[Seven by Nine Squares home page] [tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE] [Impractical Seriousness]

Impractical Seriousness

Pancreas/Tonsils, the Maze, Reinhardt & Via, Jeffrey Cohen, Dr. Thorne, the London Zoo, & the C.I.A.

In mid '84 I was planning a trip to London to participate in the 8th International Neoist Apartment Festival & I wanted to find someone to sublet my apartment for the 6 weeks or so that I was planning to be away. My friend & ex-room-mate, Pata Hari, knew someone who needed a place & suggested that she call me. Call me she did but the phone connection was bad & we only heard sporatic fragments of each other's conversation so not much was accomplished. What little communication we did manage sure seemed goofy though.

Later that night, Pata & I were at a party & we were sitting very drunkenly on a couch appraising the potential for new sex partners. A woman entered who seemed to be sortof walking sideways wearing a black shawl. I hadn't seen her before & I was interested. She looked funny. I asked Pata who she was & found out that it was the woman, whose name turned out to be Gail Litfin, that I'd attempted to talk to about the sublet.

With the uninhibited, & deliberately ridiculous, directness of the intoxicated, I managed to be graceful enough to not knock anything over on my way to holding her hand & saying, by way of an attention grabbing intro, "Hi! I want to be lovers with you & I want you to go to Europe with me!" With a refreshing resilience, she responded favorably to the total absurdity of my approach & agreed to definitely go to Europe with me & to consider the lover angle.

A day or 2 later we planned to meet at my SoBa apartment. The apt was on the 2nd & 3rd floors - with the bottom of those 2 having a maze in the 2 largest rooms. There were "life-size" stencil paintings of a woman in bondage, & various other images, etc.. The maze was made with walls made from muslin stapled to the ceiling & to the floor. This maze gave 3 entrance choices: 1 on the left that proved to be a dead end fairly quickly, 1 in the middle that allowed a turn which led to another dead end, & 1 on the right which led to a turn & then to another room on the other side of the maze from which 2 more entrance options for re-entering the maze were available. Eventually, 1 could reach a small space inside the maze occupied by a bed.

In continuation of my making a strong 1st impression on Gail, I decided to leave my apartment door open & to wait for her on the bed inside the maze. She came to the doorway & called to me. I may or may not've answered. Perhaps I told her to come on in. I probably encouraged her to come & find me & led her on with sporatic vocal hints. I probably peeped thru various holes to watch her progress. Whatever "might've happened", I vaguely remember noting that she felt her way along the walls - reminding me of the strange sideways walk she had when I 1st saw her at the party.

It was then that I realized/learned that Gail was almost completely blind. She'd been walking sideways at the party because it streamlined her form enough to lessen the probability of her bumping into things. She could see well enough to vaguely make out the shape of doorways - but not enough to know exactly where the center of the doorway was - so she'd walk sideways to increase her chances of making it thru. Little did I initially realize how strong of a 1st impression I'd be making on Gail by having her walk into a space where she'd never been before & confronting her with a maze!

Gail, otherwise later known as Litvinov (1/2 of the Crazy-Glue Twins), is diabetic with a strong history of diabetes in her family. Her brother had died from it in his teens. A side-effect of her diabetes is that the capillaries in her eyes tend to hemorrhage resulting in her vision being limited almost entirely to the accumulated pool of blood. An attempt had been made to prevent this from happening in her left eye by cauterizing the vessels shut (or some such) with laser surgery. This hadn't worked & had left her completely blind in that eye. Thus whenever her right eye hemorrhaged her vision was limited mostly to being able to perceive gross variations in light - hence her ability to differentiate doors & windows & not much else. She could read a little if the text was written big & she held the paper close to her eye.

She was a cyborg. She had an insulin pump attached to her body by a needle in her abdomen connected by a tube to the pump which was about the size of a calculator. The pump was programmed to give her regular & frequent doses of insulin to counteract the non-functioning of her pancreas. With her 1 functioning eye, she was a cyclops cyborg.

Gail took to calling me "Tonsils" because I had mine removed as a child & I responded by calling her "Pancreas"in honor of its non-functioning diabetic condition. Finding ourselves to be temporarily compatible (mainly because of our mutual almost non-stop crankster approaches to existence) we became sex-bonded & left for NYC & England 2 or 3 weeks later.

