The cult section of the literary world


Mind Widening Music: Bizarro Music #6 – The Residents

by  Lee Widener

The Residents are one of the most enigmatic, long lasting musical projects to exist on the fringes of modern music. Formed in Louisiana in the late 60s, and moving to California soon after, they have never appeared in public without disguises. Most often, though not always, they wear tuxedos and giant eyeball masks. This has become the iconic image most people think of when referring to the Residents. The band has never admitted their identities, though it is generally accepted that the two main members are Homer Flynn, who acts as their spokesperson and manager, and Hardy Fox, their recording engineer.

The Residents have stated they remain anonymous because they want the focus to be on their work, not who makes it. This approach, of course has led to great speculation on who exactly is in the band, so their goal has met with mixed success. Musically, the band’s output can be divided into two categories- deconstruction of popular musical forms, and complex conceptual albums. This fits in well with what we call Bizarro. In Bizarro Fiction, literary genres, most often horror and science fiction, though other genres such as romance, crime and adventure, are deconstructed, turned on their heads, and mashed together to form new styles of storytelling. This often leads to rich world building within a Bizarro framework, which is analogouseskimo to the Residents conceptual work.

Formed in the 60s and still actively recording and touring today, the Residents have always sought to incorporate new technologies and modes of expression in their work. Early adopters of computers and recording techniques, their first releases featured heavy use of tape manipulation, computer processing, audio sampling and other methods of audio generation. Their second official release “Third Reich ‘N Roll” is entirely comprised of pop and rock songs electronically tortured, edited, spliced together, overdubbed with new vocals and instrumentals. The original songs were then removed, leaving a strange new musical composition. Here is a video with a section of music from this album:

As you see from the preceding video, the Residents were not adverse to using shocking imagery such as Hitler, swastikas and KKK costumes for shock effect. This echoes Bizarro Fiction, which often uses the same approach. In this next video, “Burn Baby Burn” from their Wormwood album combines images of a mushroom cloud with a flaming crucified person to create a new perspective on Christian iconography.

The Residents were one of the first bands to explore CD-ROM technology. In 1994 they released a fully interactive computer animated CD-ROM titled “Gingerbread Man.” As Roch Parisien from explains it:

“An extra dimension of the surreal is added by going “interactive,” where every mouse or keyboard click generates seemingly random, unpredictable results. In fact, Gingerbread Man never seems to play exactly the same way twice.”

The Residents make extensive use of video technology. An early album, 1980’s “Commercial Album,” which consists entirely of one minute long jingles, was later expanded into “The Commercial DVD.” As Marc Masters explains it on

“More immediately influential are the “one-minute movies” the Residents made for songs from 1980’s Commercial Album. These illustrative clips were among the first to show how the music video could be its own form– not just a song or a movie or an ad, but something in between.”

These bizarre little videos can be seen as the equivalent of Bizarro flash fiction stories. And through over forty years of musical output, we can see perhaps the future trajectory of Bizarro Fiction. The Residents started out as complete musical outsiders who started their career with crude, shocking videos and music, and gradually over time have embraced and mastered new technology and modes of expression, becoming, in the process more sophisticated in their approach and execution. They have remained on the fringes of the music industry, but by doing so have maintained a clarity of purpose and integrity.

They’ve never had a release from a major label, and in fact, ceased selling physical copies of their music years ago, in response to the changing face of the music industry. Still, they have a devoted fan base and play sold out shows whenever they tour. Bizarro Fiction may never have a NY Times best seller – but how relevant is that goal in today’s publishing industry? If Bizarro Fiction can continue to grow and adapt, as the Residents have, they’ll be around and doing better than ever forty years from now and beyond.

To close out this article I want to show you a couple live appearances by the Residents that illustrate how a work of art can be weird, shocking, incongruous, freaky, off the wall, and AT THE SAME TIME be beautiful, awe inspiring, meaningful, touching and profound. This is what the best Bizarro Fiction does. This first clip shows two numbers performed on a German TV show, Night Music, in 1989. It’s from their Cube E project, a three act performance covering the history of American music.

