Is the ultimate arbiter of art and culture in the city of Santa Ana the federal Department of Homeland Security?
Seems to be so based on a recent letter Vicky Baxter, executive director of Downtown Incorporated of Santa Ana, sent to Reverend Al Ridenour of Cacophony Los Angeles, a scheduled participant in the Feb. 4 Art Walk at Grand Central Santa Ana.
"Today I received a call from Mike McCoy, Homeland Security who issues permits for events from the City, with concerns about the February Art Walk and the association with the Cacophony Society," begins Baxter's letter.
"He spent some time looking at the website and is concerned about what will be presented to the public because the City of Santa Ana is co-sponsor of the First Saturday Art Walks. He is asking for a detailed description of what will be presented to avoid any issues with public complaints or controversy. I did not anticipate this but he is right. We do co-host the First Saturday Art Walks with the City.
"Please send me the details of what is planned so we can inform Mike."
Cacophony Los Angeles is one of the Cacophony Society lodges in 36 U.S. cities and nine countries. Once again, that's the Cacophony Society, not the Communist Party or al Qaeda or FPMR or FARC or Al-Jihad or Zviadists or the Salafist Group for Call and Combat or Black September or Hezbollah or the IRA. It's not even Occupy Santa Ana or the Answer Coalition or the GOP or the Minutemen or those yahoos who throw out the name Virginia Dare like Chiclets.
The Cacophony Society, which began in 1986 as a spin-off of San Francisco's Suicide Club, describes itself as "a randomly gathered network of free spirits united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society." It's been described elsewhere as an unintended outgrowth of the Dada movement and the Situationists. Visit Cacophony.org, and you'll discover, "You may already be a member."
So, by Homeland Security's reckoning, you may already be a terrorist? Or is this another witty Cacophony prank? Hmmm . . .
After all, as mischievous but harmless the Cacophony Society is, what could possibly have leather panties at Homeland Security in a bunch? Is it possible the feds see too much similarity between this Cacophony image . . .
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La Figa blogger Lisa Derrick reached out to Homeland Security's McCoy for an explanation, as did we, also to no avail. But, rather than retreat in horror, Cacophony LA and the Cacophony Society responded to McCoy with an open letter that goes into excruciatingly delicious detail about what the group has in store for Santa Anans.
The letter follows after the break:
January 12, 2012
Dear Mr. McCoy,
Yesterday, Vicky Baxter, Executive Director of Downtown Incorporated of Santa Ana, forwarded this message regarding the opening festivities for the museum show "The Cacophony Society Zone Show" hosted by Grand Central Art Center.
Today I received a call from Mike McCoy, Homeland Security who issues permits for events from the City, with concerns about the February Art Walk and the association with the Cacophony Society. He spent some time looking at the website and is concerned about what will be presented to the public because the City of Santa Ana is co-sponsor of the First Saturday Art Walks. He is asking for a detailed description of what will be presented to avoid any issues with public complaints or controversy. I did not anticipate this but he is right. We do co-host the First Saturday Art Walks with the City. Please send me the details of what is planned so we can inform Mike.
We understand the Department's domain over public complaints and controversy in the arts as well as the precedent setting crowd control issues and threat of civil disturbance raised by the April 3, 2004 GCAC's exhibition of art by Thomas Kinkade "Painter of Light."
In cooperation with your request for further information, we are providing the attached list of public art and performance scheduled as part of our opening.
These are playfully customized cars typically decorated both with thrift store finds, and other colorful detritus, generally free of sharp edges or objectionable content. These Include Emily Duffy's "Vain Van," the Thingmaker's "Tijuana Taxi," Reverend Hotcakes "Jungle Truck," and Reverend Charles Linville's "Ass Car." It should be pointed out that the visual and sculptural references in Reverend Linville's "Ass Car," are exclusively confined to parts of canine anatomy freely displayed throughout our country wherever dogs are found. Parked alongside the art cars will be an assembly of immense fiberglass dog sculptures. These fiberglass icons of The Cacophony Society depict only shoulder and heads of what is generally taken to be a Dachshund with no lower objectionable parts displayed or insinuated. If need be, photographs of these cars may be provided for DHS approval.
THE ART OF BLEEDING AMBULANCE & CHUCKLES THE KLOWN
The Art of Bleeding is a performance art group offering faux educational programs in health and safety out of the back of an ambulance. They are joined by performer Chuckles the Klown offering a playful yet safe yet really playful demonstration on needle safety.
Is an associate of The Art of Bleeding who uses uplifting humor to teach about hideous disfigurement and tragedy.
Employs a phone booth sized replica of the Semitic top in a performance that crosses the beloved Hanukah tradition with the teen party game "Spin the Bottle." The operator of the dreidel insures the level of striptease involved conforms to "community standards" as well as any additional standards DHS normally applies in its regulation of bookshops, adult theaters, nightclubs, or burlesque houses.
DO IT YOURSELF PROTEST AREA
One of the iconic activities engaged in by the Cacophony Society is mock protests over ludicrous causes. Honoring this tradition and as a satiric nod toward the controversial and ultimately dangerous nature of public discourse, we provide a soapbox, poster board, and markers to Society Members as well as enthusiastic passersby. These activities and limited use of bullhorns will be conducted in accordance with our understanding of issues of pubic nuisance and noise abatement and/or guidelines issues at DHS discretion.
Musical performances will be provided by Fancy Space People, Creekbird, Clowns & Fetuses, and Phat Mandee. The diverse content and presentation of these musical acts would be difficult to describe in this context, but set lists, audio recordings and video links can be provided for DHS scrutiny. The ensemble Clowns and Fetuses has suggested that their themed performance on "Human Spontaneous Combustion" would feature a number of piñatas to be set ablaze. The piñatas would be of standard size and construction and ignited sequentially in a designated safe area. A moderate amount of accelerant such as barbecue lighter fluid would necessarily be employed. We are prepared to work with local fire officials and/or DHS in ensuring that appropriate fire fighting equipment and personnel is on hand and that no damage to person or property occurs.
COMEDY & MAGIC
Comedian-magician Bieno Svengali as well as comedian Eric Cash will perform. Exact content of their sets is not confirmed at this time, though Cash is expected to preside over a mock raffle "giveaway" of an Afghani war orphan.
HOMELAND SECURITY HOSPITALITY STATION
In the spirit of free discourse and rapprochement, The Cacophony Society will dedicate a table to the display of introductory literature on the CS as well as whatever literature or materials DHS would care to provide. A live representative will be available for discussion. Coffee and donuts provided.
As with any live event, a certain level of spontaneity is to be expected, but the above describes to the best of our ability art, performance, and activities planned for the opening of this museum exhibition. If you can provide further guidelines on any of the described activities, they would be much appreciated.
We look forward to working with The Department of Homeland Security to make this a fun, safe, and educational event for all.
Founder, The Los Angeles Cacophony Society
Member, Suicide Club: Co-Founder San Francisco Cacophony Society: Co-Founder, Burning Man.
Director, Into the Zone: The Story of the Cacophony Society