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Omniversica Oral Texts:    Title/Subject/Author

The Omniversica Story:


  By late 2002, I had become a well known poet and performing artist around the Twin Cities, and one of the places I had performed at was a cabaret called Balls, run by a local singer named Leslie Ball. The man who did the technical production side of the show was a musician and café owner named Dave Wesley. He also did a stage show with a local comic named Colleen Kruse, and he had asked me to appear with him and her, and then, later, at his Sursumcorda venue for a reading. These were two rare things, in that I got a meager stipend for both appearances, when I usually got none.

  After these gigs, Dave approached me about doing a show for his online music website, called www.sursumcorda.com. Other than the music and live coverage of shows from the café, he also did a local show from his basement, with gossip and interviews with mostly local and unknown musicians. His wife cohosted this with him, and, in these pre-Youtube, pre-podcast, pre-Internet radio days, Sursumcorda, was cutting edge. But, I was not interested in gossip, nor anything like that.

  I suggested doing an interview show of substance and depth, regarding the arts and sciences. Dave agreed, and I asked to bring on local poet and artist Art Durkee as the cohost, to give me someone to bounce things off of. Art and I refined the show’s concept, I decided on the title Omniversica (my alternate title for my website Cosmoetica, had I not been able to secure that domain name), and I did all of the legwork, in terms of getting guests, setting up times for the shows to be recorded, and so forth. Dave recorded and edited the shows from his basement studio, and Art would come to cohost the shows.

  We agreed that we all three owned the rights to the show, if any money were to come of the venture (yes, we never thought it would, of course), and that Dave could host the shows exclusively on Sursumcorda, as long as they were online. The guests on the shows were ‘paid’ with CD copies of their shows, and allowed to use any parts of them for other media, as long as Art, Dave, and I were credited as the copyright owners for the show. One guest, the late, great American poet James Emanuel, as example, stored his copy in the Library of Congress, and several other guests told me that they would do so, as well. The hope being that if future works (books or documentaries) were made of these individuals, these shows and their transcripts could serve a vital role in rounding out information on the guests. Similarly, all three of us were free to use the material for any similar such outcomes for ourselves, as we held copyrights for the produced material, and the guests all held copyrights for their portions of the show, and their words. Of course, this was for non-commercial ventures, as this Youtube channel’s rebroadcast. Were any of us able to get remuneration for the shows, the income would be split three ways. ‘Payment’ for use of material by the guests, if it yielded any profit, was just to be in accreditation of the source material.

  Overall, we did one show a month for the calendar year of 2003- a dozen in all, and then the project ceased. Dave was not happy with the direction of the show, a few months in, as he felt it was not ‘light’ enough for his listeners, Art had had some personal setbacks, and was planning to the leave the Twin Cities, and, midway through 2003, I lost a civil service job I held, due to budget cutbacks from a certain professional wrestler turned governor of the state of Minnesota. But, even as I, too, left the state, for Texas, I did the last few shows via a call in to Minnesota.

  I was proud of the diverse array of guests I cobbled together, often on short notice, and sometimes getting stiffed by a few would be guests with delusionally high opinions of themselves and their import to culture. Omniversica was a forerunner to the explosion of usually ill wrought, edited, and shallow podcasts and Youtube shows which eventually came full circle, and led me to start the Dan Schneider Interviews written series, and, later, The Dan Schneider Video Interviews on this Youtube channel. It was a true Internet pioneer for the later wave of podcasting, much in the same way that Cosmoetica’s original format pioneered and paved the way for modern blogging.

  But, after being housed online, at Sursumcorda, for about a year, all 12 episodes of Omniversica were taken down by Dave. Art and I asked why, and we were told that it was due to their being too expensive to host them as they streamed. Recall, this was right before Youtube revolutionized the way that individuals could ‘broadcast’ themselves and their ‘work’ for free. Also, Dave’s café had failed and closed, and both Art and I were now living in other states, so we couldn’t even do anything to keep the works online. Then, somewhere between 2008 and 2009, I suggested to Art that we put the episodes back up on the then burgeoning Youtube, and Art agreed, and since he possessed technical know how I lacked, we were primed for it. Then, Art suffered some personal reversals, and, as Youtube was then much more difficult to use than it is today, at the dawn of 2015, the Omniversica shows remained in hibernation. Besides, by that time, Sursumcorda itself was not even online, and Dave’s email and contact information had disappeared completely.

  A few years later, I thought of possibly doing something with them, and Sursumcorda had gone back online, but as a shell of its former self. The contact email didn’t even work, as a few emails over the years came back rejected, or never even got a reply. Art Durkee, too, had moved on, and we had lost touch, as well.

  Then, late in 2014, as the written interviews I’d done had wound down, as I found too many people just took way too long to do them, I let the series sit dormant for most of the year, then, after finishing an almost 2.5 million word book, I sprang into action, and started a video version of the DSIs, and the DSVIs were born. I then started adding video versions of my, my wife Jessica’s, and other classic poems to the channel, and have plans for some other features, later on.

  But, getting the Omniversica shows back online, after a decade offline, and a dozen years after their recording, is satisfying, as, in the interim, I’ve received about 200 or so emails asking whatever happened to the show, which was linked to Sursumcorda from this page: http://www.cosmoetica.com/oo.htm.

  Well, no need to ask any longer, fans, because here they are.


1) Shrinking Essays/A Trend/Jason Sanford  The other day, a well-known author was asked that oft-asked and irritating question, "What advice do you have for new writers?" Her reply:  "Make sure what you have to say is worth reading, because our libraries are being filled up by minutia."

Jason leads off the Omniversica Oral Essay wagon; from Omniversica Show #1 (1/30/03).

Show #1: First Show

Guest: writer Jason Sanford



2) ***Oldies, but Goodies: Click for an essay on James Emanuel, & to read some of the poems by this Great Neglected Poet! From Omniversica Show #2 (2/8/03)

Show #2: James Emanuel

Guests: Jean Migrenne & Godelieve Simons



3) Click for the poems read by Dorion Sagan & an Emily Dickinson poem read by Lynn Margulis on Omniversica Show #3 (3/6/03)


3a) Unemployment/Archaeology/Jason Sanford  You go for a job interview--selling life insurance to people who can barely afford food, let alone a future sense of security. But you need the money. So when the human resources flak waves to come in, you walk over, sit across the desk from her. She's friendly, smiling--her job, after all, is to get you to open up so she'll have a reason not to hire you. She asks why you want to sell life insurance....

Insights into the human condition- then & now. On Omniversica Show #3 (3/6/03).

3b) 2 Loren Eiseley Poems read by Art Durkee on Omniversica Show #3 (3/6/03)

Show #3: Lynn Margulis

Guests: Dorion Sagan & Jason Sanford

4) Bobby Womack/The Man/Marc Taylor A prolific songwriter, singer, and guitarist whose career has spanned four decades, Bobby Womack had an important influence on the development of postwar black music. With roots in the gospel field, Womack was able to parlay his talents as a writer and guitarist in the mid-1960s into a significant career as a soul artist. In the early to mid-1970s he scored with a series of hits, such as “Woman’s Gotta Have It” and “Lookin’ for a Love,” sung in his raspy, almost gravelly tenor. After a brief dry spell at the end of the decade, Womack made a tremendous comeback in the early 1980s with “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” With several of his songs being covered by artists ranging from the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin...

Portrait of a troubled talent; from Omniversica Show #4 (4/9/03).

4a) FreeJazz/The Movement/Robert Levin  More or less officially unveiled with the first New York appearance of the Ornette Coleman Quartet at the Five Spot Café in the fall of 1959, free jazz (or new black music, space music, new thing, anti-jazz or abstract jazz  as it would variously be identified), gave a new dimension to the perennial "where's the melody?" complaint against jazz....

The men, the movement; from Omniversica Show #4 (4/9/03).

Show #4: Soul & Jazz Music

Guests: Marc Taylor & Robert Levin

5) ***Oldies, but Goodies: Click for an essay on Atheism by Joe Homrich, & a review of Pascal Boyer's Religion Explained, by Dan Schneider! From Omniversica Show #5 (5/14/03)

Show #5: Agnosticism & Atheism

Guests: Blair Scott, Bill Gouette & Ari Hoptman

6) Race/The Semiotics/Jason Sanford  I have been Alabama--growing up alone, angry, while the world asks what the hell is wrong with me. When people ask what I am--if there's any need to ask, since most only see the white man they've been programmed to see--there's no answer I want to give....

The continuum of self is briefly engaged; from Omniversica Show #6 (6/11/03).

Show #6: On Racism

Guests: Arthur Hu, Jason Sanford & Ari Hoptman

7) Click to hear some George Dickerson poems read by the man, himself, on Omniversica Show #7 (7/9/03).

Show #7: Film & TV

Guests: George Dickerson, Josh Becker & Jessica Schneider

8) Click to hear poems by & read by David Alpaugh, Frederick Glaysher, Jessica Schneider, Art Durkee, & Dan Schneider on Omniversica Show #8 (8/20/03)

Show #8: Poetry & Politics

Guests: David Alpaugh, Frederick Glaysher & Jessica Schneider

9) Stellar Heart/Prologue/Fiorella Terenzi  I am five years old. I am walking hand-in-hand with my grandmother in the country outside of Milan. Our bare feet pad across the soft, damp grass. Along side us, my little dog, Birba, scampers excitedly. Suddenly, my grandmother halts and points above us to the heavens. "Guarda! Look!" she says. "That star!  The brightest one -- she is looking at us!" I laugh, but she goes on seriously....

9a) Psi/The Research/Jeffrey Mishlove  How are we to evaluate the evidence for psychic interactions? Psi research offers a mass of experimental evidence that prima facie requires us to take psi seriously. If we apply the same standards used to judge non-controversial claims in the behavioral and social sciences, we would have little choice but to accept that extra-sensorimotor interactions have been experimentally established. The critics argue that psi claims, if accepted, would dramatically change our self-image and world view. Therefore, they claim, we must use extraordinary care in evaluating the data....

Lifting the covers, from Omniversica Show #9 (9/10/03)

Show #9: Fringe Science

Guests: Fiorella Terenzi & Jeffrey Mishlove

9a) Psi/The Research/Jeffrey Mishlove  How are we to evaluate the evidence for psychic interactions? Psi research offers a mass of experimental evidence that prima facie requires us to take psi seriously. If we apply the same standards used to judge non-controversial claims in the behavioral and social sciences, we would have little choice but to accept that extra-sensorimotor interactions have been experimentally established. The critics argue that psi claims, if accepted, would dramatically change our self-image and world view. Therefore, they claim, we must use extraordinary care in evaluating the data....

Lifting the covers, from Omniversica Show #9 (9/10/03)

10) Click to hear poems by & read by Dylan Garcia-Wahl, Cindra Halm, Jen Hanel, Don Moss, & Jessica Schneider on Omniversica Show #10 (10/8/03)

Show #10: The Uptown Poetry Group

Guests: Jessica Schneider, Jen Hanel. Don Moss, Robert Newkirk, Cindra Halm, Dylan Garcia-Wahl

11) Big Brain/Narrow Pelvis/Leonard Shlain An excerpt from Sex, Time, Power by Leonard Shlain  Since our genetic makeup has changed very little in the last 150,000 years, I will make the key assumption that the main features of modern men's and women's reproductive life histories do not differ substantially from those present at the outset of our species. There can be no doubt that culture can affect sexual behaviors, but the features I will be referring to are more basic....

 Stirring the pot, from Omniversica Show #11 (11/1/03)

Show #11: Leonard Shlain


12) Ethics/Radio Waves/Jason Sanford You just have to know the music is there. Walking beside you on those dim gravel roads. Bouncing radio electrons through the passing pine trees and weeds. Beating past your skin, skull, intestines, and bones....

Ethics: The beginning & end of a man, from Omniversica Show #12 (12/17/03)

Show #12: Transcendence

Guests: Godfrey Reggio, Howard Bloom, & Jason Sanford

What Academics Fear!    From the Sursumcorda website!

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