Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Even a Bad Reputation Can Be Good

Your reputation as an artist is important, I noticed that all of the artist that people buy stuff from, have a reputation. It can be any kind of reputation (which means a personality that isn’t boring), a lush, a meanie, a slut, a diva, a princess, a hack, a new-agey type, it’s all divine, because with the right mix of eccentricities you can continue to get reviews and move product long after you are dead, a good review or a bad one, it’s pretty irrelevant, if someone has taken the time to write anything about your art or just you, it’s a good review. Being in the arts is sort of like being in Hollywood, with less pay, ok no pay, but still, there is no such thing as bad press.

If you are an artist, there’s no way to get a reputation if you don’t go out there and show people you exist, so I decided to go to Pomona. There are a lot of people moving to the Inland Empire, and I didn’t think I had a reputation there, so after three months of driving I got to Corona, that’s not Pomona. I got lost and got laughed at for being from Hollywood.

“Where are you trying to get to?” Grocery clerk at the Albertsons in Corona.
“A poetry reading in Pomona, I’m a poet, do you like poetry?” Me.
“Where are you from kid?” Grocery clerk at the Albertsons in Corona.
“Hollywood.” Me.
“You’re a little off Hollywood girl, you have to get back on the freeway.” Smarty pants grocery clerk at the Albertsons in Corona.

After driving for two more weeks, I finally made it to the Pomona poetry reading, and it hadn’t started yet. Lee Ballinger (Lynyrd Skynyrd: An Oral History, Publisher Xt377) said he had told them I was coming so they were waiting for me, for a second I believed him, because of my gigantic ego problem, which I discussed in last month’s column, but then I realized he was just joking.

Was it worth the drive, well yeah it was or I wouldn’t write about it, the crowd was massive, it was an auditorium full of people and only about thirteen people on the reading list and everyone read just one poem or sang one song, it clocked in at under one hour, it was like Mass, in and out. The crowd was very energizing. I was glad I had brought my mailing list and my flask, because there wasn’t a bar to be found around that place and after driving to Pomona drinking is important.

a mic & dim lights, Downtown Cal Poly Theater, 300 2nd. St. in Pomona's Art Colony, 9:30ish pm every Thursday, 3 dollars, host BessKepp

This month I kept popping into Michael C Ford, this guy never seems to have an off night and he’s some kind of triple threat, though I’m not exactly sure what that means. He writes poetry, he got nominated for a Grammy and a Pulitzer, he plays in a band, and he does a bunch of other stuff, though I have never seen him dance around or anything, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do that, I simply have never witnessed it. He also organizes poetry events, he handed me the most prolific flyer I had ever seen. I had to go out and buy Cliff notes, so I could find out what time the event was going to start. The event was a benefit for Beyond Baroque’s archive of small press books and chapbooks. Michael wanted to recreate the benefit held in 1969 for Norman Mailer’s campaign for Mayor of New York at Cinémathèque 16 Moviehouse on Sunset Blvd. (now Book Soup) , I can’t say if he did that, because I didn’t make it to that event because of problems with my email, but strange and entertaining, with a very nice spread of eaties. I’m not the type of person who uses the term esoteric, but if I did it would apply to this event. If I had been on the poetry scene in 1969, this is the crew I would have hung out with, there was a wide variety of performers and poets which included Jack Hirschman, Alanna Ubach, Bonnie Tamblyn it was just fun, it was LA so of course some of the readers were fashionably late, but it was good, because I got to hear Michael C Ford do his Natalie Wood and JFK pieces, and they still felt relevant to present-day human politics.