This last piece, “Wonderful,” from a live show in 2003, finds the Residents bemoaning the lack of a hit record, and reminiscing about the past. It’s a very personal piece, and the singer mentions the death of a frequent Residents collaborator, Snakefinger, who died of a heart attack five years earlier. It also shows him tempted by a devil, with a piece of the band’s past. It’s a beautiful and ironic moment for somebody who has steadfastly kept his identity hidden, yet regrets the lack of commercial success. The best art, no matter how weird, how far out there, stems from the artist’s life, the artists heart. Here’s to the Residents, and the future of Bizarro.


There is a wealth of Residents related content on Youtube, including music videos, documentaries and full concerts. I encourage you to watch.


Lee Widener is a lifelong collector of weird music. For ten years he ran the internet radio station NeverEndingWonder Radio, which specialized in odd, unusual, freaky and bizarre music, and still runs a small Halloween themed radio station, which can be found at Welcome to Weirdsville . He is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press.



Mind Widening Music: Bizarro Music #4 – The Slow Poisoner

by Lee Widener


For this installment of Bizarro Music I’d like to introduce you to Andrew Goldfarb, otherwise known as “The Slow Poisoner.” I’d like to- but most of you are probably already familiar with him. For those of you who are not: Andrew Goldfarb is Bizarro’s true Renaissance man. He does it all: writes, draws, paints, and performs as a one man band. He wrote one of the most unapologetically  Bizarro novels – “Ballad of the Slow Poisoner” – BEFORE Bizarro was even defined as a genre, writes and draws a series of Bizarro comic books, is on a singular crusade to revive the art of black velvet painting, AND tours incessantly as the one man band “The Slow Poisoner.”


To see the Slow Poisoner in concert is to be amazed and enthralled. He presents a carefully curated program of original tunes and well-chosen covers complete with costumes, props and set pieces. And he does this all by himself! One moment he might be wearing a giant mushroom hat much bigger than his head, and another he might be performing from inside the mouth of a hideous monster with wicked looking teeth. One of my personal favorite Slow Poisoner songs is “In the Gloom,” sung with only the sound of a heavy chain being dropped as accompaniment. The use of silence in between the plaintive lyrics and bursts of harsh metallic clanking is masterful.

If you ever have the chance to see the Slow Poisoner live, and don’t, you’re a fool. I posed a few questions to Mr. Goldfarb recently, and here are his answers:

LEE: Can you give me a brief history of your musical career and the creation of The Slow Poisoner as a performing entity?

ANDREW: Almost exactly 20 years ago, I was in Paris and I got the idea to form a band called The Slow Poisoners. In the 18th century, there was an epidemic of poisonings in France – mostly women doing away with their husbands, by a daily sprinkling of arsenic (or diamond powder or even spider bits) on their gentlemen’s meals. It was documented in a book called A Memoir of Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Dr. Charles Mackay. I recorded some demos with my brother Ed (who now does the music for Pokemon) and put together a live band, which was originally a quintet, including two cellos, which sounded terrible. Luckily, the number of members dwindled as time went by, and come ten years later it was just me. I scratched the letter “s” off the end of the name on all the merchandise and carried on as The Slow Poisoner. I also switched from drinking absinthe to drinking whiskey, which led to a more rock ‘n’ roll sound than the first few records which were more of the chamber pop variety.

LEE: Have you always been involved in multiple art forms, or were you an artist first, or writer or musician or what??


ANDREW: I’ve always done both music and visual art. I started drawing cartoons in 2nd grade; I had a superhero called Toilet Man who faught crime while flying around in a toilet. I drew another one called SuperFunk, whose super power was just being funky (whatever that meant to a seven year old). My first band was in fifth grade – we called ourselves “The Sound Barriers” and we performed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at the school talent show. I was on electric piano. Two of the members are now dead.

LEE: How did you discover and then become involved in the Bizarro scene?

