Diogenes Lantern Works

It's been said if you remember the '60s, you weren't really there.
Tragic embarrassment, I can't name most of many talented volunteers who put their own Light in my Lantern. We did some amazing dazzle.

 

I'm reminded I was not laid-back about my shows. I played the stern Maestro and made the volunteers sweat over their lighting instruments like an orchestra.
Sorry, everyone.
Not from any lack of gratitude, please regard all my errors and omissions as conclusive proof:

KIDZ!  DON'T TAKE THOSE  bad DRUGS!

My key partners were Little Joe, who had started out as Pink Floyd's lighting lad. And John Chick, a true Renaissance artist from Colorado. Proud to have included lightladies like Colleen Meyers. Bob Cohen, co-founder of The Family Dog, inventive technician and roommate, helped me rebuild the show.
So many to thank in so many places....

...like Randy Tuten, one of the Fillmore West poster artists, designed our logo (1967)

Click for bigger version

In early '68, we were the house lights for three major venues:
1) The Avalon Ballroom (Family Dog) back in San Francisco;
2) The Denver Dog; and
3) The Aquarius Theater in Hollywood.

All at the same time........cool...............potential ego-trip!!

Alchemy with light..

By most measurements, Diogenes Lantern Works must have been::::::::::for a few short months::::::::::::THE biggest (West Coast liquid) light show there ever was.
Biggest yeah (3 troupes—way too expensive to run).
Most probably not "The Best".  Good enough to do the job.

 

Diogenes himself

 

What Diogenes used:

Something like 20 overheads, 36 slide projectors, 6 x 16mm projectors and a 1/2-dozen home-made "magic lantern" contraptions, 6 strobes (plus the Denver Dog had 36 strobing blacklights!). Our main Denver projection screen was a huge wraparound: 25x100x25-feet x 22-feet high.
Crew: 10-14.
Within a few short weeks in the Spring of '68, I lost EVERYTHING! Denver goes bankrupt and the equipment vanishes. Then Little Joe is arrested and deported between shows in L.A., so somebody finishes the gig—then takes my lightshow home!

O Woe. Why me, God? What's my Karma? Busted, I walked out of the lightshow booth, sat back down in the soundman booth at the Avalon & Beach Dogs. Became an Underground Radio DJ [KMPX], and Concert Mixer during the next decade or so.

Got back into the LightsBiz with a disco company, then videotheque design ('75-'85), but it just ain't the same, is it now?
Disco is not proper bragging here in pOoTerland.

Today, I possess precisely one surviving hand-modified glass-optics Bessler overhead.
And a lava lamp, for liquid nostalgia.

 

HOW DID YOU BECOME PSYCHEDELIC?
 
At age seven, I started two jobs that lasted until today—research librarian and a-v dork (running sound & projection for technically challenged teachers). I really emphasize the Librarian bit because every artistic success I've had is the direct result of just-in-time Research.

So a guy walks in the college cafeteria with a proposition:
If I "borrow" all the school's projectors for the weekend, I get to perform with Tony Martin on a Rockefeller grant to help invent lightshows at the Fillmore Auditorium. groovy.Yes, I returned the gear. Never returned to school, tho. (Feb 11, 1966)

Oh yeah. I'm convinced now that I had one more advantage:
the fact that I died in 1966 (authentic NDE) shaped me as one exceptionally focused  Hippie with a rare Inner Vision.
 
Took The Trips Festival on the road (Summer '66), stuck living inside a San Diego nightclub, got to practice 24/7. Became soundman at the Avalon Ballroom, so it was easy to offer me lights plus sound when our Denver Love-In became a permanent venue (The Denver Dog, Summer '67).

 

Denver Dog

WE DON'T KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT THE DOG IN DENVER...??
 
That's because the Court records remain sealed to this day!

Denver proved to be the crucible where the Hippie Dream was tested and found wanting. It was raw political evil— one Bad Cop plus local Media sold the public one Big Lie. We went broke while winning a lawsuit that soon toppled both the incumbant City and State governments!
This history is worth a mention here because our lightshow was a cornerstone of their Nazi propaganda! "Diogenes The Drug Pusher" was the Media buzz because lightshows
are "obviously designed to encourage our kids to take LSD".
I kid you not.

One afternoon I had to stage a private performance for a committee of Denver clergymen, come to pass judgment on the purported sacrilegious content of my show—y'know, where Jesus boogied on the cross! They had the power to
shut us down. They didn't. We blew The Dream on our own.

In fact, the true tale of The Denver Dog is so significant (Who Really Killed The Hippies?) that I've written up this fabulous fable as a fairly feeble screenplay. If YOU also believe the world would be a better place if there were a movie about a lightshow, then help me sell the concept. Who do YOU know who knows whom in film? [6 Degrees Of Separation]

 

If you are really really interested, GO HERE for a bonus page with some really big scans (3 pix, total 500K) from Diogenes own Hippie response to Denver Media.

If you are really really REALLY interested, here is a motion picture project about the Denver Dog.

 

SO WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST AND BEST LIGHTSHOWS?
 
The single greatest creative moment i experienced was Dec. 31st, 1967, when The Doors played the Denver Dog—for free! (trying to help save our bankrupt ass). It was
so fine, Morrison urged me to write them a screenplay —"featuring classical music. NOT rock!". This rather casual challenge changed my life forever.

The Doors at Denver Dog

The early ('66) Fillmore shows are now only a birth memory. I almost jumped ship to tour with Andy Warhol when he brought The Velvet Underground out West, but the little prick was grabbing my crotch before i could say yes, so i said no.

Other strong memories are of special one-shot Events—like painting costumes of light on the San Francisco Ballet. The Sufi Choir dancing outdoors with 50-foot gauze wings.
A whole mountain: liquid klieg lights blinding skiers on the slopes of Squaw Valley.

My most profound moment? One day i was invited to "teach" lightshows to a few dozen retarded kids at a State Asylum. It was creepy-sad. They made a mess. They broken some stuff. And the Doctors themselves went crazy over the impact I made.
Turns out the two kids with the most curious stammered questions were two hardcore autistics who had never uttered one word to the Doctors—until drawn chattering into my Light that day!

 

 

copyright © 1966-2001 Channel 501

 

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Last modified

Sunday, August 18, 2002