On Monday, April 2, 2018 I received a huge envelope from Nicolas Malevitsis containing postcards, magazines, and three CONFIDENTIAL artworks featuring rubber stamp heads of Rafael González and me superimposed on photos of sites in Greece. CONFIDENTIAL is a conceptual mail art collaborative project created by Rafael and me in 2016. We sent numerous modified photo postcards with our rubber stamp heads attached in various settings along with the rubber stamped word CONFIDENCIAL or CONFIDENTIAL. Soon other people started spontaneously participating!
Hello Friends! On the right side of every blog page you will now find a list of Blog Categories. This will make it easier for you to find the blog entries that you enjoy. Click on each Category name to go to a page containing only blog posts pertinent to that general topic.
If you have a project that you would like to share with the friends here --
such as a radio program or podcast, an archival site, a compilation project, an event or show/fest, a new painting or collage or other art of yours, etc. --
contact me via email with the info and links and such and I will make a blog post for your item. You can even write the blog post yourself!
When involved in social media such as Facebook I have tried to maintain a Friends list of no more than 150 people because when the list gets much bigger than that I find that I have trouble keeping up with who is who! I wonder if we have limits in any social network, such as the so-called Cassette Network of the 1980s, on how many people we can maintain stable, meaningful relationships with. Below is the opening paragraph of Wikipedia's article on Dunbar's number. Please share your thoughts on your own experiences. Is this a problem at all for any of you? Or is it merely an Internet problem?
Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships. Dunbar explained it informally as "the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar".
Me personally, I do not think that CDRs are inherently bad. I use CDRs these days to distribute hard copies of my audio art because they are much less expensive to mail than cassettes because I can mail them via Letter Rate instead of Package postal rate. The difference is astounding. It costs $13 to mail one cassette (or CD in a thick case) from USA to an international destination. I can mail one CDR in a plastic slipcase inside an envelope for only about $3.50 to destinations in Europe.
As for the lack of long letters, yes I too hardly ever write long letters any more, it's true! But here is the thing: my audio collage works are loaded with my spoken personal thoughts, ideas and reflections, along with sounds from my daily life. I make the audio art itself as personal as possible. When you listen to a 75-minute dictaphone assemblage by me it is like you are spending five hours with me because there are four layers of sounds happening simultaneously. The listener can immerse themselves in the experience and listen closely to all of the details on headphones, or just put my CDR playing in the background as they go about their own daily activities in such a way that the two combine for an even richer experience.
It is NOT impossible to forge friendships in today's online music world.
A few years ago a fellow in Sweden named Per-Arne Hognert started buying numerous downloads from my Bandcamp sites. I want to mention that I make my Bandcamp albums as personal as possible. They are often loaded with photos, liner note booklets, and printable cassette and CD cover files. Plus, I always try to write an email thanking each customer for purchasing the download. One customer was amazed that I would take the trouble to write and thank him for purchasing a $1 download. Any way, Per-Arne and I started exchanging emails, and we soon thereafter started collaborating on audio projects! I now consider P-A one of my best friends and associates, and you can find several collabs with him on my website. To this date he has purchased about 300 downloads of my music as well as many many hard copies on cassette and CDR. He truly has supported my projects creatively and financially in a way that reminds me of the devotion that many of us felt back in the 80s.
I made another great lifelong friend in Rafael González via online interactions. Rafael originally made his first cassette recordings back in 1986, back in the Glory Days of Cassette Culture. But we did not know each other until the 2010s when Rafa started contributing to my online compilation projects such as the multi-volume International Email Audio Art Project. Over the last several years we have collaborated on numerous audio and visual art projects, and have forged a deep friendship. We communicate nearly every day through personal messaging. As has so often been the case since 1981 my best friends in this world live in locations hundreds and often thousands of miles away.
As Don Campau recently pointed out perhaps the most important aspect of Hometaper Culture is Communication. And I'll add to that Friendship and Fun, both of which of course go along with Communication.
So, in my opinion we need to keep on looking for ways to move forward while doing our best to remain true to our ideals. I'm not sure that we can ever re-gain that original Cassette Culture feeling. It's 2018, not 1986. But we can do our best within the current technological situation to make our art as personal as possible and to hold on to that spirit of independence, joy of creation for the love of creation, and we can feel fortunate that we can continue to create!
For me it is important to create/record every day. I carry a dictaphone with me everywhere every day. This way of moving through the world, ever ready to capture sounds, to direct my attention toward the phenomena of my daily life, serves to transform my daily reality. The mundane details of daily life become bigger events. Every moment is precious and filled with adventure!
