PICK OF THE WEEK: Naked Minds Festival

Fri Nov 19-Sun Nov 21 10, Viracocha

(Evan Karp)

This week my stomach has been full of things I don’t normally eat. This month I’ve been groundless, spinning like a leaf. I even shaved my head. For the first time since last June I left the Bay Area for more than a week, landed in Georgia with thoughts of danger still in my mind, commingled with the family elders and the cousins’ little children while the southeast spoke slowly to me, slower than I’m used to listening, I could feel the languor of forward progress like the distant sounds of lazy latenight cars on a highway at the edge of town, people trying to hold on to each other here and to the beautiful land without too much effort, to comfortably pretend there is nothing else out there instead of going out to find it, that something one feels one knows is inside of oneself, or to create it—to make it happen, to cause it to be—my thoughts about danger became subsumed in this marked contrast, and I am not speaking of a generalized difference in the people so much as an almost palpable feeling in the air that would seem to mark this difference, the air by the bay sharp insistent and saturated by noises of the human machinery, divers in stratum of striving and coincidence but all somewhat frantic, faster, and the dumb hum of the southeast is eternal and in the trees and in the silent nights but in the city when the night becomes quiet there is a stillness, it is not the mute uttering of natural forces but a hush in the mouth of everything possible, a cat slowly walking the endless precipice of the earth’s one long eyelid just to be able to see again.

Of all the many things that have been happening in San Francisco recently: the upheaval of boring readings, new series sprouting up like so many species of mushroom, children publishing books by children for children, et cetera, The Naked Minds Festival for me represents a significant capstone to a certain growth period, not just in the literary world but in the community of artists around us.

Ed Bowers is not just the name of a poet but a neighborhood password; the Tenderloin folks speak it like a buzzword for all that is holy. His play, read out by four different people in each of the three stagings, is something only a limited amount of people were able to witness. Yet it was one of those moments that signify a shift in possibility, when the city opens its mouth and reminds you that the dumb hum of the southeast is alive in the human minds that inhabit the city, that someone is always awake and that someone is always listening.

This week’s pick contains the two plays that followed Mr. Bowers’. The first was written by Alan Kaufman, directed by Charles Kruger, and performed by Jason Whitacre.

This play marks the first production of one of Kaufman’s works by the group he has so championed and is evidence of the many unimaginable productions that might come out of this nascent relationship. All parties are satisfied, pushing forward.

The third of the plays was written by Charlie Getter and performed by Getter and Jess Silva, who had just the previous night (Thurs) played an historic show at Viracocha as the first presentation of Fox & Woman. If they ever let me release the video I’ll post it here; more than the music that I sing pretty much all the time, Fox & Woman’s first show was meaningful because what was once a duo many of us saw for the first time after Quiet Lightning 5 on the patio of Zeitgeist has since become a full band by adding Julie Indelicato, another of our favorite street performers, and Jennifer Norero, who we met as a girlfriend of a great friend but who now, more than just our friend, is also the drummer in that favorite band of ours! What I mean is, the group that we gathered to hear was composed of people who met at the corner. Plus there’s that poet we like so much—what’s his name? He plays with them, too.

The formation of bands. San Fran’s lit scene continues to manifest itself in appendages the likes of which we may not have ever used, but inside of each is suspended a nucleus of intention held together by hope and sealed with promise (Yeah, it’s heady), and sometimes we subatomics gather ’round such nuclei and watch as they generate images of what we can be (Truth). The nucleus changes, we change. This fits. We made this. And that is a story that has not yet been told.*

This coming week » Monday, go tell a story for a chance to win $50 [Porchlight’s Open Door @ Hemlock Tavern, 7pm, $5]. *Celebrate Getter and Viracocha owner Jonathan Siegel and all they do for this community on Tuesday night, when they join other Neighborhood Heroes Kim Addonizio, Bucky Sinister, Charlie Anders, Peg Alford Pursell, Ali Liebegott, Ian Tuttle, Andrew O. Dugas, Lauren Becker, and Alia Volz to celebrate the one year anniversary of Quiet Lightning. Wednesday will be kind to those in the South Bay: Steinbeck Fellows Leah Griesman and Julie Reynolds will read from work in progress. Saturday should be a special episode of Babylon Salon, with Kathryn Ma, Jennine Capo Crucet, David Corbett, Josh Mohr, and Clive Matson—there’s even promise of cello accompaniment. The following week is full of more than just early holiday parties, too. Get ready to fill the last calendar page with … different colors of font.