Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Two By Dina Marie Varsalone

We at Shattered Wig Empire in The Ether hope you had a great Thanksgivikkah yesterday, even if it ended weeping to Jim Reeves' "The Blizzard" next to the fireplace with grandpa telling you to get your act together. We ourselves are far from home doing a special report in Alabama.

Here are two beautiful, sparse poems by Dina Varsalone to soothe you as you ponder family, time, mortality and the straining at your waistline.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ideas Of Order

Each false
thing ends.

How did we
come to think

ill humor
should mask

as youth?
We lay

sticky with sleep,
the sense against

calamity. The room
is a quiet, shrinking

motive for metaphor.
The stillness

is the stillness
of the mind.


Fixer of Midnight

Winter dark,
I dropped

into his sea
of a body

for a touch
of salt.

Fogs descended.
Leaning back

I crossed
a hand

over my eyes;
flinging aside

theoretical things,
I could not count on

the stars
or anything else.

I’m growing old
back into odd places.

From the air,
of the body.

And then the window
blotting out reason.


Dina Varsalone grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Baltimore Md where she runs writing workshops at the Mill Centre in Hampden. Her work has appeared in print in her self-published zines Ablerug and Take Me, I'm Yours! as well as Reed Magazine, The Watermark, and Embrocation Cycling Journal. She's currently at work on a book of poems and a humor book based on her blog, How to Waste Your Youth (for fun and profit!). Read more of her work at

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Root Boy Slim" by Fitz Fitzgerald

Going to college at the University of Maryland, College Park in the late '70 s, early '80 s was a pretty miserable experience. I was expecting a '60 s style revolutionary atmosphere with everyone reading Rimbaud and Burroughs, scribbling away at their novels, starting amazing bands, but what I got was a whole lot of drunk business majors throwing beer bottles from dorm windows and viewing my few friends and me as hideous aliens.

Luckily I stumbled into a Half Japanese show in one of the cafeterias and there were always Root Boy Slim bacchanalias to attend. Sure everything went to hell and Reagan became president, but here was one crazy- assed gooey fat guy turning major slack into a high art form. My dormmate across the hall claimed to be his coke dealer, but I'm sure there were a handful of enterpreneurs per dorm who could make that claim.

Here is Fitz Fitzgerald, author of Things To Do In Baltimore, with his homage.

Root Boy Slim

neither slim nor a boy
burning voodoo sex change
present but elsewhere
his eyes his eyes his eyes
banned for inciting a riot
he rushed the white house
out of his mind on LSD
he didn’t run away
his family did
living in a station wagon
the security deposit
a maintenance fee
boogied till he puked

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Sublime Words From Lily Herman

When I heard that Lily Herman had a new book, Each Day There Is a Little Love For You In A Book, published by Dryad Press, I immediately connived her into reading at Normal's Books & Records with Adam Shutz and Fitz Fitzgerald.

I figured Adam would be appropriate on the bill since Lily initially blew my mind at an Artichoke Haircut "You're Allowed" reading that he co- hosts. I am a fan of the series and realized I'd never heard Adam read, except for when he read out loud the contents of a bottle of a cleaning product he accidentally drank at a particularly crowded and boisterous night at the Dionysus.

His reading of the various polysyllabic chemicals that went into the concoction that had blued his lips was gripping, especially when he moaned or yowled after a particularly devious sounding lab creation, but it lacked literary meat. At Normal's he read two great excerpts from a novel he is working on and Fitz Fitzgerald read from his "Things To Do In Baltimore" (buy soul swelling books & records at Normal's was indeed included, as was place a tiara on Carabella Sands' head and find Carlajean's missing bag).

Lily read the beautiful poem that awaits you below.

