Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Community of Poets, Open Mic Comedy Psychodrama and Babs the Roman Having a Serious Talk With a Table of Dongs

It had been a long time since I'd seen Mark Sanders. One of those deals where we lived two blocks away but never came out for the ice cream man on the same day. We used to each host a show at the old Astro Chimp Impact Crater on Charles St. where the Charles Theater expanded into and where Blaster Al and I got mugged together getting more beer for the Wig Night during intermission back in the badass old days of the early '90s. A gent merely shoved us into a dark alley, a concerned citizen across the street yelled wondering if the entrepreneur needed any help robbing us and the robber assured the good Samaritan he could handle us. Next we knew Blaster took a blackjack to the face and my wallet was pressing some stranger's ass.

Mark was known as The Gorbonzo Lad at the time and his act involved handstands across tables while clenching a Spanish dueling knife in his teeth. I was hellbent on bending hell into my childhood memories of it taught to me by ironfisted nuns. Now over a decade has passed and Mark has set his controls on the heart of the sun and bleeds whiskey while I feel my dead father move inside me pulling at my facial expressions as I mow the yard of my own new house for the first time and I call on the spirit of Wally Cox to steer my damaged nervous system through.

Mark has a new night going downtown and I got to be the Big Cheese almost a week ago. It was like homecoming night. A lot of my favorite poets who I share a lot of history with were there, as well as just old friends outside the writing game and a few local legends like Teddy Getzel who ran the sacredly profane Cultured Pearl burrito joint that was the place to be when I first moved to Baltimore. It was home to some of the best poetry readings back in the '80s. If only Senor Martick of the much loved underground French restaurant would have also been there I truly would have felt like it was a completion of this long twenty year hallucination in this dreamtime city. Then at the end of the reading, before the open mic comedy began, Mark "Pappy" Hossfeld could come limping in on crutches like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "Shenandoah", playing bird songs through a bamboo pipe like Ling Lun. It was Pappy after all who really breathed life into most of us, coaxed what little spirit we had to dance with our bloomers raised over our wounds.

There were also great "newbies", at least new compared to the grandfather clock readers surrounding them - "The Crespo Twins", notable for how they are not identical or fraternal. One is an Egyptian knife thrower whose poems all end with the same line: "And then they all bled out like pigs" and the other is a pre-Raphaelite dandy who constantly rolls a giant lint roller over his lustrous jodhpurs. "I can already sense where you're going with this," he shouted out in the middle of each poet's piece, shoveling snuff into his frondesce nostril.

Chortling above all else, though, was a longhair on the run from New Orleans. He had been part of history by holing up in a punk house, riding out Katrina. Then draping around John McCain's neck throughout his entire presidential run against Barack Obama, simulating the lynx fur that McCain was never without during his college days in the Great Depression. This high strung young man goes by the name of Reverend Prenza or Brenza and read a wild free association poem about Castro's balls.

Struck nearly dumb by the goodwill of the night, very happy with how my homage to local poet organizer Julie Fisher's insatiable erotic drive went over and my old chestnut "doorknob", my beloved and I not so much as decided to stick around for the open mic comedy that followed, but more like became embedded in our seats like cracked seashells on a wet shore.

The electricity of live comedy performed by amateurs is a stressful thing. Perhaps more so when the room is mostly empty and breath can be heard and everyone is far too aware of each other's nuanced glances and facial movements. But other than a few of the wags that fell painfully flat and a half drunk talentless heckler who eventually was psychically and flat-out verbally assaulted by one of the last quipsters there were actually some true laughs. Especially the lone woman comic Kath Carson and one of the last guys whose name I forget, but who the mc kept calling "the most dangerous man in comedy" or something along those lines. Nothing like the sorely missed comedy troupe of yore led by Kevin Takacs, Benjie Loveless and Doug Johnson, the name of which other than the "Los" part is eluding my old man brain right now, but still, they said all the wrong things in all the right ways.

The night was ended wonderfully with poet and bon vivant Barbara DeCesare placing upon the podium that Mark Sanders provided on stage that had once graced the old Astro Chimp Impact Crater and most likely was still caked in Pappy's sweat and tears many rubber and plastic dongs of various sizes and veinages. She then quietly addressed them like old friends who were tiny children frozen in time. She did this through an old script of "Diff'rent Strokes", voicing all the characters. The poets still left seated in the audience were enchanted and I'm sure Pappy, living now in Chengdou, felt his greatness stir at this time and wondered what was up, somehow knowing that his legacy was being carried on in his old adopted town. The comedians on the other hand were wary at best, not sure if this intruder was bringing bad magic.
Soon enough we were outside hugging each other and praising language while Everly held out Babs' bag of dongs, beaming like a little kid handed Willie Mays' glove after a winning World Series game.


  1. One of the Crespo Twins reminded me that the comedy troupe with Takacs, Loveless and Johnson was called Los Placebos.