FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW
From the outside, it appeared that Notary Sojac was nothing if not idealistic. They constantly reached out in many ways to include others in the world that was theirs. The most obvious was their newsletter, titled after an original tune, Point of View . Five issues hit the mailboxes before finances and circumstances changed the band's personnel and direction. Allow me to transcribe a few pieces here. Perhaps you will find something familiar. Such as that presented in Point of View #1 A NOJAC STORY
Most odd names usually have a story or explanation behind them. Fer instance... "axolotl", which some of us may vaguely remember from early Mad magazines (along with "Potrezbie," "Furshlugginer," and "Moxie"), is actually the name of an armadillo-like denizen of Mexico. (note the Aztec-flavored spelling) Names of rock 'n' roll bands frequently go off on some weird tangents, as is apparent with Seattle's "Cast-Iron Midgets", Portland's old "Barking Spiders", and "The Battery-Operated Crabgrass" from Foamrubber, Mass. Notary Sojac's name often creates a good deal of curiosity, so to avoid unnecessary feline fatalities, ("curiosity," etc.) these few cubic inches will be devoted to a brief historical summary concerning the background of Notary Sojac's name.
The band spent a couple of weeks in fruitless pursuit of a name-to-be-known-by. They discarded many names that went over like lead balloons: Glee, Eleven, Water Bros., Parodars, Good Grief, Ned Brown, Holy Pickerel, Creeping Moses. They found it not to be unlike trying to decide on a name for a baby. Reino, the solid old man from Bedlam Manor (and father of the Brothers Koski) settled it one summer night. As the gang was outside lolling around on the patio at Bedlamanor, tossing up nomenclatures left and right and letting them fall to earth of their own dead weight, Reino came out of the house and suggested Notary Sojac. His balloon was lighter than air and everyone repeated the silly-bles. That was it! Rain-o remained mainly on the plain probabilities as he reminded the boys of where they'd heard the name before: it was the "Smokey Stover" comic strip, in which "notary sojac" is always seen in one of the frames, printed in some very peculiar places, defying translation. But it manages to climb into hu-man minds and lurk mischievously in the cranial corridors, waiting for an appropriate moment to pop out of the humen's mouths in an unexpected balloon.
Such happened to Reino and the Badlamanorites on that fateful eve. Since then, a number of people have claimed that "notary sojac" was used as a synonym of "SNAFU" or a "blooper"; and other forms of idiotic claims have been made, though no proven facts were given. One fact is known, though, and it is this: NOTARY SOJAC IS DEFINITELY NOT A LED BALLOON .
Led Balloon, indeed. By the time Point of View #2 came along (April '73), the band was getting a grip on their nazz, as it were. It was time to look into their short past for a highlight. Hence,
Fond Memories Come Back To Haunt Us
Feb. 7, 1970
A Concert for Obtuse Instruments!
Notary Sojac played at the Attic in Eugene. Also playing was Eclipse . The music was taped on recorders. Notary Sojac played five new songs (those were the good old days!). Bob and Steve pulled a surprise on Sojac and the audience, doing a routine featuring several new wind instruments that the Bros. Koski had invented the night before. These were: the "trombola" (a trumpet mouthpiece attached to a saxophone mouthpiece attached to a microphone stand) played by Bob; the "slide yola" (a sax mouthpiece attached to a mike stand and played by sliding the stand in a trombone manner), and the "baritone yola" (the sax mouthpiece on a large boom mike stand set on the floor for a low-register note). These two yolas were played by Steve. After a ridiculous interim of setting up the instruments, accompanied by mounting suspense (for nobody knew what was going to happen), Bob and Steve launched into a medley of "In the Mood" and "Hold That Tiger" followed by a spontaneous encore, "Call To Arms", featuring Bob on yet another instrument, the "French Hose" (trumpet mouthpiece in garden hose), battling Steve who played sax mouthpiece. Steve won after putting a kink in Bob's hose. Afterwards, the audience joined Notary Sojac in singing "You Are My Sunshine."
Typical Sojac hi-jinx of the day. This Point of View , by the way, was mailed with an 8 cent Eisenhower stamp. Now, if that isn't nostalgia... Also included in the issue was a letter from one Poiyut P. Piute, stating:
Dear Notable Thumbtack:
It is not without a modicumberbun of regret that I draw your attention to an insufferable mistake I am pouncing upon, which I found blatantly ensconced among the contents of your Point-of-View #1 . Let it be henceforth noted that the right honorable term "axolotl" pertains not to an armadillo-like creature (which, by the way, is not a marsupial but a monoprene, or is that neoprene, you ingorant fuddies?), but to an amphibian not unlike the common salamander, excepting the prevalent gill-like structures that occur where one might expect. As it is, I have nothing more to say, but that I hope this is the last letter I find myself compelled to write to you malstudious stalwarts! Condescendingly yours, Poiyut P. Piute.
