Friday, November 29, 2013
We at Shattered Wig Empire in The Ether hope you had a great Thanksgivikkah yesterday, even if it ended weeping to Jim Reeves' "The Blizzard" next to the fireplace with grandpa telling you to get your act together. We ourselves are far from home doing a special report in Alabama.
Here are two beautiful, sparse poems by Dina Varsalone to soothe you as you ponder family, time, mortality and the straining at your waistline.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ideas Of Order
How did we
come to think
sticky with sleep,
the sense against
calamity. The room
is a quiet, shrinking
motive for metaphor.
is the stillness
of the mind.
Fixer of Midnight
into his sea
of a body
for a touch
over my eyes;
I could not count on
or anything else.
I’m growing old
back into odd places.
From the air,
of the body.
And then the window
blotting out reason.
Dina Varsalone grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Baltimore Md where she runs writing workshops at the Mill Centre in Hampden. Her work has appeared in print in her self-published zines Ablerug and Take Me, I'm Yours! as well as Reed Magazine, The Watermark, and Embrocation Cycling Journal. She's currently at work on a book of poems and a humor book based on her blog, How to Waste Your Youth (for fun and profit!). Read more of her work at Dinamarietv.com.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Going to college at the University of Maryland, College Park in the late '70 s, early '80 s was a pretty miserable experience. I was expecting a '60 s style revolutionary atmosphere with everyone reading Rimbaud and Burroughs, scribbling away at their novels, starting amazing bands, but what I got was a whole lot of drunk business majors throwing beer bottles from dorm windows and viewing my few friends and me as hideous aliens.
Luckily I stumbled into a Half Japanese show in one of the cafeterias and there were always Root Boy Slim bacchanalias to attend. Sure everything went to hell and Reagan became president, but here was one crazy- assed gooey fat guy turning major slack into a high art form. My dormmate across the hall claimed to be his coke dealer, but I'm sure there were a handful of enterpreneurs per dorm who could make that claim.
Here is Fitz Fitzgerald, author of Things To Do In Baltimore, with his homage.
Root Boy Slim
neither slim nor a boy
burning voodoo sex change
present but elsewhere
his eyes his eyes his eyes
banned for inciting a riot
he rushed the white house
out of his mind on LSD
he didn’t run away
his family did
living in a station wagon
the security deposit
a maintenance fee
boogied till he puked
Saturday, November 23, 2013
When I heard that Lily Herman had a new book, Each Day There Is a Little Love For You In A Book, published by Dryad Press, I immediately connived her into reading at Normal's Books & Records with Adam Shutz and Fitz Fitzgerald.
I figured Adam would be appropriate on the bill since Lily initially blew my mind at an Artichoke Haircut "You're Allowed" reading that he co- hosts. I am a fan of the series and realized I'd never heard Adam read, except for when he read out loud the contents of a bottle of a cleaning product he accidentally drank at a particularly crowded and boisterous night at the Dionysus.
His reading of the various polysyllabic chemicals that went into the concoction that had blued his lips was gripping, especially when he moaned or yowled after a particularly devious sounding lab creation, but it lacked literary meat. At Normal's he read two great excerpts from a novel he is working on and Fitz Fitzgerald read from his "Things To Do In Baltimore" (buy soul swelling books & records at Normal's was indeed included, as was place a tiara on Carabella Sands' head and find Carlajean's missing bag).
Lily read the beautiful poem that awaits you below.
Untitled June 14, 2013
Chief among the things I never
thought I’d do was get my nipples
pierced in a parlor on the main drag
of a small town in Wyoming, which going
by its own standards is a big
city. One of the dorm buildings—
the one across from one of
the taxidermist’s—weighs in as
the state’s tallest building
at nine or so stories, a still point
of the still world. When everything
is small, one small thing
is bigger, and we have worn out
walking in this town, we have tried
the bars for companions, there is
no place to swim unless you want
to brave the pit nicknamed
The seagull population
is similarly transplanted, we strain
to figure out what they are doing
landlocked here with
the rest of us, until you discover
one day that their nest is the town
dump, nestled next to the canyon
where bored men like to go
shooting and shout about
You tell me you’d be as avid
in my poems as you are
in my bed if they weren’t all
so concerned with the complexes
of Christmas past. If I hadn’t
documented just so thoroughly
the old fingerprints and phonographs,
the housesitting jobs and homefulness
that can be characteristic of
other people. You want to know
how it was that your unaccredited
nun got drunk with them, went
to bed with them marching
at my request in their
two-by-twos, how I skated through
things then at which I bristle
now. You want
to know what happened to my ease,
and I tell you, it went the way
of my easiness, and that even
properly séanced, you can’t conjure
one without the other. My heart
can be summoned alongside
my pants, but they are sure
to leave the party together
too, hurrah, hurrah.
