Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

LAST CHANCE TO WIN A CHEVY MALIBU for Chris Toll by Joel Dailey

(Fell Swoop publisher and poet Joel Dailey wearing the NASA manufactured glasses that enable him to see up to five feet in front of him and two to three feet behind)


Urbane     urban      or simply 'ur'
77% of Americans live paycheck to Johnny Paycheck
Who placed the log in logic?
The form's the thing         ask Bob Zimmerman

Even in recession-cursed Europe chauffeurs hesitate
Top notch hillbillies populating Norway freeze
Why is taut in tautology?
The torque is possible        impossible

The official spokesperson for motion activated endtables
My string bikini skedaddle frontloader
My cloistered grief
Here's to your definitive thumbnail 24 hour coverage,
        wandering Brother Man

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Visitations From Remarkable Humans In The Warm Bubble of Bookstore World

Not only do you get to hide out from the cruel world working in a book and record store like a genteel troll or cavewoman, communing with humankinds' various attempts to contact the sacred or primal firepit, you also get to rub elbows with lots of interesting people.

Sometimes those people have been drinking alcoholic egg nogg at 9am to settle their stomach before hitting the hard stuff or walk in wanting to lay a wet wool cape of hatred on you no matter what dance step you perform for them, but the vast majority are amazing, warm book and music lovers who speak passionately of the culture that has changed and shaped their lives.

Then occasionally there are the days when not only good friends and mind pilgrims are present, but there are visitations from wandering cultural warriors who have scaled high the walls of meaning and brought back Truth packaged that is then offered up to the public in said book or record stores.

At Normal's Bargain Cobbley World, we've had some fun visitors over the years - Chris Rock making that president movie - his "campaign headquarters" was one of our old slumlord's many vacant spots - and popping in to sign "Kiss my black ass, Chris Rock" in one of his books I'd put in the window one day and then buying a book on pimps we had another day; Mike Kuchar of the glorious Kuchar Brothers - visionary dwellers of the cinematic cesspool; the gentle fellow dog and serious serious bookstore loving Jeff Mangum who gave us a shout out from the stage later that night and was a blast to hang out with and then this week Sir Thurston Moore who helped introduce folks like Stockhausen and Daniel Johnston to a wider public while stretching and breaking the walls of punk rock into a wider sonic realm. Plus he's a poetry lover and writer and advocate and even plugged books by me and Blaster a few years back in Arthur. So I hold big love for him indeed.

Many thanks to him and his bandmate for indulging me, Amanda and Max the dog in a photo shoot.

Friday, December 14, 2012

November 30th Shattered Wig Night: A Booking Guy's Dream

It had been a year since the last Wig Night and many hairs lost and swirled down the old tub drain. For some reason I still get more nervous about these events than any kind of half-cocked performance I myself could do in front of folks. I guess it's the party throwing experience of worrying whether anyone will show and if they do, will they be happy or trash the couch and spill drinks on the oriental rug of your soul.

It was a fresh rollicking night from the get go since the long dormant 218 W. Saratoga building now also houses a gallery and none other than Julie "Never Saw An Event That Couldn't Be Helped By Some Bare Nips" Fisher was holding one of her wild erotic somethn' somethin' events. I even saw a blurry Plushie!

The lineup this brisk November night was golden and drew in around 60 folks despite the usual Baltimore flood of events these days.

The first reader was Cort (C.L.) Bledsoe who I'd first seen at Artichoke Haircut readings. He quickly took the air out of my Macy's Popeye balloon from finding out I'd been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by telling me he'd been nominated for three Pushcarts this year and that omnipresent sea mollusk Joyce Carol Oates was one of the judges. If you could go back in time, would you go back to when Joyce Carol was a kid so that you could live next door to her and traumatize her so that when she grew up to drop a novel every few weeks there might be something interesting in them? Break her Fisher Price typewriter for starters?

(ABOVE - Bledsoe with a very contented smile after telling me that my Pushcart nomination, like my 52 years, is meaningless)

Between scheduled readers we had a special visitation of Twain's spirit due to it being his birthday and it being a literary type event he hopefully would not have despised. His spirit was ably channeled by Alan Reese who spun some Clemmens' gold off the cuff and enchanted the crowd. Many thanks for that Alan.

And who could possibly have the effervescent gravitas to follow the haint of a literary legend but the ever brilliant and commanding Heather Fuller? Not only is her writing brilliant and fresh, but she also has a relaxed pro delivery that kept folks' Friday brains off the bar. She did not one but two funny scathing pieces about the bacterial squelch named Dick Cheney receiving a new heart. My aged fingers shook too much when I took her picture on stage, so here is a repeat of a photo where she could be in the dictionary next to "Health":

After Baltimore's Greatest Living Human & Artist Laure Drogoul watered down the crowd with bar beverages during intermissions, the sublime Omoo Omoo took the stage. With only guitar and a few effects pedals he transported me once again to verdant spaces near waterfalls. Intricate and surefooted yet never predictable his compositions be. The biggest surprise of the night after seeing the Plushie upstairs rub a one legged man's bare foot with an orange Louffa was when I asked Omoo Omoo after his set if he had cds to sell and he said Yes! These hairy youngsters of New Folk don't usually get the merch together. Pick up the Omoo Omoo cd. It's very different from the live experience, more like almost new age krautrock, but awfully damn good.

The grand finale was Saint Nathan Bell taking the stage with Kate Porter on cello and Eric Franklin on electronics. Nathan never fails to hit me down deep in my gut and this night was no exception. His interweaving with Kate's cello, a standout for me from his amazing "Colors" lp, was a particular treat. Sadly, he was having problems with his banjo strings so the set got cut slightly short, but that left folks time to move to an after party and time for me and Madame Drogoul to discuss mortality, Baltimore and the afterlife. Her altar has expanded with the grand spirits of Morris Martick and Chris Toll and we wished them a good night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


The above photograph was taken by local poet David "Sockless Joe" Beaudoin and posted on his twitter account while he was out buying a last bottle of kahlua at 6pm yesterday as Frankenstorm Sandy was unleashing some of her worst wrath. He has not been heard from since but we suspect he's taking advantage of this brutal act of nature to perform another chameleon-like identity change and will re-appear as a bouncer at some Battery Park dance club.

Normally you would associate Sandy with duckpin bowling or smoking a doobie with Springsteen in Asbury Park as Southside Johnny lay in a glue-addled state beside them inventing the "sleeveless t-shirt", but this Sandy came to rock far more than just Bruce's crowd. Thanks be to Allah and Pippi Longstocking that our little portion of Baltimore was spared great damage. Not at all like the Duracion storm where all our major streets were without traffic lights and half-blocked with fallen trees.