In London we went to the APT HQ to establish our home base. Having sent before us a post-card with

(an anagram for tentatively, a convenience rearranged into such by (the soon-to-be (as you'll see) story-fied) Reinhardt U. Sevöl), we arrived decked with our usual splendor of Joke Shop Wear (Gail's mascot being a large rubber spider - mine being a rubber chicken that later became glorified in neoist lore) & were splendidly received by the festival's organiser: MONTY CANTSIN (of the variety known as "Pete Horobin"). His host was an amiable sort named Steve Thorne (who had as little interest in neoism as Pancreas did - which is to say: not much) - he was the person who'd been abiding there longest - &, as such, had the most say about what went on in the house. After getting to know Monty & Steve better, we moved on to Paris & hooked up with my friend the fashion model - Eugenie Vincent.

From the time of my 1st person-to-person encounter with neoists in Montréal, I'd been hearing about the legendary Reinhardt U. Sevöl. He'd been a part of the Montréal neoist community & had participated in the 1st Apartment Festival there but had moved to London before I'd had a chance to meet him.

I'd witnessed vaudeo of him, corresponded with him, & spoken with him via the phone but had never met him personally. I'd been told that in Montréal he'd pretend to have "attacks" out on the streets - that he'd be hauled away in ambulances & that when he'd reach the hospital he'd tell the staff that he'd been giving a neoist performance & run away. I never "knew" whether this was neoist "myth" or "reality". Either way I was intrigued. When I arrived in London he'd just schismed with the neoists there & moved to Paris to become an anti-neoist/dishwasher & soon to marry the obscure neoist entymologist/waitress Via Vidorae. Who says an anti-neoist & a neoist can't marry?

Wanting to have a memorable 1st meeting with Reinhardt & to have yet another memorable encounter with Via (who I'd already met), I concocted a special plan with Genie & Gail. They were to go to the door of his apartment &, when he opened it, somehow or another barge in blabbering "nonsense" phrases in french & penetrating deeper & deeper into his place - hopefully leading him away from his door so quickly that he'd leave it ajar so that I could enter without his knowing it shortly thereafter. I was to wait a couple of minutes to insure that he'd been diverted, enter his place surreptitiously, go to the toilet room, wait until after Gail & Genie left & the door was closed, & then loudly piss so that he'd think he was done with his mysterious visitors for the day only to be exposed to yet another 1. What would happen next was highly uncertain. I was a bit afraid a fight might ensue if he didn't recognize me.

What did happen was that G & G made it into his apartment babbling giddily all the way (pointing at the art on the walls & making fractured french comments about them) - even making it all the way to the furthest room - but, Reinhardt had closed & locked the door behind himself. I couldn't get in so I waited. Gail was bubbling with "Quel fénetres!" (What windows!) & Eugenie was pretending to try to sell Art by the Kilo ("L'art par le kilo") - as a take-off on B-More Beefalo's Art by the Pound project. Both of them were running around frantically touching the furniture & gushing with "Belle! Belle!" In the meantime R.U.S. was very confused & was trying to politely usher the blithering invaders out. He opened the door & in I rushed. Having to alter my plan a bit, I merely shouted over & over "Ou est le W.C.? Ou est le W.C.?", etc.. Reinhardt didn't recognize me & I was relishing every moment as he tried to make sense of all this.

Via was in another room not even paying much attention to it all when R cried out desperately to her "Do you know these people?" Walking towards us she looked inquisitively for a moment, grinned broadly, gave me a friendly hug & exclaimed "tENTATIVELY!" Reinhardt hesitated a bit (still recuperating somewhat from our confusionist approach) & relaxed. Another Great Moment in OddBall Sports was under our belts (or behind our backs or what have you). Despite the tension & busyness of V & R's preparing for their imminent wedding, Pancreas & I were graciously invited to be guests.

Genie & Gail & I spent a day or so practicing further silly confusionism. One day, en route to visiting someone, we found a car door which we picked up & carried as a present. Of course, just carrying it wasn't enough, so we stayed on the road, clutching the car door in the position it would've been if the rest of the car had been there & we were driving it, & pretended to be just cruising along normally.

Gail had a friend, who, for the sake of anonymity, I'll call Smith & Wesson, that she'd known for many years in BalTimOre, who was now residing in Paris - playing & teaching, oh, again for the sake of anonymity, let's say, being a dancing bear Coping with ePilepsy. Stimulated by the fun we'd had surprising R & V, Gail & I wanted to surprise her friend in, at least, an equally startling way.

Discussing various possibilities, we decided that we would find out when he'd be home & arrive there wearing masks or some such. In preparation for my being Litvinov's "seeing eye dog" for an action that we were planning for the APT fest, we'd acquired a dog mask. I think Gail might've suggested that she & I switch roles with her on all fours as the dog so that she'd cover her face with the mask so that S&W couldn't recognize her. Maybe we were planning to barge into his apartment when he opened the door &, after confusing him a bit with some silliness, eventually have Pancreas pull off the mask. Of course, at that point, we figured Smithy would get a good laugh out of it. All seemingly harmless enough. A good time to be had by all, etc..

