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Plexus International 1984
IN ORDER TO SURVIVE: The Shuttle Theatre/Lab, 523 East 6th Street, between Avenue A and B, Lower East Side, New York, 1984

In mid February of 1984,  at Plexus performance space, it was staged Leap of Faith, an epic theatre-cabaret,  directed by Willem Brugman, featuring Nila Greco, Pooh Kaye, Max Blagg, Sylvie Pomaret.  It was the last show of Plexus performance space, because on March 1, without any notice in advance, the landlords Brambilla and Longo forced Sandro Dernini to stop Plexus activities.  In that time, Sandro was living inside the Plexus gallery area. He walked out full of debts, with no money and no place to stay.  Sandro met Brian Goodfellow, a painter as well as a model, who introduced him to Mrs. Sarah Farley, a charismatic leader of the homesteader community organization L.A.N.D. ((Local Action for Neighbourhood Development) of the Lower East Side and an old friend of Billie Holliday.  

Mrs. Farley was running a thrift shop on the ground floor of a burned building, at 523 East 6th Street, between Avenue A and B. She allowed Sandro Dernini to live on the third floor, with no glasses in the windows, only a portion of the floor and of the ceiling. There was no water, no electricity, and with very tough people living in the other floors.  it was very hard and cold to live there.

In the Lower East Side there was a powerful gathering of artists from all over, cohabiting together with a very tough local neighborhood. Ms. Sarah Farley was like a big mama fighting all the time against the gentrification of the Lower East Side. Through her, Sandro discovered the meaning of being part of a community. He  was connected with local artists and community activists.

In those days, Giuseppe Sacchi, an Italian journalist as well as a friend, helped Sandro through this difficult time. Together they worked in the ruined basement of the building, totally filled of garbage, to build a new multi arts community space: The Shuttle Theatre.

In the Lower East Side in that time there was a a really incredible gathering of artists from all over,  together  with a strong local community which was not present in the past Sandro’s Chelsea experience with the Plexus performance space.  Many community artists came in the basement, to see what was happening there and there also Sandro discovered what meant to be in the community of the Lower East Side .  He was was lucky to have, as a big mama, Ms. Sarah Farley. She was a real community leader of the homesteaders in the Lower East Side where there was a large quantity land with burned buildings that the community people, for their survival, was trying to recover, always in big fights with the Mayor Koch.  She always stated that land was belonging to the people, “People have the right to live”, she usually used to say. Through her, Sandro discovered the cultural identityof the  Lower East Side Community and he became deeply connected with it culturally, understanding at the same time his Sardinian roots and what meant to defend own traditions.  Lower East Side was not just a place for old or new immigrants.  It was a very rich, may be the richest, place culturally in New York  

The Shuttle Theatre,  at 523 East 6th Street, between Avenue A and B, in the Lower East Side, was opened by Sandro Dernini and Giuseppe Sacchi,  on June 13, 1984.  It was made initially in partnership with Brian Goodfellow and Karl Berger, a musician director of the Creative Music Foundation in Woodstock, associated to the Zen Arts Center of United States. Willoughby Sharp acted as the artistic director and Julius Klein was the bartender. 

One dollar was charged to get in by Nolan, a giant doorman.  Everybody had to pay. The Shuttle activities started with a weekly cabaret program, music and art performances. It featured: Genevieve Waite with Robert Arron, Tony Love, Tigressa, Julius Klein, Ralston Farina, Trevor Stuart, Gary Goldberg, Arleen Schloss, Billy Bang, Jemeel Moondoc, Rashid Al-Akbar, Petra Plecko, Rrata Christin Jones, the Gamala Taki Band with Karl Berger,  Babatunde Olatunji and Alfa Diallo.

Carlo Mc Cormick, art critic of Art Forum, curated the first art show Girls Night Out, with paintings by: Keiko Bonk, Jane Bowman, Nancy Brooks Brody, Patrice Caire, Andrea Evans, Manuela Filliaci, Barbara Gary, Jasmin Harwood-Ramirez, Pat Hearn, Annie Herron, Babette Holland, Rebecca Howland, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Ruth Kligman, Anita Lane, Karen Luna, Gracie Mansion, Lisa McDonald, Mette Medson, Marylyn Minten, Judy Rifka, Hope Sandrow, Caren Scarpulla, Nina Seligman, Jo Shane, Kiki Smith, Stacie Teele, Christine Zounek, Rhonda Zwillinger.  After, the art critic Steve Kaplan curated two one man shows of Bernd Naber and Peter Grass.

Mikey Pinero, a very well known poet in the Lower East Side community, gave to Sandro an Indian American statuette. It was the house protector of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, founded by Pinero and Miguel Algarin,  which at that time was closed. The statuette was placed at the entrance and its image became the membership card of The Shuttle Theatre. Miguel Algarin curated a weekly poetry reading program  Long Shot, presented by Nuyorican Poets Cafe,  featuring Allen Ginsberg,  Mickey Pinero,  Amiri Baraka, Pedro Pietri, Quincy Troupe, Robert Press, Bernadette Mayer, Andy Clausen, Miguel Algarin, and others poets.Through a very close collaboration with the bass player William Parker, the collective Sound Unity presented an intense community-based music program, featuring: Dennis Charles, Peter Kowald, Charles Gayle, Rashied Ali, William Parker, Roy Campbell, Daniel Carter, Rashied Bakr, Karen Borca, Jackson Krall, Ellen Christi, Alex Lodico, Patsy Parker, John Hagen, Dicky Dworkin, Dave Hofstra.  The Art World is a Jungle, featured in a crazy hour 60 performances of 60 seconds each, directly staged by all performers as producers of  this happening.    

The need of an art program managed directly by the artist, with no curators as mediators came up from a stronger involvement of the Lower East Side artists community in the Shuttle. Therefore Sandro Dernini recovered the name and the concept of the program The Artist in the First Person, that heconceived in 1981 for the NYU Italian Centre for Contemporary Culture. It was a showcase in which each event was curated “in the first person” by the artist as an independent producer.  The Artist in the First Person program at the Shuttle Theatre was opened by an art exhibition by Joan Waltemath, followed by the performances of Arleen Schloss, Mickey Pinero, Ralston Farina and Julius Kein.

On August 25,  on the occasion of a community cultural block association event to stop the gentrification of the Lower East Side, in the middle of East 6th Street, in front The Shuttle Theatre,  William Parker performed "In Order to Survive:  A Statement",  addressed to all artists.


From “In Order to Survive: A Statement”  by William Parker, New York 1984

 “We cannot separate the starving child from the starving musician,  both things are caused by the same thing capitalism,  racism and the putting of military spending ahead of human rights.  The situation of the artist is a reflection of America's whole attitude towards life and creativity."  There was a period during the 1960's in which John Coltrane,  Malcolm X, Duke Ellington,  Cecil Taylor,  Ornete Coleman,  Bill Dixon,  Sun Ra,  Martin Luther King and Albert Ayler were all alive and active. Avant garde jazz contemporary improvised music coming out of the Afro-American was at a peak of creativity and motion. 

ABC Impulse was recording Coltrane and Archie Shepp, ESP Disk was recording the music of Albert Ayler,  Sunny Murray,  Sonny Simmons,  Giuseppi Logan,  Noah Howard,  Frank Wright,  Marion Brown,  Henry Grimes,  Alan Silva and many other exponents of the music.  Blue Note and Prestige Records were recording Andrew Hill,  Eric Dolphy,  Sam Rivers,  Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry among others.  Radio stations such as WLIB now called BLS and WRVR which now plays pop music were both playing jazz 24 hours a day including some of the new music of Coltrane,  Shepp,  Ayler,  and Ornette Coleman.  There was energy in the air as people marched and protested in the north and south demanding human rights,  demanding that the senseless killing in Vietnam stop. Simultaneously,  like musicians before them the avant garde became aware of the necessity to break away from tradition business practices. 

Like musicians lives being in the hand of producers and nightclubs owners who only wish to make money and exploit the musician.  The musicians began to produce their own concerts and put out their own records in order to gain more control over their lives. The Jazz Composers’ Guild formed by Bill Dixon was one of the first musicians’ organization in the 60’s to deal with the self determination of the artist.  Other efforts had been made by Charles Mingus,  Sun Ra as they both had produced their own concerts and records in the 50's.  To follow was the A.A.C.M. (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) formed about a year after the Jazz Composers' Guild,  and Milford Graves,  Don Pullen,  record company SRP (Self Reliance Program). Musicians got together with poets to put out a magazine called the Crickett,  all the articles were written by poets and musicians themselves.  It was edited by Imanu Baraka,  Larry Neal,  A.B. Spellman,  advisors on the magazine were Milford Graves,  Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra.  Contributors included Roger Riggins,  Stanley Crouch,  Albert Ayler, and Ishmael Reed.  The motto was "Black Music in Evolution." Just as the music and the movement began to break ground establishing itself,  several things happened:  Malcolm X was assassinated,  Martin Luther King was assassinated,  John Coltrane died,  British rock and roll began to change the music industry.  Not only could record be sold they could sell posters,  books,  wigs,  dolls,  and thousands of electric guitars to the youth of America.  They promoted and pushed rock music as the real thing yet when these rock stars were interviewed they would say always site jazz or blues as the origin of rock.  Also at this time there was a sudden increase in the availability of drugs in the black community.  Every apparent gain as a result of the civil rights movement was not given up without fight.  All gains were achieved because America had a gun to its's head.  To question,  to speak of change was never willingly allowed the 60's movement was so strong that it couldn't be denied.  They could silence a few poets but they couldn't silence an entire nation. The 1970's was a period of tranquilization.  There was no mass movement to continue the motion set forth by the 60's,  it was a ten year period of systematically silencing and discouraging the truth.  Poets were made to feel like criminals;  people were going back in time because it seemed easier than going forward.  Record companies began only to record safe music,  musicians began to water down their music. The C.I.A. and F.B.I. had files on the music they knew who was going along with the program, those who bought cars and played electric music and those whose politics were considered a threat to the existing inertia.  The neglect of the poor,  the neglect of the arts is no accident,  this country is sustained by killing off all that is beautiful,  that deals with reality.  They will go to any lengths to hold back the truth,  to  prevent the individual from hearing and seeing his or her own vision of life.  Some people are controlled by neglect while other are controlled by making them stars. As the 80's arrived this fire music that talked about revolution and healing had almost vanished only a few musicians continue to play and develop it.  The sleepiness of the 70's gave birth to a new electronic age of computers and video machines.  Where ever human energy could be saved it was popular music lost what little identity it had.  In listening to today's pop music it's hard to tell whether the group is male or female,  black or white,  synthersizers have replaced living musicians.  We have all been desensitized people walk around in dazes sitting back while these blood thirsty gangsters have free reign of the country and of the people's lives.  Our food source,  our housing source are owned and operated by power hungry people who do not have our best interest in mind,  they only wish to make a profit.  All of this is not new knowledge,  it has been said many times before,  the message must be constantly repeated ,  intellectual knowledge of the problems is not enough,  we must feel the blade piercing the hearts of all that are oppressed,  jailed,  starved and murdered by these criminals who call themselves leaders who act in the name of peace and democracy.  Since we have little we must band together pulling all our little resources to form a base in which to work.  We must learn from all the mistakes of the past dropping any selfish notions in order for this movement to succeed,  in order for it to take root and begin to grow. We must ask the questions why am I an artist?  Why do I play music? What is the ultimate goal?  Am I playing with the same spirit that I played with 10 years ago or have I just become more technically proficient? The idea is to cultivate an audience by performing as much as possible on a continuous basis,  not waiting to be offered work rather creating work.  Uniting with all those who hear.  Those who are willing to go all the way. We must put pressure on those with power to give some of it up (picketing,  boycotts,  petitions,  what ever it takes)  and finally we must define ourselves and not be defined by others.  We must take control of our lives,  building a solid foundation for the future.


In Order to Survive was organized by Sound Unity, Plexus,  Nuyorican Poets Cafe,  L.A.N.D.,  The Shuttle Theatre and other community organizations.  It was an open call to draw attention to the condition of the starving  status of the artist as well as of the children in the community.  Miguel Algarin, Billy Bang, William Parker, Alfa Diallo, Karl Berger, Jeemeel Moondoc, Roy Campbell,  David Street, Arleen Schloss,  performed in the street. The community event In Order to Survive was chaired by Ms. Farley together and Bruce Richard Nuggent, who was the last artist in life from FIRE !!, the historical black renaissance magazine published in Harlem in 1926.Few days after this community event, Don Cherry, who was performing at the Shuttle Theatre with Mickey Pinero, gave to Sandro Dernini a little metal statuette of a Buddha brought from Tibet as his contribution for the development of a fund-raising community event in support to the call In Order to Survive. The following day, Prof. Raimondo Demuro, arrived from the island of Sardinia, the native country of Sandro Dernini, asked him to help in finding a publisher for his book The Tales of Nuraghilogy about ancient oral legends of the Nuraghic culture of Sardinia, under the risk of extinction. The Nuraghic culture originated in Sardinia, an island at the centre of the Mediterranean sea, during the bronze age, around 1800/500 B.C, producing all over the island an unique network system of thousands stone towers, named nuraghes.  Prof. De Muro showed some images of  bronze statuettes of Nuraghic warriors, with four arms, four eyes and two antennas and talked about how their ancestors were able to travel in a “dematerialised” way, from one place to another one, through collective rites. Stephen DiLauro, a playwriter performing at The Shuttle, wrote an introduction to the prof. De Muro’s Nuraghic book, renamed The Towers of Power: Tales of the Nuraghic People of Sardinia.


From The Towers of Powers: Tales of the Nuragic People of Sardinia, introduction  by Stephen di Lauro,  New York 1984

New Book Unlocks Secrets of Ancient Architecture

On the Mediterranean island of Sardinia some seven thousand stone towers of varying heights exist as the remains of a network that originally consisted of seventeen thousand of these structures.  Who built them? What was the purpose to this vast undertaking?

Is it possible that this was the center of an interplanetary communication network? Professor Raimondo Demuro, in his best-selling book (over 30.000 copies sold in the Italian language Zephyr Edition) “Towers of Power: Tales of the Nuragic People of Sardinia”, reveals the key to secrets only hinted at in “Chariots of the Gods” and “Pyramid Power”...

Synchronicity, UFOs, the “cosmic net” that so fascinated the ancient philosophers – these are but a portion of the material dealt with in Demuro’s writing.  Is there a “universal memory” in all matter which mirrors the genetic memory of the higher orders?  What is the significance of a recent discovery of over two hundred larger – than-life Bronze age statues depicting humanoid creatures with antennae in a Sardinian cave? 

Sandro Dernini re-organized Plexus as a community-based non profit organization with Bruce Nuggent as honorary chairperson and Sarah Farley with Mickey Pinero as vice chairpersons. In early September, Jeemeel Moondoc, Billy Bang, William Parker, Sandro Dernini established the Lower East Side Music Committee.   They organized at the Shuttle The Lower East Side Music Poetry Arts Festival ‘84,  presented by Sound Unity and Nuyorican Poets Café., featuring Butch Morris, Gunter Hampel, Nelson Oceundy, Karl Berger, William Parker, Miguel Algarin, Jemeel Moondoc, Brian Smith, Arleen Schloss, Robert Aaron, Ahvan Henry, Miguel Pinero, Billy Bang, Pleasure. An art show was installed  by Alfa Diallo and Jean Cyriaqueque.

In October, Plexus started again to operate at The Shuttle with a multi-arts program, made by: Mephistopheles: The Artist in the First Person, featuring Samarcanda by Luca Pizzorno;, Escape from Purgatorio by Ralston Farina, Mountains Men – Dreams -  Magic Music by Leopanar Witlarge, Slimming Window by Julius Klein, and Liz & Val;  Voice of Ammericka,  a cabaret program featuring: Uncle Sam by Dave Street; Taxi Cabaret by Rockets Redglare; The Poet Himself  by Marty Watt.

Collage of Happening, a performance program, featuring:

Time Art by Ralson Farina, The Upside Down Show by Julius Klein, Do you think Nixon knows people were happier before he was president? by Paul Miller, and Alien Comic; Body Driven, a dance project by Betsy Hulton and Patricia Nicholson Parker, featuring: Judith Renlay, Susan Seizer, Peggy Vogt, Betsy Hulton, Edrienne Altenhaus, Diane Torr, Eva Welchman; Frame of Life, a filmmakers program, featuring:  Andrew Bergen, Julius Klein, Christine Vachon, Susan Graes, Liza Bear; The Last Song of the Swan, a playwrights program, curated by Giuseppe Sacchi, featuring: Soliloquies and Others Words Said at the Time by Rei Povod; King Salmon by James A. Doogherty; Hoodlum Hearts by Louis E. Griffith; Rent a Coffin by Pedro Pietri;  Cantos, a poetry program, with a open reading, curated by Miguel Algarin, featuring: Miguel Pinero, Den Shot, Ray Bremser, Louis E. Griffith, Quincy Troumpe, Robert Press, Eilee Miles, Bob Holman;  Magic Flutes, a music program, featuring:  Butch Morris Ensemble, Graic Burg, Leo Panar, Gary Taylor, Earl Cross, Snoky Tate, Dennis Charles Trio, Jemeel Moondoc Quartet.

 Butch Morris and Will Connel joined the Lower East Side Music Committee to organize the 2° Lower East Side Music Festival, featuring: Chevere Makun Chevere, Michael Bocian Quartet, Ernst Bier Quartet, Jemeel Moondoc’s Orchestra with Butch Morris, Jim Pepper Quartet, Karl Berger’s Rhythm Changes with Ingrid Sertso, Jazz Doctors with Billy Bang, Frank Lowe, Wilber Morris and Thurman Barker, Juny Booth, Peter Kowald Sextet, Roy Campbell’s Inner Force Band, James McCoy and an art jam by Arturo Lindsay.