I am kneeling by my Francoise Hardy altar and offering up perverse secular prayers to the suffering folks in New Jersey and New York who got hammered. I imagine this is the face of the Future, especially since the right wing wants to pretend that we have no effect on the environment and that corporations come the ground we walk on and the air we breath. We'll all be getting our own chances to be hammered by a world way out of balance.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Perhaps This Is a Dangerous Fantasy, Booking A Show In Baltimore, City of Frankenstormshowflurriesclusterfucks

Fellow Cultural Warriors grappling with the loss of our dear comrade Chris Toll, the deluge of the last fiery lap of the presidential campaign, the rearing roaring head of the media-whipped-up-in-a-pricey-mouthload-of-gleaming-teeth frenzy known as "Frankenstorm", Dry Eye Syndrome, Too Juicy Orb Dilemma, Gretzky's Kneelock and other true and imagined heartbreaks, I am risking heartbreak and booking a new Shattered Wig Night in The City That Breeds Performance Venues.

Long ago, the sage Bald One, known as Buff Joe Medusa, predicted that soon Baltimore performers would have to pay audience members to get a crowd. I am gambling that it hasn't yet come to that if the show is ripe with delectable cultural essence! Plus, I got a beautiful letter from a young homie named Soft Serve who suffers from Short Arm Disease. He recounted how much The Shattered Wig has meant to him over the years and that he hoped I kept it going.

But the meat of this matter is an upcoming Shattered Wig Night on Friday, November 30th with the incredible poet Heather Fuller, author of Perhaps This Is a Rescue Fantasy and Dovecote. I first found out about her at one of the old sterling i.e. series readings, hosted by Michael Ball. I bought both her books and went home that night and read Rescue Fantasy straight through. Great stuff.

Also reading will be the noble and often darkly humorous (when not politically and socially fired up and righteous) Cort Bledsoe, who I first heard read at a refreshing Artichoke Haircut reading in the Dionysus on Preston St. Cort is the author of Anthems which has one of the darkest, most unsettling poems I've ever read.

And if you are a demanding, filthy whore (what the Republican party calls "woman", what we call a human of any gender who does not appreciate the good stuff ((well, at least what we think is good))), then you are saying "What else do you have for me?" We have two amazing musical guests lined up.

Headlining will be Good Guy Genius Nathan Bell, winner of the recent Baker Artist Award. His album "Colors" was my favorite album of the year that it came out and still frequents my turntable as often as a Ramone hits a glue tube. He plays solo guitar, banjo and bells, sometimes accompanied by cellist Kate Porter, electronics/theremin playboy Eric Franklin and enchanted warbler and banjoist Liz Downing. I'm not sure what all he's got planned for this night, but I'm sure it will leave your shorts fried in a pool of beer on the 14 Karat floor.

Before your shorts are fried, your ears will be hypnotized by solo guitarist occasional electronics musician Omoo Omoo. Here is his spot on Sound Cloud:

It all takes place at the legendary 14 Karat Cabaret at 218 W. Saratoga (not that far from the H&H, for you youngsters), the haunted mansion that Laure Drogoul built. Doors open at 9pm, cover charge is $5.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Purpose of Synapse by Tom Weigel

Purpose of Synapse

Fears of things

that never happen

are the greatest fears

the lesser fears

are special effects

& they belong to Satan

for man is born for


as sparks fly upward

--Tom Weigel


Tom Weigel is the editor of BURP magazine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Richard & Olga

Richard and Olga

Richard Nixon looked so lost among the beaming young  gymnasts, a hulking mushroom cowering before elves.  As if he was a different species from them altogether.  As if the B movie monster in the cheap gorilla costume stepped out of his tinfoil saucer into the Land of Oz. He shambled stiffly in a suit that wouldn't accept the gray body inside it.

If a bird would have landed on his dowager hump he would have crumbled into an oily lump of salt.

Feeling claustrophobic surrounded by all the apple-cheeked faces exuding lithe fresh energy, President Nixon accepted his Press Secretary's  idea to take them out to see the South Fountain on the White House lawn.  Young Olga Korbut, the astonishing gymnast from the Soviet Union, "The Sparrow from Minsk", was tickled by how awkward this ungainly American who wielded such power was made by her and her peer group's presence. The dappled sunlight on this beautiful day batted at his hooded eyes, causing him to sweep his left forearm over his face as if he was beating back flies.

Olga and the other gymnasts poured out onto the freedom of the White House lawn, released somewhat  from the gravity of the media staged moment.  Charming Olga broke loose from the group and performed a tuck back, followed by what came to be known as "The Korbut Flip".  Camera shutters whirred and snapped as if a giant sack of hummingbirds had been released into a small glass cage.

Olga came to rest only a foot or so from the gently cascading fountain.  She beckoned the American president toward her, holding up her one hand tipped as if in invitation to dance.  Nixon's temples buzzed in mild agony, his neck itched and nervous moisture worked down his pale leg.

"You're a little girl", Nixon stated, as if he had just stumbled upon her and this was the first unit of classification he could transmit back to the Mothership.

Olga giggled and everyone who watched her felt her effortless joy.  "You little boy," Olga said, utilizing what little English came readily at hand.  She then leaned down and plucked a random buttercup, held it briefly up towards Nixon's chin, then laughed, spun, and tossed it into the fountain.

Nixon's heart jumped watching the tiny yellow color spin toward the fountain.  What was he to do?  He couldn't break the code of all the smiling faces.  Mouths agape.  All the years, all the tense conference rooms, Kissinger's thick marceled hair spread out before him like an untouched golfing range - in this sunlight he couldn't remember the purpose following all the chains of demands.  One anxious trail led to another brief rest, then right onto another anxious journey and he could make no sense of all these delicate creatures whose smell was so light and beguiling, reminding him of walking as a child through his father's lemon grove.

 A low moaning sound was reported to come from deep inside him, but like a Tuvan throat singer, there seemed to be multiple voices in multiple pitches issuing from a basement radiator.  Reporters thought Nixon was hugging Korbut and there was an orgy of clicking cameras, but only the most astute and mechanical shutterbug blocked their human emotion and instinct and kept recording as the president attempted a muddled spin and threw young Olga from the height of his shoulders into the cascading shallow water of the man-made fountain.

Much more was ended besides Nixon's presidency when Olga was lifted like a wet doll by Russian security and loaded onto a nearby helicopter.

---Rupert Wondolowski

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Containers of You by Richard Martin

Happy Containers of You

I'm out of archetypes and crayons
and feel lousy for names
It's time to wait
Words for moon and the absence
of one in a solar sky
have been detained or lost
in a field of fragile mistakes
This is what orange has done to me --
why mechanisms of yesterday
plummet through wispy smoke
Porous mind wants in and glides
above an aftermath of symbols
Struggle predicted -
the honed bridge of desire
resistant to foot traffic
Sky ascends into still more sky
Looking at what is
(post-molecular floor plans)
in the presence
of a silent alphabet
Nerves of beauty
and abandonment
post notes for all to see
Crack codes for joy
Say no when
vacating premises

---Richard Martin


This piece is from a manuscript by Martin called Pulpit Commando. He is a Fell Swoop lifer and he has a piece in the new issue of Baltimore's own Artichoke Haircut.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"A Visionary Friend Is Gone, Long Live His Vision", for Chris Toll

A Visionary Friend Is Gone, Long Live His Vision
for Chris Toll

Though not a licensed phrenologist and not able to afford calipers, I would have to start with his head, his majestic hairless skull. "Ambient light from a Lenin Lightbulb", is how Bed Bath Blavatsky and Beyond put it. He had thought it into a handsome planet of clearly defined paths, culverts and landing strips for minute travelers of all dimensions to set down on. His poems of quiet passion were the generator for untold powerful landing signals. Often when out at night he would gently bow his head and rub a spot, saying "I've brought many visitors with me tonight."

