Thursday, September 29, 2011
OCT 7: Martin, Maxwell, Scalise, van den Berg
Posted by Adam Robinson ⋅ August 30, 2011 ⋅ Leave a Comment
SPECIAL Normals Books reading!
As part of Free Fall Baltimore, this reading will be held at Normals Books
425 E. 31st St
Megan Martin‘s first book of prose poems, Sparrow & Other Eulogies, was released in April 2011 by Gold Wake Press. The collection was the runner-up for the 2008 Slope Editions Book Prize, judged by Maxine Chernoff. Her work has appeared inWebConjunctions, Denver Quarterly, H_NGM_N, CakeTrain, Action, Yes!, Tarpaulin Sky, elimae, BlazeVOX2k8, Word Riot, andWunderkammer, among others.
Kristi Maxwell was born in Tennessee and currently lives and writes in Tucson Arizona. She is the author of Realm Sixty-four(Ahsahta 2008), Hush Sessions (Saturnalia 2009), and a chapbook, Dancing & Wise (Dancing Girl Press). Her latest collection,Re-, will be released by Ahsahta in fall of 2011. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona and a doctorate in English from the University of Cincinnati. Boise State Bio
Mike Scalise lives in DC. He has written for a bunch of magazines, blogs, websites and journals and received fellowships and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Corporation of Yaddo, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University.
Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her stories have or will soon appear in Ploughshares, One Story, Boston Review, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prize XXIV. Her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009), was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, longlisted for The Story Prize, and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award. She currently lives in Baltimore.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A few Mondays ago I had my first taste of being a feeble old man in the tender loving care of a kind relative. In a good way. My beloved Niece Shredder (pictured above) who got a teaching job straight out of the starting gate at the very Junior High that I went to when I was limber and full of hope and my neuroses were fresh - visions of goitered booted nuns still dancing in my head. Needless to say, Boom! she's already making way more than her beatnik uncle with his high falutin' popsicle stand.
(Dave Cousins, vocalist and guitarist with Dave Lambert, guitarist and vocalist, of the acoustic Strawbs)
Shiva, Kali, Buddha, Jesus and John Astin's Gomez have blessed me with three amazing and talented and sensitive and smart nieces and one amazing and talented and smart nephew who just needs to stop chopping all the sleeves off his muthafuckin' t-shirts! They are all huge scholars and music lovers, but Tina is perhaps the specialist of the bunch. Her love is not widespread among all the Delta bluesmen and/or country pickers and/or whatnot, but focused like a government top secret laser on one or two groups or solo acts at a time.
For many many long and fertile years of her childhood and tweens and early teens she plowed diligently the fab field of Beatlemania. Histories were read, posters sprouted. Then, there was a natural progression or expansion to Beatle contemporaries The Zombies! Who doesn't love the dang Zombies??!! That's some smooth catchy smoky soul stuff being laid down with funky organ and slinky guitar work. And to her aged uncle's surprise she somehow branched out to creaky crunchy Tom Waits (it was from a high school experience in a reverb drenched hallway during a theater project). Currently, and she can be forgiven for this, for she is a kind and gentle person, she is stuck on Eddie Vedder like an elf on a rainbow. A very cool outgrowth of this unreasonable Vedder passion is she has now bought herself a very groovy "Sea Foam" color ukulele and is strumming up a fierce wake of jubilant sound.
At any rate, all that being said, said Niece Shredder pounced on some Zombie tickets at The Annapolis Rams Head the second she heard they were on sale. Luckily her beau was not going to be in town and is not that big of a Zombie fan, so her aged uncle got to escort her to the show and share a table that was directly pushed up against the front center of the stage. A view so intimate that I felt like if I stared any more deeply into Herr Blunstone's eyes one of us would have to make the first move.
But speaking of passion for all things vintage and especially originating from the '60s, Niece Shredder has a very cool blog wherein she writes of vintage clothing and her highly skilled sewing excursions: http://decadedisplacement.blogspot.com/
(ABOVE: Dave Lambert, who possesses one of the most intense faces I've seen in real life. Kind of as if John Hurt experienced perhaps twice the pain and developed maybe a half dozen more folds. It made for powerful expression when he sang.)
