Sunday, October 5, 2014
Well my momma always told me when I was an ambitious teen writer and musician that she'd only take me serious if I got on the Johnny Carson show - (although she did once say she would pay for me to be on the Gong Show). Sadly Johnny is dead and Jay Leno took a long leisurely dump on his legacy, but last week I got to be on Ellen Cherry's "Listen In" web show with The Mole Suit Choir.
Ellen and her crew are top notch and great hosts. They even had a dog there so it would feel more like our practices at my house with Max nudging our legs to let us know he wants to go the park and hump Pitbulls (he's got a Death Wish, just like his poppa).
Here is the complete 51 minute show - interview and live performance - with four new songs that are post-"Campfire Spacesuit". One, "Bellies Empty, Asylums Full", we'd never played out before. It's brand new and Liz plays her groovy little Loog on it. Then there's our song taken from Bob O'Brien's poem "Increasingly Virtual Worlds", a new song based on Chris Toll's poem "Lonesome Cowboy On the Protein Deprivation Trail" and our big ol' country closer homage to the pharmaceutical Empire, "Pills".
Shades of Mole Suit Choir's "Chronological Poem!" Could this be an omen that I'm going to meet Amy Sedaris at last??!
Thursday, September 18, 2014
(The Mole Suit Choir right before their Fields set.)
(Baynard Woods rubbing elbows with the mayor of Baltimore)
Baynard Woods, the Baltimore City Paper arts editor, member of The Barnyard Sharks and author of Coffin Point has been a great supporter of The Mole Suit Choir almost since our Eimer's organs picked up their first seismic wave vibration. Now he has picked them "Best Country & Folk Band" in the City Paper's Best Of issue of 2014:
Also, The Mole Suit Choir will be appearing live on Ellen Cherry TV on Monday, September 29th at 8pm. It can be seen at that time here: www.ellencherry.tv
Here is a bon bon of a promo video she shot for our spot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxp-i16J-AA&list=UUXxcO5xBzDRwEHKkKl0umAQ
Check out some of her archived shows on her website if you haven't already. She is herself a fine singer/songwriter and she researches each of her guests in great depth. To such a degree that the Choir is in the grips of The Fear. Watch them live to see if they historically melt down like Nixon versus Kennedy or Farrah Fawcett versus Letterman. Or, hopefully, watch them stand tall and warble clear.
Monday, July 14, 2014
In the long distant, burning moss-covered '80s in Baltimore it was extremely rare that anyone got out. Even by the costly route of Death. Those who somehow found themselves here - MICA grads/dropouts, Hopkins grads/dropouts, seekers of cheap rent, those who spent too many long drunken nights at The Marble Bar and forgot how to get back to the suburbs - seemed bound to the grotesquely beautiful streets that often raged.
But in the '90s arts scene that began to change. There was also the old saying "they always come back". That too changed. Gavin the Gelding started up a wonderful small press, publishing Mok Hossfeld's Dona Juana, then loaded up the family and left for Albuquerque. Standing in the parking lot of some faceless housing division as they drove off is a bittersweet moment of heartbreak that will never leave me.
Then Mok Hossfeld, a mainstay of early Shattered Wig Nights, readings at the old Cultured Pearl, co-creator of the BAUhAus, himself left, a toasty crumb after pulling double shifts with Louie's Bookstore and the short-lived Bow Wow House (whose old space the Charles Theater expanded into). Eventually Pappy Mok would come back, but only long enough to say, "No, I'm really gone still." Choosing wild dysentery filled adventures teaching in rural provinces of China over sweating out the grim economy of Baltimore.
Now it is the 21st Century and my head is a near hairless imploding pumpkin and the Baltimore writing scene builds and collapses like a box of marvelous interplanetary snow globes in the hands of a ten foot baby.
Our collective eyes were barely dry from the departure of Adam Robinson, whose dynamic Publishing Genius first sprouted in our strange city, when a final reading date was set by Artichoke Haircut to be held at Normal's. The AH collective, originally (still?) composed of three drunk lads and one drunk lass, graduates of the University of Baltimore, was active for around 4 years and published five volumes of their small well designed perfect bound oblong paperbacks.