Chief among the things
I never thought I’d do was
be serious about this
state, long after we lived here
I saw it as the backdrop
for the one-act play of our
success or our doom. Wyoming,
until recently, existed for us
to test ourselves.
Now I see it as it will look
in our absence: How Laramie
is like a tree perpetually falling
to the audience of the emptiest
forest in the lower forty-eight,
and everyone in town swears
that it can anyway be heard.
How they say there is nothing
they need that isn’t already here,
and how if the city leaves you
wanting for anything, the problem
is primarily with you.
But what you need is to be able
to sense, if not see, the ocean, and I
need women who will calmly
reject me if I come onto the wrong
one on our joint behalf, instead of
a place where all the women
who love women are eighty
and live fortified on properties
outside the town’s main postal
code, so that the fires will come
down the mountain and get them
before the pitchforks reaching out
from the city center ever
The last year was the least likely,
your face was nearly impossible
in the first instance of my finding
it, all the men at the wedding
feigning that their collective motive
for leaning on a car was
casualness and not drunkenness,
Chanelle dancing over
to feed you a lily blossom tightly
as an apology, but transformed
by my presence into her
blessing what you and I were about
to eat together, into her
invoking my name for the first
time that I faced you.
I am sorry that my name must be
a flower and not a season, a constellation,
a type of liquor, I am sorry to assume
a sacredness beyond what I myself
have earned, by simple virtue
of my arrangedness, of how well
I can be fit into bouquets and carried
to the summit of either baptisms
You shrugged and told all of us, It tastes
like a salad, not trumpeting what
you’d been handed, but not
dismissing it, either.
It was thus that we became the patron
saints of our own travels, but your mother,
afraid we’d be our own martyrs, gave us
a Saint Christopher medal
anyway, and you scoffed, which is
the Catholic education that keeps
on giving, but I told you
the check engine light’s been on
for ten thousand miles, so we can use
all the prayers they’ll spare us.
You assured me that you knew
how to change a tire, and that we needed
no one, and we glanced at the sky
as if to say, Yeah, we’re talking
about you, but still
we drove through Iowa in one
long day to escape the well
in the clouds that seemed
indisputably to be watching us,
and even though it looked
the same over the state
line, we pulled over and went
passively to sleep as soon as we
were in Nebraska. I told myself
that different gods ruled there,
and vowed for the thousandth time
not to argue with any more Christians
who won’t believe that Yahweh was
once one among a council, and that
if they were going to be stringent
about the archives they’d acknowledge
that they were polytheistic majors
with an emphasis on Christ.
But it is often pointed out to me
that I myself have graduated
from nothing, so I steer clear
of them, choosing instead
to recite the same five poems
that I’ve used as home security
for years, that bolster
my inner consumer against
the charms of my inner
salesman. I memorized them
when confronted chronologically
with my fears of death, family,
and rootlessness, but I point out
smugly that I am not afraid
I am afraid most, I tell you, of the stretch
of I-25 between Fort Collins, Colorado,
and Denver, riding it at night, I see
the blankness of blackened strip
malls, burned up by darkness, our
smallness increasing with our
diminished proximity to what even
we will reluctantly call a real
city. We are grateful
to return to our reconfigured
ranch town, whose darkness
is the absence of sunlight, of
water or stars, of reflective
surfaces or indeed an image
to reflect, here where
stands for nothing, where they
are literal with their communion
and godful in their use
of every day bread, and we stand
for our final months, two more
monuments sticking up to guide
the lightning west, wondering if
without us it will just breeze through
town without anyone to call it
home by name, without anyone
to hear it fall.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
"Artichoke Haircut and Publishing Genius got together, had a baby and called it Genius Haircut. And, crazy as it sounds, it kinda looks like Rupert Wondolowski" - Adam Shutz, co-editor of Artichoke Haircut, the youngstas keeping me alive. Click on the link for some of my new labors if you are feeling kind.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Lily Herman Reads From Her New Book "Each Day There Is a Little Love In a Book For You" At Normal's Books & Records, Wednesday, November 13
Hearing Lily Herman read at an Artichoke Haircut night was a literary experience almost comparable to first reading Flannery O'Connor as a teen. My mind was transported and I was envious of her powers. Dryad Press has just released a new book by her and we are going to celebrate that fact Wednesday, November 3rd, at Normal's Books & Records - 425 E. 31st St.