There are those of us who sculptors should memorialize into busts and those of us who would be more suited to jello molds. For the virulent, languishing in a potato sack as they bleed out in a donkey cart across the border as their captor bitches to a neighbor "No se puede vender el da├▒ado gringo", is the only proper final tribute to their cranium.

For my friend, Lost Astronauts Who Knew Too Much work in a sealed chamber in deep space with the DNA of Helen Keller, silky webs spun by spiders surrounding Poe's crypt and the tears of broken hearted catholic school girls to create the hands that will one day bring the dimensions of my friend's dome into such glory that Rodin's bust of Balzac will shrink into a PEZ dispenser out of embarrassment.

About his small smooth arms what can be said that has not already been stated by a multitude of paleontologists about those of the late lamented T-Rex? The surprising disproportionate strength of them could perhaps best be measured by the incident when he shared the dias with populist poet Billy Collins. My friend got up to read right after Collins had read his somewhat musty, frequently trotted out, "Mother's Day" poem. Shaking hands with Billy before taking his place behind the podium, the shake went a few moments beyond the norm and Collins' face contorted into a wide grimace before a small shard of bone pierced the skin of his forearm. I will leave it up to YouTube viewers as to whether there was a trace of a smile on my friend's lips as Mr. Collins tried to muffle a shriek of agony.

It would take a book to enter into his heart and do it justice. Nancy Drew in fishnets would find Jesus in there playing lightning bolt toss with Dr. Strange. Drinks hoisted aloft to the downtrodden in a vast castle filled with toys, Bob Dylan passed out on a giant feather bed covered with absinthe bottles.

I woke up to my friend gone from my planet this morning and the goneness had gained immense weight. Shrugging into a shirt my shoulders had an attitude - "Yeah right, go ahead, put a shirt on." Even my car windshield had tears on it on such a cruel sunny day. My friend you should hear this, this beautiful song that's playing. My friend you wrote such beautiful songs.

--Rupert Wondolowski

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Life On Earth", Commander Chris Toll's Beautiful Last Testament Has Arrived

This morning was brightened considerably in a heartachingly sad way when the postal carrier pulled out a priority box from New Orleans containing 30 copies of the new and tragically final beautiful testament of poet and astral traveler Chris Toll.

The cover is seltzer for the eyes, one of Toll’s most colorful, and contains a bright jack-in-the-box, which was fitting since the books seemed to literally jump out of their container, eager to be devoured by the world.

Instantly diving into it, I was struck again by how in touch Chris was with the painful aspects of life on Earth, yet so cosmically hopeful and tender. Here is the first poem:

Download Universal Anguish
for Joel Dailey

The sun sings

while it makes its rounds.

Why isn’t lunch in melancholy?

God is an atheist.

The moon and stars render tender judgments.

A woman stands across the street

from a liquor store.

Her red sweater is stained,

and there are holes in the knees of her black jeans.

She aims her XM25

at the locked door of the liquor store.

If a constellation were different,

lonely would be lovely.

Jennifer the Christ plugs in her purple guitar and says,

“Where two or more electrons gather in my name,

there I am too.”

The baby dinosaurs scrabble from their nest

as a flying saucer lands.

The circular hatch oscillates open.

A rabbi steps out.

His right hand holds a cutlass

and his left hand holds a raygun.


“Dear Universe, thank you for the kindness of the way and the beauty of the pilgrims.” (Chris, from the copyright page.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Remembering Chris Toll - Books - Baltimore City Paper

 I'm sure Chris is at this moment sitting down in a special screening room with Rod Serling to view a Batman movie that Bob Kane made just for them, Chris holding in his lap his Famous Cardigan Sweater that Sylvia Plath soaked with her tears.

Below is a beautiful piece written by Bret McCabe about him and his full life.  But how I already miss him.  We had a great show here at Normal's last night and I kept thinking especially during the theatrical accordion/trumpet vocal gypsy sea chanties for land lubbers of Dear Rabbit and Jon Lipscomb's beautiful rendition of Skip James' "Crow Jane", "I wish Chris could have heard that."

Remembering Chris Toll - Books - Baltimore City Paper

Monday, October 8, 2012

"A bit swollen in the pretend-area" by Megan McShea

As we wait for the beauteous A Mountain City of Toad Splendor by Megan to come out on Publishing Genius Press in December 2012, she continues on a roll with even more new great writing.


A bit swollen in the pretend area

He woke, bloated in his somber corner, hoarding the dark inside like a devil in his moat. A fish tuned in. It was just waking up, too. A style of sitting there as the day breaks. A made morning, like god would.

Drawers of tangents waiting in the next room, an embarrassment of socks. Somnolent arguers gathered at the edges, bleating like horses protesting. One sought after a close horse. One went broke clutching soggy testimonies. One went all out, made hay socks for nesting. One made it say how it felt again, and every day said it to no end. One was a stock mason, a supporting role. These strange innoculatiions.

A still broke out. Hard, waking possibility, independent of all temperatures, his, theirs, the day, the room.

More margin blast. A sash ceremony. A tempest.

It blocks this portion of time from the vacuum of unbecoming.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Baltimore Vinyl Gold

Not since I was a wee lad living on Pennsylvania Ave. during the heyday of Billie Holiday, while my mom was a torch singer at The Ritz slipping around with Sammy Louis, or when I was a middle-aged drunken dockworker spending every other night at The Marble Bar in the Congress Hotel in the late ’70s/early ’80s, have I seen such a rich period of music in Baltimore.

This struck me strongest the other day when I got two new local releases which spent most of the day on the Normal’s turntable.

First was the long awaited Horse Lords lp on mad Dr. Stew’s Ehse label. If you’ve ever been to a show in Baltimore, say an Afrobeat Society night or crunchy sizzly noise jams at The Bank, you have most likely seen a lean balding bespectacled man, whizzing around the rafters like a popped meat balloon shrieking “This is the greatest music I have ever heard in my life! Dear God you are infusing me directly into my heart ventricles with these sounds which have completely changed my life!! Someone feel my leg, there’s an electrified wiggle worm loose in there!!!!”

That would be Dr. Stew (seen at work below), the multi-tasking, word gattling gun, somewhat ADD wunderkind of Ehse.

With the sweet release of the Horse Lords album I am joining him up in the rafters. It’s a strange synthesis of a lost Sublime Frequencies album (one of the smoking West African chugging and skittering guitar ones) with some mean clean saxophone and electronic dynamics blowing up the stew.

For me the heady concoction catches into blazing flames when it goes into what sounds like an electronic bagpipe breakdown. Father Higgs assures me this sound is created by Professor Owen Gaertner and saxophonist Andrew Bernstein playing together in exact note/pitch synchronicity.

And with Owen (above, addressing the Prince Georges County parole board) telling me that these songs and their general music sound even better after they worked on recording together, I will have to dust off my wingtips and catch these lads live.

