Friday, February 28, 2003

Lord of the Rings Personality Test:

You are most like: The Dwarves

As the halls of Moria show, Dwarves like building and inventing. Curiosity is one of your strong points as it allows you to think of better ways to acheive goals. You may try to outwit the system if you get bored or annoyed with it. Social interaction energizes you. The more people the merrier. You have a tendency to introspection. In your desire for clarity in life, you may have the tendency of being remote or even "heartless". You like keeping your options open. Closure is probably not one of your strong suits.

As the foil to Aragorn, Sauron clearly embodies the evil side of this personality.

Traits: Pragmatic, autonomous, ingenious, resolute. On the dark side you could desire power and domination.

Like, WHOA! ;-)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Well, being back to work is certainly making it hard to get to this journal!

Readjusting - AGAIN! - has been rough and it didn't help that I stayed out so late on Monday night after the show. We ended a bit late as it was but afterwards, Jerry Quickley was in town for the night before heading to Iraq the next day to shoot a documentary about the effects of the US sanctions and bombings. That's one brave MF who truly walks the walk in everything he does. Needless to say, we all got a little toasted and I got home at 2:30am! This was right after Oscar and I got pulled over two blocks from the building by a cop looking for weed.

Anyway, I was wrecked the next morning. Not the best feeling on your second day at the job! To make it even worse, we had a little department lunch to get to know each other. The lunch was great, as was the company, but I was so dead-ass tired it was ridiculous. I'm getting too old for that stuff. Gotta slow it down a bit. I'll be glad when the smoking ban goes into effect which will take away one vice.

Besides that, though, the job is going well. It's straight marketing which is wonderful. A little creativity in one's job is a good thing. It's a nice office ALL the way downtown, up on the 25th floor which is a new high. Back to a cubicle but it's not cramped so it's okay. All my stuff is still in storage down in Virginia so I haven't really been able to personalize it, though I'll never top the "playroom" I had at American Express.

We've got a special seminar early tomorrow morning at our office on Broadway, a couple of blocks from "Ground Zero." Gonna be weird that it's my first time down there since 9/11. Have kind of avoided the area since, same way I haven't been to College Avenue since the homestead burnt down. I was never a big fan of the towers from an architectural viewpoint - my 5th grade report on the Empire State Building cemented that feeling - but there's no question I always felt its presence when I was down there and can't imagine it being gone. I think tomorrow will really drive home whatever feelings I've been avoiding about the whole thing.

That's enough rambling for now. Have a busy weekend and I'm already starting to get a little nervous about my reading on the 11th. More on that later.

PS: Couldn't get through on any of my protest calls today! Busy signals and "all circuits are busy" messages. Hope that means plenty of other people got heard.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Please join me NOW in registering for a Virtual March on Washington for February 26th. We are asking Congress to stop the Bush administration's rush to war, and to Let the Inspections Work. Time is running out.

With your help, on February 26th, every Senate office will receive a call EVERY MINUTE from a constituent, as they receive a simultaneous crush of faxes and email. I will be calling Senator Charles Schumer @ 1:43pm, Senator Hilary Clinton @ 1:48pm and The White House @ 1:53pm with the following statement: "As a native-New Yorker, I am offended that the tragedy of 9/11 is being used an excuse for even more senseless violence instead of an opportunity for necessary reform. As an honorably discharged member of the US Army, I am wholeheartedly against this push towards war that ignores the wishes of a growing number of Americans and unacceptably jeopardizes each and every one of our lives."

In New York and Washington D.C., "antiwar rooms" will highlight the progress of the day for national media. Local media will visit the "antiwar room" online, to monitor this constituent march throughout the day.

With your help, every Senate office switchboard will be lit up all day with our antiwar messages. This will be a powerful reminder of the breadth and depth of opposition to a war in Iraq.

Just go to:

Please join me and sign up today. This has never been done before. Let's be part of it.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

Friday, February 21, 2003

Back when I was single and just starting out on the poetry scene, I quickly learned one rule of thumb: no matter how attractive, never introduce yourself to a poet until AFTER you've heard them read. There's nothing more awkward than the moment they finish their poem, you realize they're absolutely terrible - or, even worse, some sad variation on mediocre - and you've lost all desire to continue the conversation!

Curating a reading series that includes a slam, I'm always on the lookout for new voices on the scene to invite to read at 13. Whether a potential feature or a new slammer, whenever I'm at a show, I'm careful about who I'm introduced to and, more importantly, WHEN. It's no longer about attraction but the logic is the same. If anything, it's even worse.

