Temporary Autonomous Zone
Imagine this. It’s 1993, the book
(The Temporary Autonomous Zone) is a hot, hot, hot commodity. It’s just been featured as the “manual” of the movement in a cover story about Cyberpunk. Its author, the notorious HakimBey has never appeared live anywhere before, and many people still did not know that Hakim Bey was a
nom de plume
for none other than Peter Lamborn Wilson. Up until I asked him to do the show, he had tried to keep thisfact mostly secret. This is the setting for the recording you have in your hand. A venue, filled to the rafters withattendees, smoke-filled, hot and buzzing with energy.But how did we get here?Earlier the year before, while I was living in Santa Cruz, CA my friend Nick Herbert had turned me on to theoriginal broadsheets, which later were published as a paperback book now known as
. Nick had given me the broadsheets one day at a meeting of our salon, the Formless Ocean Group. The F.O.G., as we called it, was a funlittle salon group I had been invited to which included at various times authors like: Peter Stafford, Nick Herbert, Nina Graboi, Elizabeth Gipps, Paddy Long, Robert Forte, David Jay Brown, Robert Anton Wilson, TimothyLeary, John Lilly, myself and many others. Being rather excited by the energy and the message expressed in the broadsheets, I had asked Nick to put me in touch with Bey. So he gave me his number in New York.Peter (Hakim) and I talked on the phone at length several times that year. I decided to move to San Francisco and produce some counterculture variety shows (“It’ll be like vaudeville on LSD” was my motto) so I asked Peter if he’d appear as Hakim Bey in one of them. He said he’d consider it. I finished up a very successful show calledInterzone in Santa Cruz [http://joseph.matheny.com/PDFS/i-zone.pdf] and moved my home and office to SanFrancisco.After a year of producing small literary events and collaborating on some fairly large scale raves, I decided tomount my idea of a counterculture variety show. I phoned Peter who agreed to do it, so I then contacted my oldfriends, Robert Anton Wilson, Rob Brezsny, Nick Herbert, DJ Cheb i Sabah, and a myriad of experimental theater people, artists, poets, musicians and general rabbles-rousers. Everybody wanted in.I found the perfect venue, an anarchist collective called Kommotion International, booked a date in February, and printed a few hundred posters and fliers. I also sent the requisite press releases to various outlets around the city.Then the unexpected happened. As if on cue,
magazine did a cover story about cyberpunk and featured
as the unofficial “manual” of the “movement”. I use quotation marks on those words, “manual” and“movement” because to anyone even remotely connected to the milieu represented in the article, the idea that wewere a “movement” that had a “manual” was laughable at best. It’s a total oxymoron, like saying: “The organizing principles of anarchy.” Soon after the article ran, my phone began to ring non-stop with everything from localnewspaper and radio reporters wanting to know more about the show to every lefty and counterculture person andorganization imaginable who suddenly wanted to be my “friend”. (There are those quotation marks again.) Of course, everybody who called ended the conversation with “can I be comped?”The venue held about 1500 people, if tightly packed, and I had already circulated guest list requests to the participants. I was pretty sure we could snug another 100 people up in the balcony, so that should cover the guestlists as well as some special paying guests who had done us favors. Unfortunately I had to turn down a lot of people, including personal friends for comps. As it was we could have easily sold another 1500 tickets.I suddenly had a hit on my hands and I took to singing songs from Mel Brook’s movie,
(theoriginal with Zero Mostel, not the weak remake with Broderick and Lane) as I went about preparing for what wasturning into the world 3, of producing and staging shows.Eventually the week arrived for the show. Peter Wilson arrived a few days early, as did Bob Wilson and Nick Herbert. James Koehnline also came down from Seattle, so suddenly my house was Kaos Central. Not that I’mcomplaining, mind you. Some very fertile conversations took place into the wee hours of the morning and seedswere planted for many future collaborations.
The Incunabula Papers
was one of the projects born from thisstrange conjunction of chaotes, but I’ll write more about that later in an upcoming book.