The second album is “My Society” by Heart of Hearts, which was performed and produced by Greg Hatem. This is a beautiful end of night album or laying late in bed on a rainy Sunday album. Greg is also a member of Mr. Moccassin and Forks of Ivy. “My Society” was just released on Bleek Records, which is based in Brooklyn and also has releases by Nature Boy and House of Wolves.

This imaginative lp sports titles like “Owls Grow Up”, “Grass Mask”, “Goodbye Buttons” and “Feather Fast” and a sound not too far away from the haunted chamber pop of Beach House, but not quite so dreamy and a little more stark and electronic. It focuses on Greg’s experience as an aviculturist, breeding and caring for finches and doves, which is not a topic often touched upon in pop and rock music.

Senor Hatem’s Society is indeed a fine one to join or visit. Thoughtful and sensitive, but resilient, fresh and bound to stay on your mind.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Matt Muirhead Art Snagged on Abell

Taking advantage of yet another incredible crisp, sunny, cool September day, another amazing fall day that actually feels like the falls I remember from my youth before September just became a sequel to squelchy August, Everly and I headed out to catch DJ Mills and the band Black Marks at the Abell Ave. festival.

Last Sunday we hit the Polish Festival at Holy Rosary Church on Chester St. in Butcher's Hill and I was almost weeping with rushes of nostalgia. Potato-laden food! Pierogies! Gawumpkis (which they had labeled as Golabki)! Dancers in bright embroidered garb looking truly ecstatic! A motherfucking money wheel!

The money wheel took me back to elementary catholic school. The nuns knew how to get every last penny from your paper thin uniform pants and plaid purses. Money wheels at every gathering, an invented hot pretzel break strategically placed 15 or 20 minutes before lunch break, etc.

The line for food was a huge U-shape, almost to the entrance/exit. But the 40 minute mouth watering wait allowed us to be sucked into the tables selling all things Polska. I searched the crowd of humble potato faces for the faces of my youth, but no Curtis Bay Wondolowski clan members were spotted. The ghost of Uncle Vernon looked down upon us and said "Where's the damn Whiskey Sour Fountain to go with the Money Wheel?

Everly bought a Polish cook book, I bought a pair of handmade socks (that included a third sock) for friends who just adopted a three year old and we bought Christmas ornaments reppiing the country that Alfred Jarry once used as a setting in a play: The action takes place in Poland, which is to say Nowhere.

The pierogies and potato pancakes were well worth the wait. The best potato pancakes I've had since my granny's, but they were slightly too thick to be as insanely savory and possessing of the perfect crisp texture as hers. She also made a perfect cole slaw that keeps me always trying it in restaurants only to be disappointed.

But today, we had only a short drive and our destination was only a few blocks from Normal's, which just today was name checked in the New York Times Sunday travel section. Bring on the groovy New Yorkers with padded wallets hungry for physical culture!!

I hadn't been to the Abell festival for a year or two and it's expanded. Even saw and visited a booth run by Red Prairie Press, a local press which I'd never heard of. Following the scent of grilling meat and the faroff sound of far too smooth jazz (the kind that frightens off the youth and sends them into the leathery arms of Metal), we stumbled upon the art booth of Matt Muirhead. I had meant to catch his show at a gallery in our neighborhood, but had blown it.

Here is an interview with Matt in Baltimore By Hand

Everly and I were both sucked in by the mixed media pieces (acrylic/spray paint?/collage/stencils) that were bright, color saturated and sharp. Everly was immediately drawn to a piece that utilized a diptych image of her Lord and Savior, Elvis (above) while I perused the incredibly cheap $20 bin. As Matt praised the High Zero show he'd caught the previous night as a deeply religious experience and I traded stories about the sets the I caught Friday, Matt explained that the piece I had become transfixed by had the Harundale Cinema featured on it. The Harundale Cinema! The sacred place of my youth where I'd seen The Cross and the Switchblade, Papillon, Swiss Family Robinson, The Jungle Book, 2001 a Space Odyssey, just to name a few.

Hanging cosmically over the cinema is the unblinking eye of Baltmore writer and musician Dina Marie Varsalone of the band The Daily Lion and the zine "Take Me I'm Yours". This piece is going into Normal's, so beware evildoers, the all seeing eye of Dina gazes upon you and you don't want her to tear you a new one! During her tenure at the Charles Village Barnes and Noble upwards of a dozen headless corpses with copies of John Grisham novels half stuffed into their waistbands were found abandoned in the Self Help section.

After getting a kind, gentle deal from Matt on both the Elvis and the Harundale Cinema piece we continued toward the stage and meats and ran into DJ Mills getting the sad news that he had already gone on from 1 to 2 and was done. Sigh. Then I spotted the swollen pill popping beer swilling swamp grifter lady who'd stolen from Normal's after years of selling her boyfriend's books to us. Time for food and better music!!!

It was a bit of a challenge procuring the humble hot dog and hamburger but they were tasty and then Black Marks featuring Sam Wylie and Carol Menetrez of the dear departed Charles Village People took the stage. Two good singers up front, Sam playing well crafted lead guitar and some very tasty keys being played, plus a ubiquitous Pickled Lawncare Guy playing air guitar and making devil horn signs with his fingers while his trousers slowly, inexorably made their way down his buttcrack.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Problem of How To Live by Joel Dailey

Even as I type these words,  damp half-chewed gummy bears blocking some of the keys, my vibrant ascot tied a little too tightly by my Japanese man servant robot, Joel Dailey, editor of Fell Swoop Press, is hosting our very own Baltimore's Special Angel Chris Toll in Dailey's hometown of New Orleans. 

Joel is putting out books by Chris and myself, mine being Mattress In An Alley, Raft Upon The Sea, Chris's being, I think - I'm paraphrasing - "I'm a Little Tart, a Fiery Little Tart, I Will Hump Upon Your Leg and Chase After Golfballs, Yes Thank You Please".

While Joel is distracted running a reading at some New Orleans hot spot with Father Toll wowing the boozy N'awlens crowd, I will run this gem of a poem by him.  It will be in Shattered Wig #29, which is beginning to stir like the Baltimore Orioles after decades of slumber.


for Clark Coolidge

Caught a ride on a passing halibut

an ever-present IT Team jogging in place, "hut, hut, hut ...."

Drowsy on the non-drowsy

The ultimate status update

Yellow parasol sustains a straw hat or golden sponge cake with     creamy filling
Often mistaken for Sir Osbert Cribbage, infamous cave ejectee
A strident personality (speed bumps)
Riichly lyrical in nature
Conversant   yet slightly out of tune
Fact is   this here fingerblaster springs leaks

Here's the Complete Dickhead Forecast
Emanating from a testosterone based lifeform (free brochure)
Rapid fire beverage burps
Single out the Destination Oriented
The shift has focused   the focus has shifted

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mark E. Smith Dream

I haven't been remembering my dreams too well, they are as fleeting as pixie dust of late, but I had an epic crazy one a few nights ago. I was living with Carrie Brownstein (things weren't going too well between us) in a weird cylindrical old tower apt. building. 

I went over to Mark E. Smith of The Fall's house and when he was out of the room grabbed about four tubes of paint from him. The next day I went to see him again and he knew! He knew.

