Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The People of Shakemore, Latvian-Venutian in origin, thrive in 130 degree temps with occasional felafel intakes & a large water tub for immersion

I have known Commander Chris Toll, he of the Vladimir Lenin countenance, for long fabric yards of forever. Starting with our lean salad days of dancing together with Bob Fosse - it took poets to come up with "Jazz Hands!", no mere dancer could - through our fat cat corporate years of working on the space station cooling system and up to now, our gray aged years of being mocked by the new slick networking generation of strong young poets. But in all our years of friendship (and the one year he despised me for my slavish devotion to daytime soap operas) we have never arrived at our chosen destination without getting lost.

We never even made it to Woodstock at all despite being close personal friends of Sha Na Na, because we ended up stuck in Montoma after dumping all our weed when we got jumpy around some police officers outside a small diner. Chris even panicked so bad that he slipped his "Frodo Baggins" pipe that he'd gotten from Jimi himself backstage when Jimi was opening for The Monkees (the horror and the indignity) into a trash can. Chris at that time had a massive golden 'fro that the sunbeams loved to play off of and that the ladies all caught their digits in.

We also missed Jimmy Carter's inauguration entirely, circling the infernal bowels of D.C. traffic forever until a gentleman with a cast on his left arm that we picked up near Malcolm X Park decided he needed our vehicle more than we did. Even a simple attempt at catching "Oliver" performed at a dinner theater in Olney, Maryland ended with us slipping down a wormhole and doing battle with Daleks.

But the day of Shakemore, day of days, the sun working up yet another 100 degree crescendo , we glided right through the strip malls of Westminster to the house of a neighbor of David Fair. A big hand painted friendly sign let us know we'd made it. Parking was plentiful and accessible and we stretched our legs in the far reaching field.

Making a note of the Portapot locations - O in my drinking days I would have had quite an affair with one of them, ending with an addled walk down a back country road and a desperate late night call to a friend with navigational skills (come to thnk of it, it's intriguing to think of how my drunken runaways would have been changed by the present convenience of cellphones) - I made a beeline for the merch table where Jad Fair stood now looking like a wild California Old West miner who'd lived to tell the tale with thick shaggy gray and black hair. His specs are no longer needed due to laser surgery, so he has a more swarthy rugged look. He made some beautiful shirts and printed posters to commemorate the event. I quickly scooped up one of each and took them back to the safety of the toasty vehicle. I was happy to see that there was also a pool and a small felafel stand selling kabob, felafel and hummus sandwiches for only $3 each. I thought I'd be getting by all day on my chocolate and cherry granola I'd bought at the last minute at Zeke's coffee shop.

I was sad to hear we'd missed Don Zientara's set. I remember him from my days of living near DC and I know his stellar production work. It was close to 2:30 and we settled onto the grass under the big striped tent in time to watch emcee Barbara DeCesare give a well deserved passionate introduction to Coo Coo Rockin' Time, led by beaming bodhisattva David Fair. Charles Brohawn, who would later also play with The Tinklers, had on his Elvis shades and was looking lean and mean on guitar. Chris Mason, also of The Tinklers, was playing acoustic bass.

For me this high spirited set got the festival going and put me in the pleasure zone for the rest of the day and night. I thought with pride to that long ago night when I donned a ragged dress for She Bites and we opened for Coo Coo Rockin's record release party at the 14 Karat Cabaret.

When David sang the song about a neighbor frustrated with all the wild rocking going on, you knew that would not be happening here. There were only rolling fields and hills behind the stage and the event's host's house in front of it on a hill. Lots of space.

After a song or two, David told the band he wanted to do a solo and he read a funny, touching poem for his brother Jad.

I got the honor of reading some poems after Coo Coo Rockin' played. I read "Is That Your New Boyfriend, The One Who Bought You the Sweatervest?" - a poem that Inow feel I have to explan I wrote during the Bush administration, "Ode to the Greek Man's Forearms" and a few others that I wrote, then closed up with a great poem about gargoyles written by Ted Brohl, thinking of one of my favorite Half Japanese albums - "Monsters". The poetry of Ted Brohl took a while to sneak up on me. Long ago I received one of those generic "Vantage Press" vanity press hardbacks from senor Brohl. Initially I thought it was just bad stuff, but it took a late drunken night with Courtney Camel McCullough for him to point out the magic brilliance of it. Soon Courtney was reading the works of Ted at Shattered Wig Nights to fill gaps.