To which POV replied:
*$%^X)#@*&($%%#! (translation): Watch yer vernacular, you superciliuos pipsqueak! And next time, don't hyphenate "Point of View"!
Which may have curtailed many future letters to POV , don't you think? At least, it was the last they heard of Mr. Piute. On to Point of View #3 , in which Sojac for the first time shares with the world the nebulous concepts of Zoid and Mapes, recurring themes throughout the remainder of Sojac's days. Fasten the seatbelt and get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the world based upon
THE ESSENCE OF MAPES
Hi--- we're glad this has reached YOU. We justly pay our deepest recognition to MAPES (now a household hypersuper word) and hereby dedicate this patient print to "mapes" in the name of the ever-changing continuum, ZOID.
First, an explanation: "mapes" is what you feel when you wish you didn't feel that feeling, but you don't know what the feeling is! It is mapes .
Mapes expresses itself outwardly through a being as anxious boredom, bored anxiety, or both. It is usually accompanied by unsure background music with overtones of monotony and themes and phrases on the verge of "self-aimed aimlessness" but never quite reaching this lofty expression, its mapes.
When something (situation, condition, person) has "got the mapes", it refers to "off---un" rather than "if---on"..... Mapes is bouncing on spokes rather than sitting comfortably in the hub.
We've all felt this "mapes" and now that we know what this previously unknown hindrance is, we may with individual and combined effort do away with it (always temporarily). Just as too hot and too cold show us where just right is, so does Mapes 1 and Mapes 2 reveal Zoid .
The reason anything is "mapes" is because it is devoid of Zoid... therefore, if we can occupy that speace known as Zoid, we avoid being mapes-ed!
We, as humans, only occasionally dip into that timeless ether where Zoid resides. We who have experienced Zoid remember the ecstatic feeling of freedom only too well. One once said, "I was overcome with an overwhelming awareness that everything in the whole world and in my life was going its way perfectly, and that things always had happened and always would, just the way they should. I laughed and then cried at the beauty of the plan, and then a huge weight seemed to rise off my shoulder, and in its place was the feeling of powerful wings; worry and doubt never entered my mind and I knew there was nothing to fear; in every decision the answer seemed obvious and clear, and everything I did seemed so smooth and automatic that it was as if some higher being was doing everything through me and all I had to do was watch, feel and remember to be in control. Never had I experienced such calm or such peace! I told my wife and mother and father about it, and they asked me what I was on ; and though I've always been a straight arrow and swore on a stack that I hadn't even had a beer, they tried to keep me from talking about it all the time, and even tried to commit me to an institution. But always I have remained confident that these were only acts of love coupled with fear that caused their actions. And knowing my place, I left, seeking a way to show them how to release their fears and to gain wings of assuredness so that their acts of love would be coupled with wisdom. And then we could all get down to the real business at hand: centering on love." (Although this statement is extreme, it is nonetheless valid)
Here is something a little more down to earth--- from a musician somewhere on the West Coast, who has experienced Zoid: "When I was there, man, I was gone! It was like something I've never seen before. I was too busy eating it up to look at the menu... I mean, life's a souflle, wouldn't you say? There I was with my axe, and when things got cookin', the licks just came and came... all of us like one machine. We really got our chops down and had room for more. And I'm not overplaying one bit... when I heard the recording playback, I said 'who was that?'... I was playin' guitar, but who was playin' me ? It was unbelievable, if you can believe that."
Well, enough testimony. Let us go on. ZOID now seems to be an "ever-changing center where lightning strikes once continually from both sides (future and past) in an ever-expanding universally perfect way." MAPES seems to be the "clouds that cause the lightning" or that which surrounds ZOID and is also the cause of ZOID.
There are Mapes 1 and Mapes 2... Mapes 1 being a condition of onorganized chaos, Mapes 2 being a condition of over-organized stagnation... (there are rumors of Mapes 3 and 4, but I really don't want to hear about it!)
Mapes isn't that much of a problem. In fact, it's a blessing. It's our only sure sign of where Zoid isn't, and thereby reassures us that Zoid exists. Centering on Zoid may be difficult at first, but once you relax, it becomes easy (See maps) These maps may not provide sufficient information, because we have been informed by both Mapezoidal and spacezoidal friends alike that you can't go into Zoid, but that instead, Zoid comes into you. So relax and let it take you away to where you really are. If any of you have any questions about Mapes or Zoid, please write us. Your further interest may culminate in a future article dealing with Zoid and Mapes elements in music, and as pertains to Notary Sojac. Thanx*****
The "maps" referred to therein are drawings of a moth flying around a candle flame, and a drawing of an eye amidst clouds shaping a triangle. Notes under the candle drawing states:
Spiral toward the light until your outer self is immersed in the flame of love and you become the light.
