Frank Zappa Questionnaire: John Berndt

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The Frank Zappa Questionnaire was adapted from Cara Ober’s Gertrude Stein Questionnaire, which highlights local Baltimore artists and arts figures. This the music adaptation, highlighting musicians and music figures who live and work in Baltimore. 

John Berndt, a native Baltimorean, is an experimental musician, philosopher, cultural organizer and CEO. He founded the International High Zero Festival, a highly regarded experimental music festival that happens every September in Baltimore, and the Red Room, a sister performance space to High Zero that presents experimental culture every week. He is the CEO of The Berndt Group, a successful national web design firm he founded in the early 90s, so he lives an unusual double life as corporate business executive and bohemian intellectual.

Berndt’s own creative work from the very beginning involved the creation of coherent novelties in a broader range of media than just sound, including personal behavior, film, visual art, text, installation and a variety of non-musical performance genres. He is on the Board of Directors at the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and also co-owns Normals Books and Records on 31st street and Greenmount Avenue.

Name:  John Berndt
Age:  47
Occupation:  Autodidact, Polymath, Musician, Philosopher, Inventor, CEO
Baltimore Neighborhood:  Charles Village

Obsessive Collections:  I don’t consider myself a collector in the fetishistic sense, but I do have huge and fine-tuned collections of books (philosophy, literature, mathematics, politics, culture), music (improvisation, experimental, noise, jazz, ethnic, eccentric), and tools and musical instruments—THAT I USE.

Currently Listening to: 

Topography of The Lungs by Han Bennik, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker
Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed
The World of Islam Compilation
Multistability by Mark Fell
Tears From A Glass Eye, With A Tongue of Madness by Brother Theodore

Currently Reading:

Robert Aickman, Intrusions
Mikita Brottman, Hyena
Alain Badou, Theory
Giles Deluze, The Logic of Sense
David Byrne, How Music Works
Thomas Bernhard, Correction
Bruno Latour, An Inquiry Into States of Being
Jean Le Caree, The Honorable School Boy
Flan O’Brien, Collected Short Fiction
(Yes, I read a ton of books at the same time!)

Coolest Place You’ve Ever Lived: Baltimore, Maryland.

Hobbies: I don’t really have hobbies because anything that really interests me becomes an exhaustive obsession, of which I have a lot, for better or worse.

Favorite Food to Eat at Home: Espresso, black.

Favorite Food to Eat Out: Vietnamese food of all kinds.

Beverage of Choice: Soda water with fresh lime.

Pets: Zoe—an 80 pound German Sheppard

Favorite Baltimore spot to see live music:  Toss up between our venue, The Red Room, and 2640 Space.

Favorite Baltimore Musician: Instrument inventor, Neil Feather.

Favorite Musician, Living or Dead: Henry Flynt (of electronic hillbilly music fame)

Album that Sums Up the Current State of Your Life:  Robert Ashley, In Sara Mencken, Christ and Beethoveen there were men and women

Favorite Bad Habit: Thinking of complicated, time-intensive things to do and consequently forgoing rest.

Author Taylor DeBoer grew up in the Baltimore area and studied Writing and Sociology at Loyola University Maryland. He is a local writer, music lover, and edits a website that he co-founded,  Follow him on Twitter at TayDeBoer23.

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