Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Skin" by Larissa Shmailo


My tongue is bruised
My nude is creaky
Like a cabbage I sit and wait for you
I stutter like an old gun:
Take me
The fast love of my hair.

Your beady little eyes transfix me
Like rats at the foot of my bed
Your limp pendant wrists still hang on my door
You snicker: Get a grip.

You own too big a piece of me
Your eyes say spare some change and I
Don’t want to I
Take and give no quarter and I’ve
Already cut my hair.

Skin is just sausage we call home.
Skin is just sausage we call home.

- Larissa Shmailo


Larissa Shmailo is a poet and a translator. Her book In Paran is available from and Small Press Distribution. Her poetry CDs Exorcism and The No-Net World, with music by Bobby Perfect. are available from iTunes and CDBaby. Larissa translated the Russian transrational opera Victory over the Sun by A. Kruchenych; a DVD of the original English-language production is part of the collections of the New York Museum of Modern Art and the Hirshorn Museum.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"We Are Different Here In The Present" - Stephanie Barber & Megan McShea at The Benevolent Armchair

It was a glorious sunny, breezy Spring day after a Saturday of Biblical proportion flooding and howling winds. I had been to the Benevolent Armchair readings, hosted by Chris Toll in Baltimore and Barbara DeCesare in Pennsylvana, many times when it was called The Upward Spiral and was held at the El Rancho Grande coffeehouse on Falls Road, but I hadn't made it to their spot at the Bromo Seltzer Building. Mostly because Sunday afternoons are my time to haunt the dog parks with Max. And today being so beautiful it was tough to cut our jaunt short, but it was well worth it for the refreshing word craft provided by Megan McShea and Stephanie Barber and for perusing the various "dirt soaps" down in the first floor gift shop. Love the smell of dirt and the ironic thought of cleaning with it, but if I am paying a whole $15 for something to feverishly rub against my unclean body it must be something over the age of 18 and wearing either a nun's habit or a sailor's cap. Sadly, I crept in a little late, having to stop for a cold caffeine fix on the way and being overwhelmed by the old grandeur of the Bromo Seltzer building and the refurbished Hippodrome. I missed the open mic portion of the reading and the very beginning of Megan's reading, but luckily she did one of the longest most generous readings I've seen her do. Usually she pulls a Kool Keith and whips through one or two of her evocative micro-tales and then beats it to her trailer to feast on all the riders in her contract. There was a funny moment when she was flipping through pages, obviously reading a portion to herself and deciding to edit it from the afternoon, when an audience member encouraged her: "Why don't you read them out loud."

(Above is audience member and publishing mogul Adam Robinson sporting a handsome Normal's Books & Records 20th Anniversary t-shirt). Megan's reading was followed by a brief question and answer period and then Stephanie Barber joined Megan for a reading of some great collaborations they had done. Hopefully at the bottom of this post is a working video of this portion of the reading. (It has now been about an hour and the video hasn't loaded so I'll try a separate post for it tomorrow).

Stephanie read about twenty short pieces which were all descriptions of photographs. This was a great concept that Stephanie really brought a lot of life to - the evocative, mysterious nature of life being frozen for that split second. During her Q&A, Adam asked if the photographs were real (I like a chucklehead laughed at first, thinking he'd jokingly asked if the poems were real). "Some of them," Stephanie answered. The oldest piece had been written four years ago, the most recent was written yesterday when she was compiling what she was going to read for today and she received a photograph of her nephew.

Below is host Chris Toll engaged with the sweet Lynchian retro microphone. Co-host Barbara DeCesare was occupied peering in the window of a wedding reception in Red Lion, PA that the Elvis impersonator she is stalking was performing at. The day was somewhat bittersweet because now that I'd finally caught a reading at the nice new space it turned out to be the last one of the season until September or October.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Long Wrinkly Tendrils of Young Asher Howl

O fresh flesh creation! Baby war on bummers! A new wee one in the house of Baltimore poetry. But how will this affect Senor O'Brien's wild plans of lengthy tours of many cities with Baltimore poets caged like wild beasts before terrified new audiences. And what of WORMS??? Father Bob and Mother Mel are glowing and their son Asher Howl already has 700 people following the Tweets from his recyclable whistling diapers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Did You Know There Were Vast Numbers of People Kept on a Teen Prison Island Called White Marsh?

