the way that Jessica Fein was talking, I had a hunch she was gonna help lead us across. It might end up being reeeeeeaaaal scary though! Ooooooooo, do you think it will be spooky or just scary? Well…what’s it gonna be, guy? Spooky or just fucking scary? Oh…you think it will be both? Alright then, I could see that. Because this “putting ourselves out there” mumbo jumbo was givin’ me a real case of the willies and jimmies cheese sandwich just thinkin’ about it! I mean, in this day and age who does a wild and cray-cray thing like that anyways?
“There are lots of different ways to go into it…There’s something to be said about timing. You have to look around the circle and connect to people by listening, be connected to yourself and then come in. And do it from a place of – ‘I hear what’s going on and I’m going to consciously add to what’s happening.’ “
Listening – imagine that. What a novel concept indeed. Boy, it sure was a good thing I had my private dick digital audio recorder rolling the entire time while I took a glorious power nap in the sweaty guy’s lap right next to me! Starting off, a handful of weirdo’s volunteered for laying the groundwork of the “song.” Each part, whether creating the beat, a low-end drone, melody, texture or some spoken word nonsense, was assigned to a rascal beforehand. The actual sound being produced was totally up to each person who came forward. Some carte blanche Rico Suave kinda shit. The rest of the filthy motley crew would join in however they were so motivated by adding a vocal nuance that played off the original nucleus of sounds (Jesus, I’m starting to sound like a goddamn textbook here). The craziness of it all was you could literally do anything. Anything, I tell ya! And you may ask, “Sooooo, you could make boisterous fart noises or read Jumanji or even growl like an effeminate tiger if you wanted to?” Yes silly – alllllll of those! And guess what? I was totally gonna do the gay tiger bit too, but some hot shot asshole beat me to the punch. That’s alright though – I’d challenge him to a duel later; yeah, that’s what I’d do! Then, maybe we could go for smoothies afterwards. Yay!
What I was quickly discovering was that regardless of what sound someone made, the only thing that mattered was you were being “mindful.” As in, don’t cockblock the person next to you. And don’t sing over them either, ya silly! I mean, maybe it was just me, but on paper this fruity sing-along stuff wasn’t too bad actually. You know what, maybe I’ll give it the ole casual observer heave-ho of a half-ass try!
“Connection is the key. Stay connected to yourself and to your heart most of all. Just keep it open. Then be connected to everyone else around you and you really can’t go wrong.”
One note of importance was that you couldn’t over-think things. Yeah I know, sounds pretty over-complicated and stuffs, right? But when it was your turn, you couldn’t just puss out. “First thought, best thought,” was one of the Fein’s filthy mantras for the entire class. No matter how ree-donk-culous you came off, contributing something, anything to the group far outweighed doing didley jack poo. Fortunately, with every single turn people extracted shreds of substance out of their glue sniffer mouths. Was the synergy of the group rather shaky at first? Well of course it was, ya silly. We were still getting our shit together. These filth mongerers had been frolicking out in the sun all day doing Lord knows what (besides sniffing glue of course). Nevertheless, it was obvious that we were carefully sticking our precious little toes in the precious water before jumping in. Precious sons of bitches. The decibel level was pretty timid at first as people were hesitant to put themselves out there abooooove the group. Although it was indeed just a “part of the process” (yawn), I reckoned we were ultimately holding each other back. Heck, silent discos or friscos (or whatever the fuck they’re called) made more noise than this. It’s like – who can beat around the bush more than the next guy? Alas, the Fein arose to keep nudging filthy improv life out of us bush-beaters:
“How was that for everybody? Was it scary? Was there a lot of pressure when it was your turn? I felt that…You know, there are jams happening everywhere at this festival spontaneously. And with this one, you’re here and you want to enter in some way, but you’re like ‘I don’t know what to do!!!’ Honestly, whatever comes through you, it’s perfect. Your voice is needed here. We’re in the circle and we want to hear you…everyone.”
Hey, guess what: I didn’t know what to fucking do here! There, I said it – ok?!?!? I mean, I didn’t actually come right out and saaaaaay that, but I sure as golly heck was thinking it. And I highly doubt I was the only one either. Were people afraid to raise the roof? Of course we were. Everyone’s precious little insecurities were still noticeably lingering even as we pieced together some tangible “progress.” It was a science fair project in terms of taint tickling our seemingly fragmented selves together into a unified identity within such a short duration of filthy time. Oh boy, was it ever! One can’t deny this was quite the girthy Indian beef jerky stick to take a big ole bite out of like a Macho Man. Personally, even though I’m quite the investigative dick sleuther, I do not like hearing my own sexy voice, remotely consider myself a singing sensation or especially enjoy being the stupid center of attention for that matter. Heavily intoxicating Christopher Cross karaoke (along with a lil Abba special sauce thrown in) was about the extent of that dirty affair. However, the very thought of simply putting myself totally out there in front of these wacko strangers was like entering the Bermuda Triangle of fear sandwiches – the jimmies, willies and Stan Van Gundy’s – all piled on together. (I bet me saying that made your asshole pucker up super duper tight.)