Michael C Ford features:
August 2, Tuesday 9pm at Cobalt Café, 22047 Sherman Way, Canoga Park
August 15, Monday 9:30pm at the UnUrban, 3301 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica
August 23, Tuesday 8:00pm at Coffee Cartel, 1820 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach

Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA, new season starts in September

Many of my partners in crime went to workshops and conventions this month, which was bad, because I need chaperones, I get bad ideas and if Margaux isn’t around, well I sometimes act out my bad ideas, but in the long term I think it’s good for my future book sales. But all of the pussycats were not at workshops, one of my favorite kitties, Wanda Von Hoy Smith, told me of a place in Hermosa Beach and she said there were drinks there, the rest of it I didn’t hear. From Hollywood, Hermosa Beach is only about two days away with no traffic. We went to the Lighthouse a jazz institution, Wanda has been going here since the 1950s, and she knows everyone. The Bill White Band was playing. I’m not a music aficionado, but Wanda is, I think 25% of the things I know about LA jazz are probably through Wanda, so when she says a band is good, know that is not just the gin that’s talking. I ordered a Lady Day, since the drink is blue and blue is my favorite color I have a blue car and I was at the ocean, usually I’m not into theme drinks, because of a conversation I had years ago at Tam O’Shanter. I was talking to a bunch of retired film executives and they where talking about how people didn’t know how to order a drink, that any drink with coke in it isn’t really a drink, and the youngster that can’t stomach a strong bourbon should stay out of the bar and hang out in the playground, so that’s why I only drink gin and tonics, because of way-off-in-the-periphery peer pressure. The Lighthouse Cafe, good music, good food, good cocktails, friendly service, and a Wanda on Sundays when jazz is playing.

Lighthouse Café, 30 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach.

Tam O’Shanter, 2980 Los Feliz Blvd, Atwater Village

Work on your craft at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

At several points during the month I felt I needed some more exposure on the visual art scene, so I went to the Acuna-Henson gallery, Chinatown isn’t what it used to be, it’s now much more fabulous. The Chinatown art scene has a reputation of being more flash than substance (and of course a person like myself would understand the pain of Chinatown), but I find gems there and just because something isn’t boring to the drinking/hipster eastside/downtown/tag jean wearing set doesn’t mean it lacks substance, contrary to popular opinion, good taste isn’t limited only to those who don’t have a night life. Acuna-Henson gallery had a show of interest, I often miss this gallery, since it’s not within Chung King Road, but there was a very popular show going on that weekend, so me being forced to park by Dodger’s stadium along with an email from a little birdie, made walking by it an on the way thing, instead of an out of the way thing. I can’t say I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, the bird has good taste, but I was glad that the usual moderately easy parking of Chinatown had disappeared for the evening. Nicole Quaid’s “Below No-Fly Zones” was subtle genius, mixed media, video, words, sounds, and painting collaged into an answer: it’s all connected, her work was beautiful, but there was something slightly violent about it, but it was done very gracefully.

Then there was the show “Asian Influence? An Experimental Project” at LMAN Gallery, this is one of my most favorite shows this summer. I wasn’t even planning on going to this, I was on my way to the very popular show that stole all of my parking, though I keep getting surprised at the quality of the shows at LMAN. I usually just go by the LMAN Gallery on random when I’m hanging out with associates in downtown. They don’t really seem to promote, so I always forget about it until I walk inside. I don’t know who is in charge over there, but it is in my opinion the best gallery in Chinatown. The “Asian Influence?” was mainly a paint and canvas that turned the what is culture question on its head, what belongs to who and why, visual art seems to ask more questions than it answers, I could stare at a picture all day without the benefits of any medication. I later went to Hop Louie. I had to leave early, though I have a reputation for late nights, it’s always good to change it up a bit, who wants to seem predictable, look at Tom Cruise, he’s unpredictable, so I was using him as a guide on proper public persona. When I got home I decided Tom Cruise was not a good role model so I went to the Rustic, because that’s my neighborhood bar, it’s loud, but it’s not annoying.

