WEEK IN REVIEW: an uncanny hootenanny (welcome)

(Evan Karp)

“I literally went up to every person in the room and was like, “Have you ever worked in a restaurant? Have you ever worked in the catering business? Did you ever have a dinner party where something went terribly wrong? Like you guys are the show. You need to go up there and make it a show because otherwise I’m just gonna give you all your money back and we’re going to go home.”

“And by the end of that, 10 people had signed up—fucking hilarious stories—great people, and I was just like Again! People can do this. I love it. Everybody can do it.” — Beth Lisick about a recent Porchlight Open Door, the open mic version of Porchlight every last Monday at the Hemlock that only costs $5 and gives each contestant a chance @ $50. Porchlight just turned nine years old last Friday and here is more on that. Open Door is tomorrow, theme: Bad Behavior.

The already inimitable trove of goods Viracocha expanded its ops with a lending library called OURSHELVES, which offers members a chance to check out one book at a time – with unlimited exchanges – for $5-10 monthly. The collection, a roomful of shelves of books donated, suggested, and partially curated by select local authors, will expand each month in part by member suggestion. Filled with traditional and cult classics as well as titles too independent for most bookstores, including local chapbooks and songs by unsung heroes, the small room provides a meeting space conducive to interaction. Akin to the ‘staff picks’ you might find at most indies, OURSHELVES is the type of disinterested endorsement large publishing houses cannot afford.

Bawdy Storytelling did their first-ever open mic of true, raunchy stories (Bawdy Slam) in SF, did a show in Oakland six days later and then, three days after that, went down to L.A. for an entirely different show. They’re doing a workshop, too. Can you imagine such an open mic? Please, take a second to do so now.

“On Thursday night, my heart opened and opened and opened” — thus began a message from Rusty Morrison on the occasion of the publication of Visions and Affiliations, a chronoencyclopedia of California poets and poetry from 1940-2005 written in the present tense by Jack Foley over the last 11 or so years — Lucille Lang Day added: “I felt exhilarated by the evening. It felt like a truly important literary moment, a turning point, like that long ago reading at the Six Gallery.” There will be more, much more on this soon.

On the same night in Sausalito, Why There Are Words had a number of younger readers and switched up the seating arrangement to make the room more intimate. We heard about the two kinds of private parts, from teens alone in a foreign country, dispatches from a fictional court room (and no one rose for the homeless); those who wanted were able to touch and smell a teddy bear survivor of the Hungarian Holocaust, its body intact and lifted from a ziploc bag. We also saw a venture capitalist blindsided by Lacanian allure and cheered for the morality of condoms.

In San Francisco that evening, Larissa Archer reports, “poor acoustics and absinthe brain-soakage made hearing or comprehending the readings impossible.” She speaks of Cabaret Bastille, Litquake’s holiday party in tribute of 1920s bohemia. More on that soon.

On the drizzly gray aftereve, the new submission-based reading series taped blankets to the sacred grounds and served cake for round two.

Brave New Voices attendees were pumped up to be at this year’s 4-day-long slam spectacular, the longest-running spoken word event in the world. Ceremonies began on historic Sproul Plaza, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, and featured remarks by Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. There is no tornado that can stop them now.

Jazz and poetry still make beautiful music together, and InsideStoryTime was so resounding it turned Bay Area Facebook into a mentionfest afterward, and prompted Matthew James DeCoster to say: “what a night! what a town!”

Chef Justin Belluomini served “a deconstructed paella, complete with fried oysters, lobster confit, peppers cooked three ways, and tomato-water caviar he made by using a turkey baster to squeeze tomato-water into freezing cold olive oil, where it formed little tapiocalike balls,” reports Caroline Chen, who attended this month’s Feast of Words. Paired with Cole Krawitz’s “series of poems, mostly in the form of epistolaries, reflecting on his experience as a cancer patient and survivor… The room transformed from a collection of strangers to something that more resembled a big extended family dinner party…”

Angie Chau, Andrew Lam, and Isabelle Pelaud met at The Booksmith to talk about Vietnamese American identity, literature and California, Zoetrope released a new issue and threw a party, we were Mortified, singing Lyrics and Dirges in the 1st Person Singular, reporting on the voices not heard this week in the Marin Voice.