Jack Shafer 7.25.01
banana yoshimoto san, otanjoobi omedetou gozaimasu. Sannen nagara, Missouri ni sunde imasu node, shotokyoo no komosa ni ikemasen. Shitsurie itashimase. Ja, rainen, kanarazu ne?!
Wayman Barnes 7.25.01
Banana Yoshimoto No Otanjoobi Desu!
We threw a belated birthday party tonight for the author Banana Yoshimoto (7.24.64) in Little Tokyo. She, of course, was not there. But we had a lot of fun anyway. We had some wonderful Japanese cuisine and drinks - lots of drinks. Someone brought a decorated banana and Yoshimoto's novel, "Asleep," which we each took a turn reading from. And then we talked and talked and talked until the restaurant was nearly empty. Then we went home.
Wayman Barnes 7.24.01
Wow, wow, and wow! The Redondo Poets really put on a great open mic tonight. The place was packed. Half the population of Redondo Beach was there. And a large group of LitRavers, too.
Larry Colker did his usual excellent job of hosting. His poem about having a crush on a "girl with a pierced lower lip" was very surreal and funny.
The feature, (LitRave's very own) Frankie Drayus, gave a wonderful reading. Her family and a childhood friend had flown down from Northern California to see the show, which made the evening even more special.
After the show, (And I am not making this up) an inebriated person of the street (Is that a nice way of putting it?), who had just staggered in, pulled me aside and asked me, as best he could, "What is going on here?" I told him all about the reading and Frankie's family, then he said, "There is so much love in this room." And he started to cry.
The other poets were:
Zack Wolk, Paul Kornhauser, Tom Cook, Tom Cassidy, Neil Aitken, Thaine H. Allison, Jr., Wanda, Pete Justus, Delane, Me, Neva, and Elana Craemer.
Thank you one and all for making it a memorable night. ~Wayman Barnes
Tuesdays at 8pm
1820 South Catalina Avenue
Wayman Barnes 7.24.01
Last night Frankie called me, as she is prone to do, and asked if I wanted to drive her to pick up her friend, Rachel, at LAX. Being an accommodating shlub, I said, "Sure." Little did I know that I was then expected to drive all the way to Santa Ana so she could attend a poetry reading. Never mind that it had already started (For those of you who don't know, Santa Ana is down in Orange County. A good fortysomething minutes from LAX). As was once said about Sinatra, "This is Frankie's world. The rest of us just live in it."
Thus we began that long, crazy journey. Me, trying every crazy short cut I could think of and breaking a few land speed records to boot. It turned out that Frankie's friend, Rachel, is a science teacher. So most of the trip was spent discussing school kids, dissecting frogs, and dissecting school kids (okay, I made that last one up. But I had to pepper up the conversation, somehow. Going to Santa Ana was a loooong drive, as was the conversation).
By the time we got to the Gypsey Den, all the open readers had already read. Jaimes Palaciao was kind enough to throw us up there anyway. Frankie did really well as is her wont. And I gave everyone the opportunity they had been waiting for to refill their coffee. Actually, I did well, too.
I thought it would be funny if we just left after that. But I knew Frankie and Rachel would veto that idea, so I didn't even bring it up.
There were two features. The first was from Italy. Her name was Sonia Armaniaco and she did a very interesting piece using prerecorded background noise (thunder and backbeats) to create a wild aural landscape. The next feature was Elmo Martin. He was an ex-punk, like myself. He did some poems entitled, "Why I am a Bad Poet, parts 1-3." Cool stuff.
Next week, we found out, will be the last "Penguins Hooked on Macaronics." So go down there and help them go out with a bang. I think we might be organizing a group to go there, so if you are interested in going, write me: email@example.com . Just do not discuss dissecting frogs on the drive down there. Or school kids, for that matter. I beg you.
Peguins Hooked Macaronics
Monday at 7:30ish
125 N. Broadway
Wayman Barnes 7.21.01
To hell with the poetry! The Rapp Saloon has, without a doubt, the comfiest chairs of any open mic I have ever been to. It's worth going just to sit in them. And, as an added bonus, you get to listen to some great poetry, too. Example:
Tracy Webb ~ Every Man Has Cried
Neil Aitken ~ Remembering Mount St. Helens; Shopping After Midnight; Soliloquy; Man Pulled From the Earth
Brenda ~ The Rocky Horror Picture Show Story
Nancy Lambert ~ Tranquility Room; When Anything Can Happen and Nothing Does; Try, Try Again
Mani Suri ~ Film; Where Lies Shangri La; Blindfolded Chimp
Gary Justice ~ two acoustic songs
Jenny Bates ~ (feature) The Year of Pain; If I had a Gun Tonight; The 3rd of July; Voices Over Dark Water; Cycle; Change of _______; This Land; Secrets of a Shovel Weilder; The Color of Sanity; When War Broke Out; I See Him Under the Edge Spinning; Riding the Night; Studs; Call Me a Bitch, but …; Between the Sheets; Glass; Life is Better in White Sheets
Terry McCarty ~ Hollywood Party #2; Summer in Laguna Beach
Melissa ~ 3 sexy, unnamed poems
Pete Justus ~ Summer of 69
Fridays at 8:00
1436 2nd St.