A sweet bonus of this show in addition to the venue being very intimate and friendly (not one hassle while we were in there and the waitress didn't seem to care at all that we were both teetotallers ((perhaps glad to see a few folks under 60??? Not that I am much under that or to be ageist about the crowd)) was the opening act -- The Strawbs. I had heard a few songs by them over the years, but this was before Pentangle and Trees and Bert Jansch had helped me pierce the veil of British vocal rusticism.
A good deal of the songs seemed to come from "From the Witchwood", which we just happened to have at Normal's and which is now playing on my car stereo. Strong songwriting mixing in British history and olde folk with sitar and occasional funky organ flourishes. On stage this night it was just three acoustic guitarists, but man Dave Lambert, the gent above who looked like he was weeping when he sang, could really play. Did some very nice bird sounds also with his strings and without effects pedals. Also, having heard "From the Witchwood" about three times now since the show, I have to say that Dave Cousins' voice has really remained strong. Or at least remained at a high level. I mean, he's not Van Morrison or Colin Blunstone, but his voice serves well his tales of working underclass English folk.
We also got lucky and shared our small table with an older Annapolis deejay named Charlie and his wife. Charlie has been around the music world for a long time and really knew his shit on the blues and folk. Heard many fine stories of him meeting old blues greats. Since he and his wife live near the venue they have caught quite a few of the shows there, including two I would have loved to have caught - Kris Kristofferson and Marianne Faithful. Which made me think of Leonard Cohen! Man, if he were to play this small intimate club I would give up an entire paycheck for sure. I gave passing thought to catching him when he was at Merriweather a few years ago, but the evil "legal" ticket scalpers who aren't Ticketmaster, but actually are Ticketmaster, had driven the price up to around $100 for a crummy lawn seat where you might as well be at a cricket match.
But I am not just hung up on the Eldritch Ones! I was soon to catch Jeff Mangum with opening band Hawk and the Hacksaw, but more on that in a later post......
But the smoky smooth sweet melodic blast of the night we were anticipating began when the Zombies themselves (with "new" guitarist and drummer) took the stage slipping right into "I Love You". Immediately I was awash in my Niece Shredder's voluminous flow of drool and I realized that my grin had knocked my glasses off my ears.
Now I am very picky about my reunion shows. I held out for many years with a purist record until the Gang of Four reunited with their first drummer! The ho who left them for the simpering band ABC. The Gang of Four sounded just as fresh a few years ago as they did in my drunken fairly angry and confused twenties. They were clearly loving what they were doing and having a great time and I did not regret revisiting them live.
The same can definitely be said of seeing the Zombies with three of their original members. Colin Blunstone's ethereal voice is still 95% percent right there and the music with its strong dose of soul influence really holds up.
The fairly touching part of the night was that Rod Argent kept selling the band their history to the audience as if we weren't already aware of their significance and tastiness. He told us how many indie and alternative bands over the last few decades have named "Odyssey and Oracle" as one of their all time favorite and most influential lps and instructed us on all their offshoot groups and hits. Part of this might be that somehow the group is not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Which seems pretty ridiculous. Isn't Weird Al Yankovic in there now even???
The one "ouch" of the night was when they did "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You", which I think was an Argent song that Kiss had a giant bloated cash-filled pus explosion with. But with charming Senor Blunstone singing it looking like an androgynous slim granny it was kind of fun.
I really enjoyed their cover of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" Colin knocked that one out of the ballpark. Pictured above is Sir Argent of the Bounteous Wig.
The gent above is Jim Rodford and he can strike a timeless austere pose. This badass cat also played with The Kinks! So you know he knows his way around an addictive hook and a hotel room full of plush madness.
There is a new Der Sting album out. On the cover The Man Who Wears Down Mirrors Almost As Fast As Phil Collins is standing with his back toward us (if we were to look at his greatness head on our eyes would flash out instantaneously into smoking black holes!) knee deep in a lake. I guess he is looking for where his private helicopter dropped Excalibur. At any rate, I want to see this pugnacious Rodford fellow doff his breeches and hit that fucking water like the pitbull after Josh Brolin in "No Country For Old Men". Then the back cover of Sting's album could be Rodford's head completely spattered red in a frothy red lake, nothing of Sting to be seen except the remaining splinter of the neck of his teal colored Ovation acoustic guitar floating a few feet away.
