Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hey Cara Ober

Thanks for Showing&Telling about Show&Tell in the Urbanite!

ps I think I'm still a visual artist, because I'm sitting here appreciating the way the spines look all of the books I haven't read in my bookshelf. That counts. Right? Right? Guys?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Third One

Well for The Third One there are no pictures, so I will try to do a good job describing things for you, but not really in a visual way because that would take too long. What was missing was Chris Ferrera, for legitimate and human reasons, and so in place of what surely would have been a moving--and dare I say quirky EWW I SAID IT--slideshow presentation of her grandparents' supper club called Cave of the Winds, I filled time by reading my favorite story from Calvino's Cosmicomics, All at One Point. I thought it timely because there was all that talk that week about the arsenic-eating organisms and how they were aliens, which I don't believe even though of course I believe in aliens--to me they seem like every other extremophile but apparently it has something to do with...something...I can't remember now. This is why I would make a bad astronaut. Conveniently, I am also afraid of space. It would be great to think that I am afraid of space by virtue of my poor astronaut qualities--natural selection in reverse. But anyway.

Katie Brennan

Katie Brennan went first, and I know she was nervous (because she told me), and I figured she would Show&Tell something about her scars (presumably the big ones on her head (because she sort of told me that, too)). What I didn't know but I guess really I did or I wouldn't have asked her to do S&T in the first place is how humble she is. Her adult life, as far as I can tell, has been spent amongst Baltimore's finest eccentrics and freak shows and restaurants and behind-the-scenes scenes. Then she goes and has all these aneurysms and clumps of bleeding things and brain surgeries. So Katie has this generous idea to Show&Tell her scars and then ask people to do the same. There were good stories about tailpipes falling down and pots of spaghetti and a guy getting his acne blown off by a cherry bomb. But what people really wanted to hear about was Katie, and so she told us a little about her brain and passed around images for us to look at. Her head and the hardware within look like a mechanized petri dish of pond water, which of course I mean in the most amazed way. I think we could have asked her questions all night, and one of the main ones probably would have been, "Are you the same now as you were before?" which of course is impossible to answer; or, the answer for everyone, after every breaking and mending, would be, "No, and I wouldn't want to be." I'm about 90% sure that scars imply hope, or at the very least, resolution.

We didn't take an intermission.

Rupert Wondolowski

Rupert. Rupert Wondolowski. I told the story about how I hit Rupert's car in front of Normal's before I knew him, and he tried his best but in the end had to call my insurance company, and I got dropped. That is how I learned to take the bus in Baltimore, like 7 years ago or so. Then we became friends, and out in the middle of Prettyboy Reservoir he said, "Hey, remember a few years ago when you hit some guy's car..." Another time we watched this movie called Uzumaki, which is REALLY weird and freaky. Mostly, though, Rupert was always good to me, and gave me a painting, and made me feel important. At 25 I did not know how to receive such things, and at 30 I am only slightly better at maintaining friendships, and so when I do talk to Rupert and see him read it is a sparkly treat indeed. Let me tell you about that.

Rupert read Chapters 1 & 2 of the novel he wrote at the age of 11 (I think?), called GANG FIGHT! It was nothing short of mind-bogglingly hysterical and formative--for Rupert, surely, but also for us in terms of our understanding of him. This book was all action, literally. There was like no description at all. There was action, and blood, and corrupt teachers, and lamps. I really hope Rupert decides to either publish GANG FIGHT serially or do it online or something. An illustrated version would be orgasmic. Apparently his teacher at the Catholic school had ol' Rupe read from the novel as an ongoing thing, and kids were rapt. It got passed around and pages were lost. I love to think of people stumbling across a loose page when they move to a new house or go through file boxes. Probably my favorite part of the story was the benevolence of an accessory character, who lends the protagonist $20 to cover his hospital bill, before they really know each other. In the story I'm pretty sure $20 covered the hospital stay (after a stabbing and subsequent group unconsciousness) and a blood transfusion, but I can't be sure.

So this S&T felt personal and cozy, especially because of how cold it was outside, and there were a bunch of new faces and old faces I haven't seen in a while. I liked that it was casual and also I think I set up the chairs closer together, so I inadvertently squished people, which is never really bad. This isn't the best writeup, I know, sorry.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Second One

(photo credits again to Linda Franklin/barkinglips, who herself will do S&T in February!)

Do you believe how many people were there? Me neither! I don't want to outgrow Minás, I just want them to put on an addition like my parents did even though theirs leaks air. I had just awoke/awakened (and at the time I would have been even more unsure of the correct verbiage) from an epic nap, which is the part of my Friday Routine that enables anything close to the emcee-ing of Show&Tell, and the heat and the crowd and the surreality of it made me feel very close to everyone there.