While I was reading a colorful dapper gent from Brooklyn wearing shorts that looked like many assorted Sherwin-Williams tiles cobbled together was causing squeechy and screechy sounds to emit from getting his effects pedals together on stage. His name is Lumberog and he came on next and blew the damp socks off my curdled feet. Looking like one of the Watergate break-in boys - Ehrlichman mostly, I think, with maybe a dash of J. Gordon Liddy - he created a slippery, rubbery insanely catchy electro groove while physically shaking himself down on stage. At one point he danced off twirling into the field behind the stage, waving his arms around, and it truly felt like a sincere outburst of joy that was contagious.

The cherry on top of the soundcake was that occasionally he'd come to a stop on a dime and break into Rip Taylor-like kooky vocals: "I luuuuuv a charade". While he was busy blowing minds his beautiful toddler daughter sat quietly by the side of the stage in a Jean Seberg hairdo - for those of you under 40 or with no interest in classc cinema, think Emma Watson's brand new close shave. She helped him out on one song telling the story of the rabbit who lost its tail. She only had one line, but it stole the show.

Commander Toll got the tough job of following Lumberog. At the end of Lumberog's set Cliff Lynn and I are looking at each other, sweat dripping down our mugs, mouths agape, saying "Who's the poor bastard that has to follow that?" "It's Chris Toll," Cliff shouted. "Chris is going on, he's fearless! Who put the 'ear' in 'fear'?"

But Chris has had hardened combat experience from the drunken heckle-prone days of poetry in Baltimore in the '80s to the zoned out '90s period. His words are his sword and he cuts a wide swath. Two of his immortal lines I heard that day: "My mission is so secret I don't know it myself" and "Art is the bed where I cry myself to sleep". It was a beautiful, smart crowd, though, and the heartbreaking yet whimsical poetry of Chris, The Emily Dickinson of Mars, got just as much attention and love as the wild, skillful and loud dynamics of Lumberog.

And speaking of loud, this crew kept the hooting, whistling, calls for "Freebird" and random grabass going all day until Cindy on far right collapsed into the felafel stand holding a reporter from Spin's fake moustache she'd ripped off him. You'd be hard pressed to find humans more gentle, smart and funny than the four pictured here. Sadly, Charles can't read though, that book is a prop.

Chris Mason on the left and Liz Downing next to him took the stage in Old Songs after Chris Toll got down spinning the marvels of the universe in tiny word fragments. Mark Jickling of Half Japanese also plays in Old Songs and I believe does most of the translating of the ancient Greek and Roman poetry they put to music. Or perhaps Chris was just telling me that on this particular hot day to cut my "interview" with him short. One memorable chorus was "Wear the fox fur, do the hip shake, Dionysus says go go".

Cliff Lynn who curates a bi-weekly poetry series on Main St. in Annapolis, "Poetry and Main" - although I think he's about to move it to Westminster - followed Old Song's set: "I am the parts of you that belong on the moon". I have to note also that he is an ex-navy man who came late to the all consuming siren call of poetry when he ended up in a class taught by the powerful Shelley Puhak. He read a great poem using all the overused words of mainstream poetry: sanguine, alabaster, sublime......

He also had a great one line poem: "Hey, love is a bus, let's throw ourselves under."

I had a moment of shock when I first laid eyes on Sir Bob Wagner crouching on the grass under the tent preparing his gear for The Electric Junk Band set. He was wearing his international biking hat and I thought "Dear God, tell me he did not bicycle all these miles from Hampden in this boiling heat with his music gear on his back!" He is known to bike all the way out to 795 to get to his framing job and apparently he has biked to Ocean City with an "Acme" anvil on his back as a promo for Warner's languishing "Looney Tunes".

The Junk Band got their grit on and played like they were on the tilting deck of the Titanic as it was going down. That is a good thing. I believe emcee Babs compared the singer to Tom Waits crossed with the Tazmanian Devil drinking bleach from a shotgun, or something along those lines.

After the Junk Band rattled with great passion and thirst for fun, The Go Pills took the stage. I was blown away by an early incarnation of them I caught long ago at Atomic Books during a Uke-centric show. I'd seen bandleader Skizz Czyzyk in many groups over the years - and used to listen to his great radio show on the old Towson University station back in the '80s, but I felt like his songwriting and lead vocal presence had truly ripened. Now they have Batworth working the skins so they have percussive as well as emotional propulsion.