The problem was that he resided fairly far from where we were staying & we didn't have very much time - so we wanted to be sure he'd be home before we trekked over there. Furthermore, we didn't want him to know that we were here in advance. So, we decided that I'd call there 1st using a fake name & voice to try to find out his schedule.

Given that I'm writing this account 6&1/2 years later, my memory is unfortunately unclear about the total sequence of events. As such, I'm hereby forwarning the reader that this story is accurate in general but may be a bit askew in detail. Anyway, as an esoteric reference to Steve Thorne back in London, Gail & I decided that I should go by the name of "Dr. Thorne" & speak with a phony "British" accent. I called Smith & Wesson's & got his answering machine & left a message: "Yes, This is Dr. Thorne, & I have some very important information that I need to give you. Unfortunately, this information is highly confidential & I don't think that I should give it to you via the phone. I'll try calling back to set up an appointment with you. Thank you."

We called again & left another message to the same effect, perhaps a little more enticing, "Hello, This is Dr. Thorne calling again & I can't stress enough the importance of our contacting each other. You've been subjected to mind-control experiments without your knowledge & it's very important that you & I get together so that I can inform you about what can be done to counteract the damage done to you." Then I left Reinhardt's phone number.

Keep in mind that throughout this whole time Gail's & my purpose was just to arouse Wesson's curiosity to make our eventual visit to him spicier. S&W called back but Gail & I weren't there. R.U.S. answered & played the part of Thorne's assistant. "No, I'm sorry, Dr. Thorne isn't here right now." "This is Smith & Wesson. Dr. Thorne has called me saying that he has something important to tell me about mind-control or something! I mean what's going on?" "I'm sorry sir, I can't divulge that information over the phone. I'm afraid you'll have to wait to talk with the Dr. himself." "Can't you tell me anything? I mean this seems pretty weird."

Gail & I left for Madrid without having a chance to actually visit Smithy. We asked Reinhardt to continue to play the assistant & to tell Wessony, if he called, that the Dr. had been forced to leave the country in a hurry & to try to stall him further. Smith & Wesson did call again & Sevöl played it as we requested.

From Madrid, Gail & I wrote a letter to Wes. I'd been carrying a lab notebook which I'd originally intended to keep notes in about Gail's health. Using a sheet of the notebook's paper to try to make it seem more convincingly from a Doctor, We wrote a full page - something along these lines:

Dear Mr. Smith & Wesson, It's my unpleasant duty to inform you that you've been subjected to covert mind-control experiments by the C.I.A. Your case has been brought to my attention because I'm a de-programming specialist. Naturally, it's not safe for me to reveal my sources. For now, I've had to flee Paris due to my being discovered by, & endangered by, C.I.A. agents in whose best interest it is that my activities be stopped. I'll try to pass through Paris again in the near future so that we can meet in person to discuss this further. Do not be alarmed. I'm sure that, with my help, you will be able to fully recover. Sincerely, Dr. Thorne.
From Madrid we passed briefly through Paris again, got Reinhardt's report on his call from Smith, & moved on to London for the APT Fest - once again without a chance to get together with S&W. Steve Thorne's birthday came along & Gail & I decided to surprise him. In the spirit of the convolutions typical of us by now, we put a placard on the door identifying the house as Dr. Thorne's office & hid many of Steve's household objects in his bedroom. As a crowning touch, we changed the front door lock so that Thorne wouldn't be able to get in when he came home. Come home he did & we greeted him with a cautiously opened door & a "I'm sorry, Dr. Thorne's not in the office right now. Would you like to make an appointment?" - talking to him through the barely cracked open doorway as if we were paranoid. Steve didn't seem to think it was very funny.

The Dr. Thorne mythology grew & inspired Gail to write at least a couple of stories furthering it. Here's a sample:

This is a story of Dr. Thorne, specialist in de-programming unwitting victims of government mind control experiments. The story opens with Dr. Thorn posing as mild mannered Steve Thorn hiding out at inconspicuous 13 Aulton Place, London, England. As we join Dr. Thorne this evening at his hide out we see that he is being toasted and roasted (sounds of "here here" "where where" "who who" "there there" "Thorne Thorne" and glasses clinking, dishes rattling, toilets flushing, roofs leaking, etc). Un Be Knownsyt to everyone celebrating the supposed birthday of Steven Thorne, the substance in these glasses is ostragen and nitrogen from the planet Claire. These unfortunate victims have been misled into thinking that this is a genuine birthday celebration. Dr. Thorne knows his birthday is not May 31st, in fact he was never born, and his entry date onto the planet Earth is totally unrecorded. Un Be Knownst to Dr. Thorne his intended victims have called the authorities to arrest him. Dr. Thorne had made the mistake of imitating crickets while watching cricket on tv. Additionally Dr. Thorne has eaten all the gourmet wheat paste in the city. (Sounds - "He's such a fucking glutten, he ate up all the mutten, Thorn is so revolting, let's change the doors bolting"). Rodney, mild-mannered dope fiend and double agent is present. Thorn believes Rodney to be his true friend and chemical aquisition accomplice.

