Birch Cooper, a biological classic, interviewed by Sean Christensen

Hey Birch, in the name of fleshing you out for our readers I would like to talk about an amazing vision into your abilities that you once gave me. To my friends this story in now legendary. I tell it all of the time as an example of how to live awesome & do things in a free & creative way with all of your life. Once i was at a karaoke bar with a pack of friends just getting awesome, and you and some mutual friends arrived at the bar. After some time a song I normally can’t sit through came on. I was ready to cast a bummed glare and I turned back and saw you, who somehow so complemented, in an incongruous aesthetic way, the vibe of “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley that I knew I was in store for something beautiful that would change my life! You were wearing a bejeweled baseball cap with your sandy long locks creeping out and your shirt was buttoned all the way to the top and hugged by a beach-worn denim jacket and some post-Hammer shorts. The song began and oddly the karaoke recording of that track at that bar is pristine with deep bass & crisp backup vocals. Your moment to make or break this thing was about to begin. Confidently you closed your eyes with a smile and as purple light washed your face you began to sing gently & softly in a low voice, almost like Serge Gainsbourg but more you. The words that came out were not Marley’s but your own. I believe you were freestyling a cosmic love ballad from beyond the cosmos. Love in the stars and across galaxies, you proclaimed! You would come back to Marley only for his chorus that hit just right with your back up women, who you made seem as though they were themselves being broadcast across time & space from another dimension. Or at least that’s the way I remember it. Once you were done I clapped harder than I maybe ever have. I have yet to see a karaoke performance to beat it, and furthermore few art or music performances that got me so moved.

How did you do that? I don’t think I would be sad to know it was practiced like so many karaoke performances in this city of Portland, but there was certainly something special there.

That’s cool that you remember that karaoke thing… and thanks, I had no idea that you felt that way! Around that time I was doing it occasionally for the first time in my life. Karaoke is obviously a “transcendental hell” type of situation and the tiki theme at the Alibi only augments that. I still don’t understand why people obediently sing the words to the song when they’re given a microphone, audience and the totally insane environment of a karaoke bar. The whole situation feels so extreme… I’ve alway felt that I need to respond to that energy in some way, but I doubt that an appropriate response is even possible. That night was an attempt… It wasn’t rehearsed.. ~;o).

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