I love getting stuff in the mail! Today I received a package from my old friend Jeff Chenault. I first made contact with Jeff through Chris Phinney of Harsh Reality Music who had collaborated with Jeff. Jeff recorded under the name Jeff Central in the 1980s and he operated a cassette label called International Terrorist Network (I.T.N.). These days I am not sure that anyone could get away with calling their label "terrorist" - hahahahaha. In the comments I hope that Jeff will comment on I.T.N. and how he came up with the name, and contrast what "terrorist" meant then with what it does now. In the package was this fantastic item, a print catalog listing cassettes on Jeff's label, and other offerings. I love old black print catalogs like this with their high contrast imagery.
In March 2017 I published the seventh issue of my personal print zine called HalZine, in an edition of 100. Today I mailed out the last of the original print run of 100 copies. HalZine 7 was a multiple collaboration project. I created collages consisting of art and printed materials that I received in the mail. HalZine 7 consisted of 16 digest-sized pages plus cover. The two pages of postal contact addresses are not offered here, and the Centerfold (pages 10 and 11) is presented as one collage, not separate pages. Check out the slideshow below. To view larger versions of the pages, go here.
I have known Wolfgang Dorninger since the Cassette Culture days of the mid 1980s. He operated a tape label called Die Ind, recorded with the groups Monochrome Bleu and Josef K. Noyce, and published the cassettezine Tape Report. He was one of the most avid networkers I knew in those days, and now he is organizing a Tape Culture exhibition, CASSETTE CULTURE NODE.LINZ, to take place in Linz, Austria for three weeks in spring 2018. Dorninger will make daily guided tours through the exhibition, and once a week there will be an evening of concerts, and lectures.
Detailed information on the exhibition and Wolfgang's cassette archives can be found here:
Berlin-based Lord Litter has been a friend of mine since the Cassette Culture Days of the late 1980s. A unique recording artist and ardent networker, he continues to the present day with his networking activities, including numerous radio shows featuring homemade audio art and music.
In recent days and weeks LL and I have been discussing via email many issues pertaining to the state of Tape Culture in the 21st Century. We both feel that instead of using large corporate Internet structures we need to re-focus our efforts toward personal decentralized grassroots efforts.
This blog was created because of my desire to rid myself of the toxic, addictive burden of Social Media (especially Facebook) and to focus on personal expressions of my life as an artist on my own personal, NON-TOXIC, advertisement-free and politics-free website.
In a recent email Lord Litter shared this quote by Edward Snowden:
Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as "surveillance companies." Their rebranding as "social media" is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.
Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 17, 2018
Cassette Culture NOW (2018)
Part 2 - a first analysis (feeding the money machine)
What the cassette culture of today totally lost is it's original anarchistic underground approach A article on todays cassette culture scene of America starts with this statement:"Cassettes are big business in the US of A."(1)
The original idea was this one: "Artists self-releasing would often copy their music in exchange for a blank tape plus self-addressed envelope...But there also existed many small 'tape labels' ... that operated in opposition to the capitalistic aim of maximizing profit".(2)
From the Bandcamp 2017 Year in Review: "2017 was another stellar year for Bandcamp, with double digit growth in every aspect of the business. Digital album sales were up 16%, tracks 33%, and merch 36%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl (up 54%), CDs (up 18%), and cassettes (up 41%)" Now have a guess who really earns by this development.
Many of todays aspects are almost only about slick business. All happening in sterile surroundings, that make all participants look the same. The *culture* here is defined by marketing structures owned by a few.
An important part of the original idea was this one: Darrell Draeger, member of original cassette culture band "Hermanos Guzanos" writes 2018: "Wow! It's truly amazing how much work it was. Some of the letters are two or three pages in teeny tiny writing, and a lot of these people were making this crazy ass music, and they were all nice and polite as can be most of the time.
The intercultural communication that happens with two or three pages was a driving force of the original scene Imagine the in-depth effect it had to receive such a letter with a cassette from South Africa in 1989! (Yes I received those!) Some may say that we have all this via Blogs today. Do you really think that a ongoing person to person communication can be surrogated by a Blog entry that gets replys by many like "Interesting" - "cool" - *I like*...??
The structures owned by a few took over and too much of todays *cassette culture* became a value for them. Facebook "talks" and bandcamp "sells"...and the *cassette culture* delivers according to rule.
I heard arguments like "We only use these structures, like in the original days we used the postal system to send our music into the world."
The postal system just was a tool that did'nt "dictate" anything. You could send any word and any individual created piece of art via this system - the system just transported. Facebook, Bandcamp etc define what we do, rules dictate how we look, talk, act ... and once you act according to rule they make money with you.
