Don Joyce 1944-2015
July 23, 2015 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Longtime Negativland member Don Joyce died yesterday at age 71.

"He was also an animal lover, a Bob Dylan fanatic, a staunch atheist, a convicted (but never jailed) draft dodger, and slept with the radio on. Cranky, curmudgeonly, loyal and fair, brilliant, hilarious and uncompromising, he was steadfastly devoted to the creation of his art, full-time, for more than three decades. He leaves behind not only his massive recorded legacy via 'Over the Edge', but his work on nearly 30 Negativland albums, two books, three DVDs, and his giant, meticulous paper collages."

Negativland previously on Mefi. Selected pieces, in no particular order:

- 'Time Zones'
- 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'
- 'The Greatest Taste Around'
- 'Clowns and Ballerinas'
- 'Yellow and Black and Rectangular'
- 'Guns (Now)'
- 'Gimme the Mermaid'
- 'Christianity is Stupid'
- 'The ABCs Of Anarchism' (with Chumbawamba)
- 'Crosley Bendix Reviews JamArt and Culture Jamming'
- Negativland claiming their music was responsible for multiple ax murders and making the local news (Joyce is interviewed at around the 2:00 mark). From their hour-long 1989 video release No Other Possibility.
posted by item (50 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
You know how many ways Don Joyce was an inspiration to culture jammers, audio collage artists and receptacle programmers?

. . . . . . . . . . .

...It's not even funny.
posted by delfin at 10:24 AM on July 23, 2015 [21 favorites]


It's just ridiculous.

.
posted by SansPoint at 10:26 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Fuzzypumper at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2015


Damn, I feel like I've been smacked right in the stamper. Thanks for all the noise, Don.
.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:28 AM on July 23, 2015


.

One of the best
posted by lownote at 10:29 AM on July 23, 2015


Is there any escape?

.
posted by AJaffe at 10:30 AM on July 23, 2015


You know how many ways Don Joyce was an inspiration to culture jammers, audio collage artists and receptacle programmers?

Eleven?

.
posted by djseafood at 10:39 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Aw, man.
posted by boo_radley at 10:42 AM on July 23, 2015


.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:44 AM on July 23, 2015


He's gone to A Big 10-8 Place in the sky.
posted by swift at 10:50 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


.
posted by town of cats at 10:56 AM on July 23, 2015


Negativland was a big influence in my musical tastes and I'm really sad to hear about Don Joyce passing away.
posted by Gev at 11:03 AM on July 23, 2015


1000 years from now his contributions to the creative applications of critical thought will still be studied and revered.

What a huge loss. He set off a cultural earthquake that will take hundreds of years to be fully appreciated.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:04 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


...Drink it up, Don.
posted by naju at 11:16 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ach.

.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:18 AM on July 23, 2015


. + ♪
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2015


1000 years from now his contributions to the creative applications of critical thought will still be studied and revered.

What a huge loss. He set off a cultural earthquake that will take hundreds of years to be fully appreciated.


yeah. when they were doing it right (and they generally were), Negativland were way more than just funny, they were providing the kind of noise that somehow (perhaps magically) stopped an entire culture from eating itself, particularly in the 1980s. At least that's how it felt to me.

Worth noting. Negativland (and the world) also lost Ian Allen earlier this year, an occasion that prompted me to program a couple of hours of all Negativland radio. Shameless self links:

Part-1
Part-2
posted by philip-random at 12:12 PM on July 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


.
posted by Slothrup at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2015


Thanks for a thoughtful post about a great human.
posted by latkes at 12:15 PM on July 23, 2015


HUGE influence on me musically, politically, socially and philosophically when my high school english teacher gave me a cassette copy of EFN as a teen.