Their reading series nights, held at Dionysus, then the Yellow Theater, were warm, energy-filled, receptive bacchanalias. Yes, there was a touch of frat to the readings, but a cosmic frat dedicated to the word and its permutations. And no matter how pickled the readers or crowd or both were, ears and minds stayed focused on the writing.
(Michael Kimball, reading from his brand new book Galaga)
I had a great time reading for them and felt loved, plus I discovered new writers that blew me away like Cort Bledsoe and Lily Herman. Lily escaped Baltimore for a while, but was pulled back in. She has now shaved her head and is working on a stage play with Patty Hearst and Joaquin Phoenix. Cort pretends he has left Baltimore by living in Alexandria, VA, where even bowel movements are strictly regulated and come with an enormous fine if they are not solid.
The final reading was a blast as always. Cort Bledsoe in particular was a lightning rod. Eleanor Levine, a writer who had been published in multiple issues of AH, but whom none of them had ever met, drove down from Philadelphia to read. Slim matinee idol and part time William Faulkner impersonator Michael Kimball read from his brand new book Galaga while fiction writer Timmy Reed moaned and cried out in man crush agony.
It was a treat to finally get to hear Melissa Streat and Justin Sanders, two of the AH editors who are even more shy than Adam Shutz about presenting their own work. Justin did a sharp staccato-paced reading of a short story, based on the "Black Aggy(i.e.?)" horror myth, giving it more sociological resonance. Melissa read two poems, one of them about her father and his lack of borders. Of course I had to corner her outside after the reading to get the lowdown on him. The endless permutations of parental weirdness and parent-child relationships always fascinating for me since it's been said mine might be on the more Addams Family end of the scale.
Also no stranger to emptying a devil-filled bottle is writer Timmy Reed who was the grand finale. He has finished a novel that he read from, but he wanted to only to read to us of the haints in it, not the humans. Here in the photo, thanks to the camera blanking his eyes and his petite frame, he looks like "The Fish Mask Haint of Holly High". I first saw Timmy read at a WORMS night in the beloved Metro space, but he is also an Artichoke Haircut regular and his liver is most likely more swollen than theirs.
I used to see him at many readings butt scooting on floors, swooping like a bat over the stage, peeping through holes in bathroom doors, then I heard his tale of the family waiting on an apocalyptic storm and read his wonderful book Tell God I Don't Exist, which is a big seller at Normal's. Turns out he is also quite the history buff. He spoke at great length on Record Store Day about Anne Frank and the uncensored edition of her diary that came out containing the entries that dealt more with the universal sensual side of a teenage girl. At the Artichoke Haircut finale he dipped a little into Maryland history and how his family fits into it.
Adam Shutz and Melissa Streat will be heading out to Texas in less than a month, Justin Sanders will turn his back on literature and become a maker of virtual reality software, Artichoke Haircut placing a lead hat over its pulsing wig to forever silence transmissions. But the Baltimore stew of a writing scene will continue to simmer with alien spices. Insh'allah!
Friday, July 11, 2014
My Sears-Roebuck 1960 model heart has been in the shop a lot of late and here is another blow: Adam Shutz, the wry sophisticate who resembles one of the cast from the '70s BBC show "UFO" is deserting Baltimore for even more gun-laden Texas to study with Tim O'Brien. Thusly and thrustly Artichoke Haircut is placing a lead cap over their wig to forever silence transmissions.
Come to Normal's Book & Records tomorrow night at 7:30 to celebrate? vilify? them for their final reading. All star cast of Timmy Reed, Lily Herman, Justin Sanders, Adam Shutz, Cort Bledsoe, and Michael Kimball. Plus! To show what kind understanding word loving folks they are, there are going to be book and drink specials to pry a few dollars from your hemp wallets. Buy a $5 and under book, get a beer, buy something a bit pricier and get a mixed drink. And if you know Artichoke Haircut surely you know they don't drink watered down beverages.
The reading coincides with our poetry section being at a highwater mark. Just got in another batch of great modernist and postmodern work, which I'll be posting about. Charles Olson's Maximus Poems and Pound's Cantos for starters. And some Ron Silliman and Zukofsky. Your body is already hurting from July Baltimore punishment, make your brain hurt also! Show the Art Chokes they're not in a city of mopist non-readers.
Monday, June 30, 2014
This is my piece for LitMore's "The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions", an art show inspired by lines from Chris Toll's poetry. My line was "The Starship Lands In a Clearing".