Posts Tagged ‘nonchalance’

More relics from The Jejune Institute on the web

June 26th, 2016


 

I have no idea what my brain does when I’m asleep. Occasionally it leads me to some strange discoveries. For example, up until today I’d always assumed “Nonchalance,” the name of the studio behind The Jejune Institute, was something they’d made up for the game’s second chapter. My own dreams proved this to be incorrect. How? We’re getting to that.

Far too early this morning I woke up after a dream, grabbed my phone, and typed something into Google. I can’t remember the dream nor the search keywords, but the results included this music page on Nonchalance’s website. (Why some of the music is listed as by “JBH & Bobby Peru” is beyond me, since those are the same person.)

To me the most interesting part about the page wasn’t the music itself, it was that it represented some relic from a previous version of the Nonchalance.com website I’d never encountered before — it predated The Jejune Institute. Needless to say, I couldn’t get back to sleep; I’d stumbled down this temporal rabbit hole and needed to know more.

While many links on the page now redirect elsewhere, Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine came to the rescue. For those unfamiliar with the service, they’ve been capturing publicly available websites for decades and storing them online. You can go back and see how your favorite websites looked back in the day, even if they’re long since defunct.

After poking around the archives of Nonchalance’s website, most of the content on early versions of the site covers their other activities, including art installations, musings on design, and related projects like Oaklandish. Only later versions of the site make reference to the “game” project they’d become best known for (click the hyperlinked word “the” in the previous sentence to see what I mean.)

The most unexpected revelation hidden in these forgotten pages is the first entry in the website’s blog (scroll all the way down) in a post from 2007, about a year before The Jejune Institute opened its doors to the public.

The post reads in part:

Picture in your mind a cartoon character sleepwalking. Observe as they stutter, step, and stumble blindly out of bed, down the stairs and out the front door on to a busy street. They narrowly dodge impending danger without effort or awareness. Cars race by, they are turned around in a revolving door, and after the languid adventure they are somehow returned to bed unharmed. It’s a certain attribute the cartoon character possesses: to be able to stumble through life with nary a care, prodigiously protected and provided for by the invisible hand of good fortune. This ability is called Divine Nonchalance.
 
And so; our titled is lifted from this phrase, which may have its origins in modern Tarot: it appears on the card of The Fool. It signifies a certain blessed carelessness, a freedom from inhibition that sparks and inspires creativity. Long ago our local clique adopted the phrase to describe certain peoples who possessed the gift. If you possess it, as visionary artists often do, than you too may be one of the Divine Nonchalants.
 
BUT BEWARE: like any other gift, it comes with a price. The special power of Nonchalance is not found on the card of the King, or of the Sun… it is found on the card of The Fool. Clowns, wise guys, drunks and musicians are the salty sort of down-trodden folk who usually possess this super power in spades. And of course; cartoon characters. This special breed of people all share the wonderful attribute. It’s a shame they’ll never quite know what to do with it. By definition the Nonchalant is wonderfully scattered, and lacking in all direction. The ride is fantastic, but it only leads back to where we began.
 
It is appropriate then that we put the title to use. Nonchalance.org is a small looking glass into the creative lives of a few east bay souls. Here is where we document our works, make audacious statements of purpose, post exhibit schedules, engage with theory, trade intelligence, and celebrate our love for the past, present and future of this glorious lifetime.

A slightly different version of the Divine Nonchalance definition can be found on this page from a 2008 snapshot of Nonchalance.com

If any of this definition sounds familiar it’s because “Commander 14,” played by Harry S. Robins, read a nearly identical script on a certain pirate radio station in Dolores Park in the second chapter of The Jejune Institute. You can listen to the full broadcast here. The part similar to the above quote starts at about 1:20. But really, you should listen to the entire thing; it’s less than an hour long and it’s quite funny. Listen to it at Dolores Park if you want the most authentic experience.

It’s amazing what mind-blowing mysteries we can accidentally unlock in the middle of the night. Assuming there’s no microwave harassment, of course.

A recently unearthed write up on The Jejune Institute’s fourth chapter

April 14th, 2016

boombox
Photo by Flickr user corissa_triclyops
 

The fourth chapter of The Jejune Institute’s saga, “The Lost Mixtape” was an adventure that took place with a group of strangers in the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. Eva Lucien, the hero of the story, guided participants through a tape on a golden boombox.

