Thursday, February 19, 2015

Whole Thing is Done

If I was going to give up my prime snow-free parking space to go out, it had to be for something worthwhile.

Nailed that, even if I did have to settle for a difficult, snow-encrusted slip of a parking space a block and a half away when I got back. Not that I'm complaining, not after reading what Bostonians are saying about the south's inability to deal with snow. Stuff such as, "Man up. You gotta deal with it. This is life, right?"

Right. Besides, what's a short walk home through piles of slushy snow and icy puddles, even when you are wearing cute boots?

The problem is not just finding parking once I return home, it's finding parking once I get where I'm going. I had plans to meet a filmmaker for dinner at Garnett's and had to drive around until a space opened up in between a whole lot of badly parked cars and piles of snow.

He was already enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea when I arrived, so I took my cue from him and got a cup of Moroccan Mint for myself. If this isn't tea weather, I don't want to find out what is. Best of all, our server kept our teapots filled with hot water throughout the hours we were there.

I was amazed to hear that he'd never been to Garnett's, despite working less than a mile away. Apparently his perception of what the place was like was completely different than the reality.

Being a first-timer, it was compulsory that he have a sandwich, but all I wanted was a big bowl of comfort, so I went with a bowl of ham and bean soup.

We'd already established that we had music - both new and old - in common, but I'd had no idea that the Psychedelic Furs were going to play the National on my birthday eve until he told me at dinner. I will happily let Richard Butler (whom he's met and talked to) sing and dance for me as I indulge in the lead-up to my annual celebration of me come May.

Like me, he's not a local and we compared notes on our initial impressions of Richmond and how the scene has evolved since we arrived.

I had to laugh when he told me about growing up in Florence, S.C., a place I know only because of my recent drive to Florida. The joke was that it was known as "Flo Town" because all the traffic flowed from Columbia to Myrtle Beach.

Before I knew it, a couple of hours had sped by and it was chocolate chess pie time with the last of the tea to warm us so we could get going. I tried to convince him to join me but he had film stuff to do (I didn't ask).

It was even more challenging to find a parking space in the snow anywhere near Balliceaux than it had been at the restaurant, but I persevered until I did, praying that the traffic goons were cutting people slack given the weather.

Tonight's crowd of poetry lovers for Hand to Hand haiku was small but mighty and enjoying a soundtrack of gems by the Monkees and Leslie Gore (may she R.I.P.) when I walked in. I wasn't in my seat five minutes before organizer Raven asked if I'd be a judge.

Will I pass judgment on which haiku I enjoy more? Happy to.

Then Raven led off with one of his usual hysterical rants, this one explaining why there'd been no Hand to Hand haiku since November and involving talking trees, repeated stabbings and rocks rising up like metaphors, all offered as a rationale for why he prefers hanging out in the woods to talking to people. Boom.

That done, we were on to round after round of haiku challenges, beginning with Amy and Raven facing off.

Bi-polar bear
Anti-social behavior
Walk into a bar

That was Amy's and she won, beating Raven which is no easy feat since the man seems to be able to burp and produce haikus. Not only is he prolific, but his haikus tend to be erudite and pithy.

For the next round, it was the battle of the beards with Paul, a regular and newbie Berkley (wearing a t-shirt that read, "Coffee, death metal & push-ups"). I can't explain 'em, I just share 'em.

As they're about to begin, Raven, standing onstage between them, yells to Balliceaux go-to man Chris, "Hey, can we get the disco ball on?"

Despite it requiring an 8-foot ladder, don't you know Chris fetched one (saying, "It'll be worth it"), climbed up and plugged in the disco ball so we were all soon bathed in the refracted glory of pulsing light? Because is there anything, really, more sublime than haiku bouts under a disco ball?

I can neither confirm
nor can deny
eating king cake for breakfast

Once we got the round started under the disco ball, that Mardi Gras gem came from Paul who won the round.

Finally we got to an all-female match-up between Mo and Selena, all of whose haikus had been inspired by Nicki Minaj lyrics. For instance:

I don't f*ck with those 
chickens unless their last name 
happens to be cutlet

But Mo won with more, um, blue haikus.

On my back, flip you 
over and ride on top till 
the whole thing is done

Perhaps in deference to Mo's brilliance, Raven reminded the dedicated writers of haiku to channel whatever they wanted to when creating their poetry. "If it's just people reading serious stuff, it'll be just like any boring poetry reading." That's one thing we're trying hard to avoid.

Ryan, whose haikus almost always include the word "dude," took on Raven for the last round of regular play and for this bout, all Raven's haikus centered around nostalgic losers.

Nostalgic losers
shall always praise big asses
and small underwear

Ryan had other pleasures on his mind.

If you have magic
brownies, please inquire for my 
home address, dude

As you can see, everyone has their own distinctive voice when it comes to haiku.

When we got to the final four, it was Amy and Paul fighting for the win and she got big laughs for her first offering.

In my mother's house
a vagina was a blossom
penis was nothing

Then Mo and Ryan went head to head, with him winning after another of his hilarious testosterone-fueled haikus.

Order me the same
amount of beer that Slayer
drank in '85

After that, Raven decided to blow through his remaining "nostalgic loser" haikus (rather than take them home unread), he said, "Because I'm onstage." Fair enough.

Nostalgic loser's 
red Camaro behind crib
becomes storage shed

The final round came down to Amy and Ryan for the best out of nine. Amy began.

If I have to hear
that shit song again today
I must be at work

"What song?" Raven asked. "It's all the songs at work," she explained, no doubt referring to the abundance of terrible pop music on mainstream radio (hello Bieber and Katy Perry).

Camptown races sometimes 
but you can forget about that 
all day shit

And Ryan was the big winner with nary a "dude" in sight.

Is it any wonder I took a chance on tea and talk with a filmmaker and competitive poetry praising Slayer, big asses and magic brownies?

Parking spaces gone
Sacrificed to poetry
and disco ball, dude

I think I'm getting the hang of this.

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