The absolute worst is people who have established something of a name for themselves - not terribly difficult in these days of DIY PR, the internet and the overall spoken word bandwagon. Recently, I was at a show where one such person was reading. I'd seen her name around and was curious. Thankfully, I waited to hear a couple of pieces before being introduced. She wasn't terrible, but she wasn't very good, either. Great performance and stage presence but not nearly enough attention to crafting the words. Most annoying was her identity piece - everyone's got at least one! - that ranted about the stereotyping of her people while simultaneously indulging in the stereotypes of another. Lacking any sense of irony, it just came off as ignorant.

Anyway, this got me thinking about my admittedly random criteria for booking features which makes for awkward situations when I get introduced to, or get out-of-the-blue emails from, people requesting features that I either don't particularly like or just plain never heard of. I know what I like and it varies wildly. Personality is as important to me as talent in picking features so my not liking the PERSON can be a big influence. I do make the ocassional exception for someone that's gained some notoriety or acclaim, though. One guy a couple of years ago pestered me so much via email - guaranteeing an amazing show and begging for a feature - that I finally gave in and booked him, promoting him as a spoken word comedian as opposed to a poet. He was decent and I filled my quota of features I don't necessarily like.

Sticky subject, that. My opinion of comedic poetry has come a long way, though. To be honest, I think it's no different from any other type of genre. Political poetry can be just as insipid as funny stuff, if not more so. While I believe it's easier to make people laugh than think, it's much harder to make people laugh AND think at the same time.

I realize that every time I have a feature of my own and have nothing "funny" to mix things up with. I have funny moments in some of my stuff but it's ultimately all melancholy and desperate hopefulness. I've tried to write funny but it's as pointless as trying to write a political poem. You write what you write and anything you force out comes across exactly like that: forced.

In some ways, I miss the innocence of my first six months on the scene when I thought we were changing the world and making a difference by writing and reading poetry and getting drunk and arguing politics and the meaning of life. We still do those things and most days, I still believe in a lot of it but reality is a party-pooper and I realize there's so much more to it than living the stereotypical artsist's life, talking the talk all the time but only walking the walk when convenient.

Where the hell did this tangent come from?!?!? I've totally forgotten where the hell I was going with all of this so I'll stop now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I got the job!

[Doing my Dora the Explorer dance now... "We did it!"]

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

"Third time's a charm," is how the saying goes. I hope so since I had my third interview in seven days this afternoon! It was a final interview with the one person in the department I hadn't met yet and it's apparently come down to me and one other person. Relatively confident in the interviews but who knows? They've already started checking my references which is a good sign. Cross your fingers.

It's a return to publishing but, ironically, it's FINANCIAL magazines this time! This would be the first time I'd actually known a magazine prior to working for it. It's a bit more marketing than circulation this time around, which would be great, and it's four magazines, a few newsletters and some web sites, which should keep things interesting.

I think I've hit the point where I need to stay with a job for AT LEAST two years. The bouncing around I've done the past - OH MY GOD! - nine and a half years since I left the Army has been great for gaining experience but it's turned my resume into a Stephen King novel. The last five years - non-profits, magazines, freelance writer, FINANCE?!?! - finally forced me to switch over to a functional resume to downplay the seeming randomness. At the risk of jinxing things, this company has a lot of room to move and the job seems like it has enough meat to it to keep me interested for a while. The three women in the department all seem cool and are relatively young so I'll hopefully connect with them better than the last magazine I was at. (No offense, Harvey, but it was kind of a dull office and even YOU didn't hang out with them much!)

On a related note, we drove around the Bedford Park area of the Bronx this weekend, checking out where we'll hopefully be living by the beginning of the summer! This job, should I get it, might start as soon as next Monday. That'd put us much closer to the Bronx, perhaps by May?


Monday, February 17, 2003

What Shawn Randall and Karen Rockower pull off every Sunday with Westside Rhyme is nothing short of inspirational!

I had the privilege of being one of their features at the Bowery Poetry Club last night - my second reading since I've been back - and had the most fun I've had outside of Monday nights in a long time. The snow had already started falling an hour before the show kicked off but they managed to pack the house anyway with an enthusiastic crowd. I'm a firm believer in a venue taking on the personality of the host/s running things and that's what makes Westside Rhyme such a pleasure, the energy that Shawn and Karen put into it. It's obvious they love what they're doing and they do it well. Over time, that translates to a loyal audience that believes in what you're doing.

