Thursday, October 20, 2005


Milan, Spring 1978. Hundreds of free-access TV stations announce a concert to the city’s confused eager politics-obsessed youths ready for hard-rock-punk but a young-looking elderly man is on stage fiddling with knobs, making unmusical noise into the mike. The concert’s already begun and three thousand awaiting its start yell “bourgeois avant-garde elitist” at Cage, who just continues. A tossed bottle just misses him. Someone hops on stage to adhesive-tape that mouth, which, once freed, goes on three hours because that’s the agreement. The audience remains. Later he confesses to having feared for his life. Same summer sees sole performance of a grand conceit: Piece for Trains and Cities Between Bologna and Rimini, literally. Soon he’ll compose a work for hundreds of Olivetti typewriters. New York/FM/Cage says “...only a revolution...” *

*I thought John Cage meant that revolution is the only way, but when Allen Ginsberg read the poem, he said, “Maybe he meant, ‘Ho-hum, only another revolution, so what?’”

-- Norman MacAfee