But I have to say, the gent that seals the deal is Randy Austin their pedal steel player. I'd never seen him anywhere until that long ago Atomic Uke show and he is fantastic. Dripping with authentic old country soul crossed with skittering brainslide psychedelia. I bestowed even more love on him when I saw he was wearing a vintage Pep Boys t-shirt, something that Nik Contagious of The Casual Carriers always used to wear in the glory days of The Marble Bar, one of the finest rock venues ever to fill with the phantoms of toxins.

I was so knocked out by Randy Austin's playing that when I heard he had an album at the merch table I ran right over and still bought it despite it being a cassette. I am not overly enamored of the cassette medium since I have had many stretch out like bad panty hose or melt like feeble minds on my dashboards over the years long ago. And ever since Wolf Eyes stuck some in paint and rolled them through hay every weed stoked youngster who does the same instantaneously decrees themselves King Arthur with the magic sword. Next I had to find a functioning boombox, which Katie Brennan kindly supplied me with. A few days after the festival I got to talk to Randy through the magic of Facebook and found out he played in Overkill, The Slim Jims, Graverobbers and The Throwbacks over the years.

Skizz dedicated his song "25 Years" to me since I had drooled over it to him in the past. It hits me in the soft spot being written from the perspective of someone looking back over their now lengthy creative life and wondering if it had meaning or much value for anyone outside the creator or if that even matters much, especially compared to a life of not creating at all.

It was either right after The Electric Junk Band or The Go Pills that cruel emcee Babs forced me onstage to read "doorlock". It felt good to spread the gospel of Little Debbie to the new generation of youth there. See me hunch, I am an old sweating huncher, hunch old man hunch. Liz Downing of Lurch and Holler said that if I ever turn "doorlock" into an opera with its tragic tale of Little Debbie, Big Frank, gothic murder, debilitating hangover, crouching maintenance men and failed space travel, she and Michael would perform in it! Just about right after she said that, the jug of corn squeezin's fell from her hand and she collapsed onto the grass and slept like a baby for quite some time.

During Aliens' set Michael of Lurch & Holler and I had wacky satori of not realizing the female half of the duo was indeed not playing a keyboard at all, just a horizontal guitar case that she tapped her fingers on and occasionally used as a tambourine table.

Around this time, my friend China - The Gentle Giant of Hampden - told me "a widening secret" that is probably common knowledge by now like the fact that Kurt Cobain lives in a jungle cage with Roberto Clemente on Guam.

Next up was complete delicious ear candy from Animal Eyes. Madame Selena began with "Strange" made famous by Patsy Cline and I thought where can she possibly go from there? Her vocals have grown incredibly rich, full and confident. As an added treat she had on thick frightening clown makeup on, I think in homage to her mom who was there (since she lives in the area) and who is a clown trinket collector (must be a real sicko). She also had two hula hoop dancers - also in stripey costumes and clown makeup - performing a cough syrupy Lynchian ritual off to the side of the performance tent.

Animal Eyes' show stopper deluxe turned out to be the best version of "Crying" I've heard outside of Roy himself. Amazing passion crossed with flexible control. And just when you thought she'd hit all the possible high notes she went into one last new vortex of swooping and yodeling. With two layers of sweat caked on me I had chills. Truly remarkable. If I was still drinking and single I'd be at the Rendezvous right now getting all sloppy and regaling the hat rack with the wonder of this performance. And with my luck I'd wake in the morning, the hat rack would be gone and I'd have row after row of glistening genital warts.

Skizz Cyzyk took the stage again, this time with esteemed Don Peyton on standup bass, in The Lefties. Don was just getting his sea legs back from an illness and looked lean and strong, his distinguished silver wig already grown back fuller than my rapidly diminishing cabbage patch.

Skizz sang a version of supergenius Fred Lane's "The One Who Cut You". Needless to say, not a song you get to hear often under a circus tent in broad daylight. Skizz has been working on a documentary about Fred and I hear it's great. Mr. Lane is apparently very reticent to talk about this side of his life and is mainly involved in the whirligig circuit now. The holy man Skizz has been trying for years to get Fred into Baltimore and have the capable Swingin' Swamis be his backup band. Dierker would knock that ball both off our planet and through the parallel universe where Richard Nixon is a respected dub producer.

The Lefties also did a notable take on Tom Waits' "Yesterday's Here" and Alice Donut's "Joan of Arc".

