Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Friday, August 27, 2010

City Sages Reading at Normal's, Wed. August 25th

On Wednesday, August 25th, Normal's took its turn celebrating CityLit's first publication - City Sages: Baltimore. The book came out a few months ago, but we wanted to wait until the new improved Red Room was done being spiffied up.

On hand to read were Michael Kimball, Susan McCallum-Smith, Joseph Young and myself. Plus Goodloe Byron to sing a few graveyard tunes and to ruminate on Poe's "The Black Cat" which appears in the anthology of legendary dead Baltimore writers, living ascending stars and those of us thrashing in literary limbo.

Jen Michalski who edited the book emceed the reading.

Goodloe Byron, author of The Abstract and Revisions Of bookended the readings with two songs of darkness.

Susan McCallum-Smith whose collecton of short stories Slipping The Moorings was published by Entasis Press in 2009 read from her piece "High Rise".

Professor Joseph Young, author of the wildly popular Easter Bunny assures the crowd that there is no improvisation involved in his reading, displaying to the audience his text.

Goodloe Byron started out doing a straight reading of Poe's story, but ended up having a conversaton with it.

Michael Kimball, whose novel Dear Everybody was excerpted in City Sages, said he'd been reading from that novel for three years and that this evening would be his last time doing so. He then read portions of an unnamed novel in progress he's currently working on, correcting typos with his pen as he did so. The strange blue around his right eye was not administered for theatrical effect for his engagement at The Red Room, but was caused somehow when I used the "Red Eye" feature in my photo library.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shattered Wig Review 28 Sneak Preview #3


With the end of the day ahead of us, the city streets have finally burned off the stale urine smell from the night before. This time of a day is a good time of day for New Yorkers. They browse the parks and storefronts. Families share milkshakes, dogs strain at the end of their leashes to get to the dog run, and the denizens of Tompkins Square let their hair down. One of the more famous of them, a short, fat black gal everyone calls Hotdog, is running down the path in a lavender prom dress that is entirely unzipped. Her hair stands straight up on her head like Don King and she is double fisted with booze and cigarettes. Sometimes when you see her, she is laughing and friendly, other times she is like a fighting pit-bull. Today, she seems happy even though she is out of her mind. Hotdog plops down next to two drunk Indians who are fighting over a butt. One of them grabs the pack out of her hand and takes three cigarettes out of the rumpled pack. At first, Hotdog doesn't seem to care, but a slow reckoning comes over her and it rises in her like a rogue wave. Her dress falls away from her body. She bolts up, her saggy brown boobs hang in front of her like two baseball bats. She smashes the bottle down onto the side of the thieving drunk Indian's head and there is soon a bloody gash where before there had been a hat. "Hooooooooooooowl," the Indian cries out as he grabs his head. "Ah shit," says the other. "You know better than that man, that's fuckin' Hotdog man!" Hotdog stands over him, defiant as ever, waiting for the outcome I suppose. When nothing happens, she sits back down between them and hands the injured Indian a cigarette and says "Here ya go". And there they sit. They share the bottle, the lighter and are silent. Another man who often spends his time in the park and who looks like a pimp daddy Colonel Sanders, walks over to the three and snaps, "Pull that goddamn dress up Hotdog! I don't want to see yer mammies out like that!" Hotdog lets out a laugh that turns into a hacking cough. She does nothing to fix the dress and the Colonel walks away. I leave the area and head north side where the Barnyard Playboys are setting up to play at the Lakeside Lounge. I see the boys loading equipment into the bar and I tell them about Hotdog.

Everyone has a Hotdog story. One dude saw Hotdog beat the shit out of Lisa Brown on Ave. A all because L.B. said "Hi Hotdog". Another dude said he saw Hotdog when he was on acid and she followed him down the street saying "mmmmmmmmmm I wanna hold you baby mmmmmmmm.....I wanna do that with you honey." He said she morphed into a blob-like creature and he ran from her and got away somehow. It was about time to go on stage. The crowd had grown to be a packed house. Nicely drunk and on other things.....we played music and we danced. Funny songs like "My Blue Denim Diaper" and "Liquor Heaven". The music causes folks to laugh and throw empty beer cans at our heads. By 3am, I am ready to go. I want to escape the hot stinky room and make my way home through the cooling Tompkins Square air. I head back home the same way I came, I have an odd desire to see Hotdog again....or see if the Indian is dead from a serious head injury, or if the Colonel is getting a hand-job from one of the many runaways he seems to attract. I get to the benches of infamy, and the area is unusually empty. I see Hotdog though. Still in her prom dress, though it is pulled up now and somewhat zipped. She is sitting on a bench. On the ground, at her feet, is a wacked out crusty kid who is rocking back and forth. He has got Hotdog's filthy feet in his hands and he is giving her a rockin' foot rub. I don't quite believe what I am seeing. Her eyes are shut, he is humming some strange song, kinda sounds like "I Never Wanna Dance Again" by George Michael. He brushes her rotted feet across his cheek and I feel my beer coming back up into my mouth. I am surprised by the throw up in my mouth. I spit. And Hotdog's eyes dart open. We catch eyes for a second and then her eyes close again. I hurry on home.

