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.

“Shrine of the Desiccated Rats” by LadyBee

“Shrine of the Desiccated Rats” by LadyBee (Christine Kirsten)

Burning Man Archivist and arts curator, Christine “LadyBee” Kirsten, will install her assemblage piece, “Shrine of the Dessicated Rats”, in the “Catacombs of Curiosity” (the network of odd and mysterious rooms lurking behind the Institute of Crazyology).

Peter Shaw “Sides of Barn” opening with Inaugural Ball

The Institute of Crazyology is very pleased to present new paintings by Peter Shaw. These will debut at the Crazyology Inaugural Ball on Sunday, June 20th.

MENDOCINO’/‘RedwoodDuff’2020-2021 environmental-painting series

The ‘MENDOCINO’/‘RedwoodDuff’2020-2021 environmental-painting series artworks are typically made outside and are made with paint on-paper and paint on-canvas utilizing the organic plant materials that comprise the natural ground-covering of the California Coastal Redwood Forest ie. redwood-duff.

Currently, Shaw is making 2-108”x114” on-canvas ‘MENDOCINO’2021 artworks; ‘LavenderMendocino’2021 and ‘BoogieMendocino’2021 as unique large-format environmental-paintings, on white/raw canvas.

Lighting in Progress . . .

Arranging lighting for the Institute of Crazyology. Ron Halbert and Maitland figuring it out. That’s an Asmat tribal war shield on the wall. With the uplighting the relief in the carving really pops beautifully.

Ron Halbert experiments with LED uplight as Maitland considers the effect.

On Saturday we will move the cat bases into place and on Sunday we will stand the Catoliths on their bases.

We’re making solid progress at the Institute of Crazyology, and if you like what you see then please don’t hesitate to support the effort:

We’ve raised $600. so far, and we’re very grateful for the support.


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
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!!