Peace Tapes

This used to be a place — circa 2009 — where I’d aggregate links to good online music mixes and streams. Such a webpage, in this Spotify era, is now mostly obsolete. But I shan’t delete it because of the comments section. I even wrote a short essay about the comments section of this page (and another on this site) for a special section of Opium magazine that never ran so I will just paste it here to add my gloss to the bizarre drama. –Ed.

At my last job, I was the person in the office with computer speakers. When the room became uncomfortably quiet, which was every day until noon, my coworkers would ask me to play music. I was constantly deleting MP3s to make room on my hard drive for work files, though, which left me with limited albums to play. I began compiling a list of places on the web that streamed office-friendly music — nothing too commercial, nothing too abrasive. I posted this list on my blog and called it “Peace Tapes,” borrowing the title from a video I had recently seen, an excellent digital film collage by Paper Rad’s Jacob Ciocci.

A few months later, I posted an entirely unrelated blog entry — a parody of Terry Gross’s NPR interview show Fresh Air. The entry’s first reader comment came a week later, from someone named Danny Donian. He wrote, in shouting all-caps:

DIG YOUR SITE! WE ALL NEED TO TALK AND COMMENT WHEN WE SEE OR HERE THINGS THAT PISS US ALL OFF. KEEP ON TRUCKING< PEACE! DAN

His name linked back to a tie-died website promoting a 1991 VHS release called Peace Tapes, “a video guide to peace.” The tape featured interviews from the 80s and 90s, mostly with musical figures from the 1960s counter-culture: Bob Weir, Richie Havens, Ram Dass, and Yoko Ono, along with music videos for songs by the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, and the Smothers Brothers.

I wasn’t sure what Danny Donian meant by “things that piss us all off” — like nearly everything else on my blog, “Paparazzo: Episode Three” was a nonsensical slice of self-amusement, without much in the way of anger or scathing critique. Donian must have ended up on my website by searching Google for mentions of his own Peace Tapes. Maybe he even thought I’d named my page in honor of his project. I recently emailed Jacob Ciocci to ask if his Peace Tape video was named in honor of Donian’s. Ciocci had never heard of it: he told me that for his video, he’d sampled and borrowed the name from a different Peace Tape. The Virtual 60’s: The PEACE Tape is clearly a competitor to Donian’s: it’s another VHS cassette devoted to 60s nostalgia, released in the early 90s.

Two months later, Donian left a second comment:

Hello I am the producer of the peace tapes. Heres a “scoop” The Peace Tapes will be “streaming” free of charge soon.A.S.A.P. I just have to do some things first,Like get this little girl out of my life first(my Wife) She should get a shovel shes a goldiger. FREE FREE FREE!!!!!! YES THATS IT !YES ,YES,YES!

I sometimes leave woozy late-night comments on my friends’ blogs. When I do, it feels like I’m crashing on their couch for the night. I know it’s a safe space for me to stash my riffs, and I can take advantage of their linguistic hospitality for the night. I have my own blog to go home to in the morning. Danny’s second comment was a little alarming — I was unclear why he needed to angrily mention his wife in what otherwise was an announcement about the Peace Tapes’ reissue. But I felt affection for Donian; I appreciated his enthusiasm. I was happy to let him sleep it off on my couch for the night.

Six months passed. Then, in September of last year, a new comment appeared:

Hey all you rockers out there.A word of advice from a old hippie divorce really hurts.I do not know,maybe never will why my wife(still) kicked me out.orders of protection she got.We talked,she came up here to WI and it was the best day i have had in almost two years.So lonely.Divorce is hell on earth.I try to keep on working on my films and guitar playing.Got Cancer,beat up,robbed,hooked on herion.And thats the good times.I just lost my brother Mike.I lost my wife and son Caleb,he hates me so much he changed his name from mine!So if anyones thinking about divorce,forget about it,the Beatles said “We can work it out” I guess my wife never understood the words.Funny thing is i still love her,allways will.Danny Donian

It occurred to me that Danny might be fake. At first glance, he does seem like an internet fabrication. I can think of at least six friends who’d actually take the time to impersonate an old hippie writing the diary of his divorce on an obscure corner of my blog. But it doesn’t take long to find pictures of Donian on the web — some with Bob Weir and Richie Havens, presumably from the Peace Tapes sessions, and some with his wife, his co-producer on the Tapes.