(in the Hostelling International Building)
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 7.15.01
FUNdaMENTALs of conVERSEsation
As of July 14th, in the best tradition of secret societies, Los Angeles is richer for a brand new poet and student of life gathering: "In The Flow."
"In The Flow" is an attempt by a few poets known on both the performance poetry circuit and in meditative poetry circles to get the like-minded individuals together on a weekly basis for a "cup of conversation," sharing poetry and experiences in their quest for freedom through spiritual growth. The founding gathering took place at Tanner's Coffee House in Culver City, but will be changing venues from week to week, covering most of the Los Angeles area. The reason behind this nomadic approach is partially the fact that the founders of "In The Flow" want to maintain the intimate feeling of these gatherings and avoid the trap of having their brain child turn into another crowded performance poetry venue. The secret is out, the flow is in, and we are In The Flow!
Flowing freely and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon
Jeanne Spicuzza 7.14.01
Back from NY
The Nuyorican Poets' Cafe ROCKS! There were over 250 people at the slam on July 6! Also, great to see so many of my homies- Milwaukee folks, that is- at Nuyorican feature with the exceptionally gifted Jen Benka on July 7. Maggie Balistreri and Jackie Sheeler, AKA www.poetz.com , also attended. They run the hottest NYC online poetry calendar around, and host the Pink Pony- details can be found on the poetz.com site. Bar 13, hosted by the sweet and extremely talented Guy LeCharles Gonzales, is the poetry hot spot in the city every Monday night. Go and see folks like 1999 National Slam Champion Roger Bonair-Agard, and special guests like L.A.'s own Jerry Quickly. Poetry talent abound!
Wayman Barnes 7.14.01
If you want to learn more about the wonderful world of Jeanne Spicuzza, go to Seasons & a Muse. And, of course, tell her LitRave sent you.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 7.14.01
The Return of the Rapp Saloon
If you succumbed to the popular superstitions about Friday the 13th, you probably spent this one at home waiting for the day to be over. That means, you missed the return of the Rapp Saloon.
After a long hiatus, Pete Justus and his "posse" are back at the Hosteling International Building in Santa Monica, at 1436 2nd Street, where they are planning to go strong every Friday night. And judging by the comeback night, they most certainly will. In addition to a bunch of open mic readers, including LitRave's very own Frankie and Helen, the Saloon had an absolutely amazing feature this time: Jeanne Spicuzza. A humble reporter like myself could spend megabytes of cyber space talking about her performance, or sum it up by quoting Pete Justus: "Jeanne rocks!"
She started off by giving the audience a pop quiz on women in the arts and proving her point that it is much more difficult for women to achieve any type of recognition in that field than for men. She continued with a voice-over from a film about Hildegard von Bingen that she is working on and one of Hildegard's chants performed by Stephanie Nefi. Then, Jeanne talked about dragons, Helen of Troy, challenges of being an artist, slipped into a brand new poem about timeless love, assured us that she and her family are not Mafia but Sicilian Amore instead, to finish off by claiming that "Men Succeed Where Women Are Sluts." One more time, Jeanne proved that she is one of the best. You go girl!
So, next time when you hear Jeanne Spicuzza is featuring at a poetry venue, drop what you are doing and go see her. You won't regret it!
Speaking metaphorically in Santa Monica and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon
Fridays at 8:00
1436 2nd St.
(in the Hostelling International Building)
Wayman Barnes 7.12.01
New Beginnings Feel Like Old Times
The Green has returned to Tanner's Coffeehouse. Probably, because of the sudden change in venues, the show began with a small turn out. So we all huddled close to the performance area. Kwame made a comment about it feeling like old times. I wouldn't know about that, but it was a very special evening.
~Damon Rutledge did a very nice poem about raindrops.
~Deelight followed with a rockin' rendition of "Johnny B. Good."
