All Bound For … ??? by Joe Turner

It has been one of the most intriguing moments of The Dark Ages…

This particular occurrence has already become mythical and secretive. It has instantly entered into The JAMs folklore…

On Day 2 at The Bombed Out Church, following the performances of 2023 by the chapter groups of the book, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty selected a ‘page holder’ to go on a secret mission with them straight after the event…

Page 99 was selected…

But was mysteriously unavailable…

An alternative prize winner was chosen…

That page was number 24…

Here is the moment when one volunteer’s life was about to massively change…

Below we hear from our guest writer, the holder of Page 24 himself, Joe Turner!

People have been trying very hard to get Joe to reveal what happened on his secret mission with The JAMs…

As yet, he has refused to talk…

So, now that he finally speaks, what does he have to say?

Follow Joe on FacebookTwitter and at the Joe Turner & The Seven Levels Website.

 

All Bound For … ???

Thanks for being outside, Page 99…!

Of course, 99 seemed the obvious choice, for the JAMs’ Welcome to the Dark Ages event. The iconic “Ice Kream Van” bore Ukrainian text reading “make mine 99” (among other things, including some references to death that made much more sense once everything was over). Keeping with the theme and the meme, £99 would get anyone a Mumufication brick, as we would find out later — those of us who were not in the choir and waiting in the wings of the Florrie with Jarvis and missing out on Claire and Rupert Callender’s presentation in the sanctuary.

In the midst of the Day of the Book, however, it seemed like a simple callback to one of the many JAMs/KLF references that we were all happily tossing back and forth to each other, bathing in the warm waters of youthful history come alive once again in total surprise. I never got to hang out at Trancentral, or find myself in a field at night raving until the police showed up, but I was an old-school fan of the duo in the late ‘80s. Along with my old college friend Jon, we relished what product we could get our grubby little American hands on, and as we were far removed from UK media, we would scour the tentative beginnings of the Internet (then still the “ARPAnet” and “BITnet”) for any information about the band which would come through in dribs and drabs. We were left to fill in the gaps with our own imagination. Who were these guys? Scottish rapping? Obscure Illuminatus! references? ABBA lawsuits? Sheep? Did one of them really manage Echo & The Bunnymen?! It all seemed so random, so mythological. We ate it up and spat it back out as meager, amateur attempts with Dr T’s sequencing/sampling software on an Amiga ST — “we can do that!”.

With neither Wikipedia nor Google to rely upon, we had no idea how delicious a Cadbury Flake in a cone could be, nor that it was what they were talking about. In our ignorance, I think we figured it just meant “make mine a large!”, but the joy of the internal rhyme won out over any real interpretation. And, naturally, had you told me back in those halcyon days that I would be a noticeable part of some of their strangeness…. Yeah, well, lots of laughter from me, I’m sure.

Page 99, as it turns out, was taking care of her child outside the Bombed Out Church and missed the call. But so 24 seemed reasonable, too. Sure, sure: 23 this and 23 that. For years, an old friend of mine would go bonkers at any 23-related coincidence and loved that I was born on 23 May 1967; she’d cackle “23rd day, and May is 5 which is 2 + 3, and 1+9+6+7 is 23!”. Yeah, sure, I’m just another part of the “23 enigma”…. I’ll be the first to admit that my spiritual/religious nature is fairly weak and I’m a more or less pragmatic fellow. When it comes to ‘clearly’ non-religion/faux-religion-esque things like Discordianism, I’m sure to disappoint people when I admit that my take is simply that it’s a good laugh and it’s good for reminding people not to take life so seriously all the time. Frankly, I do get a little creeped out by people who take a mindset of “don’t take life so seriously” to absurd and non-self-effacing extremes — that way lies true cultism. For example, I like some Psychic TV records because they’re goofy, but no way am I getting involved with TOPY! I don’t believe in magic or magick or any of that; rituals are fun but I see it as just another form of “live action role playing”, and when it’s over everyone goes home. When I look up at the night sky and wonder “where the fuck are we, anyway?!”, it’s way beyond my brain. I have enough trouble paying my bills on time to worry about reality tunnels.

So, I didn’t put too much stock into it (or anything other than what science can prove, to be honest) but I do admit I was always amused by the coincidence. So, for an event that was as much about moving forward with new things as it was celebrating old promises, choosing one up from 23 made sense. Had you asked me about this when it was 10am and we were lined up in the Bombed Out Church, unaware of the pages to be doled out, I don’t think I would have suggested it. But our boys with the horn-hats are very good at taking a little bit, imbuing it with a little meaning, and then letting the fertile ground of everyone’s collective imaginations sprout up forests of interpretation. Perhaps there’s a little bit of destiny, too. Who can say? All I knew was that I was page 24, the “chapter leader”, and I had Choir rehearsal all afternoon so I could only defer to my chapter-mates for good ideas, and make a mad dash for the nearest art store to buy chalk and find a nice spot along our pentagram-plotted map of Liverpool to graffiti a sentence from my page (“As for religion, we need as many as we can to compete for our souls; the more radical the religion, the better.”), ere I anger the delightful Nick Coler with my tardiness. I’m sure my initial reaction of getting to the front of the Church’s altar area and giving Bill a huge hug left him thinking I was a bit mad.