Bubbly zaniness descended into awkward wriggling uncomfortableness and back agan when next cruel emcee Babs forced some youngsters to read the lyrics to the "Thong Song". There are far more lyrics and repeated refrains to that song than you'd think.

An expanded double drummer assault of Leprechaun Catering brought the freaky deaky twitchiness. Dr. Borax always looks like he's one electronic dial away from blowing up the Mothership.

The brutal sun started its descent during Leprechaun Catering's set and some nice promising breezes began to blow. A little after six the five piece bluegrass group Bald Mountain played followed by the visionary operatic country myth deconstructers Lurch & Holler. "In a corner of my room by my bed floats Jayne Mansfield's head". They also played another of my old favorites, "Liar Liar", which for me really showcases both their fantastic voices to ultimate advantage. As always Michael was working some demonic snakey shimmy grind and Liz's beatific face was glowing with Word. I definitely feel like I need to take a few courses in ancient mythology and literature from them.

Molly Andrews was another nice out of town surprise for me. According to Barbara, Molly has played with John Zorn and Mike Seeger and she followed "Don't Play Cards With the Devil" with a jaunty circus-like cover of the "Speed Racer" theme song on a Magnus electric chord organ. We have it on good knowledge from Don Peyton that a hummingbird hovered near Mz Andrews at one point during her set.

It was somewhere around here that I hit the felafel stand for the second time to get more water and a third coke. While I was gone Lady Susana took the liberty to adorn my earnest notebook with a pretty drawing of a pegasus and a princess! Did Studs Terkel or Lester Bangs ever have to suffer such indignity?

Professor Beaudouin, he who would rather take on a ravenous cell of Taliban fighters bare-handed rather than wear socks with his Gucci loafers, came on and read many illuminating verses of his long love affair with Baltimore: "but it will never be anymore real than here".

Bring on the stage clamp lights for it has gone beyond dusk at this point and it's time for The Tinklers. As always there was physical comedy in their set revolving around Charles' untamed drum kit. Ricardo the soundman tried to straighten it out at one point and the results were like a greased pig chase carnival game. But like all great comedy and literature, The Tinklers' lyrics get truer and more poignant with time. When I first heard "Come On Down to the Beach" about cleaning the beach with loved ones and rakes I thought it was "adorable". Then came Exxon Valdez and now BP's Deepwater Horizon. Then the New York Times ran an article saying that oil companies have been destroying the water in Nigeria for 50 years. It is now wonder that Chris now hops during this song.

After the mutant visionary pop folk of The Tinklers came another reading from Professor Toll - "Who pays the rent in 'incoherent'?" - and two great punk bands, The I Don't Cares (although it was obvious they did) and The Degenerettes. Once Rahne got a capo from Chris Mason The Degenerettes were off and running in fine form. Their bass player is my favorite current rock bassist other than my beloved friend Chuckles. Sinuous backbone from which to launch cries of pleasure, rage or pain! Stand out song for me this evening for me was their cover of "Candy Says". They made it their own.

. The crowd in the tent immediately bunched up to front and center. The 12 to 15 year olds (probably some related or even children of the band) knew the songs and laid claim to them just as much as the band's peer group. And there was no faking the joy caught fire. It was particularly great to hear two songs of the "Monsters" album - "Thing With a Hook" and "Rosemary's Baby". There was also a dynamite version of "Charmed Life" (which should be the lead song for the documentary on the life of the Fair brothers for sure) and a great cover of "You're Gonna Miss Me" by the 13th Floor Elevators. I could not help but dance, forgive me those who may have seen.

It was at this point, after The Degenerettes, that emcee Babs was at her ice-blooded cruelest, forcing me to go on after Rahne and crew had everybody dancing. I held my breath and dived in, starting with "summoning the source" and telling the crowd that they were welcome to interpretative dance to the poems. Which Barbara and her son then did, which truly saved me. They did great stuff to "I Wake Up Screaming". I would love to shoot a You Tube video of that with the DeCesare dancers.

Amazingly, it was now 12 hours - or about - from the start of the day and the best was yet to come. Half Japanese, the original lineup, took the stage with great gusto. The first time I had ever seen them was in the University of MD, College Park cafeteria opening up for the then ubiquitous Insect Surfers in 1979 or '80.