I tried to return them as if I was just borrowing them, but he was going to kill me. I resorted to my dream power of flying and he chased me all through the streets firing a pistol and throwing soccer balls. 

Finally I snuck back home and sought refuge in some sort of hospice run by elderly Asian women healers thinking it would be like sanctuary. Mark E. then hired a bunch of street thugs to break down the hospice door brandishing guns and began shooting people. I gathered my nerve and gave myself up, saying "It's me they want, then they'll go away."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A New Band Is Born

 I must start this post with full disclosure:  one of the four musicians above is from my same cursed blood line, one - when not foolishly shaving  his skull to the bone - has a lustrous shiny wig that I would go all Wayne Gacey on to have it rest red and gooey on my lumpy head,  a third person here I am happy to work with and the fourth owns a comfy "Campus" zipper sweater of the kind I have been seeking out for over two decades since the breakup between me and the girlfriend who owned a bunch of them and lorded over her collection like King Faruk and his gold toe rings.

That being said, me and my wife came back from the beach to find these four making some refreshing music down in our basement.  Sure, there were Natty Bohs sweating on top of $1,000 books I have up on ABE and Amazon, and with each funky fresh beat of young Amanda of Sea Coucht on the her overturned bucket another one of my priceless Hummel figurines vibrated off a shelf to a fragmented death on the cement floor below and our aged cat Peanut was trapped beneath said bucket, but they were creating a nice concoction that seemed to blend early Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine with electrified country Delta blues. 

Three of the members - Fletcher, Dan and Geff - were part of a long ago big group called The Jumping Off Point and are part of the Soulgasm Records collective, also known as The Pasadena Mafia.  Geff is part of the gritty futuristic mountain punk country group The Baltimore String Felons, which is on hiatus as their percussionist Megan is making field recordings of Gregg Allman's liver.  Dan and Amanda perform together as the wondrously sublime Sea Couch.

This new conglomeration, known as Documents, which sstarted as a way for Dan and Amanda of Sea Couch to get their rock on with their pal, eccentric reclusive author Fletcher, soon began to have a life of its own and ramblng Geff of the Felons got caught in their meticulous whirlpool when he returned from his months long tour.

Look for Documents at a venue near you soon, plus keep an eye out for their zine arm, going on its second issue, which publishes micro-biographies that blur the lines between history, dream and tallish tales.

Friday, August 24, 2012

September 6 Release Party for new Artichoke Haircut issue

Very excited about being in the upcoming new issue of this smart young magazine.  These kids know their way around the language and the booze and handle both of them with aplomb, wit and sophistication.

Plus I will be fresh back from the ocean and hopefully rejuvenated from the brutal summer that is on its way out.  The light of mid-August is incredible.  Every year it hits me as if I've never seen it before.  For me it always feels like it holds more promise and excitement than the first breezes and soft light of spring.

Here is the lineup for the Artichoke Haircut reading:

Magazine Release Party
As always, we are featuring some great talent from our brand new magazine:

Lily Herman
Barrett Warner
Carabella Sands
CL Bledsoe
Brooke Carlton
Justin Sirois
Sid Gold
Rupert Wondolowski

and more to be announced.

Doors open at 8:15pm, readings start at around 9.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mattress In an Alley, Raft Upon The Sea Coming Soon

I am extremely proud to announce that noble and rugged Fell Swoop Press in New Orleans, run by poet Joel Dailey, is putting out a new chapbook of mine - Mattress In an Alley, Raft Upon The Sea -  very shortly unless Joel comes to his senses.

Here is an interview with poet and publisher Dailey in Harriet magazine:

Fell Swoop! An Interview with Joel Dailey, Destroyer of American Literature : Harriet Staff : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

Mattress In an Alley, Raft Upon The Sea will be a 20 page chap chock full of new soaring absurdo-miserablism.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Song For Shakemore

There are more storms these days
than I've got dollars
we eat breakfast
off the tree that
fell through our window
and one night when a wind
blew the candles out
Richard Nixon carried
off my woman
saw him eat her head on CNN

Oh Lord take me down to Shakemore
take this devil's grip off my soul
let me sway beneath the big tent
as Liz Downing's angel voice
makes my fried
puzzle pieces whole

Be brains for me Google
Be my energy shiny Starbucks
Hide my shameful secret Depends
Crackle my limbs and be
my forbidden mystic
soul power cocaine
in all your cash making variations
And you are God, Satellite Transmissions
bringing countless broken lives
into my home
I watch them on my box nightly
so I don't have to grow my own

Oh Lord take me down to Shakemore
take this devil's grip off my soul
I would buy me a felafel
but The Tinklers took my wallet
when I was hugging on Chris Toll

Take me down to Shakemore
I want to watch Barbara
buzz like a bee all day
some whisper human blood
from corpses
is her energizer bunny
secret that she passes
on to fans
but I just think she's got
super weird glands

Maybe Randy Austin
will take me
up in his spaceship
but to see heaven
I don't need to be
in the sky
I see the stars and light
in Fair David's dancing
and in my brush with
the crowd that
gives me a contact high

Don Peyton will tell you
he met Jesus
made him a uke
made of palm trees and
placed it in his hands
Well I don't know about Jesus
but Mark Jickling will be playing
in all but one of the Shakemore bands

And are we all a bunch
of misfit humans
who dreamt of Half Japanese
or did Jad and David
dream us
after eating late night pizza
with garlic and way too much cheese

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

In the spirit of the new Tea Party and Libertarian America of freedom meaning freedom from all empathy towards other human beings and all humans for themselves, I'm spending this 4th of July watching the Colonel and his droogs shoot off Heckler Koch Machine Guns and beat up on homeless people.  I'm pretty sure unbridled sociopathy is exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"The We in Weep": Chris Toll Calls for Revolutionary Love

 Well, the danger in saying yes to writing a book review for a magazine you've never heard of by a guy you've never seen or heard from before is that you'll write the review and never hear back from the editor ever again.  The upside - especially if you knew you loved the book anyway - is that you write a book review and force your (my) feeble brain into forming some kind of passing logic for why you love what you love.

"The We in Weep": Chris Toll Calls For Revolutionary Love in his The Disinformation Phase


  Chris Toll's latest book, The Disinformation Phase (Publishing Genius Press, Baltimore), is awash in the baptismal, transformative fluids of tears and rain: "The rain,/heart in ruins,/staggers out of town"; "Rain sits/in the evicted easy chair"; "Raindrops are calling to the last in love./Them tears are a school that consoles."

   The outside rain mirrors the tears of the protagonists and cast extras in Toll's heartfelt lines. His freely running tears are the lubricant of a soul constantly searching for love - human to human, between nations and interplanetary - and rebirth: "How long can I stay at the inn in innocent?/Love is so hard/and it's all we came to do."


  Of course pleading a case for no holds barred love, is not new in Toll's writing, one of his older books is entitled "Love Everyone" after all, but there is an extra crisp sense of urgency to this collection. Due in part to the compact size - most are from 14 to twenty lines long, only running about an inch across, a few like "National Poetry Month" (5 lines) and "I Expand Before Nebulae" (6 lines), even less - but perhaps also due to the world around Toll in "reality" mutating and rocking ever harder with catastrophes that his "fictional" world of Everything At Once, Batman fighting it out with vampires, worlds teetering on collapse, makes even more emotional sense. 