- Amanda Pollock

Monday, August 16, 2010

House Buys

In the arcane and eldritch profession of book and record buying, the art of "doing a house buy" is both a staple of fueling the stock with treasures and a psychological immersion ceremony. People, some who have maybe never seen you before in their lives, admit you into their homes to peruse their valued possessions. Often these people are at crossroads or turning points in their lives. A loved one has died, they're moving, they're splitting up a home due to divorce, or maybe they are convinced their eyes have become possessed with the spirit of Bluebeard and once they sell all their reading materials they are going to have them yanked out by Bill on the corner who has some pliers and a mechanic's license.

But no matter what the situation is, it becomes an intimate moment between mortal humans and usually stories are traded about crucial personal history. The book buyer, even one as lowdown and hated as myself, becomes a bartender without booze or a priest without religion other than the printed word.

The scariest and most haunting house buy I ever did was one of my first. I was working at Second Story Books in Bethesda and the very knowledgable, but perhaps at the time a bit grousy main buyer was either consciously or unconsciously trying to clear the deck of all the shiftless hippies working there. He was either attempting this with me, or letting me earn my stripes or perhaps just plain dodging a bullet, when he sent me out - a green rookie of maybe two weeks bookstore experience - to a ramshackle house in Virginia to look at some books a family had. But when I eventually made it there, this being pre-Map Quest and GPS and me being map illiterate, the family was more along the lines of the Family Manson or Leatherface and his bloods.

The house was huge and falling apart and almost without light. Each of the honeycomb rooms had someone either sleeping (at 3pm) or lounging on a ratty bed looking confused or just lethargic as a toothless 20 year old cat.

The five or six books they had were arranged on a picnic table outside spine up.

"We thought you'd be older and wearing a suit, being all into books and things," the one who was apparently in his 60s or so, but still leaking an air of danger while also being the healthiest looking of the lot said. There were about four others standing around me and the table. A couple in their thirties who had jailhouse hand done tattoos and a feral looking tyke somewhere between 12 and 100. "Well, the oldest guy was real busy and he sent me out, but I'm sorry to say we can't use these." There was an incredibly long period of silence after this as if a coffin had just been lowered into a grave containing everyone's favorite relative. All eyes were transfixed by the five or six books. I sadly can't remember exactly what they were anymore, this being 1982 at the time, whether they were book club or Time Life or outdated textbooks.

"So could you drop me at my parole officer's?" the one guy somewhere in his thirties asked.

His breaking the silence, even if it was to suggest a further trip down into the rabbithole of questionable employment, was a relief and my positive answer came out almost with great excitement. I turned down many offers of various chemicals from him as I delivered him to his appointment and then with a great rush of freedom and elation promptly got lost for hours in the Virginia/DC maelstrom which was so fond of chewing me up.

The main buyer looked almost surprised to see me return.

One buy that I luckily missed out on turned out to be the books of my dead high school english teacher, much beloved, who had brutally spiralled downward in the five years after my classe's graduation.

Often, more often than not, the degree of funk found on house buys is wildly disproportionate to what you'd expect from the person and their bearing. One gent who we were fond of calling "The Dancer" because he carried himself with such aplomb and was always dashing about in Edward Gorey-length scarves and crisp slacks and sweaters that looked so new they could cut you, lived in what basically amounted to a Cottage of Mold. A green cardigan grew along the lower outside walls and when my strong young helper The Bow-Legged Gorilla sat down at one point to rest his eyes immediately puffed out like a Famous Monsters of Filmland still. And on that buy I found not one, but two used pairs of tighty whiteys draped over cd piles and lodged between record jackets.

And brothers and sisters, you who know me, know I am no stranger to the funk. Some of the more mean spirited may say I have lived among the foulest funk. The last days of the glorious House of Wigs featured an unworking toilet and a blackened bathtub. But I have to say, most house buys make me feel just a little bit better about my personal hygiene.

