Friday, May 6, 2016

A Complicated Lover of Poetry

Ye gads! Some people gave up on my blog.

Tonight a friend asked why I'd stopped, lamenting the loss of the cultural record-keeping I've done for the past seven years. Turns out he was fully unaware that I'd eventually started up again and can once more waste time on the state's dime catching up.

The post-Prince rain continues and for the briefest of moments, I considered staying in tonight to work but too much was happening to follow through on that momentary responsible whim.

Tonight's installment of Poetic Principles at the Library of Virginia was a rainy evening book launch for "Monticello in Mind: 50 Contemporary Poems on Jefferson" and featured nine readers, some reading their own work, some not, and the book's editor, who referred to TJ as, "A very complicated lover of poetry who also happened to be a Founding Father."

Rita Dove's poem "What Doesn't Happen" was about Jefferson in Paris, while Elizabeth Sydel Morgan's "Symmetry" concerned the man's dialog between his head and heart. Virginia's poet laureate Ron Smith read his "Mr. Jefferson Speaks of Rapture: Natural Bridge, Virginia" and David Wojahn called himself the caboose (he was the final reader) before reading his poem, "Jefferson Composing His Bible" - wherein he eliminated all the miracles making for a far shorter version - and sharing that when TJ had lady troubles, he'd copy out poetry to quiet his mind.

Straight down Broad I went after the Jefferson fest for Sunset at the Hof, knowing full well that today's rain would preclude any sunset viewing from the rooftop bar, but hoping it wouldn't dampen the kickoff party for the renovated Hofheimer Building.

Of course I dug the history of the Mediterranean-style copper-domed building, formerly a rug cleaning business that used the rooftop to air dry rugs in the days before dryers. The mosaic tile were leftovers from building the Mosque and it has a bit of that feeling to it, albeit on a less grand scale.

So I climbed the historic steps (marked as such even) to the loft, where an exhibit of Todd Hale's high gloss paintings - one used manipulated film stills from "Fantasia" - took a backseat to the see and be seen crowd mingling in the vast space.

I gave them points for the architectural drawings of the building lining the hallway to the bathrooms, while upstairs, the enormous rooftop space delivered views in every direction, although not quite as far as Jackson Ward. Once the bar is completed, it's going to be a lovely place to hang out, assuming I can stand the crowd.

We'll chalk it up to synchronicity that Richmond had zero rooftop bars forever and now we'll have three almost simultaneously.

From Scott's Addition, I was barely a spit away from the Broadberry and the kickoff event for Virginia Tourism's "Virginia is for Music Lovers" campaign - conceived of by my former music buddy who'd invited me - which involved three bands (No BS was playing when I walked in), two drink tickets per person and, inexplicably, Cow Tails (as gross a candy as I can imagine, yet a friend was scheming to take any leftovers home).

There was also rock candy on a stick, one of those old fashioned treats I thought had slipped into complete obscurity but is apparently still a thing, at least at certain events.

Tourism merch abounded, but I settled for a button to add to the grouping on my lapel.

The ongoing (purple) rain necessitated a discussion of Prince which yielded one of the best stories imaginable. Explaining how Prince had been part of his life at every turn, a friend shared his youthful obsession with Prince's "Batman" album.

Of all the hilarious details that came out of his mouth, by far the best was, "I bullied my friends into doing the bat dance in a Batman play done on our BMX bikes."

The visual alone was Prince-worthy.

There were just the right number of people in the room: it felt lively but wasn't uncomfortable to move around. The words, "Virginia is for Music Lovers" had been painted on an upper wall, making a statement for years to come.

Ruby-throated Galax singer Dori Freeman was new to many of us but her spellbinding voice hushed the crowd in attention before more than a few people rushed over en masse to buy her new record of dreamy songs and honest lyrics.

My former neighbor and now mayoral candidate was there, so I paused to remind him that he used to be at far more shows before he began running for mayor. I discussed the imminent East End Festival with a trombone player of note who's also a member of the Folk Fest committee.

While lavishly-maned Avers rocked the room, a stylish friend explained why she's given away her larger clothes now that she's discovered the seductive pleasures of compliments and feeling better. A fellow writer and I commiserated about assignments, deadlines and bad copy editing.

An art conservationist recalled a trip riding shotgun to chaperone art in transit, trapped in an un-air-conditioned truck with Ann Coulter on the radio the entire time, clearly one of the nine circles of hell.

And that, my Bat-dancing friend, is as much as is going in the blog for tonight. But I am back.

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