Untitled June 14, 2013

Chief among the things I never
thought I’d do was get my nipples
pierced in a parlor on the main drag
of a small town in Wyoming, which going
by its own standards is a big
city. One of the dorm buildings—
the one across from one of
the taxidermist’s—weighs in as
the state’s tallest building
at nine or so stories, a still point
of the still world. When everything
is small, one small thing
is bigger, and we have worn out
walking in this town, we have tried
the bars for companions, there is
no place to swim unless you want
to brave the pit nicknamed
Stink Lake.
The seagull population
is similarly transplanted, we strain
to figure out what they are doing
landlocked here with
the rest of us, until you discover
one day that their nest is the town
dump, nestled next to the canyon
where bored men like to go
shooting and shout about
You tell me you’d be as avid
in my poems as you are
in my bed if they weren’t all
so concerned with the complexes
of Christmas past. If I hadn’t
documented just so thoroughly
the old fingerprints and phonographs,
the housesitting jobs and homefulness
that can be characteristic of
other people. You want to know
how it was that your unaccredited
nun got drunk with them, went
to bed with them marching
at my request in their
two-by-twos, how I skated through
things then at which I bristle
now. You want
to know what happened to my ease,
and I tell you, it went the way
of my easiness, and that even
properly séanced, you can’t conjure
one without the other. My heart
can be summoned alongside
my pants, but they are sure
to leave the party together
too, hurrah, hurrah.
Chief among the things
I never thought I’d do was
be serious about this
state, long after we lived here
I saw it as the backdrop
for the one-act play of our
success or our doom. Wyoming,
until recently, existed for us
to test ourselves.
Now I see it as it will look
in our absence: How Laramie
is like a tree perpetually falling
to the audience of the emptiest
forest in the lower forty-eight,
and everyone in town swears
that it can anyway be heard.
How they say there is nothing
they need that isn’t already here,
and how if the city leaves you
wanting for anything, the problem
is primarily with you.
But what you need is to be able
to sense, if not see, the ocean, and I
need women who will calmly
reject me if I come onto the wrong
one on our joint behalf, instead of
a place where all the women
who love women are eighty
and live fortified on properties
outside the town’s main postal
code, so that the fires will come
down the mountain and get them
before the pitchforks reaching out
from the city center ever
The last year was the least likely,
your face was nearly impossible
in the first instance of my finding
it, all the men at the wedding
feigning that their collective motive
for leaning on a car was
casualness and not drunkenness,
Chanelle dancing over
to feed you a lily blossom tightly
bound—meant maybe
as an apology, but transformed
by my presence into her
blessing what you and I were about
to eat together, into her
invoking my name for the first
time that I faced you.
I am sorry that my name must be
a flower and not a season, a constellation,
a type of liquor, I am sorry to assume
a sacredness beyond what I myself
have earned, by simple virtue
of my arrangedness, of how well
I can be fit into bouquets and carried
to the summit of either baptisms
or burials.
You shrugged and told all of us, It tastes
like a salad, not trumpeting what
you’d been handed, but not
dismissing it, either.
It was thus that we became the patron
saints of our own travels, but your mother,
afraid we’d be our own martyrs, gave us
a Saint Christopher medal
anyway, and you scoffed, which is
the Catholic education that keeps
on giving, but I told you
the check engine light’s been on
for ten thousand miles, so we can use
all the prayers they’ll spare us.
You assured me that you knew
how to change a tire, and that we needed
no one, and we glanced at the sky
as if to say, Yeah, we’re talking
about you, but still
we drove through Iowa in one
long day to escape the well
in the clouds that seemed
indisputably to be watching us,
and even though it looked
the same over the state
line, we pulled over and went
passively to sleep as soon as we
were in Nebraska. I told myself
that different gods ruled there,
and vowed for the thousandth time
not to argue with any more Christians
who won’t believe that Yahweh was
once one among a council, and that
if they were going to be stringent
about the archives they’d acknowledge
that they were polytheistic majors
with an emphasis on Christ.
But it is often pointed out to me
that I myself have graduated
from nothing, so I steer clear
of them, choosing instead
to recite the same five poems
that I’ve used as home security
for years, that bolster
my inner consumer against
the charms of my inner
salesman. I memorized them
when confronted chronologically
with my fears of death, family,
and rootlessness, but I point out
smugly that I am not afraid
to fly.
I am afraid most, I tell you, of the stretch
of I-25 between Fort Collins, Colorado,
and Denver, riding it at night, I see
the blankness of blackened strip
malls, burned up by darkness, our
smallness increasing with our
diminished proximity to what even
we will reluctantly call a real
city. We are grateful
to return to our reconfigured
ranch town, whose darkness
is the absence of sunlight, of
water or stars, of reflective
surfaces or indeed an image
to reflect, here where
stands for nothing, where they
are literal with their communion
and godful in their use
of every day bread, and we stand
for our final months, two more
monuments sticking up to guide
the lightning west, wondering if
without us it will just breeze through
town without anyone to call it
home by name, without anyone
to hear it fall.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three Poems On Genius Haircut