ANDREW: In the late 90s there was a pre-Kindle electronic reading device called the Rocket E-Book. A friend of mine was publishing content for it and suggested I write a story based on my song lyrics, which became “Ballad of a Slow Poisoner.” For a brief period, it was outselling both Stephen King and the Bible. Carlton Mellick read it at the time, and a few years later asked if he could re-print it as part of a publishing imprint he was just starting, Eraserhead Press. He wrote me a letter explaining that he was a writer but what he really cared about was promoting this new literary movement called Bizarro. I went to the second BizarroCon and at that point I knew I had found my people.

I’m going to close out this article with three Slow Poisoner videos. The first is a tune called “Macabre” and is a fine example of the Slow Poisoner live:

The next video is animated by Goldfarb himself! Is there anything this guy can’t do??

The last video is the Slow Poisoner’s magnum opus. “Hot Rod Worm” should be playing on every radio station in the country! It’s catchy, it rocks, and it has an important message! Stop Motion Animation by Michael Granberry. Bongos by Bizarro legend John Skipp. Directed by John Skipp and Andrew Kasch.

You can check out Slow Poisoner merchandise of all sorts at his website:


Lee Widener is a lifelong collector of weird music. For ten years he ran the internet radio station NeverEndingWonder Radio, which specialized in odd, unusual, freaky and bizarre music, and still runs a small Halloween themed radio station, which can be found at Welcome to Weirdsville . He is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press.


Mind Widening Music: Bizarro Music #3 – Vivian Stanshall

Vivian-Stanshall-resize.jpgby Lee Widener

For the third edition of Bizarro Music we travel across the sea to jolly ol’ England, to profile Vivian Stanshall. To quote Wikipedia:

“Vivian Stanshall was an English singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and wit, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band…”

Like many other bands of the time Stanshall met his fellow bandmates (one of whom turned out to be Neil Innes, who later went on to become the musical composer for Monty Python and the Rutles) in art school. The came up with the unusual name for their band by using the William S. Burroughs technique of cutting up phrases on pieces of paper and arranging them randomly. Once such combination turned up “Bonzo Dog Dada.” They later changed the name to Doo-Dah because, as Stanshall explained it, “I got tired of explaining what Dada was.”

The band initially performed old songs from the 20s and 30s they learned from old 78 rpm records they bought for a penny apiece, and gained a following. They released a few singles of their versions of these old tunes, but they failed to make an impression. In 1967 they were approached by Geoff Stevens, who had a hit with his retro-sounding composition “Winchester Cathedral,” to become the touring version of his “New Vaudeville Band.” The Bonzos turned him down, since they didn’t want to lose their own band’s identity. They were dismayed shortly thereafter to find Stevens had stolen the Bonzo’s costuming style and copied their stage act. People were starting to refer to them as a “New Vaudeville Band” knock-off.

They knew they had to make some changes in order to survive, so they started doing original numbers. Stanshall was friends with the Beatles, and the band was invited to appear in their new film “Magical Mystery Tour.” Around the same time they were hired as the house band on the television show “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” which also featured future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones. It was during this period that Shanshall’s songwriting and performing took on a Bizarro quality. Just listen to the lyrics of this song “Canyons of Your Mind” which are full of dreamlike imagery and hilarious wordplay.

Another truly Bizarro number is “The Intro and the Outro,” which deftly satirizes those long intros and outros where bands introduce every member of the band by name. The joke here is there’s no actual song- just the intro and outro of a seemingly endless number of band members.

Due to this weekly media exposure and the startlingly original output of the band’s songwriters Stanshall and Innes, they became quite popular. They toured the United States, opening for the Who and the Kinks. Another reason for their popularity was their onstage lunacy. Eleborate costuming, bizarre props and sets, and even, yes- robots, as well as an anarchic spirit where anything could happen, made a Bonzo show something not to be missed.

During their second tour they decided to break up the band. Stanshall had an increasing problem with stage fright and became addicted to valium to combat it, and there were problems with the band’s managers. The band decided to go their own ways while they still remained friends. After a short break Stanshall returnmed to recording and formed several short-lived bands, some of which was even more Bizarro than the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Stanshall continued his creative output throughout his life. He appeared as the Master of Ceremonies on the Tubular Bells album. He created a spoken word piece called “Rawlinson’s End,” which satirized English country life, and was critically acclaimed. It appeared in segments on BBC Radio, and was later made into a film starring Trevor Howard, Patrick Magee and Stanshall himself. He narrated a recording of “Peter and the Wolf,” and sang on many artist’s records.