You can read more about it on producer Uriah Findley’s website here, see a brief participant’s video of some of the action here, or if you’re really curious, check out the pseudo-documentary film The Institute for a more comprehensive look at the entire story.

As a participant, after completing this fourth chapter our group was asked to work together to create a mixtape and a write up describing what happened. In my group I was tasked with writing duties, others handled the mixtape. This material was all shared freely among all the groups who completed the chapter on a website. Sadly, that website no longer exists.

I’ve barely thought of this recently — until today. This morning my web host sent me an email notifying me that they’d upgraded one of my sites that I’d long ago taken offline and forgotten about. Curious, I FTP’d into the virtual server and found a single file called “our_story.txt.” I’d like to share that file openly today. I’ve removed all names (aside from my own) to protect everyone’s identity and corrected a couple grammar mistakes.

Attempting to describe everything Nonchalance, the studio behind The Jejune Institute, has put me through over the years generally makes me sound like a raving lunatic. (See also this and this.) So don’t expect anything different here. But first I should include a bit of context so my write up makes at least some degree of sense.

  • The Chapel of the Chimes is a beautiful columbarium in Oakland, designed in part by Julia Morgan. It’s often used for various concerts and art events.

  • “Eva” is the hero of the overall story, a young woman who disappeared to a mysterious other world known only as Elsewhere.
  • “Eva’s Fairy Tree” is a specific tree in the median of Dolores Street, first mentioned in the second chapter.
  • “Hobo Glyphs” is likely a reference to Nonchalance’s logo, which is basically a hole with rabbit ears (a rabbit hole… get it?)
  • The people following us with cameras were probably taking footage to be used in the film The Institute. From what I can recall, they mostly stayed out of our way.
  • “Terrance” was a fictional character, a member of Eva’s crew, aka The Savants.
  • “Octavio” refers to Octavio Coleman, Esquire, founder and head of The Jejune Institute.

Without further ado, here’s the story as I wrote it down at the time:
 

THE STORY OF THE MARBLE CAKE EIGHT
 

None of us were total strangers. I mean, not all of us had met in person before that Saturday morning in Oakland, but we’d exchanged e-mails. It goes further than that… on one hand we were mostly strangers to one another and yet on the other hand, hadn’t we all shared unusually similar experiences? Cult inductions, protests, radio shows, even dance moves.

 
For the first time, we found ourselves together, confronted with a task we had to work together and trust one another to solve. Completing this mission individually would not be possible.

 

 

It all started one day when a mysterious woman called us from a number in Southern California, giving each three unique mantras, a cardinal or intercardinal direction, and a date. Postcards followed with more clues.

 
From there we didn’t know exactly what to expect, or when we would find out more. It was a waiting game.

 
One Wednesday evening, Mr. Eric Sir received a text message informing him to arrive at Eva’s Fairy Tree at exactly 8 PM. He found a note on the tree: “LOOK RIGHT.”

 
He turned right and walked over to the curb, where a mysterious woman was standing.

 
“Is this right?” he asked.

 
She pressed him for his intentions, and slowly began to trust him. Then she brought out a strange plastic instrument.

 
“I’m going to play a song. A blues song. You need to make up a song, a lyric, that makes you feel blue.”

 
After some hesitation, Eric arrived at some lyrics. The mystery woman put the instrument away and pulled out an envelope that said “Mr. Eric Sir.”

 
The envelope contained a secret e-mail address that connected him to a group of eight people, along with a meeting location. The game was underway.

 

 

On Saturday, March 13th, the eight of us met up on a residential street in Oakland. We were [NAMES REDACTED].

 
[NAME REDACTED] flipped on his camcorder and we got to work.

 
We discovered the postcards contained clues that led us down a path. Along the way, Hobo Glyphs seemed to direct us somewhere. But where?

 
At the end of the path, after some confusion, our postcards indicated we were to enter a mortuary. From there we arranged ourselves in a circle and recited our mantras, one by one, in a circle.

 

 
The Chapel of the Chimes mortuary is a beautiful place, calm and serene, yet elegant and almost maze-like. It would be easy to get lost.