"Artichoke Haircut and Publishing Genius got together, had a baby and called it Genius Haircut. And, crazy as it sounds, it kinda looks like Rupert Wondolowski" - Adam Shutz, co-editor of Artichoke Haircut, the youngstas keeping me alive. Click on the link for some of my new labors if you are feeling kind.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lily Herman Reads From Her New Book "Each Day There Is a Little Love In a Book For You" At Normal's Books & Records, Wednesday, November 13

Hearing Lily Herman read at an Artichoke Haircut night was a literary experience almost comparable to first reading Flannery O'Connor as a teen. My mind was transported and I was envious of her powers. Dryad Press has just released a new book by her and we are going to celebrate that fact Wednesday, November 3rd, at Normal's Books & Records - 425 E. 31st St.

There will also be readings from Adam Shutz, who is one of the organizers of "You're Allowed", the Artichoke Haircut reading series where I first heard Lily, and from Fitz Fitzgerald who I first heard at Chris Toll and Barbara DeCesare's series in the Bromo Seltzer building.

Before the reading to get our spirits moving and between sets, there will be music spun by DJ Mills.

Lily Herman was raised in and around Baltimore, Maryland. She had a short collection of poems, Better than some, not as good as some others, published by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She has been part of several of The Corresponding Society's anthologies, Correspondence, and has a poem in their upcoming reader, Foreverland. During the editing process of Each Day There is a Little Love in a Book For You, she was landlocked in Laramie, Wyoming, but has returned to the east coast again.

On Adam Shutz: Adam is happy. He tells himself this to make it so. He co-founded Artichoke Haircut. He co-founded "You're Allowed" (a reading series). He is happy.

Fitz Fitzgerald is a surrealist poet and theorist when he is not stupid. Author of Things to Do in Baltimore.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mole Suit Choir's "Campfire Spacesuit" Hits The Streets and Ehse Airwaves!

Anyone who has stood within hearing distance of me the last year (yikes, it's been close to a year!), knows how excited I am about this project, The Mole Suit Choir, with the supernaturally talented and inspiring Liz Downing, who once stared down the horror of The Pig Boy of Booger Holler in Alabama. How is it that Alabama people have come to have such powerful influence on my life? Very weird.

This collaboration was first talked about at a wonderful Shakemore Festival and was given extra urgency by the passing of three close comrades. Singing again really gave me solace as some of the people who loomed largest in my personal vortex moved on to the next stage of this cosmic riddle. If not for Liz I might have become glued to the couch and just watched Breaking Bad over and over in a loop, the seasons spinning around me faster and faster.

Through a strange twist of Fate, Dr. Shugg Stew Mostofsky caught our second show at the Windup Space. From a languid sprawl on the leather couch he said he wanted to put an album out by us. The next thing we knew, Wee Ginger Lad Greg Hatem of Heart of Hearts and Mr. Mocassin was hopping about my living room with microphones and a portable recording deck. It was all very blissful and is now captured on glorious cds and cassettes.

