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My FLUXUS Evening td Mon Jan 1 11:12:26 2007
Last Saturday (December 7, 2002) ACME Observatory presented a concert of early FLUXUS works, curated by Gino Robair.

I performed George Brecht's Three Aqueous Events, by frying ice cubes on an amplified (contact microphone taped to the bottom) electric griddle, and Dick Higgins's Danger Music Number Fourteen, both of which appeared to go over very well.

But the real excitement happened off-stage. Morgan Guberman planned to perform Ken Friedman's Stamp Act, which involves rubber stamps and a nude model. So he put out a query for a model on craigslist, and got two replies. The first one sent him a second message the next day saying "what was I thinking, I just broke up with my boyfriend and wasn't in my right mind and I'm sorry I led you on", but the second said her name was Bibiana Padilla Maltos, she was a big FLUXUS fan, had performed Stamp Act before and would fly up from Calexico, CA (or Mexicali, MX, I'm not quite clear on that detail) for the show. As show time approached, she hadn't shown up and Morgan spent a lot of time pacing anxiously. Several of us suspected that someone was pulling Morgan's chain, but he kept saying "she called me a few minutes ago, she just got off the plane, she'll be right here". Then a couple of people showed up claiming to be her friends, adding to the suspense. Finally, just as we were getting started, she appeared! It turns out she's for real, confirmed by a google search. She and Morgan did a great job of Stamp Act.

Side note: one of the unwritten rules of performance art is you don't want to follow the naked lady, so of course, my two pieces were scheduled right after Stamp Act. (Fortunately, the naked lady effect was diluted by an intermission.)

Also on the program were a couple of La Monte Young compositions (Composition 1960 #7 and Piano Piece for David Tudor #1.) Saturday morning, we received the following email:

Dear Tom Duff and Gino Robair,

It has come to our attention that you have programmed one or more works by La Monte Young on a concert to be hosted by Gino on Saturday, December 7 at 8:15 PM, at TUVA Space, 3192 Adeline at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA, presented by the ACME Observatory.

We would have appreciated being contacted by you in advance of this presentation. La Monte prefers to work with musicians who are going to perform his work, which is obviously not now possible in this case.

La Monte Young's works are copyrighted and it is necessary to obtain a performance license from us. According to the announcement in the Bay Area NEWMUS-EVENTS digest 1131, you plan to perform "Piano Piece for David Tudor #1," from 1960, which was announced as: "Feeding hay to the TUVA piano!"

Please provide us with the titles of any other works of La Monte's on the program so we can issue a performance license. A licensing fee of $100 is usually required for performances of each of La Monte's compositions of this type, depending on the circumstances. As Acme Observatory Contemporary Music Series is supported by grants from the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission and anonymous donors, we assume this concert has some funding.

We realize this request is reaching you very late in your planning and we are willing to work with you toward a positive resolution, but we received the information extremely late also.

With best regards,

La Monte Young       Marian Zazeela
MELA Foundation, Inc.
275 Church Street
New York, NY 10013

Of course, we can't afford fees like this at all. Our grant from Berkeley is $2500, with which we do about 30 concerts a year, we took in $61 at the door, and we rent TUVA for $100 a night, so if we gave Young $200 we'd be about $150 short on the night, which the aforementioned "anonymous donors" would have to pick up. ("Anonymous donors" is a euphemism for "you can't make money doing what we do. On the other hand, you can't lose that much either, so rather than not do it, we cover the difference out of our own pockets.")

So probably we should have contacted him (it never occurred to me -- most experimental composers get little enough attention that they're happy about any sort of performance), and maybe we could have negotiated an agreeable rate, but there was no time, so we dropped his pieces from the program. Tough for us (I blew a couple of weekends programming my laptop, trying to make an idiomatic, compelling interactive version of Composition 1960 #7), but tougher for La Monte. He missed out on a performance at what turned out to be a very good show, and there's not much chance we'll ever program him again. But I guess he needs us as much as we need him.