Saturday March 5, 2005 – 3:20AM
Alright, here we are with the not sleeping again. Tonight I blame Salome for drunk dialing me at 2 J
But I owe you a story so… I’m in Milwaukee last weekend, you know, just chillin’ because I had a bunch of gigs in Joliet Illinois with Mark Eleveld (it was a great time at Joliet West High School and the Chicago Bar and Grill – more on that later). So it’s 2AM and Bianca and I decide to get Benadryl (because she has a cat and I’m allergic) and some food. We drive twenty feet exactly before it’s obvious the left front tire is flat. Of course it’s 20 freakin’ degrees outside, but we pull aside (much as we can) and I get to the task of tire-changing. I’ve got to the part where I’m removing the lug nuts, when a woman comes by walking a huge Chow dog. Two young, white, obviously just out the club and drunk guys come by going in the opposite direction. One dude says semi-slurrlingly “that’s a big dog you got there…”. The woman responds, “and you’re two big drunk assholes!!” The conversation does not take it’s time degenerating. Like a flash flood; one minute the sun is shining, the next you’re up to your next in sewage water, the exchange goes iMMEDiately south. One guy says “Just a minute there, lemme pee on your dog” and motions like he’s about to unsheath his dick for said pissing. The woman wheels, charges at the men and says “you’re gonna pee on my dog asshole??!! I’’ll kick your fuckin’ ass!!”.
I’m flabbergasted already and this thing is developing in front of me like a bad nightmare. I’m envisioning the two frat boy like dudes beating the shit out of the drunk woman and her dog (one of the guys is well over six foot, big and also drunk). This second guy, the big one, has meanwhile started mocking the woman in that children’s sing-song tone “Crack whore, crack whore…”. I run over there (with tire-iron in hand, because I’ma be sure they don’t whup MY ass either).
so, I’m getting between the woman and the guys. the woman is trying to throw punches over my shoulder. I’m saying “Ma’am, ma’am, let’s go, leave it alone, it’s not worth it. take your dog and go home” Over my shoulder… “crack whore, crack whore…”.
After about three minutes of that, the woman seems to notice for the first time that I’m in her way and wheels on me “leave me alone!! leave me alone!! leave me alone fucker!!” Not needing to be told twice and because she is trying to dial 911 and throw punches at the same time, and I wont be the idiot who when the police shows up is the black man menacing a white woman with a tire iron, so I say “Very well Ma’am, take your as-whupping on your own time.” The fiasco is not yet over, however. The men are trying to leave but she follows them across the street, takes a step back and tries to drop-kick one of the dudes! She misses of course; and falls on her ass in the snow. THEY PICK HER UP! She tries again with a roundhouse kick, whereupon the mean just get in their car and leave…
I swear, Joliet was a great experience though. I opened for Russell Rickford, author of the Biography of Betty Shabazz. He read from the book for the high-school students and spoke extremely well about the significance of her life, and her own legacy separate from her husband Malcolm X’s. You should all get it. Mr. Rickford is doing his Phd at Columbia and is very very very smart and has a brilliant understanding I think, of the history of the civil rights movement (amongst other things). It was a great time.
So now I’m in Ithaca, New York. I’m hosting some sort of slam thing here later. I’m reading Lorna Goodison’s ‘Controlling the Silver”. Lorna Goodison is a Jamaican heavy-hitter poet, in the talent bracket of your Walcotts and Braithwaites. I’m doing the review for Black Issues Review and so far the collection is really really good. I should have some more definitive report in a coupla days.
Sunday March 6, 2005 – 2:10PM
Yesterday’s work went well. I was required only to host the slams for the day – two preliminaries, the first of which featured teams from Monroe Community College and SUNY at Oneonta (Oneonta Won), the second of which featured teams from SUNY at Binghamton, SUNY at New Paltz and Niagara College. Three teams made it to the finals at 7PM; Oneonta, New Paltz and Binghamton. The slams were of a fairly high quality. The kids are well versed on the “game” - though a little too well versed if you ask me; but that’s another story – and there were a handful of poems that I thought were actually really good and showed exceptional promise. My evening was only just beginning though, once the slam was done. I couldn’t find anyone (student or administrator) to agree to go out with me for a beverage, so I made my own inquiries and set out. it was only nine by the time the slam was done, and while it would have done me well to go back to the guest suite and get work done and ten hours sleep, I thought better of such a foolish plan of action. I went to The Chapter House, which gave me the chance to try out a number of micro brews I hadn’t before, including one called Arrogant Bastard Ale (save your comments), an intense 7.5 percent hoppy ale that I had to wash down with a Harp Lager. But it was the band that was the joint, ladies and gentlemen. I figured that in as much as I’d actually allowed the bar to fleece me out of a cover charge of $5 (after all we do that to guests every Monday), I’d actually pay attention to the band that was striking up in the back room, after my third pint. Felice Rosser is genius as far as I’m concerned. I’d seen this mid-30s to mid 40s tall black woman in the bar earlier and I thought she looked somewhat out of place in the surroundings. On stage though, her bass guitar licks were pure grace, drumbeat, magic – her voice; think Michelle N’dege is she smoked a few more cigarettes, the band’s sound some sort of rock/reggae fusion. the only other musicians were a genius Japanese cat on electric guitar and a very very very good drummer. I was really glad I went and got me a copy of their cd. Faith (the cover of which is a shot from the Metropolitan Street station on the G Train, so I’m guessing she’s New York based. Go to www.felicerosser.com
and check her shit out. I guarantee satisfaction.
So now I’m on the bus on my way back and for the first time in years I get myself stuck on a full bus for five hours. When I say full, every seat is occupied AND my seat refuses to recline. I refuse to look at the scooby-doo movie they’re showing, but I bought a copy of Chinua Achebe’s collected poems and Kevin Young’s Jelly Roll, so I should have some good material with which to pass the time. Outside my window it is miles and miles of snow covered pasture, so there’s no relief out there…