Buddhist Bubblegum

Esotericism in the creative process of Arthur Russell

Matt Marble

Pub date: November 15th, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-887276-30-6 $19.99

For all wholesale inquires write to info@coolgrove.com

            Raised in the cornfields of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Arthur Russell (1951-1992) would become a visionary cellist, singer, composer, and producer in Lower Manhattan’s “Downtown” arts scene during the 1970s and 80s.  Russell’s enigmatic music blended and transcended genres as disparate as Indian raga, Americana folk, avant-garde composition, and disco. He actively infused popular music into Manhattan’s avant-garde art scene, while bringing a Buddhist-inspired experimentalism into American popular music. As poet Allen Ginsberg recalled, “His ambition seemed to be to write popular music, or bubblegum music, but Buddhist bubblegum; to transmit the dharma through the most elemental form…”

Three book events for Buddhist Bubblegum


Thursday, November 18th. 6:30 pm
The house was full. Corn balls were scrumptious. Matt was deeply good. Thank you Paige and crew at Archestratus
the place for good food, books
and outlook on life in the city.

Buddhist Bubblegum and Matt Marble at ARCHESTRATUS

for details click the poster

Saturday, November 20th, 1-4 PM

An amazing evening was experienced on a roof top in east village full to capacity. MATT MARBLE was interviewed in great depth by GRYPHON RUE. Then the SINGING TRACTORS delivered an unforgettable concert with trombone (PETER ZUMMO), Bass (ERNIE BROOKS, Percussion (MUSTAPHA KHALIQ AHMED), and Santoor (DAVID NAGLER). Massive thanks to EMMETT PINSKY and PRINTED MATTER for making this possible. COOLGROVE was in the house and 39 BUDDHIST BUBBLEGUMS sold out.

Buddhist Bubblegum and Matt Marble at PRINTED MATTER/ST MARKS 

Special rooftop performance by THE SINGING TRACTORS. Please check here for details

click the poster for details
Bill Ruyle, Peter Zummo, Arthur Russell, 1985″
Courtesy of Peter Zummo

to see a historical photo of Singing Tractors click here

“Arthur Russell’s notebooks often read as revealed texts.  Equally obscure, obtuse, hilarious and profound, Arthur was prepping for a future when his music and ideas would be accepted and embraced.  In 1987 Arthur said to Paper Magazine “When you’re playing music, ideas don’t help much at all”.  Process for Arthur was his mantra, and in Buddhist Bubblegum, Matt Marble unwraps and reveals the secrets of Arthur’s work. Until now little has been known of Arthur’s matrix and methods outside a small group of collaborators and friends. Matt digs deep into Arthur’s writings revealing a profound process deeply based in Arthur’s Buddhist practice.  Buddhist Bubblegum is an essential addition to understanding the genius of Arthur Russell and the methods that define it.” 

Steve Knutson/Audika Records/Arthur Russell Estate

Last event and opportunity the experience Arthur Russell

Sunday November 21st


Buddhist Bubblegum with Matt Marble and friends at NUBLU

The Mind and Music of Arthur Russell

Sunday, November 21st, doors open at 4pm. Open till 2am

Program for the Evening

5:30-6:30 a screening of Wild Combination: a portrait of Arthur Russell.

Matt Wolf’s critically acclaimed documentary (downstairs in the club)

presents his video presentation of Arthur Russell‘s creative process. Include a Q & A


Ernie Brooks – bass, vox Pete Galub – guitar, vox David Nagler- keys, vox Peter Zummo-trombone, vox Steve Shelley- drums

feature Arthur Russell songs

All evening: DJ SETS

10:00 to closing: Guest DJ bookworms
channels Arthur Russell

Host DJ and MC: Sage Loves NY

Buddhist Bubblegum book signing with Matt Marble all night


151 Loisaida Ave (C) NYC

Covid Vaccine cards required at the door

Sushi Lounge and Bar open all evening

10 dollars (door)

To buy tickets now, click here

Wear your dancing shoes ( Floor capacity is 200)

            Following Russell’s premature death due to AIDS at age 40, composer Philip Glass reflected, “Arthur was very, very ahead of his time.” And while a few of his dance singles would remain underground classics, Russell’s work would be significantly neglected for over a decade. However, through the archival releases of AUDIKA RECORDS a documentary film (Wild Combination Matt Wolf) and a biography (Hold On to Your Dreams Tim Lawrence), Russell’s fearless creativity and radical vulnerability have found an admiring audience in the 21st century. Today, celebrated artists–from Kanye West to Arcade Fire–as well as emerging musical generations are breathing new life into Russell’s music and praising his name. Nevertheless, he has remained as mysterious as he has become accessible.

My late friend Arthur Russell’s music embodies the complexity of human experience on multiple layers. Arthur’s words and intersecting melodic lines not only represent, but catalyze our central nervous system, in a manner not unlike meditation and spirituality. Matt Marble is uniquely qualified and gifted to take on the task of revealing Arthur’s internal and external music. This is a great book about Arthur Russell, indeed, but it is also a revelatory way
of seeing the beauty and power of music itself.” 

—Peter Gordon Composer, Professor of Music, Bloomfield College

            Buddhist Bubblegum dives deep into the mystery of Arthur Russell and offers an unprecedented exploration into his lifelong Vajrayana Buddhist practice. Author Matt Marble charts Russell’s spiritual path, from his early life as a Buddhist monk on a Bay Area commune to his maturing engagement with Japanese Shingon and Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana traditions in Manhattan. Along the way, we learn how Russell creatively adopted traditional methods of mantra, mandala, meditation, astrology, numerology, and more. Through extensive archival research, personal interviews, and musical score analysis, Marble highlights Russell’s major works and shows how esotericism and aesthetic theory strategically guided his creative process. The writing is supplemented throughout with numerous archival images, featuring Russell’s original scores, notebooks, and photographs. Marble’s work is indebted to the Arthur Russell Estate/NYPL, Audika Records/Steve Knutson, Tom Lee, and Russell’s friends and collaborators, as well as to the pioneering work of biographers Tim Lawrence and Matt Wolf. Hailed by the New York Times as “groundbreaking work,” Buddhist Bubblegum reveals how one of America’s most visionary artists uniquely fused spiritual and musical disciplines.

After Matt Marble’s book, perhaps the only thing that remains impossible to understand about Arthur Russell’s music is its profound beauty.”

Ben Ratliff, author of Every Song Ever