Seattle, Breadlines, and Words Birthing Words - 11/24/13


Well we've run around the West Coast of the North American Continent on this little planet standing in front of people saying things.  There were lots of faces & voices, liquids & songs & colors & gestures & eyes.  There were well-rung high-toned eves, and a few flat, but mostly rung.  There were tirades & shortshouts & cantatas & odes, homages & mantras & blinks & blanks & good old surrealistic reeves.  Guffaws & shreiks & jaw-dropped silences.  There was the word becoming flesh and the flesh becoming word.  There was life.

And where did it lead us?  Did it lead us?  Let's look at the end before we decide.

The tour wrapped up in a frigid Seattle, scarved & marved & smelling like snow.  Shocked by the cold, we (& the city) livened and rose to the brisk, redcheeked & raring.  We took the Breadline Series by tickly storm, or perhaps it took us – great crowd for this burgeoning mixed-media performance stint, ready to focus absorb & enjoy.  Hosted by the congenial and understated Alex Bleecker, Breadline has been org'd and run by himself and a few others at Vermillion Gallery since 2010, and it is going strong.  Ahem:  if you're in town, check it out.

We'd booked this reading not as a great weather event per se, but to raise some consciousness about the press and the anthologies in Seattle, from which gw4M has yet to receive submissions.  So Jane hopped up to start the show with a rousing plea for all to check out the books and send their best shit.  And considering the hearty response throughout the night, I'd guess that she (and praps we) done it right.

It was up to me to kick off the read, on three nights bad sleep and a tremendous cold.  No pressure there.  But geeked on echinacea, Dayquil, and glee, I managed to blow my ebbing embers to a full-fury flame for a least the six minutes it took to chant/sing the "Mud Song", which left the audience roaring with peak EEG's.  Or seemed to, but I could I might have hallucinated. Mary Mackey followed by trancing the crowd with her Amazonian travails, with many a gasp and squeal from the edified folks.  Somehow it's always a thrill to see a woman of seeming grandmotherly guise get up to discuss doing psychedelics with deep jungle natives and stewing a monkey in cream sauce.  And our dear Jane O. did wind up the set by leading the throng through vast bunny embers and into the Museum of Cattle.  Lead on, O Jane.

The crowd was quite jazzed, and so were we to have pulled of this not-tiny tour and ended it with a well-won wallop.  And hats off to Jane, by the way, for the mountain of work that it took (and it takes) to org us a tour every year.  I mean, what kind of small press does that?  And I'll tell you:  THIS ONE DOES.

And the performs went on through the eve with amusement after amusement – it really is a terrific series.  We were followed by an acoustic song set by The Spider Ferns, who sung of ghost cowboys and love like tofu (yes, this is Seattle).  Then film artisan Ráanan David aired for us his "Alcoholiday Movies", with clips of the most delightfully Christmassy scenes from Life of Brian, Female Trouble, and The Hebrew Hammer, with ascerbic and insightful commentary (of course).  Graham Downing capped off the features with an unusual and (to my mind) subtle piece of interactive performance.  He started by passing out a couple dozen Lotto Bingo cards to the audience, then projected eight minutes of beautful nature footage (which nobody watched) while we furiously, obsessively, neurotically scratched at the cards.  And that was it.  Brandon came back out to end the piece, asked for the winners (a $2, $10, and $50, it turned out), and thanked the crowd for scratching.  A fascinating and a bit ingenious connivance, that brought up without stating a slew of social and human quirks/needs/foibles.  One final note – Brandon started the piece with a six-month growth of beard pouring six inches off his face, and ended it with neatly trimmed stubble, which went entirely unmentioned.  Nice job, Brandon.  The show wound down (or up) with a fine form open mic that showed as much quality as any of the featured pieces.  Rock on, Seattle.  Rock fucking on.  And send us your shit.

So how do you put a bow on things when there are no bows?  You don’t.  You let the baby run wild.  We’ve had our reads, set our fires, planted our seeds, and now it’s time to let the roots take hold, the embers fly, the words make their way into minds & futures & other words.  And how will we know what we’ve done, in the end?  We won’t.  Well, in a small way we will, through new and stronger connections (Puma, Russ, Tina, Christian, Wayne, Teatro Paraguas, Dana, Rich, myself, Crystal, Sherre, Stories Books, Beyond Baroque, Joan, Kit, Mary, Viracocha, Julia, Art House Gallery, Christopher, Toni, Jenney, Gina, Dan, Brad, Clinton Street Theater, Breadline, Vermillion Gallery, and Jane), new submissions, new books, and new words, & words, and here’s where we lose track, words & acts & beings & words.  Because we’ve made a ripple, and who knows what a ripple really does, and I can only speak for myself here, because I’m not you, or all of you, at least not in the immediate sense of this writing, but for my part, I welcome the books, & the friends, & the spaces, & the words, & the words that those words spawn, as they flutter into trees, & if somewhere in the distance, beyond my sight, beyond all our purview, as ripples are, one of those words of words of words lands in a brain and makes another word that makes the world sane for a thousand years, or makes one person sane for a long smiling minute, then every breath has been worth it.