Beneath the eye/cloud drawing is written:
Brave the storm of experience until you reach the eye of the hurricane, then bask in the calm clear light.
Heady stuff, you say? Outside of the mindset of the band and its environs, possibly. Within the world of Notary Sojac, reflections such as this were everyday. Well, maybe not every day. But onward. No review of POV could be complete with out mice, and especially Mapes Mice, thus:
MAPES MICE GET REVENGE
MAPES VILLA (AP)---
The controversial minority group, Mapes Mice, is apparently bent on revenge, as evidence discovered yesterday suggests.
One of the Mapes Villains found a Notary Sojac newspaper clipping containing a photograph of the group in a kitchen drawer and many holes had been chewed in it, defacing the photograph.
"Is this revenge?" asked the Mapes Villains, who regard the incident as a deliberate exhibition of irreverence toward the Villains' musical group, Notary Sojac. They maintain that the Mice are irresponsible and that one can expect such vandalism from this minority group, which has a history of crimes and micedemeanors.
Sources say that the Mapes Mice have recently been subject to abuse on the part of the Villains. One spokesmouse lists intimidations, belligerent confrontations, and out-and-out warfare tactics in the form of rubber-band shooting, holding hostages, a flea bomb, scattered nests, and an assassination attempt involving a booby-trap. All these were given by the source as typical behavior to be expected from the Villains. In addition to these physical abuses, the spokesmouse says, the Mice have been constantly harassed, taunted, and publicly ridiculed and slandered.
It seems that the Villains' affront was not totally ungrounded, though, as mouse nests and damages have been found everywhere, from cupboards and drawers to organ leslies and pianos. The Mapes Villains feel that this is going a bit too far and do not regret having taken decisive measures. The flea bomb, contrary to Mice reports, is claimed by the Villains to have been intended for a swarm of fleas which recently plagued the Villa. Asked whether the bomb had succeeded, a Mapes Villain replied, "Yes... the fleas decided to flee and those that stayed were slayed." He added that if the Mice have suffered from environmental complications due to the flea-bombing, it is, and I quote, "their tough luck."
The new evidence, discovered yesterday, seems to indicate a new demonstration of vengeance by the Mapes Mice. However, the general attitude found at Mapes Villa is one of... "a mouse divided, cannot stand."
Harumph! Yes, yes, of course. Er, nothing further was ever heard about the Mapes Incident, as it has become known, though various groups have contended over the years that, indeed, the Mapes Mice were not a minority and, anyway, they were there first. Let's see... where were we? Ah, yes. The Zoid Recording Company. "What?" you expostulate? It's true. POV #3 contains the special order blank for the one and future Notary Sojac LP. If you sent this blank and a stipend of $2.50 (American), you could reserve your very own Sojac record, to be recorded and released at a future (Coming Soon!) date. The band, no doubt, had opportunities to record, but for reasons of their own, wanted to do it by and for themselves. The simplest way, it seemed, was to gather all of Sojacdom together and charge, shall we say, a bond or tax against this future release. And it would have happened. except... the future got in the way. Still, let us read what was the band's mantra regarding this project:
We realize our responsibility as artists/entertainers to eveolve fresh new musical styles and ideas (which is a natural process anyway, and also to show beauty where she exists, and to create beauty where she does not exist (structuralogically speaking, that is, as the Professor might put it).
ZOID Recording Co. will allow us the freedom to record many styles, new exciting sound feelings without the limitations that would come with a profit-seeking recording company.
We have the possibility of recording a variety of albums, and of course we are anxious to hear your viewpoint concerning choice of material. And taking full consideration of your place as the other half of us, we'd love to receive some letters from you reflecting light on"
- what songs you would like us to record
- what styles of music you enjoy
- any new directions you would like to see music flow into
Please let us know what is in your mind... speak out now , for it will help us immensely. The album will happen more quickly with your help.