The lineup included Mara Jebsen, the relative "newcomer" that several of the louder people have been raving about. Finally seeing her do more than one poem was a treat. She's got great stage presence and this husky blues voice that handles poetry and song equally well. If our audience has even half the intelligence we give them credit for, she'll be representing for us at Nationals this summer.

I went on after Karen Rockower - an amazing singer/songwriter and incredibly sweet person - who led off the second half of the show. I've never stopped getting nervous before a feature and last night was no different. I read four pieces, including the first brand new poem I've written in nearly three years! I've always wanted to write something about my time in the Army and, being on the verge of war seemed to be the catalyst for it to finally come out. It felt good to read something new and it seemed to go over well. It's one of the longest pieces I've ever written, easily 4 minutes long, but I like how it flows. Most importantly, I think I avoided the trap of making it TOO timely. I hate topical poems that are so dependent on the moment that inspired it that it loses any relevance a couple of months later. I mean, who do you plug into all those Giuliani poems now?!?!

Maya Azucena followed me and, WOW! Sorry Elana and Sabrina, I have a new favorite singer. One of the most amazing voices I've ever heard in person, she made me ashamed to ever watch American Idol again! Her version of Leonard Cohen via Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah was absolutely inspired. I still have it running through my head a day later. She got a well-deserved standing ovation and an encore for which she pulled Shawn and Hot Bryan (!) onstage and delivered an energetic, audience participation performance that by all rights should have ended the show. I felt terrible for the guy that followed her and told Shawn if it had been me, I'd have just left! Check her out at

Props to Shawn and Karen for an amazing show and an incredibly vital series. And thanks again for inviting me to be a part of it. Bob, if you're reading this, you need to give them a permanent home on Sundays!

PS: The snow's still falling and we've gone ahead and canceled tonight's show. Disappointed that I won't get to see Derrick Brown as he's been one of my favorites ever since his first feature for us a couple of years ago launched him into my personal Top 10. Guess I'll get to see the last Joe Millionaire after all! ;-)

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Ask and ye shall be told. I checked with a colleague of mine at Refuse and Resist about what was up with the Lincoln Center event and here's the deal:

"The sponsoring group for the event is Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience (you can see it at, and any money raised will go towards printing the statement in publications around the country. it has already appeared in 45 newspapers or magazines here and internationally, some of which have been paid ads, paid for by donations from people who have seen earlier ads. No one is being paid for their work on event, including the poets...

We chose Avery fisher because it was the only venue of sufficient size we could find in 3 days to hold what we hope is an overflow big crowd, and had sufficient weight to help put this event in the national headlines, so that it actually has the most impact possible in stopping this terrible course this government is dragging us down. As of this afternoon the news of the event is appearing in the CNN crawl underneath Bush emerging from Air Force One. It's also on AP wire and was heard on 1010 news this morning."

So it's all good. I stressed to her the importance of making this clearer on the promotional materials they're sending out so that there's no confusion. Again, I hope it all goes well and makes people take notice. If the random three or four of you that read this journal can make it, do so.

Peace. Literally.
Call me cynical - you wouldn't be the first! - but I've got some issues with this Lincoln Center Anti-War reading next Monday. And no, it's got nothing to do with it being ON a Monday. I've encouraged people to check it out and even sent it out to our mailing list. It was actually a response to that mailing from a friend in Seattle that got me thinking, though.

The CONCEPT is wonderful. A bunch of poets covering the spectrum from establishment to street coming together to speak out against the war is a good thing. A VERY good thing. But what's with the $10-100 ticket charge? I've looked around the Not in Our Name and Lincoln Center web sites and read through the promotional emails I've been sent and there's no mention of this being a fundraiser. Who's this money going to?

My wife - former event planner that she is - says Lincoln Center is an expensive place to hold an event. I don't doubt it and that's what confuses me even more. It makes no sense to me that you'd hold an event like THIS somewhere that isn't donating the space, much less an expensive one. Who are they trying to reach out to? Why isn't this a free event held somewhere that could ensure maximum exposure? Even @ $10/ticket, it's a POETRY show, and all you're doing is preaching to the choir if that's your audience.

Don't accuse me of pulling a post-9/11 O'Reilly on a good cause, either. Seriously. If it's a fundraiser, it should say that SOMEWHERE. If it's not, then it's nothing more than capitalistic opportunism. If the poets themselves are being paid for reading at this thing, shame on them. There's several names on the lineup that I know personally, some of whom I respect greatly. There's at least one whose politics have proven rather convenient over the years, aka if there's cameras, he'll be there.

