Caryn Thurman • July 23rd, 2003
Date: July 20, 2003Setting:
Cast of characters (plus wardrobe information for judih.):Levi Asher, belting out his own style of protest singing, made the best of both the grunge and punk worlds in a fabulously last-minute creation... a black sleeveless t-shirt, olive gray shorts and classic black flip-flops.
- Street corner/the back fence
- Hot dog cart
- The Algonquin
- Bryant park
- Pizza place
- A bar called "remote"
- The bowery poetry club
- The car park
- The miasma of the streets
firecracker, drinking early and often, kept her cool in a simple strappy black tank sweater, wide wale blue-gray shorts and basic black slides.
Doreen Peri, subversively taking the city by storm one mic at a time, ms. peri sported a casual summer look with
Lightning Rod, an incognito disco rustler, was styling in his trademark jeans and cowboy boots, a turquoise t-shirt, a "hey, is this thing wired?" blazer and a panama jack hat.
Yabyum, setting off the bottle rockets in his mind, came in with a timeless American look, white sleeveless tee and jeans.
Vaselina, shouting out hello New York, i am glamatron, was smartly dressed in a mid-calf canvas pant, a caramel sweater (then a sable tank, then white oxford and skirt...) won the award for the snappiest, shiniest, quirkiest shoes in the northern hemisphere...
Joe, braving the unknown and summer heat, came prepared in a dark sleeveless top with active-bungee shorts...
Ironhands, covertly profiling everyone in sight, decided on a more formal ensemble with black jeans, black button-down shirt, black tie and a belt full of bullets.
Lucy (aka Gothic-Hippie-Chic), just off the sales force frontlines and ready for anything, was stylishly dressed in New York black. The quintessential city wardrobe that says "i mean business... party business."
Bridget, the organizer of the back fence open mic and poet crusader -- what a great lady
Brian, an old friend of Levi's and beat aficionado
Three young ladies from NY
The "wo", stage commandant and apparent stripper, much to our chagrin
Ned Zero, the commercial spoof guy
Sassy bartenders du jour
Some great local poets, various and sundry
The professor and Mary Ann
It's all a bit hazy, but I seem to recall it went a little something like this...
I had been in the city for a few days and had planned to leave early on Sunday. That is, of course, until I heard there was a LitKicks event spontaneously brewing. Lightning Rod was planning to bring Doreen Peri to the city for her birthday, and other LitKicks members began saying they would also show up. There was no way I could skip town knowing the cast of characters that was about to seethe through the streets.
We met up with this bunch of ruffians just before 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Levi and I spotted the inimitable Lightning Rod and Doreen as we crossed the street. It was good to see them again and then it was like LitKickers just started appearing... yabyum materialized out of nowhere, Vaselina and her brother, Joe, popped out from the bar next door and ironhands coolly kept his back against the wall, pretending to be invisible... until we all had to admire his belt buckle. The eight of us gabbed for a while outside, went in to sign up for the open mic... then we took a stroll to clear our minds a bit and talk about the importance of poetry in today's modern society. As the LitKicks posse took over a nearby bench, onlookers and passersby became curious, yet suspicious of the assembled group of poetic hoodlums.