Well, it didn't help quicken the project. By the time POV #4 hit the stands, so to speak, the LP had been shelved for a new project (see Return of Zoid). POV #4 was thicker and a little more varied. The concept of sharing began to be an overall theme and, in the spirit, even Drippy Moon, the juggling clown of Sojac proportions, contributed. It seems that he had an epiphany regarding Mapes. It was written:
Our esteemed associate, Drippy Moon, the juggler, offers us a new phase of that state of mind called Mapes. It appears that Drippy, in a recent experience, discovered another degree of this state of mind, which he has proposed to call "Mapes 3": The rumored severed holocaust known as Mapes 3--- a state of en route anxiously bored anxiety which can only occur in a space/time discontinuum of pressurized isolation inflated by physical immobility and the absence of presence. (it might be noted that Drippy Moon was traveling a long distance in a jet at the time of his realization of Mapes 3)
There was also a reprint of a gig scarfed from the University of Oregon newspaper, The Daily Emerald . As written by one Darrell Murray, who wrote:
If you're tired of "Trusts and Estates," "Partnerships and Corporations," or Con Law, you might find it well worth your while to flick it in around 10 P.M. some night this week or next and take a trip to The Roman Forum in Glenwood. Though the club itself may be less than aesthetically pleasing, the six-piece group, Notary Sojac, as well as their talented intermission juggler, Drippy Moon, make up for any problems you may have with the decor.
Notary Sojac is a group of long tenure in this city. I get the impression from their completely original format that they are more like a closely knit family than merely six aspiring individual musicians. If you are a bit tired of listening to overdone moldy oldies, this is an opportunity for you to see very real creative ability at work. I guarantee that you will walk out of the Forum with a smile on your face and inside as well. Though Sojac is not a perfectionist presentation, the group is far easier to relate to than your ordinary Top 40 Copy Band. The individual musicians are highly diversified. Flute, steel guitar, organ, piano, and a considerable variety of vocal arrangements keep the show interesting.
When Sojac takes five, you will not be left to provide your own entertainment. Drippy Moon, who has travelled for some time with Sojac, does a really fine juggling act. Using the effects of a black light, fluorescent green tennis balls, and suitable recorded musical arrangements, Moon performs wizardly acts of coordination which, eben to the skeptic, are enjoyable. If you vision is distorted by the time he comes on, you receive a bonus, believe me!!!
So, if you are looking for a break from the norm, I encourage you to visit the Roman Forum and take in a show of ability, creativity, and togetherness.
My first reaction when I read this was that the guy was a hack! The Roman Forum was my home away from home, especially during the Sojac stretches, and the decor was fine by me. The lights were down most of the night anyway. But he certainly told it like it was. I could close my eyes and replay an entire evening, and I have done so many times. Another interesting piece related to Notary Sojac's very first gig, related in another
Notary Sojac, sometimes known to be a bunch of veritable insaniacs, actually pulled a stunt as early in their career as their first gig. In fact, it was on the first song ever played by Notary Sojac in public. It was August 1, 1969, at the Charix Coffee House in Portland. The band opened up with "Devil or Angel", a fifties ballad done in a raunchy parody style, including a "talkie" sequence in the middle. The tune was actually not the famous hit of the fifties, but a "true grease" romance ditty penned by local crooner, Dinky Lee, who was seen once in awhile in guest performances with Dinky Lee and His Doo Doos. Highlights of this spectacular opening tune included a fabulous saxophone solo by Dinky Lee himself, and some smart background vocals by the Doo Doos. But indeed, we must not overlook the dreamy vocal stylizations of Dinky and his tantalizing interpretations of this seasoned ballad. We are fortunate to have obtained a recording of the event, and it is now part of the Casa Del Zoid archives.
And on the page opposite (in the newsletter, of course) was something that I missed until this very day! A small blurb sandwiched between "Genuine Curious Business Names" and "Guitar Workshop". T-shirts!!! Damn! If I'd known, I'd have purchased a gross, at a minimum. The blurb reads:
Now is your chance to own an authentic NOTARY SOJAC T-SHIRT. Be the first on your block to be a chip off our block. You'll be the envy of all the little shavers in your neck of the woods. Get on the ball and off the bandwagon by sending us your cash, check, or money order right away. (Include size wanted: small, medium, or large) The shirt has NOTARY SOJAC printed on the chest. If you want it on the back, simply put it on backwards. Do it now!!! Send $3.00 to
and it gives the address, which is by now defunct, I'm sure. How cool would that have been? But I missed out, as I'm sure did many of the Sojac admirers of the time. Anyway, before we ride off into the sunset, let us peruse POV #5 , beginning with another letter of parsimonious epiphany, er, or something like that:
My esteemed POINT OF VIEW,
We all know that protocol takes precedence over procedure. This parliamentary point of order based on the state of inertia, developing centrifugal force, which is used as a catalyst (rather than a catalytic agent) repeats the chain reaction and remains the same in a condition prior to its inception. This pivot, or focal point, which is used as a tangent, is a symphony of thought in the development of ideas, based on the ideology that the confrontation assumes proportions, where we look to that arrival and find it easy to expose a venture of a hypothetical alternative, rather than to accept the dullness of dreareality, so that we ultimately give vent to our spleen and our bile is secreted to the pancreas. This, however, does not negate the necessity where we must be cognizant of the arid areas and the regions beyond our control and set upon that course as our party's principle, and rest on our record so that we can be assured with the knowledge that salvation is its own reward. We've got to circumvent the peripheral; we've got to be aware of the oncoming onslaught, so that we can at least peruse that particular arid area, and rise ourselves from debris into oblivion... uh... what was the question?
