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The Laughing Academy
A Life of Noisy Desperation
Damn Good Times 
30th-Jan-2006 02:47 am
Steeplechase
Spent Sunday puttering around my apartment, feeling not unpleasantly footsore thanks to Saturday’s exertions. In the early afternoon I headed into Manhattan for my fourth and final free salsa lesson at Empire Dance. Natually, this was the one lesson for which I was not only punctual but managed to arrive before Lily, who has also been attending the classes as a paying customer (I think; maybe she also had a coupon). It’s been fun (even though Frankie’s favored practice song is now an indelible part of my interior soundtrack) and I would have liked to continue the lessons, but I’ll have to put that off until I have money coming in.

After linner (like brunch, but later) with Lily at a dumpling place on 23rd I went home, where I had just enough time to make some tea, check my e-mail, and change my heels for boots before leaving for the fourth and final (I detect a trend emerging) Dewanatron performance at Pierogi. Again, I managed to arrive on time, despite the goddamn L shuttle bus. It probably helped that I opted to get off at Lorimer Street and walk the rest of the way rather than ride to Bedford Avenue, even though the latter stop is closer to the gallery.

The performance drew a good-sized crowd, though it didn’t feel as jammed as last week’s show. This may have been due to the fact that the audience was in the center of the room while Brian and Leon walked around them, adjusting the Rotary Ordinator and the wall-mounted Melody Gins on the fly. (Plus, let’s face it, this week there were no cartoons.) The first composition, for lack of a better word, consisted largely of squawks, whoops, and beeps; the second had more of a chiming quality, although this impression may have stemmed from Brian’s comparison of the piece to change ringing and the way the it slowed at the end, like a clock running down. Afterward, the observers were allowed to play the Gins, creating a wall of noise that could have been titled “Cacophony.”

Leon invited me to the post-show party, which this week was hosted by Brian’s friend Abby. I hitched a ride with Leon’s red-haired friend Jennifer(?), her pottery teacher, Rachel, and their friend James, although it turned out that Abby’s mouthwatering loft (huge and cheap; if only my family had moved to Williamburg instead of Governors Island) was fairly close to Pierogi. I mooned over Abby’s place, paid tribute to her pet Abyssinian, Ray, and spent the next few hours eating good food, drinking a little wine (I’ve been more cautious about booze since the WFMU party debacle), and having interesting conversations. I particularly enjoyed talking books with Toni, an artist whose training as an acupuncturist.

The highlight of the evening was meeting Brian’s father, Dr. Edmond Dewan, who is a heck of a raconteur and owns a photocopy of the zero-gee toilet instructions from 2001. Back in the 1960s he created a technique for transmitting brain waves to a computer, and to demonstrate it he used to do things like turning appliances on and off or spelling out messages in morse code—with his brain! This sometimes elicited amusing and/or alarming reactions. My favorite stories were the demonstration in Tampa which coincided with a major blackout, and the time some guy with voices in his head talked his way into Dr. Dewan’s office (“I asked him if he’d tried thorazine, and his hands began to shake. He said the doctors gave it to him at Bridgewater. That’s where they keep the criminally insane. Now my hands were shaking...”) He also mentioned two books that I’m anxious to read, based solely on their titles: Bad Science and Brain Waves and Death.

However, the strangest moment of the evening happened just before Brian, Leon, John Keen, and I watched some of the video Abby shot of last week’s performance. Brian asked, “Did you guys see the review that Mark Newgarten e-mailed to me? It’s from some blog.”

“The one that specified that I wasn’t Linnell or Flansburgh, and someone commented that they didn’t care for that arty stuff,” said John.

I gaped. “Um, I think that’s my blog.”

That’s the first time that’s happened.

Eventually the crowd thinned out to Abby and six diehards: me, Brian, Edmond (when I asked if it was Mr. Dewan or Dr. Dewan, he said it was both but I could call him Edmond — hee!) John, Pamelia Kurstin (theremin goddess, who apparently has moved or is moving to Vienna), and a woman I hadn’t met before named Camille. We didn’t leave until 2:15 a.m., and then we stood in a circle on the sidewalk outside Abby’s building and talked for another quarter-hour before we finally went our seperate ways. I walked to the Graham L stop, where I had a mercifully short wait for the goddamn shuttle bus, and got home around three.
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