On a related note, I stopped by the Bowery Poetry Club yesterday afternoon - after my interview, all suited up! - hoping to catch a little of the all-day anti-war open mic they were holding and was disappointed to find it empty when I got there @ 2pm. When I left a little after 4pm, a handful of other people had wandered in hoping to catch something going on, including a photographer that I think was there to shoot the event but with no luck. Somewhere around 3pm, Bang-Holman took the stage to begin rehearsals for their show later that night and that was that. Hopefully it picked up in the evening.

Had an interesting talk with Taylor Mali about anti-war poems and whether or not EVERYONE needed to write one. My thinking is you can be against the war, even speak out strongly against it, without feeling the need to write a poem. Sometimes poets take the easy way out and think that just writing something equals action. Without the motion behind the emotion, it's just words to me.

Anyway, I'm just venting a little bit here. Hopefully the event is a huge success and gets lots of press coverage and people wake up to the insanity of this war that's almost guaranteed to kick off in the next week or two. I'll be at 13 as usual, making sure the people that can't afford $10-100 have a place to gather and share their feelings about the war and everything else.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Most Monday nights are good nights. Tonight was a GOOD night.

Between the snow and my running late, I wasn't sure how it was all going to turn out but it ended up being one of those nights that I look to to remind me why I love doing this so much. A fun show with a good mix of poets, some first-timers - including Elana's friend Pam who, until a week ago was always just Elana's friend Pam but is now Pam, the dancer AND poet; and Rachel, who I've known for five years but never heard read before and finally did so in a slam! - and finally some balance of women and men on the stage.

We ended at a decent time (!) and, for the first time since I've been back, wound up at French Roast for food and conversation. French Roast has been the scene for some of our most ridiculous after-show "hair-letting-downs" and tonight didn't disappoint. We even got our usual spot in the back "room." A handful of old-timers with some corruptible newcomers mixed in, it was the kind of irreverent, politically-incorrect craziness that reinforces the connection that we have to each other.

This is where we all really get to know each other - away from the poems, the alcohol, the hangers-on. It goes beyond poetry but there's no doubt that poetry is the glue.

If you're looking for voyeuristic details, you're out of luck, nosy. You just have to be there.


Monday, February 10, 2003

Sunday, February 9, 2003

Dear Dad,

It's been awhile. Haven't spoken since before we left for Virginia. Guess you were right about that one, hunh? Or not. Depends on how you look at things.

Anyway, I've been thinking recently about how much I haven't thought about the fact that we haven't talked in a long stretch. Wouldn't be terribly remarkable given our track record if not for the kids. Remember them?

India Deama and Isaac Daniel GonzalezThey're doing well. The one on the left is India. She was born while we were in Virginia, on October 4, 2002. Not sure if you knew that or not. She's four months old now, getting bigger every day and developing quite the personality. Oh, thanks again for the outfits you sent from Taiwan. The smaller one should fit in another couple of months.

Isaac's turned into quite the little boy since you saw him last. He's two years old now. He really blossomed while we were down in Virginia. I think having the space to roam made a big difference. Spending the summer on the beach was certainly a good experience for him. We had a great party for him and Salomé's parents and a lot of our friends came down for it. Figured you wouldn't be able to make it so we didn't want to make you feel awkward by sending an invitation.

Don't worry, though; neither of them knows anything about you so they're not particularly disappointed about not seeing you. If you ever do get time in between trips to Taiwan to visit - or even call! - feel free to stick with the Uncle Frankie ruse. Gilbert and Dan have the grandpa thing well covered and I know how you feel about getting older.

Hope the new wife and kid (sorry, I just don't want to mangle their names) are doing well. Must be an interesting adjustment to raising a kid past three years old! Maybe one of these days we'll talk about it over drinks. Or not. It's up to you, really.

Your son

Friday, February 7, 2003

Dame Edna... My goodness.

If I get one more email sent to me about boycotting Vanity Fair because Dame Edna made racist comments about Latinos, I think I might lose my mind! I mean, really!

First of all, it's a dipshit magazine with great photos and the occasional good article, packaged for people that think they're too good for...well, People! Second, it's obvious that anyone that forwards the email in question neither reads the magazine or has a clue who Dame Edna is.

How exactly do you boycott something you don't patronize to begin with anyway? And how do you convince those that actually DO patronize it to boycott when they know from jump that you don't what the hell you're talking about?!?!

