Though a great Peter Gabriel song, D.I.Y. in regard to the movement is a misnomer. DIY, or Do It Yourself,†2.2 is a movement traced to the 70’s – though undoubtedly older – that espouses a self-reliant approach to one’s world. In terms of home improvement, it is what it is. Do It Yourself. In punk rock ethics, like with the band Crass,†2.3 (have you read the first “Tom Boyle’s Name Dropping with Tom Boyle by Tom Boyle” column “Punk Rock Cruise”?†2.4) DIY was about booking your own shows and selling cassettes. In the 90’s when Zines†2.5 abounded, it meant self-publishing photocopied fanzines, or mini-magazines. But the name’s misleading. You can do it yourselves, as a group working off the grid, below the radar, beyond the pale. You can’t do it yourself.
Come up to me with your ‘What did you say?’
And I’ll tell you straight in the eye – D.I.Y. Do it yourself.
I say that you can’t do it yourself, because no one is an island.†2.6 I speak from experience. I’m going to get personal now with you, oh my droogies.†2.7
Early on, DIY for me was a response not unlike the opening line from the Gabriel song, “Don’t tell me what I will do, ‘coz I won’t.” I created Fanng Ultimate,†2.8 a sci-fi role-playing game (rpg),†2.9 when my D&D (Dungeons & Dragons)†2.10 character was killed by Giant Shrews. I don’t care how big they are, they’re blind! Fanng Ultimate is a fun game, free from the dogma and bureaucracy that plagues other rpg’s. But it wouldn’t exist without the old Dungeon Master killing my character off in such a farcical way, and more importantly, all of the players that followed.
By the 90’s, DIY had become more of an empowerment. I produced a zine called Poop God†2.11 – with friends Professor Rubberhead Theophobia, Enola Gaye, Fitz, Toast, and other such preposterously named artists. My nom de plum was, and still is, tomb. We had a small cult following, topping out around 150 visits a day when we went on-line. The singer Poe†2.12 even said of it: “With a name like Poop God, it’s gotta be good.”
Following PG, I created Cuddles the Urban Pirate,†2.13 a mini-sized comic about a cat with an eye patch and peg leg and his misfit band of cute, albeit disfigured, animals that seek revenge on humanity. You can even order a tee shirt. Cuddles was the closest to DIY as I think one can get. I worked at All American Copy and Printing†2.14 – or All can Copy ting as the neon sign said. I made a deal with my employer to get the paper at cost and did the copying, stapling, folding, and shrink-wrapping myself. But if not for her equipment and deal making, Cuddles wouldn’t exist except as some doodles.
Likewise, though I self-published “Rapunzel Meets Santa Claus in Hell”,†2.15 Street Saint Publications wouldn’t have been anything without the input of writers and artists like Susan Barclay†2.16 (“The Ultimate Guide to Sea-Monkeys”), Valerie Hardin†2.17 (“My Grandmother’s Wedding”), Neca Stoller†2.18 (“Piedmont Stubble”), Jeff Strand†2.19 (“Out of Whack”), Steve Taylor†2.20 (“Pumpkin Flummery”) and more.†2.21
Everyone want to be what he not, what he not.
Nobody happy with what he got, what he got.
Nobody does it totally by themselves (insert Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun” reference here†2.22). Peter Gabriel wouldn’t have made it to “So” †2.23 if not for Genesis. †2.24 Warhol had the Factory, †2.25 the Beats†2.26 had SF and each other. And before any of them came groups like the Dadaists, †2.27 Surrealists, †2.28 Fitzgerald†2.29 and the Lost Generation†2.30 and the Romantic Poets†2.31 like Shelley†2.32 and Byron.†2.33 Okay, Ani DiFranco†2.34 is a great example of DIY, but she doesn’t burn every CD… Does she? Nobody does it alone. Ergo you are never alone. Especially if you follow your dreams.
I’ve tried my hand at organizing artists groups. In college,†2.35 I wrangled 20 – 30 writers, artists, actors, et al to meet weekly in the Blue Room for what we dubbed K-Haus – get it, Chaos! That went well for a while, leading to collaborations, hook-ups, and the splinter group Ghoti. Ghoti†2.36 is pronounced fish, based on the phonetic spelling commonly attributed to G. Bernhard Shaw†2.37 put forward: the “F” sound from the word ‘enouGH,’ the “O” as it’s pronounced in the word ‘wOmen’ and the “sh” sound from the word ‘instituTIon.’ While K-Haus was our sanctioned front, Ghoti was a guerilla art group, tagging sidewalk chalk messages like HEARTHEARTHEARTHEARTHEART, which spells out “heart,” “earth” or “hear the art” ad infinitum, and placing Douguru’s†2.38 sculpture in parking spaces or the fountain pond. Yeah, we were hard-core. But it caught on and before long, the sculpture department conceived and welded an alien crew that were found in the courtyard puking after a night partying on Earth.
