It had been two years since I last cobbled together a Shattered Wig and I was feeling it. A bunch of all nighters to meet the "deadline" of the publication party while the new comforts of home and marriage called out to me: "Silly old man, look at you cut and paste like a 12 year old. Who will read your Wig? Put it all down, walk away from the scrap covered floor and get under the winter blankets with that new printing of that crazy Charles Williams pulp novel you got. Or think about how long it's been since you've seen "Clockwork Orange". Pop in a little horrorshow. Look how warm and inviting Everly is there despite how she loves to keep the window open in 30 degree weather with an industrial strength metal fan two inches from her head. You are a near broke, near old man - you might as well be well rested."
I went to bed around 3 a.m. the night before the show without having written any introduction, which I like to have for future reference, each issue being a little buoy floating on the ever rougher surface waves of my consciousness. I jumped up the next morning with just enough sleep not to feel completely like shit, but not enough to let my body realize how much more it desired. Got right down to the coffee and introduction and by 12:30 it was done. I quickly called reliable Rob at wonderful Work Printing (762 Washington Blvd off Martin Luther. They are suspiciously friendly and helpful!) If they didn't exist, neither would the tiny Wig.
"Hey Rob, I finally finished, can I bring it over now?"
"Sure, no problem. Just be careful."
"Careful? What do you mean?"
"It's snowing outside."
Panic! My old pal and bedrock Shattered Wig contributor Blaster Al's arch nemesis - the dread white substance that lines the street and renders shoes useless: snow. Then I had to chuckle. Here it was the melancholic first Wig Night with Blaster now living back in Texas and it was snowing. Last year he said he felt as bad as he did back in Vietnam being penned in by all the snow and ice.
And of course a big enough snow can be a "promoter's" nightmare. Hard enough competing these days for a crowd in overbooked Baltimore without competing with Nature itself.
Luckily, it was just a little scare and a cosmic joke to get me laughing with Blaster. As Rob, Debbie and I devoured some fine pizza and the Wigs rolled off the machines like a backwards slaughter house shooting out unslaughtered pigs, the snow became a brief dusty memory left by the slate gray sky.
It felt good to be back at the 14 Karat Cabaret, a brand new issue piled high on the rickety old card table that erstwhile soundman Ronnie had already set up for me. The crowd started up early and there were a lot of new faces.
Originally, Neoist plotter, anti-science buff (but highly erotically charged lover of Der Kindle) John "Pego" Berndt was going to bring a little Blaster Al to the proceedings by reading some of Blaster's new poetry that he's written since taking the Southern plunge, but John went down with one of the many flus that seemed to hit hard and early this year. In his stead, which was supposed to be in Blaster's stead, I opened the show (to a nice crowd of 70 people or so) by reading Blaster's letter in the new Wig about his epic Greyhound trip from Baltimore to Austin.
R.M. O'Brien ("Bob" to his arresting officers) took the stage next and whupped up and loved on it. He is not only the curator of the diverse and well attended WORMS reading series, but a great poet and performer. He mixed a nice Gregory Corso poem into his mix as well as one by an old friend of his. Inspiring stuff and well received.
Following Robert was Emily Peterson Crespo, world traveler, linguist and co-founder of the Follow the Buffalo Workshop and reading series. She read poems about and/or inspired by her trip to Egypt and I definitely think there is a novel or travel book in there. She made many references to the fine bottle of wine that she and her hubby Joe had had to wolf down at the restaurant before the show, not wanting to be wasteful. She told me Saturday that not only did she have a good time, but that she was hungover. That is all I ask of these shows - that at least one of our performers wakes up the next day with a big old rubber sack on their back. In the old days when my hair climbed toward the skies making even Gene Wilder scared, I wouldn't crawl out of bed after a Wig Night until about 3 the next day. Shame!
Above is the mischievous enigma known as Ryan Walker. As I said that night when introducing him, I always suspect there's something he knows that he's not telling us. Always that small quirky shadow of a smile. He has a great reading style of something like Steven Wright reading the nightly news as written by Zippy the Pinhead. Often he will stop and laugh at what he has just read, as if he has seen it for the first time.
One of the bonuses for me of Shattered Wig Nights, are surprise guests like Mary of an old group I was in called Groovy Like a Pig and Andy of the group Red Dogma from the early '80s. Red Dogma actually could have gone places, except two of the members went to a place indeed - Australia, when they married. Andy has since had the pleasure of playing and recording with Roland Howard. Mary is a bounty hounter.
This Wig Night had many facets of joy. One was the reunion of sorts of the group above. That's Michael and Tony Lambright, formerly of the much loved Madagascar group. This night was the first time they played on stage with Justin, also of Madagascar, as "Nests Revealed". More of an electro ambient sound this time. Great to hear these guys again.
Ah, then there's the unwashed wild straight outta Westport antics of The Baltimore String Felons. I've had the pleasure of hearing these hobos many a time and not just because the stringy wild-eyed fiddler is my genius nephew Geff. They have brought old country and Americana music into the seething weirdness of the modern world with their very own sound. 98% of their songs are their own, but they have a quality of a really detailed strange hand carved thing that you always saw on your grandmother's cupboard next to her dandelion wine. They have an album already recorded and in the can, so I hope someone with a few dollars and some distribution contacts hook them up. I know we'd be able to move quite a few hot units of it at Normal's Bargain Cobbley World.