~ It was Kwame James' birthday. And he did an appropriate poem about transition.
~Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon did her "birthday gift" poem. I really liked the last line: "The days shined divine."
~Wayman Barnes (that's me) did "Another Wayman in the World." It was hilarious.
~There was some controversy on whether Poetri's "eight" line poem was actually eight lines.
~Raymond read the last part of his trilogy poem on the OKC bombing.
~Thea was next with a sweet love poem (No, Damon, it was not bitter).
~Konception did do a bitter love poem. It was called, "If He's Listening."
~Deelight was up again with his "Love Poem #3."
~Gaknew performed a moving piece about abortion called, "Living Lesson."
~Danielle followed with a very life affirming poem and two haikus.
~Next came the wonderful poetry reading debut of Christmas Rini. It was great to finally hear one of her poems. Yay!
~Thea was up again with another love poem (No, Damon, it was not bitter).
~Kwame then performed his classic, "Drummer Boy."
~Shihan read an old piece (with the withered paper to prove it).
~Damon wrapped things up and the barrista asked us to go home. And that is what we did.
Thursdays at 8pm
4342 Sepulveda Blvd.
There will be no open mic on July 19th. Everyone will be at a fundraiser for the Slam teams at the Knitting Factory, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., at 8:30pm. $7 cover.
Wayman Barnes 7.10.01
Wow! I went to the open mic poetry reading at Adebnago's Bookstore in Ventura and had a great time. The people couldn't be nicer. I was getting hugs from people I hadn't even met yet (no joke).
The audience was very attentive and mm-hmmd and ahh-hhad like most poetry audiences. But they took it a step further by asking questions about a poem during the reading or they would tell the poet to repeat a poem so they could take it all in. It all seemed very intimate even though there was a good number of people there.
The feature was Joseph Fourbears from Ojai. You would never know it was his first time. He did a great job! He even got in trouble for not doing enough poems. I've never seen that happen before. Usually, a feature has to be dragged from the podium. Or maybe that's just in LA.
The host was Roe Estep. As I was told before she got there, Roe was "the boss." And that she was. A very cool lady. She made everyone feel comfy. And that made for a wonderful night. All the poets performed beautifully - not a bad poem in the bunch.
Do yourself a favor and go up there. Soon. You'll be glad you did. And, of course, tell them LitRave sent you.
Wayman Barnes 7.10.01
Ventura Road Trip
In our ongoing search for the perfect poetry high, LitRave took a roadtrip up the coast to Ventura. We figured with Ojai and Santa Barbara nearby there had to be some great stuff being read up there. And, as usual, we were right. LA is definitely not the only place with packed poetry readings. Go there as soon as you can. It is not as far as you think. And if you drive up the PCH, you will have an all around great trip. Guaranteed.
Tuesdays at 7:15
21160 E. Thompson Blvd.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 7.06.01
Life is a Battlefield
If you had a chance to walk down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood any time during past couple of years, you'd think that you were walking on a battlefield. Ordinarily, you would have been wrong, because it was just a construction site, but if you happened to be there on Thursday, July 5th, your observation would have been completely on target. That day will go down in history not only as the day of a partial lunar eclipse, but also as the day the last in the series of Battles for LA took place. And it all happened at Bistro West, the new home of The Green.
The home team (Los Angeles Slam Team) faced off with the Hollywood/Miracle Mile team, Long Beach team, and the fourth team comprised of poets randomly picked from the audience, or The 99's, as they called themselves. As it has become customary for The Green, the event was jam-packed. After the introductions and two calibration poets, competition got off to a rather rocky start. Hollywood team's Bridget Gray went first, and although accustomed to scoring in the high 29's, this time she got only 28.3 points. She was followed by Rachel Kann of the Long Beach team who scored 26.1, and Raymond of The 99's who confessed to being a "Rap Whore," but got shortchanged for his services by receiving only 25.4 points. First round of competition was concluded with Poetri of the LA team, who offered a brilliant solution to his dating woes. Still, the judges remained unmoved: only 28 points for Poetri. Just as everybody was thinking that the judges were a little too stingy, they surprised us all with a nice and plump score of 29.5 for the brilliant performance by Mark Gonzales/Besskepp duo (Long Beach team). Azikiwe of The 99's followed by making a "U Turn" and getting 28.9 (and no, that was not the amount of the ticket for the illegal turn!) and Gimel of the LA team had to settle for 28.4 points. The Alternate's Alternate for the Hollywood team, Snowplow, wrote her own joint since neither hip-hop nor the judges had a score to suit her (only 27.7 points). She was followed by Slim's (The 99's) 28 points, and then a miracle happened... The floodgates broke lose... The doors flew off the hinges... In spite of admitting to all his "Insecurities," Sekou tha Misfit secured 29.8 points for the LA team. Nafeesa (Hollywood team) followed with 29.3, as much as the Long Beach's Besskepp. Now, the final round was about to begin, and any of the four teams could still claim the victory. Of course, most of them saved their "top guns" for the very end: Shihan for LA, Tiffiney for Hollywood, R-A-C for Long Beach, and Macho for The 99's. The top scores for the round went to Shihan and Macho - 29.6 points each. That was still not enough to get The 99's out of the fourth place (total of 111.9 points), but it definitely secured the victory for the LA team (115.8 points). However... those who thought the competition was over were wrong. Hollywood and Long Beach teams were tied for second place with 114.4 points each, and tie-breakers had to be called in: Bridget Gray for Hollywood and Mark Gonzales for Long Beach. Bridget read an open "Letter to Hip-Hop" and judges sealed it and put a 29.9 stamp on it. Mark brilliantly proved that Shakespeare was a slam poet, too. Still, it seemed that some of the judges didn't do their required high school reading and could not relate to the subject matter, which resulted in only 29.6 points for Mark, thus giving the Hollywood team second place in this battle.
