Greetings, and welcome to Gwydion's Astral Coffeehouse. I'll be your host, Gwydion (Edward Reib)
I'm going to tell you a story. It's not a very good story. For a good story, you should try turning on the T.V., or opening a good book. People go to school to learn how to tell a good story, to keep you interested, to have a third-act-surprise, a convenient resolution, and so on. This story isn't like that at all. It is, however, my story.
It traces the contours of time, as best it can, with two dimensional snap-shots of parts of a history. It twists, it turns, it winds, and eventually ends up about where I am now.
It includes mediocre art, and some that's actually pretty good. There's love, lust, and anger, there's sorrow and laughter, there's marriage that ends in divorce, and a marriage that doesn't, there's death and mourning, there's cults and religion, magick and mysticism, drunkenness and sobriety, and jail, and many other things.
Why am I telling you this story? Well, it's January of 2014 as I write this today, and I feel I'm starting a new chapter in my life. I'm beginning training as a Yoga instructor in a couple weeks. I've been reading the Yoga Sutras, the Satchidananda translation, and I was struck by something he said. He said that when we let go of our thoughts, our memories, and our desires and such, it's best to sort through them first, rather than just throwing it all away in one fell swoop. He says when we throw away our literal trash, some of it goes in the trash, some of it can be recycled, and some of it is compost. Similarly, it's a good idea to take a good rational look at our thoughts, our patterns, and our memories, to decide exactly how we should throw them away. This is my paraphrasing, by all means pick up the book and read it yourself if you want to.
So, I went and dug up a lot of my old videos which hadn't seen the light of day in several years, and uploaded them to YouTube again. I'm also sober for the first time in years, two weeks sober now as I write this, so I'm looking through the whole thing with clearer eyes.
What you will watch and read, if you follow it all the way through, will include the trash, the recyclables, and the compost. I'll be doing a present-day running commentary as we go, here in the text. This is the first time these videos have all been laid out in chronological order with explanations. Previously, they were obscurely thrown out, here and there, without much context or explanation. I had reasons for wanting to appear to be "mysterious" back then. I don't anymore, so I'm going to be direct and honest with you, whoever you may be. Plus, I was usually both drunk and stoned. "Self-medicating," you might call it, or you could just call it "drunk and stoned."
Once there was a meth-addicted and schizophrenic prostitute who thought that I, Gwydion, was "a King of the New Aeon." After watching a few of my movies, she told me that she was very disappointed, and that she now realizes I am, "just a stupid kid playing with a video camera." So, that's another nice thing about putting all of this out there. If anyone thinks highly of me, or has put me on some kind of pedestal, this is sure to put an end to that silliness.
So, without further ado, I'll end this prologue and begin.
This story begins on Saturday April 29, 2006, though there will be flashbacks to earlier dates for the purpose of explaining context. That day in April was the day that Steven T. Colbert was the keynote speaker at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
He brilliantly played the role of the modern equivalent of the old medieval court jester, telling pointed jokes, and ironic backhanded compliments, about the king (in this case George W. Bush) in his very presence, but somehow avoiding getting his head chopped off in the process.
After it aired, it was promptly pushed under the rug by all of the networks, and was briefly mentioned on Fox News only as being "not funny".
Fortunately for the human race, there was this obscure thing on the internet that, up until then, I had never heard of. It was called "YouTube".
On "YouTube", you could watch his performance, and I did many times. If you haven't seen it yet, that is a good place to start:
And so it became that We The People could share with one another in the form and medium which had long captivated us, our parents, and our grandparents: Television. Movies. Video. We The People, and not just the aspiring Spielbergs and Kubricks, could bypass the highly selective powers that be, and their puppet-string influence over American minds, at least to a certain degree. While Fox News still existed, and the voting masses could still be conned into voting with those motivated by their greedy, self-serving, and ridiculously short-sighted agendas, at least we could see the beginning, the first cracks in the dam, the first tremors which would eventually lead to the crumbling of their Tower of Bullshit.
Within a day, the YouTube video of Colbert's speech and performance went viral and 2 million people watched it. At that point, the powers that be became very threatened, and removed the video from Youtube, sighting "copyright infringement". Google, however, had a bit more clout, and was able to host the video on their newly formed "Google videos", and it became available again.
Further, the ABC cameraman had zoomed in on Bush Jr's face during the skit portion of Colbert's performance, so we could now watch his reactions to Colbert at the same time that we watched the performance itself:
Now, I had already known before that day that Steven Colbert was a national hero on the level of Ed Murrow, but that was the day that the rest of the world found out as well.