Today I had a pleasant house buy that got me thinking about the long history of house buys in my past. An acquaintance from the durable Baltimore arts world with great stories of an artistic family and of poets that I admire. All kinds of shadowy corners full of mysterious cabinets. And a friendly cat with a tiny head. Two humans going about survival and trading tidbits about what they have gathered along the way.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Matt Bovie & David Fair "Cut-Ups" Show

(Over David Fair's left shoulder you can see the Mr. Peanut in the oval frame that will soon be ours!)

Traveling to the "Cut-Ups" show of Matt Bovie and David Fair at Gallery 1448 on Baltimore St. was my first trip knowingly to Baltimore's Middle East. I'd never heard of this region like I'd never heard of Harbour East until a few years ago when it appeared from a developer's cash register mind's eye. But I guess Middle East isn't a construct, just a geographical designation I'd never heard of. Crazy John's wasn't too far from where we were. That used to always be a huge point of reference for me around downtown. How far from Crazy John's or how far from that alley where Jason had a gun pulled on him and made the assailant break down weeping and hugging him.

Another hot and steamy encounter with the magic of David Fair and The Tinklers crowd in the Summer of The Big Boil with a big chunk of young Bovie fire. David and Matt's art truly resonated and worked off each other bigtime. So much so that I wasted no time at all in making the faux pas of asking David to pose for a picture in front of Matt's art.

Mr. Peanut acted as ringleader of Robert Johnson shaking hands with the devil, the thick twirly hairdos of Elvis impersonators piled up like soft serve ice cream, Batman and Superman fighting crime and skulls flaming with pinwheeling eyes and lightning crashing everywhere. Even Nancy and Sluggo made an appearance.

Thinking of our fug ugly house color - calmine lotion graveyard - that we've been wanting to get painted for a while and part 2 of our wedding - the big party - I walked into the gallery telling myself it was merely a museum full of beautiful objects. Beautiful, desirable, objects, but they must stay where they were, up on the wall. But once Everly and I walked around and got caught up in the great work, bills and the coming Apocalypse (economic, not the second part of the wedding) were soon gone from our minds and Everly began pointing at the small Bovies she wanted that were going for a great triptych deal. Besides, how much longer can these two great artists remain so affordable and for how long will they associate with the likes of us? Bovie has even on occasion already spoken of moving to LA, so he could be very soon doing lines of coke off strippers' bellies with Baseman on Rodeo Drive.

Speaking of LA, I finally got to meet Everly's old friends Rumi and Schoene (pronounced Shar-day) two days before they move there!

Below is Everly pointing. Above is Senor Bovie scowling at the paparazzi.

Despite the stifling heat and lack of air conditioning or fans, The Tinklers soldiered on and performed the classics. Of particular note was their song "Come On Down to the Beach" that just gets more poignant and beautiful with time. Plus Chris now pogo dances to it. I think his daughter has been haranguing him to rock out more. I put a small clip of it up on the Audrey Normals Facebook page. They also performed some David Fair compositions and invited David up to sing on a Coo Coo Rockin' Time tune.

And it was a tough decision, but we went with the oval framed Mr. Peanut by David, although I was torn by the totem pole pieces that were made up of his main icons like snakes, Mr. Peanut, Superman and Elvis. I guess that's the nice switch that David and Matt do. David makes the pop primal and primitive and Matt makes the primitive and primal pop. The end results are eye candy that send electrical juice through the nervous system. The show is up until August 29th (my grim 50th birthday!)

Chris Mason Reads at In Your Ear

Chris Mason of The Tinklers, whose book The Elements was published on Shattered Wig Press, will one day be held aloft in an eco friendly wicker chair by the People of Earth and worshiped as he deserves. Here is a video of him reading for the "In Your Ear" series at DC/AC. Buck Downs does the intro.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

City Sages: Baltimore Reading At Normal's - Wednesday August 25th

City Sages: Baltimore, the first publication from CityLit, edited by hard working Jen Michalski, has won "Best Anthology" from this year's Baltimore Magazine's Best Of issue. The anthology collects pieces from dead and legendary Baltimore authors like Mencken, Poe and Gertrude Stein, the living and famous like Anne Tyler, Laura Lippman and Madison Smart Bell and the young and young(ish) turks like Michael Kimball and Adam Robinson.

To celebrate and publicize the release various bookstores around town have been holding readings and due to our honored Red Room getting a makeover from our proactive new landlord, Normal's is now ready to host ours.

The date is Wednesday, August 25th. The readers so far are Michael Kimball, Susan McCallum-Smith, Joe Young and myself. But perhaps we'll be able to lure our old customer John Astin back into town to read "The Black Cat" Poe selection. We'll see.....the reading starts at 8pm. Copies of the 316 page tome will be available for sale.