Arts and Culture

Music, Art and Words Are in the Cards at the Riding SideSaddle* Book Launch

Today Eric Suzanne will release Riding SideSaddle*, an open-source, non-linear novel published locally by Springgun Press. To mark the occasion, Suzanne has gathered three bands – including his own, Gorilla Teacup – to perform at Syntax Physic Opera starting at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, in an interdisciplinary performance that integrates parts of the novel both musically and visually, via a projection screen. Also slated to perform are Open to Hound and Jen Korte. Suzanne’s novel is non-linear in that it is written entirely on postcards – 254, to be exact – that the reader can peruse in any order. In fact, Suzanne, with the help of his friends, has arranged each novel in a different order, “by hand,” he adds, wryly. That there is no “correct” reading of the novel mirrors Suzanne’s position that there is no correct reading of gender, either, a theme explored throughout the work, which Suzanne describes as his take on “the Greek myth of hermaphrodite.” Suzanne notes that certain queer identities, including transgender or transsexual, are sometimes still framed as “deviations” or “switches” from male or female, instead of on their own terms. “Why would we associate with gender in the first place? What does it mean to connect to the body?” he asks.

One card reads:
Jolene asks for a story as they lay in bed, but Jenny can’t think of anything, so she mentions the possibility of butterfly named
George Wilma Henry Angelina Phillips the Third, and Jolene thinks maybe it’s a giant butterfly to hold all those names, or a walrus disguised as a butterfly. And Jenny says it is, and it puts on the wings at night to go out on the town with other butterfly walruses like itself.
Much like the novel itself, here Suzanne presents an organism recombining and enlarging to hold multiple identities, but still lithe enough to fly off for a night “on the town” to meet others “like itself.” 

For those who will have a night “on the town” at Syntax, expect performances that blend mediums, styles and disciplines. Gorilla Teacup has had a long history of interdisciplinary collaboration, originally forming to provide music for a multimedia piece mirroring the movements of Catholic Mass. Dan Eisenstat and Sondra Eby, the guitarist and drummer for the band, respectively (Suzanne plays bass), currently run the Bakery Arthouse, a theater and music venue downtown. Eisenstat, whom the band identifies as the principal driver behind the music, draws from sources as diverse as the Pixies, the Breeders and Gil-Scott Heron. Compositionally, he compiles different musical fragments, sometimes with the help of Suzanne and Eby, and then asks himself, “When do I want pieces to reinforce each other, [and] when do I want pieces to subvert?” Subversion may even mean directly incorporating texts from poets such as Amiri Baraka and C.A. Conrad.

Syntax Physic Opera, which won the Best of Denver 2015 award for Best New Venue, is the ideal location for just the type of subversion that Suzanne and company enjoy pursuing. Says Eby, Syntax is “unusual, and we want to do unusual things.” Eienstat adds that the venue puts you in the “frame of mind that this not going to be a straightforward thing.”

Learn more at the Facebook event page.

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Luke Leavitt
Contact: Luke Leavitt