Shortly afterward, I was driving the Missionaries of Charity's blue van with the nuns and some other volunteers around skid row Downtown Los Angeles distributing food that I had cooked earlier, as I did on the second Sunday of every month from 2003 until 2013. A gentleman there in skid row, whose name happened to be Ed, related to Stephanie Ricci and I a tale of his life and travels across the country, of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and so on. He said that if someone were to come with a video camera and interview him, he would have quite a story to tell. I told him about YouTube, and said that I would be glad to do it. He gave me a business card, said he would get sober in preparation, and said to call the number on the business card when I was ready, and the person who answered would be able to get us in contact with him.
That following payday, I went to Best Buy, purchased a Cannon ZR600 and Studio 9 editing software, called the number on the card, and spoke to a very rude man with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He informed me that Ed should not have given out his information, and that I should never call him again. So, I drove around skid row for a while, but never found him.
So, I opened up the camera, decided, "what the fuck?" and began making my own movies and uploading them to Youtube.
Now, I could say "fortunately", or I could say "unfortunately", all of those earliest videos have been lost permanently. In November of 2007 I had, what I called at the time, a "nervous breakdown" and deleted them all off of Youtube, and while videos deleted in more recent years can be recovered, those cannot. The hard drive they were on at the time crashed, badly, and I hadn't backed them up.
You might be thinking, "Why, then, did I just click a link to a deleted video?" I suppose I'm hoping that some brilliant hacker, or someone at YouTube, will eventually find this site and say, "Hey, Gwydion, I've recovered all your old videos for you!" The links provided here are the very URLs where the videos used to be. So, going forward, note that the videos which still exist today will be embedded into this page. The little picture links will lead you to the URLs where the videos once were.
In all, there are 239 short movies, 86 of which no longer exist. I don't list all 86 of the non-existent ones here, just a few highlights from the original 86 made in mid to late 2006. Of the 153 videos still in existence, covering December of 2006 through January of 2014, the total running time is 9 hours, 22 minutes, and 6 seconds, with an average length of 3 minutes and 40 seconds, the shortest being 7 seconds and the longest being 18 minutes and 45 seconds. Reading through these 17 pages without watching them won't take long, but if you want to watch all the short films you might want to do so in a few different sessions (unless, of course, you just woke up, aren't doing anything today, and are very interested for some reason.)
"Gwydion's First Movie" was the title of the first movie. I'd had a lightbulb which shone red on one side, green in the middle, and blue on the other side. It had lasted 9 years, and was the same lightbulb which adorned the front porch of this, my ancestral home in Highland Park Los Angeles, on Thursday November 6th, 1997, the night that Chris and Jana and I had dropped acid, and at about 1:00am Daniel and Nanci came up the 42 steps to inform me that my mom had died of a heart attack earlier that night.
One interesting thing about that was that at around 9:00pm that night, probably about the time it happened, I had been painting on a cup with red fingernail polish, and ended up painting a picture of a woman floating upward from the ground with the moon overhead.
Without any editing, only using the pause button while recording, I held the camera pointed at my own face lit by the red side of the light and said, "RED!" in an angry and severe tone, then paused, switched to the blue and said, "blue..." in a soft, sort of gay, voice. "REPUBLICAN!" ... "democrat.." ... "FIRE!" ... "water.." ... "AXIS!" ... "the allies" ...
BLOODS!" ... "crypts.." ... "COMMIES!" ... "capitalists..", then switched to green and said, in my normal voice, "and then there's green which, I guess, would be the Green party, earth," and some other things I don't remember. It was pretty silly.
"The Dream Within," A.K.A. "Ruler of the World," was the second movie, which I will be able to get back one day, since I have it on V.H.S. somewhere. It was a story I had written when I was 12, and a recording of me reciting it (before my voice had changed) at my 6th grade graduation. Briefly, it was a story about a dream in which I recalled the entirety of the Akashic record.
"Response to Criticism" was created on Thursday September 7th, 2006, and was my response to a co-worker who had stated, "No one wants to see this, you should have something going on in the background, like old black and white footage of dinosaurs or something," and anyone else to whom it applied, that "these videos aren't for you," and that they should move along and not watch my videos. I'd recorded readings from my dad's book, "Transformations", the entire book from start to finish, as recited by myself, Chris O'Malley, and Todd Forcade, sitting on my dad's old blue chair. There were other videos as well, with titles like: "Viva Mexico," "Deafening Silence," "Sunday Septenth," "Birthday," (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) "Fellatio Sauce," "Warning," "Warning 2," "2,277 Screens, 811 French-Fry Haikus," "Nazi Shit-Whore," "Entertunion Senryu," "Wussy Wasabi," "Free Association," "Del Amo," "Antonia Forever," "Romancing the Chickens," "Sam Hain," "Sunday," "16 Tons," "I'm a Whale," "It's Alive," "The Day I Got My Car," "Newsreflection," "PreThanksgiving," "Not the Baby Jesus," "Uncorrupted," "For Joni Varner," "NEW WORLD ORDER," "Christmas Card," "BlipvertPoetry," "Out of Order," and many others.