Dame Edna, for those that don't know, writes an "advice column" for Vanity Fair. It's a completely satirical take on the genre and in the current issue - with Salma Hayek on the cover (did I mention the great photos?) - she counsels someone wondering whether they should learn Spanish by telling them: "Forget Spanish...Who speaks it that you are really desperate to talk to? The help? Your leaf blower?" Oh the tempest that followed!

I'm worn out debating the idiocy of it all and a much more lucid perspective on the dustup was written by Virginia Cueto of Read it and, if you forwarded the original boycott email, be sure to forward this one, too.

I find it truly ironic that this got as much attention as it did, meanwhile Kingpin, network TV's FIRST Latino drama, indulges in some of the worst stereotyping in recent memory and barely a word.

Some friends of mine have been debating the issue for the past day or two and I finally got annoyed and had to remind people that there's a war about to start that, perhaps, might be a bit more important than Dame Edna. There was an interesting moment in our debate where one friend, a white South African male, warily made a point, not sure if he was overstepping his bounds, and it made me think about my own identity.

I've never been comfortable with my Latino heritage - my father's Puerto Rican - largely because I don't speak Spanish. When my parents separated at three, my contact with my father's side of the family diminshed greatly over the years and the little bit of Spanish I knew, faded away. Running around with the last name Gonzalez made life awkward, especially considering my preference for Latinas. Girlfriends' mothers and grandmothers were always lessons in humility!

To be honest, not counting the year in Miami, I've never been made to feel NOT Latino by other Latinos. [Interestingly, it's non-Latinos that are quicker to categorize. Or DE-categorize, in my case.] If anything, that compounds my awkwardness with it all. I'm much better at confrontation than encouragement. Of course, it's not like speaking Spanish is the sole defining characteristic of being Latino, but without it, everything else feels lacking.

Anyway, I bring this up because I was surprised at my initial reluctance to get involved in the debate, for fear that I wasn't Latino enough to have an opinion - reinforced by my lack of outrage over the Dame's comments - and that it would be pointed out to dismiss my opinion. Of course, it didn't happen, at least not publicly, but I couldn't shake that feeling of...not quite belonging.

Identity is a funny thing and, lacking any deep connections to an ethnic identity, it's why I've always clung to being a New Yorker.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

My Daily Horoscope for February 05, 2003 (courtesy of & Yahoo!): "Dear Guy, As a Leo you are probably quite comfortable in a group of people, Guy. Your gregarious nature tends to attract a lot of friends. But today you might feel a greater need for some time to yourself. Don't hesitate to tell those around you that you need to be alone for a little while. Feeling the need to perform every day can wear a person into the ground until they reach a point where acting up becomes so second nature that even they don't know what they're really feeling. Take some time to yourself."

I've always enjoyed reading horoscopes for their entertainment value and random appropriateness but the last few months of 2002, I became hooked on this particular series of horoscopes. While the Virginia experiment was coming to a head, the 'scopes were getting eeriely more specific, like these people were watching me and trying to send me warnings of the approaching iceberg.

There was this one from Saturday, November 2: "Expect to spend some time meditating on your life. Given the mood of the past few months, you are justified in your desire to make certain changes. With today's planetary alignment, you may be considering how to acquire the means that would enable you to change horizons. You may be contemplating travel, or perhaps simply a long, refreshing rest. Do more than think about it, do it!"

The following week, Saturday, November 9: "It may be hard for you to connect with others today, dear Leo. You may be off in your own little world. Chances are that you are talking about one thing, and the person you are talking to is off in their own little world thinking about another. You might want to just keep quiet and stay in your own little world by yourself. Strengthen your self-esteem by focusing on yourself instead of trying to get others to focus on you." Every Saturday, we'd be on the phones trying to schedule appointments for the following week, desperately trying not to feel like telemarketers. By this time, I'd already stopped trying, holed up in my office with the music playing, pretending that no one was answering the phones.

A few days later, Wednesday, November 13: "Your emotions are running extra high today, dear Leo, and you will feel a deep knowing inside that assures you that you are right. Hold on to this power pellet of inner strength. You will need it today as someone tries to push you off the top of the mountain by way of their fast talk and barrage of facts and information. Even though your thinking may be a bit off base, your heart is in the right place." This was the day my partner-in-crime and I got busted for meeting with a competing firm to see what they had to offer. I came to work to and found a note on my screen from my boss to see him ASAP. He'd somehow found out we'd went and was ready to fire both of us. The 45-minute discussion that followed was a heady mix of double-talk and thinking on the fly. This was the day he broke out his personal story of starting with Greenpeace and how successful he thought I could be if I simply bought into the system and...yes, he actually said it: trusted him!

