Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chatting with Gary Acord about Cosmic Trigger and punk rock

While Discordians are enjoined to stick apart, the ongoing Cosmic Trigger play crowd funding effort has brought together RAW fans from around the world in an effort to make Daisy Eris Campbell's vision a reality. Many have chipped in to help.

One of those folks is Gary Acord, a  computer programmer who lives in the Dallas, Texas,  area. Gary volunteered early to host the Cosmic Trigger play website, thereby removing a possible headache for Daisy.

I asked Gary to take a few questions, and he agreed (mostly, I think, because I explained it was another way to publicize the Cosmic Trigger play.)

Gary likes his privacy and avoids posting his photographs on the Internet, so we had to figure out how to illustrate this piece. He sent me a photo of the feng shui water fountain inside the Acord Ranch. A story: A couple of months ago, Gary interviewed via Skype for a job as a programmer with a company that makes software for theologically conservative Christian megachurches. The interview did not go well. At one point, one of the MegaChristian software guys  asked, "What is that water sound? I feel like I have to to go to the bathroom." Oh, Gary replied, that's my feng shui fountain ....

Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself, i.e. where you live, what you do for a living?

For any stalkers out there, I live in a groovy little part of North Texas. I’m a computer programmer by trade. I’m a father of three teenage boys and have been happily married for 23 years. My oldest son says I’m eastern because of most of the Discordian-Zen bullshit I spew at them to, hopefully, keep them on their toes. I prefer silliness to seriousness. Let’s see, what else… I run barefoot and I shave with straight razors and old school safety razors (safeties more often but I’m looking to change that to the other way round.)

Robert Anton Wilson was a person with very unconventional beliefs -- "bohemian" doesn't really cover it -- but  he was also a family man with four children who was married to the same woman for decades. It seems to me that you are a person with some unconventional views who also is obviously a family man. Does the comparison make sense to you?

I find it extremely flattering for you to make a comparison like that. I’m with RAW on something you’ve said there.  I had beliefs when I was younger.  That’s just too definite a word for me now. People get all kinds of pissed of and offended and outraged and shocked and whatnot when their beliefs are challenged. Fuck that. I think I have musings.  Musings can change easily.  They can ebb and flow and drift.  Maybe if more people had more “unconventional musings” instead of rigid beliefs, we’d have less conflicts.  Then, maybe, we could begin to achieve more of our potential, as a species.  Yes, I’ve been married to the same beautiful, brilliant woman for a couple decades, too (23 years!)  We like to say we have codependency down to a science.  I’m definitely a family man and I don’t care what Black Flag said.  We do loads together. We still eat dinner together every night despite the boys all being teens. Which, apparently, is odd.  We’ve even received compliments about how we are as a family by Mormon friends.  I suppose that’s saying something.  Not sure what.  As much as I truly love humanity, in general, I’ve often said anyone that lives outside these walls can also just shove it.  I stopped being a pacifist the day my first son was born.

The website for the Cosmic Trigger play website says you are hosting the site. Can you explain what that means and what your duties are?

What that means is I have space on my hosting platform so I’ve set up a spot for the website to sit. My “duties" include that setup, setting up some mailboxes (or forwarders) and getting the environment ready for the web dev (which was initially Dominic.) That’s pretty much it. If there’s any special add-on that the dev needs I’ll install it and configure it. I’m more of a dev, myself, so that’s about the extent of any hosting setup I generally do anyway.

Gary, let me see if I understood the answer to my question. You host the Cosmic Trigger Play website on your computers in Texas, in a temperature-controlled room in a blastproof vault of the Acord Mansion? And by volunteering the space on your servers, Daisy doesn't have to pay a commercial provider a hosting fee, or pay someone to work with her webmaster?

Heh, I guess I deserved that. There was a time when I did indeed run my own server here at Acord Ranch. So, yes, I pay for hosting service with 3 different companies. If I stopped paying that bill then Daisy’s site (and several other friends and family sites that I host) would dwindle offline if I didn’t hustle and migrate it to one of the other hosts.

You play kind of a "behind the scenes" role hosting the Cosmic Trigger website, and behind the scenes  here at, you've been consistently helpful and encouraging. Are you a guy who doesn't necessarily need the spotlight, or have I read you wrong? 

 I really really enjoy helping people.  I definitely don’t care for the spotlight.  This very interview is weird for me.  About being helpful… if we won the lottery, or fell into some vast amount of money, we’d probably blow it all secretly giving friends, family, total strangers cash, cars, homes, whatever.  The idea of sending anonymous envelopes of cash to random people, in random cities, just for shits and grins is beyond appealing.   Ultimately I wish there was no such thing as money, and no such thing as needing reimbursement for whatever was done.  That’s probably my utopian side coming through though.  Since, as RAW said, it’s somehow magic paper when printed by the Fed, I figure as long as we’re stuck using these stupid vouchers for our very existence, why not spin the magic a little differently.  Of course, lacking truck loads of cash, we tend to help out with time, support, kind words, and sweat whenever we can.