The crowd in the tent immediately bunched up to front and center. The 12 to 15 year olds (probably some related or even children of the band) knew the songs and laid claim to them just as much as the band's peer group. And there was no faking the joy that caught fire. It was particularly great to hear two songs of the "Monsters" album - "Thing With a Hook" and "Rosemary's Baby". There was also a dynamite version of "Charmed Life" (which should be the lead song for the documentary on the life of the Fair brothers for sure) and a great cover of "You're Gonna Miss Me" by the 13th Floor Elevators. I could not help but dance, forgive me those who may have seen.

Despite the crowd still being hungry for more, there were neighbors to consider and us old folks, so they wrapped things up with "Night Train". The youngsters immediately started up a snaking conga line and at one point Barbara's son pulled me in. But the thing about a conga line is you have to place your hands on the shoulders or waist of the individual in front of you. When my wet clay-like paws rested as lightly as possible on the sharply dressed teen girl preceding me she darted a look back and the look of fright was as if she saw "The Thing with a hook, out on lover's lane". But this monster was having too good of a time to be hurt by it, or to worry on mortalty for the moment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Glistening At the Shop

The Waffle House waiter took a seat to the side of our table and began explaining the various styles of fried eggs to The Bow-Legged Gorilla like a young gentle priest who still has a touch of teenage goofiness.

"Where do you have the egg types on the menu?" the Gorilla asked.

"They aren't on there, how do you like your eggs? You like dippin' in the yolk?"

"Not real sloppy, no."

It was around 11:30 on a Sunday in Frederick and we had gotten a later start for Pittsburgh than I'd planned, but I tried not to beat myself up over it. Surely we'd still get there in time to check out some vinyl and no matter what we'd be way early for the show. There were at least eight Waffle House employees running around serving what I guessed was partially an after church crowd. Whatever that special feeling is that I'd been finding in the Tabernacle of the Smothered and Covered on me and Everly's trip to Mobile could also be found here, much closer to my Northern home.

"Do you want your egg stiff enough where you could wear it like a little flat top hat?"

The highway was nice and scenic. Lots of mountains and trees. Caught up with the Gorilla and his tales of climbing and swinging a chainsaw. Throughout the drive he kept getting third party cellphone calls where he could hear two people talking but they couldn't hear him.

Unlike some of my other recent trips this highway also had lots of Starbucks. Say what you will, but Starbucks gives their employees healthcare and their coffee will help propel your traveling. The only way I can drink Dunkin' Donuts coffee or roadstop grounds is to take it with cream and sugar and then I get gassy and irritable like Winston Churchill after a nap.

My spider senses that the Grand Plan was coming unglued started when I saw that it was already 2:30 and we'd just hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike. So I called Matt the friendly event organizer who I'd only met in person twice in three years. He had come in the store one day long ago and asked if me and Blaster wanted to read in Pittsburgh. I'll say yes to anything as long as it's not happening in the next three or four hours. Plus I'd always heard that Pittsburgh was great for cheap vinyl.

It was when Mapquest dumped us in Irwin that I knew we were screwed. It was an unending stretch of failed businesses and chain stores from twenty years ago and little squat stone bars without windows. Kind of like some patches of Belair Rd. here. There is a weird ghosty feeling there quite unlike the ghosty feeling of a lonely forrest or an urban cemetary. There are signs of life of some sort yet you can't feel that life.

Along about the fifth hour of driving and not finding the road Mapquest said should have been come across ten miles ago me and the Gorilla started working up sweats. You could still feel cool air coming from the air conditioner, but the road sun had completely baked the inside of the car
and we were getting slap happy.

I finally called Matt up and he felt we should abort the original plan of hitting his house first and instead go straight to the venue. Unfortunately he didn't seem to be much of a Galileo either and we had to keep calling back with different coordinates until he could place our location. Eventually we landed across from the Bloomfield post office on Penn St. and Matt said he'd meet us there. We swung the car doors open and began laughing hysterically when we realized the late afternoon air was cooler than the air conditioned air, or maybe it was just a refreshing difference. I began scouting a piss spot without luck and when I returned to the car the Gorilla was chatting up a young hip looking guy. I didn't think he was Matt who I'd met before, but I was now feeling dazed and thinking maybe the original Matt had passed the show onto somebody else a while ago and this young lad was who I'd been talking to. Or maybe he just got sent as an emissary. At any rate, me and the Gorilla thought he was our man and were telling him our life stories until we finally realized he'd just pulled over to ask us where I got one of my bumperstickers because he knew the guy who had designed it. Who can tell where that car would have taken us if we'd hopped in like our initial instinct told us to?

