Monday, September 5, 2011
Baltimore Poets Do Philly
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.