Justin Carder opened E.M. Wolfman, an independent bookstore, in April of this year. What kind of bookstore thinks it can survive in this day and age? Maybe the kind built by the hands of local artists. The kind that hosts readings full of people who say things like, “I want to buy every book,” and “Every book in here feels like it’s part of someone’s personal library…and they have great taste.” The kind that has a framed picture of a smiling baby portrait with a textbox stating: “We are so excited,” next to another photo that says, “We are so scared.” Yes, E.M. Wolfman is this bookstore and gallery and press.
Friday, Nov. 7, E.M. Wolfman housed Macaroni 2.1, the second in a new series of zines. The show was free, the zines were free, and am I allowed to say that the beer was free? If not, the beer was not free. Nothing really is. I did think there would be some free macaroni, though. On the Facebook event page, the first statement in the description is as follows:
“There will be macaroni.”
The only macaroni I discovered was a black and white photo of macaroni noodles that had been printed on the pink cover of the hand-made zine, Macaroni Necklace. Eric Sneathen, the maker of the zine, hosted and curated this event. Onstage, he described the zine as a “travel log” of sorts, in which he spotlights special characters he has come across in his timeline.
On Friday, those characters included Portland bands Half Shadow and Memory Boys, and local “writers-friends-acquaintances-intellectuals-dazzlers” Alana Siegel, Eleanor Liu, and Johnny Hernandez. Liu’s tales of Greece and family and music were told in the dark, as projected slides were displayed against a wall. Before Siegel’s performance, various audience members were asked politely by a comfy-sweater-clad person to “take an ice cube, for Alana’s reading.”
Inside the zine, there is a pouch labeled “Alana Siegel,” which contains a poem called “Slumber Under Muybridge” and five photographs exhibiting a sense of psychedelic realism. Her performance poetry was executed without any noticeable break in character, leaving a lot of room for ambiguity and wonder in the experience as a viewer.
Another layer of Siegel’s performance was in that ice cube. It was hard to resist stealing glances around the audience at how everyone had handled being handed an ice cube. I thought it was a challenge, and tried to let it sit in my palm throughout the reading, leaving a square of red skin under it when the reading ended. Others were trying to find appropriate places to set it down. My friends were squeezing it to make it melt faster and then eating it. What do you make of that? Maybe you had to be there.
In the end, there was no macaroni. But, there was Macaroni Necklace.
Sarah Carpenter is a recent SFSU graduate of the Creative Writing and Philosophy departments. She is a Humanities lover, a humanity lover, and while human herself, a lover. She has had two poems published, and can be found reciting poetry from time to time throughout the Bay Area.