On a recent Saturday night, Encyclopedia Brown and I were left with a hole rent in the delicate fabric of our social schedule. The Lunts, a local famous theatrical couple had backed out of dinner plans in the afternoon. Both of them calling separately not knowing what the other was up to, with wild tales of illness.

"Right now I am kneeling by our bathtub and a shark is devouring my arm," Harold said, trying to sound like he was wincing hard from unbearable pain.

About a half hour later Harold's tall, lithe bride called, sounding sheepish: "Would it be vain if I were to cancel for tonight having just broken out with leprosy? I have to make some calls to that island off Maui where they keep others like myself."

This being, as Sun Ra says, after the end of the world, and the two of us being mainly homebodies anyway, our schedule usually consists of me trying to remain as strictly parallel to our couch as humanly possible while Kim Jong Ev props a tome on the Holocaust on one knee while the Fogcaster runs a marathon of the show "Hoarders Who Hoard Other Hoarders While a Bunch of Cute Animals Get Trapped".

Without remembering any of George Romero's early zombie masterpieces, one of which took place entirely in a mall, we headed off for the White Marsh mall to catch either "Insidious" or "Hanna". I didn't know much about either, but I was leaning toward "Insidious" because although it was done by the people who foisted the godawful mess of "Saw" crap on us, this was supposed to be their attempt at redemption through classic psychological horror. I doubted it would be as fun as "The House of the Devil", "Drag Me To Hell" or of course no where near as brilliant as "Pontypool" I was hoping I at least would whiz in my pleated khakis.

But like the anticipated candlelit evening dinner of sophisticated repartee with Harold and Lana Lunt, it was not to be.

"Yeah, sold out. Over three hundred people in there. Of course, mainly teenagers," scoffed the puffy cheeked teen.

We were blown away and terrified by the masses of writhing ex-urbanites or post-surburbanites, or whatever real people are classified as these days. People who work in real estate, live in McMansions without trees in their neighborhood, occasionally wig out and slaughter their families. We're used to catching a high quality film at the comfortable Charles or deco Senator with only ten or twenty other cinephile weirdos, but here was a firehose of 21st Century DNA gushing at us, most of it teenaged. I forgot how rarely I see teenagers in groups these days.

As it turned out "Hanna" was a blast, reminding me in its rollercoaster slightly arty international thriller post-hippy hippy vibe of the film "Diva" in the '80s. I had a weird Twilight Zone parallel world experience after seeing "Hanna" though, of asking folks whether they remembered "Diva" and at first only one out of about ten remembered it! My memory of it was that it was huge among our circle in the '80s and that it caught something of a "zeitgeist" of the time, a bit of mucal plug from the cosmic sneeze.

Finally, out of desperation, I do what I always do when I fear the world has been turned upside down - I called the wise Desert Vixen out in the desert of New Mexico.

"Diva?" she said. "Is that that new movie with Cher and what's her name, Christina Applegate?"

"NO", I cried out in anguish. They had even gotten to the Desert Vixen! Should I call Matt Damon or George Clooney? Were they my last hope?

"Oh wait, Court has taken this hookah out of my hand and Gavin has hooked me up to an electro-shock treatment. I am also burning a candle I got from 'The Hugging Monk' and it's becoming clearer. Not only did I see it, but I saw it with you and Gavin! And there was wine! And beer! And smoke, followed by a little bald guy and an opera singer. Why did you call?"

At any rate, "Hanna" features not only a foxy ethereal star with an unpronounceable old school Irish name, but also one of the funniest side characters in recent films that I can think of - a great cynical before her time world weary early teen Brit girl. Can't wait to see what all this girl does in the future. The only two weaknesses in this polished thriller (besides the plot which of course ends of being way silly and hard to believe - the Maguffin, as Hitch would say) is Cate Blanchett's weird Southern accent that doesn't really show up until about mid-movie, is at first really hard to figure as Southern and then by the end turns into Minnie Pearl on goofballs. Also, there is a moment when a scraggly gnarly Euro-hippy magician threatens to reduce everything to "If only we could all juggle and believe in circus magic and wear stovepipe hats there would be golden happiness everywhere, but lots of bad music".