Here is the link to Ehse headquarters where you can get a free download or order a cd or cassette:

Or you can use your human legs to cruise on over to Normal's in Waverly, True Vine in Hampden or Soundgarden in Fells Point:

We've gotten some really nice words about the record already. Here is some beauty from scribe China Martens:
"Glen Burnie, Poland meets Extraterrestrial, Alabama in Outer Baltimore from Inner Space: somehow they found each other, on their porches (I think it was Liz that knocked on Rupert's door, incredulous he answered, and without fear bundled up all his fears. Together they struck the matches and watched them burn, aglow, like bread crumbs soaked in firecracker rock worms); and picked up old instruments to continue digging their way out of the spinning yarn and into the fire. Come sit and warm yourself".

And here are some kind words from David Beaudouin:
Think George Jones & Tammy Wynette just back from an unexpected interdimensional jaunt, bringing with them sweet melodies, brilliant songwriting and the secrets of the spaces behind the stars. That's Mole Suit Choir, currently the leading lights in Baltimore's burgeoning neo-folk scene. Created by poet Rupert Wondolowski and painter Elizabeth Downing (both as well accomplished musicians), Mole Suit Choir gets to the heart of things as the best music does, with two voices entwined in high, lonesome harmonies accompanied by guitar or banjo. And like the best music, their oddly familiar songs will echo in your thoughts long after the lights go out. Highly recommended.

Come check us out Sunday, November 3rd at the kindly Metro Gallery on Charles Street, 7:30, for the official release party. Joining us will be Nathan Bell and Liz Durrette, plus readings by Stephanie Barber and Megan McShea.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You Climbed Party Face

No, that moon
the one way over there
I clung like
a biker's leather
pants in August
to it one desperate
night and forty
gazing down
slacing tadpoles
in giant construction
broken things
more numerous
than fires
at the old Duncan Place
start with hearts
end with plumbing
squandered maps
found on backs of
fleeing meth mother's
legs dragging child
to next fruitless caper
You can find your dead
in oil streaks on
highway puddles
or seated immobile
among spent ketchup squibs
in a scowling
Hip Hop Chicken
I've gotten
my shit together
since I lost weight
and can easily slip
through windows
to steal copper
out of basement walls

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bob's Ball Of Worms

Surely never before has a man losing a testicle brought such an amazing array of beauty. Baltimore, DC, Philly and parts other be sent out their poetic, musical and visual arts power to generate some green for WORMS host and editor, poet, musician and good guy Bob O'Brien to fight or reason with his cancer.

As sad and frightening as it was on hearing the news of Bob's illness - more bad news for a Baltimore poet in a period where two had died - it felt good to be honoring and helping a poet friend still alive.

Dear Leader Chris Mason summoned his organizing powers and put the call out that Bob needed some financial help. Not since Chris staged an all ferret production of "Our Town" when first dealing with "empty nest syndrome" and a Moxie soda habit have I seen him so tenaciously hone his vision and energies into one goal.

Each day he would call me two or three times to hammer out event details, often telling me "I need to hang up now so that I can call you back." It was near midnight of this successful and love filled fundraiser, when Chris had put a few adult beverages down, that he announced "I myself have enough balls to fill a golf bag".

Above - Mel Nichols googling herself with piHole

Stephanie Barber, author of Night Moves and member of Bobbie Donnie.

Poet, musician and Bob O'Brien frequent tourmate Lesser Gonzalez.

The Tinklers demonstrate a full range of arm movement and run through some of the classics like "Cheesewolf".

Joseph Young, a word parser, not one to clutter.

Christophe Casamassima, poet and editor of Furniture Press.

Lauren Bender, poet, performance artist and "Tron" enthusiast.

Rod Smith, poet, author of In Memory of My Theories, Protective Immediacy, Music or Honesty and others, publisher of EDGE books and curator of the Bridge Street Books poetry reading series.

Philly poet Ryan Eckes, author of Old News on Furniture Press.

Sea Couch and Erik Boat Water discussing a Derrida like deconstruction of the Spice Girls movie.

