Desolo Luna Vox Theatrum, fifth Mondays on KBOO

Richard A. Francis

Richard A. Francis

(I was devastated to learn of Richard Francis’ passing today.  Richard was one of the most generous, honest and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, someone who cherished fun and was serious about love and harmony – although his taste in music strayed towards the dis-harmonic and his devotion to the avant-garde often seemed incongruous with his discipline and his attention to planning and detail.

Richard Francis had been a consummate champion of the KBOO community and his passing is a huge loss.

Back in the mid-Eighties, Richard and I - at his invitation, and after he had allowed me to substitute for him on one occasion – collaborated on a pair of installments of his long-running program A Different Nature.  The first of these programs was devoted entirely to the music of John Cale, whom we both worshiped; Richard graciously arranged that we meet at his apartment – the walls were covered from floor to ceiling with books – where he prepared a pasta dinner, we discussed European literature and planned the show down to the second; he then loaned me the first three Cale-produced Nico albums which I had yet to hear.

The other program, Sleaze,” kidnapped a 5- or 6-hour late-night block of the program schedule in the service of  Richard’s idea – to make use of the hours that allowed for more racy material than he was usually allowed to play during his usual mid-evening slot.  I recall thinking that Richard’s idea of “blue” material was just as opaque as the balance of his obsessions – much of the “earotica” he saved for this program would have confused any would-be censors. At the two-thirds mark of the program we were getting pretty loopy and it was Richard who strove to keep us on track and focus on the programming rather than our inside jokes.

Ultimately I would settle in to my own program and we would each uphold our individual ends of the air.  At the time I chose to leave my gig behind, Richard was working harder than ever to guide station policy and unite its disparate factions.  I am humbled that after 15 years away I was welcomed back into Richard’s utopian vision of radioland, and I am grateful that we were able to collaborate a final time.

I am somewhat sad and quite disappointed that he was unable to hear this, but I am blessed to offer it as a memento.  This is one of three pieces that I promised Richard for what was to be the last show that he missed.  Throughout the production of these pieces during August 29-30, 2009 – and particularly of “Shaman,” with Richard’s almost unrecognizable voice affecting that of a tired, old man in my headphones – I hoped to make him proud of our collaboration.  It seems that its funereal mood was more than coincidence.  Love and farewell, Richard.  We will do our best to carry on without your warmth and enthusiasm. – Luke Lefler, September 6, 2009)

For ten leguminous years 90.7 FM KBOO Portland was the non-commercial, community radio home of Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours.  Every Sunday at midnight the Baron, bugler at the unprotected gates of dawn and raven-soft underjelly upon the fibrous circuitry, imprimpted his dubious brand of comedy and erstwhile music predications to-upon the greater metro polita, and it was a good run toward a seemingly predestined burn-out in the watershed year 1993.

It wasn’t until July of 2008 that Baron Landscape would endeavor to helm such radio as befit his high standards and return to KBOO with The Wreck of The Broken Landscape (see BLBH #12).  Around this same time we made the acquaintance of Rich Lindsay who informed us that long-time difficult-listening guru Richard Francis was mounting a 101-hour continuous celebration of Surrealism and Dada to overtake KBOO’s airwaves later that summer.

The shimmerling prospect of bloofing eepy radio m’bobs with other types enchanted us ferocious.  Therefore to those 101 diabolic hours, Broken Wounders houred up contributing over two-thirds of one hour – 23:23 of which was the monumental yet rarely-heard feral Boboist putrefaction The Herbed Brie Period By B. Blatherscape, Even (annoyingly unavailable for distribution due to licensing issues).

Creating the work for this festival was liberating, and the controversial (to some, anyway) celebration invigorated its many producers, Splice Finders included. Certain key individuals hoped subscreantly to re-air much of the material what had previomously come, and they additiomally desired a permanent place for us Surrealadadactyls to roam.

Thus clungterfly to the spatula joculaire and pursuant to radical reorganization of the KBOO evening program schedule, a place was farted unblong to traverse four hours from 8:00 pm to Midnight on every Monday that is the fifth Monday of a month.  It was crispened Desolo Luna Vox Theatrum, a name Richard explains he came up with “playing around with an English-Latin dictionary website.”  He says it means “Abandoned Moon Cry Theater.”

Presuming that which is abandoned to be either the Moon or its cry, we have Deicided to regularly contribute to the theater, taking our cues from Richard and his co-producer Sean Ongley.  The Anfangsgobs dieser Opfer d’oddio were broken spectales on a pair of Kurt Scwhitters pieces that met (we’re assured) with delight on the part of translator/interpreter Jack Zipes when they aired in June, 2009.

Material by Argentinian poet Oliverio Girondo was feted on the August 31, 2009 Theatrum, and – always down with a theme - Horas Quebradas spritely emboldened Richard’s performances of two pieces from Girondo’s Scarecrow with our prosaic “original music and additional production.”  Affixed hereto via the PowerPress is the elegiac “Shaman (version)” (Scarecrow #15), the choirs of bees and VSTs of which we’ve meddled with even a littly bit further since its air date, for the posterity “version” if one may – enjoy these minutos rotos lánguidos.

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  • Mark Francis

    Thank you for the article. I enjoy hearing about my brother from others. We left most of his books and music in Portland, but I grabbed all his John Cale CD's.
    Mark Francis

  • http://www.hypernonsense.com Shawno

    I feel like we don’t really hear the word “miasma” enough on a day-to-day basis.

  • http://situationregulationsolarium.blogspot.com/ Tom

    as a recent Cale convert, I would have loved to hear some of Francis’ shows. I fear I missed the gravy train….

  • http://situationregulationsolarium.blogspot.com/ Tom

    as a recent Cale convert, I would have loved to hear some of Francis’ shows. I fear I missed the gravy train….

  • http://situationregulationsolarium.blogspot.com/ Tom

    as a recent Cale convert, I would have loved to hear some of Francis' shows. I fear I missed the gravy train….

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