 
From our mantras, we deciphered a path up a staircase and through a door. There we entered a small room with an 80′s boom box that had been painted gold and patterned with floral adhesives.

 
We hit play. The hiss of the tape started, echoing slightly in the stone room. A voice we all knew to be Eva’s came from the boom box.

 
“You always knew you’d find me here,” she said, ominously. We didn’t know what to expect.

 

 

Eva’s voice instructed us to find a vase, which we discovered high up the wall. A metal implement removed the vase from the wall. It was filled — to almost everyone’s horror — with blindfolds. Several of us let out nervous laughs.

 
North, West, South, and East were instructed to take a mask; and to put the mask on the other person. We were told to take the boom box while the cardinal folks walked slowly, following Eva’s instructions, and with the hands of the intercardinal folks on the shoulders of their sighted companions.

 

 

Surprisingly, this walk went without many issues. Even the stairs proved of little trouble. We arrived in a garden, where Eva let us relax for a few minutes without the blindfolds on.

 
Soon the inevitable happened; Eva asked partners switch to tasks. Blindfolds were exchanged, and we got back to our game of follow-the-leader.

 

 

Another break in a garden and masks were removed. We decided to pause the tape for a bit and explore, taking photos and admiring the gardens, statues, and curiously-themed urns.

 
But not for long. We got back to the tape and quickly learned there was another “gift” for us in another vase. Surprisingly, we found four more blindfolds. But for what? We couldn’t all be blindfolded, could we?

 

 

Yes, we could.

 
Arranged in order of height, we faced the back wall of the room and put our blindfolds on. “Turn to the right,” Eva’s voice instructed (a task not everyone was able to follow) and put your hands on the person in front of you.

 
[NAME REDACTED], the shortest of the group, was in the front of the line. Should he start walking? He continued holding his camcorder and waiting for further instructions.

 
But instead of instructions, his camcorder hand was pushed down by a mysterious woman, who then grabbed him and started taking us around. Those of us behind him and no idea what was happening. We hoped that someone was in front of us, or we might end up in a big pile somewhere.

 
A few blind yards later, we ended up in another indoor garden. The tape eventually instructed us to remove our masks. We did so, and discussed briefly what had transpired.

 

 
Tape back on, we were directed into a small room by Eva’s voice. After a cheesy sort of guided meditation that resulted in, well, laughter, we were told to discard the boom box in this room along with the blindfolds.

 
She offered us one final direction, which was to enter another small room two doors away. [NAME REDACTED] found a flower inside a “vase” which turned out to be a map. The map directed us to another small room.

 

 

The final room we visited contained a short letter from Terrance, a full-color copy of Eva’s diary, and a golden mixtape.

 
We were instructed by Terrance to name our group, to record our own mixtape and write down our story (which you’re reading now.)

 

 

Before we left, we had some immediate questions;

 
1. Who was the woman who pulled [NAME REDACTED] around? He consulted his camcorder. Only a brief moment of footage of her exists on the camera. It seemed possible that she was the same mysterious figure who met with Eric prior to the event.

 
But still: who was she?

 
2. Many of us sensed that we were being followed. One man walked by several times with a camera. Was he taking pictures of us for some reason? Perhaps he was affiliated with Terrance? We had no answers.

 

 

After a lunch of some delicious sushi, we deliberated our group’s name before calling it a day. Some ideas were tossed around. [NAME REDACTED] suggested “Marble Cake Eight”, a reference to a Time.com poll influenced by the clever hackers at 4chan. This name stuck (despite some protests.)

 

 

EPILOGUE

 
Perhaps there’s another way of looking at this. Our mission brought together eight of us. Could we be… a family? A recondite family? Was the exercise with masks a trust-building exercise? Does that mean we experienced an expansion of “inter-personal trust”? Could it be that Octavio’s plan for us is coming true? What does this even mean?

 

Maybe it was a coincidence but my questions in the epilogue section turned out to be right on. At the controversial ending of the story, the Socio-Reengineering Seminar in 2011, it was revealed that although we thought we were rebelling against The Jejune Institute, in fact we’d been playing into their hands the entire time. And in fact, we were building a “recondite family” through shared experiences and trust building exercises.

