Friday, April 4, 2014
Megan McShea Rekindles The Fire of The Ancient Party
Long ago, when hairs gathered around heads, when more than five Baltimore poets would be home from touring or the madhouse at the same time, when Chris Toll and Blaster Al Ackerman still trod the earth like parallel universe Lenin and Marx respectively, when young Adam Robinson and Stephanie Barber still held partiers rapt with their wide-eyed tales of the fur trade in Milwaukee in the 1800's, when Amy Peterson still graced Normal's Books & Records on occasion before her step up into the rarefied world of modern New York and its tony celebrity filled co-ops, oxygen bars and petitions against mopery, before Ric Royer The Theater Lad, was thrown into the pee-stained trunk of a Dodge sedan by seedy barstool bard Gene Grigoritis, his fingers removed one by one over the course of nine days (Ric had already lost one as a child in Disneyland, bitten off by the Alexander Hamilton robot), each digit shearing videoed and posted to Youtube then sent to gadfly Tao Lin, with the thoughtful message "I bet this bitch's finger is bigger than your Johnson you poser" - before the writing scene spun out like the final crunchy tableau of "Fast & Furious XX" and toppled from its glorious peak, many disparate souls united by their weirdness and love of morphological word formation, jarring metaphors/contrasts and sometimes plain old oddball oddness scat goof met up every few weeks to become One Big Mind and Write As One With Many.
Usually within the comfort of Megan McShea's afghan-filled cottage where plump Sugar the cat would brush your ankles, yard sale Latin record finds would spin and Megan and Amy and Bonnie would quietly contend for "Most Raven Haired". Sometimes we would sit out on my ragged third floor balcony back when I lived in the Pego Mansion of St. Paul Street across from the Catholic High School.
Wherever we met, Blaster Al could be counted on to be there with beer and an anarchic spirit to keep the proceedings moving and not too academic and Megan would stir up the poetry machine gadgets to keep rust from forming.
Many nights after hours of scribbling, cutting up and jabbering the circle would fall briefly silent and someone would say "Hey, where's Lauren Bender? Did she take all the Hazelnut Breadstick Pop Tarts?" And there Lauren would be, stuck up in a ceiling corner, wide possum-eyed like a dollar store mylar valentines balloon temporarily forgotten as the young lovers moved into the love room to drop the needle on some Barry White.
(above - Lauren Bender mooshing Sugar the Cat)
But all things (almost all?) end. Or erode/evolve/mutate. Even though they feel natural as breath and just as rejuvenating as they are going on. Such be our writerly coven meetings. Oh they will still happen somewhere with some of us, but Blaster and Chris Toll are huffing ether and playing prepared harp with John Cage on the astral plane, Adam Robinson independent publishing pinup boy is off to Atlanta, Amy is in New York comforting Laurie Anderson and so on and so on, time marches on.
Luckily, though, Megan hung on to our sheaves of scribbles and pored over them, jiggling the ink until gold nuggets rose to the surface. Not only that, she assembled the best into an actual beautiful book and is throwing a Now Party for The Ancient Party at the Windup Space Sunday April 13, 3pm to 5. Come hear some reading from it, gaze upon it, pry greenbacks from your moneysock to buy for your very own. Here's the Your Face link:
The Ancient Party
Here are a few lines from "The Goofball Oracle" to whet your appetite. The Goofball Oracle exercise was everyone would write random questions and place them in one hat and random answers placed in a second hat. Questions would then be pulled from one hat and random answers from the other.
"Hey, what do you guys think of Pammy's new Bummer?" - "The sound of the louvre covered in mallo-mars."
"Was Lincoln a happy drunk?" - "A neon rose garden at the end of the world."
"How many of you are in there anyway?" - "Love is naturally pungent".
Or perhaps a "One Minute Story", s story written within 60 seconds, will win you over:
The way his skin sat on his frame, his skeleton, the whisper of ribs like an automatic round. I still see this sometimes and feel the recoil. Memory does that, transforming the banal into the fantastic.
- John Eaton
(John "Lucky Charms" Eaton, who has been trapped inside the Zoltar Fortune Teller booth on Coney Island since the last writers group gathering.)
The skeleton dancing across the lawn. The skeleton peeping out from behind the shower curtain. The skeleton in the bread box, smaller than the others, so obviously it was the baby.
- Blaster Al Ackerman
Here is one of the "Biographies". Each writer would write a false biography and then mouth the words to the other writers. Then each person would write down what they were lip reading.
"Mortimer Hadley" - by Megan McShea.
I am Mortimer Hadley. I was born in Challenger, Mississippi, along the shore of the Missouri River where seventeen dogs had recently died of exposure to second-hand smoke. No one really understood this at the time, but it would prove to be a fateful pre-episode to my life as an epidemiologist. I attended the Milton Military Pentecostal School for wayward boys until the 9th grade, when I ran off with my guardian angel and began practicing medicine on unsuspecting rural families. Some of my favorite and locally renowned diagnoses are Pale Ghost Disease, discovered in Fallow Holler in the Ozarks, Hollow Stem Fever, which overwhelmed a colony of rabbits in eastern Kansas, and Haddock Mouth, which infested a flock of tiny angels in my hometown of Challenger.
(Lip reading version by Bonnie Jones of "Mortimer Hadley"):
I am Putpott Riding. I was born in South Beach along the coast of whenever. It was heavenly and moldy. Although it was really strenuous for me in the formative years in Ecology I did my. It was wild but right after I was wasted in my family. Memory of an envelope water. Was a rabbit. Fine, back alley. Jaguar.
Well, to paraphrase Blaster, you don't want to sample too many of these deadly treats at one time. But I will leave you with a ritual, the rules of which were worked out in collaboration. This one was written by myself, Ric Royer, Bonnie Jones and Megan McShea.
How to March Into Jerusalem With Your Battle Dress On, Go On Girl!
1. Receive only the absence, not the presence.
2. Wave and pat pouch cloth. Form leg trumpet.
3. Make it ouchie in the Humvee.
4. Make sure that Kirk notices you by wearing so much makeup you look like a clown and appearing at his big gig at the MTV Music Awards with the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and tell him you're pregnant.
5. Buy a custom fitted mouth guard, the kind for teeth grinding not hockey. Put your head down, groan a little, channel Cormac McCarthy, bend at the knees, wipe that tiny bit of spittle. Rush.
Come join in on the festivities April 13th at the Windup and hoist a glass of something for friendship, collaborations and a Spring much deserved.