Grab-Bag of Mojo

I know I use the term a lot, but life has been quite a wild whirl, a whipwind, a crackledy wackledy the last few months.  Not only was I hopping around the East Coast of the US followed by half of Europe, but also was launching a new chapbook, helping to keep a Bay Area reading series up and running, and, speaking of running, running around the West Coast on tour with great weather for MEDIA press.  Last month I posted some of the basics from my travel journal on this page, but really, in all the melee, I missed quite a few delectables, moments of glee, spree, and otherwise brouhaha.  So this month I’m dumping the grab-bag all over the table, and sorting through the yumsies and the shinesies to put the specialties on display.

Full of chunks and glints and all of the a-dove was the great weather tour and general wordstorm.  3 weeks.  5 cities.  7 venues.  21 poets.  And thousands of buttery syllables.  And boy these things are work, but a ton of fun as well.  Lest you glean from my Fresh Words page, fraught with month-old pomes, that’d I’d been dormant these past weeks, allow me correct thee. Besides running my ass up and down the eastern Pacific shoreline, and spouting grace whenever the muses fell gullible, I was also blogging of the tour for the gw4M site, sketching people and places, scents and tastes for the work-worn home-bound pleebs.  You can check ’em out below, if you care to read about the reads and the various geo-sheens.  And while on site, you’ll note that there are also five tour posts by Puma Perl, which you can peruse as well for the whole damn tale.

Stories Bookstore & Cafe, Echo Park, Los Angeles – 11/7/13

Beyond Baroque and the Angels – 11/11/13

Berkeley Art House and the Time Machine of Falling Leaves – 11/16/13

What One Can Say of Portland – 11/19/13

Seattle, Breadlines, and Words Birthing Words – 11/24/13

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YUM  ::  Sipping thyme and basil wine with inventor, sculptor, archaeologist, and master vintner Jim Leonard in his gorgeous rustic old stone house out in the middle a goshdarn Pennsylvania, and I mean the middle like whoa where the heck are we, and how in the hell did you make this mindbending wine?

SHINE  ::  Wow, not only did I get to see fantabulous poet Frank Simone in NYC, not only did I get to hear Frank Simone on Long Island, I got to ride a train with Frank Simone all the way between those two damned earthsplotches.  All the way.  And it was glorious.  Frank Simone survived what was it eight heart attacks and innumberable maladies just to ride that train, and I am not shitting you.  You probably won’t get to ride a train with Frank Simone, you unlucky bastards, but you can listen to more sublime truth from Frank Simone right here.  And you should.  And while you’re at it, or perhaps just after, or just before, you might also glimpse the stunning beauty of Jay Chollick, who also stands in front of people and says things, as I had the good fortune to do while still out on Long Fucking Island, and yes, Jay, I know you hate it when we love you but it’s true, you are stunning, even in this shitty video of one poem you are, and I hope everybody in the whole world watches it.

YUM  ::  It always feels yummy to release a new publication, as in the delicious memory of the work sliding out of you, and now here it is, sitting in the middle of a room making noises, waiting for you to feed it to the world.  So have a taste, why doncha, of my new chapbook Questions, released in New York in October, with beautiful calligraphic art by Bill Mercer, art that in fact is the poems’ daddy, without which these pieces would have remained mere inklings, while something else, probably much less pretty, made its way down the wordwomb slide.  Despite all this somewhat disgusting imagery, these are tasty, dark, pretty pieces, with layers and ramifications and everything, so please check ’em out.

SHINE  ::  Terrific chat with Russell Thompson, London Programme Coordinator for Apples & Snakes, a high energy UK poetry org, in their offices in Deptford.  We spent an hour discussing the state of the art and the art of the state in our respective homelands, arriving at the conclusion, if such a thing is possible, that we need to keep feeding the fire.  I know Russell does rather more that his share of that, and Apples & Snakes seems quite a dedicated group working with poets of all stages, kids to pros, nationwide.  Totally worth checking out their link above, and checking out their events if you find yourself in the UK, as they have programmes in cities throughout.  Talk about doing the good work…

SHINE  ::  Simly interesting meet with Malaysian music journalist Jason Cheah, with whom I crossed paths randomly in a bar in Amsterdam.  He was in town for the Amsterdam Dance Event, which was starting the day I was leaving, but we had us some great chat about music, literature, and the state and act of writing today.  Wish I coulda stayed for more talk and summa that dancing, but such convers is def one of the joys of traveling.

YUM  ::  Great visit in L.A. with Craig Spring, old friend and proprietor of Brotus.  Craig has been designing and handcrafting leather goods for nigh on twenty-five years now, and has been developing a line of unique and ultra-spiffy shirts, vests, and pants, which he’ll design on spec.  Somehow I got carried away looking at all his fab skinwear (or maybe it was the rich smell of leather that permeates his space), and am having him make me a fitted pair of leather carpenter pants.  Look for ’em on my skinny ass soon!