In 1980 he bought a Baltic trading boat and converted it to a seafaring theatre. He and his wife Ki wrote 27 new songs for “Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera.” Mooring the boat in Bristol, England, he formed the Crackpot Theatre Company, hiring street musicians and local actors to perform the piece. Stanshal wrote, directed, designed the sets, costumes and even the hairstyles. Stinkfoot garnered great reviews.

Stanshall died tragically in a fire while he slept. Many in England consider him a national treasure. He gave us some of the craziest, freaky music in the popular realm. A true Bizarro.

Below is a documentary on Vivian’s life. If you have the time, it’s quite wonderful, and has some clips from Stinkfoot, which are fascinating. As always, I’d love to read your comments, and let me know what Bizarro music you’d like to have featured.


Lee Widener is a lifelong collector of weird music. For ten years he ran the internet radio station NeverEndingWonder Radio, which specialized in odd, unusual, freaky and bizarre music, and still runs a small Halloween themed radio station, which can be found at Welcome to Weirdsville . He is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press.

Mind Widening Music: Bizarro Music #2 – Dot Wiggin

by Lee Widener

For the second edition of Bizarro Music I’m going to talk about Dot Wiggin. But who is Dot Wiggin? You know who she is, you just don’t know you know.

Yes, THAT Dot Wiggin- 1/3 of the Shaggs. Why am I singling her out? We’ll get to that in a bit. First, some background to get everyone up to speed.

The Shaggs released what is probably the most famous bad record in the history of recorded music. Foisted on the public in 1969, Philosophy of the World is spectacularly bad. It’s bad in ways other bad records can only dream of.

The Shaggs were three sisters- Dot, Helen and Betty Wiggin. The formation of the band was the result of a prophesy by their paternal grandmother. She fancied herself a psychic and in a palm reading session for her son Austin she fortold three things. Her son would marry a strawberry blond, he would have two sons after she died, and he would have three daughters that would form a rock band. The first two prophesies came true, so Austin Wiggin set about making sure the last one did too.

He pulled the girls out of high school in their sleepy New Hampshire town of Fremont, enrolled them in a mail order correspondence course, and signed them up for music lessons. He didn’t ask them if they wanted to play music. It was the prophesy, so it was their destiny. For a few years this was their life: home schooling for few hours a day, and then practice music. They also did calisthenics every day. And then more practicing music.


They took lessons for only a year, and then were left to figure out the mechanics of playing in a band by themselves. Their father had no talent for music. They had no social life. They were not allowed to date until they were 18. One night a week the entire family would go grocery shopping together. That was their life. Practice music, do calisthenics, more practicing music, and again more practicing.

They were growing up inside a cult where they were the only members. Their father, anxious for his daughters to become the stars they were destined to be, arranged for the band to start playing in public. The girls, who had no interest in playing music in the first place, didn’t think they were ready, but Austin’s word was law. They played at a talent show, where they were booed, and had a gig at an old folk’s home on Halloween. This wasn’t enough exposure for Austin, though, and he arranged for the girls to play a weekly show at the town hall.
Again, the girls were a bit embarrassed to be playing in public when they felt they weren’t ready, but disobedience to anything Austin said was forbidden. They played their weekly gig with their out of tune instruments, in their off key voices, with their strange songs that bore no resemblance to popular music, and a drummer that seemed to have no idea what a rhythm was. Lo and behold: people came. Teenagers came and danced as best they could to these weird songs, because what else is there to do in Fremont, New Hampshire? They also heckled the band, talked, caroused, and generally hung out. It was the social hub of teen activity in Fremont.


