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about

Weirdest Nerve record we've ever released!

The Monkey Farm is Nick Didkovsky's setting for stories written by Charles O'Meara (Forever Einstein, Chris Cutler, Biota). Framed by razor sharp conducted improvisation performed by the legendary and incorruptible band Doctor Nerve, these short, vivid, darkly funny recollections of childhood are read by theatre director Valeria Vasilevski (known for her extreme work with Diamanda Gallas among others). Real-time voice warping software designed by Phil Burk, Robert Marsanyi, and Didkovsky, colors the reading, which at times invokes the spirits of Captain Beefheart, John Cage, and David Sedaris.

This live multitrack recording of the premiere performance at Roulette Intermedium was masterfully mixed by noise artist Thomas Dimuzio.

All sounds heard on this record were created in real-time in performance.

credits

released July 9, 2018

Performed heroically by Doctor Nerve:
Greg Anderson - electric bass
Leo Ciesa - drums
Nick Didkovsky - tabletop guitar, conducting
Yves Duboin - soprano sax
Rob Henke - trumpet
Michael Lytle - bass clarinet
Kathleen Supove - laptop
with Valeria Vasilevski - narration

Voice warping software: Nick Didkovsky, Phil Burk, and Robert Marsanyi using JMSL and JSyn
Interpreter: Bill Moody (American Sign Language)

Mixed at Gench Studios by Thomas Dimuzio and Nick Didkovsky

Additional funds for the premiere performance heard on this CD were provided by The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts

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Doctor Nerve New York, New York