Dr. Thorne: "My good friend Rodney please give everyone here a little zebra appetizer."

(Chorus: "Handy dandy zebras eat all the ameba, they soaked them with a spider and wash it down with cider, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha laughter.")

Rodney: "It doesn't sound like they're up to it sir, instead why don't you find your bag and pack your toothbrush."

Thorn: "Sounds like a good idea to me. Is this for my international lecture tour so I will be rich and famous? No more of this obscure anonymous screenplay writer bullshit!"

At this point Thorn's pal, confidante and house warden Pete belches.

Pete: "Somebody record the date, time and place of that Neoist Anthem."

Chorus: "neoism scleoism, flame those irons, wear that fish, neoism scleoism, put your tennis shoes on the dish."

Pete: "Sorry everyone, if tENT hadn't concocted the nearly edible dinner."

Litvinov: "That hardly edible dinner Horrible."

Eugenie: "That commercially inedible dinner terribly."

tENT: 'It's got all the essentials in it. Beer, vodka, cider, malt, some of this and some of that. Actually more of that and some of this, or a little more of this than some of that, or -"

Stewart: "Enough of this."

tENT: "No some of this." Bree: "No all of that." Stewart: "I can't take it anymore, I need some humour in my life. You all take everything so seriously. I need. I need a..."

Jenny: "Smile."

Chorus: "Smile smile smile, smile for a while, lie on a crocodile, swimming on the River Nile."

Giorgi: "Let a smile stick you up like an umbrella."

tENT: "I won't be responsible if anyone gets sick from this true gourmet."

Litvinov: "It's true, he's never responsible."

Jenny: "I'm the nurse in the house. Red cross doesn't stand for angry commies you know."

Thorne: "And I'm the doctor in the house."

Pete (Angry): "You don't have any patience."

tENT: "Is this British hospitality?"

Rodney: "Pack your toothbrush Thorne."

Litvinov: "Skip it, just leave your teeth."

Giorgi: "Did someone say it's teeth time?"

Eugenie: "It's always teeth time."

Chorus: "Always teeth time when you're down in the mouth, it's teeth time in London, in the north and the south."

Thorn: "I'm getting a headache."

Rodney: "Here, take an aspirin."

Hands him a pill.

Thorn: "It's pink, it's not an aspirin."

tENT: 'Well you're not a doctor."

Jenny: "Witch doctor?"

Pete: "what doctor?"

Giorgi: "What nurse?"

Jenny: "Who's the nurse?"

Thorne: "You're fired."

Rodney: "You're tired."

Litvinov: "You're expired."

Stewart: "You're retired."

Rodney: "You're under arrest."

Thorn: "What a relief I can't wait to get out of this looney bin."

Pete: "Horobin, throw it in the bin."

Chorus: "A relief, a leaf, a leaf, when you flee, oh say can you see Dr. Thorne's out of his tree."

Thorn: "I repent, I consent. I'll relent. Take me away. Here's Yantoh's fur coat. I've got my toothbrush now."

Everyone: "Good, teeth time."

- & so on..

At some point, Litvinov & I decided to visit the London Zoo. Going as ordinary visitors didn't seem like much fun, so we each decided to wear masks that might enhance our interaction with the captives. I chose to be a goat & Pancreas chose to be a sheep. We arrived at the zoo gates wearing our masks & found that the zoo personnel were leary of letting us in. With her typical off-the-wall logic, Gail somehow managed to convince them that we weren't animal rights activists there to make trouble & they finally consented to let us in. Of course, we thought that we should be let in free as special exhibits but, being the sweethearts that we were, we were willing to compromise.

In the zoo, we wandered from cage to cage standing in front of the victims & taking each other's photos with them. Given that Pancreas was almost totally blind at the time, her pictures tended to be a bit beside the point more often than not. As such, some of the interactions that were of the most importance to me at the time went un-quasi-documented.

