1983 BalTimOre Thanksgiving Parade Takeover

Give us this day a conquered nation so many more may suffer starvation


Thanks to Vermin Supreme for his Facebook posting of this classic holiday stunt that was masterminded by BalTimOre, the estwhile Charm City outsider artist provocateur/agit-prankster extraordinaire who is also known as tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, Monty Cansin, Amir-ul Kafirsor even just plain ol’ Michael Tolson. Following is Vermin’s account of how the great Turkey Parade Takeover went down on November 19, 1983, as well as a rollcall of the local musicians and “Art Weirdoes” – operating under the monikers “Random Universe Tours + Services” (or RUTS, under the direction of Doug Retzler) and the “League for Esthetic Research” (aka LER or ERL, under the direction of  Dan Carney and Alec Bernstein) – who participated. – Tom Warner (Baltimore or Less)


Vermin Supreme.

“This was a fucking brilliant hijacking by a crew of BalTimOre’s Best Art Wierdos. Real turkey heads on sticks. Live Turkey in a cage. Nieves Saah as a crucified Turkey Jesus. Amir-ul Kafirs as Reaganstien w/baby dolls strapped to the bottom of his shoes. Ds Bakker with Lifesize Lifegaurd Bud. Richard Tryzno Ellsberry driving the Turkey Mobile. La Hostess [Laure Drogoul] as a chef chasing a running turkey leg escaping down the street. Craig Considine on trombone. John Ellsberry driving the Dork Bros mobile. A life size Cruise Missile. Doug Retzler and an amplified soundtrack of turkey gobbles distorted through synths. Ruth Turner Martha Gatewood Chris Mason Bob North Betsy Greene Kenny ViethThomas Hammond Eagleson Scruggs Carol Underwood Cindy Borchardt Steve EstesJohn Berndt Alex DiSanto Amy Linthicum Peter Walsh Amanda Potluck Mark Hossfeld Courtney Gardner Tracey Poodles and a host of dozens left the normals on the sidelines scratching their heads . Good times.” – Vermin Supreme

Watch 1983 BalTimOre Thanksgiving Parade Takeover (YouTube)

BalTimOre as Reaganstein.

BalTimOre as Reaganstein.

Reaganstein's Baby Stomper Boots.

Reaganstein’s Baby Stomper Boots.

Crucified Turkey.

Nieves Saah as Crucified Turkey Jesus.

John Ellsberry drives the Dork Bros Mobile.

Give us this day an explanation, so many more may enjoy this instigation

Subsequently, tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE himself posted this detailed breakdown of the day’s events:



“For the Thanksgiving Day Parade in BalTimOre, MD, in 1983, a large group of artists & musicians (mainly) operating under the name of “Random Universe Tours + Services / Esthetic Research League” organized a parade contingent that incorporated experimental music, political protest, & Thanksgiving references, amongst other things. When it was our turn to join the parade, the extremely hostile sports coach coordinating the parade said we had too many people & he split us into 3 groups. For some stupid reason or another one of these 3 groups was then ordered to leave the parade by the same hostile person – supposedly b/c they deviated from their assigned order. It was our impression that he either didn’t like our anti-military message or the parading of a live turkey in a cage or some such. That same group then rejoined the end of the parade. An article was then written by a News American reporter for the front page of Section C of their Sunday, November 20, 1983 newspaper. The article was entitled “Anti-nuclear floats flagged down during holiday parade”. Alas, there was some miscommunication & the RUTS/ERL group corrected the article’s political spin by explaining that “It is true that the spirit of our presentation was pro-fun and anti-imperialist/militarist. It is oversimplistic to classify us as only anti-nuclear. In fact, the floats that were removed were the least political of the bunch.” This statement of ours, alas, got the reporter in trouble – wch wasn’t our intention. I’m one of the 2 “Reagans” walking on baby dolls w/ the ‘Thanksgiving Prayer’ banner that reads: “Give us this day a conquered nation so many more may suffer starvation“. The footage presented here was shot by John Ellsberry & edited by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. Unfortunately, it only shows 2 of the 3 groups.– November 26, 2013 notes from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

The Thanksgiving Parade event was also documented as item #59 in tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE’s online list, “A Mere Outline for One Aspect of a Book on Mystery Catalysts, Guerilla Playfare, booed usic, Mad Scientist Didactions, “Acts of As-Beenism, So-Called Whatevers, Psychopathfinding, Uncerts, etc..

tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE is a filmmaker, musician, performance artist, writer and archivist currently based in Pittsburgh.

Related Links:

“His Name Is Not Legend: It’s tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE” (Accelerated Decrepitude)
Revenge of the Dorks” (Dork Bros review by Eric Allen Hatch, City Paper, 2004)
Who Is Vermin Supreme? (YouTube)

This entry was posted in 1980s, Baltimore Babylon, Baltimorons, Holidays, Kitsch, Pranks, Roadside Attractions, Thanksgiving. Bookmark the permalink.

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