Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Lines Are Open

Move around the dial enough and you'll see and hear all manner of goings-on.

Setting out for my morning constitutional, I got three blocks before spotting a neighbor and one of Sunday's Mozart Festival organizers hanging signs.

Or, more accurately, hanging one measly sign, a process that involved upwards of six plastic zip ties, a long-winded story about City Hall's inefficiency in supplying said signs and his plans to meet the mayor for a drink to suggest improvements to the process.

Resist, man.

When his festival partner-in-crime had recently told him there'd now be a Nate's Bagels pop-up at the festival, he said his first reaction had been, "F*ckin' Karen!" knowing I'd originally suggested the idea and it meant more work for him. The way I see it, someone had to be the one to remind them to get rolling on my Sunday breakfast plans.

Arriving at Second and Grace moments after a car had hit a pedestrian, the woman was still sprawled in the street as the driver tried to move her car and park it to check on her victim. If there's one thing you don't want to see as you start your six-mile walk, it's someone else on foot bested by machinery.

(in Elephant Man-like voice) I am not a walker, I am a person.

By afternoon, I was at Reynolds Gallery to see "Donato: Fresh," a career-spanning look at Jerry Donato's paintings done in such far flung places as Paris and Hatteras, Italy and the Bowery. What I recall about the artist from the times our paths crossed at bars, parties and openings was how Chicago he was (all attitude), how Italian (insouciance oozing out of every pore) and how talented (this show).

In service of my hired mouth, a musician accompanied me for a late lunch listening to early Joni Mitchell and discussing open tuning along the way.

If you've got too many doubts
If there's no good reception for me
Then tune me out
Cause, honey, who needs the static?
It hurts the head

There was never any doubt I'd find my way to some of the 15 group readings comprising Richmond's first literary crawl which, like a Rose crawl (with which I have plenty of practice) has no fixed start or end point. I couldn't get rid of the friend who dropped by after work early enough to make the first reading at Babe's, but I managed the second at Chop Suey, along with 40 or so other bibliophiles browsing the shelves until the reading began.

Brilliant doesn't begin to describe the reading's premise, which used Roky Erikson's 1981 album "The Evil One" as a starting point for a book of short stories, each written using a song from the album as inspiration. In what may be the ultimate mash-up of my interests - be still my heart - this was a literary cover album.

And, as host Andrew pointed out, today was Iggy Pop's birthday. What better day for a literary crawl?

Five of the book's writers read their stories, sometimes over the sound of pouring rain, other times with an accompaniment of kids screaming outside on Cary Street. As you might imagine, the stories were all over the place, from observations that the smell of a woman's body reminds some men of the smell of bread to comparisons between campers kissing and sea lampreys sucking.

From there I crawled to Quirk Hotel for a reading billed as "The Originals," which seemed to mean authors who've been doing this a while reading from new work.

Unfortunately, Quirk had installed the crawl group in the lobby and between loudish music on the speakers and the conversation and laughter of a busy bar and dining room, first reader Dean King had to shout to be heard while holding someone's cell phone flashlight so he could read the too-small font of the chapter he was reading about the "self-defeatingly stubborn" John Muir and his journey.

When he finished, the Man About Town, seated next to me on the loveseat whilst sipping a pink cocktail, whispered, "I want to know where John Muir was going!"

After much (self-defeatingly) loud talking by one of the organizers during Dean's reading, the woman managed to secure a meeting room downstairs for the group to move to and off we traipsed to the relative peace and quiet of the Love and Happiness Room.

There David Robbins read from a new work on Israel, specifically from a poignant passage that took place at the liberation of Buchenwald, which he cleverly dedicated to Sean Spicer. On a somewhat related note, "Burning human flesh is a pretty good appetite suppressant" came from Howard Owen's sixth novel about a night reporter at a Richmond newspaper that was not the RTD, one where local references - the Devil's Triangle, VMFA, Sheppard Street and Patterson - abounded.

Phaedra Hise referred to herself as "the token non-fiction writer" and read a piece about raising pigs at Autumn Olive Farms, one I'd already read in the Post, with one notable exception. Her editor had cut the final sentence and tonight she included it, a satisfying moment for anyone who knows the pain of seeing her words cut.

And as people know, f*cking Karen has so many of them. But remember, when there's no good reception, tune me out.

Honey, no one needs the static who doesn't want it.


  1. I know where the mute button is...


  2. Better to use it than put up with static, cw!