One of the common denominators in any art that I love is that the artiste(s) leave something up to the receivers’ imaginations; if pressed, my favorite authors are probably Pynchon, Dick, and Wallace, all of whom reveled in giving the reader only a piece of the puzzle. In film, it would probably be people like Terry Gilliam or David Lynch for the same reason — here’s life as a jigsaw puzzle, you get the straight bits, but there’s plenty missing in the middle. (Hat-tip to XTC for that analogy.) Especially with Lynch, who never wants to explain his work and finds it much more fascinating and fulfilling to learn what everyone else makes of it. (Sound familiar?)

Do we know what the blue box in “Mulholland Drive” really is? Do we know if James Cole is really time-traveling in “Twelve Monkeys”? Why is Hal Incandenza unable to be understood properly in “Infinite Jest”? What’s up with Slothrop’s sex life? Do we really know why Bill and Jimmy burned £1,000,000 and, even if they swear up and down that they did and look it’s even on film, did they really? Where did the damned Ice Kream Van go with me inside?

All I will confirm is what anyone there could have seen. There was a bed constructed in the back; very comfortable, by the way, as anyone who hopped on it in the Dead Perch Lounge on Saturday afternoon can confirm. I figured I would be asked to lie on top of it, but I was asked to remove my shoes and get under the covers. Oliver Senton waited outside holding a copy of “2023” while Daisy Campbell climbed in for a moment to make sure I was comfortable. I stared up at the ceiling of the van, a view that I was sure not many people had the pleasure of experiencing, even though it was just the inside roof of a Mr-Whippy-mobile. We have ice cream trucks in the States, of course, but they’re generally a slightly different design, so it was a novelty for me on that alone. I don’t know how I looked, but Daisy gently moved some of my hair out of my eyes for me and gave me a look that I was unable to interpret entirely: somewhere between “you lucky fellow!” and “oh, you poor, poor man who has no idea what’s coming”. I could vaguely hear my wife Jennifer, amused beyond belief, asking “is he going to come back in one piece?” and I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad that I couldn’t see or hear any reply she may have been given…

Oliver replaced Daisy, the door was closed, Bill and Jimmy got in the front, and after some revving and belching and groaning from under the hood, we somehow got in reverse and out of the Bombed Out Church’s rear driveway, speeding off down the road. I did have a momentary mental image of the bed bursting out of the back at any moment, slapstick b-movie style.

It struck me, as we turned onto the main street, that anyone observing us would see a very well-dressed man with a thick book in the back of — on first glance an ambulance? Hearse? Wait a minute, ice cream van!?!? — with a person (body?) lying on a bed (cot? stretcher?) and blaring strange melodies. What the hell’s going on here, they would undoubtedly have to wonder.

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Later the next day, during the Great Pull North, I sincerely hoped that anyone who had observed this part of the weekend was also now seeing 400 weirdos in face-paint and yellow robes pulling that same van, now with coffins in the back. Wasn’t there a guy in there? That poor, poor man.

We did go someplace specific. About an hour later, we returned.

I still have a moment of confusion with myself when I think of all this; as with a lot of memory, things start to blur, fade, and smear as the days progress. It’s one thing to be a passive observer of art (e.g. day one and all the years leading up to it) and it’s definitely a step up to be a willing but surprised creator of art, feeling the interlocking nature of hundreds of people in a creative frenzy that was out of everyone’s comfort zones but which felt suddenly easy (as with day two). Genius happens within the simple framework set up by the JAMs: get an idea, don’t question it too much, wind it up, let it go to its logical or illogical extreme, walk away. As any of the 400 can tell you after day 3, the hyperreality of the situation goes stratospheric when you find yourself becoming a part of someone else’s art. My part in that, in being essentially a prop in a moment of art-ritual weirdness, in willingly submitting to someone else’s strange plan without any foreknowledge, is hard to describe. So, I won’t. Everyone’s mileage may vary, but my experience was unique and I will treasure what I witnessed and went through for a long time to come… a secret I will keep all the way to my brick!

I will give one tidbit that I’ve mentioned to others: Bill and Jimmy stated that they were absolutely overwhelmed with what people had done on Day 2, and that they thoroughly enjoyed what everyone had done, with a clear tone of pleased surprise. So, everyone, give yourselves a pat on the back for your efforts, whether you feel the need for external validation or not.

That’s all you get! My contribution towards mystery, chaos, mythology, and multiple interpretations. It was a special secret mission and it’s staying that way. If I ever get a bank safe-deposit box, perhaps I’ll write down the rest and keep it there for a 23 year moratorium myself.

Or 24 years. Or 99.

All bound for Mu-Mu Land!

 

 

All Photography courtesy of: Jennifer Sherry

2 comments

  1. It was me that found your grad certificate post BADGER KULL left on Bill’s signing desk at the end of the night. It gave me a special chaos thrill because of the story of the Joe Turner Blues. I got Bill to sign it the next day and met you just before we left I think . . . The Keeper of page 259.

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