Richard Mackin, July 5, 2013 (view all comments by Richard Mackin)
This book serves several purposes: it is a historical archive for those interested in the inspirations of Burning Man, Santacon, Fight Club and many other (Counter?) Cultural institutions. It's a great coffee table book, with amazing visuals...both from the archives of the authors and Kevin Evans' brilliant illustration. Perhaps most importantly, this book is a TO DO list... not intended to be a literal recipe book of step-by-step instructions so much as a food-for-thought buffet of ways to prank, count coup, push your own boundaries or simply have a zany adventure.
For those interested in the current state of Portland's Cacophony Society (and a group who may be mentioned elsewhere if the spam hasn't been removed), I suggest the reader look up Matthew Korfhage's article in the July 13th, 2013 Willamette Week, "Capture or Asylum: Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees 10 Years Later." (another great book, whose anniversary happens to be coincidentally good timing.)
Having read this book and attended the brilliant slideshow by John Law and company, it's humbling for many of us 20-30-40 something Portlander's to learn how many now-Portlanders (and some Powell's staff) were heavily involved with some of this early stuff.
If you've ever been (or considered going) to Burning Man, dressed as a Santa for nefarious purposes, or simply are interested in lesser known historical sidenotes, this book is well worth a perusal.
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In sum, a person can argue in this deceptively short but insightful manifesto, thanks to today’s technology, the weird are no longer isolated or no longer ignored by marketers and companies. And thanks to the wealth offered by the productivity of the past industrial age, most of them have the time, money and confidence to choose to be weird.
Creation is amplified. Today, not only can anyone be a creator, but through the free, simple and instant worldwide connections of the Internet, your creation can be seen and appreciated by fans. "Anyone anywhere can publish to the world,"
There are more people on the edge today. For example, a new era arises in Portland, a group called Stumptown Crawlers, who defy the Cacophony culture jamming of old. These edgy, brash, young rebel rousers are a welcome revised appeal into mainstream popularity, as this new group has shaken the very root of weirdtown. The days of the old secret PDX Cacophony run by a few cantankerous men, has all but fallen way to the overwhelmingly popular, always fresh weirdness, and highly exciting fun new group.
The new and exciting weirdo’s of today, culture jam much more efficient, more so for charity, and unlike the old, they open their doors to mainstream. The old legion has all but crumbled in Portland.
The bottom line for business, "If you cater to the normal, you will disappoint the weird. And as the world gets weirder, that’s a dumb strategy." The overtone in today’s culture describes the end of the era of "mass" and the ascendancy of the "weird."
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Last Gasp -
by Margaret Cho,
"Before the Internet vomited headlines by the millisecond and turned the minutia of a million boring Facebook lives into news, we were left the privilege of mystery. This was something The San Francisco Cacophony Society gave me in spades. Over the years, I would catch glimpses, collect pieces of a puzzle I was slowly assembling — a car crushed flat by an earthquake miraculously tooling down Golden Gate, toasters glued to buildings, news-clips of mock protests and costumed impostors, flyers for strange art spectacles. Now the puzzle is assembled in this gorgeous graphic collection, a book every lover of eccentricity and enemy of the status quo should enjoy."
From Fight Club to Burning Man, Flash Mobs to Santarchy cacophony influenced everything subversive, playful and anti-authoritarian in popular culture over the last 20 years — this is the great, untold story of the 1980s and '90s.
A template for pranksters, artists, adventurers and anyone interested in rampant creativity, Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society is the history of the most influential underground cabal you've never heard of.
Rising from the ashes of the mysterious and legendary Suicide Club, the Cacophony Society, at its zenith, hosted chapters in over a dozen major cities, and influenced much of what was once called the underground. The Cacophony Society's epic exploits radically changed the way people live and play in the world. The group inspired Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club and Burning Man and helped start pop culture trends including flash mobs, urban exploration, and culture jamming. A large-format, full-color, hardbound homage to this protean group, Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society is packed with original art, never before published photographs, original documents and incredulous news accounts.
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