April 27th, 2003

TV Turn-off Week at the Jaunt

reading EFC by candle-light

John Bert & I travelled to Mike Ciul’s (pronounced “shool”) & Janine Schwab’s three-story mansion “The Jaunt” for their Friday evening installment of alternative entertainment the week of TV Turn-off Week. John dressed in drag and moved painted pieces of cardboard from one side of the stage to another, I presented a reading of Egyptian Fax Chamber, John ripped a suit apart whilst wearing it, and many other activities followed. I got several
new umbrella hat photos. John’s final performance was sleeping in the window overnight.

More details to follow.

Here is a schedule/recap from the outrageous organizers:

Well, TV Turnoff Week Alternative Prime-Time Programming got off to a good start Monday night at Janine and Mike’s place. We had a dramatic reading of Jim Speer’s original soap opera, “While the World Burns” and afterwards he and Helene Zisook performed folk tunes from the Swiss Jura mountain region.

Tuesday night the former inhabitants of the Jaunt came and performed. Jim Trainer read his neo-beat poetry and Maleka Fruean delighted us by reading poetry she’d written for the house while she lived here. We could relate to the “cat shit” phenomenon. Her brother, Nick, did a freestyle rap that knocked the cat’s spots off.

Wednesday Maggie Kruesi and Frank Lamont performed original protest
and folk song, including “Saddam’s Shame” and “Moving to Canada”. The next installment of “As the World Burns” was performed and Jim Speer did his George W. Bush War Room Improvisational Dance accompanied by George Korein on synthesizer.

Thursday Oskar Castro read his excellent political poetry. “GI Joe and
Barbie vs. the Taliban,” an original screenplay by Iden Rosenthal, ended up not being read due to lack of audience (of course this wasn’t a problem for any of the other performers).

Friday the evening began with Toshi Makihara performing free improvised percussion. The Greater Scranton Area Umbrella Hat Performance Art All-Stars and Marching Kazoo Orchestra performed Egyptian Fax Chamber (spoken word with projection) and various and sundry performance art acts of terror. John Bert finished off the evening by sleeping in our window until morning. Here you can see a picture of
John waking up with our cat T-Toes, the amazing twelve-toed cat.

On Saturday our new acquaintance, Makeda aka The Brooklyn Bellyrina
performed North African belly dance. A woman stopped to watch whose pastor mother had thrown out all of her belly dancing costumes while she was in college. Because the dancing had started late, “Nameless” Mike Benedetti’s call-in report from the annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick-Off Party (the first day of the hiking season) had to be interspersed with dances and did not get the attention it
deserved. The horny toads he described did, however, cause a stir. Afterwards Charles Cohen who, indeed, provides “beeps and boops for all occasions”, played late into the night.

Sunday evening John and Jan Haigis sang lullabies, Groundhog Day carols, hymns, and early American
songs. They ended up being our last act.

All in all we were very pleased with TV Turnoff Week. Only two performers bailed out and those who performed were very good sports about a cramped stage and little guarantee of an audience. It was heartening for us to hear from our neighbors how much they liked a
performance that we hadn’t seen them at. Apparently, people were watching and listening from their windows. Our hearts can only go out to the poor people whose car stalled while they were pulling in to our parking space (we are car-free – at an angle. With their headlights trained on the stage, they were a captive audience for John Bert’s antics with spraypainted cardboard. We are sure they will remain haunted by the images they saw.

There will certainly be more TV Turnoff Week performances in the future. If you are interested in performing next year, contact us at:

The Jaunt
1124 So. 47th Street
Phila. PA 19143

—Janine and Mike

There is an old Zen analogy that the way to calm, clear and quiet the mind is similar to the way to clear a muddy pool — not by action, by doing, by stirring it up, but by stillness, by letting it be, by letting it settle itself. The function of TV is to create, maintain and constantly reinforce what — in the Zen tradition — is often called “monkey-mind.” The question to ask is: What is the good of a jumpy, volatile, scattered and hyper monkey-mind?
– Bernard McGrane

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