As a goat, I was faced by another goat who looked straight at me intelligently & then seemed to decide that my just wearing a goat mask wasn't really worth the trouble of observing for long - thusly leaving, with the apparent indifference of the unimpressed, for whatever other pursuits it may've had at the time. The polar bears were too busy porking to pay any attention to us.

As a sheep, Gail & a llama stared face to face at each other for a while - only a few feet apart. The llama seemed considerably more interested in G than the goat had been in me (as Gail recalls, "I'm sure the llama was in love with me as a sheep") - but, given the patheticness of our abilities to engage in inter-species communication, we eventually left without anything more than that happening.

1 of the pens was for chimpanzees (or some other simian). There were 3 captives in it - apparently a mother, a daughter, & a son. The son was holding a stick through the chain-link fence & playing tug-of-war with the gawkers. I walked up with the goat mask on & the chimp's mood changed drastically. I guess simians are often enemies with goats? - or maybe just enemies with people with masks? I don't "know" - whatever the case was, the son withdrew from the fence perimeter rapidly when I walked up. Previously cheerful, he scowled now & picked up stones & started to throw them at me. This wasn't really done viciously - it just seemed like a sortof Leave-me-&-my-family-alone gesture. I was shocked but, hey, I certainly didn't blame him! He & his family clustered together, frightened, in a tight reassuring clump, & I walked away - feeling like I'd really put my hoof in my mouth disease with that 1.

Still in London, Gail & I were worrying whether our joke on Smith & Wesson had gone too far. We may've sent him another crank letter in the meantime. As we tried to decide whether or not to tell him what was "really" going on, we received the following missive from Sevöl:

"a nice lace tent,

by now apt 8 must be coming to its end and you will be looking toward Paris hysterically cynical and with an inversed glint of reality in your eye. At least you should be.

Well, I felt I should write this note to update you on the outcome of the THORN/[Smith & Wesson] business. As you know I followed it up shortly after you left but the phone was engaged and another time it wasn't rigged to its recorder (probably was engaged in true human activity at the time) and so afterward I forgot about it. However, Monday 20th of May 1984 at 13:33 the phone rang. Via answered it and came to me saying it was a call for Dr. Thorn. I took the situation in hand and forgot everything you had said with regard to this matter. I told your friend that I was one of Thorn's assistants and just happened to be in the office clearing out your hastily abandoned unimportant material as the situation dictated that you leave Paris after your return from Madrid to seek refuge in London. He said, 'Oh, really?' I said, 'Yes.' In a sort of impatient manner he blurted out that he wanted to know who I really was, how I got his name and number, what I wanted, what it all meant, why I was doing this because he'd received your letter from Madrid the day before leaving for Geneva to participate in X at the U.N. (he was very agitated after saying all this) In an irritated sort of way I said, You must be Mr [Smith & Wesson] and I'm afraid the matter cannot be discussed over the phone. He hung up.

Not more than fortyfive to sixty seconds later the phone rang. This time his voice was quite humble and pleading, almost scared, and he begged to know what was going on and what was Thorn's interest in him. I replied that Thorn was involved in Neuro Science and that his research involved many aspects of Brain and Mental states, specifically altered consciousness through hallucinagenic experimentation. He wanted to know more and pleaded that I explain how he, personally, was involved in all this.

I thought for a moment and asked myself the same question. Also, it was clear to me he was becoming increasingly disturbed over the affair. What right had I to continue a hoax not of my own making, a hoax on a total stranger? How could I justify my behaviour should the situation be pushed perpetually? Could I say afterward, in justification, that causing Fear and Paranoia in an other was 'just a joke' or 'all in fun'? The fact that this Jeff could not see the hoaxer intensified the implications of the hoax almost to the point of torture. To perpetrate further would be vicious. I relented and explained everything, S&W was not amused.

In any case please confirm your arrival in Paris."

Oi Veh! Had that 1 gotten out of hand! By now Gail was too embarrassed to write to Smith & Wesson to either explain or apologize. Somehow, we got word that Wesson's paranoia had been increased by worries that the whole business was connected with his sister's having participated in some European anti-USA demonstrations. Wouldn't he get the last laugh if it turned out that he's really C.I.A., eh?

Anyway, the latest report from Litvinov (now otherwise known as Pancreas & Kidney II because she's recently gotten transplants of both those organs & is, therefore, no longer a cyborg - since she doesn't need her insulin pump anymore) is that she still hasn't had the nerve to talk to S&W since then. Rumor has it, as well, that Smith & Wesson has become quite famous in his field. I long to tell you the full rumor but, at G's request, I'll try to hide his identity a bit. Let's just say that he's learned to bring on his bouts of epilepsy at will & has turned his dancing bear act into something of great popularity.

Impractical Seriousness: Table of Contents