Monday, July 27, 2009

Merce Cunningham

Further to my last post -- o! the irony; o! good grief -- Merce Cunningham is, of course, dead. He passed away yesterday, as you'll surely know by now.

Coming so soon after the loss of Pina Bausch this is kind of a sickener. Actually I never loved Cunningham's work like I loved hers, but his importance is unarguable and inestimable, and his influence far beyond the world of upstream dance is probably unique. I'm still reading Carolyn Brown's wonderful Chance and Circumstance, which I mentioned last time; it'll be very odd indeed going back to that tonight.

There's a picture of Cage and Cunningham's Variations V in the last post; here now is a little video clip. This piece is 45 years old but it still feels like an advertisement for whatever kind of electricity there's going to be tomorrow that doesn't exist today.

Not for the first time, this blog has huzzahed in celebration of some great artist of improbable longevity, only for them to expire almost before I've reached the 'ck' of the 'click' on the PUBLISH POST button. Please, I implore you, for God's sake, nobody read the May 3rd post about Pete Seeger. [By the same token: references to Baroness Thatcher can be found here, here and here.]

Love tonight to all who loved Merce.


J.P. said...

Hi Chris,

I've been attempting to find you for some time, and actually feel guilty for leaving an off-topic post on your blog.

I've been attempting to meet the author/adaptor of hippo world guest book to see if there was any transcript or recording in any fashion I could purchase. I was a contributor in my more juvenile years and aol hometown has since been shut down, leaving it impossible for me to trace anything back.

More importantly, I am dying to see the performance and was hoping somehow it had survived.

I am sorry for bothering you on an unrelated medium, I just couldn't find any other way to send you a message. I love your work and good luck in your endeavors. I can be reached at Thank you for your time.

Chris Goode said...

Wait... Biff! ...Is that you?

Wow! How exciting. As far as I know, you're the first contact I've had with any of the HWGB contributors. I hope you'll be pleased to know you have a whole section in the show exclusively dedicated to your profoundly reprehensible (but v funny) messages to Ramon.

Although AOL Hometown is no more, you can still view the guest book in its entirety through the miracle of the Wayback Machine. Et voila!

I'm disinterring the show for two final performances in London in November. Not sure where in the world you are but if you happen to be close, give me a shout! I guess we might also get around to recording one of them for whatever passes for posterity these days.

Thanks for stopping by.


J.P. said...

Yes, I was affectionately referred to as Biff by my friends and myself and my troubled friend Beau were responsible for all messages attached to that nickname or e-mail.

We, and on more occasions I alone got a kick out of what I suppose was our introduction to shock humor. Hence the disturbing statements plastered on the guest book, and more extensively the message board if you ever were masochistic enough to experience such a thing.

Through the painstaking sifting through spam and unintelligible comments I have stumbled upon the message I left in a stalking manner ala emimen's overplayed former hit Stan. I had thought I had posted more on the guestbook and less on the messageboard but that is unimportant.

A little background, I was actually a massive hippo fan growing up and stumbled across his site. I don't know what happened along the way but when I showed the site to my "real life" friends as we grew up they found it so hilarious that I made ongoing remarks on Ramon's guestbook and userboard. I collected his resume and attempted to build a fansite and parody sites. We called him once and instant messaged him once more as well. We stopped short of further harassment, he was not very outgoing and we didn't want him to take his work down.

Although my attempts to make him an internet celebrity ultimately failed, he was a fixture of my adolescence, I've probably never so thoroughly known somebody I'll never meet, who would never want to meet me. Eventually there was nobody else to show the site to that cared and I had things to do beyond making disturbing posts on random websites. I gave up on filtering through the spam and the unreadable, so from what I can tell in retrospect my contribution to the GB was negligible. That is irrelevant, the take on the GB from the outside perspective is what drives me.

I'm sure that is a rather long winded, foreign, even pedestrian anecdote but it actually was a significant part of my life and it pleases me to no end to see that even one person read the whole debacle and found it to be humorous. That was my only real intention, I can't speak for anybody else. That's about it, I won't clog up your blog any further with the HW nonsense.

I doubt I'll ever make it to the U.K. within the next decade, but I will dedicate myself to following your works and ultimately viewing your show one way or another. Thank you for not coiling in fear from what your initial impressions must have been. And thank you for this. This made my month.

simon said...

What a wonderful coda!