On the Varying and Contradictory Histories of Poison Pie, aka Hebeloma crustuliniforme, aka Deus Sylvus

A Series of Histories
authorized by The Board of Directors of the Poison Pie Publishing House
begun: February, 2005
last updated: June, 2012



I. The Natural History

To be perfectly honest, there has, since his inception, been very little natural about Poison Pie. Wholly unnatural may be a more accurate description. His confused misassociation with Hebeloma crustuliniforme, which does indeed have a complete natural history extending back through the ages via the evolution of mushrooms and other fungi, is due solely to the fact that they share the same common name. The confusion is compounded by the fact that Poison Pie adopted the entirely inappropriate nickname, Man of the Mushroom People. Poison Pie's Latin appelation, Deus Sylvus, is only accurate in that he did indeed dwell a long time in the forest and does emerge from said forest to move about the world of people from time to time. As for the first half of his Latin name, rest assured there is no divinity of any sort floating through the caliginous innards within the hulking frame of Poison Pie.


II. The Literary History

There is some argument as to whether Poison Pie's first literary appearance is in the series of illustrated stories, as is generally agreed, or rather in a slightly earlier unillustrated short story, The Ridiculously Sad Sasquatch, which had at best marginal distribution. Our research indicates that the The Ridiculously Sad Sasquatch appeared in September, 1998. The first illustrated short story featuring Poison Pie, titled Poison Pie, or an Accident in the National Park appeared in May, 1999. So it appears that the story predates the illustration. While it is true that in the The Ridiculously Sad Sasquatch, a character that is in many respects similar to the creature that we have come to know and love as Poison Pie is present, that character is never actually identified with the name Poison Pie. On the contrary, the illustrated story, Poison Pie, or an Accident in the National Park, rather obviously identifies Poison Pie. As such, we begin our discussion of the literary history of Poison Pie, with the Illustrated Stories.

II.A. Illustrated Stories

Poison Pie had a very humble beginning in the illustrated story, Poison Pie, or an Accident in the National Park. The photography equipment was rudimentary and the skills of the photographer were virtually nonexistent. Since that time, this first illustrated story has been followed by several more illustrated stories, including 33 contemplations on the form of the bear, first published in July, 2002. There was a 9 year lapse until the next story appeared. It is now unclear whether Poison Pie's illustrated stories have come to an end, or whether, they are rather on an erratic hiatus. Regardless, one can see a definite improvement in the photography accompanying the stories based on the upgrading of equipment and the increased experience of the photographer.

While each of the illustrated stories has its individual merits, the most artistically accomplished of these illustrated stories is Tales of the Mushroom People, in which photography, home-made felt fingerpuppets and a narrative are blended into a unconventional travelogue of Korea. From the 1999-2002 period, Stairs Going Nowhere is generally identified as the best story in terms of the overall contributions of the text and the photography, although based purely in terms of the photography, 33 Contemplations on the Form of the Bear is also worth mentioning. Both of these stories share a similarity in that each is essentially a literary tour of Knoxville, the former of stairs in Knoxville and the latter of the sculptures of Bears that was part of the Bearfoot Around Town art program of the city of Knoxville.

Poison Pie Publishing House is proud to present in their original form, the complete collection of illustrated stories featuring Poison Pie. Links are provided below in reverse chronological order. Some of these stories require a monitor resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels2.

II.B. Unillustrated Stories

While our initial impression was that Poison Pie has received much greater attention in conventional stories than in illustrated stories, we found through the course of our research that to be untrue. Poison Pie has appeared in at most half a dozen short stories. A full description of the extent of Poison Pie's involvement will not be attempted here. What we shall say is that most of the short stories that first showcased the talents of Poison Pie became chapters in the novel Perhaps, which was the sequel to the absolutely unacclaimed novel, Alton and Eugenia. For further information on Alton and Eugenia and Perhaps please contact the Poison Pie Publishing House.

In December, 2000, a rumor emerged of a third, recently completed novel in which Poison Pie played a prominent role. Investigators were hired to track down the truth behind this unpublished manuscript. In late 2010, a manuscript titled, Owen and Dolores was discovered on an abandoned hard-drive in Seoul, Korea of all places. Although the search had taken a decade, the culmination of the search was disappointing. It turned out that Owen and Dolores was no more than a lengthy sketch, skeletal at best in its detail of a possible origin of Poison Pie. It was, contrary to everything we had been lead to believe, a less than satisfying installment in the saga of Poison Pie.