Ten minutes later the real Matt showed up and we parked across from The Shop and went on foot to look for Sir Ian Nagoski and Amanda, who were sensibly nestled in our bar somewhere. As fate would have it, as soon as we hit the first corner on foot I looked up through a cross hatching of various power lines and telephone lines and saw a huge Shepard Fairey "Obey" stencil, the first one I'd seen in about a decade.

Perhaps you remember the part in Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Now when Marlow, after his many travails, finally meets the enigmatic and mad Colonel Kurtz? In Apocalypse Now bald and rubber-like with blotation Brando mugged and tried to will a dark and menacing anti-charisma onto the screen hinting at glimpses into the vast abyss. Well, Ian bellied up to the bar was nothing like this. In fact he was beaming and drinking a mug of beer and wolfing down calamari and chicken livers wrapped in bacon. This being past the end of the world, the bar's walls (not even that big of a place) sported four giant television screens, each one playing something different. On one a jacked up boxer was boxing a manacled robot. The production quality looked like it could either be an infomercial or a reality show, but the boxer was looking very emotional and there was text at the bottom of the screen reading "actual adrenaline 1,000" on the left hand side and "synthetic adrenaline 750" on the right hand side. On the television directly across from us a news report said that actually quite a few parents said having kids wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Time for a show.

One connecting tissue of most struggling cities' struggling art scenes are funky performance spaces. The Shop was physically about even or better than most fledgling venues I"ve been in in Baltimore, but this particular 90 plus shimmering heat-filled day there was not even a tiny little hand operated fan to be seen. But the turnout was really good, host Matt was giddy and smart and the hosts one notch above him who were directly responsible for the space were very welcoming.

The Bow-Legged Gorilla kicked things off in his 'Dena hobo shorts with some fine shrieking beat boxing that included some throat punching that created a great electronic sound. He followed that with his long solo piece that he'd performed at the Normal's Anniversary show. It wanders through a wild and disparate emotional terrain, with many moments where it's impossible to know where the guitar/amplifier sounds and his electronic-like vocals were separated. After the long drive and the slightly easing heat due to the dropping hazy sun I laid back on the warehouse floor and felt the tension ease.

Of course the tension did not ease for long when I realized I wouldn't be going on with my poetry bit until after Sir Ian's presentation on vintage world music '78s. I do not have many theories and most of the few I have are most likely incorrect, but I do feel that once music has pierced the psychic veil of a hushed "performance" space, plain old spoken word is a come down.

Due to either my social laziness/reclusiveness or conflicting schedules I'd never caught Ian's music lectures before, but here now four hours away from our formerly shared homes (he and Amanda are now residing in Frostburg) I finally got to be blown away. It not only was an educational treat on fifty to eighty year old music, but also on world history and the slippery nature of consciousness and pleasure itself. Sprinkled throughout the talk were choice slabs of sound that proved beauty in the arts doesn't follow a linear path. The pieces we heard that night were as dynamic and evocative as when they were recorded eons ago onto thick shellac. Near the end of his presentation as the room darkened and a small overhead light was turned on Ian stepped down off the low stage to perform a slow and leisurely solo dance to a Greek song.

By the time I hit the stage everyone in the room had grown a new outer skin, one that was moist and glistening, but the mood was still good. It's always fun to read in front of a whole new audience because you don't have to worry if anyone has heard any of the pieces too many times. Afterwards I got one of the nicest compliments I've ever gotten after a reading. A gent said that normally after readings he felt like he wanted to run home and write, but after this one he felt too intimidated. It felt good to read a bunch of pieces from Whispering of Ice Cubes, a book largely inspired by a dark, but memorable, period of hardly ever leaving the house or the dread triangle of home/work/bar in front of a new crowd in a city I'd never been in before.

It being the weekend of Everly's birthday and me not having finished all the preparations for her birthday altar, the Gorilla and I, after happily moving some merch, set back out on the road. This time with directions given to us from a human. We also had four new cd-r anthologies from Ian, including an incredible collection of "Groovy Malaysian Chick" pop to keep our spirits and energy up for the long drive home. We pushed pretty hard and only made one stop in this small over-congested town about two hours or less from home that seemed like the grim Northeast version of "South of the Border". The Gorilla indulged in a quick Sheets meatball sub and I risked one of their coffees.

