RAWDay / Santa Cruz, California
WRITTEN BY JOSH RAY, AUGUST 2017
The transatlantic connections in our mycelium network were finally made on 23rd July, 2017. Taking a fool’s leap across the pond, Daisy Eris Campbell and Greg Wilson made sure they were in Santa Cruz for Robert Anton Wilson day at the start of the dog days on the tenth anniversary year of the pivotal writer’s death.
The idea to make the trip over to California on this certain day had been bubbling for a good while, emerging just after the Cosmic Trigger was first pulled in Liverpool back in November 2014. Daisy had initially intended to take her Cosmic Trigger play over but the right doors didn’t open in time and when Arts Council funding came through for a run of London shows, the final embers of that idea were extinguished, or at least put on the back-burner for another time.
Daisy would make the pilgrimage regardless and, with that sounding like his kind of caper, Greg decided he would too. It became clear that the best way to make something happen would be through Greg’s DJ links in the US and when a promoter who puts parties on in San Diego called Dustin O’Reilly got in touch about booking him, things began to happen. The date didn’t work out but Greg asked Dustin if he’d be up for putting on something in Santa Cruz. Everything unfolded from there; a sizeable rabbit was pulled out of the hat when Santa Cruz Museum Of Art & History agreed to host the event – they couldn’t have found a more appropriate location to highlight the significance of Robert Anton Wilson’s life and work.
Greg had booked some US gigs around this specific date, and having flown in from Manchester his connecting flight was Atlanta into Sacramento, California. Having finished the book he’d been reading he started ‘The Haunted Moustache’, which author David Bramwell had sent him the previous week (Greg had recently worked on a remix of ‘The Ghosts Of Watling Street’, inspired by the new John Higgs book and recorded by David’s band Oddfellow’s Casino). Coming to the end of the book during the flight, Greg held back the last chapter to savour later, when he was settled in his hotel.
His flight was in early though so he had a bit of a wait before he was picked up, leading to him completing the book there and then. Just as he finished the final words and closed the pages, he heard, “Greg?” and looking up he was immediately greeted by Dustin, adorned in a ‘Moustache Bash’ t-shirt – the name of his San Diego party, which began 10 years ago, growing out of the whole Movember thing. “I hadn’t connected these two aspects together before that moment” notes Greg, “the signs were good.”
The next day he met up with Jeff Walsh and Marissa Marlowe, the other organisers, and they went to Sunset Campout Festival, set in California’s picturesque Belden Town, complete with a river for everyone to swim in. The festival was a great day-time vibe but they had to make the 2 1/2 hour journey back to Sacramento for an early start to get to Santa Cruz.
They left early in the morning with two 4x4s packed with a sound system and all sorts of other bits. A hold up due to a traffic accident meant they only had an hour to setup but the trio impressively managed to manifest a sound system, stalls, bar, reception and decor in the time they had.
The day was a huge success and attracted a wide range of American Discordians plus a few Europeans – the old school meeting with the new. The connections were made and seeds sown for future relationships. “It was very much mission accomplished” explains Greg, “it felt like we’d managed to do that, thanks to this Dustin, Jeff and Marisa who, until this event, had never come into the RAW orbit, (also Little John, who brought along some additional speakers).”
Christina Pearson, Robert Anton Wilson’s daughter, concluded the event with an impromptu talk that was deeply heartfelt, explaining how much her father would be blown away by a gathering of these people in his honour. “It was wonderful!” Daisy recalls “and clearly, despite my attempts to put Cosmic Trigger back in its box – it wants to travel Stateside – to go home!”
A fascinating line-up of contributors included Erik Davis, Richard Rasa, R.U Sirius, Adam Gorightly, Ferninando, Doctor Jabir, John Thompson and Bobby Campbell. Daisy, needless to say, was on top form – her infectious energy guiding the day, whilst the audience hung on every word throughout her ever-intriguing account of her Discordian odyssey (and her father’s before her). The talks were filmed and will hopefully be available to view in some form online in the not too distant future.
To conclude the event, Greg wanted to evoke the West Coast spirit of the ‘60s and ‘70s, with the majority of tracks played being re-edits / reworks of much-loved records from these decades, largely with a rock leaning. The opening track, the Soulwax mix of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by The Rolling Stones, links back exactly 12 months to when it was the opener for him at last year’s Festival 23. There’s also a trio of tracks he’s either produced or remixed, including ‘The Ghosts Of Watling Street’ by Oddfellow’s Casino (a mix worked on with Peza), featuring a cameo from ‘the greatest living Englishman’, Alan Moore, who’s had so much to do with our own quest. Tame Impala tips a hat to the present and the psychedelic bridge between then and now, whilst the final track, Sam Redmore’s Prince Fatty Vs The Beatles mash-up, ‘A Day In The Dub, references the Summer Of Love, whilst reminding us, as re-edits and mash-ups do, that the past is there to serve the now, providing a fresh context in which to present our rich cultural legacy.
Bits of The KLF’s 1990 minimal masterpiece ‘Chill Out’ are also peppered throughout for good measure – the album providing the soundtrack between the talks that took place throughout the day (as well as accompanying the drive from Sacramento to Santa Cruz).
What will the future bring out of these newfound connections? Could we see a Cosmic Trigger in Santa Cruz? “I think the momentum is now there for that to happen” Greg alludes, “it’s the natural environment for it! Daisy’s made all her contacts there. I think everybody knows that what she’s doing is coming from the right place, and I’m sure she’ll get all the necessary support at the Santa Cruz end to bring, when the right time presents itself, Cosmic Trigger back to its roots..”
On the same day Super Weird Substance uploaded a full transcript of Greg and Kermit Leveridge’s interview with Alan Moore, which was screened at Festival 23 exactly a year previous. Moore mentioned his discovery of Robert Anton Wilson, and the writer’s continued relevance:
“The ideas of Robert Anton Wilson are I think, central. Certainly central to the way I am conducting my life at the moment. Back in 1976, something like that, I was down visiting my late friend and mentor Steve Moore on the top of Shooter’s Hill and Steve, who was much more connected with the London fantasy and comics scene than I was, he’d got this new trilogy of books that he’d come across that I might be interested in, which was ‘The Illuminatus! Trilogy’ by Wilson and Shea.
I devoured them and I was absolutely blown away; I thought, “This is great!” All of these frankly ridiculous, paranoid conspiracy stories that are so popular amongst the right and the left wing – that it’s making it all, instead of being a debilitating illness, which is the way people like David Icke have tended to make this field of inquiry – they made it into this brilliant intellectual game and made it really enlightening. It was almost like an Anarchist primer – an Occult/Anarchist primer!”
You can read the full interview here