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Frankie Drayus 7.27.03
Poets On the Half Shell

At 4:00 pm when the reading started, I was still stuck in traffic on the 10. But the open reader I caught when I arrived made me feel so _______ (adjective) to be there, because he began singing a song he called "How Green Was the Meat In My Fridge" to the tune of "On the Street Where You Live" (from "My Fair Lady"). It went on for several verses. His name was Jesse Mendoza and he appears to have christened himself The Sage of Silver Lake. Carlye Archibeque, our fabulous host, waxed rhapsodic about America (not really) and Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean" (really). Then the lovely and polka-dotted Elizabeth Iannaci took the mic for the first of two features. (Elizabeth is one of the mysterious VCP co-directors spoken of in hushed tones in a previous LitRave section.) Elizabeth then pulled out a sandwich and proceeded to read poetry from it. She read the top slice of bread, the lettuce, the tomatoes - you may not have thought one could read poetry from tomato slices, but you can - and poems written on a slice of swiss cheese, on cheddar cheese, all the way through to the other slice of bread. It was like tunnelling to China. Ask her to show you this sandwich the next time you see her. I believe she made it herself. Next up was the very zen and right honorable Richard Modiano (also of Valley Contemporary Poets fame). He began with a 2600 year old poem by an Indian woman translated by Anne Waldman. Then he explained why aging was not pretty. And about tantric sex gods. Silent trees. Tree sex. Chainsaws. Pleasures. Tingling scalps. Haphazard beauty. And why death might be a lot more exciting than it gets credit for. Bombs away!

Councilman Eric Garcetti must be a cool person to allow such things to occur in his offices. If you come next month, you can find out whether Carlye's hair is still blue.

Poets On the Half Shell
Council Offices of Eric Garcetti
3525 Sunset Boulevard @ Maltman
Silver Lake
Last Sunday of the month
There is a small parking lot but street parking on Sundays is easy.

Frankie Drayus 7.26.03
Hot July Nights @ Beyond Baroque

Jan Wesley ushers us in. Hot, crowded, so many people breathing. Bright, bright spotlights.

Sarah Maclay (post-WHORE, not post-war, poems) "Nude with Violin in Rain." Lights shining through the bodies of 4 glasses of H20, reflecting on the underside of her sheaf of poems, making the paper appear to shimmer, to move... So much exhaled breath. A collective sigh as the audience realizes they must let her go.

Frank Giampetro (also Vermont College MFA) Wine in small glasses for children. "On the Taste of Horsemeat." Frank likes watches. A lot. Calling him deadpan is too little to explain the way he presents himself. "That was not a stanza break." "Rodney the Tibetan wolfhound..." He's married. Keep repeating this.

Meredith Davies Hadaway (harpist and poet) "The ice is weeping, weeping." The images in her poems flicker like a tv late at night and you're not sure whether or not you're awake, whether you can trust yourself. Poems for dead husband leave us bobbing in the waves of regret. We are cast adrift.

Brendan Constantine (more water mix-ups) He will drink from every glass. He does not care. "It was a year made from the cheapest materials." But not the words in your poems, Brendan. Only the finest. "Shanghai. Siphon. Sanguine. Straw." Burn, baby. "Que esta quemando?" Cheeses of Nazareth poem is inspired by Donald Hall and local greatness. Brendan is having an utter cheese explosion.

And happy birthday, Reed Wilson. Ever been sung to like that before?

JC 7.16.03
Ugly Mug

Mixed in with the weekly reading was an auction for the Orange County Slam Team (Rachel McKibbens aka RAC, Mark Gonzales, Michael Cirelli, Buddy Wakefield). Mindy Nettifee brought in $65 -- well, her CDs did, anyway. Lori McGinn's cookies brought in $23. #3 on the money list was a 5-CD set donated by Buddy Wakefield, including the cool new spoken word compilation Luca Moved Upstairs...and a CD of music by David Hasselhoff. (Frightening.) All told, the auction brought in $250 -- if you want to donate some money to the team, drop Ben Trigg a line via the Poetry Idiots website. Items which didn't sell at all: A cat in a bag which shook wildly and said weird stuff when squeezed, a terry cloth baseball cap, and a private poetry workshop with the Idiots. Stuff which SHOULDN'T have sold: a DVD of the 1978 Star Wars holiday special, a flogger from a "naughty nun" Halloween costume...and a package of Gummi Butts. (That is not a misprint.)

Oh yeah, there was a reading: Josh Fleming did a poem which started, "I don't want to die under fluorescent lights." Dude, I'm SO there with you. I don't want to die in my cubicle, but I have a feeling. Catherine Turner read three poems ("These Persons In My Life," "How Dinner Is Born," and "Integral") -- not only does she WRITE poems about math on occasion, but her friend who is studying applied math showed up. Hubba hubba. Some people were asked by the hosts to read poems by OC Slam Team members. Hope Alvarado read a poem by RAC and introduced it as follows: "I like to think of RAC as my greatest accomplishment." Miss Lu read a poem by Mark Gonzales and attempted to channel him by doing the same hand jive stuff that he does when he performs -- too funny! Steve Ramirez kicked ass doing a Michael Cirelli piece, "Depresso Espresso." Carrie Seitzinger NAILED another RAC poem, and Ben Trigg did his best to sound like the inimitable Buddy Wakefield. Corey, wearing a Batman T-shirt, read a poem that started out funny: "My girlfriend is cheating on me with Satan." (I was on board until he said, "I am Satan" -- after that, though...) Chris Tannahill read "St. Jude In The 323" while drunk. Greg Austin read a new poem about OC which KILLED. And the final poet of the evening was Cora Outlaw, who sadly will be moving to the Right Coast in the near future. She will be missed.