We speak now of Zombies, though, and the '60s and love. Above is Colin Blunstone with the guitarist Tom Toomey. Sadly the lights have come on. Announcing the end of the magic night and revealing that at the peak of Niece Shredder's ecstasy during the set, when they played "Can't Nobody Love You", which she wants played at her wedding, she had lost control and put her shrimp fork through both eyes of Charlie's wife, her last whimpering cries for help smothered by the comforting aural blanket of Zombie sounds.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It always jazzes us up like Jane Fonda in '80s neon pink leggings when we get an award recognizing that we are culture trolls shining our dinosaur eggs beneath the gleaming digital bridge, but it felt especially good right now in these tough economic times and with book stores folding up like ice skaters' legs smacked by Tonya Harding's crowbar.
Long live physical media!
Best Used Bookstore
Normal’s Books and Records
Published: September 21, 2011
425 E. 31st St., (410) 243-6888, normals.com
Normal’s is one of those places we love that we almost kind of avoid sometimes, because we have a tendency to get sucked in. Most times we stop in to look for one thing (sometimes a newish book, a used copy of which we happen across there more often than you might think) and manage to escape, but sometimes we wind up, oh, seeing if a copy of that recent history of Casablanca Records has happened to slip past the buyers, or if there are any new old Julian Barnes books we’ve been looking for, and that reminds us, what was the name of that Turkish author—not Orhan Pamuk, the other big name, from an older generation—whereafter somehow we wind up around the corner from the fiction area, near the bathroom, seeing if any fool sold back any Gay Talese, and then that reminds us and we’re back over in poetry, seeing if the Hollanders’ translation of Dante’s Paradiso might happen to have turned up, and by that point it’s almost an hour later and we’re late for where we were going when we stopped for one thing.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE IF YOU WERE IN SPACE
for David Franks
The social fabric covering the furniture is tearing at the
Down at the inconvenient store the visually attractive (bubble
butts) form a conga line
Footloose or footless there's Footlong
Help me I'm crestfallen   & I can't get it up
Never live it downtown
Can't keep it uptown
Can't live with it can't live without it
I left my mini-obsessions hyperventilating in the minivan
The edges of Acceptability are closing in
Closing of all exits but one
Who's robo-signing for tomorrow's Mozzarella Chunk?
All this infrastructure generated to pacify the animal within
Indispensable or indefensible
A burglary happens every 18.3 seconds here in the Land of the
I'm trying to break out
JD's most recent publication is SURPRISED BY FRENCH FRIES, available from Ugly Duckling Presse. He lives in New Orleans.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Normal's Books and Records is hosting a book release party for out-of-towners' Jerome Crooks and Jason Baldinger's The Whiskey Rebellion, just out on Six Gallery Press. It's shaping up to be a great little show that will also feature music by local group The Daily Lion and solo guitarist MacGregor Burns.
The show takes place Saturday, September 17th at Normal's Books and Records, 425 E. 31st St. It starts at 8pm and there is a suggested donation at the door of between $3 to $5 that will go towards the poets and musicians.
Jerome Crooks began writing poetry 20 years ago this September. "i've been a mess and i feel fine" (Speed and Briscoe) was released in 2001. "The Whiskey Rebellion" (Six Gallery Press) with Jason Baldinger, was released this year to be followed by "The Moment I Feared" (Low Ghost Press). Jerome has served as the active head of the Speed and Briscoe writer's collective since its inception in 1998. His work has appeared in the City Paper, Natural Language, The New Yinzer, and Open Thread's regional review. His journalism has appeared in Magazino and Islas. He is the son of Mary Anne and Jerry Crooks, brother to Theresa, brother in law to John Leonard, and proud uncle of young Aeden.
Kristofer Collins is publisher and editor-in-chief of Low Ghost Press.
He is the book reviewer for Pittsburgh Magazine. He is the manager of
Caliban Bookshop and owner of Desolation Row Records & CDs. His latest
collection of poems, Last Call was published by Speed & Briscoe in
Jason Baldinger has been writing for over twenty years, he just recently got around to performing it publicly. He's been published in The New Yinzer and has a split book of poetry with Jerome Crooks available now from Six Gallery Press. You can catch his bands House of Assassins and the Skirt Tasters at irregular intervals around Pittsburgh.
On The Whiskey Rebellion: Outlaws & revolutionaries, crooked cops & patsies, ghost towns and superheroes come out to play in this collection inspired by the Whiskey Rebellion, Wordsworth & Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Lord Byron's Don Juan.