The Mole Suit Choir was honored to be part of the proceedings and put together a musical arrangement of Bob's haunting poem "Increasingly Virtual Worlds". The set was a blast and went well once the soundman helped me set up a truly annoying new musiv stand with a spring action neck. After our set Wheatie asked to borrow it and she, Dan Dorsey of Sea Couch and I could not get the flimsy legs to stand up. It's called something like a "touring stand", for the musician on the road who needs that one last nagging hitch to drive them over the edge.

After the Mole Suit set it was bliss to kick back in the front row and absorb the soothing and inspiring powers of Wheatie Mattiasich. I worried that maybe we had placed her too late in the lineup for what was turning into a long action packed night, but the slightly restless fueled up crowd immediately fell into a hush when her sacred warble unfurled. Steve of Thank You, Ghostlife and More Dogs joined her on stage for a few pieces on keyboard, including "Little Black Star", the title song for her new album she's finishing.

The grand finale of the night was Bob's brother Ben doing standup. And though the idea of comedy at a cancer fundraiser, particularly by the brother of the ailing human, may seem to hold large opportunities for awkwardness, such was not the case here. Ben didn't get too hardcore with the illness details or spiral out of control emotionally, he delivered a strong funny set that reflected his love for his brother and that hit that fine balance of the night - quality thoughtful entertainment delivered with passionate concern.

Sadly I neglected to get any pictures of all the great art that was also donated. It filled three or four tables and got snapped up by the end of the night. I somehow lucked into two pieces as gifts. A Thai "curry western" movie poster from Katie Brennan for my birthday and a beautiful painting of a mechanic's lot from Jamie and Margaret for Everly and my wedding. Coincidentally, Jamie and Margaret then got hitched a few weeks later. They will not be receiving the painting back.

It was a nice ending to the night to see The Chesapeake House Restaurant open again. I never got the chance to eat there in my youth when it was first open, but I have fond memories of peering in there after seeing "Polyester" when it first opened at The Charles.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Free State Review Publication Party This Sunday

Sir Barrett Warner and the other fine editors of The Free State Review were kind enough to publish my homage to Chris Toll in their new issue. Now they are hosting an event at the slick and comfortable Ram's Head in Annapolis. Unlike the Ram's Head in Baltimore, this one has atmosphere and is completely unlike a BWI terminal.

I haven't been there since me and my Niece Shredder sat front row center ( pushed up against the stage, really) to see the Zombies. This time I will stand where Colin Blunstone stood, with less hair, and unleash some of my verbiage in a slightly less mellifluous voice. Barrett will emcee. It starts at 1 and runs to 3, with samba by Jonathon Stone.

This is posh venue month for my broke- ass! Mole Suit Choir performs at the Creative Alliance September 26.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Blasterthon, Night Two

(Above - Lauren Ross portraying The Ling Master. Photos throughout, except the one of Francis Poole at bottom, are by Catherine Bennett)

There has been a well-oiled revolving door to the Beyond in Baltimore this year and the most recent to exit was slugger Blaster Al Ackerman. Every moment spent with him was a revelatory gift - other than when he was busting on some of my favorite grooves like Curtis Mayfield and Brigitte Fontaine, of course. I could leave Normal's for only ten minutes to make a bank deposit and sure enough I'd get back to ELO on the turntable.

But so many of my favorite books (including most everything by him), obscure movies and strange folklore I found out about through him. And his daily example of each day no matter what creating something new and " messing with the concept of time", pranking to create reality shifts, deflating the pompous or vampiric, will inspire me until I forget how to slip my hairy legs into trousers.

(Above - Blaster's most beloved and long running collaborator, editor of Lost and Found Times, John M. Bennett blowing Batworth's mind before the show).

Now that Blaster's gone I kick my gluey third eye for not running a tape recorder on at least a few of the days we worked together at Normal's, often hungover from an epic four hour Wig Night at Madame Drogoul's legendary 14 Karat Cabaret where Blaster would entrance the wild-eyed crowd with incredible output of new stories and poems. And Blaster was generally a pretty happy, fun loving guy - especially, of course, before the health woes that kicked in near the beginning of the new Millenium, but he was never happier than when he emerged from the back computer room of the store with a finished draft of a new story. Sweat, glowing skin, golden aura, the whole new poppa bit.

