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The amazing Dr. Hal, Subgenius ‘Master of Church Secrets,’ will answer any question!

Submit to the superior mind of Dr. Hal!
One name alone could never properly designate the spellbinding polymath who calls himself Dr. Howll and Dr. Howland Owll, though he is known to hundreds of listeners around the world as the host of the Ask Dr. Hal! show.

A clergyman and theologian of the highest attainment in the Church of the Subgenius (“Master of Church Secrets”), Dr. Hal is a man of great learning, the numerosity of whose specializations is exceeded only by the perspicuity of his understanding, which in turn is outstepped only by the very testicularity of his hauteur. Why, Dr. Hal’s conversation makes Dr. Johnson sound like an analphabetic dirt farmer doing whip-its in an Andy Gump at the Gathering of the Juggalos, if you’ll pardon my French!

Ask Dr. Hal! via Laughing Squid
When did Dr. Johnson, so comfortably provisioned with nitrous tanks up in his ivory tower, ever give the American working stiff a break like this? “I refute it thus”: for $5, Dr. Hal will answer any question you can fit into an HTML form. Alternatively, “if you’re going to San Francisco,” be sure to wear some dollars in your hair, because your trip to the ¢ity by the pa¥ just got even more expensive: there is a run of Ask Dr. Hal! shows coming up in April at Chez Poulet in the Mission. If Chicken John likes your question, he will even pour you a shot of Fernet.

That’s Dr. Hal’s partner in the live show, Chicken John Rinaldi, the author of The Book of the IS, Volume I: Fail… To WIN! Essays in engineered disperfection and The Book of the Un, Volume 2: Friends of Smiley! Dissertations of dystopia. The live Ask Dr. Hal! show works like this, according to Chicken John:

You fill out the slip, you write your name, you write your question—any question about any topic, left or right, up or down: science, entomology, etymology, Greek mythology, sex, religion, jewelry, what’s the plastic thing on the end of your shoelace called. Aglet, by the way, on the end of your shoe. Aglet.

Much more after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Take a trip to ‘Beatles Hell’ with members of Negativland and the Church of the Subgenius
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Church of the Subgenius

Three notable culture jammers joined Negativland’s Don Joyce in 2010 for a Beatles-themed episode of his radio show, Over the Edge. It’s a wonderful thing. For three straight hours, Phineas Narco of the Church of the Subgenius, Mark “TradeMark G.” Gunderson of the Evolution Control Committee, and John “Wobbly” Leidecker, who this year succeeded Joyce as Over the Edge‘s host following Joyce’s untimely death, fold, spindle and mutilate the Fabs’ music. The most gorgeous passages in the Beatles’ catalog become honking, dissonant distress signals, while the stuff that was already a bit spooky takes on a nightmarish cast. Haters of the Moptops will find plenty to confirm their prejudices; fans will discover that the same key that unlocks the gates of Heaven also opens the very mouth of Hell.

Aside from Vangelis’ “12 O’Clock,” the haunting melody that always opens Over the Edge, every note of this monster is Beatles-related, as Joyce confirms in his notes on the episode:

Our trio of guests play together without me for the first 45 minutes, then I join in the mix for the rest of the show. This is all an intense mashmix of The Beatles and everything they did in and out of music from beginning to end. Our sounds are made exclusively from Beatles material of all kinds and a few covers, including the amazing Rutles. A live and lively group mix that does not let up.

During the first few minutes of the broadcast, Joyce and Wobbly refer to an earlier “Beatles Hell” set the same group performed on Over the Edge in 1992; I haven’t been able to find it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. A look at Discogs turns up an undated cassette that suggests there were several earlier Beatles Hell jams under the auspices of Big City Orchestra.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Give me some slack: High Weirdness By Mail online

In, I think, 1988 or 89, I mailed hundreds of letters to all of the freaky organizations and crazed loners listed in Rev. Ivan Stang’s classic book on oddball culture, High Weirdness By Mail.

I sent the exact same form letter to all of them (“To Whom It May Concern, I am interested in more information about your organization, Thank you, Richard Metzger”) and within a very short period of time—about two weeks—my mailbox was overflowing daily with completely insane shit from some extremely marginal individuals. I used to have boxes and boxes of it. I’m sure that the current tenants of my former East Village apartment still to this very day get whimsical, creepy and outright alarming things addressed to me.

Among the high weirdness highlights were these people in Kentucky who sent me several homemade cassettes featuring some seriously demented (and low IQ) “alien channeling” sessions with “The Commodore” that became more and more paranoid and racist with every tape. This stuff was out there, existing in a parallel continuum of irrationality far beyond anything heard then on Art Bell’s radio show. With each cassette they’d send me—there were dozens sent for my one single letter of inquiry—there would be a crude drawing of their house and an appeal for money so that they could build a “UFO landing lookout” (something that you and I might call it a “porch”).

Equally persistent, but no less nutty, was the curious assortment of incredibly stupid items I received from disgraced TV televangelist Peter Popoff. Popoff—who was exposed as a fraud a long time ago on The Tonight Show and many times since—must assume that the people who contact him are the dumbest people on Earth and for the most part, maybe he’s right. Among the nonsense I got from him were a “prosperity prayer rug”:  You were instructed to kneel on the “prayer rug”—a cheap paper poster with a dotted line circle—and put your wallet in front of you and pray for money (for a monetary donation, Popoff would also personally pray to God on your behalf) and a Handi-wipe type thing with supposed “holy water” that would make your debts vanish by supernatural intervention. Or something.

(He’s still around. The last time I saw Peter Popoff on TV, he was on BET and had re-invented himself as a sort of preacher/debt councilor)

High Weirdness by Mail has been out of print for a long time, but a Sub-Genius named Friar Synapse has lovingly recreated the book online, after discovering that nearly ALL of the groups and individuals listed there are still around!

The zaniness is broken down into categories like Weird Science, UFO Contactees, Jesus Contactees, Weird Religion, New Age Saps, $chemes & $cams, Cosmic Hippie Drug Brother Stuff, Weird Politics, Rantzines, Comics, Badfilm & Sleaze and Rudeness & Sex Wars.

You’ve got your slack cut out for you…

Honestly, I must say, spending 3 or four hours writing to all of those kooks was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I highly recommend High Weirdness by Mail. No really, in some ways, it changed my life! Praise Bob!


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment