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'Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society' takes readers to the brink

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Chaos compendium: Tales' comics-inspired cover art

Although the idea of a book about Cacophony had been floated around as early as the mid-'90s, it wasn't until Evans called a meeting between some of his former cacophony comrades in 2010 that the idea began to take a concrete shape. A Bay Area-based fine artist and illustrator, Evans came to the meeting with an already thought-out concept for a "visual history" of the Cacophony Society, and though most of the other people at that first meeting decided against participating, Galbraith, who has a master's degree in book arts, jumped onboard, eventually spearheading the layout and working most closely with publisher Last Gasp on the final incarnation.

Joining the project soon after Evans and Galbraith got rolling, John Law — a founding member of the Cacophony Society, and a long-time member of the Suicide Club before it — brought his extensive archive of flyers, newsletters, and more to the mix, and, with Galbraith, provided much of the written content. In the end the grueling, three-way editorial process became less about finding enough material for a book, but whittling all the available material down to 300 pages, a process Law likens to lopping off fingers.

"We could have compiled a thousand-page book without repeating anything, or becoming dull," he muses ruefully by email. "My hope is that others who were involved will write their own books about the period."

Until that happens, however, pranksters, subversives, free spirits, and urban explorers alike will want to go ahead and splurge on a copy of The Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society. And remember, though now technically defunct, the society has always been open to all. You may already be a member. *

TALES OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CACOPHONY SOCIETY

Thu/16, 7pm, free

City Lights

261 Columbus, SF

www.citylights.com

 

Sun/19, 6pm, free

Green Apple Books

506 Clement, SF

www.greenapplebooks.com

For more readings and related events, including a May 31 party at the Castro Theatre, visit www.lastgasp.com or www.talesofsfcacophony.com.

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