Aparna Jonnal

O Aparna. You magical doctor god of a human, with your frizzy hair and polyester, your long fingers and beautiful mouth that is beautiful in the classical way but moreso because of what comes out of it--observations at light-speed and the love running through all things like science, or vice versa. Aparna makes you feel like you are intended, and perfect, and a treasure. You can imagine my delight at a) her agreement to do Show&Tell because of these qualities + a giant brain and b) her not being at Artist but one who sees the cracks and talks about them and fills them in with deep appreciative thought.

Aparna read us her essay on determinism vs. free will, as her equally wonderful and yet very different husband Dave NeSmith presented substantiating evidence in the form of magic marker drawings on newsprint. Aparna elucidated the belief that insofar as we are "destined" and simply set, we are also (because of that causality and the frontal lobe that has developed within it to some degree) able to appreciate it. Maybe. I think she would say that our changing is of course destined as well, and that change is allowed within set-ness. She is probably coming from a more recent biological type of determinism, and of course there are arguments to be had (Uranium comes to mind). Questions arose about class, and basically Aparna said just be nice, we are blobs with inertia, and how lucky for that. She presented a new equation to us, which I will ask her for and re-post here since I'm doing a bad job re-telling and when I hear "quantum mechanics" I put on a brave face and rip off the band-aid all at once and have to take a nap not out of boredom but out of anxiety that mirrors the vastness of the universe and my lack of understanding of it.

Geoff Becker

It's funny that I've gotten to know Geoff Becker more by babysitting his son than through writing/music channels, because he's a great writer who won the Flannery O'Connor Prize and also a talented musician as we all saw and heard at S&T. He's married to my old (she's not old) painting advisor who I now would call my friend, and I would also call him my friend, because their four-year-old is my very good friend who lights up my Sundays with quotable observations and clear brown eyes. I am humbled that Geoff and Nora trust me to spend time with their child, so I feel that gratitude. He is easy to be around. How many people do you know like that? Probably not many. In their dining room they have a giant painting that Nora did of Geoff holding a very large dog.

So he told the story of his 1983 (not 1981!!) Martin HD-35 guitar, which really was a story about a union mafia that came in and scared everyone off and beat him up when he had no health insurance. There was legal stuff and in the end he received an accidental check in the mail from the hospital, for $900. He had always wanted a nice guitar, so you know what happened of course. He played a fingery tune that he wrote, which was tenuous in its evident difficulty that made you keep rooting for him, then he told his story, then he played "Alcohol" by the Kinks. My very favorite part was his voice, which was somewhere between Tom Waits' and my Grandfather's in the tub (the former in tone and the latter in delight).

Chris Mason

Chris Mason is kind of famous and I'm not, so what can I say about him that hasn't been said? I guess it doesn't matter if it's been said, because things aren't less true the more they're whatevered. It's not like we're good old friends, but I feel such good old things for him anyway. Part of it is awe because he has done so much, Tinklers, Old Songs, books including the upcoming HUM WHO HICCUP, famous poet collaborations/friends, etc. but mostly it's because he is so kind and brilliant. He is one of my very favorite poets. He is also a special educator, and he really means it, so we have that in common.

Chris brought his rock collection that he thought maybe made him sick, so he also brought hand sanitizer and didn't let us touch any of the rocks. He wrote poems to some of the rocks, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one wishing I was a rock for him to hold up under the lights and woo and pine for all at once. Possibly my favorite was the poem to the absent panspermia meteor rock, for obvious reasons. Actually now that I think about it, my favorite part was when he had rocks in his pockets (or just talked about having them there??) that he jangled around and asked us to imagine in our own pockets; he said that he originally wanted to give us rocks to do so with, but of course he didn't want to cause a public health epidemic and all. This is what I like about him so much--what he does is so outwardly benign and even awkward at times, and yet profound and crystallized; imagine rocks in your pockets when the rocks are right there; imagine panspermia when it's impossible. You know what's funny? In this picture he looks like part of one of Nora Sturges' paintings--she's married to Geoff Becker, above.

And finally, Adam Robinson

I think I met Adam Robinson at Transmodern like three or probably four years ago, when I did a collaborative piece with t-shirts. Mine said, "THINKING ABOUT DEATH OR FEAR" and the other two shirts said, "SAME". Adam and Dave NeSmith collaborated with me. Adam either told me or I later decided that he was thinking about his dog Thunder. I remember thinking that they were both very handsome. Narrow House put out his book, and he is also one of my very favorite poets. Right now my favorite poets are him, Chris Mason, Walt Whitman, and Eileen Myles and CA Conrad. Adam is a very masculine non-masculine person. He runs Publishing Genius and put out a book for me that we made potato-print covers for on my floor.