regardless, Professor Irwin Corey
to which POV replied
Yes, thank you for pointing that out. By the way, have you had the occasion to meet Baron Bizzaro?
who had written a letter on the same page which read:
Salutations! Allow me to expatiate on the reason for my lackadaisical and perhaps vapidly languid expression in the (accompanying) photo. Please excuse all deleterious tautology, circumlocutiousness, unctious prolixity, and effusive sesquipedalianism. A fortnight ago, wearing this gossamer panoply I attended a Dionysian dance and espied a most pulchritudinous maenad. The biome was a flatusial and dybospherical farrago filled with speciously biocidal and scurrilous badinage. Her eyes coruscated in amative effulgence. With febrile sagacity and circumspection my inchoate desire expurged the cacophony and I malapertly provided our propinquity. With obloqious objurgations she became obstreperous and perjorated my paroxysm by telling me to senesce. I was overcome with enuresis and reached for my antiemetic pills lachrymosely. Ah--- alas the fatality of neoteny! I anxiously await your mitigatory reply. (signed) Baron Bizzaro, Zoidsman on Crete
to which the famous Professor Z (he to whom it was written) replied:
Dear Baron--- That was my wife, you curmudgeon! P.S.... when are you going to return my thesaurus?
I see the sunset approaching, so let me leave you with a reprint from POV #5 reprinted from a Boise paper, Force Field Flute , which wrote of a 1970New Year's Eve dance
Notary Sojac... Let's see... Didn't that cat have something or other to do with the Smokey Stover comic strip in the Sunday funnies? Well, I don't know what old Smokey would think about this thing, but the New Year's Eve concert put on at Sgt. Pepper's featured a band from Portland called Notary Sojac and that gig was one of the most "come-together" performances ever witnessed in this area!
What a scene! Four hundred freaks holding hands and dancing and jumping around. Not this two-by-two stuff that one normally gets at dances, mind you; but the entire assemblage locking arms and gyrating wildly to the overpowering sound created by six musicians of unquestioned talent and genuine love for their people and their work.
Part of the aura of comradeship generated that night was undoubtedly due to ingestion of various forms of artificial enkoyment. However, the primary factor that bound this audience together was the sound that Sojac comes across with. The music was the catalyst.
Notary Sojac has a style of delivery and a quality of sound that sets them apart from the ordinary band which one usually hears around "Boss Boise." Their music isn't over-amplified (the equipment is first quality but lacking somewhat in quantity) and coupled with the fact that they play a totally original set makes the whole thing intensely personal.
Another reason that the concert was so well received deals with the familiarity of the crowd with the musicians. This is not surprising, consdiering that three members of the group are originally from Boise. Guitarist Tom McMeekan, bassis Jim Lowry and Willie Herold on Hammond were in a group called Faith when they went to Portland to join forces with the Brothers Koski (Steve and Bob) to form Sojac.
With Bob Koski on guitar, flute and trumpet and Steve on guitar, sax and pedal steel guitar, the group has gone from a two-drummer outfit to the present six-man configuration with the most recent addition of a Cuban fellow named Mario on the skins. Vocals and writing chores are handled by all members of the group.
The sound generated by Sojac is hard to describe. They make no attempt to copy the music of others like so many bands one hears these days. Their sound is unique unto themselves.
Notary Sojac doesn't want to sound like anyone but Notary Sojac and it is refreshing to see a group that will not compromiseits music for commercial gain. It's a shame, in a way, to hear a band with so much skill and enthusiasm and realize that one may never again be afforded the intimacy that was created at Sgt, Pepper's on that eventful evening. Sojac is definitely pointed toward bigger and better things and I hope for the sake of six beautiful people that all of their dreams come true.
So wrote Marty Gregory, to whom I tip my hat in a gesture of total agreement. History may not have held the group up as shining stars of their time, but those of us who really knew them and their music will never forget. They were in flesh what a diamond is in stone. And their music... man! Enough said.