Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday October 31st, 2005 - 12:41AM

So this is the poem i did for this ubercool event (the Generation Ecstatsy thing) this past Tuesday).

other than that, there is much to report but nothing that i've yet recovered form after the allergy medicine and rum fiasco last night. yes. i went to a party at my old apartment (my old roommate Sam is moving out and they're turning the space into a commercial property - to be exact; a meat market). i now can say that i once lived in a location that is now a meat market - hold all the dumb jokes.

i'm working now. gonna go try to get a proposal for a training program for teachers donw now. i've just got back from the Pour House where Lorna my personal bartender hooked me up lovely. it'll be just fine... tell me about the poem if you feel like it...

Home Free

Moderation is a fatal thing…
Oscar Wilde

no radio in the old Datsun
as it crashed into the railing
90 miles an hour and all i could
do put my arm up to shield
my eyes and wonder what
the hell my mother was going to say

i had gone out that night
1986 Sergio Valente smooth
white fat-laced adidas
I had made out with Gail Savary
and i was 18 and cool high-top faded
had the wheels that night
so i drove Rudy and Dave home

On the way back i know
i will fall asleep if i don't sing
so i start with 'Daniel fit the battle of jericho'
segue through Air Supply, Journey
and Steel Pulse, before i get
about a mile from my house
I'm home free so i stop
singing wake up when
the car hit the fence

Everyone is searching for the song
he lost the song somehow we knew
how to sing and sometimes that melody
is money and we don't see how
crazy fucked up that 8/7 rhythm is
how discordant the harmony

but mostly if we're lucky we find it
but some days the song
drives us back to the drip
in the backs of our throats
the seratonin levels leached out
of our paint brushes and pens and guitars and
sometimes your woman just gets
a little bit more exciting after the third drink

we are generation ecstasy
the fools who fell for "go out and shop"
after the towers toppled that sound
in your ear is some fucked up
Judas-kiss static shit and we're trying to dig
the music under the noise and we're all
making things paintings and poems and drama
and drums and sometimes the music
is in the edge we dance to live on to make
the world beautiful so we come back to it
in Humboldt County home grown gold
even if we're tip-toeing on razor blades

The Hendrix riff the Joplin rasp
Billie Holiday’s high C like a box cutter
cleaving the Jim Crow air
everyone wants these moments
the ones that cannot be achieved in moderation
Lorca’s duende
without the consequences

to sing the blues
without the lash-marks
at our backs

but live moderately or with your head down
and when you lift it
it will be to the barrell of a gun

so we are generation Vegas
looking for a new song
living outrageously and loving it
with an it’s all good ubercool
we shall overcome-ness

drink till dawn
and march on Washington by noon
nouveau acid iPod flower children
rockin’ 401Ks and tattoos
that high you’re feeling
is a revolution coming

So i can't tell you
the song you're jonesing for
is a bad ditty but everybody needs
to check his own melody
Catch a tune
sing it till the end
don't stop chasing the beat
behind the ideas that keep you high

this is a struggle to stay awake
and we're not yet home free

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wednesday October 26th, 2005 - 2:56AM

okay so weird and surreal weird happened tonight. i was commissioned to read this poem for this company called ubercool (go to they track trends in consumption and style etc so as to be able to market high-end products to rich people (my synopsis - especially the part about rich people); and it was held in this really exclusive club called the Soho House on 13th and 9th. i had to write a poem on Generation X-tasy which apparently is... Us! we represent a move back to what they call "the Vegas lifestyle" of boozing and gambling and drug use etc and i had to write a poem about that (anything most of you are thinking right now is really obvious so don't even say it!).