Acuna-Hansen Gallery, 427 Bernard St., Chinatown; Nicole Quaid solo show, “Below No-Fly Zones” goes though August 6; hours Wednesday-Saturday 12-6pm

LMAN Gallery, 949 Chung King Road, Chinatown; Asian Influence? An Experimental Project goes through August 6; hours Wednesday-Saturday 12-6pm

Teka’s neighborhood bar, Ye Rustic Inn, 1831 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz

In the middle of July sometime I went to the Literati Cocktail reading at the Parlour Club. The reading that has the reputation of being a good place to hear well written pieces by an eclectic groups of poet, it also has a reputation of being across the street from the Pleasure Chest, but of course that’s only among certain circles, I think I may be in one. It was the last Literati Cocktail at the Parlour Club since the Parlour Club is closing, but it went out with a bang with Mike Sonksen, Jerry Garcia, Sarah MacClay, Majid Naficy, I think pretty much every genre of poetry was represented, in the audience there were even special guest appearances by June Melby, Andrea Quaid, Mark Salerno, Michael C Ford, Laurel Ann Bogen, and lots of other good writers, but I can’t remember everyone, because it was at a bar and on gin and tonic four, how are you suppose to remember everyone. It was a fun night, I had so much fun I even dinged my car twice. If you don’t hit something or go to jail you didn’t really have a good time, if you don’t believe me ask my friend Wendy Grosskopf.

Mark Salerno features Friday, August 12, 8pm, Eagle Rock Art Center, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock

Sarah MacClay features Wednesday, August 31, 8pm, Ugly Mug, 261 N. Glassel, Orange

Wendy Grosskopf, reads in the open at Second Fridays, all the time, Eagle Rock Art Center

July was also the month of Jack McCarthy (Say Goodnight, Grace Notes: New and Corrected Poems, available at http://www.em-press.com/) he has a reputation of being a good storyteller, I was told by many people that I should check him out. I checked him out a bunch of times, once at Mistress Archibeque’s house, then at the Cobalt, another time at Redondo Poets, and at Co-Lab. He has a wealth of material, lots of good material, my favorite being about his daughter Kathleen giving the annual speech at his AA meetings. I don’t cry, but if I were that kind of person I would have, emotional stories without feeling like you have just been manipulated.

Since I don’t cry, because that would ruin my well cultivated reputation, I listen to poetry, view art, and hang out with the Mike and the Poets of the Roundtable. Mike for some reason has a venue pretty much everyday of the week all around downtown and the eastside, but yet manages to always be very Zen. Poets of the Roundtable held a poetry extravaganza at the MJ Higgins gallery for the debut of Emi Motokawa solo show, cute, technically excellent paint and canvas, I didn’t catch the name of the show, but Emi’s work was very enjoyable. Upstairs, there was a group show that’s still going on, the Collection of Jim Fittipaldi. What would Jim have in his personal collection, well you can see, we know Jim’s the man with the eye in regards to local LA artist, so now you can see why he has that reputation, many of the works at the group show are debut pieces. Poetry and art, well that’s much better than crying, so I left the exhibit happy with my reputation intact.

Is this a smooth transition, of course not because LA is a bumpy rough place just how I like it, but Co-Lab:Oration needs to be discussed. Co-Lab is a great venue, open to all genres, it’s a poetry and music show orchestrated by Rachel Kann. You have to pick another person to work with. I felt like I did when I used to live in a commune, but everyone was dressed better and there was no funny smelling smoke, this takes place the first Sunday of the month.

Co-Lab:Oration, Temple Bar, 1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica; First Sundays, 8pm, next August 7, 5 dollars.

Rhapsodomancy, hosted by Andrea Quaid and Wendy Ortiz at the Good Luck Bar, 1514 Hillhurst Ave, Los Feliz, 7pm, 3 dollars, features Eileen Myles, Alistair McCartney, Christopher Russell, and Alene Terzian

MJ Higgins, 244 S Main Street, Downtown LA; The Art of the Collector/ The Collection of Jim Fittipaldi goes on through August 13; hours Tuesday-Saturday, 11-7pm

I’ve been to the library before, because I like being able to say, I’ve been to the library, and there is a series there that has a reputation for bringing in writers of note. Like for instance I heard Lewis MacAdams there last month at the Aloud Series, so maybe I wasn’t there randomly. He was reading from his new book (The River, Books One, Two & Three, publisher Blue Press), he had debuted some of his poems from the book the month before, but he read one I hadn’t heard called “Art”. The first lines states, “Art is easy. Life is hard.” Since I view myself as an artist, I view this as a true statement.

