Sunday, October 05, 2008
Demolicious Valedictory: we went to the last Demolicious reading. John Mercuri Dooley and Andrew Richardson are shuttering the series after 4 years. the annals will show that the 1st reading that we made was Rob Fitterman's. we went to many, as best as we could. this was the 1st time that we attended an event at the new home, the Pierre Menard Gallery, much closer to Harvard Sq and Yard. a tonier place, and more comfortable as a reading venue. this was not strictly a reading but a multi-media event. 1st up was Jean-Claude Charles, and when I say Jean-Claude, I am afraid I might mean Jean-Paul. I did not take notes and there are no readily available info sources (more on that later). Jean Dash is a musician and sound artist, a doctoral candidate at Harvard. he is from France. he came equipped with a bass clarinet and a laptop. I guess I have never met a bass clarinet in person. Charles 1st played a solo excerpted from a larger piece. he said what the other instrumentation was but I forget. he made simply extraordinary sounds with the clarinet, overblowing and trilling and such. it had the sort of unclenched fascination as electronic music can have. he followed that with more of a demonstration. using an audio program, which he explained, he coupled his live playing with hacked sounds of his output. the program would select audio ranges and whatnot. it was really wonderful and vitally strange. I would love to hear more. following him was a film maker, tho I guess there's a more accurate term since film is not in the equation. his name escapes me as well. he showed 2 pieces. the 1st was called My Hustler Boyfriend. this held an immediate inside joke since the boyfriend in question was portrayed by stalwart Demolicious attendee Cedric. it consisted mostly of stills with a voiceover. it was an arch paean to the boyfriend and their hustler lifestyle. the 2nd piece was also rather arch, a satiric look at America. it was pleasantly heavy handed. the name of the 3rd performer is, consistently, not readily available in my brain pan. I trusted the Demolicious web site to have such like available (more on that later). (this just in: Vanessa place is the poet's name, and the musician is Jean-FRANCOIS Charles. thanks to Boston Poetry Collective for the info). she read from a lengthy novel. she asked for two numbers to be called out. those were the pages she would read, plus what she chose to read. she began by reading the copyright page, every bit of it. then page 17 was read by John, then she read a page or more. this page consisted largely of synonyms for female genitalia. she had quim, I believe, which I first read in Auden's commonplace book, but not pen wiper, which likewise I learned from the honourable WHA. she read this part vigourously, like Beat poetry. Joel Sloman read a page, then she read the last page backwards then forwards. the two pages were torn from a copy of the book, not the one she read from. they would not, as she said, ever be rad again. well,I do not know if she took the pages back, to ensure that they would remain unread. I liked her presentation but did not absorb much of the text. I am keenly interested in novels that bump against the boundaries but I would have to read her work to get a fair idea. the final piece was an excerpt from a film by Jonas Mekas. it was a piece about Utopia. it consisted by Mekas talking to the camera. he sat at a table and rattled on philosophically. his ramble was loosely bound, so I had trouble staying with him. beyond that... he wore a brimmed hat and resembled, at least in my mind, Studs Terkel, but with a Lithuanian accent rather than Chicagoan, or whatever it is Studs speaks. as Mekas spoke he began gesturing with his right hand. due to camera placement, the hand seemed overly large. and because the elbow was out of frame, the arm did not seem attached to Mekas. additionally, light glaring on his hand produced a plastic effect. the result was that it looked like this intruding fake hand was entering the picture. the sight of this completely fried me, I was in tears laughing. Beth and I sat with Jack Kimball at the back of the room, and I think we were the only ones to laugh, at least at 1st. I did not make clear that he sat low at the table. at one point he lowered his head, so that his hat completely obscured his face. I did not want to be snide but the absurdity of these bits was overwhelming. and so ended Demolicious' run, and the environs of Boston are the poorer for it. John Mulrooney, who seemingly has attended every reading that I have been to, and clearly more besides, still runs a poetry reading series. William Corbett has a series too, I believe, but I am thinking that he's stones in the passway for this poetry scene. so we gots ourselves something close to a wasteland now. both Armantrout and Ashbery read this tuesday, tho different venues and essentially competing, so Boston CAN get readings together. but it is a yank that one must choose between these two poets (which I shan't alas attend, it's a school night). what would kick out the jams here? Demolicious certainly was a noble effort. but really, the Demolicious web site is not updated often enough, nor is it content rich enough to keep you hooked. John espoused disappointment at the meager turn outs for Demolicious. this aint the 50s, when readings were like rock concerts. people who came to Demolicious were serious, tho, weren't just there for photo op. after-reading gatherings were vital connections that I appreciated. it is too bad that Demolicious could not keep going. it is not like NYC isn't balkanized, from what I hear, and other scenes probably have their hobble. Boston lacks a central force (it aint Corbett, I know), and those barriers called universities rarely supply anything close to generous gumption. the result is a spacious landscape of not much. Jack Kimball, Beth and I performed post mortems at a nearby Cambridge restaurant. then home to this report.