So, Friday, I finally manage to make it out to the Pink Pony reading series. Roger recommended that I check it out several months ago when I was first starting to talk to people about trying to get features, and it seemed like the kind of place I might do well at. Nice, earnest people, and a slightly less chaotic environment than 13 (ah, but chaos is sexy). I had to go up second, dropped the Nokia poem, which seems to be going over well lately, and managed to get everybody's attention, so, success! Talked to a few people, talked up synonymUS, enjoyed the feature (Marj, it was her birthday), and headed out in the Manhattan night.
On a whim, I decide to go to a reading at St. Mark's Church. Marty was featuring, and the evening was all about persona poems, a style which I have yet to try with any success. I had a lot of time to kill, and I ended up wandering all over the city, over to Union Square, over to St. Marks. While eating dinner I read a poem by Rilke (my current fav, in translation by Robert Bly) which I've been telling my friends about. Like to hear it? Here it goes:
Archaic Torso of Apollo
We have no idea what his fantastic head
was like, where the eyeballs were slowly swelling. But
his body now is glowing like a gas lamp,
whose inner eyes, only turned down a little,
hold their flame, shine. If there weren't light, the curve
of the breast wouldn't blind you, and in the swerve
of the thighs a smile wouldn't keep on going
toward the place where the seeds are.
If there weren't light, this stone would look cut off
where it drops clearly from the shoulders,
its skin wouldn't gleam like the fur of a wild animal,
and the body wouldn't send out light from every edge
as a star does... for there is no place at all
that isn't looking at you. You must change your life.
I had to stop eating, put the book down, and take a second. The last line nearly undid me. Not with the usual sentimental, "Oh, yes, I do have to change my life [bows head and weeps in gratitude and shame]." No it was more like, "Yes, exactly, that's why I've been working so hard for the past few years, why I've been trying to dig myself out of the hole I thought I was in." The world exists, and it's beauty and power demand a response, a decision. You must decide your relationship to this amazing array of sensation and being. You must decide if you are part of it, and if so, how. You must take your place in the world. You must change your life.
Marty's reading ended up being much more interesting than I could have hoped. There was a band backing up the poets - classical guitar, 7 string bass (doubling on flute), clarinet, percussion (rattles, bongos, hi-hat, ride, large cylindrical skin drum, shakers and ephemera), violin (with more electronic toys on it than Ngoma) and trombone. They improvised (a la synonymUS) with the poets - I got the feeling they were sort of new to the whole thing so in some ways they were more interested in listening to each other than the poets. There were a couple of moments of real transcendence, and no one would think that the musicians were anything less than stellar, chops-wise. It made me want to really explore using more texture and less groove with synonymUS. Even the pieces where we don't use the drum machine have a tendency to be of the "slow-jam/pretty walk on the beach" variety. We definitely need to push our boundaries, musically. We've got a couple of things we do well - the noise piece (heavy or sparse groove on 505, distorted and/or delayed guitar, saxophone squonk, maybe violin madness), the pretty piece (clean guitar, light or no groove, flute), the hip-hop-ish thing (bass groove, thump on the 505, sax). Those are our standard operating procedures for the open mic, and I think we ought to start turning off the drum machine and begin demanding more of ourselves. These cats really showed me what's possible in other directions using texture, sparseness and mixing with groove. Also, the addition of other instruments might give us a chance to really make something happen... maybe a cello or somehow bringing that trombone back (anybody know a trumpeter? Or a really good clarinetist?).
Anyway, great night. Marty did her Laci Peterson piece and What Red Learned... both of which were beautiful.
Saturday, relax around the house, try to get tix to go to Albuquerque for nats, finally just decided to wait hoping for a last minute deal. We did book the hotel, however, so there's that. Saw the last night of the show Steph is stage managing, Dying Goldfish and went to the cast party afterwards. Decided to drink, specifically tequila. I am nothing if not disciplined when it comes to substance use. I abide by a few easy to remember rules: stick with one type of alcohol all night, and preferably the same brand. If beer, drink beer, if wine, drink wine - dance only with the girl who brought ya'. Last night, as I mentioned, was tequila, and even more specifically Patron, God love it. I drank several glasses (not shots. You don't shoot Patron, philistines, for the same reason you don't play lawn darts at the Garden of Versailles - that's not what it was made for) of tequila and enjoyed myself immensely. Lovely.
Anyway, that was my weekend, and it's only Sunday. Still have all of today and tomorrow to enjoy. Hope yours goes well, too.