Aloud Series at the Central Library is on hiatus until September, but the library is beautiful and has books, if you are into reading, there is a photo exhibit “LA Neighborhoods: Photography of Cheryl Himmelstein and Gary Leonard” through August 25; 630 W 5th Street, Downtown LA; call (213) 228-7000 for hours

I was suffering from back pain, I think I had whiplash from accident after the Parlour Club, but with the miracle of doctor-approved drugs I willed it away, so I could go to the a poetry book release party for Jim Cushing’s Undercurrent Blues (Cahuenga Press) . Maybe it wasn’t a party, but there was food, there were chairs out, and there was alcohol, which means party in my world.

Everyone was very nice, I met Holly Prado (These Mirrors Prove It, Cahuenga Press), whose poetry I have always enjoyed. Maybe I didn’t meet Holly, but I signed a paper that she was holding. I saw John Feins, a person whom I have met at several reincarnations of Teka, barista Teka, dotcom Teka, Teka at Stosh’s party after the SA Griffin’s (Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel, publisher Phony Lid Books) Hunter S Thompson tribute all of it was very trippy. Next month I’ll find out who John Feins is and what he does. I talked to Mark Salerno about my employment status. I had a very interesting conversation with Jim about Grand Master Flash and how I missed the opening of the Basquiat show at MOCA, because I went to a cheesy bar in Hollywood. I had an interesting conversation with him in San Luis Obispo about a wide variety of topics, he has a lot of energy. He hosts a classical musical show in SLO, he edits stuff, he goes back and forth from LA to SLO, it was a productive get-together and because of Jim I was inspired to go to three more events that evening, I wanted to keep my reputation as a go-getter.

I had to be Margaux who is Carlye for the evening at the end of the season for Poet’s on the Halfshell, she was out of town for a job thing, so she sort of trusted me, I put a “sort of” because she called and said this, approximately 25 minutes before the reading:

“Where are you, are you at the reading?” Carlye.

No I wasn’t at the reading so her call was reasonable, I as usual was running late, but I called her back and assured that I would be there. I told that she needed to stay in town, since I lack common sense, but her phone call had slapped reality back in, and I was five minutes away, I was actually ten, but no need to stress someone out.

The reading went beautifully, Ellen Reich, Marsha De La O, Stosh, and Keven Bellows were an entertaining group of features, the open was great. I followed the Carlye rule of quality over quantity, kind of, the open list was kind of long, but everyone adhered to the time limit, and the features and open list was so excellent. It felt very quick, everyone was smiling when they left, Carlye would have been quite pleased. The night was going so well I had to go to another poetry reading and Wanda was my accomplice for the night. We went to Venice for Mike Slobotsky’s Abbot’s Habit. I have always liked the free-flowing nature of this venue hosted entertainingly by Mike, it’s a fun venue that’s open to comics, poets, and the bizarre, venues open to the bizarre are always a good way to end a night of poetry, though it actually ended at the Brig, a bar down the street. It was a good way to end the literary portion of my weekend.

MOCA/Grand, 250 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, Poetry and Art on Saturdays to midnight through October, Basquiat exhibit goes through October 10,
poetry segment curated by Elena Karina Byrne.

Poets on the Half Shell, Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, 7:00pm; third Sundays, new season starts in September, hosted by Carlye Archibeque

Abbots Habit, 1401 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 7:00pm, every Sunday, hosted by Mike Slobotsky

Having a reputation is important, without one, no one will buy your books or your paintings. Personality counts for a lot, everyone doesn’t have to love you, but they have to feel something or they are not going to bother. Boring is bad, go out there and build your reputation, you can start by just leaving the house, then do something random like scream for no reason, get married, have a baby, adopt a cat, trip on something, it doesn’t have to be that big, the ball will get rolling and then the public will do the rest for you, then you can be a star.