In December, 2010, a fourth novel-length manuscript in which Poison Pie plays a prominent role appeared. It was titled The Horties and was legitimately a novel, rather than a collection of short stories as was the case with Alton and Eugenia and Perhaps. As this is written, this manuscript floats in the ether. What does it mean for a manuscript to float in the ether? It means what it means and other things as well. One might be better off asking, "What doesn't it mean?"

II.C. Works Published on Real Live Actual Paper

In a moment of weakness, Poison Pie sank a mushy catcher's mitt-sized paw into a pile of ink and stamped his John Hancock into a publication of a small local press. Fortunately, no one took any notice of his lack of discretion and his existence continues to be entirely in doubt.

The content included a fragment of the illustrated story, Stairs Going Nowhere. Citation information on the publication is available here. The full, original illustrated story is available here.

II.D. Broadsides

In May of 2006, Poison Pie Publishing House released a broadside titled, 'a prayer for the repose of the soul of Derek Bailey' by Keiji Haino. The 27" by 9" broadside in a limited edition of seven, was distributed to (i) Poison Pie (Knoxville), (ii) Keiji Haino (Tokyo), (iii) Alan Cummings (London), (iv) Phil Snider (Tokyo), (v) Mads Ruby (Copenhagen), (vi) Scott Slimm (New Jersey), and Garry Davis (California). An electronic version of the broadside is available here.


III. The Musical History

In 2005, Poison Pie officially launched the Poison Pie Publishing House. Although the publishing house had lurked within the mind of Poison Pie for several years, this was the first public appearance of the house. To date, they have limited themselves to web publications on poisonpie.com.

Curiously, Poison Pie Publishing House is predated by the appearance of Music To Lose Money By, An Independent Recording and Publishing House, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the media conglomerate, Poison Pie Publishing House. Music To Lose Money By was established in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2004. The tumultuous rise and fall of Music To Lose Money By is detailed in the text, Mostafa and the Unfathomable Riddle, which is currently unavailable owing to the continued unexplained absence of Mostafa. The most extensive research available indicates that Music To Lose Money By publicly released only one recording, composed, performed, and eponymously titled by the trio, David and his Magical Pukulele. A few of the compact discs were sold. The majority were still in the building when it was demolished in the general redevelopment of downtown Knoxville and are, as a result, lost. At the time of the general dissolution of Music To Lose Money By, a second potential release had been recorded by another ensemble, which had not yet chosen a band name. It is rumored that the sole existing demo tape of this release was destroyed, intentionally, in a fire by the recording artist when news of the demise of Music To Lose Money By reached him.

In July, 2010, Music To Lose Money By released its third recording, titled Joseph and the Musical of Arts. Complete information on this release is available here.


IV. The Merchandising History

In 2010, the Poison Pie Publishing House expanded into merchandising its licensed properties. While prototypes of super-articulated versions of Eugenia, Alton, Henry and Poison Pie himself are argued to exist, no such samples have shown up on ebay, which leads us to doubt the validity of these arguments. The first piece of evidence that indirectly supports the existence of any interest by the Poison Pie Publishing House in toys of any sort is the presence of an illustrated story, published online in 2005, titled, The First Thing About Finger Puppets, featuring finger puppets created by the Director of the Poison Pie Publishing House circa 1980. The only other piece of evidence is a set of photographs containing representations of characters from The Horties (See Section II.B above) in fingerpuppet form. The photographs have been catalogued here. In Spring of 2011, two illustrated stories featuring fingerpuppets appeared, as noted in section II.A. Illustrated Stories, described above. No further information is publically available on the venture at this time, which leads us to believe that, regardless of its success on an artistic level, it was almost certainly a short-lived, commercial disaster typical of the Poison Pie Publishing House.

In the spring of 2012, a disgruntled copy store poster reported that a large (48" by 36") poster, titled "100 fingerpuppets" and attributed to the Poison Pie Publishing House, was printed and laminated at non-negligible expense. So we observe the dogged determination to persist in these activities despite the financial ruin that threatened the house.


V. The Cinematic History

In the winter of 2012, the Poison Pie Publishing House released its first video, 2 To Mugen No Torihiki, a music video for the song of the same title performed by Derek Bailey (guitar) and Keiji Haino (voice). It can be viewed here. Some nitpickers argue that this is actually the second video released by the Poison Pie Publishing House, the first preceding it by about two months, titled, "A Requiem for Hans Reichel (a quartet for daxophone, theremin, thumb piano and washing machine)". In truth only a demo of that recording was released. The final version, if it ever was recorded, was not released.

Subsequent movies, including a narrated version of the illustrated story, Tales of the Mushroom People, are available here.