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04 July 2011

John Cage Book of Days 2012

The John Cage Book of Days 2012 is back from the printer and will soon be on the shelves of a bookstore near you!

This special centennial year edition is devoted entirely to Cage and food, with quotations taken from his "Where Are We Eating? And What Are We Eating?", published in its entirely in Empty Words: Writings '73-'78 (Wesleyan University Press, 1979). The cover was created using fragments of Cage's Edible Drawing No. 1 (1990), made entirely of lemon, sesame seeds, and mushrooms, which literally didn't make it back from a London exhibition in one piece. Cage's introduction to "Where Are We Eating? And What Are We Eating", originally written for James Klosty's beautiful photographic book, Merce Cunningham, is also included, serving as this year's Foreword.

John Cage loved to cook and he loved to eat. At first it was cream, butter, and a good leg of lamb, and then later, after the ravages of age began to take their toll (and on sage advice from Yoko Ono), the more austere ingredients that filled his macrobiotic kitchen shelves. Thumbnails gracing this year's pages are scans of the covers of various of Cage's cookbooks, now collectively housed at the John Cage Trust, which tell a story unto themselves...

And, as usual, also included are important historic dates -- first performances, special events and appearances, births and deaths -- highlighting pages throughout.

The John Cage Book of Days in any year is a labor of love, mostly involving two kindred spirits -- Laura Kuhn, of the John Cage Trust, its editor, and Naomi Yang, of Exact Change, its designer.

Naomi Yang and her partner Damon Krukowski are the publishers of John Cage's Composition in Retrospect. But Naomi has also worked with the John Cage Trust on her own, being the designer of the beautiful libretto booklet for the theatrical production of Cage's James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet produced by the John Cage Trust in 2001-2002.

Alphabet is being remounted this coming Fall at Bard College, November 11 and 12, 2011, 8 pm, on the Sosnoff Stage of the beautiful Frank Gehry Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

Several of the original cast members will return:

John Kelly ("Narrator"),
Mikel Rouse ("James Joyce"),

and Trevor Carlson ("Brigham Young"),

but also Merce Cunningham ("Erik Satie"),

at least in spirit.

Merce's 2001 appearance in Alphabet marked his return to the "literary" stage after a hiatus of some 60 years. His voice, happily captured in his original performances, will continue to fill the role, but we're looking far and wide for the perfect corporeal spirit to inhabit his place on the stage. Melissa Madden Gray and Jasper Johns provide the ethereal, off-stage voices for Vocoder and Rrose Selavy (respectively), and we're currently searching for others to fill the remaining roles ("Henry David Thoreau," "Buckminster Fuller," "Robert Rauschenberg," "Oppian," "Marcel Duchamp," "Veblen," "Jonathan Albert," and "Mao Tse Tung"). This promises to be a lively start to Cage's centennial year.

But returning to the John Cage Book of Days 2012 for a moment, lest anyone think this is a collector's item, something to be placed tenderly on a shelf for eternal safe keeping, take a look at a page or two from the John Cage Book of Days 2011 belonging to Lupe Nunez-Fernandez of the band Amor de Dias.

And I thought my life was busy...

Laura Kuhn