Here's the skinny on the studio:


The Agenda Studio itself has existed from the beginning and has always been the space where the work has been done. The name itself first appeared painted on the window of a spare bedroom of a little house my first wife (who later that winter appeared as one of the original "topless coeds" at Pierre's on Broadway before leaving me, continuing her education and becoming an orthopedic surgeon of some renown. In fact, I believe she was the first American orthopedic surgeon to sport a nose ring, though I may be mistaken.) and I rented up in Bernal Heights on York St. This must have been the fall of '65. The signature on the window was in imitation of the moody street lit lettering appearing behind Bogart while telephoning the widow from his office in the Maltese Falcon. An odd noir image still locked in my brain. Anyway, my lettering was much cruder, especially as I attempted it from the inside, printing the letters ass-backward while in an altered state myself and being afraid of falling off a ladder if I attempted the easier method from the garden outside. This is where the tapes were made that we played to stunned audiences before the great flood that followed.

This was the place where all the original Jr. Black and the Grits' tapes originated. I kept a huge trunk full of various implements of musical adventure and anyone who stopped by was likely to be incorporated as a musician. Some of these implements were actual musical instruments or at least imitations. I had my detuned electric bass and guitars and the infamous zither/autoharp. Toy pianos. Penny whistles. Kazoos. Etc. Etc. The whole Grit thing was more a psychadelic jug band than anything else. Many "instruments" where just household goods put to better use. Mixing bowls, wedding crystal, wooden and silver spoons made excellent chimes. The hooka bowl provided that reverbing resonance you might remember. Typewriters, the radio itself, many sound effect recordings from the collection. My ex-wife wrote me years later and mentioned the "burning drums" connected with this madness. (She herself did the cut-ups reading for "When the boys..." an oratory created from snippets of a Time Magazine editorial concerning 18 year old kids and their responsibility to the draft.) I couldn't for the life of me understand the reference. She wrote back reminding me of how I had commandeered the vinyl table cloth from the kitchen table and stretched it over the huge galvanized garbage can I had brought in from the back porch. Made a wonderful sound. Stoned while beating a grand drone a lit cigarette fell from my lip unnoticed, burned itself through the tablecloth and set the trash I had neglected to remove on fire.

Whether the Studio has always existed in "The Spare Room" or rather that "The Spare Room" has been a separate adjunct to the Studio itself has often been debated. Much "live in The Spare Room" archive stuff is floating around there someplace. The Studio itself has often expanded itself and intruded into other realms of the living space. Many recordings during my years in New Zealand (86-92) were actually conceived, performed, recorded and over dubbed (as well as reproduced and packaged) from the coffee table in front of the t.v. during commercial breaks when I'd utilize the mute control and dive into the headsets for 2 - 3 minutes before later working into the dawn. During a particularly expansive period much of the Agenda product was known as 'a bulldozer in the bedroom production' a reference not only to the location of the studio at the time but to a story a dear friend had related of an early childhood trauma where he had asked both his parents and Santa (so there could be no misunderstanding) for a D-9 Caterpillar tractor and was devastated not to find the real thing in his bedroom Xmas morning but rather the Dinky toy left with his stocking at the foot of the bed.

Right now today The Studio and its adjunct are undergoing yet another reorganization as I rummage through recent print rubble from my 'paper less' office trying to find your recent missive. It continues to function as a production and design center and a repository for all my music paraphernalia, instruments and recording gear as well as serving as a retro Macintosh museum. I have a MacPlus in the living room for writing memos. A recently semi-retired IIci which serves as a back up to the PowerPC 8100-100 I just inherited. Actually, I consider myself a very fortunate man. These early machines truly saved my life by finally introducing me to the personal computer after my return to the Coast. However, in many ways, I am still a very analogue kind of guy. Anyway, I print up copies of stuff I or some of my friends might write, make little booklets, cards, and calendars etc. The only money I ever made "being creative" was a check for $3000 I received from the equivalent of the workman's comp people in New Zealand after I lost the wee end of one of delicate fingertips in a carpentry misadventure. I had told them how uncomfortable it was to use a typewriter and that I could no longer make an F-chord on my banjo, two tools that offered my only alternative hope of creating any capital if not pounding nails. I was glad I spoke up. Even today I get a little tingle of excitement when I use a keyboard. I still dabble in photography and sometimes think about working again with video another fascination that lasted a number of years starting with the old reel-to-reel port-a-pak sensitivities. I have always been such a dilettante and spread myself too thin, lucky to have completed any projects at all. But with true heart, I have always basically considered myself as a provocateur, primarily dedicated simply to pin-sticking my friends into continuing to develop their creative talents. Some have done amazingly well but "I have seen the best minds of my generation..." As have we all.

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