Nick Didkovsky is a guitarist and composer from NYC

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Track Name: Town Drunk
you know......just as an aside to that joke and without dwelling on the maudlin aspects, because my dad was one of the town drunks, he often took me to this really cheap dive of a bar where he drank with indigent guys and the owner of the bar had a monkey that he kept chained at the bar, a little spider money, and the guys at the bar would feed it olives and pickles and peanuts and stuff....the bar was really awful and was called the Saybrook Inn but everybody in town disparagingly called it "the monkey farm" as a slap at the patrons and when it closed down after the original owner died, it reopened and the new guy called it "the monkey farm" and if you ever go to old saybrook, ct, you can drive by The Monkey Farm and know the real story of the name (which most people don't anymore) - the other thing I remember about this place is the bartender whose name was Kasper and he had a HUGE goiter on his neck and 1. i never saw a goiter and tht was freaky when i was 7 and 8 years old and 2. i thought it was weird that he was named after a cartoon character (the friendly ghost)
Track Name: Film Loop Memory
One of the clearest memories of childhood that I still retain takes place on a night in winter, in a small town in New England. By a clear memory, i mean one in which i can still see all the details, as if the moment is a film loop playing over and over and i can choose to watch it anytime I please. There's not much too it. There is a big picture window in the living room of the house we rented, and it has no curtains. It never did. So the deep blackness of a snowy winter night fills the window, like a giant painting of nothing. It is very windy and i can hear the wind making noise. My father and mother are standing in the living room going through their coat pockets and some drawers in a dresser trying to come up with enough loose change to buy a pack of cigarettes. Cigarettes in the 1950s cost thirty cents a pack.
Track Name: Snow, Money, Cigarettes
Until I was thirteen my mother and father and sister and I lived in a rented one story, two bedroom house. There was a big picture window in the living room – what people called the front room back then – and this picture window had no curtains. It never did. So at night, it was a like having a huge black hole in the wall. Anyway, one night, in the winter, when it was snowing and you could see the snowflakes flying by the big picture window in the darkness, my father and mother were standing in the living room going through their coat pockets and some drawers in a dresser trying to come up with enough loose change to buy a pack of cigarettes and arguing with each other about money, which they did almost all the time. Cigarettes back then cost thirty cents a pack.
Track Name: Arguing About Money
Until I was thirteen my mother and father and sister and I lived in a rented one story, two bedroom house. There was a big picture window in the living room – what people called the front room back then – and this picture window had no curtains. It never did. So at night, it was a like having a huge black hole in the wall. Anyway, one night, in the winter, when it was snowing and you could see the snowflakes flying by the big picture window in the darkness, my father and mother were standing in the living room going through their coat pockets and some drawers in a dresser trying to come up with enough loose change to buy a pack of cigarettes and arguing with each other about money, which they did almost all the time. Cigarettes back then cost thirty cents a pack.
Track Name: Zigzag Memory
The section of town I lived in consisted mostly of small one and two story houses built between 1920 and 1950. It wasn’t suburban in the sense that you had a lot of people indulging in backyard barbecues or putting ornaments in their lawns and things like that, very plain. Most of the families were somewhere between blue collar and middle class, but there were a couple of people who were well off. Right across the street from my house was this row of very tall pine trees that made a natural fence and just to the left of them was a driveway and the driveway was really long and led up to a very big and very fancy house. An old lady lived there and I never knew her name, but I used to play with her housekeeper’s two sons, whose names were Hans and Manfred and they had come here from Germany. Sometimes they were nice and sometimes they were mean. Hans’ name kind of made sense to me because I’d heard it in the title of this book, "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates," and I think in maybe another kids’ book. But the only time I ever heard the name Manfred was in this cartoon that used to come on in the mornings, "Tom Terrific" and his sidekick was a talking dog, Manfred the Wonder Dog. And I can never think of the house across the street without my mind doing that kind of zig zag memory thing where I go from remembering the pine trees to remembering the brothers to thinking about the name Manfred and then Manfred the Wonder Dog.
Track Name: Drunk Stinky Father