    A day doesn't go by now it seems without a major earthquake devastating a population, a tsunami reducing humanity to chess pieces swept off the board by a raging loser, droughts, floods, war after war.  Recently the news was so full of cannibalistic violence - a college student eating his roommate's heart and brain, a teenager in Florida eating the face of a homeless man - some people blaming it on the over the counter drug called "bath salts", that the Center for Disease Control felt they had to state that we weren't in a zombie apocalypse since they had jokingly posted on their website over a year ago "How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse".  It truly does feel that anything could happen at any time and it's hard not to search the skies for some kind of winged hero.

    Because of the naked yearning and whimsy in Toll's writing and the interweaving of lowbrow/pop culture with his more erudite side, I've always thought of him as The Emily Dickinson of Mars. "The Queen of the Vampires" assembles her "army of zombie shamans./They storm Jerusalem and rescue Jesus./No cross is is erected on top of Golgotha." He is as familiar with The Bible as he is with Marvel and DC Comics, Poe and Plath sit comfortably in the mad swirl of zombies, vampires and werewolves. 

  After all, who's to say that in a hundred years sitting in some wretched post-apocalyptic bunker there won't be a surviving tribe of humans passing around Iron Man comic books as sacred text, like the worship of Punchinella in Russell Hoban's novel Riddley Walker?

    Although most of the pieces in Disinformation Phase are not radically different from those of other Toll books (why is "try in Poetry", "why isn't destiny in clandestine" - examples of the kind  of pop linguistic deconstruction that he's been doing since I first became aware of him in the '80s ), but more terse and urgent, this book does herald a new form by him. 

    In the pieces "What Have You Done for Global Warming Today?", "My Ruby Hat", "1776", "Money Never Weeps" and "Writing Groups of the Future", Toll introduces a rich, playful conceit of never before read poems by old masters - John Keats, Emily Dickinson, Dickinson again, Poe and Sylvia Plath respectively - being found under arcane circumstances and then translated by Toll himself.

   The prose introductions to these pieces are transcendentally effervescent and the first time I've seen fiction written by him:  "Correspondence from Emily Dickinson to Arthur Rimbaud was recently discovered in a farmhouse in France.  The three letters were hidden beneath the false bottom in a china cupboard.  Emily and Arthur were both Farsi scholars, and they particularly loved the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam." (from "My Ruby Hat")

    Of course part of the humor and twists of these pieces is that after Toll sets up extravagantly bizarre circumstances to how these lost poems of masters are found, he then claims himself as the translator of these works and unleashes wild Tollisms in them, like in "My Ruby Hat":

"I love in 256 Dimensions.
A Prophet devours a Candle -
A Leopard sleeps with a Lizard -
The Word is on the wing."

    Toll's goal is beyond and he wants to reach your heart at any cost, with any tool. "The moon recites the same prayer over and over./Find me soon."

    The final lines of the final poem in the book, "Perfect Love", are a call to break down all walls, including gender, to reach divine love:

"O giant in chains,
O darling ,
let the eternal divine feminine energy
awaken within you."


  I've often heard Chris Toll speak of how "Giants once walked the Earth", like in describing seeing Bob Dylan live during his Highway 61 period and putting the words "Giants will stride the Earth again" in Dickinson's letter to Rimbaud in "My Ruby Hat".  Every impassioned and well crafted line he writes is a call to bring to life the giant that lives in each of us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Before Work

With each question, the doctor's voice
drops to a wispier whisper.
Soon you'll be curled together motionless
on that perfectly stiff paper covered recliner,
forgotten to all but the clicking tick hands of clocks.
There are already two crisp gowns in the room.
The little blood pressure station wheeled in perky
 is like R2-D2 in its robot pal appearance - bright\
 new light industrial rubber and chrome and
padding and gauges.  A thermometer attached
 that only needed six or seven
seconds of your time to let you know
 your factory was not overheating.
With your finger in that pressure
clasp you are the Toscanini of pointers
or perhaps a starter superhero.
 The vibe at the desk is mellow, man.
This is not where the shit goes down, this is
where we find out if you can take the shit
coming down.  You're ready.  Promise.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"To Think It Started With Laurel"

Finally got my new acrylic monster to the point where I felt it was "done".  It started out as an attempt to catch in some form of portraiture  Everly's sweet little niece Laurel from a photo I had taken of her.  Of course it soon degenerated......

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Taps by Barrett Warner

Barrett Warner is a Baltimore cultural warrior of longstanding.  He served some time in the trenches of the fledgling Shattered Wig Night nights when they were held on Tuesdays, featured four or five poets, 3 or 4 bands and went on until 3am.  But he still speaks to me, as does, surprisingly, Laure Drogoul of the 14 Karat Cabaret where the Wigs are held.



When they ask about the leg
I don't answer, don't open the window,
Never say, there's a kind of darkness.

A black bruise stains the mind,
The good hurt I hope will mean
I've come far and done something big.

Such sweet aches, loves labors,
The harrowed acres inside,
Ditches dug with pick-axe and spit.

I haven't moved in twenty years
Except to clamber on life's unfinished ledge
When the chair limps into the bathroom.

Changing the light bulb, right?
Those damn blue sparks
Wired to a fault.  The truth

Is that I like the view from here,
Two feet above the rest of the world,
A slip, a jostle from the endless

Swing and sway.  Sometimes I put
Rocks in my shoes if my heels
Aren't sore enough.

 Even after I close the window
And nail it shut the red bird
Will not stop pestering the glass.


Barrett Warner's chapbook Til I'm Blue in the Face was published by Tropos Press. His new poems make appearances in Southeast Review, Slipstream and Quarter After Eight.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Preview of An Upcoming New Book By Megan McShea

Dear cultural warriors, the forthcoming existence of a new meaty book of Megan McShea on Publishing Genius Press jolts me with the volts of Beyond. It's like there suddenly being an unearthed "new" Lungfish record, finally "discovering" Chicken Rico for the first time, inhaling ocean air on a windy night, walking down a city street and taking pleasure in how your legs feel and there are actually smiling people nearby.

Here is a little preview to whet your brain whistle.


The Appointment

The place was flatter than we had imagined it. We thought it would be a squat tower. But we knew it was the right building from all the friendly notes we'd received on how to make-believe, how to drop things dramatically, how to check our pulses. We rang the bell. The intercom, responding, confused us. It sounded like the ocean, but in a very high resolution, with cries of birds and shouts tossed by waves and even sand under our feet. A young, alert woman finally answered the door, holding it open for us and peering around in the street behind us, gesturing for us to enter the warm foyer.

By the time she shut the door, we had already removed most of our clothing. A pack of dogs startled us and then changed into a flock of soldiers, chasing us into the next room, where a plate of lemon bars and a tea service awaited, only, it was made of wax. "This is nothing like I expected," said my mother, who had persuaded me to join her in coming here. "Well, what did you expect?" I asked. "I thought it would be rosy, like a womb," she said. She sounded sad.