Now, if you followed our little series of reports, you would notice that each of the three teams won on their home turf. Does that mean Battle for LA had no winner? On the contrary! It had THREE fearless winners. Shihan, Sekou, Poetri, Omari, Gimel, Jaha, Gaknew, Tiffiney, Bridget, Nafeesa, In-Q, Ben, Mark, Rachel, Besskepp, and R-A-C, you guys are awesome! We wish you all the best in Seattle the first week of August!
No matter how these teams place in the Nationals, one thing is sure: Los Angeles will be more than adequately represented. Fruits from our poet-tree are sweet indeed!
Writing hard in WeHo and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen The Bashful Dragon
Wayman Barnes 7.6.01
I went to see the Green at their new venue last night. Wow. They are already packing them in.
Wayman Barnes 7.5.01
I now believe the Lawhead kids are our future. I visited their website, alienmelon.com . There is an animated cartoon, Paris, on there that cracked me up. I swear I watched it twenty times in a row. Do check it out. It is on the "showroom" page.
Frankie Drayus 7.1.01
Elizabeth Iannaci and Rick Lupert stunned and amazed us at Beyond Baroque's First Sunday reading on July 1, 2001. Brendan Constantine, our suave host, was fresh back from Turkey but raring to go. Can't tell whether he added any silver hoops on his sojourn but neither the trip nor the jet lag impeded his unabashed laughter as Elizabeth launched into "Taking Off Brendan Constantine's Clothes". Sorry, no explanation. You just should have been there... Seems to have been a theme, as Rick read from (among other things) his recent chapbook "Up Liberty's Skirt". The man is a master of deadpan. As usual the variety of open readers was inspiring, ranging all the way from some fine surrealism to (gasp) meter and rhyme. One poet read a piece about meeting the most beautiful girl in the world, in France, so many years ago. It turned out to be Elizabeth (no surprise there). Probably due to the headliners the theatre was packed, even though the poetry kicked off at the ungodly hour of 5:00 p.m. But we poets LIKE being trapped inside a black box on a perfectly gorgeous and hot summer day. It makes us happy.
Until next time and may the universe bless Fred Dewey and Billy Collins,
Cindy Bailey 6.30.01
No kidding, Frankie Drayus floored me with her poetry and performance - not to mention her persona: gracious and candid both on and off the stage. As featured poet at "Mysteries, Movies, and Mayhem" in Sherman Oaks the evening of June 28th, Frankie gave a packed house a vivid performance of her poetry that touched not only in the impact of its strong writing, but also in its delivery. We hung on every phrase, learning how she grew to connect with L.A. (its Se-pul-ve-da Bou-le-vard), the depth of the sky that pulled her life bursting, the whimsical ode to her husband's, well, liver, and more. With the publication of her first chap book, Frankie has offered us an orange glow - 21 beautiful poems. We can't wait to hear more!
Wayman Barnes 6.30.01
I think Frankie & David wore orange as a way of making some sort of poetry joke. It was that whole "nothing rhymes with orange" shtick.
The Frankie Drayus Raid part 2 6.29.01
Here is a big fat thanks to everyone who read at Killer Poetry last night.
Thaine H. Allison Jr.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon
And a super wet kiss for all those who came to watch. Smoooch!