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David Zack: Introduction

Zack, David: Introduction, in: Brain in the Mail. Collection d'art postal. Mail art Collection, Publications Vehicule Art, Montréal, 1980, pp. 14–17. (Ed. by Monty Cantsin)

Dear Kantor,

You asked me to write an introduction for your catalogue. Here it comes!

I talked with Ackerman on the phone in Portland last night, to tell him about Ruth's call from Calgary. At 7:27 p.m. June 17th, 1979, she gave birth to our fifth child together, a girl, 8 lbs 12 ounces.

Ackerman was very glad, of course, said it is wonderful father's day present, and to be sure it is a wonderful father's day present.

He told me how he is getting the whole Arthur Turner story published in 16 pages, by Genesis P-Orridge over there in London. He said he has been visiting recently with the original Arthur Turner, a computer scientist who went to my own school, the University of Chicago, name of RH Tatum, and Tatum will take part in the Copenga Copenhagen Correspondence Convention Conference at the Tranegarden Community Art Library, in Hallerup, May 2nd, 1980, more than likely. I am very pleased to hear this — I was pretty drunk when I visited with Ron in Houston in 1974 but I did send him my biggest ever correspondence palimpsest, more than two meters high and was waiting for a payoff on that piece of art, and I can see it coming now.

Because the way things are going, Kantor, we will need computers to handle the 1984 correspondence convention in Denmark, at Tivoli Amusement Park. The problem to face is how to use them so the correspondense is better, and for this we need a smart computer scientist like Tatum. And of course a smart computer scientist ties you into a lot of other smart computer scientists, such as Bob Floyd. Bob Floyd I believe is the Alice Cooper of computer scientists, or perhaps it is the John Lennon because he has been lasting a while. I never knew Ron Tatum because he was at the University of Chicago after I was there. However I was friends with Floyd, when he was working the nightshift at I.I.T. in 1957, programming formulas for Toni hairdry formulae and talking talking talking about what this equipment he was working with. Floyd was 19 then, 20, going with a girl called Jan, living in a Spanish style apartment house. I listened to him a great deal, Kantor, much as I listen to you, and of course you must realize I didn't understand a thing except that the subject was very interesting and I knew sometime I would get to where what I was doing would depend very much on using computers right.

This is what Floyd was saying, that computers are very flexible devices. He could see back then they would be manufacturing themselves in time, and the time of course has come. To see a world in a grain of sand (and a heaven in a wild flower) is an image of William Blake, but it is also a computer chip, as everyone can now see.

Now, of course, what you are doing with your show, and the catalogue I am introducing here, and the Monty Cantsin idea and Cerebrite 79-84 and also Neoism which you tell me people are buzzing about so hard in Montreal - it all requires computerization to be any good.

By "any good" I mean so it does a lot of good for the individuals involved in the correspondense process.

It was so fine to see you connect with Maris Kundzins, who started Monty Cantsin out in Portland in March of 1978, via Sue Fishbein, who didn't hear of correspondense until she met Maris in San Diego last summer, summer of 78, and got to be friends with him and Barbara Vogel. Then she came to New York, and I gave her that weird neo-doll to give you, and you met in Montreal, and a link of the person to person sort was set up between you and the Monty original. But of course you are the Monty original as much as Maris is. This is the idea, if there is an idea — that in correspondense each person is an original. There is no point on people being copies of other people in correspondense, though of course the point of the media monster in operation is that one person can be copied by hundreds of people, thus becoming a media monster on two legs, without a head.

Not to worry. I am really a bit worried about your blood soup.

What if you drank it? It would ruin your vegetarian standing. To me, Kantor, the fact you are a yoga and a vegetarian is basic to who you are. When you went outside in your underpants and do yoga exercises there in the Albina neighborhood in Portland, and people like Steve Minor learned about it, in my opinion you did more for Monty Cantsin and art than in all the appearances you made at libraries, art galleries, fairs, bars and so on.

The reason for this is that the power of correspondense is like the power of gossip, mouth to ear, and by acting like the normal Hungarian yoga you are, you stimulated a lot of mouthes into a lot of ears that hadn't had anything new to talk about since the race riots back in 1964. Kantor, you really did it in Portland. There were days you didn't eat, days and days, I know. But the miracle of the telephone persisted, and the talk was set in motion. Karli Terri and the Herculean win crew create more Monty Cantsins than any number of Long Goodbyes or Darvon Discos.

But the soup, Kantor, the soup. Red soup. From your blood, like you told me. They are to take it out in tubes.

I see, I see. Sure, when John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ, this did more to make the Beatles popular in the U.S.A. than anything else he could have said. Right?

And that spread the Beatles to Japan, to Italy, even to Hungary. So big a pop sensation.

And now, you give the people your blood to drink. Even Christ just did this by metaphor — he passed out bread and wine, and said it was blood and flesh. But you give them red soup.