We strolled back, twenty minutes late for the 3pm scheduled starting time. Knowing poets, we weren't really concerned we would miss anything, as it's all about heightening the anticipation for the crowd for the show to start a bit. Bridget, the organizer of the back fence open mic, started the show with a little piece on what it's like to be called "a poet, of sorts". She's a feisty little devil and I certainly wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of any wrath she would have to offer. She then handed the mic over to the first act, a husband/wife duo who read several bohemian-style pieces accompanied by a bongo beat and the man's flute playing (yes, that's right, there was *another* flute in the house). Next, a young lady named Lena read a 4-5 heartfelt pieces (and she's been spotted now posting as "goddessgirl" here at LitKicks, so welcome her aboard). Then I got on stage and read a few poems (including: i am so sick of writing love poems), got a few laughs, subliminally planted my message in a few minds... it felt good, and I got several compliments on my piece and delivery. Even L-Rod said I'd grown into being on stage, and that was nice to hear -- 'cause you know he doesn't make shit like that up. Then I introduced Levi who got in all of our faces by singing the Dylan song "Subterranean Homesick Blues", and "Goin' Down the Road, Feelin' Bad". Levi invited Brian up to the stage, and when he shyly declined, I (of course) rushed the stage and screeched a bit. Levi closed with his recent action poetry piece -- a haunting, yet subtle performance. He's just all-around good. After Levi, Doreen talked about a few of the wrong things that seem to take precedence over what really matters and read a nice piece to follow up. As Levi mentioned, she was a bit unfairly heckled off the stage by someone who just couldn't wait to get their turn, but I'm glad she stayed up long enough to read a poem in tandem with L-Rod (one they'd written together). L-Rod then read a piece of his own, and we watched his words "rise from the page". He graciously... and perhaps a bit bemusingly gave the mic over to the next performer at the urging of the above-mentioned stage-commandant. There were a few great local poets who came out to share their work, and I hope that you will seek out some local open mics in your areas; not only to try out your works on stage, but also to give a listen to what other poets are trying. Then... a regular reader (apparently) at the back fence read a poem about orgasm, being a "wo" (woman minus "man"), then proceeded to dance around the bar and strip her top off to show us her black sports bra to the Pat Benetar tune "Heartbreaker" (no, I'm not kidding). It was interesting to say the least. But I digress....
I don't remember the precise order of what happened next, but a few more talented poets came up to read a piece or two each, then Vaselina came up and read three very short pieces, two of which i think she just came up with off the top of her head and left the stage with a "gush". Then yabyum read a short piece with a lot of energy... (he hadn't brought his material with him, so we're lucky he treated us to a few pieces later.) ironhands was one of the last to read, and read a 5-6 quick pieces that kept you guessing where he was going to turn next.
As the open mic wrapped up, I think we felt as if we'd all done a good job. We mingled and talked for a bit, met some other poets, and got some good feedback. Then we regrouped the party and headed back to the Algonquin hotel, where Doreen and l-rod were staying, to crash their room and turn it into a makeshift LitKicks headqu
Levi, Joe, Vaselina and I took a cab back and found a hot dog stand to grab a snack. We walked the rest of the way to the hotel, stopping to admire a few sites, hitting a souvenir shop, and visiting the Gertrude stein statue that graces the pages of LitKicks. We got to the Algonquin, looked up the lightning rod party and away we went...
We had roped Brian and three girls from the city to come back with us and we packed into a small hotel room for drinks, smokes, laughter, music, more poetry and dissertations on everything from Kerouac to the beltway. Eventually, after creating another "add-a-line" poem (which I'm sure might be posted on the boards if it didn't get smoked at some point) that yabyum read while standing on a chair because I said furniture climbing was required, more music, Levi and I doing our Sonny and Cher impression of the song "it's the end of the world as we know it" by REM, me losing my shoes a few times and ironhands mysteriously finding them... 'hands had to leave to get back home, the three ny girls had to escape to meet up with other plans and Brian... "went to take a walk" and never returned. I think it was probably my singing, although L-Rod didn't seem to mind when I sang him a few impromptu tunes. I i think he was just figuring if he smiled I'd just shut up. L-Rod performed a really great piece on the keyboard about the aliens calling which fused into an all-out disco jam. It was all really cool.
At some point during all this insanity, GHC called and said she was on her way. Before long, she came a knockin', although the room was a rockin' and we were all glad to see her face and hear about her day at work (not to mention her hilarious description of a story idea she's working on). We decided to all take stroll to hunt for pizza and more drinks, then hit a very techno-cool bar called "Remote", which featured monitors and surveillance cameras for added fun. The LitKicks poetry troupe talked, laughed, drank and swapped stories late into the night. It was a great night that reinforced the camaraderie that happens in our community. As the night faded, we all said our good-byes, and dissolved into the blur of New York streets.
Levi, at the back fence, mixin' up the medicine.
l-rod warming up, as he accompanied one of Levi's tunes
Lightning Rod and Doreen, performing as a team.
Words rising from the page...
ironhands, not willing to go until he'd said his piece
Yo, you talkin' to us?
You know the drill...
DP and DP
Gathering around Gert...
don't mess with LitKicks.
Yabyum takin' it to the streets...