SHINE  ::  Hopping right along with the melee of old friends who’ve ended up in Los Angeles, got to cavort briefly with good ol’ Tom Jennings, former code-whiz and publisher of Homocore magazine who now somehow manages to teach college students something and who actually does know everything, and his partner Josh, who keeps absolute order in the Universe (his last name is not Who).  They’ve manifested a fine residence in Silver Lake that they call The Compound, and though the name strikes a similar chord, it couldn’t be further from Wm. Burroughs‘ old Bunker in NYC (except that Tom is almost identical to him in almost every way).  What a joy, honestly, and I hope they take my invite to come infest the Bay Area imminently.

YUM  ::  And to wind up this annoying old-friends-in-L.A. scenario, it’s like I know everybody there, had the pleasure of hanging out with motion-capturer and former poster child Greg Allen, and filmmaker and ongoing problem child Graham Green, who graced not one but both of our L.A. readings with their attentive presence.  (And to think these two guys usually only go to readings for the girls…)  It’d been several years since I’d seen or colluded with either, and it was excellent to do so once again.  Sort of a sweet little anarchist family reunion.

SHINE  ::  Another group doing great work for the word is the gang at Beyond Baroque in Venice, who merit a thousand gold balloons for breakfast.  Like Apples & Snakes in the UK (mentioned above), these folks have been shouldering the literary wheel for decades now, and their efforts show.  Read there in November for the first time, and it’s quite a place, a nicely equipped black box theater with a basic, comfortable array of seating and terrific sound and lighting.  Had a warm chat afterward with BB directors Carlye Archibeque and Rich Modiano about creating broader circles, as we try to do with Poetry Unbound up in Berkeley, and I’m hoping we can get them to stop by and read with us sometime.  Come on up and poem for us, y’all!

YUM  ::  Nothing could be finer than to dine with Mae Saslaw in November – except any other time of the year as well!  Dropped in on Mae in Portland, her current ensconcement, and she swung me over to Radar on Mississippi St.(gotta love those one-word hipster names) for some genuinely terrif repast.  One thing I’ll say, those hipsters do know how to food it.  Mae also swung by our read over Clinton Street Theater-way with a couple of friendlies, and thank you, Mae, an honor to have you hear us, not to mention the whole dining thing.  And all that swinging, which, rumor has it, you will continue weekly.  Swing on, sister.

SHINE  ::  Waaaaay too short a visit with Tom Cirillo, Portland compadre, who proffered his lovely house for my shelter upon the road.  Tom and I have an awesome visiting mode:  basically, when one arrives in town, we take up a rhythm almost like old roommates, though we never have been, and variously hang out and do our own things respectively.  This time Tom was down with a bad cold, and wasn’t up for much sharing, except, as it turns out, said cold, which I know he shared most lovingly.  Thanks for the shelter, amigo!  Will get you back sometime, perhaps with a warm bed and a touch of the bird flu.   😛

DOUBLE-SHINE  ::  Despite being sick as two dogs, I managed to glean some quality time with friends Lily So Too and Lauren Holloway in dear old momentarily freezing Seattle.  (Temps were in the 20’s at night, which really helped my own cold settle in for the long haul.)  Spent a warm and bundled day at the Emma Goldman Finishing School, Lily’s current residence, with tea and ultra-healthful Lily-soup beside a glowing fire.  Thanks to the kind folks at EGFS for having me, and wish I could have been a more vivulous guest.  Then a couple nights with Lauren in her fab studio at the old El Capitan on Capitol Hill, at the very tail-end of our great weather tour, which ended ironically (or perfectly) in below-freezing temperatures.  Somehow managed to read well anyway (see gw4M Seattle post, above), and thanks to Lauren and Lily for helping to keep me alive through it all.  Seriously.  Best yet, the two of them capped off my visit, and my 67 days of travel, with a visit to In the Bowl, a veggie noodle emporium that offers absolutely delicious food as Episodes (!), and what might be the best bathroom ever (see below) (if you dare).  All in all a fitting end to a long and luminous journey, and I promise to come back to Seattle soon in the best of spanking health.

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Travel doesn’t end in arriving, but in the body.  As rhythm settles back, we start again to drink a constant stream and breathe consistent air.  The patterns of place lock in, and the familiar generates identification, known levels of comfort and forebearance, all things the body questioned while away, abroad.  Questioned and to some extent forgot.  Yet once we’ve reached that settle and have dreamt amidst the floorboards, we start to creave disruption once again, as the sleeper eventually craves waking.  We sense the greater pattern of rhythm and disruption as the true beat of body and species on the spinning globe, as the scratch that sparks combustion of the brew, the enzyme of a new alloy in the skin.  So here in kitchen on the first of December, I sit in rhythm as I have many times before, looking out over the neighborhood, familiar Oakland and its sun and trees and folks strolling and coming and going and doing their things, as I’m doing mine, and I look to some months of steady tides with the occasional whipwind and stormcrack, and beyond that into uprooting and throwing myself again, body and all, into the sheer hale glee.

Happy December,

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