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May 26th, 2003

No fish left behind

Dear Friends:

Today I decided to take a step forward in my crusade for more effective social action on "teensy, tinesy" issues. I created my first two yahoo groups. For some time, I've noticed that yahoo groups lead to intellectual discussions, internecine struggle, cool e mails, and a sense of being "in the in". I decided that I must appropriate some of this fun for myself. So I started two groups. My first one need not concern us much here, as it's merely the next step in my "slow to get off the ground" blitz chess club promotional phase.

Instead, I write to advise you of a new social action group to help with a pressing problem. You see, millions of millionsfish have been subjected to servitude, merely because their carnivorous co-species-itants decline to eat TetraMin flake food, notwithstanding the fact that TetraMin flake food has kept guppies, goldfish, mollies and zebra danios happy for years. Instead, these high-priced carnivores of the mason jar insist upon live food, and not just any live food--they want to eat OTHER FISH! In the wild, this type of behavior is entirely understandable, but in captivity, please pardon me, but it seems a bit, well, voracious.

Who bears the brunt of these iffy table manners? Why, the innocent guppy. Guppies, easily the most beautiful fish in the freshwater community tank, are daily hurled into small, cramped aquariums hidden in the back of pet shops, from which they serve as a kind of live larder, 12 for a dollar, for oscars, arowannas and other exotic fish that should have been left in Thailand or Lake Victoria.

My new Yahoo Group, the Feeder Guppy Rescue League, is devoted to the cause of feeder guppies everywhere. You see, in the guppy world, a sharp division (which we'll call the Sharp Division, with initial capitals, though the phrase will not appear in this post again) has arisen between the "fancy guppy", the product of frightening and sinister Mendelian breeding programs by hobbyists and breeders, and the common wild guppy, a happy-go-lucky spray-painted fellow which breeds often, but not true. For some reason, the wild guppy, along with guppies shown the door from breeding programs (also known as "cull guppies") are considered second-class citizens of the aquarium fish world. Yet, the feeder guppy thrives in the worst conditions, replicates itself beautifully, is frighteningly hardy, and makes for the absolutely most playful member of any aquarium setting.

What is the feeder guppy's fault? Apparently the feeder guppy lives too well in poor conditions, breeds too readily, and shows its color without undue conformity. These are not faults! These are virtues! Since when is being physically vigorous and unpredictably wonderful a fault? That's why the feeder guppies must all be saved!

I therefore extend to all of you, tongue planted firmly in cheek but heart nonetheless visible on sleeve, an invitation to aid the cause of feeder guppies everywhere. There are no dues, no meetings to attend, and the group moderator will not send you e mail which asks you to help out politically powerful relatives in Cameroon by providing your personal
bank account data. All that you are called upon to do is post your sympathy with this great cause, particularly if you can do so in polite but floridly overdrawn prose. Oh, and if you ever stop by a yard sale, and see an aquarium on sale for far less money than you have, give a thought to feeder rescue!
They don't run behind your bicycle like rescued greyhounds do, or cuddle up while you're watching television like rescued Persian cats do, but they have a flashy charm all their own. They serve, by the way, as an excellent metaphor for the on-line life, because they are so colorful and you come to know them so well, but you really don't ever get to touch them to speak of, at least not to any good purpose.

There are guppies out there who need you! Who are you to resist their call?
On July 20, 2002, producer/guitarist scottm and I gathered at my home art room (now referred to more properly as "Landsford Studios") to record an improvised six hours of would-be ambient music termed "Vibrating Electric Fields--Experiments in Ambient Improvisational Music". I've described the process in detail in the journal post on the day of recording. After ten months of getting the CD duplicated (i.e., months of sitting around and about a week of actual duplication delay) and the jewel box inserts completed (i.e., about two weeks for Scott to design them and a couple of months of needless delay while I got around to getting them printed out), we finally have finished CDs. I ran out of brother before I ran out of new releases, so Scott's CD will have to be finalized in an upcoming weekend.

I am a more or less a music-reading non-musician (given to plinking my autoharp, tapping a glockenspiel, and humming into a kazoo or didjeridoo), while Scott is a non-music-reading musician capable of playing the guitar, the bass, the ukelele and a number of other things. We set out to make "Vibrating Electric Fields" as an experiment in the creation of recorded product on a wholly improvised basis, aiming for an ambient sound. The title derives from the centerpiece instrument of the affair, two electric football fields, which emit metallic vibrating sounds subject to changes in speed and pitch, depending on the way in which the field is manipulated. In our quest for ambience, we nearly wholly failed, because our improvisatory instincts turned out to be much more song-driven than I would have imagined prior to the beginning of the project. The result of the session, which took some six hours, is 12 songs of decided oddness. Some sound like rather ordinary acoustic melodic songs, but for the whine and grate of the electric football field, while others sound like two norelco razors in a match to the death, or a 60s gladiator movie soundtrack played entirely by kazoo. For a lament about the low quality of the music, made just after a marathon failed mixing section, look here.

This is low-fidelity, instrumental, quirky/weird stuff. But now it's time for its initial world-wide release. Because I don't use white wine, gouda cheese, turquoise jewelry, shoulder-length hair, discussions of fixations on bands like the Romantics or words like "deconstruction", I've elected not to have a live music release party. Accordingly, this post will have to suffice as the initial release party for "Vibrating Electric Fields", now being offered for the first time anywhere. I must thank my brother, who got the jewel case inserts to print out correctly, Hypnos and Ralph Records, whose artists were the initial pathwinders on my winding roads to making this music, the indelible scottm, who made this project happen, and Harry Partch, Bill Nelson and Brian Eno, who should always be thanked for everything.

But every album release party should have a freebie, shouldn't it? Please fill out the poll below to get yours; as a courtesy, it's easier for me if you can fill it out even if you are one of the ones (and you largely know who you are) to whom I'd send the CD anyway, because it gives me a one--stop address resource.

Here's my thanks to each of you for the inspiration you all provide to me:

Poll #138704 Would you like a free CD?

Would you like a free copy of the gurdonark's first CD release, "Vibrating Electric Fields"? If so, please enter a name and mailing address in the space below. Feel free to leave work addresses or other similar addresses, as I have no interest in your address, but only am interested in sharing this CD. I should have enough quantities to meet the modest demands my friends are apt to provide, although after number x or so, I'll be sending disks in mini-cases rather than jewel cases, so the "first come" get served the silly jewel case inserts, while the late-comers get disk only, and perhaps an e mail of the text of the inserts. Oh, and as for those to whom I owe various mail art (e.g., Hagerman) cards--you are not forgotten! I'm working on catching up on everything. But today I've got the music in me!