"Change your rabbits!" came a shout from up the stairs, ad then again, descending closer, "change your rabbits immediately!" A man in coveralls appeared with wide black eyes. "Oh, pardon me," he said when he saw us there. "You're not the people I thought you were."

But it was too late, for mother and I had already changed our rabbits.

- Megan McShea


Megan McShea is a frequent contributor to the legendary Shattered Wig Review, and has work in the i.e. reader, Topograph: New Writings from the Carolinas and Beyond, and the forthcoming WORMSBOOK. A collection of her writings entitled "A Mountain City of Toad Splendor" is coming out in late 2012 from Publishing Genius Press. She is also editor and contributor for a book of collaborative writings due out soon-ish from Thingy Press called "Ancient Party". She resides as peacefully as possible in Baltimore.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cort Bledsoe's Wonderful Review of My Mole Suit in "Murder Your Darlings"!

Review of Rupert Wondolowski's The Origin of Paranoia as a Heated Mole Suit, poems by Rupert Wondolowski. Baltimore: Publishing Genius Press, 2008.

I met Rupert Wondolowski at a reading in Baltimore hosted by Artichoke Haircut, a local literary journal which hosts amazing readings. (Seriously. Kazoo solos. Sex with octopi. People taking their clothes off without even putting it in the context of a Matthew McConaughey vehicle). This night, Publishing Genius Press was featured. Wondolowski read with Joseph Young (author of Easter Rabbit, a flash collection I blurbed a couple years ago.) Wondolowski blew me away. His poems balanced absurdity with hard-hitting truth. Someone once asked me why I write some of my more absurd pieces, and the only answer I had was that they are more real than most of my straight realist pieces. There’s an oft overused saying that writers ‘lie their way to the truth’ and, in a similar vein, absurdist writers ‘stand their way to the poof.’ Wondolowski brings to mind a line by John S. Hall from “It’s Saturday”: “Sense cannot be made. It must be sensed. And I, for one, am incensed by all this complacency.”

There’s so much humor in these poems, it’s hard to pick out one piece to focus on. A good start is “Steve Fischer Continues,” a poem about the pulp writer of I Wake Up Screaming, and many other pulp books. Wondolowski lampoons the melodrama so often seen in this type of writing while simultaneously paying homage to a master of the genre: “I wake screaming./I scream scratching the dog’s belly in bed,/ scream seeing the third pillow has fallen to the dusty floor.” (lines 1-3).

And what is a heated mole suit? Obviously, it’s uncomfortable and awkwardly unattractive. And if one were wearing it, others would probably react strangely, leading to paranoia. I can’t help but think Wondolowski is talking about the body, the meat suit. In the title poem, Wondolowski waxes melancholic about his childhood (or at least of a child-like narrator): “It’s the loneliest Halloween ever, Charlie Brown. I’m packing my bags for the Patsy Cline Institute for the Emotionally Disabled as chunks of nations are being swallowed or washed away like mashed bananas in a baby’s cereal bowl.” (12-16). Towards the end of the poem, as the narrator sits in his mole suit, he has “an epiphany. All I want is some flatbed truck resonance, a slightly burned picnic table, a clean giddy life of grass stains.” He yearns to return to a more innocent time when he wasn’t concerned about global war, self-image, and the horrors of the world.

The reason that Wondolowski’s poems work isn’t just that they’re funny, or full of pop culture references, or so strange that they instantly invite consideration; plenty of poets are filling their poems with these things these days, juxtaposing Papa Smurf with drug dealers. To be honest, that’s not that difficult to do. The reason Wondolowski’s poems stand out is that there’s something inside the mole suit. And that IS difficult. Wondolowski’s narrator feels like he’s in a mole suit and mocks himself and also mocks that mockery. This is complex stuff and human but Wondolowski refuses to let it sink to the level of melodrama without getting in a few good laughs first. It’s rare for me to find a poet or writer whose work I truly admire, but I admire what Wondolowski’s doing here. His language and imagery are startling, fresh, and insightful. As a matter of fact, before I wrote this review, I ordered his other books. I can’t wait to read them.

-CL Bledsoe


Bio: CL Bledsoe is the author of the young adult novel Sunlight, three poetry collections, _____(Want/Need), Anthem, and Leap Year, and a short story collection called Naming the Animals. A poetry chapbook, Goodbye to Noise, is available online at A minichap, Texas, was recently published by Mud Luscious Press. His story, "Leaving the Garden," was selected as a Notable Story of 2008 for Story South's Million Writer's Award. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 3 times. Bledsoe has written reviews for The Hollins Critic, The Arkansas Review, American Book Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Increasingly Virtual Worlds" by R.M. O'Brien

Increasingly Virtual Worlds
RM O'Brien

Tonight I am prolifig. I turn all my tears into ashes.
I got famous for once successfully cramming five years' lonely into one night's drunk and I couldn't kiss anyone when it was done.
I shatter a bottle everyone stands up and removes his hat.
I am the brightest thing for miles moving around Baltimore in the most powerful machine I own.

Do you know why I pulled you over?
b/c I get hard driving the interceptor and the lights and sirens help me make it
b/c you are wanted for the unlicensed transmutation of tears into ashes—you fit a description
b/c it's unlawful to shine brighter than the sun
b/c there are a lot of crazies out here and I wanted to make sure you were wearing yr seatbelt—Robert you are a sacred child yr heart & lungs & light are precious to me
b/c someday you will choose a body for yr lover—it may not be the body she chooses for herself—we live in increasingly virtual worlds
(I wanted to tell him about transcendental numbers & luminescent animals—breaking a bottle our new nat'l anthem &c.—this is how I protect my immortality &c.)
Come on out here and touch yr nose and I'll let you go
& if you would, touch my nose
for it is lonely in this car at night in Baltimore & I am a warm body under these cuffs and gun and telescoping club

The ashes are still glowing.
The flowers are blooming out the passenger window.
I am prolifig, obvious, it's like I am making a movie.
O Nanak! I could smear these ashes on a baby's belly and she wd become a god


R.M. O'Brien, 29, was born in Oswego, New York to a jeweler and a nurse. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and son, where he blogs for money and curates the monthly reading series WORMS. His chapbook, Ant Killer & Other Poems, exists. Birds Blur Together, a collabora├žion w/ poet Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, is forthcoming this year on his own WORMS Press.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mark "Pappy" Hossfeld Returns!

My work day started wonderfully last Wednesday morning when I received a call from my old friend and writer/artist extraordinaire, Mark "Pappy" Hossfeld, from China. He's been there for getting close to a decade perverting their youth and devouring their kimchee. He and his wife had been talking for a while about returning to the states and now it looks like it's becoming a reality.

Sadly, maybe not in Baltimore because he was shocked at the rent increases after serving time here in the wartorn but dirt cheap '80s and most of the '90s, but most likely somewhere on the East Coast where I can draw him into a Shattered Wig Night.

He has been an inspiration and a contributor to Shattered Wig since its inception and we played in a Russkie/anarcho/circus punk band named Kneeling on Beans together. He had never really played an instrument before, but with the Beans he played an incredible truly psychedelic slide bass (employing an Elvis coffee cup for slide) and literally every show we played some wild-eyed youth would come running up to him and ask where in the hell he learned to play such awesome Hendrix licks on bass.

