"It's a tale as old as time: Boy meets particle accelerator. Boy gets particle accelerator. Particle accelerator trash talks boy when boy's favorite football team wins last year's Super Bowl."
So says Alverno Presents' David Ravel about "Sexy Results," a rather unusual Cedar Block event – in case you couldn't tell from the above – at Turner Hall Ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m.
The event is the latest creation by Cedar Block, a loose-knit collective that has hosted a couple adult science fairs, some Milwaukee Film events and a half-dozen performances at Milwaukee Art Museum and other events over the past seven years.
Brent Gohde, the man behind Cedar Block says that Ravel asked him to put together a show "that otherwise would not occur in Milwaukee" for Alverno Presents last February. So, naturally, a boy's thoughts turn to physics.
"My girlfriend had recently surprised me with a visit to Fermilab, the National Particle Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.," says Gohde.
"I'd had an interest in Fermilab's search for the theoretical Higgs boson particle after seeing a PBS documentary, 'The Atom Smashers,' a few years earlier. And 15 years prior, while working at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop on Downer Avenue, I'd read a book by Leonard Shlain called 'Art and Physics,' which is about how those two disciplines aren't so different.
"Both artists and physicists are learning a language and trying to make sense of the world around them. He even suggested that artists had anticipated some scientific discoveries over the years. So I showed David 'The Atom Smashers,' and suggested we might try to use art to find the Higgs onstage. And here we are."
And where are we exactly?
"Sexy Results" features musicians, comedians and artists – including Bacon Interactive, Buffalo, Lisa Gatewood, IfIHadAHiFi, Joe Kirschling, Lunaversol9, Ashley Morgan, Picobots, Pro-Higgs Inc., Jim Schoenecker, Warchol/Rosenau, DJ Dori Zori, and others – to create a multimedia variety show that tells the story of a particle – yes, a particle – that may or may not exist.
"Since I'm not an artist or musician or anyone of any discernible talent, I had to make artists and musicians and talented individuals care about science as much as I do, in order to convince others," says Gohde.
"I was able to do that, and now we're mounting a stage show which smashes together a various genres like the Tevatron at Fermilab has smashed together particles to discover something new."
Sounds interesting and fun, but, um, huh?
"I thought long and hard about why I care about science, and why others don't," Gohde explains. "I love it because it's an attempt to solve the great mysteries of the universe. And others might not because the field has terrible marketing, and scientists don't excel at politics. So we're trying to help with that, and we're trying to make people care about science as much as I do."
In addition to organizing this whole crazy shenanigans, Gohde says that for the benefit of Mr. Kite (or, rather, Mr. Ravel), he will be in the center ring at "Sexy Results."
"I'll be the host/storyteller for the night," my first time at the center of a Cedar Blockian three-ring circus," he says. "I'll be telling a story throughout the night which will be punctuated by songs, videos, video games, art and actual scientific experiments."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.