90 in the Shade

May 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the people I met when I first slid down to Jacksonville was Rob Thomas.  Rob hosted “90 in the Shade,” a radio magazine on WJCT, Jacksonville’s public radio station.  I’d heard the program a couple times and liked it a lot, so I was glad to find out I’d been booked to interview with him.

Rob was great.  I’d been traveling and touring about, but working with him wasn’t just another gig.  It was more of a good sit down with a new pal.  Despite all the techy things around, I felt at home in that little Studio A.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It was all about him, really.  His manner.  His voice.  A terrific voice.  Natural. Unforced. Warm. Given to laughter. With a bit of a break in it that somehow made it comfortable to be around. You can hear it on the EP, “Live at 90 in the Shade .”  You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Over a few years, Rob had me on the program more times than I can count.   Sometimes planned; sometimes spur of the moment.   I made sure to always have something new for him.  Prose to read or a song to sing.  Something to try out.  “Out of the Blue” was like that.  I’d just come back from the MacDowell Colony where I’d written a bunch of songs, and I kind of liked that one.  Rob’s show was a chance for me to hear what it sounded like when I played it for people I didn’t know.  

On occasion he had me scurrying.  There’d be a sudden cancellation, and Rob would ask me to fill in. In the hour or two before air time, I’d write a song.  “El Dorado” was one of those.  My dreidel song, too.  I’d be halfway through the show and start in on whatever new thing I had, wondering if I’d remember the words.  I usually did, more or less.  Or I made new ones up as I went.  It was fun.

Now and again, I’d play an old tune simply because it came up in conversation.  Even if I’d never played it before.  Like “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime.”  You know, faking it.  But not really.  Just being in the moment. A nice place to be.

I’m talking about these things like they are in the past, like those peculiar times are gone.  But about everything we think we know of time is bullshit. We imagine if we can’t put a finger on a thing, it’s not there, so we’re just a bunch of folks poking around in the dark, looking for something we can’t recall what it is.  Fuck a duck.  The trick is to make it up as you go along.  You get better at it.

“Live at 90 in the Shade” has a few of the performances I did on Rob’s program.  I don’t have many of them.  Rob says he thinks he has bunch hidden away in Georgia. I hope he gets around to digging them out. I’d like to hear them again.  But he doesn’t need to find them to have my thanks. He’s got that.

 

 Go to Live at 90 in the Shade.

 

EAT POEMS

May 14th, 2012 § 7 comments § permalink

I always had a thing for small presses and tiny mags. I read Bukowski for the first time on typewriter paper, photocopied and saddle-stitched. Seymour Krim, Paul Bowles, Mohammed Mrabet, even Tom Waits: the list is longer than memory. I found the things remarkable. Like they were made next door. Like I could smell the wine and cigarettes still on the pages.

I read HOWL in high school, and it sent me careening, dizzy and delirious, through the streets of my town, hauling folks up by the collar, pressing their backs to walls while I wheezed breathless lines into shocked mugs. CITY LIGHTS, Ferlinghetti’s press, was the publisher. HOWL was part of the POCKET POET SERIES—the same series that introduced me to Corso’s GASOLINE, Ferlinghetti’s own PICTURES OF A GONE WORLD, and opened me like a can of party snakes. But when I found a Ginsburg poem in a homemade journal held together by a couple of staples, it was something else. Even closer somehow. More personal. More private and direct. I forget the name of the zine, but I remember the moment.

Then I met Irv Stettner, editor and publisher of STROKER MAGAZINE. He had accepted some of my work and invited me to visit him. I did, bottle in hand, and we became pals. Together, mailbags swinging from our shoulders, we pinballed tables in East Village bars and cafes, fists full of Strokers waving as we went. Irv taught to me to hawk them like the boxes of Cracker Jacks they were, each with a surprise on the inside.

That’s when I got the itch to make things like that or to help other folks make them—excellent words stuffed into bottles or homemade baskets strung to balloons and let loose on the blue. It’s not all that hard. Sure, as I recently mentioned to my friend, Tim Gilmore, the less money you have, the more muscle you need. But think what you do for the next guy or gal. The artist you boost. The reader with a chest full of snakes yet unsprung. And we have the internet. So, you know, fuck a duck.

I’m launching EAT POEMS, a series of digital EP albums, each focusing on a single poet reading his or her own work.

The first album will be THE RAPE POEMS by Frances Driscoll, a sampling of the work in her extraordinary collection published under the same name by Pleasure Boat Studios. Look for the announcement in the immediate future.

 

 

 

Update: Go to EAT to view the EAT Poems Series

 

 

“with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.”  from HOWL by Allen Ginsberg

 

 

 

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