And above all too often there is of course the idea "Yeah I can *make it* - a million clicks are possible, if I act according to rule.
Today's cassette culture is just too much part of all that defines today's existance.
A solution? Well probably taking a giant step back is a beginning. Concentrating on producing 10 homemade copies of a cassette - each with an individual cover - and exchanging them with friends at concerts etc. - thinking in *individuality* as quality not longing for quantities.
Concentrating on a own individual homepage offering homeproducts.
Working on own networks outside the cooperation owned ones.
Well yes this is quite much work like the "two or three pages in teeny tiny writing" but Folks this is what once defined *Independence* ... and what about asking friends if they would like to take part in an exciting new adventure?! One makes the music, another one creates the website a third one corresponds - and thus becomming independent...
And then there is of course the opinion: We live today, we have to find our own way into the new reality, we have to use what we find, just ignoring reality is very unrealistic ... and I totally aggree. But why not being critical, aware and thinking - just don't say yes to anything they throw at you. I guaranteed creating an *own world* is much more exciting!
PS: All this sure also goes for all other formats, like vinyl, CD and whatever you may think of.
PPS: I just received a reminder on 20 years of CDBaby. CDBaby which was once a great idea of one Derek Sivers, who wanted to establish some independent CD selling via a new kind of internet shop. Now look what it became - Sivers sold it for millions and today's CDBaby became a money making machine juggling figures like Bandcamp. Again the question - have a guess who really makes the money here. 4$ dollars per CD - how much per Cassette?
(1) 10 Cassette Labels that Define America’s Tape Scene -
Darrell Draeger's Cassette Culture Blog
Next time I guess I'll have a thought about the "sound of 2018".
You may have heard me mention a middle-aged fellow who sings soul songs out loud in public on the Gainesville city bus. You have even heard him on my recent dictaphone assemblage albums.
At first, several months ago, I just thought he was charmingly eccentric and a "character".
Over time I noticed disturbing behaviors and acts. He would often sit next to or directly across from college-age women and try to make conversation with them in a flirting kind of way. At first I thought nothing of it. But I started noticing that some of the women were made to feel very uncomfortable and tried to avoid and evade him. About a month or so ago he started cursing under his breath at a woman who would not make eye contact with him. Again, I thought that he was just being "odd".
I think it's important to be tolerant and give people the benefit of the doubt because we can never be sure of what their mental states are or what disabilities they may be suffering from.
On Tuesday, though, things went too far and I spoke up and said something to him! He was loudly verbally harassing a young woman and her male friend because the woman would not stare back at him, I guess... Any way, I saw that the young lady and her friend were getting very upset and didn't know what to do or say, so I turned to the fellow and I said in a calm but forceful tone of voice "You need to stop harassing the other passengers on this bus!" He replied that it was none of my business. In response I said "I am a citizen just like you and everybody else on this bus, and if you don't stop harassing these people I am going to report you!" He mumbled some reply and I told him "Dude, don't push it!" The young lady and her friend seemed thankful for my intervention.
The next day a lady who rides the bus every day at the same time I do (she works at Wendy's at the hospital where I work) talked with me about that guy. I told here that I kond of felt sorry for him because he is obviously mentally ill. She told me that he is more than that, that the fellow is a registered sex offender! She also told me that me saying something to him had encouraged her and a few other regular passengers to file complaints with Regional Transit System about that fellow's behavior.
The Swami loaded sounds from those three cassette albums
onto a cassette in a 4-track tape recorder and created his own unique cassette megamix assemblage.
You can listen to the entire program in the streaming audio player
on the program's page at The Internet Archive for the full experience.
If you just want to listen to the Multivember megamix you can go to 35:30 in the program.
NOW AVAILABLE! MAG1CK M0MENTS by THE MUD$H1TS
Jiblit Dupree and The McGee Brothers bring you 10 Timeless Classics
- cover versions of songs originally made famous by Fr@nk $1n@tra, $@mmy D@v1s Jr., J0hnny C@$h, W00dy Guthr1e, De@n M@rt1n, B0b Dyl@n, Perry C0m0, Chubby P@rker, and B@rbara Lew1$.
Don't worry! These sound NOTHING like the originals! They sound like us.
Click on the photo below to view the info and stream the album.
The 12th issue of HalZine will be
a special issue about
You can view 85 photos by Jen Sandwich from Apartment Music 28 here
Click on each photo below to view larger versions of the photos.
You can view a special Apartment Music 28 information page that I created for the performers, including performance stipulations.