“Tacoma Grunge” by Chuck Rybak

Screen shot from “Tacoma Grunge” by Chuck Rybak. White background with text in black and a couple of words in red. The text is all written like a poem: in verses. Text: “Title: Tacoma Grunge/ EMO boy educates the Tacoma clubs./ Others drink./ Girlfriend scolds the Tacoma drunks./ sing the jam shrooms throaty--/ Writers unsettle the cover designer./ Patron fondles the moshers./ promote the cheap beer--/ Basements advertise the flannel cats./ Arts exterminate./ Flannels scold the yous./ shred the finger style amazement--/ Backup drummer arrests the clowns”  At the left side upward corner the names Nick Montfort and Scott Rettberg are marked over with a line and replaced in red by the names “Tacoma Grunge” and “Chuck Rybak”
Open “Tacoma Grunge” by Chuck Rybak

This generative poem is published as a blog posting and framed by the story of a young Scott Rettberg in graduate school, learning HTML and writing electronic literature at a time before his department had a website. Twenty years later, Rybak’s first attempt at writing e-literature is built upon Rettberg’s “Tokyo Garage” by changing the data set to evoke a cultural scene from the early 1990s.

This here is a re-remix (in a long line of remixes) of the generated nature poem Tokoro Gorge by Nick Montfort, as well as the urban, modern, and playful Tokyo Garage by Scott Rettberg. Nick Montfort wrote the code, which was remixed at the word level by Scott Rettberg, and I hacked Rettberg’s words to make the poem about something else, basically so I could learn something about electronic literature while experiencing it. Remixed May 15, 2012 by Chuck Rybak.

It is interesting that this remix is based on “Tokyo Garage,” Scott Rettberg’s remix of “Taroko Gorge” (as was “Toy Garbage”) rather than directly on Nick Montfort’s original, even though Rybak is clearly aware of the other versions. Why didn’t he take the original as a starting point? Is it because the urban dimension in Rettberg’s version is thematically closer to the Grunge scene in the Seattle-Tacoma area? The remixes are starting to inspire remixes of their own and even though we are still close to the original, we can imagine a time when some of the structures and conventions developed around “Taroko Gorge” are used without a connection to the original. Will Rettberg’s typo in the code (“Tokoro”), now perpetuated in three versions, take on a life of its own? Does this signal the birth of a new (e)poetic form: the “Taroko” (or “Tokoro”) poem?

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