Discovering this text file on a long forgotten website that’s no longer online was a real blast from the past, and I’m glad I happened to come across it. The events described here occurred well over five years ago. While it was an unforgettable experience overall — easily one of my favorite parts of The Jejune Institute — I have to admit I had forgotten many of the smaller details over the years.

So I’m publishing this blog post not only as a reminder for forgetful folks such as myself who went through this chapter of the Jejune saga, but also for like minded folks who are interested in situational and immersive design. Nonchalance clearly put a large amount of work into this wonderful production, and I’d hate for many of these details to be lost to time.

What was “The Latitude”? Part Two

January 13th, 2016

In the previous entry I discussed The Latitude’s Book One experience. We’ve already met Professor Kinley, been scolded by Quas, and joined The Latitude Society. This post concerns the second and final experience in The Latitude before it closed.

Unlike the first part where your ascendant paid your way in, you had to buy Book Two on your own. When I went the cost was $35.

 

Book Two

When scheduling Book 2 you were told to ask a question, though it was noted that no answer would be provided. Mine was “How do I know this isn’t all a dream?” Once again you made an appointment at an address in the Mission District with a five minute window. You head to the address and once there, you text a certain phone number with the ID code on the back of your white invite card. Suddenly the door buzzes open and you enter.

From the entrance hall you head upstairs to find the suite number you’ve been provided via text message. Again, you find a door with a card key entry system. You swipe your card and push the door open.

Inside is a small room. On the floor there’s a big pedestal in the middle with a bust of Quas on top. A hidden projector above you is projecting a video of a mouth on the bust.

On the ground there’s two black orbs suspended on stilts in front of you, and on both sides there’s v-shaped boards on the floor holding back a thick layer of sand on either side.

Quas immediately starts talking to you. He mumbles a lot and you’re not quite sure what he’s saying except that he seems grumpy. He tells you to put your hands on the orbs so he can learn more about you.

As soon as you do that, the lighting gets brighter. Quas becomes very animated and tells you that he has some kind of adventure for you to complete. He stops talking and the lights fade out in the room. A sound effect plays as a small opening in the pedestal lights up. You walk up to it and see a small magic wand lying in black sand.

Instinctively you pick up the magic wand. It’s a plastic cylinder with an area carved out on one end with some symbols carved into it. The symbols seem to correspond with the logos for The Latitude’s “books.” One end is rounded and the other end is flat.

You leave the building and get another text message.

 

BART Ride

The text message indicates that in about 45 minutes you have an appointment downtown at something called the “Alluvium Chamber.” The instructions say to take BART and link you to a podcast called a “Mantis Track” which you should listen to on the way there.

The podcast is similar in format to an All Things Considered interview, and the subject of the episode is a woman who claims to perform some type of magic. She says she uses a device that sounds strangely familiar to your new magic wand. She refers to it as an “Abraxis Stone.”

She goes on to describe BART as a “third space” where it’s neither work nor home but something in between, a place anything can happen. Like a public park.

As the interview continues she describes what she calls the “shoe game.” The game works like this: as you’re in the train station and on the train, look at the shoes that other people are wearing. Those wearing formal, uncomfortable shoes are likely on the way to work and thus in a state she calls “Prime.”

After getting off BART and mulling around for a bit, you enter the building. It’s a historic downtown high rise with a small but beautiful lobby and rickety old elevators. As the text message suggests, you simply tell the doorman you have an appointment at a certain suite number.

 

Alluvium Chamber

The floor you end up on has a very film noir feel to it. You find the door, which is clearly labeled “The Latitude Society.” There’s a hexagon on the frosted glass door. You hold the curved end of your Abraxis Stone up to it, and the door clicks open.

Inside you step on to a small series of planks just inside the door, which are rested on a thick layer of sand which covers the floor of the entire room.

 

I want to step back for a minute here: this is the fourth commercial space that Nonchalance has rented for this incredible project. This one’s got to be expensive because it’s in such a nice location downtown, and they’ve covered the entire floor of an office in sand.

Bold? Crazy? Insane? It’s a difficult call.

 

Standing on the planks, on your left is a framed photo of a naked footprint in sand. On your right there’s a canvas sail functioning as a curtain, and a wood box with shoe prints painted inside.

So you abide the suggestion and take your shoes off and put them in the box.

