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Billy Corgan Wants You To Come Listen To Him Read 'Siddhartha' For 8-9 Hours

By Lisa White in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 18, 2014 9:30PM


Chicagoland troubadour and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan sure keeps himself busy when he isn’t breathing life back into the Pumpkins brand. The author/singer/tea shop owner has a place of his own, Madame ZuZu’s in Highland Park, where he offers up a variety of tea alongside Corgan approved art and performance. It’s all very quaint aging rockstar behavior, only slightly less geriatric than D’arcy owning a few antique stores. And since this is Corgan’s own place, he sits in and performs from time to time. Earlier today Corgan announced a performance that only a Smashing Pumpkins megafan will likely enjoy or be able to endure.

Starting next Friday, Feb 28 at noon, Corgan will perform an “ambient/musical interpretation of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha; built by modular synthesis, on the fly. Readings of the text to go hand in hand with whatever is created.”

Okay, cool, we like tea, we appreciate experimental music and enjoy Siddhartha. How long will this event last, Billy? “Due to nature of performance, it’ll last 8-9 hours.” WHAT?! Seriously?! You want people to travel to Highland Park to sit and pay for 8-9 hours worth of tea while you fiddle with knobs and read from a book that is only 152 pages long? Granted, Siddhartha packs in a lot of insight and dense thought provoking passages but, assuming Corgan performs the whole nine hours, that averages to around 16 minutes per page. It didn’t take us that long to comprehend the gist of it in high school.

Corgan goes on to tell fans to check Madame ZuZu’s site in the coming days for details on seating and admission. Then immediately says “as with all our events, there is no charge.” Madame ZuZu’s makes a point on their site to ask patrons to please drink tea in exchange for no cover cost for their events. So which is it, cold hard cash or tea in order to test your limits of sanity? Maybe they will do a package deal for the full 8-9 hours? Will there be scheduled bathroom breaks? This is a lot of tea, bladders are not that big. Madame ZuZu's also points out "Billy Corgan will have a performance on this day and it will not include any singing," so don't go expecting a rousing singalong to "Tonight, Tonight." Fans are already praising and/or arguing about the event on Corgan’s post, where the word “pretentious” pops up frequently, just in case you want to make a drinking game out of reading the comments.

We honestly wouldn’t mind checking out a bit of this performance because it sounds intriguing enough and we don't mind Corgan and his antics from time to time. But we can’t take the chance of awkwardly feeling stuck thanks to our good manners after wandering into Madame ZuZu’s and being held captive for the next 8-9 hours while Corgan’s nasally voice purrs out passages on enlightenment. Here are some things we’d rather do instead:

- Listen to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness on vinyl 3.72 to 4.19 times on repeat.

-Listen to Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea 7.27 to 8.18 times on repeat.

-Read Siddhartha a few times.

-Drive to Bloomington, Ind. and back to visit the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center & Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple, founded by the brother of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and speak to an actual Buddhist about the teachings of Buddha and how it relates to the text written by Hermann Hesse in Siddhartha.

If you want to test your own endurance, keep an eye on Madame ZuZu’s website for more information and prep your bladder to hold a lot of tea next Friday.