Look for events this JUNE commemorating this important cultural movement.
New Games was a movement started in the late 60’s/early 70’s that encouraged people of all ages to make play a part of their daily lives. New Games was initially inspired by an idea of Stewart Brands, that he, Pat Farrington and George Leonard made into a New Games play weekend that attracted 6000 people. Brand soon moved on and a cadre of games enthusiasts, educators and athletes carried on to spread the idea of noncompetitive, immersive and cooperative games around the US and the world. A book of games collected from the four corners of the Earth and edited by Andrew Fluegleman was compiled and published, soon selling out and seeing multiple reprints and total books published nearing the 1 million mark according to some accounts. Probably best known for the “Earth Ball”, New Games was a pretty big deal in play and education circles by the end of the decade.
By the late 70’s the New Games Foundation was housed in a building on Arguello St in the Inner Sunset. Some of the folks involved would include Burton & Barbara Naiditch, John O’Connell, Todd Strong, Dale LeFevre and others. Suicide Club co-founder Adrienne Burk worked for New Games for a while. I even worked there – slogging out a few weeks working as a “shipping agent” mailing out Earth Balls and boffers (soft foam swords! the perfect way to work out physical aggression without hurting anyone) to schools and individuals around the country. I wasn’t very good at the job, I think they felt sorry for me, I was so broke!
I knew most of the folks involved and had great respect for them and their campaign to spread a wonderful idea everywhere they could. Principal trainers Todd Strong and Dale LeFevre were also active Communiversity participants and Suicide Club members. I recall some cool events they created or helped with in the secretive Suicide Club. Todd organized one of the first Rocky Horror Picture Show costumed events at the Strand Theater for the Club in 1977. This was before the idea really caught on with hordes of formerly shy, soon to be assertive goths kids around the world. Dale hosted one of the very first Suicide Club events. He took us to the massive South San Francisco The Industrial City letters which we slid down on pieces of cardboard, just like sledding some huge snow hill.
The event made a giant impression on all participants and introduced me to the concept of the city as a PLAYGROUND. This is a concept which Gary Warne took to heart in his further experiments in urban adventure and it lay at the core and heart of the Suicide Club. This sense of play adopted by Gary and the rest of in the Club was instrumental in creating the culture that seeped through the later Cacophony Society and on into Cacophony fueled events, movements and organizations that continue to have resonance such as Burning Man, SantaCon (SOME of the original playful spirit of this event must still exist!), the world-wide UE (urban exploration) phenomenon and even a little in the Fight Club inspired underground pugilist groups that sprang up by the hundreds for a season.
A return to New Games including public events and lectures that are in the works for this Summer, specifically on the weekend of June 24-26. So please pencil in that time so you can meet and learn a bit from these awesome folks. Former NG co-Director, trainer, Aikido master and all around New Games guy John O’Connell has started the ‘Earth’ ball rolling and it seems that many of the principals involved back in the heady 70’s will be rolling into town. These are people that had a profound impact on our culture and have continued on in a variety of guises spreading the gospel of play as an intrinsic part of any healthy adult life.
I will post event and presentation dates and specifics as I become aware of them. Please check out New Games. The history is so important – New Games was one of the major influences on the underground culture of free play and underground events that we enjoy today.
My comrades, associates and dear friends have launched a kickstarter campaign to fund a fabulous dream project in the mysterious and vibrant land of Detroit. Curious objects, totemic figurines, elaborately and lovingly produced tableaus, strange icons and bizarre tchotchekas: these are the things that have been collected from the furthest corners of the world and will appoint and adorn Detroit’s Seafoam Palace.
The avatar for this project, Julia Solis is one of the early pioneers of the world of Urban Exploration. Her book New York Underground is a primary text for explorers. She was a friend of and inspiration for Ninjalicious the fellow that grounded and popularized UE with the zine Infiltration and book Access all Areas. Julia’s NYC based exploration and event group Dark Passage founded in 1999 holds a near mythic status and has inspired adventurers around the world.
