Looking for parking in the morning so completely sets my day off on the wrong foot! Looking for it in Brooklyn Heights on a Monday morning - where after driving around for 30 minutes, you stick it on a meter and cross your fingers you'll ONLY get a ticket - sucks like a five hour open mic in the park where the swings are off-limits and there is no shade.
I'm a little poetry'd out at this point. Since last Monday, I've been at a poetry reading every day except for Wednesday. Haven't done that since '98 when I used to try to read everywhere possible. Checked out Cornelia Street Café twice, Friday and Saturday, and it was nice to be in unfamiliar surroundings again. Friday night was the Pink Pony West, frequented by a much older-skewing crowd than I've been around in a while. That psycho, MS, was there, too. Haven't seen her around since the last time she came to 13, got pissy on the open mic and left. It's one thing to be a moron, but to be a terrible writer and a moron is a tough spot to be in. On Friday, she read her first piece, got some tepid applause (which is tough from this type of generally supportive crowd) and seemed to change her mind about reading a second one, saying never mind and leaving the stage. Whatever. I followed her with Mozer, Bethea & I, receiving a generally positive response. Jackie Sheeler runs a cool, laid-back scene and it's somewhere I could see dropping in on now and then to test work on a totally different crowd. My feature there on July 25th should be interesting.
Saturday was Poetically Incorrect's first anniversary as well as my first time there. Chance runs things like it's his living room and the whole show had that kind of friendly vibe; not love jones, just kinda chill. Impressive turnout, too. The work was all over the place with Acentos regulars mixed in with several people I'd never seen before. Mara and I read in the open mic while Oscar and Fish were a couple of the features. Ngoma was there, with his recently discovered loop station that allows him to do his multi-instrumental thing throughout his set. Freshened up his old work but nothing can cover for someone that seems a bit bored by their own stuff. I remember being blown away by him in the early days but he seems to have stagnated the last couple of times I've seen him. Signature poems can be crippling that way. Outside, Oscar and I were approached by a woman representing one of the poets from the open mic. Representing as in "manager." Poets with managers? OPEN MIC poets with managers? What the fuck has happened these past few years?
Later that night, I hung out with a bunch of friends at Pioneer, before moving on in search of something...less white. Stereotypes are horrible but, like gangsta rap, Pioneer was full of them. Anyway, Syreeta, Sabrina and I wandered the east village looking for parking and, while heading nowhere specific, ran across this guy she'd been talking about earlier in the night. Serendipity takes over and we find ourselves in a restaurant amongst his friends dancing to middle eastern music and eating mussels. It was like My Big Fat Arabic Wedding! Culturally, it was the perfect antidote to the bland blondeness of Pioneer. Afterwards, we trekked over to some middle eastern restaurant that becomes a club at night with an excellent DJ laying down middle eastern beats. Wolverine met up with his later, filling us in on her Yellow Fevered date earlier in the evening, that ended more for his like of bad poetry. Got back to Lynne's at 6am after dropping Syreeta and GK off and getting lost on Atlantic Avenue.
Last night I caught Westside Rhyme, the first post-Shawn Randall show. That whole situation is weird and, if you're not sure what happened with it, join the club. It's too bad because I really like what they've built there and for him to step down right before their 2nd anniversary show suggests some deep shit went down. You could see the weight of it on Karen's face at random unguarded moments through the night. They had a solid turnout, though, most notable for the musical support that turned out, including Maya Azucena in laid-back diva mode. She sang backup for a couple of performers and there's just no way Maya can be in anybody's background. It's like sticking Mariah Carey behind Kelly Clarkson and expecting her not to shine. One guy I'd never seen before was Bill Mann, one of the few male singer/songwriters I've come across that can hold his own with the women. His guitar-work was effortlessly impressive and he's got a strong voice. Got his info for a future louderJAM. Sabrina read, too, and it was the first time I got to see her do an extended set in ages. It's amazing how some people take a while to develop their voices while others, like Sabrina, seem to have them fully-formed early on and their progression is more about polishing that diamond. She's been this good since she was nineteen and she did a great job in a tough venue, not to mention following a ridiculous Maya performance.
Tonight's the last semi-final and I fully believe, the most dramatic of them all. Anybody truly can take this one. Edward Garcia has the ability to overcome the lead spot as long as he focuses on strategizing his own work as opposed to his opponent's. Marty is a perennial who can step it up at any time and actually gets stronger as the night goes on. The question is, will she stick with newer work or, back against the wall, pull out the oldies? Claudia Alick? I have no idea. I've seen her read once, something humorous in a squeaky, high-pitched voice. She kind of backed into semis and is a total unknown for me. Shappy is this week's wild card. His outright funny stuff has never quite worked in our slams and his recent addition of politics to his work may potentially be dated by it's focus on specific events, ie: the war and Herr Bush. This being his only shot at making a team, now that he's officially out of the running at Urbana, makes him a determined opponent. Finally, Ishle, who most nights you have to pick for victory, also has the advantage of the last spot in the first round. I wouldn't be surprised to see her repeat T'ai's dominating performance from last week. Her weakness has always been the clock, though, and not being around for much of this year could lower her confidence a notch. Who's it gonna be?
Of course, before the semis, Maya Azucena will be featuring. Have I said her name enough in this entry? Have I been this infatuated with an artist since...hell, Willie Perdomo? She's THAT good. Can't believe she's not super famous by this time next year, especially once her CD comes out next month.
Today's web site: http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?45442B7C000C070301 Can't believe this page is still out there! Interestingly, it's not linked anywhere on the site. Undercover baby!