Everly found me on the couch at 3:3o am with fur covered eyes. Thank you Matt Wellins for persisting with your invite despite my spaciness. I will have to spend more time in Pittsburgh, which I hadn't realized was such a Polish stronghold.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reading in Pittsburgh This Sunday, 7/18

I'm going to take a maiden voyage into Pittsburgh to do a reading and hopefully check out their native thrift fauna of vinyl and boards and wraps. I confess I don't know anything about this venue or performance other than it's put together by a fine gent who has been asking me and Blaster Al to come up for a few years and it comes highly recommended by Sir Ian Nagoski of Canary Records.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Pictured at left is our little Vortex grill transported to Chincoteague Island so that Lady Rio could whip up on some steaks. And indeed she did. This was on Monday night, our second night there, and soon after these roaring charcoal flames got going storm clouds brewed and in about an hour the overbearing 100 degree days collapsed into the gentle mid-'80s and stayed there.

On the night of July 3rd when the Island was celebrating the 4th, we walked a few blocks from our cottage to a nearly deserted park by the water and watched from our seats on a picnic table three different neighborhoods set off fireworks. Two other couples of varying ages and horniness sat at scattered picnic tables and the cool breezes felt like silk.

Usually fireworks strike me as the clowns of holiday entertainment. Something that everybody is supposed to enjoy and be enthralled by, but for me - and I think a lot of other people, a big old bag of whiff. But on this night with Everly beside me catcalling spanish sailors and taking big wet slurps from her 40 I was able to relax and be spellbound by the upward spiraling electric spiderwebs in the sky.

Once again I was reminded on this trip that apparently if I bike, swim in the ocean and lay around reading on the beach all day I can feel very healthy. My legs felt like vibrating meat tuning forks. Of course at that point it was the final night of our trip, I'd had my last swim while the suave white-haired gentleman set up in a mini-tent behind me played Brazilian and classical music on an acoustic guitar, and the next morning we'd be rolling back to Baltimore praying the car tires would make it.

Luckily there were two flea/antique markets to hit on the way to cushion our return to savage civilization. The first held mainly bootleg versions of bad mainstream dvds, used mom jeans and a tattooist(!) - "good place to get hepatitis," my beloved remarked - but the second, "Blue Crow", had some very cool books at a booth that was going out of business. A beautiful hardback of Breakfast of Champions in pristine, colorful unfaded jacket, a first complete English translation of Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia-Sexualis, a couple of Freemasonry books (hello wackos) and a first edition of Capote's In Cold Blood.

It was a Chincoteague trip of many firsts. My first marriage and honeymoon, of course, and that was splendid - almost as special as seeing a Kid Rock Kid shaped like a '50s rocketship, the kitchen sink bulky baroque kind that was always after Buck Rogers, wearing a Confederate flag bikini. Or as sweet and tender as the elderly gent who looked like Tiny Tim if Tiny Tim had pursued accounting and occasionally had a glass of some sort of juice in the morning along with his fistful of uppers, downers, screamers, marrow pellets, paw paw beans and Ladybugs, having the time of his life with a neon green surfboard.

Of all the treasured keepsakes I have from this physical and emotional journey - the speaking oyster shell, close up photos of a glossy ibis and a snowy egret getting it on, the bloodied cloth Mennonite cap found next to a dented rolling pin in the Mister Whippie parking lot, I think the scarification along the back of my legs that were exposed below my bermuda shorts caused by Everly beating me with wire hangers whenever I tried to turn the air conditioner above 62 degrees will always be my favorite. Like a gory severed head rolling down a thirty foot stone Aztec pyramid, my altered legs will assure a decent crop is harvested by our love.

I will never forget the sweet little girl who was staying in the cottage across from ours with her aunt. Each morning when the black squirrel was cavorting in the willows, the circus of butterflies caught once again in the spell of the Russian Sage bush, my muffled sobbing on the back porch would attract the attention of the youngster as she created internet portals for her various C.E.O. friends from the Cartoon Network.

"Why do you cry so, Mr. Borgnine?" she would softly ask me, having once seen "McHale's Navy" on her grumpy old grandfather's television and now confusing me with the classic old character actor who was built from tubers.

"I'm not crying Portia," I would say, "it's just my allergies. And please stop pressing against the porch screen, Miss Everly will hear you and my allergies might just get far worse. Here, please be a dear child and take this balled up old note to the sheriff at T's Corner, I think he'll understand."

(To be continued.)