A week later, a “miss no name” replied to Donian’s lamentations:

first of all, you got your guitars, you got cash and food in your belly and you obviously got dope if you got hooked on herion, unfortunately, half your bitching is bull shit and the other half is bad, saying that about your kid, it’s a lie and it’s wrong… saying you got cancer, you FREAK, you don’t have cancer you got please pity me disease! and what else? i dunno. need an expert. and you aren’t the only one ever hurt by divorce and dats for sure. and when you say you gonna kill someone in the family, you get kicked out, and i’m sure that’s in any family, so you know why you got kicked out…quit your wah wah

Was miss no name Danny’s wife, or another interested party? Maybe she was a sister-in-law. What if miss no name was actually Danny himself, impersonating his adversaries, talking through his problems by arguing with himself in writing? There was never any reason to believe anything Danny wrote in the first place, but miss no name’s claim that Danny’s cancer was a lie was an unsettling reminder not to take the old hippie’s bathos too seriously. As with any piece of writing —  and especially with a diary — Danny’s comments were performances.

For the next six months, a steady stream of comments followed. So far, my post from December 30, 2009 has 71 responses. Every one of them is from Danny, with a few attributed to miss no name. On some occasions, Danny comments as “mushrooman.” (I know it’s Danny because he and mushrooman have the same email address.) At first mushrooman seemed like an even more unhinged alter-ego for Danny — possibly the handle he uses while he’s tripping — but they’ve merged into basically the same voice.

In the last two weeks, the comments have become still more frequent — I now get about two or three a day. Danny still writes about divorce, and custody battles, and the Peace Tapes, but lately he’s begun discussing Wisconsin politics, Facebook, the tsunami in Japan, and any other subject that catches his attention. It’s as if I’ve asked Danny to write a daily column, though we’ve never spoken. His comments have grown longer, and include more and more detailed descriptions of his day-to-day life, more stories of driving around town, and details of his prescription drug use.

Danny has a tic in his writing that I like: In many comments, he’ll quote (or misquote) classic rock lyrics, and then add the copyright info. For example:

Dan To Sue:”When will i see you again?” from A man needs a maid Copyright 1970 neil Young. Harvest: Warner brothers special products.

This unnecessary scrupulousness with regard to copyright might be a holdover from Donian’s experience putting together the Peace Tapes. Clearing the rights for the tapes’ major-label contributors must have been a headache. But why doesn’t Danny take the same care with his own story, his own language and life, as he does with Warner Brothers’ music? Do I own the rights to the comments Danny posts on my blog? Why doesn’t he keep his journal on his own blog, where he can protect and control it?

Danny’s only made one comment acknowledging the strangeness of the venue he’s chosen for his divorce diary. On October 12, he wrote:

Well I decided to make this my journal,now allot of you out there in space hopefylly wont need to read this,as i myself are not saving the wrighting i am (and have been) embarking on a journal of my divorce,i promise not to boar anyone.I have written a book allready,and i do not want one on this,so you might say this is text that will not be printed.

Danny chose a hidden corner of my blog for his diary precisely because of its obscurity, the way it hides in plain sight. It’s just the internet, after all, so his text isn’t really being “printed” (at least not until now). But, being the internet, there’s also a good chance that his wife or anyone else looking for him will find and read it, which is obviously the central appeal of putting anything online. And keeping the diary on someone else’s domain means he doesn’t have to take responsibility for it. He says he’s not saving it — whatever happens to his text, preserving or deleting it becomes my responsibility. Thus, Danny gets the best of both worlds, as far as a diary is concerned: He can make his account, and remain unaccountable.