(Above - the set of Lauren and Gerald Ross' Ling Master playlet)

With Blaster dying when he did, though, right after two other close, beloved friends and the memorials and tribute nights that followed, my miserablist heart began to sag and I momentarily thought "Is another show a way to grieve? Shouldn't I just construct a large Shirker's Nest in Blaster's honor and eat only snackcakes and lose the resolve to defecate in receptacles?"

(Above - Eric Franklin performing with The Dirty Dozen)

Luckily, the thoughts and plans of a Miserablist are quickly scattered by the movement of life itself and with John Berndt doing most of the heavy lifting the Blasterthon was formed. In fact night two was my tiny contribution, organizationally speaking, JB did the rest.

(Above - The Dirty Dozen: Neil Feather, Bob Wagner, Eric Franklin and Dan Breen)

And through the acts of the great folks channeling Blaster and his work, once again it was made clear how fantastic, clear and distinctive his voice was, because it rang out chillingly and unmistakably like the creepy intro to the old Shadow radio show through John Eaton, Batworth, Megan McShea reading the gut busting recommendation Blaster had written for her to gain entry into a writer's retreat ("I wouldn't want to go anywhere where they didn't get Blaster," said Megan), Francis Poole, ex-Baltimorean and former Normal's star Courtney McCullough, who was the one who found Blaster post-stroke and convinced doctor hating Blaster to go to the hospital, singing George Jones' "The King is Gone"Catherine Bennett, John M. Bennett, Lauren and Gerald Ross' Ling Master play (wherein Gerald nailed the Ling Master's deranged nerdy secret master voice so well that I still belly laugh just thinking of it), The Dirty Dozen's new Orleans' style funeral march by way of Martian Harry Partch textured sound glory that built in exhilarating manic daffiness and then closed with a quiet spinning wheel of an energy that had to come to a halt and by Laure Drogoul's enchanting olfactory Blaster seance. Who that knew him doesn't have strong smell associations? Newly cracked beer can foam, tin of slightly impertinent tuna, musk of scalp oil basted bop cap. -

Blaster never went anywhere of course, other than to be everywhere still in the rich unforgettable voice of his large body of work. The Blasterthon brought him right up to the thin membrane of now for us to gaze once more with love on all he did for us and left us.

I will sign off with a beautiful email I received from Francis Poole, another beloved collaborator of Blaster's - in fact, I think their book Break Up My Water was Blaster's last printed book of his lifetime - after the soul salving Blasterthon.

"Every reading and performance flowed together seamlessly into one great celebration of Blaster Al's creative genius. While much of his work was playfully subversive it also had the power to reveal the sense of absurdity that lurks beneath the surface of much of what passes for reality and normalcy. The love and regard for Al and his works by those who read him or knew him is proof that his life and gifted imagination made a positive contribution to this crazy world. And ironically in sharing his vision he was able to show others that it's ok to give in to the undertow of one's own wacky universe. Blaster Al was an artist, a therapist, and a great guy. And like a mischievous ringmaster his spirit was there at the Blasterthon to keep the groove going. And it worked beautifully." - Francis Poole

(Below - Francis Poole)

Okay, actually I will wrap this with the lyrics to the Fitting George Jones tune that Courtney belted out for Blaster:

Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter
That looks like Elvis
I soaked the label off a Flintstone Jelly Bean jar
I cleared us off a place on that
One little table that you left us
And pulled me up a big ole piece of floor

I pulled the head off Elvis
Filled Fred up to his pelvis
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you

'Round about ten we all got to talking
'Bout Graceland, Bedrock and such
The conversation finally turned to women
But they said they didn't get around too much
Elvis said, "Find 'em young"
And Fred said "Old Fashioned girls are fun"
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you

Later on it finally hit me
That you wouldn't be 'a comin' home no more
'Cause this time I know you won't forgive me
Like all of them other times before
Then I broke Elvis's nose
Pouring the last drop from his toes
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you

Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter
That looks like Elvis
I soaked the label off a Flintstone Jelly Bean jar

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Strum und Twang - Music - Baltimore City Paper

Strum und Twang - Music - Baltimore City Paper

The Moles are burrowing on fire!  We just finished recording our first album, " Campfire Spacesuit", and our about to hand it over to the Ehse Empire for replication and propagandizing.  This is our first little sweet slice of press.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Very Kind Plug From Comrade Sirois The Kidnapper

From Baltimore's B magazine. Sir Sirois is hitting the bigtime with So Say The Waiters. Let us hope that Jeremy Piven is nowhere near the television version.

Bob's Ball of Worms

Over the last year or so Baltimore has lost two major poets, Chris Toll and Blaster Al Ackerman. And one poetic musician night scholar Pope Croke. Now one of our young brightly burning stars has cancer. He's going to live, but will have to suffer through chemo and paying bills with no insurance. So Baltimore is throwing him a fundraising party to show him our love and our green.

Bob's Ball of Worms, a fundraiser for Bob O'Brien.
Bob O’Brien, curator of the WORMS poetry series and a great poet and performer, not to mention a stellar loving and giving human, has testicular cancer and no health insurance, so the following artists will be performing at Metro Gallery on July 26th at 8 pm to raise money for his treatments. If you can't make the event because you're going to be out of town or because you find poets to be a lifeform even lower than jugglers or mimes, here is a website where you can donate funds:
The Tinklers Wheatie Mattiasich The Mole Suit Choir
Ben O'Brien
Poets from out of town:
Rod Smith Mel Nichols Ryan Eckes Eric Paul
And shimmering local poets:
Lauren Bender, Alicia Puglionese, Stephanie Barber, Alejandro Venture, Lesser Gonzalez, Megan McShea, Joseph Young and Michael Kimball.
There will also be an art auction to benefit Bob. Artists donating work include:
Lesser Gonzalez Kevin Sherry Dina Kelberman Liz Downing Rupert Wondolowski Jimmy Joe Roche Ginevra Shay Ryan Syrell Dale Beran Brett Price Dani Leventha;
Admission is $10 or $20, depending on what you can afford. Please come out and show some love to a valuable and giving member of the Baltimore arts community.
Metro Gallery 1700 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 View Map · Get Directions

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Blasterthon, Night One

If you missed Friday night’s Blasterthon premiere in the Red Room at Normal's you missed a room full of love and a smorgasbord of derangement. John Pego Berndt filling in some of Blaster’s bio, including his brutal period trying to stay out of the Hell of Vietnam. And his secret life as the Lothario of the Mail Art World!

Plus there was hard charging performances by Rotty What with poet and publisher John M. Bennett, saxophonist Jack Wright and percussionist, frotteur, sound originator Ben Bennett, Kevin Takacs recounting tales of “The Old Spice Gang”, Bonnie Jones revealing her morbid dental history which used to enrapture Blaster, Catherine Bennett performing some of Blaster’s final texts, Bethany Sick Din going down a vocal dream corridor pursuing a dog and then Lauren Bender finished off the night by appearing in Blaster full dress all the way down to the slightly orphopedic white sneaks with untied laces. And the ever present beer and black plastic bag. (His were all from the Schnapp Shoppe).

And I swear to the gods that in the Red Room during the kickoff of the Blasterthon I heard Chris Toll’s chuckle twice and that of Peter Pan! Two sterling spirits visiting us from Beyond.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old Songs In The Poe Room

Above - Longtime meritorious cultural warriors Chris Mason and Liz Downing have a serious moment of sinking into the gravitas before belting out one of their all time best Old Song sets within the lush tome-lined walls of the Enoch Pratt Library's Poe Room.

Above - Marcus Jicklingius, who also put together the Old Songs' new book All Birds.