Spurred on by this “success,” Austin had his great brainstorm. His girls would cut a record. And so, in 1968, he rented time in a studio, and even though he kept interrupting the session because the girls were “making mistakes,” the entire album was recorded in one afternoon. He paid for a thousand discs, but depending on who you believe, the producer made off with 900 copies, or they were thrown in a dunpster, or they just disappeared. Regardless, only 100 copies of the record survived.


The Shaggs returned to their weekly gigs at the town hall until one day in 1975 Austin Wiggin had a massive heart attack and died. The sisters put down their instruments and never played again. For the most part. They had never wanted to be musicians, and now they were free of Austin’s autocratic rule. This whole story reads like a Bizarro novel, but it doesn’t end there.

Things tend to get out, and somehow a few copies of The Philosophy of the World made their way into the right hands. Frank Zappa got a hold of a copy and played a few songs on the Dr. Demento Show, proclaiming the Shaggs brilliance. A few DJs played them on the radio. Lester Bangs, of the Rolling Stone, said the album was “one of the landmarks of rock’n’roll history.” Terry Adams, singer for the band NRBQ loved them so much he convinced his record label to rerelease the album. Soon there was a full fledged Shaggs cult. People started comparing the Shaggs’ music to Chinese folk music, free jazz and Ornette Coleman. They weren’t lousy musicians, they had reinvented music in their own manner. The underground word swelled so great it resulted in RCA releasing the original album on CD. The band even reunited for one more show. In 1999 they played live at the NRBQ 30th anniversary between sets by Sun Ra and NRBQ. If this doesn’t sound like real-life Bizarro, I don’t know what does.

But is all this speculation of musical genius warranted? All along, Dot Wiggin has said, and still says, that they just weren’t ready to play when they cut their album, and some evidence appears to back her up. Below is a 15 minute video of one of their dances at the Fremont Town Hall. It was filmed by Austin Wiggin himself in 1972- three years after their album was released. It’s an interesting document. Warning- this is a poorly shot home movie- the sound cuts in an out, things go out of focus, and the crowd noise is quite evident. But we can learn several things by watching it. First is the music itself. The drummer is doing a fine job keeping the beat. The singers, while not great, can carry a tune, and even engage in some simple choreography. Their guitars are in tune, they play enthusiastically and competently. The crowd, at least some of it, seems to be enjoying itself.

It turns out there were unreleased tapes the Shaggs had recorded much later, and when those were released as “Shaggs Own Thing,” they revealed a band that had gained a lot of musical prowess since their initial recordings. The drummer had learned to play along with the band. Dot and Betty now played what can be called conventional pop music. Perhaps what Dot was saying was true, and that first album was just three teenage girls who didn’t know what they were doing. Here’s a selection from “Shaggs Own Thing.” It reveals a band that while not great, certainly weren’t the worst band ever.

But that’s STILL not the end. After the Shaggs broke up the sisters went their own ways. They all moved short distances from Fremont. Dot and Betty got married, raised families, got jobs. Helen was sickly and suffered from depression. She died in 2006. The underground fame of the Shaggs continued to grow, even though the subjects themselves were clueless. After the 1999 performance a tribute album was released by musicians who were fans. In 2012 producer and bass player Jesse Krakow staged a tribute to the Shaggs in Fremont. The sisters didn’t play, but in a Q&A session afterwards, Betty revealed she had written other songs that were never recorded, and had even written a few more recently. Krakow convinced her to let him see them, and the result was the formation of the Dot Wiggin Band.

In her characteristic humble fashion, Dot initially figured she would give Krakow the songs and he would go off and record them. He told her, “Dot fans are going to want to hear Dot sing Dot’s songs.” Reluctantly, she agreed, and Krakow assembled a band, recording the songs in Dot’s living room and the old Fremont Town Hall. What resulted was an album that is kind of like a cross between a traditional pop sound and the Shaggs first record, just as Bizarro fiction often reads like a strange combination of genre fiction and something straight out of nightmares.

Here’s a music video of the song “Banana Bike” from the Dot Wiggin Band album Ready! Get! Go! It’s one of the more recent compositions Dot wrote as a tribute to her sister Helen.