My sister and I were only three months apart in age because we were both adopted, so we both started to reach puberty around the same time. We only had two bedrooms in the house, so when that happened we stopped sharing a bedroom and my dad and I shared one room and my sister and mother shared the other. I slept in a double bed with my father (my parents’ bed). He had a big stomach and he snored and his breath always smelled awful, stale, because he smoked all day and drank all day. One Sunday morning I remember waking up, on my side, looking out the window, my father was behind me snoring and stinking away. It was warm but not hot, so probably June or maybe May, and across the street in an old pine tree was a mourning dove. Mourning doves prefer pine trees. I’m not sure if that’s an actual fact, but I’ve never really known them to nest anywhere but in pine trees or other evergreens like spruces or hemlocks. I always loved the song of the mourning dove, which is really simple, it’s two notes. First one note, then it goes up in pitch for the next note, then three notes that are the same as the first one. There was something about that song that just negated all the sadness in the room so that I didn’t really mind being in a bed with my drunk, stinky father because the mourning dove was outside in the tree and it made everything seem peaceful.
Track Name: The Reason I Can't Eat Egg Salad
The reason I can’t eat egg salad is because when I was in first grade we made to stand in line while waiting to go to music class and while we were standing there a tall girl with dark hair named Patty threw up her lunch all over my shoes. She threw up egg salad. The good part was that they were brown and white saddle shoes which I hated and then had an excuse not wear anymore. At any rate, I have never forgotten that egg salad looks the same when it is vomited onto the floor as it does on the plate.
Track Name: Teachers Ruin Things For Kids
A lot of times teachers completely ruin subjects for kids. When I was eleven, I wanted to play the drums, so I signed up for lessons but the music teacher we had, whose name was John Torrenti, was a real prick sonofabitch. I tolerated him for a few lessons, then I got sick for a couple of weeks and missed my lessons. When I returned he yelled at me for not being able to keep up with the other students, so I quit. I think I’ve recorded something like eleven albums of original music at this point in my life and I can tell you it’s no thanks to that jackass. What I wonder is this: how many adults lost their appreciation or interest in music because of some idiot like John Torrenti. Hey John wherever you are, kiss my musical white ass.
Track Name: Minor Child
People ask me when I found out I was adopted. The first actual clear memory I have about that takes place on a Saturday morning in warm weather, probably around June. We had an old blanket chest in the front room of the house and in one of the drawers in the bottom was all kids of stuff crammed in there willy nilly. One of the things in there was an envelope that contained some reproductions of confderate money from days of the civil war. I was very much into the civil war and had read a few books about it when I was in second grade and I used to discuss it with my second grade teacher’s husband because he was a civil war buff. So this would have been when I was around eight years old. At any rate, I was rummaging around in that drawer looking for the confederate money to smell it because it had this very unusual old paper smell. The sun was coming in the window that faced Mrs. Westland’s field and it was streaming onto the bare wooden floor and I was sitting there on the floor looking into this drawer and I found some other papers and decided to look at them. They were papers from probate court about my adoption. The part I remember most was how the papers referred to me over and over as a minor child. I thought that meant "lesser" or "insignificant" like a minor event. That’s all I remember about it now.
Track Name: My Great Invention
When I was about five or six years old we got our first TV set and of course it was black and white as all TV sets were then and had no remote control. But being a forward thinking kid, I invented a remote control system. The TV set was turned on and off by means of a push/pull knob. You pulled it out to turn it on, pushed it in to shut it off. I tied a piece of string around the knob and got a broomstick and when I wanted to turn it on, I pulled the string and when I wanted to turn it off, I pushed the knob with the broomstick. Then my father came home and saw my invention and yelled at me and asked me if I was stupid, which he asked me a lot.
Track Name: I Learned About Sex
I learned about sex the way a lot of guys did when they were growing up, by looking through my friend’s father’s collection of pornography. He mostly had eight millimeter movies which were silent and in black and white and poorly filmed that he kept in a suitcase under the bed. A few times we skipped school and took the suitcase out and picked the lock and set up the projector and watched them. There was one called "Sunny Nudes" where a girl is riding a bicycle naked and she falls over and another naked girl
on a bicycle comes by, stops to help her and they have sex. In another one a man with a very big penis sits on a couch and a woman faces the camera and sits on him. And in another woman a woman is on her back on a bench trying to have sex with a pony.
Track Name: Blood and Glove