I have seen Old Songs live almost as many times as an average Deadhead woke up with green pork rinds in their Garcia wigs, but last Wednesday's two sets - the works of Sappho in the first set and Anacreon in the second - were the most sublime I've witnessed. All those beautiful books, book loving audience members, hired gun Don Peyton sitting in on uke and mandolin, and somber portraits of pale Poe gazing down upon them put the fire of Hephaestus in them to "sing of the lovely-haired graces/ To people in public places."

As part of this wonderful show, Mark Jickling put together a book of their translations where he explains in the introduction: "The Old Songs project, begun in 2002, seeks to bring ancient Greek lyric poetry of the 7th through 5th centuries BC to life via music. The few fragments of this poetry that remain have been studied extensively and translated many times, but words on the page can't do justice to verse that was composed to be sung.

"We don't know what the old music sounded like.....Old Songs sets the ancient lyrics to tunes derived from Anglo-Celtic ballads and dance music, Appalachian old-time music, blues....This juxtaposition of musical and lyrical worlds is arbitrary, but it works."

You can hear many of the songs from the book at PennSound:

Above - Sir Chris Batworth Ciaetti, one of many poets gathered in the Poe Room to watch poets sing the words of Ancient poets)

Part of the beauty and magic of Old Songs is that it shows how good writing is timeless and remains relevant, whether it's the beauty of Sappho: "Evening star brings back/ What bright dawn has scattered" or the bluesy grit of Anacreon: "My temples are grey, my hair's turned white/ All I've got left is a little sweet life/ Teeth worn out, charmed youth gone by/ Fear of the underworld makes me cry/ Hades hole is a terrible place/ The road down there is sorry and rough".

But let us end with Old Songs chanteuse Liz Downing's thoughts on eternity from All Birds' preface: "The sameness of the moon's light on Sappho's island as on the island of her lover is the same moon light which connects us to these Ancient poets. This same moonlight connects us to the first creatures who had the inclination to look up. Ancient poets' longing to be remembered is the same longing of poets today and under the same moon"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Record Store Day: The Players, Sun & Buyers Come Out - As Does My Pumpkin Head

Well, sadly my momma did not live to see this - her pumpkin-headed boy on the front page of a business newspaper!!! The gent with the art deco smooth scooped wig at Daily Record was kind enough to share some print love with us for this year's Record Store Day. But Sir Owen Gardner had the best quote about vinyl's resurgence and its superiority to MP3's and such - saying that people tire of data transfer and what a closer bond. Here's the article:
Record Store Day

(Above - the electric shoes of Lurch & Holler's Michael Willis)

Record Store Day started seven years ago and I remember waiting in line at a coffee joint with gentleman Tony of Celebrated Summer Records in Hampden and we were both bitching that this possible Hallmark-like event could turn into a screw job for the truly "small" record stores and just another boon for the Soundgarden types. Which are fine, but to us small guys, they are the big guys and are doing pretty good.

(Above - opening act of the day The Bow-Legged Gorilla)

But as it turns out, the day has turned into a day of folks seemingly gathering their hard-earned spending green and then lathering it onto all the vinyl shops in their vicinity. Soundgarden of course, being able to afford loading up on tons of limited RSD stock, raking in mad cash, but the rest of us having our niche and sort of having a dancing vinyl leprechaun day of joy that helps pad things out into the encroaching uncertain summertime.

(Above - Lurch in dervish mode)

At Normal's we figured we'd enslave a bunch of musical acts we love, stock up as much great used vinyl as possible, have a sale and place a little RSD title cream on top. That way if the day tanks, we will at least not be alone and we will have wonderful live music to serenade our sorrows.

(Above - Liz of Lurch)

The last few years have worked really well and we've had beautiful weather to boot. We'd like to thank again all the fantastic acts that gave their time and Essences - The Bow-Legged Gorilla, Lurch & Holler, Heart of Hearts, Omoo Omoo and Nathan Bell. Long live physical culture! Insh'allah!!!

(Above - Heart of Hearts)

(Above - Omoo Omoo)

(Above - Nathan Bell appearing to give someone the stinkeye, but perhaps some Boh bubbles went down the wrong hatch)