Pappy, being half pickled after a set and a humble, reasonable man, would get angry that they could be so deluded by his "naive" playing magic. He would curse them and then wrestle a drunken Amazon.

Ever since the latest, biggest Baltimore arts/poetry renaissance, I've been dying for Pappy to view and partake all the new wonders. He labored long unpaid brutal hours for the shortlived BAUHAUS (AKA The Astro-Chimp Impact Crater) back in the pioneer days of the early '90s when the 14 Karat Cabaret was about the only good venue going.

His projected arrival is late June and as soon as I know for sure when he'll be in the area I will set up the biggest, grandest show possible for him to share his new tales.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Words I Use Too Much by Lily Herman

Here it be - the final installment of the L. Herman trilogy. It turns out that Darth Vader is not indeed her father, but just a seedy uncle with hair plugs who runs a used car lot in Hyattsville. --------------------------------------------------------------

Words I use too much

Depending on the context
conspiring or conspiracy, usually
in a positive light, like two people
pitching a tent in their own bedroom
just to have somewhere to put
their heads closer together, inhabit
where live would do just as well,
altar, not like change
but in a blood-of-the-lamb
edited-for-PBS kind of way,

He says she says
like after a decade of poems
I still can’t let a brother know
that someone is speaking
without having them say
She instead of I
in all the places di Prima said poets
are explorers, but not necessarily

Pussy twice over
because wimp is weak
and cunt reeks too much of poets
with both hands in their pockets
trying to ignore the climate
of the fifties, listening to Lady
Day, and calling men cats

I try to avoid bringing cats
into it, even when one
is the benevolent critic
warming my lap
as I write, and we both
know life is a simple series
of variations on trying
to get fed

Methodist, because their Christ
is not duty-bound to spend all
his time up like a public service
announcement on the cross
but will walk a little way
down the street with you
if you’re headed the same
direction, never trust a poet

who has to
disclaim confess reveal
because it means there’s
something they’re withholding
during all the sober hours
of their day, and they want
the reader to serve as their
incidental heir, which is a bane
that keeps on giving,

Benefactor because
to keep working I must be convinced
that somebody up there digs me

Heart as a physical object, not
the tacky wood-paneled room
in which one’s spirit animal dwells,
hips when I really mean
I feel fat, or I mean fucking,
or young women are a curse
all their glorious own, love
when I mean tailspin, or sea-
sickness, or an excuse
to stay up late

for excessive kindness, or excessive
unkindness, the train tracks
that I grew up next to and haven’t
been able to grow up from
and their many romance tongues
cargo freight boxcar
train-hopping or commuting,
depending on who I observe
in flight, the tunnels they conquer
and men who died burying their spikes
none of whom I knew personally
but if it was personal

I wouldn’t be writing about it,
in any room where two people manage
to hear each other while speaking quietly,
God, as a placeholder for any
really gorgeous sky or void or drug
like the useless zero you leave in after
the decimal point to keep the equation
balanced, math analogies
I don’t even understand, analogies
for heaven, for madness, for men,
a hundred burning bushes sounding off
like desert clockwork when the poem calls
for a fireworks display,

Solitude sounds better
than loneliness, Petrarch is the only man
who’s said, soul, without making
me gag, and I have no muse
so I don’t dare say it myself,

even though I am arguably
always writing to you, you
the most frequent flier of all
these words, who spend all your time
like an overnight security guard
watching me write and occasionally
when I’m gasping for air, you (dear)
grab the pen and with two hands
steadied by each other,
we finish the fucker off
with a period like a single shot
to the head


Lily Herman lives in Baltimore. A collection of her poems called Better than some, not as good as some others, was released by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She runs a reading series called “ILLITERATI” out of the Pent House Gallery in the Copy Cat building, and co-writes a blog of food stories called "What I Ate Where" with her cohort Adrian Shirk. She lives with seven dreamy humans and one cat, who, darling though he is, manages to stay almost entirely out of her poems.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Psychotronic Leaves Paradise

It was a bittersweet day Sunday. The sun was out, Kim Jong Ev and I were feeling the ocean breeze at sweet Chincoteague after a weekend of catching the film "Wanda" presented at the Maryland Film Festival by Pastor John Waters and then stumbling onto the amazing docudrama "On the Bowery" by Lionel Rogosin on cable, but a big part of why we drove three hours to paradise only to have to turn back at night was because Michael of Psychotronic had called me on Friday to tell me he was leaving the island and the upcoming weekend would be the last for him there.

Michael and his wife are moving the shop to Augusta, Georgia and from now on I will only be able to revel in the beauty and rapture of nature at Chincoteague without getting my more urban fix of vinyl in at the same time. I'll never forget wandering the very sleepy main street of Chincoteague six or seven years ago, passing all the pony t-shirt and driftwood shops and then seeing the neon green dripping sign of Psychotronic. I knew about and had read some issues of the cult magazine by that name, but I figured there was no way in Hell this shop in idyllic Chincoteague could be connected to it.

But when I walked in and saw huge posters of "Fantomas" and "The Brain that Wouldn't Die" and the tall rather urbane red-haired gent behind the counter resembling David Bowie was cranking the Pleasure Seekers, I realized I'd stumbled onto some kind of parallel dimension. An amazing perfect place had just gotten more perfect and amazing.

 Michael was gracious to let me know he was leaving (I would have truly wept if I'd found out by walking to its location in a month when Everly and I take our week off there and found an emptied shell) and to give me a last peek at his stock.

 Needless to say I left burdened with treasures. Around twenty classic near mint pulps that included a bunch of Harry Whittingtons and Gulf Coast Girl by underrated underknown Charles Williams, plus a crate of killer vinyl. I added to Everly's and my collection of Louvin Brothers lps with "Country Ballads" on Capitol (mono of course beyotch!) and loaded up on some great jazz, latin and obscure rock for the store. Not to mention five Jon Hassell albums and "Bukowski Reads His Poetry" on Takoma, which will go well with the shelf of Buke we got in over the weekend.

 After a long talk with Michael in the alley while loading and wishing him luck further down South, we ate at the great Vietnamese restaurant a block away and drove to the nature reserve and beach. The reserve wetland was near full up with glittering water, always a comforting sight, especially after the heavy drought year when there was barely a puddle.

 We drove off at sunset as the birds were out in force feasting by the bridges.

Although it's truly sad to see Psychotronic leave Chincoteague, it's kind of amazing it ever landed there  from Manhattan in the first place.  So I will cherish my memories of flipping through albums with a fresh sunburn and looking forward to a night of home cooked seafood from Gary Howards enjoyed out on the screened-in back porch, listening to the frogs and crickets. Starting up a game of Scrabble that falls by the wayside.  Strumming and picking some Handsome Family songs while Kim Jong Ev studies the historical menus of New York restaurants from the 1930s.

 Sundial Books, a very good bookstore remains on Main Street, though, with a strong selection of art, music and film books.

Long live Psychotronic in all its forms!  Long live carriers of physical culture!