I am so grateful for my various co-conspirators in art over the years. I’m proud of my meager legacy, and I know it wouldn’t exist without the help of many along the way. That’s why I appreciate a venue like VettedWord.com.†2.39 We have the same pioneer, DIY spirit, while still being a community of support and growth.
When things get so big, I don’t trust them at all.
You want some control — you’ve got to keep it small.
– Peter Gabriel, “D.I.Y.”
†2.1 “D.I.Y.” by Peter Gabriel, lyrics strung throughout.
Listen and Read the Lyrics.
Do It Yourself: a movement toward bucking the system and being self-sufficient, especially in the arts.
– According to Wikipedia…
†2.4 “Punk Rock Cruise”
The first “Tom Boyle’s Name Dropping with Tom Boyle, by Tom Boyle” article.
A shortened version of magazine, zines are largely homemade, short-run periodicals. Back in 1995, I interviewed the creators of Kill Zinesters, a play on the punk and indie recording label Kill Rock Stars but for zines.
– According to Wikipedia…
†2.6 I wanted to relay this joke in the article, but decided to footnote it. This is one of my funny-quote-book lines:
No man is an island, but every woman should have one in the kitchen.
– Tom Boyle
†2.8 Fanng Ultimate
A Science Fiction Role Playing Game that I created so that I could enjoy Sci-Fi and RPG’s.
†2.9 Role-Playing Games
Made popular by Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), RPG’s were once the domain of geeks seeking refuge in fantasy worlds, but it has even worked it’s way into sexual encounters – though not so much for the D&D players
†2.10 Dungeons & Dragons.
Created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkein (Lord of the Rings) and various world mythologies, players would venture through myriad medieval scenarios as their characters. It was fairly popular in the late ‘70’s early ‘80’s until rumors of suicides and After School Specials (YouTube montage) invoking images of demon worship quelled interest. That and video games came along. I was hoping to provide a link to the After School Special, but was unable to find it online. Then I was hoping to provide a link to the Futurama (from Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons and Life in Hell) episode “Bender’s Game” which is funnier and references the reports of kids who would kill themselves if their characters died, but it went straight to DVD.
†2.11 Poop God
In 1995, I started Poop God (so named because it’s doG pooP backwards) with Professor Rubberhead Theophobia (a.k.a Aaron Bratton) with the original intent of making it a spoof of tabloids. It quickly revolved into a socio-political satire zine as we added the third editor Enola Gaye. We had a decent following, including 100+ hits per day to the website. We took the act on the radio at Stanford’s KZSU 90.1FM. Jason Fitzgerald, the artist who did the cover for my novella “Rapunzel Meets Santa Claus in Hell”, did the cover art for the last two issue of Poop God, “Where every issue is number two!” Fitzgerald and Bratton created the comic “Pistol Packing Monkey”.
Best known for the songs “Hello” and “Angry Johnny”, but I would suggest listening to the highly personal seeming “Haunted” album.
Poe’s newly redesigned site RePOEzessed – requires the latest Adobe Flash Player.
†2.13 Cuddles the Urban Pirate
A comic book I made about cute, albeit disfigured, animals who seek revenge on humanity.
†2.14 All American Copy and Printing, Inc.
Sunnyvale, CA. When I started my graphic design company Global Graphics, they were client #001. If you’re in the Sunnyvale area and need copies, tell Jaleh I say “hi.”
†2.15 “Rapunzel Meets Santa Claus in Hell” by Tom Boyle
A story of mythic proportions! A comedy in which Rapunzel grows weary of waiting for Prince Charming and takes matters into her own hands, and in which Santa is the evil C.E.O. of Claus, Inc., the company responsible for Christmas.
†2.16 Susan Barclay
Author of “The Ultimate Guide to Sea-Monkeys” which I published in 2000. Susan was great to work with, not only because she scored us an exclusive book deal from Harold von Braunhut, the creator of Sea-Monkeys, but also because she did so much to promote the book and Street Saint Publications.
†2.17 Valerie Hardin
Author and artist of “My Grandmother’s Wedding” and “I’m With My Mom On Sundays” for which we made children’s e-books. She was also stellar at promoting her work and the company, and won a couple of awards from EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection.
†2.18 Neca Stoller
Author of “How to Write Haiku” and “Piedmont Stubble” which we even sent to former President Carter, who lives in the Georgia Piedmont area that her poetry references. “How to Write Haiku” as the first book I published as Street Saint Publications. Its small run sold out.
†2.19 Jeff Strand
Author of “Out of Whack” which I was sadly only able to produce as an e-book. Strand’s got a great sense for titles, with others including “How to Rescue a Dead Princess”, “Graverobber’s Wanted: No Experience Necessary,” and his most recent “Gleefully Macabre Tales.” His review of “Rapunzel Meets Santa Claus in Hell” is one of my favorites.
†2.20 Steve Taylor
Writer of my other favorite review of “RMSCiH” – “You’re a vivid maniac.” There are either no words to describe Taylor’s work, or entirely too many, so here’s a picture.