21 thoughts on “Peace Tapes

  1. Dan Donian

    Hello I am the producer of the peace tapes. Heres a “scoop” The Peace Tapes will be “streaming” free of charge soon.A.S.A.P. I just have to do some things first,Like get this little girl out of my life first(my Wife) She should get a shovel shes a goldiger. FREE FREE FREE!!!!!! YES THATS IT !YES ,YES,YES!

    Reply
  2. Soundslike

    “20,000 mixes” meant 20,000 downloads (now 22,000) from Musicophilia. There are at present I think around 54 mixes–some of which contain “avant” and few of which contain much straight-ahead “rock,” but most of which I’d say are good fun.

    Reply
  3. Danny L Donian

    PEACE TAPES PRODUCER SAYS,ONE THING THAT KEEPS ME ALIVE IS RE-RELEASEING “THE PEACE TAPES” AND HIS BOOK “ORDERS OF PROTECTION………….ALL ELSE IS BULLSHIT………………….

    Reply
  4. Danny L Donian

    A very Happy Thanks giving to all.As we know this is a time of year when Family comes to the forfront of peoples minds.I miss my Family.Court oders(and violations of!) Have forced me to not see my wife or Son ,whos in for the Holiday.And i do not have my daughters phone number or am i a member of “Race Book”.So my friend Dave and his family have invited me to there place.We will eat,talk and watch THE PEACE TAPES.But the real bummer is my brother Mike lost his battle with brain cancer a few months ago casting a “darker Shadow”on this whole Holiday season.People,hug your kids,kids be cool with your parents,They are realy what we all need this time of year.Happy Holidays and theres a good chance i wont be arrested this day.PEACE!!!! Danny L. Donian

    Reply
  5. Dan L. Donian

    Is-int a pity, is-int a shame: Well the Government stayed open,thats good,the powers that be scaring some of the more gullible persons in the world is a outright shame! Now we all know that Japan,the middle east (everywhere)is a “firecracker” and of course the “ivory coast” .What will be the next BIG STORY?We live in a world/country that we all relax,or most of us relax on Sunday,watching and waiting for a friend to play with,wait thats a Moody Blues song!My weekend was so very strange,no need to tell about it,was like taking LSD with Oswald and going to Dallas.So forget about it.Whats the next BIG story?I have swolled enough Valium as i can FEEL one BIG story on the way.Now it maybe just breaking now in some remote hellhole in this globe we are on,or it could be right outside my door(make a note to call security!)As they(security has a call into me)I CAN wait.What ever it is from the tornadoes up just North of here to the IRS looming over me one things for sure,i am worried so fucking sick about my wife,that i am petrified.Thats what 27 years do to you.She does not even remotely like me anymore,and all i can think about is her comfort and safety.Girls loud Pink Floyd music blaring,pictures of where i used to share a home with my Aunt and wife,and Son,thats all i can vaguely recall from the last few days and a jam session or two.So lets all calm down and face the brave new week with extreme caution. Mercury retro grade and all.Dan

    Reply
  6. Dan L. Donian

    WISH YOU WERE HERE:”So you think you can tell heaven from hell,blue sky’s from pain”” “HOW,HOW I WISH YOU WERE HERE” “Were just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowel year after year,running over the same Ole ground of how we found, the same Ole fears,Wish you were here”BYE…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..stupid fucking world.

    Reply
  7. Dan L. Donian

    “ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL”: Make a note of this,i don’t like being threatened.I am erasing most all of my files of the past 786 days(and nights).”ALL YOU ARE IS ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL”ME.