The Dot Wiggin Band, just as the Shaggs did, has continued on past what Dot thought it would. They’ve given public performances, toured as recently as 2015, even played at the Pop Montreal festival.

So, who exactly is Dot Wiggin? Is she a musical genius who reinvented pop music in 1969, or is she just someone who wrote simple songs and couldn’t play or sing very well? What is Bizarro Fiction? Is it a breath of fresh air breathing new life into the tired tropes of genre fiction, or is it just crude, masturbtory crap from people who can’t write very well? Perhaps Dot and Bizarro are alike in that they’re a combination of both the best and worst of the claims made about them.

Dot Wiggin.jpg



Lee Widener is a lifelong collector of weird music. For ten years he ran the internet radio station NeverEndingWonder Radio, which specialized in odd, unusual, freaky and bizarre music, and still runs a small Halloween themed radio station, which can be found at Welcome to Weirdsville . He is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press.

Bizarro Breaking News: Crocallo found in Thailand!


SISAKET:– Locals in Sisaket province believe they are in for a serious amount of good fortune following the discovery of a strange, and so far unidentified creature.

The animal, which looks to be covered in large scales, with a long crocodile like head, also appears to have the legs of calf and has left experts baffled.

According to ThaiRath, the creature died a short time after being born to an otherwise healthy buffalo which belongs to a local farmer.

Video footage from Matichon TV shows locals gathered around the creature, lighting incense sticks, believing that the animal, whatever it may be, will bring them luck.

via Thai Visa News

Video here:

Twisted Tuesdays: 6 Halloween Mood Videos!

It’s September Bizarros! That means it’s time to get serious with the Halloween spirit. So grab your pumpkin spice dildos and get ready!

If this music video of Tim Curry dressed as an 80’s vampire and channeling David Bowie doesn’t put you in the Halloween mood, nothing will! I’ve never watched The Worst Witch, but apparently it’s pretty dull aside from this incredible music video that comes out of nowhere.

As you might have noticed, I watch a lot of youtube. One of my favorite youtube channels is “Ask a Mortician” where a mortician answers cool questions about death, from death shits to foreskin wedding rings. I love Caitlin!

Typing of death, here is my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street death of all time. It involves twink Johnny Depp, a bed, and a lot of blood! Thanks Wes Craven for giving the world one of the best monsters of all time and inspiring some inventive kills.

Nothing says Halloween like Vincent Price dressed as a polar bear, in a wine cooler commercial. Nothing.

I’ve been binge watching Key & Peele lately because they’re hilarious. It’s great to see comedy taken to its full artistic potential with social commentary and theatrical silliness. Key & Peele are talented as fuck. Their range of characters is impressive. I’m sad that this will be their last season but they put out some amazing comedic content that I’ve been watching over and over again. Their “Sexy Vampires” sketch is a must watch. It brings up the serious question of vampire stereotyping in films.

Watching horror movies is the best way to get into the spirit of the season. Blood for Dracula is on my Halloween rotation every year and still makes me laugh. I love Udo Kier so much. In this film, he’s is a sexy vampire who is having some trouble finding virgin blood to keep him alive. I’m sure I’ve posted this before since this is such a classic movie with one of my favorite movie lines of all time:

You can watch the full movie here for now:

So Bizarros, what are your favorite things to do to get you into the Halloween spirit? Any favorite movies or creepy places in your area?

Bizarro News Roundup!

Charles Manson love


thai bumfights

“Free sessions are held twice a week at Aima maternity hospital in Shandong province and about 100 men have signed up to be tortured. Most are expectant dads but there are thrill seekers too among the volunteers for ‘taster sessions.'”

  • Speaking of signing up to be tortured, the McKamey Manor is still continuing their extreme haunt experience past Halloween. Russ keeps saying he is toning shit down but this last video is creepier than the ones in the last post. Two tough guys dressed as the Super Mario Bros end  up throwing up and crying after 20 minutes! Also note the reference to Vegas. Russ live streams the haunts to unknown people in Vegas! You really need to watch this:

And just in case you haven’t been on the internet in the past month:

Until next time Bizarros!