Upcoming features: June Melby (7/23), Courtney Montgomery (7/30). You already know about June, but I'm actually excited about Courtney's feature (poetry and music) as well. Circle your calendars...

Frankie Drayus 7.14.03
Moonday on Montana

When they say this reading starts at 7:30 pm they mean it. I walked in at 7:31 pm and the first reader was already up. He had an Irish accent. Somehow this made everything better. Nancy Shiffrin, the first of two features, took the mic soon after. Alice Pero read about noise. (Alice, when will you wear the red shoes again?) Anne Silver spoke of haruspication. Actually she spoke of divination and entrails. Later she challenged all of us to write a "creed" poem, and let me tell you, she BELIEVES. Sherman Pearl read about Geronimo. Michael C. Ford explained about Alfred E. Neuman. Judith Searle, our second feature, spoke sometimes in sonnets and once on copulating snakes. Delightful first time reader came up next, but my pen died and I couldn't find another one for several minutes. Who were you? Frankie Drayus claimed that Icarus was no tragedy. Rick Weinberger mused about naked Edna St. Vincent Millay in 2010. Larry (of the laughing variety) sang about his grandfather. The milk frother did not go off for the entire reading. And I had time to finish a large cup o' joe. (If this is Seattle's best, Peet's and Coffee Bean have nothing to fear.) But come for the poetry. And come on August 11th! Gwendolyn Alley and Steve Abee will grace this humble coffeehouse with their amazing selves. Absolutely, positively, not to be missed.

Seattle's Best
1015 Montana
7:30 pm (sign up at 7:00 pm)

JC 7.9.03
Ugly Mug

Jeffrey McDaniel performed at the Ugly Mug Cafe last Wednesday night as the featured reader for Two Idiots Peddling Poetry. Jeff, currently a professor at Sarah Lawrence College in New York City and a former slam competitor, was making a rare West Coast appearance -- if memory serves, his first since reading at Beyond Baroque last November. Most of his set consisted of poems from his most recent book (The Splinter Factory), although he managed to sneak in a few brand-new ones as well...including an odd piece about "boner etiquette." (Seriously.) In addition to kicking all kinds of ass onstage, Jeff was also nice enough to sign my copies of Alibi School and The Forgiveness Parade, so I will be basking in the afterglow of this reading for a while. (Melby and McDaniel on back-to-back nights -- I need a cold shower.) Set list: "The Foxhole Manifesto," "The Quiet World," "Guidebook To Nowhere," "Boner Etiquette," "The Passion Tree," "The Wild Cousin Of Potpourri," "The Benjamin Franklin Of Monogamy," "The Archipelago Of Kisses," "The Everlasting Staircase," "The First Straw," (wow, six straight that start with "the"...didn't notice that at the time) and a performance piece as "MC Peckerhead."

Highlights from the open reading: Leigh White reading two pieces: "Normal, An Incredible Simulation" and "Umbrellas For Sunny Days." Also, Steve Ramirez making the funny comment that Leigh went first because she likes to be on top. (This joke was repeated throughout the reading. Hmmm?) Jaimes Palacio read a TERRIFIC Larry Colker poem, "Referent Madness." The strange thing, of course, is that Larry was in the crowd. Michael Paul as the "poet before the feature." Rives performed "Mockingbirds Are Bad Ass" and worked in references to the prior readers -- the funniest one was "At least it's not a showtune!" aimed at Jaimes. Jim Isidro actually read two poems instead of just hanging around. The aforementioned Larry Colker read two new pieces that I liked a LOT: "Lunch Poem #6" and "Projector."

Readers: Steve Ramirez, Leigh White, Larry Schulz, Jim Sandford, Jaimes Palacio, Michael Paul, Jeffrey McDaniel, Rives, Miss Lu, Aaron Roberts, Jim Isidro, Larry Colker, Myrenna Ogbu, Meredith Laskow, "One Love," Hope Alvarado, Travis Chamberlain, Brian Bywater.

Dave Nordling 7.8.03
Ah, the Cobalt

Cobalt Cafe
22047 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, SFV
every Tuesday, 8:30pm signup, 9pm, the big show!

Ah, the Cobalt!
The island of culture
rich valley mosaic
eclectic home of the poem
and the spoken word artiste

Rick Lupert, the mostest hostest
always grace, style, sarcasm
one-drink minimalist
supporter of the few, the apathetic
one of the darkest rooms in poetry...
no, literally, you can't see shit in there!
the Cobalt!

Maxwell, just Maxwell did a fantastic feature as part of the Cobalt regulars that night. There have been more and more newcomers to the venue this year. The Cobalt is getting a great crop of new people both young and old. As always, a handful of us regular dudes came for the fascinating work of Maxwell (just Maxwell). His gifted and extraordinarily unique style was both captivating and intriguing since this master of non-sequitur and catchy rhythms lays us down with things like "werewolf gravy" and "so tough he hits himself in the nuts with a wrench and giggles..."

truly a great reading...
all should experience the Cobalt
at least once in their lives...

I understand John Casey is due to be presented at the Cobalt by the VCP folks. Stay tuned for that!