†2.21 And more
My years in publishing wouldn’t have been as wonderful as they were if not for all of the writers I worked with at the time. I can hear the band playing me off the stage, so here’s a quick list of the authors and their works:
“Your Mother Should Know” a comedic cookbook by Enola Gaye
“Monster in the Closet” a children’s book by Stetson Powers III
“Dork Dick” a spy/detective spoof by T.L. Winslow
“Seeking Dionysus: Journeys of the Soul” a brilliantly conceived and written psychological / dreamscape study by Melina Costello
“The Fall, The Dirt and After” poetry by Mandy Brown, which we sadly never got to print
“Ancient Stone Sculptures” by excellent photographer archeologist, and anthropologist Phillip Baird
†2.22 “Blister in the Sun” a song by Violent Femmes. The joke is in the line:
Body and beats, I stain my sheets, I don’t even know why.
My girlfriend, she’s at the end, she is starting to cry.
You may know Genesis from the Bible, or musically as what I call the Phil Collins Band. Peter was the original singer — Phil wasn’t even the original drummer, it was Anthony Phillips, the Pete Best of Genesis. There’s a lot to listen to, including some of the early Phil Collins albums like Abacab and Duke, but I’d suggest the early Peter Gabriel stuff like The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Nursery Crimes, and Foxtrot.
†2.25 Andy Warhol and the Factory
If you believe the portrayal of Andy Warhol in “Factory Girl” then you can see why the story of “I Shot Andy Warhol” occurred. In New York in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, Warhol was the height of the social scene, which he parlayed into a successful career as what many consider a second-rate artist. While I won’t suggest one follows Warhol’s footprints exactly in DIY / Communal Arts, it does go to show the success of having a community of support even if you are DIY. I did like David Bowie’s portrayal of Warhol in the movie “Basquiat.” So here’s a link to Bowie’s song “Andy Warhol.”
†2.26 The Beats
While few of the Beats were native San Franciscans – Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were from the East Coast and William S. Burroughs from Texas, for instance – it was when they congealed with folks like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, an artist and poet who started City Lights Bookstore and City Lights Press, that the Beats made a name for themselves. Allen Ginsburg, best known for his poem “Howl”, saw that as a group they could promote each writer as well as the whole group to sway publishers and venue hosts.
After WWI blew the mind of artists such as Tristan Tzara and Jean Arp, so one theory goes, they determined that everything was as meaningless as baby-talk, “da da.” As Vetted Word meets at Shine Nightclub to perform, they did at Cabaret Voltaire, a nightclub in Zurich, not to be confused with the band. Their nihilism inspired Poop God’s DooDooist movement, as explained in this manifesto.
Following on the heels of the Dadaists, Surrealist leader Andre Breton regrouped artists in Paris after WWI, and formulated the concepts of the movement in his manifestoes. Salvador Dali, Renee Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miró and Marcel Duchamp are probably the best known of the group.
†2.29 F. Scott Fitzgerald
Best known for “The Great Gatsby” and his tumultuous relationship with his wife Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald – reportedly soon to be portrayed by Keira Knightley.
– According to Wikipedia…
†2.30 the Lost Generation
In the 1920’s, as Dadaism was morphing into Surrealism, Paris was also inundated with American writers and artists. Their ranks included Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Ezra Pound.
†2.31 the Romantic Poets
Made famous in the movies “Gothic” (Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson) and “Haunted Summer” (Philip Anglim, Alice Krige, Eric Stoltz, Laura Dern), both of which portray a summer spent in a country manner with Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Godwin Shelley when she wrote Frankenstein.
†2.34 Ani DiFranco
“Since Ani bucked the major label system in the early-‘90s, opting to release her music on her own terms, the self-described Little Folksinger has been the subject of all kinds of hyperbole. She’s been called “fiercely independent” (Rolling Stone), “inspirational” (All Music Guide), “the ultimate do-it-yourself songwriter” (The New York Times), etc. As the cracks in the music industry get larger and more big-name artists follow Ani’s lead – Radiohead, Madonna and Nine Inch Nails among them – maybe people will just start calling her “smart.”’ From her biography on her Righteous Babe website. Now we know how she and the media think of her!
†2.35 State University of New York
3.62 g.p.a. for a Bachelor’s of Art in English (writing concentration), 1991.
This spelling of FISH is often attributed to G. Bernhard Shaw, but was first referenced either by William Ollier or an anonymous spelling reformer.
†2.37 G. Bernhard Shaw
Best known for “Pygmalion,” which was made into the musical “My Fair Lady.” The third act of “Man or Superman,” titled “Don Juan in Hell,” was the inspiration for “Rapunzel Meets Santa Claus in Hell.”
That’s my nickname for my friend Doug Leonard, artist, anthropologist, social worker, minister. He was one of my friends that I dubbed as gurus for their apparent wisdom. I don’t think Doug likes this nickname. He probably likes what the Winnebago Tribe dubbed him better: Man With Big Heart.