I would raise a glass of Nesbitt's Lime Soda but we had to throw it away.
posted by sourwookie at 12:26 PM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


cool high school teacher
posted by philip-random at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2015


a staunch atheist

There is no other possibility. I repeat, no other possibility.
.
posted by benzenedream at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


cool high school teacher

It's hard to convey what an influence that man had on me. I was getting a mixtape or an album copy from him most every week. I saw myself as a band nerd, he saw a 15-year-old that needed Pop-o-Pies, CVB and Sun Ra in his life.
posted by sourwookie at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


My gearhead college roommate and I briefly went to war with everyone on our floor over something stupid c. 1991, and he responded by amping up his already ridiculous Frankenstein of a stereo and regularly playing "Car Bomb" at skull-splitting volume, completely at random, sometimes in the middle of the night. Things escalated from there, of course, but now it's a fond memory and I somehow still managed not to get thrown out of school.

We'll miss you, Don.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:41 PM on July 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was just listening to Negativeland yesterday. Still ahead of their time.

.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:53 PM on July 23, 2015


.
posted by Capybara at 12:55 PM on July 23, 2015


Somewhere over the (hic) rainbow...
posted by Hogshead at 1:11 PM on July 23, 2015


...in late 2015, all 34 years of “Over the Edge” (5000-plus hours’ worth) will be available until the end of time on the Internet Archive

Oh. My. God.
posted by davebush at 1:50 PM on July 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just realized with horror that I don't have Escape from Noise on my music player. Guess I'll have to pick a different album.

"I still say that Dick Vaughn is a prostitute."
posted by Slothrup at 1:52 PM on July 23, 2015


.
posted by pahool at 1:56 PM on July 23, 2015


Grew up listening to his radio show, not exactly enjoying it (I was about 17 when I discovered it), but appreciating that it was somehow an important cultural moment and I'd better take it in while it was happening because I would appreciate it later, which of course I did.

Negativland's tour after U2 (the one that started with the eulogy for Dick Vaughn and The Hellbound Plane) is still the most mindblowingly great performance art I have ever witnessed, like the best thing you ever saw at Burning Man and add another 50%. After I'd gone to the San Jose show, I remember driving up to the next stop on the tour with a car load of friends I'd convinced to go see it with me and one of them turning to me 20 minutes in and saying "This is like seeing The Velvet Underground at Max's Kansas City." During A Man with Four Fingers, Mark Hosler progressively cut off each of his fingers with garden shears with blood spurting everywhere. During Christianity is Stupid, the band had two toasters, one on each side of the stage, and before the song started, bread was placed in each and the plungers were duct taped down. As smoke started billowing from each toaster, covering the stage, while heavy metal guitars thumped, and the club filled with the odor of burned toast, there was palpable anxiety that rose throughout the song, as the smoke got thicker and small flames were visible, and people looked at each other like "how long is someone going to let this go on before we die in a club fire?" The recursive irony of recreating the ridiculous scene portrayed by the preacher in front of a crowd of godless drug addled teenagers and creating actual danger out of common household objects was powerful enough to permanently change the wiring of my brain. There have been other works of art that have affected me since, but never to this degree, and I am deeply grateful for the luck of having been born in 1970 in the Bay Area and disaffected enough to find myself exposed to things like this.

..
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:56 PM on July 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


.
posted by klausness at 4:11 PM on July 23, 2015


.
posted by stagewhisper at 4:23 PM on July 23, 2015


We lost two of my absolute favorite musicians this week, Mr. Joyce and Dieter Moebius (seen here performing live with a Joyce-less Negativland a few years back). I considered posting about Moebius the other day but was too broken up to do so. I'm surprised I was able to cobble this together - when I read the news via the band's Facebook feed I realized tears were streaming down my face.

If there's ever any question of Negativland's brilliance this performance from October 1992 should take those doubts and fax them to Bono and The Edge. I've been lucky to see them perform five times, four with Joyce. At some point he stopped touring and wasn't with them a year ago when I caught their stunning "Content" show. I wondered about his health.

