New York – Saturday – Poems and porn

(Wherein our intrepid hero crashes a funeral… sort of)

Frances, the lady whose sanctum sanctorum I was availing myself of, had located for me a listing in the New York Sun, which read as follows: ” The Sound of Blues The Bowery Poetry club hosts “Praise Day” an afternoon of open-mic readings and a spoken-word performance given by a Harlem-born poet, Sekou Sundiata. Poets are invited to share uplifting verse and stories. Mr. Sundiata came of age during the Black Arts/Black Aesthetic movement of the 1960’s and 1970s, and his work continues to be informed by the sounds and beats of jazz, blues, funk, and Afro-Caribbean percussion. He is currently a professor of English literature at the New School University. ” For a newspaper, he had an awful lot of information, don’t you think?

So, I head to bowery, which is basically at the point where Greenwich and East Villages meet, which is basically not anything that means anything to any of you, I’m sure. On the way I found myself in a street fair, looking at street-fairey things, (I may have bought an LP purely because it had Burt Reynolds on the cover, what of it?.) I had a gyro, which watchers of Seinfeld might recall from that one particular episode, The TV Guide, if I recall correctly. It’s basically like a kebab, but flatter and wider, and with this white sauce which was so delicious that it could only have been made from cute puppies. Finally, I make my way to the club, where I sit down with a frosty ale for some uplifting poetry, and discover… it’s a memorial service.

Apparently, Sekou Sundiata had died the previous week, and so they where holding a memorial in his honour. So, did I, the 6’3” white guy in an Indiana Jones hat feel out of place, surrounded by mournful black poets? NOT AT ALL! WHAT NONSENSE YOU SUGGEST! Nevertheless, it was a truly excellent experience, with people getting up to read either Sekou’s work, or their own, with an intensity far greater than that of a regular poetry reading. At one point, this tiny old man with a walking stick almost as tall as him, named Lewis, stood up to read some of Sekou’s poems from the one book that he ever published, in the 70’s, ” Free“. This tiny, Yoda-like figure read with a passion and intensity unmatched by any that took the stage. Apparently he was the guy that had organised publication of this book way back when, as people asked him if he still had copies – indeed he did. Afterwards, I went to him and asked if I could have a copy mailed to me (as I was leaving in a mere two days) and, upon revelation of the fact that I was from Australia, he reached into his bag, and handed me his copy, that he had been reading from. Naturally, I was blown away.

After that, I bought tickets to Curtains over the phone,  having no intention of being burnt three times in a row. Then I returned to the club for another poetry reading, this time by two poetesses, Mindy Nettifee and Amber Tamblyn, who is apparently “Kind of a big deal” (I have to admit I had no idea who she was) who were on a book tour. Anyway, after some more excellent poetry, I find myself hanging out with them, and let me tell you, friends, verily; the poetess is the finest of all god’s creatures. Thus it was a cruel irony that I found myself having to leave, to make Curtains, which I would otherwise have decided to leave for another evening.

This is not to say, however that Curtains was not magnificent, truly, it was. It was worth it if for nothing else to see David Hyde Peirce tap-dancing. (That’s Niles from Frasier, for those of you wondering) – Indeed, the show featured several Frasier refugees, including Edward Hibbert (who was Gil Chesterton – the restaurant critic). Who turned out resplendently in his all leather cowboy outfit for the grand finale, I can assure you.

After this, I decided to head to the Empire State Building, on my way discovering that the billboards of New York are liable to delve into natures pornographic, such is the depravity of this Sodom and Gomorrah! Rest assured, gentle readers, that in the face of such lewdity, I retained my dignified and unflappable sense of decorum and propriety . After this, I fixed on the decision that, between the billboards of the city and I, there could only exist a state of TOTAL WAR. Finally, I arrived at the Empire State Building, where I acquired, for your amusement, dear readers, a generic tourist photo. (Ok, so they shot it in front of a green screen, and without knowing what I’m working with, I don’t know what to do…) However, from my lofty position, I was able to look down upon the tiny city below, confident in the knowledge that, if I so wished, I could crush it mercilessly with my mighty feet. Instead, I merely opted to terrorise it in the usual fashion, and after some bewildering dancing, was sated. On my return to the apartment, I stopped to let the building know who’s boss.

Finally, returning to the apartment, strolling alongside Central Park, I am struck, on my 14 block journey, by the olfactory omnipresence of the scent of horse manure. A curious thing indeed.

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Published in: on July 28, 2007 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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