    Reply
  8. Dan L. Donian

    PINK FLOYD: “So let me in from the cold,turn my land into gold.” “Cause theres a chill wind blowing in my soul,and i think i growing old” “Flash the red is Wot’s the deal?,got to make into the next meal,try and keep up with the turning of the wheel” “Now i am the man on the inside looking out” “Here me shout come on in,wot”s the news where you been,cause theres NO wind in my soul and iv’e grown old………………………WOT’S…..UH THE DEAL? From: Obscured by clouds,Pink Floyd.Harvest records, copyright1972

    Reply
  9. Dan L. Donian

    ON THE TURNING AWAY: Light IS turning to shadow,but at least for me things are just plain strange!As i took a walk through town,past the post office where i had several posts going out,i decided to go past the lake and sit.I pondered my decision to finally give in to my situation.As i leaned back on the old wood bench,doing a moral inventory of my life now a very different felling to hold.I have all aways disliked rich, pampas people,and still do.I looked around and saw family’s,a little jealous silent rage took a hold of my mind,time for meds and a change of music.But not a BIG change.From a sad Pink Floyd to Dark side of the moon live!Good call there!So as i smoked a few cigarettes i started hearing voices.Voices in MY HEAD! No must be the Floyd,sure thats what it is!I slowly got up and headed back,it was then that i looked behind me and saw two old hippy’s who own a Tye dye business.A LARGE ONE.Take that shit off your head Danny! my headphones had created a barrier to the world of which i was so thankful for.Now these dudes wanted to give me some cool samples of their new designs.Cool,a few other people yelled at me,”what the hell, we’ve been chasing you for two to three blocks!’It was at that exact moment that i realized that i always wanting to go home,that i WAS home.Dan

    Reply
  10. Dan L. Donian

    SITTING IN:Tonight i am sitting in.Why would a guy like me stay in on a Friday night.Well first off its raining and it is COLD! Second there is quite nothing to do,nowhere i have to be and its been a hell of a week.Third, i have no money, having reached a deal with the IRS!A payment plan,much like many of you poor bastards out “there”.The thinking,or mindset that one haves to go out,to be around people is most easily explained.Most people do not like being alone on a weekend.That is VERY true for allot of people.But just knowing you CAN be alone is a great virtue.For example,there is a bar near where i am today,not just a bar,a “tourist bar,could be in the south of France,could be in Ireland,could be in L.A. or New York or a million places that cater to the “lonely” crowd from out of town(s). These places are chalk full of “friends” one night(or two at the most) Lady’s of the night.And somewhere over the rainbow when i was younger i might have gone to a place quite like this one to sit back and relax.Once you have had a life as full as mine,both bad and great these kinds of places well they are to easy to be true.Me i would rather be “in” and play guitar,watch T.V. and eat foods that i have ready for such an occasion.I miss a certain person,and to “go out” to a person like me is a BAD thing on such a night as this.So have fun,take care,party hearty.I will be watching.Peace!!!! Me.

    Reply
  11. Dan L. Donian

    CODE RED RAIN MED:The rain in Spain falls, hell man its a record wind/rain thin gee happening now,45 mph sideways wind and rain.Never seen this strange weather. Phenomenal .Major sirens and medication for ALL!!!! 1024

    Reply
  12. Danny L Donian

    A “search and rescue team” is headed to retreave The Peace Tapes tomorow.Then TH Peace Tapes will be extreamely close to “streaming” and the world will once again have a chance to get involoved with helping our planent survive and end war forever.The “tapes” were lost once for ten years but they have ben foind a quite a strange crew is going to “retreave them” Dan

    Reply
  13. Slim Jimson

    This couchy stale-hippie cannabis drama reminds me somehow of the Wardine/Roy Tony/Clenette Henderson story, which [to paraphrase Led Wripple] recapitulates the Hamlet-like Incandenza family dynamic, in (merciful, welcome) brief, via an irregular grammar that thumbs a nose at both Avril I.’s and Sally F.W.’s ivory towers of grammar militancy while also linking the author to the character Hamlet (a self-critique of the paralysis of worry) and the author Shakespeare (a self-congratulation of his accomplishment). If “Peace Tapes” is a creative nonfiction and not a fiction (“what’s the difference?”), let’s get the SERIAL team on Mr. & Mrs. Donian’s case for their season 3.5

    Reply

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