Adam Show&Telled his bloody shirt, police report, and phone from the time he was almost mugged in Baltimore, I think on North Avenue or Redwood Street. Some kids tried to bang him for his new phone, and hit him with a Snapple bottle, but he was like "no way" and got away. Many people ignored him until someone nice decided to stay. Like me, one of his skills is being really, really good at lack of follow-through (watch--I'll probably never write another blog entry) and he never mailed his shirt and police report to the winner of a preorder contest, and so he meant to call the guy who won at S&T and make him answer a trivia question to get the shirt (unfair). Well guess what? The guy didn't answer, and neither did Adam's mom when he tried to call her. So trivia happened and I think Bob won the shirt? But Katie and Chris got this amazing question right:

What city name can you rearrange to get a homonym for another country?

See if you can get it and I'll tell you if you're right. Bob's question was:

What book/gospel of the Bible are the Beatitudes in? and the answer is Matthew. I think.

I can't wait to see how long this is on the page.

ps when I said "I remember thinking that they were both very handsome" above, I meant Adam and Dave, although I'm sure Thunder was very handsome at well, but I'm about 75% sure she was a girl dog.

pps! Minás himself played for us on his lyre that used to be a wall decoration. It was magnificent--rhythm going in and out, scratchy sounds, a kind of harkening.

Let's Take it Back One Time

to the First Ever Show& thanks to Linda Franklin/barkinglips.

Adam Good

I can't remember meeting Adam Good, but I remember eating fried food across from him at a bar in DC after a reading probably five or six years ago. People were abuzz about his creativity even then. He was a poet, but that wasn't all. Now he's all over the place, radically recombining discourse and culture and art in ways that make evident his eternal, endearing, childlike curiosity and sincerity. He got married on a prairie in the mountains of North Carolina, and instead of a ring bearer they had a ring bear--a friend's toddler dressed as a cub, emerging from tall grasses. We all slept in a cabin and I was afraid to go out in the middle of the night to pee because of mountain lions.

Anyway I'm bad at keeping touch, but Adam has always been present in my thinking of things--a reminder to stay engaged and stay a child. His Show&Tell was still conceptual, but with a veneer of laid-back-itude overtop. He shared a Viewmaster with A-Team reels inside, and had people come up and look through and describe what they were seeing. It demanded audience participation in the most non-pretentious possible way, because as we know demanding such a thing can get icky and strangely self-indulgent for the artist (and can at least attempt to remove obligation/responsibility, yadda...), and do the opposite of what it wants by cultivating resentment between the two parties. But anyway it was wonderful to envy wonder and to imagine Mr. T. There was a lot riding on the participants, and of course I was critical of them and uncomfortable relying on their descriptions, but I am a jerk.

Joe Young

I can't remember meeting Joe Young either, but he's ubiquitous. I don't not remember meeting people because they're unimportant (and in fact they are all very important). I blame it on my frenetic emotionality because I hope it's not a horrible quality kind of thing. Anyway Joe is such a great writer and all-around interesting guy, who I only got to know Outside of The Group pretty recently--I think that's how I introduced him at Show&Tell. He's so tall, and not just to me. His hair is great because it is thick and between so many colors. He likes to wear a white undershirt with a sap stain on it. He helped me get a jellyfish sting out by rubbing sand on it, and spotted a little rubber whale toy in the sand with me which I gave to someone else, and I wonder if he wanted me to give it to him. You should see him dance. It's the happiest pogo stick ever.

Joe presented this mystery bone object that he found in the woods. When he passed it around, people fell into two camps: the it's-a-deer-penis-bone camp, and the it's-a-petrified-piece-of-white-asparagus camp. There were resident experts; the doctor informed us that (of course!) there are no bones in deer penises, and the hippie expert informed us that maybe it wasn't a bone, and luckily for us Joe had performed many experiments including a water displacement test...but had come to no conclusion. It was like a half-assed science investigation that finally never exposed the object's true nature: alien dinosaur vampires. Or something like that.

Jamie Gaughran-Perez

Guess what? I don't remember meeting JGP. But now we're 2/3 of Narrow House, with Justin Sirois. I always say that if I'm ever on Cash Cab, Jamie will be my phone-a-friend option because he knows a lot about a lot, not just a little about a lot. But do you know what? Don't call him for a Bible question. Jamie wears a cloak of intellectualism over his softie-hood. He would do anything for me, and vice versa. For instance, he pretty much made me go to Texas.

Jamie did oh man it was so good and a perfect ending to open Show&Tell. He made scallops ceviche tacos. Red cabbage slaw. Chipotle dressing. Fresh salsa/pico. Soft warm tortillas. I can't even tell you; there's nothing else to tell.

These Three Men

They are genuine and uphold things that should be upheld, like comparison and thought and relaxation.