You walk into the sand and take a look around. In the middle of the room is a hexagonal table with a sandbox built in to the top. Near the entrance is another set of doors that’s locked. On all other sides of the room there’s various toys and knick-knacks on various shelves. The lighting is very playful with different colors fading in and out.

But in the corner facing the entry is another book. You head to the book and open it.

First, the book tells you to take the hourglass in front of you and flip it over. You do that.

Then, the book tells you that you have the next 30 minutes or so to find items in the room and arrange them in the sandbox however you see fit. The book instructs you to come back and turn the page once you hear a foghorn.

You walk around the room, find some objects that you like, and arrange them in the sandbox. You may move the sand around here and there, and add and remove objects. Perhaps the plastic dinosaurs would look better than the LEGO bricks? Try whatever you like.

Finally the foghorn blows, and you head back to the book and turn the page.

Now it’s time to make some decisions, the book says, and you have a couple more minutes to arrange things how you like.

So you go back and move some things around. Maybe the crystal ball would make a good centerpiece? Or should you try to squeeze the plastic flowers in somehow? It’s up to you.

After another 10 minutes the foghorn goes off again and you check back in with the book, turning the page again.

Now the book tells you it’s time to put everything back where you found it like a responsible adult, and take the brush and make the sandbox nice and level again. So you heed the book, destroying your creation and setting everything up for the next person. On the way out you turn the book back to the first page, put your shoes back on, and leave the building.

 

When you get back to your “glowing boxes” you open The Latitude website. Now Professor Kinley had some updates for you on his sea voyage. He explains to you in an exposition-heavy monologue about the concepts of Flux, Flow, and Prime. According to him, Prime is the every day state we’re in for our job, taking care of our families, etc. Flow is the psychological concept of the same name, also known as being “in the zone.” Finally, Flux is the state that bridges the two. Presumably the “Flux chamber” back in Book One was intended to jar you into the state of Flux, although this is never explicitly stated.

 

Additionally, there’s a new symbol under your profile indicating that you’ve completed Book Two. Clicking it leads to a second recap page (link goes to the new public version) which mentions your question but doesn’t answer it.

Unbeknownst to you there were several hidden cameras in the Alluvium Chamber’s sandbox snapping random photos along the way. These images appeared on your private Book 2 recap page, which is no longer online. If you hadn’t saved these photos you’re out of luck.

I accidentally blocked the view of most of the cameras, but it managed to pick up two images of me playing in the sand. Click for larger versions of the images:

Next time: some thoughts on The Latitude, Nonchalance, and some inevitable comparisons to The Jejune Institute. I’ll also detail the “society” aspect of The Latitude Society and various other trivia that didn’t fit into the first two posts.

What was “The Latitude”? Part One

January 6th, 2016

Much has been written on the web about the closure of San Francisco’s The Latitude. But what was it, exactly?

Now that it’s over I’ll be posting a series on this blog that will include major spoilers for those who missed out. While I was sworn to secrecy at the time, I want to stress that these secrets had an expiration date. Yes, the website still claims that The Latitude is “temporarily closed,” but given the fact that they’ve posted an epilogue and started selling various pieces on eBay, the closure is clearly permanent.

Additionally, I recently confirmed with the creator of The Latitude via email that posting a walkthrough online would fine.

That said I’ve been informed that a third party now has a lease on some of the space(s?) and may be running The Latitude under another name and format. So if you want to avoid potential spoilers for this new endeavor, stop reading now.

For my part I was invited to The Latitude by a local artist — my “ascendant” in Latitude lingo — and I only experienced the final two and a half months of what was a multi-year endeavor. There were parts that I won’t cover because I never directly experienced them; some of this is documented in the official epilogue.

So, what exactly was The Latitude? Let’s start at the beginning of the experience.

 

The Invitation

A friend asks if you can keep a secret. You answer in the affirmative. They hand you a small black envelope with the words “Absolute Discretion” embossed in it. Inside is an all white credit card, the numbers printed on the front all zeros. On the back is a secret password just for you, along with instructions to visit thelatitude.com and enter your secret code.

Upon entering the website, you’re asked to schedule a visit to a certain Mission District address. You’re told that you only have a five minute window to enter after your scheduled time, and that your goal is to retrieve “the signal.”

 

Your Appointment

Eventually it’s time for your appointment. At that address is a door next to a small card swipe entry system. The card reader has The Latitude’s hexagonal logo printed on it so you know you’ve come to the right place. You swipe your card and push the door open.

Behind the door is a black curtain. After pulling back the black curtain, you’re greeted by this:

There’s a pleasant smell in the air. The two red lights on the walls are fading in and out, timed to a sound effect making a somewhat ominous “VOOM… VOOM…” sound effect.

Most curious is what’s inside the mantle in front of you. Where you might expect to find a fireplace is the entrance to wooden slide. It curves in the middle so you can’t see where it’s heading.

This is the entry to the “Flux Chamber.” Seeing no sense in turning back now, you decide to take the plunge and go down the slide.

 

Reality?

Let me stop for a moment and interject. Yes, everything I’m telling you really happened. In real life. It was part of a now-defunct project by a situational design studio called Nonchalance. If that name rings a bell it’s because it’s the same studio that was behind The Jejune Institute, which was also known as “Games of Nonchalance.”

At the end of The Institute, a pseudo-documentary film about The Jejune Institute, The Latitude’s URL and logo appear briefly on the screen.

I was one of the 250 or so attendees at the Socio-Rengineering Seminar in 2011, an event that officially marked the end of The Jejune Institute. After the seminar someone asked Nonchalance’s Jeff Hull the obvious question: what’s next? I don’t remember his exact words, but he sort of hesitated before answering that he was working on an “automated house.”

Back to that slide.

 

Down The Rabbit Hole

The slide curves down and around slowly taking you to a small basement room. On the right is a ticket window with frosted glass with a mannequin behind it. On the left there’s three doors, each with a small tablet computer next to it. And directly in front of you is another tablet, making a pinging sound and flashing a red oval.

Next to the tablet is a ticket sticking out of a slot. You take the claim ticket, which tells you to open the cabinet next to you. Inside the cabinet is a set of instructions: take your purse, backpack, and everything in your pockets and place them in the box inside the cabinet. A strange request (what is this, the TSA?) but as you’ll see next it’s for your own safety.

Now one of the tablets next to the three doors starts pinging and flashing. Sure enough, the door is unlocked. You open it and walk in, only to find (what else?) another curtain. So you close the door, walk behind the curtain and discover infinite blackness.

It’s completely dark.

 

You start patting the walls, feeling your way around. Everything is covered in a thick layer of carpet. As you move around through the darkness, the passageway gets smaller and smaller. You hear faint music playing. The tunnel becomes so small that you’re crawling around on your hands and knees, having flashbacks to your elementary school trip to the Tactile Dome at the Exploratorium.

Eventually you see a light at the end of the tunnel, obscured by another black curtain. Upon crawling inside this new space is a library of sorts, a small room where the walls are lined with books.

You sit down on the single cushion in the middle of the room and face a small podium. On the podium is a large book. You open it, flip through a couple of pages, and suddenly the book starts “reading itself” to you.

A hidden projector above displays an animation on the book and a woman’s voice reads you a story called “The Fable”. The story concerns a city that decided to fence itself off from the outside world, and a group of twelve citizens who made a tunnel through the wall for themselves.

After the fable you crawl out another opening opposite from where you came in. Now you’re in a lounge area with black leather sofas. Across from the sofas is a bar with several glasses along with a pitcher of water. You might chose to help yourself to a sip of water. But before doing so, you look at your ticket which instructs you to make a phone call.

The lounge — you’ll later come to find it’s known as the Rathskeller Lounge — has what looks like a typical 1980′s office phone but it only has one button where the keypad should be. You pick up the handset and push the button. A voice tells you what to do next. So you walk over to the cubbies next to the bar and open the one corresponding to the number on your claim ticket. Inside your belongings are there as promised. You take them and walk upstairs and exit the building.

There’s a small metal plaque embedded in the sidewalk just outside the front gate. It has four numbers on it. They’re the last four digits of a phone number written on the back of the claim ticket. You call the number and get instructions on where to go next, which is a couple blocks away. Once you’re there you find another hexagonal plaque in the sidewalk. You call the number from earlier with a new code and another recording tells you where to go once again.

Depending on the time of day you’ll either be sent to one of two bars, The Sycamore or Gestalt. Either way you give your claim ticket to the bartender who then hands you a special coin. You’ll later come to find that this coin is pronounced “kwan.” A text message tells you to head to another address in The Mission.