So after, dude does his presentation and i've had some free SKYY 90 vodka (quite an excellent vodka i might add), and refused the caviar and the little crackers and the champagne, i perused the products that were on display. one of these was a ferrari laptop. i'm so not kidding!! anyway, marty and i get it in our heads to sneak into their operating systems and change their homepage to a porn site.

so we did!

for the rest of the evening we kept sneaking glances to see who would try to go for a test run on the laptop and what the expression on their faces would be. it was such a tyler durden/spring break moment. other than that, a fine night had by all. of course i can't sleep. i'm thinking it feels ripe for a spur-of-the-moment directly-to-blog poem.

...or maybe not. later...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday October 20, 2005 - 11:30PM

Some Random Thoughts about some not so random things:

1. On David Stern's implementing a dress code for players in the NBA; amongst other things, that they can't wear headgear to the arenas or sweat suits or bling it up (they must wear suits and ties), and all that represents, i have this to say...

when the league needed these brothers blinging to make the league relevant once again to the hip-hop generation they embraced the tattooed Iverson, corn-rows, medallions, baggy shorts etc etc but now there is the threat of losing white viewership (as happened in the early to mid 70s when black power afros and brothers draggin' their minks on the floor were the run of the NBA, until smiling ass Magic and country ass Larry Bird brought 'em back), so now they'll find a suitable (house - did i say that out loud?) basketball negroe to represent something new and all-American and acceptable, until a new generation of high-flying, uber-ballin urban youth demand by their style and innovation that the game be relevant again - round and round the mulberry bush...

2. On Amiri Baraka's phenomenal feature at Bar 13 this past Monday

...And it is possibly exactly this that we had hoped for, or at least dreamt we'd be able to accomplish one day when we started hosting a series at Bar 13 - the chance to one day grow our own art enough, and with enough of a sense of responsibility, that we affect the way people choose to think of their lives (not that we might claim the ability to make folk take to the streets in the thousands) but that we might make people think of the decisions they make, or as Baraka, quoting Bertolt Brecht said "to think about the causality between things", so that change begins to happen, on the edges, where change always take place.

200 plus folks showed up to see Amiri Baraka at the groove NATION segment of the series on Monday night. They lined up (some as early as 6:00PM for the 7:30 start) and the open mic list was 20 names strong by 7:05PM. The usual louderARTIST suspects graced the open-mic; Lynne Procope, Rich Villar, Marty McConnell, Fish Vargas, Ray Medina, Abena Koomson as well as uber-regulars Rachael, Ngoma, Kamilah Moon, Samantha Thornhill including a super-duper pantoum by Jai Chakravarti in which a Black man, an Indian man and a Jewsih man debate the relativity of their oppression (sic).

Then, proceeded by a dig-down-deep, plant-some-rust-in-your-belly, harvest-up-some-pain rendition of Strange Fruit, by Amina Baraka, followed by some poetic wizardry of her own, Amiri Baraka took the stage. Amiri has been heard to say (in response to questions of poetry and craft) "Fuck Craft!", but it was clear that after 50-odd years of study and writing, even Baraka's most political (if such a thing exists) work, couldn't avoid the tightly woven craft of his own unflinching, uncompromising poetics. For 45 minutes, Baraka challenged, entertained and awed the audience, even when it was clear some of his lines made them uncomfortable. In the live post-interview, Baraka spoke to the necessity of struggle, the need for the work, of what we build (like the series itself) and what we struggle towards as we write. He spoke to the aforementioned "causality between all things" and the need for its examination; and still he left room for the outrageous "...pennies are your money - brown and they put Lincoln's face on it so you don't forget and when you get five pennies you get to be whote and be a nickel"... but that was the tip of Baraka's formidable iceberg. When a friend says "Baraka amde me re-think the entire way i live my life..." we know we're doing the right work in what we're trying to build. This coming Monday, we try to put more windows in the edifice - Derrick Brown author of "If Loving you is Wrong, i don't want to be Wrong" is coming to town. He is hilarious, and a brilliant writer/thinker to boot. Don't miss it.

3. Martin Espada also rocked the hell out of our south Bron feature last Thursday so now louderARTS Project just thinks it's the shit (just as everyone has suspected).

