Thursday, September 16, 2010
Delicious First Worms of Season & Making Wicked Cash off Celebrity Poems
I am so very glad I fought my inner nature and nasty allergies or chest cold or Nazgul bite to leave my nest shortly after a hard lone day of laboring in the bittersweet fields of cultural retail to catch the first WORMS reading of the new fall season.
How I love that phrase "new fall season". As a kid it meant the sharp crisp terror of a new year of school, but that terror also brought exciting adrenaline, new faces, transformations of old faces and maybe a couple of cool shirts (except for that unfortunate year when my dad was assigned to taking me shopping and he outfitted me like a '20s Chicago pimp - including a white belt!!! And two-toned shoes). And yes, the new television season, bringing new "Green Hornet", new "Batman", my tiny brain sizzling up like an egg pan in a Sunday morning Waffle House.
Now it means a thick Sunday edition of the New York Times with a peak at all the upcoming films, music, theater and art. Of course that doesn't cover the tasty crepuscular items creeping from the underground and trying to seep into public consciousness, but it's such a refreshing moment to hold that massive amount of print telling you of things to come after a summer of bad action movies.
The lineup for the WORMS premiere was a siren call that I could not resist - Stephanie Barber, Justin Sirois, Adam Robinson, Chuck Green and Donna Sellinger. Last year WORMS rotated its facilities after a few were held at the Zodiac. This year it has moved to a new space in the Bell Foundry where pioneer humans have just set up sterno stoves and laid their bindlestiffs in a few days before. The actual reading space was in a heavily spraypainted basement with a parking garage vibe and to get there you had to go through a Beirut corridor. This addled old man was aided by elvin folk cooking at the end of the hall who told me to grab a chair, take a right and go down the stairs. "He will never make it and the stink of his corpse will sadly be for many who visit here a bookmark of their sense memory," one of them said while sprinkling cumin on a seiten fish stick.
When I got downstairs there were already five great old friends sitting scattered among the vast concrete. Our hellos echoed grandly and messed with my allergy clogged hearing. The space quickly filled, Stephanie Barber came bounding in with her dad who seemed a day or two older than her and WORMS host Bob O'Brien genially took the "stage". Abandoning the format of last year of opening with fake letters written to WORMS, Bob read from an actual internet site devoted to making a fortune off writing celebrity poetry. It included such inane advice as "write about celebrities that you actually like." "You can post every day or once a week."
Inspired by this I think I will write James Franco celebrity poetry.
"No Flatness No More"
There was a moment
late in the one cherished season
of "Freaks and Geeks" where Muttonchops
got angry at you, thinking you'd spread
the word about his hermaphrodite
girlfriend. There was only a response
of tender pain in your eyes that
was deep and moving. You also were
impassive as crazy Kim beat Hell
out of you for something you
didn't do. I also almost wept
when you played Dungeons & Dragons
with the geeks. Your lonesomeness
and fear of an empty future
were palpable as a cafeteria
hairnet lying in cold gravy.
were in Spiderman and Hollywood
had pithed you. You were placed around
the sets like a cardboard cut-out
and cameramen placed their coffee cups
on top of you. But going back to
Muttonchops. Do you ever run into
that foul hobgoblin that is like an
evil munchkin young brother of him
who sprang from his 'fro & id?
He is poison come to life without
a neck and no court would convict
you if you put a bullet in him.
And how did Judd Apatow go from
making a television series with
classic film values to making
films with hollow sitcom tv values
plus the freedom to flame out in
foul new teen boy misogyny.
But I am keeping you up,
you must rest for all your classes
and art shows. You wore
sweaters well in "Milk",
once again kind of inert, but
comfy smiley inert, exuding a
a Golden Lab smell. I would like
to take a nap with you.
I don't think
you can summon the spirit of
Ginsberg, but I will enjoy
watching you try.
Hmmmnnn, not so good. I will have to work on that.
At most readings, even one like this where the quality across the board was stellar, there is one reader that penetrates my psychic fog the most to glisten with pure word joy and this night it was lead-off writer Stephanie Barber. I've heard her a few times and enjoyed it, but this batch and her performance of it was entertaining as hell and also gave the listener a real good insight into the writer's process.
Chuck Green gave me a feeling of a Mod kid approach with his t-shirt that had his name printed on it and a tale of yachting with Oprah Winfrey, but the story was well-crafted and the simple performance device of a mini-megaphone was effective and refreshing.
Donna Sellinger had some killer lines and descriptions, but cough syrup memory prevents me from sharing them here.
I think it was after Donna's story that a short break was taken for folks to grab free "throwback" Pepsis and Mountain Dews and to peruse the various small press literary offerings on view.
After the tumultuous echo-laden break the leading small press giants of Baltimore right now, Justin Sirois of Narrowhouse and Adam Robinson of Publishing Genius performed to a large attentive audience who were eating them up. Justin read some of the pieces I had heard him read a few nights before at Normal's and he read with a very different spirit that gave a few of the pieces an almost entirely different feel. Last Saturday they felt ebullient almost to the point of cocky, where this night the words held a lot of wistfulness and melancholy. At one point Justn held the bust of Thor that had been placed on a small bookshelf behind the readers for atomosphere for comfort and solace as he read his last pieces.
Adam went last and seemed to be having a good time. His usual fairly long comic pauses were slowed even more to almost a Beckett length, as if - and perhaps he was -he was still considering the thoughts he was sharing as he shared them. At the rate of change in publishing these days, most likely in a year or so you will be able to converse with Adam and his thoughts through a DNA chip in his book.
In the meantime, Adam has two new old school printed paperbacks just out on his press, by Mike Young and Rachel Glasser, that I need to check out. Plus Narrow House is publishing a collection of longtime experimental and populist poet Chris Mason of The Tinklers and Coo Coo Rockin' Time and Old Songs in November. How will I find time to drive my new bride insane when there is so much good reading to do???