Usually I don’t feel old at all, and I don’t even have a concept of what "feeling old" means, but as time goes by I have become aware of the fact that I often have to preface my anecdotes with some background information. For instance, when I was a kid, cars didn’t have plastic or padding inside them. The dashboard was metal, everything was metal except for some areas like the roof or seats which were cloth covered. And the glass in cars back then was like regular window glass, which meant if you shattered a car window, you got a jagged, gaping hole and razor sharp triangular shards. Cars didn’t have seat belts in those days, either. One day my father took me to the Ford dealership in our town to look at used cars, and while we were wandering around the lot, I noticed a smashed up black Ford Fairlaine, a wreck that had been brought to the dealer’s lot after an accident. I went up to it and looked into at the front seat. I still have an amazingly clear recollection of what it looked like, how sunny it was, that it was summertime, etc. There was a big hole in the windshield and on the seat was a woman’s white glove, the long kind that goes almost to the elbow. The glove was covered with blood spots and there were blood spots all over the seat and there were sharp pieces of glass everywhere.
Track Name: Guitar Pick
If you do something out of the ordinary like build birdhouses or run marathons or play the guitar, people always ask how you got started. I play the guitar, and I can actually remember what happened to make me want to play. I had seen guitars and guitar players so I was interested in the intstrument, but what finally clinched it for me was going to see a live folk music group. They played in the gymnasium of my school. The school housed kindergarten through eighth grade in one building. It was 1963 and I was ten years old. I went to the gym on a Saturday night to see this group and I leaned on the front of the stage all night. At one point the guitar player who was strumming a big bodied acoustic guitar dropped his pick and I leaned forward and picked it up from the stage and reached up to hand it back to him. He gestured and made a facial expression that said ‘don’t worry about it, you keep it’. He kept playing and I kept the pick. Eventually I lost it but for a while I remember carrying it around with me and taking care of it. It became a magical thing for me, something that a real musician had touched and used and somehow it lit a fire in me that made me feel more connected to music. And that’s when I crossed the line and decided for good to become a guitar player. My first guitar, which I had for a few years, was a piece of crap and hard to play but I practiced at least an hour every day and sometimes as much as three hours a day and I did that for years.
Track Name: I Hurt Animals
Three times in my life I hurt animals. It happened when I was a kid. Once, I got hold of a big fat toad and I took him into a little secluded area between two large pine trees in our back yard. The branches of the trees hung low and provided a sort of natural screen and the space in between them was soft and covered in pine needles. Anyway, I took a stick and for no reason I can remember I started stabbing the toad in the back. The stick kept breaking and I felt bad about it and stopped doing it. Another time, I got a B-B gun for Christmas and I went out into the back yard and found a bird sitting on a branch and shot it and killed it. I stood over it, looking at it on the ground, dead from one shot, not even twitching. I don’t remember feeling bad about it but I don’t remember feeling good about it either, and I never did it again. Then there was the time that I got really mad at our dog, a beagle and just yelled at it and screamed at it until it cowered in a corner. I don’t remember why I was mad at it. I suppose I could make the case that my anger towards these animals stemmed from the fact that I was continuously getting yelled at and berated by my parents for no particular reason other than being alive, but I don’t think it’s fair to the animals to excuse my behavior. They didn’t deserve what I did to them.
Track Name: Victrola Experiments
33 1/3 long playing vinyl phonograph records – what most people think of when they think of records – were invented in 1953, which is the year I was born. Like any technology, they took awhile to become the accepted standard, which meant that in our house and other houses you could still find wind-up 78 rpm phonographs or victrolas as they were called. My mother went to her grave calling anything that played music a victrola. Anyway, we had a wind-up victrola in the basement and it was dark wood with a lid that lifted up and stayed open by means of a special hinge and the turntable was covered with a thin piece of green felt. The sound came out of a cone-shaped metal horn and there was a felt ball about the size of a softball that you could move in and out of the horn to change the tone – if you pushed it all the way in, it muffled all the high frequencies and if you pulled it all the way out, it had the opposite effect. We had some instrumental music, popular dance tunes, and some classical music and some novelty songs like "McNamara’s Band," and "The Monkeys Have No Tails in Pago Pago" and "Chinatown, My Chinatown" which I played over and over. What I liked to do most was to put a record on the turntable and get it spinning with my finger until it was going really fast, then put the needle on it and listen as the song went from being ridiculously speeded up to slowing down to a growl. Then I would leave the needle on the record and start spinning it with my finger and listen as it the music and tempo got faster and it came up to pitch. I used to do this a lot, making the records slow down, speed up, fluctuate and so on. That and the hymn singing at church were the first forms of music I was ever directly involved with.
Track Name: Broken Wrist and Sympathy
When I was eight years old, I was playing with some other kids and we were taking turns riding down a hill in a wagon. When it was my turn, I stood up and wobbled about 20 feet, tipped over and broke my left wrist. I didn’t know it was broken. It just looked swollen and twisted and not right. I went home and showed it to my mother who got hysterical and started yelling