4. Tyehimba Jess' book Leadbelly, a collection of poems (mostly persona) chronicling the history of the legendary blues singer is fly as all hell. Run and get it. The reins on these poems' craft are held so remarkably tightly that it is a wonder that the pieces achieve the movement and authenticity of voice that they do. he doesn't make it seem easy, so much as he makes it seem like flourish of the most extraordinary kind. check it out.

i've more to say but i have to get up at 6AM to go do a concert with VIA at Hofstra University and i have to drum (djembe) and sing, so i'm a little scared. i'm getting some tylenol PM and going to bed.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday October 13, 2005 - 2:46AM

It's been a little over three weeks since last i posted anything here. i offer my apologies. what else to galvanize me to action but a good bout of insomnia and a victory by trinidad and tobago over mexico 2-1 in port-of-spain i world cup football qualifying. that means that trinidad is now in a home and away playoff against bahrain for this region's final playoff spot.

football means the world - and feel free to see world as much larger than a metaphor here - to many many many countries. besides the fact that it is the planet's most popular sport, it remains the only major sport in which so called third world countries can consistently triumph over their first world counterparts. indeed, countries like brazil, argentina and mexico have long been world powers in the sport, and in recent years we've had cameroon make it all the way to the cup quarter-finals, while senegal, south africa, morocco, sth korea and nigeria (who has also made it to a cup quarters) have all pulled off stunning victories. this past year, greece won the european cup over such long-time powerhouses as france, england and germany (all previous world cup champions).

in fact, the United States had been non-existent in the world in the sport before the late eighties and early nineties when it started pouring millions of dollars into the development of the sport here, in a way that absolutely no other country in the world can afford to. as a result, it's risen to the top of the heap in the caribbean, borth and central american region (CONCACAF), though it is still an also ran on the world level.

enough of that, though. after-school has restarted and bless the children, they're eager and willing and writing and already i've managed two decent attempts at poems because of the exercises i've had to give them. i also have two brilliant motivated youth mentors in mya williams and jason julien who make me look good.

this past weekend, i got to hang out with maureen benson, too - high school principal and human being extraordinaire from the bay area (actually she's originally from staten island, but who claims that except the wu-tang? she's gonna kill me if she reads this) and her school the Youth Empowerment School in Oakland, is doing all sorts of wonderful, radical things in the world of education. getting to hang out with her was its own rush, but getting to talk about teaching and race and priveledge etc was re-energizing in a way i think i really needed - teachers of any kind on any level often need re-energizing.

Vision into Art stuff is also back on track and that's really cool because this time we're not doing one big multi-media project. we have a series of residencies and invitations to go to places and perform; and we get to work in smaller collaborations with other members of the company, so today i got to create some really different (for me at least) stuff with composer Milica Paranosic. she proposed using two different folks songs - we used one from trinidad and one from her native, serbia - combining them and blending them electronically to create something completely brand new and 'edgy'. so today she recorded me on djembe playing and singing a local folk song, which she then processed and made sound like i could actually play and shit, and layared a number of times and then had me play live over. it is exciting on a number of levels. i'm spreading my artistic wings, pushing my personal artistic envelope, in a way i couldn't have anticipated. i haven't thought of myself as a musician in almost 20 years (the last time i was in a choir). so now i'm scared shitless, because i have to go learn this one rhythm over and over and over again so i sound smooth when i have to play it live over other rhythms in a concert of some sort... and ooh! then she sang her own folk song and blended it with mine and it was like serious boogie down type funky and so, i'm real real excited about where this is going.

i'm also doing collaborations with lynne procope and pablo rieppi and paola prestini and mahira kakkar and i feel re-energized in that process too. there are other things to talk about but i should re-attempt sleep i suppose. tomorrow we get to have martin espada feature at acentos for us. i'll post pictures then.