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Angus MacLise: Launching the Dream Weapon

Sterling Morrison (from the Velvet Underground):

"Whenever I hear the word 'underground' I am reminded of when the word first acquired a specific meaning for me and for many others in NYC in the early sixties. It referred to underground cinema and the people and lifestyle that created and supported this art form. And the person who first introduced me to this scene was Piero Heliczer, a bona fide 'underground film-maker' - the first one I had ever met.

"On an early Spring day in 1965 John and I were strolling through the Eastside slums and ran into Angus [MacLise] on the corner of Essex and Delancey... It seems that Piero and Angus were organizing a 'ritual happening' at the time - a mixed-media stage presentation to appear in the old Cinematheque. Naturally, this was well before such events became all the rage. It was to be entitled Launching the Dream Weapon, and it got launched tumultuously. In the centre of the stage there was a movie screen, and between the screen and the audience a number of veils were spread out in different places. These veils were lit variously by lights and slide projectors, as Piero's films shone through them onto the screen. Dancers swirled around, and poetry and song occasionally rose up, while from behind the screen a strange music was being generated by Lou, John, Angus and me...

In the summer of 1965 we were the anonymous musicians who played at some screenings of 'underground films', and at other theatrical events, the first of which was for Piero's films (I think that Barbara Rubin showed Christmas on Earth and Kenneth Anger showed a film also). Piero taped the music, and later played it at the other screenings of his films - especially for The New Jerusalem." (UT26)

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