and screaming, and she drove me to the doctor’s office. It didn’t hurt at all, and actually, it was a generally good experience because I got a lot of attention and sympathy and some good toys. The doctor I had to visit regularly to have my cast changed was located near a pet store, and I had an aquarium at the time. Whenever we went to the doctor’s office, I was allowed to go to the pet store and get a fish or a decorative item for the aquarium. The best thing I got was a plastic diver wearing scuba gear. The diver was turquoise and the scuba tank and fins were yellow and it was about six inches long and it bubbled. Also, I was excused from gym class, which I hated.
Track Name: Burned
There were only a few kids in my neighborhood when I was a boy. In fact, for a long time only two. One of them was a nasty, sarcastic little brat who teased me until I teased him back then he’d cry and go home and his mother would yell at my mother and my mother would yell at me. The other one was a sneaky little lowlife who’s parents were really scummy as far as my parents were concerned, but there wasn’t anyone else to hang around with.
So I hung around with him. His family bought the National Inquirer, which, when I was a boy in the 1950s and 1960s was far more bizarre and extreme than it is now. Back then, the front page stories were about two headed babies, people who had lost half their bodies in tragic accidents, people who had been murdered or permanently disfigured - that sort of thing. Not UFOs and Hollywood gossip. Anyway, I can still remember going down to this kid’s house and looking at a copy of the National Inquirer and reading a story about a little boy who was playing with gasoline and matches and set himself on fire. They had pictures of what his face looked like after he left the hospital and it was extremely disturbing. But I remember being totally hypnotized by the pictures, just staring at this little monstrosity and unable to look away. When I went home, I kept thinking of the pictures and went back the next day to get this kid to let me look at the paper again.
Track Name: Fun at the Town Dump
For about six years, from the time I was about 12 until I was about 18, I used to spend a fair amount of time at the town dump with a couple of my friends. We would sneak in after it was closed, which wasn’t hard to do and explore and horse around. Sometimes we would find discarded pornographic magazines, which was good. Once a friend of mine found a full length leather coat, and when he wore it into a pawn shop, the owner offered to give him $25 and a bass drum with a painting of a waterfall on it for the coat. He didn’t do it. Another thing we liked to do at the dump was destroy things. Back then, there was no sense that some things were bad for the environment, so just about anything you can imagine was thrown away. From time to time we would find 55 gallon drums of ink or solvents from a local printing plant and we would pry off the lids and knock them over. Other times we found TV sets and smashed in the picture tubes, which is how I learned the difference between explosion and implosion. I can remember finding a pile of discarded fluorescent light tubes, about five or six feet long and we threw them around and watched them break. Once there was an old car down there and we took pieces of pipe and smashed out the windows and windshield and beat the living hell out of the body. Speaking of cars, once we found an abandoned car in the woods. We noticed it for a few days, then decided to look inside and the keys were in it. We started it up and took turns driving it forward into trees and backing it into trees until we had smashed the hell out of it, then we turned off the engine and left it there. If someone was planning on coming back for it, they sure got a big surprise. It still ran, but it looked pretty bad.
Track Name: Arrested
I had a friend who lived near the railroad tracks. Sometimes, for fun, he and his brother would go down there and wait for a train to come by and pull down their pants and bend over and show their bare asses to the passengers. I don’t know if kids still do things like that, I imagine they do. My sense of it is that well meaning adults have discouraged kids from doing the things we used to do for fun routinely. Like throw aerosol cans into fires. Back then you could burn trash in your back yard and if you snuck in some
aerosol cans they would explode. Other things we did regularly included throwing eggs and rocks at cars and houses, blowing up mailboxes, vandalizing construction sites and stealing damn near anything that wasn’t nailed or tied down. When we got older we stole cars and shoplifted until finally a couple of us - including me - got arrested.
Track Name: Jazz Chords
I grew up in a town that was located at the mouth of a river and the river opened into the ocean, so there was water everywhere - coves, inlets, marshes, ponds, etc. I would guess that every year when I was growing up, some kid drowned. I personally knew three kids who drowned. One of them got sucked in by an undertow a little way up the river. One of them swam out too far at the beach and got tired and sank. One of them was smoking pot down by the shipyards and fell off a pier. One of them I didn’t know very well, he was very quiet. Another one I knew really well and it was a shame. Then the other kid, the one who drowned at the beach, I knew him casually and made fun of him because he played jazz on his electric guitar and not rock music, but sometimes now I think about him when I’m trying to learn jazz chords.

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