Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at 7pm
An Evening with ZAP Cassettes and Jeff Perkins

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Introduced by John Klacsmann

I started ZAP Cassettes over a boring college winter break in 2006. I was reading a lot of comix at the time and the name “ZAP” was haphazardly thrown onto 30 home-dubbed tapes of the first Pirate Fucking Radio album, a band I drummed in with some of my Augusta, Georgia high school friends. At the time, I didn’t expect to release any other cassettes. Even I’m surprised that 15 years later this tiny tape label remains a presence in my life. While I initially focused on documenting the aughts/teens southern garage-punk scene (Macon, Georgia’s Thee Noise Explosion; Greensboro, North Carolina’s Pinche Gringo; Atlanta’s L.A. LAW; Memphis’s Aquarian Blood; Athens, Georgia’s Nate and the Nightmares), the goal from the beginning was to produce releases by acquaintances and friends, no matter the genre. In short, it’s a personal and “break even” never-ending serial.

When I moved to New York City in 2012 to work at Anthology Film Archives, I was immediately introduced to all sorts of new friends, artists, and filmmakers and the ZAP catalog naturally expanded: a Jodie Mack original soundtrack; a reissue of the cassette issue of Terry Cannon’s experimental film journal SPIRAL; selections from found cassettes in Greg Pierce’s Pittsburgh-based Orgone Archive; a poetry cassette by man-about-town Steve Dalachinsky; a reissue of Craig Baldwin’s soundtrack collages; a solo cassette by artist and projectionist Sarah Halpern; and previously unreleased autoharp recordings by Jordan Belson.

One friend’s work stood out as ideal for the cassette format: Jeff Perkins. I met Jeff almost instantly after moving to NYC because he would call and drop by Anthology often. Jeff had worked at Anthology in the 1990s and had deposited his film and video work at the archive, mostly materials related to his expansive documentary on the painter Sam Francis. Jeff casually told me stories of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, of his 1960s L.A. liquid light group Single Wing Turquoise Bird, of George Maciunas and Fluxus. He seemed to have been everywhere and met everyone involved in the avant-garde and counterculture. Nam June Paik rightfully christened him as “the ultimate Fluxus underdog.” Later, when Anthology’s Director John Mhiripiri mentioned Jeff’s “Taxi Tapes” to me, I knew, unheard, that I had a potential ZAP Cassettes project.

Jeff worked as a New York City taxi driver in the 1990s and, with encouragement from Paik, began recording conversations with his passengers and musings on his life as a cabbie. By 2002, Jeff had amassed hundreds of original cassette recordings and produced audio compilations that he presented in darkened cinema spaces as “Movies for the Blind.” He “showed” them at Anthology Film Archives (1996 and 1999), at the New York Underground Film Festival (2001), and at Rutgers University (2001), among other venues. Jeff released the “Movies for the Blind” compilations as an ultra-limited CD-R box set in 2004. Working closely with him, I reissued them in their native cassette format on ZAP Cassettes, in three volumes, in 2016 and 2017.

Jeff will premiere a new “Movies for the Blind” culled from his cassette archive and completed during the pandemic—part memoir, part proto-Taxi Cab Confessions, part Fluxus art piece, part imageless experimental cinema, part portrait of New York City and its various characters. This new piece will be released later this year on ZAP Cassettes as Volume 4 of the ongoing “Movies for the Blind” series. A selection of ZAP Cassettes will be available for purchase at the show.

- JK

Tickets - $8, available at door, cash and cards accepted. Box office opens at 6:30pm.