No matter what though, it became increasingly more apparent that the source guiding us throughout was the Fein’s pleasant, guiding way. She’d steadily been drawing glue sniffers individually and collectively more out of their sissy lil comfort zones. Giving everyone a chance to find their voices, rough around the edges as they were. Although it felt like a tall task to get me out of my Kanye Shart comfort zone, if I wasn’t careful she might just lure me from its clutches altogether. You filthy voodoo temptress you!
“We’re seeing a pattern here. Every single time we do this, it gets safer. It’s more comfortable. ‘Okay, I’m a part of this group and what I’m doing matters because it makes a difference.’ But it’s also not all on you. We’re all here for each other…We’re all going to figure it out.”
Well gosh darnit, I sure as heck hope so! I didn’t put all of my workshop tokens into this adventure ride for my silly health! Then again, I had quite a filthy detective hunch going she had a few tricks up her temptress sleeve. That’s correct – the Fein seemed to have the “it” factor working in her favor alright. No, not like Paula Abdul. No, not like Shania Twain either. Okay, on second thought, maybe just a smidge-a-roo. Because as we went along, regardless what crazy babble bullshit was coming out of people’s mouths, her response always was “I love that, now get louder with it!” This was about, as the Fein had put it – getting out of your own way. Yes, that may or may not be the title of some movie on that dickhead Oxygen network. But from what I could deduce, maybe, just maybe, it was time to “get out of our own way” for once. Whatever that meant. And maybe, just maybe, she was “holding a space” for us to explore this hunky-dory madness. Whatever that meant. And maybe I’m going out on a juicy detective limb here, but just maybe this was a place for us to inwardly poke around without any silly restraint and unleash anything that came out. As in, to let your own filthy truth, be it in the form of unfiltered sound, vibrate right out into this motley crew mess. Jesus, such a filthy raunch-fest of an enterprise – this “Vocal Improvisation.” As much as I wanted to buy completely into the weird freakshow concept, there was still a healthy amount of skepticism floating about my psyche. I mean, sure, this whole Kumbaya reach-around get together was pretty swell and all, but damn it – shit was getting really serious now. In fact, if I wasn’t super careful, this private dick sleuth magnet might get pulled right into the fracas. As in, I could be forced to actually contribute something meaningful to the group. Sweet golly Jesus – the filth. Can’t I just twirl scarves off in the corner and watch?
Although there were a few twist and turns along the way, one exotic caper of an exercise really stood above the rest – “The Conductor.” From the sound of the name, I thought we might break into a travelling Soul Train/Hands Across Gratifly excursion, taking this experiment on a field trip for the rest of the festival to “engage” in.
Even though this could’ve easily been about everyone boarding a magical sing-along train, the filthiest conduction of them all was the strange electricity in the air. For “The Conductor” was a straw that stirs the drink kind of exercise, if you will. It wasn’t just any ole straw, but a real crazy fucker kid’s straw. With the first go-round, the Fein would be the one doing the hot and lathery conducting action. Why? Well, because none of us pansies had the balls to step up to the plate – that’s freaking why. This time around, instead of a single person being responsible for a part, groups of 3 to 4 would now be singing respective sections in unison. And as the name suggested, the Fein was in charge of deciding which wacky sounds each guerilla faction would add to the formula. “The conductor essentially creates the entire experience that everyone is partaking in,” she told us. Hmmm…this was quite exotic indeed. Standing in the center, the Fein went around singing a musical idea to every group, which would then be brought to life – hopefully. Going completely on the fly, she threw us different beats, bass-lines, rhythms and harmonies. But get this – at any time, she would toss a section some bonkers, brand spankin’ new idea right outta the blue. Now that’s fucking ree-donk-ulous! And therein laid the crazy straw shit-show lunacy of everything. Goddamnit, I’m gonna need a Bunsen burner and some designer goggles over here! Though leading this was like water off a duck’s filthy back for the Fein, the poor bastard directing the second round would have to summon quite a bit of bravery juices on the spot. It was most definitely a leap out of what we’d been doing, right across enemy lines. All I knew was – there’s no way in hell I was going to be that guy…
JOIN US FOR NEXT WEEK’S BLISSFUL IDIOT EPISODE: “THE NAKED GIRL COMETH”