Now, Kantor, I don't know if you ever saw the postcard Beke Laszlo sent me that helped me to go to Budapest in 1976 — helped me to decide to go, I mean. It was a tiny red square, and of course I realized what Beke was talking about is that a red square should be a tiny thing, rather than a monster.

And now you did that Kondrashin-Cliburn performance, where Michele shot the piano player. And then you told me how you were working with the piano, and Lion Laser had his hand broken. Believe me, I worried about that a lot. I mean, it isn't good a musician should break a hand. Better a musician should be given a big hand — give the piano player a big hand. Well, I suppose Lion's hand did swell up a bit after being broken. But it is so wrong.

Yet also so right. Did you read Me, Alice? I mean the story of the pop star, Alice Cooper. How he outraged people by pretending to be gay, but wasn't. How he and the other guys in his band threw glasses and bottles at the audience? And how they became the most popular pop act of their day, which is still going on?

Kantor, you know what you are doing with this Monty Cantsin! You have gone farther than anyone, with your blood soup!

And, because you are a yoga and a vegetarian, you cannot drink it yourself. You are offering people something you can't ouch touch.

You remain pure and clean. And so, it is art that is like Brecht, Bertolt Brecht, the old communist playright, said was the right kind of art. You are acting, and teaching, at the same time.

It drives a person crazy to think about it. Blood soup! But at the same time, your pop stardom develops, and this is one hell of a way to generate interest in an idea.

Now, Kantor, listen. There are two things I need to tell you about. One is this Peter Halasz. Remember, Squat Theatre is gone. They are no longer the First Theatre in the world. They are doing something different in July. It will be The Second Theatre in the World.

Now, besides that, you know Neumanyi is in Paris. Yes, you led him there, and he is there. And there is a pile of writing at the Squat Theatre building on 23rd street, part of Neumanyi's movement. It is very clear writing. I hope you get a chance to read it there when you see Peter Halasz.

Btw, Kantor, the other thing I have to tell you. I was at Morning Raga presented by Bandit Fran Nath yesterday. It was in the old stock exchange of New York, the same room where the stock market once operated, a big white room. Hundreds of people sat on the floor.

I was talking with a man from Montreal who comes to study with Pran Nath as much as he can. Pran Nath is the living master of the Kirani style of Indian vocal singing. Vocal singing? Yes, well, all singing is vocal, or almost all. But this is a special thing. He practiced it as a boy in India, at night, in the jungle. He was so eager to practice he learned how to do without sleep, you know. It is a saga.

Go to New York, Kantor! Study vocal singing with Pran Nath! He will make your work famous — the Pandit can show you how. Ordinarily, I don't believe in pandits and Gurus and the like, you know. Think it is a bunch of hogwash. But I know media gold when I see it — always have, always will. So don't worry. Get yourself in with Pran Nath, Kantor — do you hear me? This is all you have to do in New York. To make a living, you have to start a fad. I have these strange rubber dolls you can sell at carnivals and create a fad. If you sell a million for two dollars, you will make a million dollars. Think how many catalogues you can print for a million dollars.

O.K., O.K. I don't have much more to say. You can stay here on Coney Island if you want, by the sea, so New York is not too hard on you. All New York comes here on hot days anyhow.

I have to take a trip to Canada and see my new daughter. So you and your friends can stay here while I'm away. There is a building behind this one for sale cheap, only 25,000 dollars, and the post office is 150,000. These would be a great correspondense center, lot of room. Between us, we'll arrange to buy and use them.

In the Correspondense Center, we can get the Luna/Sea gallery going. Moon-Ocean, New-Motion. Neoism. Nothing more to say now. Please space these pages so they are neat enough to read, OK? I suppose we are introducing the catalogue to show people how correspondense works.

For example I got this poster in the mail recently and don't know who is doing the luna/sea gallery. But they obviously need a good place for it, and it seems to me Coney Island is the place, since the sea is here. And the moon too.

Maybe the Luna-seed gally gallery. Or papoona? Who can say, and why try? I really like Sam Goodman. His Shit show is just the surfacing of the legend of this unkown artist.

Known in his day, to his friends, yearning toward the sun, dying of cancer.

This is where red soup is real.

Well, Kantor, there is only one more page of this introduction, the letter from Musicmaster.

And Ackerman said I should get a message to you, relating to where you went to that party in Eugene at Haddock and Mappo's, and there was this girl who took off her blouse and danced, and Ackerman said he asked you if you thought she danced for you, and you said, No, she is lesbian, and Ackerman said I should say this is not what is important, it is just that she is, uh, he said, just that she was crazy, Kantor.

So, do well, and best wishes to you and thanks also for the chance to write for you the birth announcement for my new daughter, born last night, and still not named,

David Zack
Coney Island, NY, June 18, 1979

The attached Mail Art call:


831 42nd STREET

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