Thursday, November 14: "You might feel as if you are caught in the middle of two warring sides, dear Leo. Both choices are extremely tempting, yet only one will really work for you. The trick is to know which one that is. Use the practical grounding energy of the day to center yourself and calm your nerves. From that stable place, feel free to throw caution to the wind and join up with a high energy, fast-paced plan that suits your needs." At the time, the thought of returning to NY didn't seem like a realistic possibility, the thought of taking another job in this slow-paced city pained me, and getting on board with Sleazy's program for success seemed more distasteful everyday.

Sunday, November 17: "Someone may try to engage you in some sort of mental sparring today, dear Leo, so be prepared to do battle. You will find that you have the incredible ability to make a huge production out of just about situation. Try not to make things into bigger issues than they need to be. You are better off giving in than fighting to death about an issue that just isn't worth it." That last line is what kept me at Amex, and in Virginia, longer than necessary and has always been my defining flaw.

Tuesday, Novmber 19: "Your emotional instincts may be coming into conflict with the seat of your personality today, dear Leo. It could be that you are feeling quite receptive and understanding of other people's needs. At the same time, you may be angered by what you feel and hence you have the urge to take action. Be careful that you don't move too hastily. Consider the consequences of your actions before you go stirring up trouble."

And, Thursday, December 5, the day after I officially quit Amex and began packing for NY: "Your attitude towards others pushes you to meet people, who could be considered by a large majority, as eccentric persons. They might be considered by a large majority to be a little bit strange. You will be happy to meet one of them today, but this person will look familiar and strangely enough, will most likely be yourself."

Coming back to NY was exactly that, meeting myself all over again, remembering who I was and forgetting who society says I should be. Have I said how glad I am to be back? ;-)

Sunday, February 2, 2003

The first six months in Virginia weren't so bad but, when August came around and I missed my first Nationals since 1998, things began to shift. I came up to visit in the beginning of September, hosted the show that Monday and realized how much I missed it all. I'd not only walked away from my baby, which was hard enough, but I'd walked away from my friends. Mondays were my second home, my living room that welcomed all sorts of random people in every week, mixing with the people I held most dear.

When we decided to come back, I knew a big part of getting myself back to normal was getting myself back to Monday nights. When we left, I was extremely burnt out and desperately needed a break. I realized later that it was predominantly my increased involvement on the national scene, and the resulting frustration, that had finally pushed me over the edge. The whole PSI experience left me even more cynical and jaded than usual, but with the proper distance, I realized what a small part of my world it really was. It was the poetry that had gotten me in the beginning - seeing how it could change someone's life, giving them a voice they never knew they had, or just never knew how to use. That's what was important. The rest of it was either icing on the cake, or the crusty burnt shit stuck to the pan.

Once I knew I was coming back, I quickly jumped back in the saddle and Lynne and I began working on the Jan 13th show, the big 5th anniversary showcase that would kick off 2003 with a bang. Five years is a long time for anything but for me, it's a lifetime. The only other thing I've done nearly as long is be married. They actually run neck-and-neck as I took over running 13 on Monday, March 16, 1998, five days before I proposed to Salome at the Nuyorican. I actually read the first draft of the poem there that night! Beyond that, the Army is both the longest I've ever kept a job - 2 yrs! - and the longest I've lived in one place - 2yrs! - since Mt. Vernon.

Anyway, January 13th came together quick and it was exciting to be back in the mix. Just past 7pm, when we started letting people in, I had a moment of sheer terror as my nerves jangled, thinking what in the hell were we attempting to pull off??!! It came off great, though, and I finally got a chance tonight to listen to the recording. The handful of technical glitches apparent at the show didn't appear on the CD, though we did lose a couple of tracks to a plug coming loose or something. Overall, though, it was much better than I could have hoped.

I was especially overwhelmed by the amount of talent that crossed the stage that night, from the established guest poets to the newer members of the "collective" coming into their own. FWIW, I include myself in that latter group as I feel like I'm starting all over again as a poet. If there was anything that could give me the inspirational kick in the pants I needed, that night was it.

I have to remind myself that it's so easy to take what we have for granted, this weekly gathering of poets sharing our words, speaking our minds. There's places in this world - hell, in THIS country! - where what we have couldn't possibly happen.