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Stuffed Shirts Fair Game for Pranksters : Humor: Cacophony Society, founded seven years ago in San Francisco, recently formed chapters in Los Angeles and Seattle. Holiday events included a rally to save 'free-range' cranberries and a nasal Christmas concert by 'Bob Dylan Holiday Choir.'


SEATTLE — A volunteer rings a bell and invites shoppers to help themselves to coins in a pot. An "activist" rallies to save "free-range" cranberries. A Bob Dylan Holiday Choir brays nasal Christmas carols.


Perhaps you're a little too uptight for the Cacophony Society.

Amused? You may already be a member.

"To be involved you just do it," said Cacophony Society member Jason Rackerby, known in underground circles as Yahoon Doorstop. "There's no membership fees or officers."

Those who love a good prank have a home at Cacophony.

On Thanksgiving in Seattle, Cacophony members held an "Uncan the Cranberries" protest at a shopping area, urging shoppers to "save the free-range cranberry." Another "activist" urged "adult children of parents" to stay home for the holidays to avoid family gatherings that encourage "dysfunctionality and substance abuse."

Meanwhile, a "volunteer" rang a bell and invited passers-by to take coins from a pot--sort of the Salvation Army in reverse.

A few weeks later, the group sponsored a Seattle "Bob Dylan Holiday Choir." Singers did their best--or worst--Dylan impersonations while braying "Jingle Bells," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland."

"That was interesting," Rackerby said. "Most people ignored us, but one street musician questioned why we called ourselves the Bob Dylan Choir if he (Dylan) wasn't there. This guy claimed Bob Dylan could sing."


Founded seven years ago in San Francisco, the Cacophony Society has recently formed chapters in Los Angeles and Seattle. It describes itself as "a randomly gathered network of free spirits united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society."

Cacophony has roots in San Francisco's underground Suicide Club, a group founded in the mid-1970s by Gary Warne, a man with a terminal heart condition.

"Before he died, he wanted to experience everything in life, to live each day as if it was the last," Rackerby said.

One of its legendary antics was turning an elevator in San Francisco's posh Sir Francis Drake hotel into a "shower." When guests tried to enter the elevator, they were greeted by a few nude people, complete with shower caps, suds and back scrubbers, feigning horror at someone barging in on them.

The group disbanded in 1979. Cacophony was formed two years after Warne died.

"Primarily, we have a great sense of humor and we like to cultivate that. Too much of life is just too serious," said a 48-year-old computer consultant and six-year Cacophony member who uses the pseudonym Maxwell Maude.

One time, Cacophony members dressed as clowns and stationed themselves at stops along a San Francisco bus route.

"Every few stops, one or two clowns would be standing at a bus stop. And they'd pretend they didn't know each other--until the bus was half full of clowns. The driver got so rattled he failed to stop for clowns after that," Maude said.

The outfit made headlines a few years ago with the Sewer Tour in Oakland. Participants dressed in tuxedos or evening gowns and put on hip waders to make their way through watery underground passages.

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