When I discovered them in 1993 at age 16, Negativland forever changed how I look at the world. To this day I take pride in being able to decipher the weird in modern culture and a great deal of my discovery of that skill is owed to a group of social outcasts from Contra Costa county, somewhere between 180 and the letter G. Rest in peace, Mr. Joyce, and please try to let us know if there's really any escape from noise.
posted by item at 4:32 PM on July 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


.
posted by drowsy at 5:55 PM on July 23, 2015


©
posted by thelonius at 7:21 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is such a tremendous loss. Over The Edge has been a constant in my life for so long. I want to believe this is another Negativland prank. Please?
posted by pahool at 7:24 PM on July 23, 2015


This is devastating.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 7:28 PM on July 23, 2015


.

Listened to Dick Vaughn's Moribund Music of the 70s and man that ending hits different now. :(
posted by Queen of Robots at 7:30 PM on July 23, 2015


...........
posted by hyperizer at 7:37 PM on July 23, 2015


I was extremely lucky to be a guest on Don's radio show many times. We made many, many hours of pretty unique music together. (My character's name was "The Professor", for anyone who may have been listening.) A small sample.

Almost all our shows are on the archive.org website, but one of these days I'm going to put together (yet another) website of my own to present them all in one place.

Will miss the hell out of you, Don. Thursday nights will never be the same...

Here's a few shots I managed to get of Don in the KPFA studio before he got too cranky to put up with it:

Here he is with the infamous booper.

Reaching for one of dozens of CARTs


Taking a call.
posted by mikeand1 at 7:52 PM on July 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


.
posted by acb at 8:05 PM on July 23, 2015


.

Negativland have been such a huge influence on me in so many ways. This is a huge loss.
posted by chbrooks at 10:00 PM on July 23, 2015


If there's ever any question of Negativland's brilliance this performance from October 1992 should take those doubts and fax them to Bono and The Edge.

OMG OMG OMFG!!! That's the show! I have the bootleg CD I linked which has really great sound quality, it was recorded with a friend's brand new digital audio tape player but I am so glad video exists on the interwhat of this tour. It's pretty easy to watch now, but the kids really have no idea how completely fucking revolutionary and punk rock that show was in 1992. MTV was the dominant influence on popular music, punk was dead, college radio was thriving but there was no such thing as "alternative " music then so weird music was really marginalized and sampling was a highly controversial thing that was only done by hip hop artists. I'd seen them on subsequent tours and they never achieved the cohesive brilliance of that show again. Thank you item, thank you so much for sharing.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:45 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crosley Bendix Discusses the US Copyright Act

Surprised this wasn't included in the links above... This piece marks a formative moment in my intellectual life. A passionate and articulate argument against overly broad copyright law and it's deleterious effects on arts and culture. Also it's funny, sort-of.
posted by j03 at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I stumbled across a cassette copy of Escape from Noise, and it was a revelation. I still have a copy of Free somewhere.

Eight or nine years ago, I saw them live, in a gutted church-cum-art-space mere blocks from where I lived in Baltimore at the time, performing deeply anti-religious material from (I think?) It's All in Your Head. Good times.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:54 PM on July 24, 2015


I have loved Negativland - both musically and politically - for decades. What a shame. The one time I got to see them live - in a tiny black box theater with about thirty other fans - Don spent most of the show in the background. He's only in the edge, his back/side to the audience, in one of my photos.

.
posted by phearlez at 10:26 PM on July 25, 2015


I saw Negativland in the early 90s at the soon-to-be-late-and-lamented Johnny D's in Somerville MA, which largely hosted blues and country acts. In lieu of a smoke machine, they had a toaster, turned on with bread inside, that was jammed in the down position. I still have no idea how in the hell they did not immediately get ejected. That was a show.

I had the "No Other Possibility" bumper sticker from A Big 10-8 Place on my guitar for about a decade until my pick completely destroyed it.
posted by dfan at 6:21 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had the Car Bomb sticker on my rear bumper until around 1994. Glad I sold that beater before the Oklahoma City bombing.
posted by philip-random at 10:29 AM on July 27, 2015


« Older "chromed-out robo-sexual stew"   |   From World B. Free to Free Willy in 6 Steps Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments