July 20, 2011

Steven Jay Bernstein

"He read poems from a stage with a live rodent in his mouth, its tail twitching as baseline punctuation. He tried to cut his heart out in order to hold it in his hands and calm it down. He once urinated on a heckler and tended to throw things: beer bottles, manuscripts, drumsticks, his wallet, a sandwich."

Most have heard him on the posthumous (Sub-Pop) album 'Prison' with music by Steve Fisk, so instead here's our friend with more prose, also some singing and piano. Released the year before his death in 1991... by stabbing himself in the neck 3 times.

The Sad Bag cassette (1990)

Further reading:
Selected Works
Requiem for a Punk Poet


  1. This is great. I can't believe I've never heard of him before. Thank duder. =)

  2. check out my story on Steven Jesse in the new Aug. issue of UNCUT Magazine. It's on page 16 - The Unsung Heroes page.
    Also, thanks! Good stuff here.

  3. This is so fucking awesome. thank u for the share dood. I sure hope more was recorded yet to be released. but less of more is an anching pain of residue. his son had some good things music wise on his site but this is really something real perfect beyond the sub pop, almost where i wish there is rick shapiro lost tapes somewhere

  4. Go figure... Well, I knew a long time ago this stuff had a life of its own.

  5. yes! I have this cassette, transferred it to computer and my partner has put it on the internet a couple of times.
    Thanks for having it here, I will let my friends know. k

  6. There are other recordings. Some where appearantly pressed to vinyl and given to people who donated significant amounts of money to the movie about SJB "I Am Secretly an Important Man". Also, I have seen photos of cassettes of his with titles of different poems. Of course some could simple be alternate titles to later released material, as "The Sport" was once titled "Executive Toy" or something like that. Hopefully, that vinyl will either end up on ebay or just get ripped by one of the backers who got it.

  7. Watch this video:

  8. Okay, well...

    I was Jesse's de facto recordist/producer the last couple years of his life. We did "The Sad Bag" -- that's the cassette mentioned -- in the COCA Galleries in '87, and I'm still sitting on a bunch of his music I recorded in the Ontario and at a few gigs, like at the OK Hotel. Weird days, fucked up days, some beautiful music. *shrug*

    Oh, and, right... Some of the music I recorded is in Pete Sillen's doc "I Am Secretly An Important Man', which... I have yet to see. Seems the thing didn't get much traction, and the DVD never did get properly released.

    "...If the management needs the toilet plunger, I have it onstage with me..."

    Oooookay... :p

    -- TRG