“Tales of the San Franciso Cacophony Society” an inspirational bit of dadaist history

book cover - cacaphonyLast Gasp‘s new book, Tales of the San Franciso Cacophony Society, compiled and edited by Kevin Evans, Carrie Galbraith, and John Law, ranks as one of the most dangerously inspirational books I’ve ever had the pleasure to clap eyes on.

While much could be made of the fact that the Cacophony Society are the ones responsible for such occasions of oddball debauchery as Burning Man, SantaCon, and (arguably) zombies, this book doesn’t focus on the influence of these San Francisco eccentrics on society at large. If anything, this is both a visual and oral history of how such a simple set of ideas — such as Chaotic Principle No. II: You Will Never Be Totally In Control — could have such an impact on individuals.

Peoples’ lives were changed by their participation in Cacophony events. Some were horrified, traumatized, and otherwise freaked out, but enough “creative malcontents” managed to find one another and have “eccentric adventures.” The particular events are too numerous to list, but suffice it to say, they engaged the sense and the mind, and took things to a new level, while never stooping to a political agenda or puerile infantilism.

cacaphony bart loungeThe games, dances, parties, races … “happenings,” for lack of a better word chronicled by Tales of the San Franciso Cacophony Society have an element of the whimsical about them, always. The emotion most palpable by reading the book is that those who were fortunate enough to be part of any of this is one of wonder. Simply having some folks in salmon costumes running against a bunch of marathoners is an excellent way to reset your perceptions and get a new view on how things happen.

The possibility that “you may already be a member!” is integral to the stories that are contained within the pages of this excellent book. Collecting as it does old newsletters, fliers, magazine and newspaper articles, photos, and many first-person reminisces, it’s half history project, half manual. Any number of ideas within these pages could easily be enacted by people reading them. And who’s to say that you shouldn’t?

Whether reading the book as a collection of inspirational stories for one’s own creative urges or a history of things people did, through which you can live vicariously, Tales of the San Franciso Cacophony Society will have something for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough. While the hardcover is something akin to carrying around a textbook in your satchel, it’s so loaded with images, the heft is a necessary reminder of the content within.

Tales of the San Franciso Cacophony Society is out June 1 from Last Gasp Publishing. You can order your copy from the Last Gasp store.