Cathenge 2019-2021 Credits

It’s been a week since the “Inaugural Crazyology Ball” with the installation of Cathenge at 1000 Van Ness. I feel this was a milestone achievement in my career, but also reflected the hard-work and dedication of a team of loyal collaborators and assistants over a 2+ year period.

Creating Cathenge to begin with for Burning Man 2019, and then resurrecting it from the oblivion of perpetual storage to prominent display at the Institute of Crazyology, has been one big colossal undertaking. So many people have been involved, but I have listed here, in alphabetical order, the primary crew. Many people put many, many hours into Cathenge – a great collective effort! This list in no way reflects the trials and tribulations, challenges surmounted, and obstacles overcome in making this project – that is a story for a more detailed document – but I hope it reflects my gratitude to all involved.

Alphabetized Cathenge Team and Supporters (2019-21):

Aaron Winette (Sound/Electronics)
Akshay Patel (Assistant)
Andrew Spalding (Carpentry, Cathenge Triangular Platforms)
April Naftalin (Assistant, Catolith assembly, Wife)
Argent Lloyd (Shibari Performance, Camp support)
Artur Pyrogovksyi (Electronics, Catolith Sounds, LED lighting, Coding)
Ben Nehmadi (Donor)
Brad Allen (Fire Braziers, Grant writing, Logistics, Cleanup)
Burning Man Foundation (Honorarium Grant, Support)
Cheryl Edison (“Larry’s Creatopia” – Cathenge Build site, Playa build support, Cathenge storage)
Chris Kemp/Astra (“Larry’s Creatopia” – Cathenge Build site, Cathenge storage)
David Normal (Director)
Drew Clark (Assistant)
Eric Sanchez (Concrete Bases)
Hal Robins (“Space Cat Invocation”)
Hannah Wise (Kava Bar, Assistant, Cat Priestess)
Jaybird (Playa Cleanup)
John Law (Crazyology Support, Doggy Diner Heads, Consultation)
Jose Van Ness (Assistant)
Justin Time (Assistant)|
Kathryn Shepherd (Donor, Mother)
Katie King (Donor)
Kris Peterson (Electrical, Advisor)
Lewis Shepherd (Donor, Step-father)
Liam McNamara (Logistics, Build, Cathenge placement)
Lita (Cat Priestess)
Lukas What What (Lighting)
McKenzie Logan (Cat Priestess)
Maitland (Electrical, Lighting)
Marian Goodell (Supporter, Burning Man Foundation)
Mark Wurtzel (Assistant, Lighting)
Melanie Doyle (Assistant)
Natalie Wegenka (Cat Priestess)
No.e Sunflowrfish (Catolith Sound, Purring)
Rebecca Thieneman (Catolith Harmonics)
Roger Mihalko (Concrete Bases, Assistant)
Ron Halbert (Projections, Lighting)
Saya Olivia Hayashi (Cat Priestess)
Sean Monaghan (Bronze Plaques)
Shaw (Chinese Website, Translation)
Spoon (Interactive Video Projections)
Suci Li (Chinese Website, Advisor)
Theremin Barney (Touch Interactivity, Electronics, Assistant)
Tom Price (3D Printing)
Yiying Lu (Crazyology Handbills, Advisor)

Inaugural Crazyology Ball: “Space Cat Invocation and Cat Priestess Ceremonial Dance”

“Space Cat Invocation and Ceremonial Dance of the Cat Priestesses of Pussiopolis”.

This all happened spontaneously in the true spirit of Crazyology! All the right players came together at the serendipitous moments to allow this to transpire at the the Inaugural Crazyology Ball.

Lukas What-What came over one night to help with lighting and atmosphere, and brought the lovely Miss Lita (@hotsaucehotel) along. Lita was compelled by the power of Holofelinity, and she was determined to create a “Cat Priestess Ceremony” for the Institute of Crazyology. Cacophony Society’s, John Law, suggested that Dr. Hal of the Church of the Subgenius, make a “Space Cat Invocation”. My long-time collaborator, Rex Mundi, came out all the way from Lawrence, Kansas and wrangled mad piano virtuoso, William Benjamin, down from Seattle (by train) to play the the Jan August piano arrangement of lavish Oriental romance standard, “Misirlou”, as an accompaniment for the “Cat Dance of the Cat Priestesses of Pussiopolis”.

In the planning for this spectacle uncertainty presided, yet was overcome by determination: The dancer, Lita, though interred in the Alta-Bates Psychiatric hospital in Berkeley, arranged everything. It wasn’t clear that she would be released on time because she was having her hormones re-balanced after the removal of her thyroid gland. This major surgery she underwent to cure her of Tachycardia (accelerated heart rate) that threatened her 30 years with heart attack, stroke, etc. Personally, I was concerned first for her health, and when she would call me from the hospital I asked her repeatedly if she really felt up to dancing at the Ball. She was firm that not only was she up for it, but that such a ceremony would heal her.

It seems that Lita was released directly from the psychiatric ward to the Institute of Crazyology (she was released just the previous evening). She arrived at the Institute with the coven of beautiful Cat Priestesses she had gathered together. All of them had been prepped on the song; “Misirlou”, the “Cat Chakra” concept, and changed into costume, readied themselves for the dance, radiating “Holofelinity” (Universal Cat Consciousness). They were joined by Hannah Wise, gymnast, who performed a number of dazzling leaps and flips during the dance. So there were a total of six cat priestesses – one for each Catolith!


Meanwhile, William Benjamin, the virtuoso pianist had been practicing “Misirlou” for days on the beautiful Baldwin baby grand (courtesy, Sunset Piano). As showtime approached he became increasingly temperamental as his obsession with perfecting his performance reached a fever-pitch. Yet, he never crossed any boundary of unprofessionalism. On the contrary, to me; he was merely exhibiting those side-effects of a specific breed of genius that demands uncompromised focus and concentration: The Great Concert Pianist. And when it came time to perform, his exacting attention to detail showed through in a spellbinding performance!

Who knows what realms of madness lurk in the pseudo-evangelical pop-culture hysterical depths of the hallowed Church of the Subgenius. Only Dr. Hal can tell for certain. The master thaumaturgist was as unflappable as he was impeccable, seemingly the unmoving eye of the hurricane around which the capricious powers of the space cats were assembling, awaiting the opening of the Gates of Holofelinity to allow them to transubstantiate in our dimension, while he, Dr. Hal, with an oracular precision made the invocation in an even and dispassionate manner.

And transubstantiate the Space Cats did!!! The Cat Priestesses cavorted and leaped, catharted and wriggled – seemingly spontaneously possessed by the Ancient Lyrans of Lemewria (Space Cats of Earth’s Lost Civilization) themselves.

This performance – the entire exercise – is an object lesson in a central principle of Crazyology: “The Lunatics Run the Asylum”. Give those who others scorn as “mad” a chance to do things on their own terms, and all traces of “insanity” disappear and only inspiration remains.

Inaugural Crazyology Ball Documentation (Part 1)

It was a memorable Summer Solstice this past Sunday, June 20th, 2021 when we held the Inaugural Crazyology Ball.

“La Fete Sauvage” (Handbill from 1993 LA Party)

It seems I have a predilection for the Solstice (I had the unveiling of Crossroads of Curiosity on the Summer Solstice of 2015, and presently I am preparing for the opening of the Institute of Crazyology on this upcoming solstice) .

This is a handbill I made almost 30 years ago while living in Los Angeles. Actually, I was a resident of the venue L.A.C.E. (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) which is still around, but now in Hollywood, and no longer providing live-work space as it did in those days. This show was organized by my neighbors Tim Hayes and Kevin Bourque (the latter went on to produce “Cirque Berzerk”, a Los Angeles based Circus) and featured my good friends, “The Imperial Butt Wizards”, who were one of the wilder acts on the LA scene at the time with raucous absurdist performances featuring pyrotechnics, costumery, and typically loads of stuffed animals that were sent flying around the room, exploded, set on fire, etc.

La Fete Sauvage also featured one of the all-time bad ideas: “Jell-O Pit”. Jell-O does not set and get firm if it isn’t refrigerated, and so a Jell-O pit is just a big syrupy sticky mess. Nothing enticing or erotic about it whatsoever. No one in their right mind wants to wallow sensually in a Jell-O pit. I had learned this the hard way a few years before when I tried the “Jell-O pit” idea at my “Circus of Mysteries” in 1989, and it was really a disaster that made a huge mess at the venue. I believe that I advised against the Jell-O pit for La Fete Sauvage, but the organizers went ahead with it anyway, and had me put it on the bill.

A kiddy pool was set up outside in front of the stage in the back lot where the bands were playing, and I recall that when the Butt Wizards played, an eccentric Japanese photographer who hung around back then (a nice and friendly person that spoke English poorly, took a lot of photos, and always wore flamboyant designer clothing that looked expensive) was seized with a sudden irrepressible frenzy. He jumped into the Jell-O pit and began to dance wildly, sloshing the sticky red liquid in all directions. Everyone in range was getting splashed with Jell-O including the band. No one was really expecting this to happen, but then again I’m not sure what anyone was actually expecting.

I can’t recollect much else about the show. I think there was a lot of fuss about the Jell-O pit and the Butt Wizards after the show. That’s all!

Cathenge Trailer Load-In (5/22/21)

Cathenge moved from storage in Alameda at Astra Aerospace to the Institute on May 22nd. It was a big day! Below are some photos documenting the move:

Many thanks to Chris Kemp for keeping the trailer at Astra since 2019. Special thanks to Cheryl Edison for making it all possible to begin with!

Cathenge Load in Crew included:
Akshay Patel
Artur Pyrogovskyi
Barney the Theremin Wizard
Cheryl Edison
Helena Hahnbasket
Jose Van Ness
Liam McNamara
Mark Wurtzel
Samuel Cloud
Tom Breen

Thanks, Everybody!

Credits

Institute of Crazyology is a project initiated and led by David Normal.

Collaborators and Crew, Contributors and Supporters include:

Aaron Spaz
Akshay Patel
Andrew Spalding
April Lelia
Artur Pyrogovskyi
Barney the Theremin Wizard
Cheryl Edison
Chris Kemp
Deborah Sciales
Helena Hahnbasket
John Law
John Martinez
Jose Van Ness
Kal Muller
Kalman Muller
Kathryn and Lewis Shepherd
Kevlar
LadyBee
Liam McNamara
Lukas What What
Mark Wurtzel
Neil Martinson
Paul Koudounaris
Roger Mihalko
Samuel Cloud
Steve Mobia
Suci Li
Tom Price
Walter Funk
Yulia Pinkusevich

. . . I hope I haven’t left anyone out!!