Julia’s many projects over the years have radiated an essence of purity and authenticity that is rare to find. Her singular aesthetic is deep, dark and beautiful. She attracts collaborators of high caliber.
To peruse the histories of folks involved in SeaFoam is to open many doors to rare, exotic and obsessive worlds.
Filmmaker and educator Bryan Papciak has documented surreal yet very real worlds in his uniquely disturbing style. Bryan continues to warp impressionable young minds as a prof at RISD. Bryan’s work as an animator and creator of images is pretty disturbing. He LOOKS normal, but watch out when delving into the worlds he creates in his feverish imagination. Watch his oddly mesmerizing video below!
Photographer, fearless explorer and web designer Tom Kirsch has captured some of the most haunting images ever. A small sampling of his work can be found here. His work has been featured on PBS’s American Experience, in Digital Photographer Magazine and other publications. Tom likes to fish – a lot – his nautical sensibilities have and will continue to influence Seafoam.
Madagascar Institute founder and international art Star Chris Hackett helps out in Detroit in between stints blowing things up, sometimes on teeveeand instructing the kids on how they can “do this at home!” for Popular Science Magazine. Hackett is deeply dedicated to making the world a more interesting (and dangerous) place. Madagascar has turned out hundreds of maladjusted young artists (with some actual real world skills) after Chris turned chose to open the place in 1999.
Globetrotting film professional Christos Pathiakis explores ruins for fun between exotic location shoots. Before teaming up with others as the internet began to connect explorers Christos spent thousands of hours roaming through much of the NYC subway system in the 90’s disguised as an MTA worker.
When not hammering away on Seafoam, swashbuckling pyrotecnician Kim Couchet installs and ignites the largest fireworks displays in the world.
Social engineer Shel Kimmen has dedicated her life to the revitalization of her beloved City of Detroit. Shel’s counsel has been invaluable for the Seafoam crew.
Italian explorer and aesthete Alessandro Toffoli adds a compelling European flavor to the Detroit mix. Alessandro compares Detroit favorably with Rome (for the eventual importance of it’s fast disappearing colossal abandoned edifices). Alessandro has published both fiction and nonfiction, and is now an ongoing researcher at Casa della Memoria, the official oral history society in Rome. He is also a co-founder of Arcadia, a Roman art and restoration laboratory that specializes in antiques and objects of curiosity.
Paul Parkhill is the Executive Director of Spaceworks, Between 1999 and 2012, Paul served as the Director of Planning and Development at the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center. Paul worked as a housing developer for Common Ground Community. In 1997 Paul co-founded Place in History, and in 2004 he co-founded Furnace Press with Julia Solis and Ars Subterranea.
Installation and performance artist Monica Canilao creates exquisite, dream inspired worlds from the detritus sloughed off from the mundane world around her. Her involvement in Seafoam has introduced the project to a younger risk-taking group of collaborators. That’s a nice way to say “watch out for these crazy kids!”
Other key personnel and associates include artist/performer Vness Wolfchild a musician and interactive ritual healing performance artist. Her work explores the complexity of the physical, spiritual and emotional body existing within urban industry and architecture. soundcloud.com/vnesswolfchild
Designer Dorothy Trojanowski whose work includes the lovely lay-out for Julia Solis’ recent book Stages of Decay.
metal sculptor Colin McIntyre, Inspired by creatures from the oceans and all plant life, Colin creates sculptures using hot metal forging and fabrication. His work is featured as a permanent public art piece at the Austin Nature & Science Center.
Detroit homesteader Ryan Carmichael is a functional artist and was one of the lead fabricators on Gon Kirin. In recent years he has specialized in architectural installations around Detroit.
Maggie Sisco lives in Detroit and works in public relations for a small firm in the metro area. Her expertise is in media and content strategy.
Seafoam Palace is made up of artists, writers, photographers, filmmakers, sociologists, engineers, historians, travelers, explorers, and a few varieties of alchemists. Some have been collaborating on projects for over twenty years, some are brand new – drawn together by a love of the absurd, the profound, and the curious.