After walking a couple blocks you find the address, enter the door code (provided by another text message) and walk up a flight of stairs to find a second key card entry sporting The Latitude’s logo.

 

Den Arcadia

You swipe your card and walk into a small room with trippy lighting and beautiful murals on the walls. In the middle of the room there’s four old school arcade games. This room is known as “Den Arcadia.” One of the arcade machines — Atari’s Tempest — has an unusual looking coin slot which accepts your special coin.

You put in the coin and start playing the game. The game of Tempest plays normally at first, but after a moment the game glitches out and a mysterious blue face appears.

This figure is named Quas (also spelled Kwas or many other variations) a human mouth with rabbit-like ears, who speaks in a gruff robotic voice. He offers some vaguely scolding words before telling you the signal, then warns you to leave and go home to your “glowing boxes” to enter the code.

 

Glowing Boxes

Once you’re home at your computer you visit the website, enter the code (and have to wait 90 minutes for some reason) before you’re presented with a video from Professor Walter Kinley. In the video Kinley welcomes you as a “compeer” into The Latitude Society. Then in a montage he leaves his room at the Hyatt Regency, gets on a boat, and sails away.

From there you’re asked to come up with a moniker (or username) for yourself before entering a social network of sorts. The website had a dizzying array of options, including an online forum, a store where you could purchase merchandise, a calendar with meetings you could attend, and various small activities called “Jaunts.”

More photos and the video mentioned above can bee seen on the now publicly available Book One recap page.
 

Stay tuned for next time, where I’ll discuss “Book Two” of The Latitude.

Never Forget

November 4th, 2011

Never Forget

The poster above is in Clarion Alley. It’s a reference to the now-defunct Games of Nonchalance, who had the same poster of the mysterious Eva Lucien in a tiny alley in Chinatown some years back.

The Jejune Institute closes for good in April

March 14th, 2011

According to a spoiler-filled article in The Awl, the Jejune Institute closes in early April.

Now, however, an end date has been assigned, and after a nearly three-year run it will be no longer after April 10, when the epilogue is completed.

Since the days are numbered, I’m going to key you in a little secret: you have to go. You just fucking HAVE TO. And here’s another little secret: although the Jejune Institute appears to be some wacky new-age cult, it’s actually a game brought to you by Nonchalance that’s merely disguised as a cult.

In fact, it’s actually only the beginning of a series of games, and the cult is part of the storyline. No word on whether the remaining games will continue post-April 10th or not.

It’s sad news for me, because the Jejune Institute was one of the most fun and innovative activities I’ve ever found in San Francisco: even more fun than getting high and watching bad movies at the Red Vic, or getting sunburned at Dolores Park while downing cheap beer.

The Jejune Institute is still open Tuesday through Saturday, noon-five, so get out there and enjoy it while you still can. Note that you’ll need approx one hour, about $1.25 and a cell phone. Wear comfortable shoes and if it looks like rain, bring an umbrella.

The Jejune Institute The Time Camera Memory to Media Center Aquatic Thought Foundation

Jejune Institute

August 8th, 2009

I was walking to my job in the SOMA district of San Francisco one morning, and I came across a strange poster. The content was completely off the wall — according to the poster, there was a camera that could see through time.

The Time Camera

A few days later, I saw a similar advertisement for speaking to dolphins.

Aquatic Thought Foundation

Finally, I came across this poster for recording your memories to a VHS tape.

Memory to Media Center

It was no surprise that all three posters had similar contact information and lead to the same people.

Who was behind these crazy ads?

The Jejune Institute.

I won’t try to describe what the Jejune Institute is, but I’ll allow their leader, Octavio Coleman, Esquire, to explain:

I highly recommend visiting; I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s an experience you won’t soon forget, to say the least.

 

The Jejune Institute

Where: 580 California St, 16th Floor, San Francisco (map)

URL: http://jejuneinstitute.org/

Phone: (415) 325-4014

Visit: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 (don’t go later than 4, or you may not make it.)

Bring: $1 + tax, a cell phone, comfortable shoes, and an umbrella if it’s raining. Keep in mind there may be a 10-30 minute wait on busy days.