"Revenge of Stephanie's Boobs" was my first "Artwalk Video," and the second in a series of the seven "Stephanie's Boobs" videos I ended up making. I took my camera to the Downtown Los Angeles Artwalk on Thursday October 12th, 2006 a few hours after my grandmother died.
I got very drunk that night, and was forcibly removed from Pete's restaurant at one point for yelling and beating the walls of the restroom, then exiting the restroom with my shirt on backwards, unbuttoned, and not quite on, to the point where my arms couldn't properly hang to their sides. Stephanie was laughing her ass off at the time. Eventually, we ended up at "The Speakeasy" where someone attempted to throw me out, until I put on an air of authority and threatened to have the place shut down, and they let me stay. Boy, that was quite a night. I remember the Godfather theme was in the video, and it became instantly popular, perhaps on account of the title, which was also the recurring theme.
"Mistaking the Finger for the Turtle" was my second "Artwalk Video", circa November of 2006. The title was a reference to the frame which YouTube had chosen to be the video's main image, that shown here on the little picture-link to nowhere.
"Watts Beyond" was a music video I made for my friend "Concreationist". He had composed music to accompany an Alan Watts lecture which, try as I may, I still have yet to find. The video featured me listening to the words of Alan Watts, and responding with nods and changes in facial expression and, eventually, improved posture and meditation. If you hang in there, you'll get to hear most of that track later on in the video called "from Root to Crown".
A bit of background behind this next video is in order, and will also help explain some of the videos later on. On Wednesday September 29th, 1993, when I was 15 years old, my dad John Dan Reib died of congestive heart failure. He had been my teacher of many things they don't teach in school, like tarot, tantric meditation, astral projection, and so on. One of the things I'd lamented was that I no longer had him around to ask questions about those kinds of things. So, after a year of searching, my mom determined that she had found the best place around for me to "continue my training." So, on Saturday November 11th, 1994, my mom and I were initiated into a secret society, one of the "Traditional Golden Dawn" Orders, at The Temple of Isis Mighty Mother.
After my mom died, I opted to pursue that full-time, rather than going to college or having a career or anything normal like that. It was supposed to have been based on the one in Victorian London with a similar name. On Saturday March 23rd, 2013, I graduated. (that's a joke, by the way, since the oath of an Adept is supposed to be lifelong servitude to the Order. "He graduated!" is what Gordon would say when he heard that an Adept had left The Order.)
From 2002 to 2009, every Thanksgiving (for those unfamiliar, that is an American Holiday which takes place on the fourth Thursday of every November), the Adepts of our Order had a mandatory gathering in Washington, and part of that included the trip to the Bavarian Christmas Village called Leavenworth. We were free to bring our families as well, if they wanted to go. "Sounds like a cult," you might be thinking. It was.
"Santa Poop" was probably shot on Friday November 24th, 2006 up in Leavenworth Washington. It was either that, or the day after. That day, my dear friend Karen bought me a black leather fedora at The Wood Shop Hat Shop, which I was shortly afterward to use as part of my "Gwydion" persona in these movies, until it was stolen at a D.U.I. class in November of 2007 while I was in the restroom.
The "F.A.Q." was a video I made because everybody, and their dog, was asking me why I was on crutches. So, I explained that I had gotten drunk and had run down the stairs in front of my house too quickly, and sprained my ankle.
"We The People Of The World!" was created on Sunday December 24th, 2006. Time Magazine had decided that the "person of the year" would be "You", as in the "You" in "YouTube." They had a YouTube screen on the cover of the magazine with a mirror on it. They also invited people to post video responses on their "Time Magazine 'person of the year' is You" YouTube video, so I made one. Mine was the 425th video response. I recall one of the lines was, "Oh, thank you Constantine, I never would have thought there was anything to this 'Jesus' fellow if it hadn't been for your stamp of approval!"
On Sunday December 31st, 2006 I edited and uploaded this footage from my grandma's funeral. You remember I mentioned that she had died the day of the first Artwalk Video I made. This is the memorial video I made for my grandma Jean Lee Heninger Suydam, wife of Ed Suydam, mother of Judith Evelyn Reib, and grandmother of Kimberly & I. At 4:26, there is a cute shot of our mom, Judy, from the Golden Dawn trip to London a month before she died.