Category: Billboard Liberation Front

Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society pdf (and news of coming reprint in paperback)

Cacophony 2018 Book spreads lowresTales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society

This book is out of print. It was published in full color large format hardback edition (5000 copies) of 320 pages (weighing almost three pounds!) in 2013. Our publisher Last Gasp of San Francisco is reprinting in paperback in a slightly altered version by the end of the year. This pdf is low rez but readable and the best I can do til the paperback is out. Please spread the word! The new edition will include a memorial page for Carrie Ann Galbraith RIP.

Carrie was the co-author and designer of this loving in-depth history of the Cacophony Society. One of her many contributions to Cacophony and the worlds of art, pranks and creativity was the concept of the “Zone Trip” the best known Zone Trip being the 1st Burning Man on the Black Rock Desert in September of 1990.

The First Billboard

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One of the many ideas that avatar and co-founder Gary Warne sprung on his Suicide Club co-conspirators in the late 70’s was a scheme to commandeer two massive freeway billboards and to bend the ominous message to the confederated will of the Club. The Suicide Club evolved out of Communiversity, a free school at SF State in the 1970’s that was part of the free school movement of the 1960’s. Pranks and adventures were reflected in many of the classes offered. The Suicide Club first appeared in print and the world as a “class” in Communiversity in 1977.  This first billboard alteration was the inspiration for the founding of the Billboard Liberation Front a few months later. The BLF was to go on altering or “improving” the copy and images on giant drive-by advertising for thirty-four years, predating and presumably influencing later work by Shepard Fairey, Ron English, and other midnight advertisers. The BLF grew concurrently with the Cacophony Society and had members that crossed over the entire San Francisco underground arts scene.  Suicide Club stalwart Dan Spero made several audio interviews with Gary back in the early 1980’s before Gary’s tragic and untimely death at the age of thirty-five. The audio file below is Gary’s story of the first billboard hit, an event that spawned or encouraged a thousand advertising hacks to come over the next three decades. Chuck Palahniuks novel Fight Club (and the David Fincher movie) include a billboard hack inspired by Cacophony and the BLF.

Hearing Gary’s voice decades after his passing is quite a treat for me and for anyone else who knew this visionary prankster.