There will also be readings from Adam Shutz, who is one of the organizers of "You're Allowed", the Artichoke Haircut reading series where I first heard Lily, and from Fitz Fitzgerald who I first heard at Chris Toll and Barbara DeCesare's series in the Bromo Seltzer building.
Before the reading to get our spirits moving and between sets, there will be music spun by DJ Mills.
Lily Herman was raised in and around Baltimore, Maryland. She had a short collection of poems, Better than some, not as good as some others, published by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She has been part of several of The Corresponding Society's anthologies, Correspondence, and has a poem in their upcoming reader, Foreverland. During the editing process of Each Day There is a Little Love in a Book For You, she was landlocked in Laramie, Wyoming, but has returned to the east coast again.
On Adam Shutz: Adam is happy. He tells himself this to make it so. He co-founded Artichoke Haircut. He co-founded "You're Allowed" (a reading series). He is happy.
Fitz Fitzgerald is a surrealist poet and theorist when he is not stupid. Author of Things to Do in Baltimore.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Anyone who has stood within hearing distance of me the last year (yikes, it's been close to a year!), knows how excited I am about this project, The Mole Suit Choir, with the supernaturally talented and inspiring Liz Downing, who once stared down the horror of The Pig Boy of Booger Holler in Alabama. How is it that Alabama people have come to have such powerful influence on my life? Very weird.
This collaboration was first talked about at a wonderful Shakemore Festival and was given extra urgency by the passing of three close comrades. Singing again really gave me solace as some of the people who loomed largest in my personal vortex moved on to the next stage of this cosmic riddle. If not for Liz I might have become glued to the couch and just watched Breaking Bad over and over in a loop, the seasons spinning around me faster and faster.
Through a strange twist of Fate, Dr. Shugg Stew Mostofsky caught our second show at the Windup Space. From a languid sprawl on the leather couch he said he wanted to put an album out by us. The next thing we knew, Wee Ginger Lad Greg Hatem of Heart of Hearts and Mr. Mocassin was hopping about my living room with microphones and a portable recording deck. It was all very blissful and is now captured on glorious cds and cassettes.
Here is the link to Ehse headquarters where you can get a free download or order a cd or cassette:
Or you can use your human legs to cruise on over to Normal's in Waverly, True Vine in Hampden or Soundgarden in Fells Point:
We've gotten some really nice words about the record already. Here is some beauty from scribe China Martens:
"Glen Burnie, Poland meets Extraterrestrial, Alabama in Outer Baltimore from Inner Space: somehow they found each other, on their porches (I think it was Liz that knocked on Rupert's door, incredulous he answered, and without fear bundled up all his fears. Together they struck the matches and watched them burn, aglow, like bread crumbs soaked in firecracker rock worms); and picked up old instruments to continue digging their way out of the spinning yarn and into the fire. Come sit and warm yourself".
And here are some kind words from David Beaudouin:
Think George Jones & Tammy Wynette just back from an unexpected interdimensional jaunt, bringing with them sweet melodies, brilliant songwriting and the secrets of the spaces behind the stars. That's Mole Suit Choir, currently the leading lights in Baltimore's burgeoning neo-folk scene. Created by poet Rupert Wondolowski and painter Elizabeth Downing (both as well accomplished musicians), Mole Suit Choir gets to the heart of things as the best music does, with two voices entwined in high, lonesome harmonies accompanied by guitar or banjo. And like the best music, their oddly familiar songs will echo in your thoughts long after the lights go out. Highly recommended.
Come check us out Sunday, November 3rd at the kindly Metro Gallery on Charles Street, 7:30, for the official release party. Joining us will be Nathan Bell and Liz Durrette, plus readings by Stephanie Barber and Megan McShea.