Q. Why did  you offer to host the Cosmic Trigger website? Has the book had any particular meaning for you? 

A: I guess you could say the spirit moved me.  Whose spirit I can't say (probably Our Lady Eris to be sure).  I just really wanted to help out with the project in some way.  Ordinarily I would have offered to build the site itself (as that's part of my trade) but at the time I just didn't have room in my schedule, so the next best option was to offer to host the site.  I did tell Daisy at that time that if nobody turned up to build it then I'd help make it happen.  Fortunately, Dom stepped in for that role.  C.T. has been more meaningful to me, perhaps, in the last 4 or 5 years than it was 20 years ago. Up until then it certainly didn't have as much significance for me as Illuminatus! and Schroedinger's Cat.  Those are the two that sent me on the lifelong spiral of self-discovery.  I think, also, I was much more interested in the conspiracy their aspects of those books.  I was a conspiracy dork by around age 16 so I was all over that when I found them.

What do you mean when you say you were a conspiracy dork at age 16? What were you into in those days?

Let’s see. In addition to beginning to look at rings like secret societies, I think I was most intrigued by the JFK assassination and then Marilyn Monroe’s suicide (cough… murder).  I even did a paper in high school about it and I remember pulling up the front page of the New York Times on microfiche for 5 Aug 1962.  I found it most curious (and apparently still do) that they ran “Kennedy calls for safer drugs” (or something similar I’m going from sheer memory) right below “Marilyn Monroe found dead” (again a paraphrase).

How did you get interested in punk rock, and how has that affected your attitude toward life? 

OK, the first half of that is easy.  A cousin of mine gave me a copy of FEAR The Record when I was 9 or 10.  The first song he played for me was “I Love Livin in the City”.  It must have been a strong imprinting moment because the next time I encountered something “punk rock” which was around age 12 or 13 I was drawn to it like a magnet.  There was this guy at my school named David.  He was new.  He had a mohawk.  He got beat up by jocks at least once a week.  He had a fanzine at the time and for $1 would tape any albums he had (he had a long list).  My first two albums from him (one tape, one album per side) was D.R.I.’s “Dealing With It” and Dead Kennedys' “Frankenchrist.”  I have no idea how many more tapes I got from him.  The cool thing was, he kept the spirit of punk with the tapes.  He laboriously hand copied all the lyrics and included that with each tape.  I don’t think I was ever the same after.  I have to admit, though, that probably the two punk bands that had the greatest effect on me over time are the Subhumans (UK), and CRASS.

You've been interested in the Church of the SubGenius for awhile. (The founder, Ivan Stang, began the church in Dallas, where you live, and then moved to Cleveland, where I live.) How did you get interested in them? Did your interest predate your interest in RAW?

Hmmm, that Dallas & Cleveland connection. I wonder if I sat down and figured out when, exactly I discovered your blog and when I got my first taste of OM (via the MIGHTY Rev. Stang) it would line up to around 23 years… Segue...I was a teen, but I don’t remember exactly when I started following the Church of the SubGenius. It was sometime in the late 80’s (probably 86/87).  I think it was very close to the time I discovered that the local PBS TV station played British Comedies on the weekend. So if I wasn’t playing my guitar, I was listening to Stang and Philo (and the gang) or watching BritComs when I was home. Stang is actually from Haltom City which is right next to the city I grew up in. Both of which are in Tarrant County, not Dallas County. If you look at a road map, it’s the western bloodshot eye. I used to listen to the Hour of Slack on KNON (The Voice of the People!) every weekend. I rarely went to Dallas back then so, unfortunately, never made it to see any of his live rants or devivals. My first introduction to RAW was with Illuminatus! somewhere around 1990. A fella at work told me I needed to read it. When he handed it to me he said “This is acid in book form. Treat it as such.” He later gave me Schroedinger's Cat and said “This does with physics what Illuminatus! does with sociology. Be Prepared.” After that, I got everything I could find of RAW’s that I could find. I had the best luck either at the major discount book chain of the day or sometimes my local occult bookstore.

You are one of the few people I know who uses PGP in your emails. Why do you do that, and what other privacy enhancing steps do you recommend to other computer and smart phone users? 

I’m a relatively private person. When a letter is sent in the regular ole “snail” mail, I think most people would be quite disturbed if someone else opened it up and read it. When we send email, that’s completely plausible (and as we’ve seen with recent news common practice!). One way to “lick and seal” your email is to use encryption and PGP offers “some” modicum of success with that. Most of our emails are just common everyday bullshit of the “how was your weekend?” variety and many people say “What’s the big deal if anyone reads that?” For me it’s just none of their fucking business unless I’ve invited them into the conversation. I recommend NOT using corporate cloud backups. There are products available that are just as easy to use but puts the control in your own hands. I’m a fan of the DIY approach to just about anything. With a little effort (tough word for some folks, I know) I believe anyone can quickly learn to make their computers work for them instead of the other way round. For smart phone users… start by password protecting your phone. There are also encryption apps available for email AND texting that are relatively easy to use. Oh and one last favorite, I recommend folks use for their web searching. At least for now.


Oz Fritz said...

Nice to get a behind the scenes profile of a regular. Thanks Tom and Gary!

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