Monday, September 5, 2011
I needed to get out of Baltimore and its cruel summer so bad I wanted to lick the knobbled bimped greasy roadway of I-95 on Labor Day weekend. And what better time to head North to convene with a bunch of great Baltimore poets in Philly than while giant metal penis toys buzzed like mutant angry hornets around the downtown streets of Baltimore for the "Grand In Your Face Failing Schools And Homeless Fucks Prix".
Doubling up on my loves, poesy and collecting books and records, Everly and I left "early" for the reading and I did some homework on what shops remained in the smoking ashes of contemporary America. Right off the bat I found out the shop I'd been hearing about for years and that put out at least one Jack Rose lp, Tequila Sunrise, was no more in physical form. Then I spotted two locations for Beautiful World Syndicate Records and called them. An actual human answered and assured me that they were open until 9. But as it turned out, the location which had been at the top of the page, which we went to since it was at the top of the page, was no longer in existence.
Throwing in the towel we headed toward the reading where we found "Long In the Tooth" just a few blocks from Fergie's Pub where the reading was taking place. Not the low priced vinyl paradise I keep hearing Philly is, in fact generally around $10 or $15 higher on items than I'm used to, but I still found some cool stuff. A Cave 12", some doo wop, Skip James on Monk (okay, I could have ordered that one myself, but once it was in view I had to snag it!) and a good fem vocal organ driven garage pop band on Billy Childish's label. Plus a nice hardback containing both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Glass Meth.
Arriving in the nice, dark, cool Irish pub, I found that my Baltimore comrades felt only shame towards me when we were outside home turf. Could it be that I forgot to pay Adam Robinson (pictured above, reading that night) for the new Mole Suits? Hosts Kim Gek Lin Short and Debrah Morkun put the names of the various Baltimore bumblebees into a hat and drew slips to see what the order will be, but your intrepid reporter has his doubts that this truly was how it was figured. Was it mere chance, coincidence, that this wriggling batch of traincars of imagination ended up being led by zephyr Adam Robinson and finished off by master Chris Mason?
Justin Sirois of Narrowhouse Publishing, with CA Conrad in the background.
Filmmaker and poet Stephanie Barber.
Wise master of Baltimore poetry Chris Mason with Christophe Cassimassima.
Chris Toll with his new book, The Disinformation Phase.
Co-host Kim Gek Lin Short, who as it turns out, I published in Shattered Wig Review all the way back in 1996. It was the first time I had the pleasure to meet her and she gave me an incredibly sweet and moving introduction that included pulling out the actual response letter I sent her to accept her story. I signed off on her letter as "Fred Engels" (I may have borrowed that from Blaster's "Crab" story).
Poet Les Wade who performed a linguistic exercise with the word "spork".
Professor Jamie Gaughan-Perez who was so dazed from being sick with fever and from being temporarily displaced from his home by the Grand Prix that he thought he was Ted Leo of the Pharmacists and spoke repeatedly of how he did his best shows with the flu. Eventually his Narrowhouse partner Justin Sirois had to lead him off stage and Jamie hugged Justin, shouting "ladies and gentlemen, my good friend Frank Black!"
Pictured above is a Baltimore poet I hadn't met before that evening - Joe Hall. But he hasn't been here too long, so I didn't feel too remiss. I believe he moved here from the Midwest and at first mistakenly decamped in Columbia, MD. until one night he and his wife watched the forgotten Peter Fonda B-movie "Futureworld" and something clicked and they got the hell out. Joe read from his book Esme.
The closing reader was the always resonant, thoughtful Chris Mason who read from Hum Who Hiccup. I not only got to read with him on his "dream" poem that included me, but also in the dream poem involving Magus Magnus. Oh if only that action entitled me to a portion of Magus' brain.
It was a refreshing daytrip away from the homeland among some great writers and some new people. Including getting to speak with CA Conrad about the smokestack belching magic of Blaster Al Ackerman.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Normal's Books and Records
425 E. 31st St.
at register so
go to Post Office
see used book
just brought in - book of
I gave girl I liked
back - inscribed "ill-met
curling, spine bloated
or spine cracked,
books sent out come back
Books and Records, her
of director of
sang Bach in,
their notes in moonlight
Each book on shelf at
lay open, face down,
words just read to self.