I could say that my evening began highbrow and moved to lowbrow, but that's not really a fair representation of the two parts of my night. How about I began with the low key and moved on to the more raucous? Let's just say managed to cover two vastly disparate bases, both quite enjoyably tonight.
The Fresh Ink literary series was conveniently (for me) being held at the Library of VA and was to feature Jake Adam York and Kathleen Graber. He teaches creative writing at the University of Colorado Denver and she at VCU. And the man sitting next to me had on the most exuberant pair of blue, black and white plaid pants I've ever laid eyes on; it was hard not to stare.
Graber mentioned meeting the Scottish poet John Burnside and his comment that the tenderest kind of love is unexpressed or unrequited love. "Now that's an idea I can get behind," she enthused. "Let's not talk about it!" Spoken like a true poet, one who writes lines like, "Each living bone carries more than it can bear."
York began by telling us that he'd be reading "...five poems about music and two that are not." Several had song titles for names, including "Blue Velvet" and "Some Enchanted Evening" and dealt with the Civil Rights movement. About traveling south, he noted, "If you've never been to Oxford, Mississippi, pack an extra liver because you're going to need it." His final reading was a new poem he read off his phone because he hadn't had the time to print it out. It was a very 21st century reading.
And then for something completely different, I headed over to Strange Matter on Grace Street to see the documentary End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones. Apparently the guys in the band became friends because of shared musical taste. As Dee-Dee Ramone put it, "If you liked the Stooges, you had to be friends with each other. There were only three of us." Inspired by seeing bands like The New York Dolls and Television, it was the end of overblown 70s rock with narcissistic guitar solos (thank goodness). Joey Ramone explained the development of the group as a chemical thing.
To the world, the Ramones were proof of how good music could be without good musicianship and generations of kids were inspired to imitate that spirit. Between their first national tour and their second, a host of bands like the Replacements, Bad Brains, the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag sprung up in the Ramones' wake.
As was said in the film, "The songs were short and fast and these guys were dead serious." And no guitar solos ever. Footage of the early live shows were awe-inspiring with such energy and brevity; it's hard to fathom that these guys toured that hard and relentlessly for 22 years.
Now that Strange Matter is selling beer, the crowd for the movie was larger. I even ate there tonight, choosing the special, a turkey, Gouda and Granny Smith apple sandwich with honey mustard on rye bread, which was tasty. The most expensive item on the menu is the Apology for $10. It's turkey, prosciutto and bacon with fried bacon mayo between two grilled cheeses. Even funnier, though, was the Revenge Apology with vegan ham, vegan bacon, Jackfruit and basil mayo between two grilled teeses. Ha!
From poetry to punk with puns in between; now that's a hell of a Wednesday.