Monday, May 31, 2010

Fixing a Hole

Today was a first for me in my twenty years of living in Columbus. I got to see the inside of Greenlawn Abbey.

Built in 1927, it was a very ornate final resting place for many of the Columbus' wealthy. Notables here include former city leaders, the brother of J.C. Penney, members of the Swisher Cigar Company and Thurston the Great. Unfortunately, it was neglected for decades as structural damage, a lack of security, funds and revolting vandalism left the building in a state of disrepair.

If you do a search on Greenlawn Abbey, you will see many photographs taken by 'urban explorers' on illicit missions. They did damage to the site also, as did homeless people and crackheads who stole some of the bronze gates for scrap. It is vile, what people did to this building.

It's a miracle that this statue has remained intact. It's inside the Sells Family crypt. Notice the bricked in window that once held a beautiful stained glass window.

The Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association has been doing a heroic effort in simply trying to keep the building intact. Just fixing the roof has been a costly enterprise. Today was their open house and fundraiser.

I had no idea the only way to the second floor of the building was through the outisde staircase. There is no access inside from the first to the second floor. Was this to keep the wealthier classes, who took up most of the second floor crypts, apart from the commoners on the first floor? Other things I did not know was that most of the 600 crypts in the mausoleum are used, and the last interment was in the year 2000. Finally seeing the inside of Greenlawn Abbey was a thrill, and it was a pleasure to get a guided tour by one of the many dedicated volunteers who are trying to preserve and maintain this sacred, but little known, landmark.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

One in the Books

Today is the wedding anniversary of the Scottish Wife and I. Year number one has been completed. It was a beautiful day then, much like today is but about fifteen degrees cooler.

Last night we took advantage of our free room at The Lofts after last year's unfortunate experience. They made up for it. Unfortunately, I've been ill the past couple of days so I pooped out early. I did manage to brave The Burgundy Room, where we had a front row seat for the Zombie Walk.

I hate zombies, and the sight of several hundred people walking up and down High Street dressed as zombies, well - there's not that much difference between last night and a normal night. I guess I'm getting tolerant in my old age.

The room was nice, I paid twenty bucks to upgrade to a regular room with a sitting area, which had a High-Def television and a couch. At about 1:30 this morning this came in handy as the illness and insomnia took hold so I ended up watching Sports Center and lord knows what else until 3AM.

Part of the amenities package we received for our trouble was a bottle of champagne in our suite. The person at the desk asked when we wanted to have it delivered. I was curious what we'd get, would it be the cheap stuff, or something better? When we got back it was there. A bottle of Moet Imperial, what a surprise! After drinking a ridiculously tasty and expensive cocktail at Eleven we could not drink anymore. So it is in the fridge here, waiting to be popped open later.

Friday, May 28, 2010

June is Going to Be Interesting

My son had some pre-testing done yesterday for his Sensory Learning Program and Vision Therapy last night. He's getting used to being in the new space (it was his third time there) although he was a bit restless during the hearing test. He has some tolerance for wearing headphones, but not so much in the doctor's office.

The doctor also wanted to see how he'd react to wearing the yoked prism glasses. I've been working with him a little bit at home with frames, to positive results.

There was no resistance from my son at all when the doctor put them on. He started running around the room while the doctor made observations. He put different types of lenses on him and my son gave no protest, he even seemed eager for the lenses.

At one point, right after he put the glasses on, my son stood there, something was clicking inside him, and said, "I want high five." Which was something he has never, once, asked for. It took us months to get him to give us high fives.

I'm not sure where this therapy program is going to take him, and all of us. That said, if my son was having any negative reaction to wearing the glasses, at all, he would have taken them right off and resisted any further attempts to put them on him.

Starting on Wednesday we take him to the doctor's office for twelve days straight, then weekly. I'm very skeptical about many types of so called 'alternative' therapies, but when you see your child stand there with a new thing on his face and you can feel something flowing through him that never has, or see him walk around a room with an increased sense of awareness of his surroundings - there's something to be said for something that is not the tried and true.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Grand Slam 5/25/2010

Last night at Writers' Block was the Grand Slam to determine placement on the National Poetry Slam Team.

Poets gathered. There were nervous poets, relaxed poets, all kinds of emotions involving pre-slam jitters.

What stood out as people entered the room at Kafe Kerouac was that there was something different going on. The MC of the night, Joanna Schroeder, was wearing a dress, she did her hair - and was that lipstick?!?

It was great watching people's reactions to seeing her from a distance. The best being when her own cousin did not recognize her. You know you've changed your style when your own kin fails to know who you are!

After a brief and well performed open mic, in which Joel Yeager continues to astonish, it was time for the slam.

I drew the fifth spot out of eight, which put me at ease and went on right after Scott Woods' captain of the slave ship piece.

I have not done After Birth since the Beauty Vs. Brawn fundraiser last year and like them I went off paper. It was the first time I had gone off paper at Kafe Kerouac. I heard some good-natured mumbling about that before I started. It went well. Had to cut a couple of lines because I was worried about time and got the third best score in the round - with Rachel Wiley in first and Scott in second.

Round one said goodbye to Marshall Brown, who has come so far in his work this year. He'll be back.

In round two I did Nobody's Poet, the start of which I cannot memorize for shit, but once I get through the first few lines I've got down. I played on stage with this one. Shifted some tone, used the hands. It is as close to a personal statement poem as I have at this time and I got it across even if the judges were not as impressed as the audience. At the end of the round I dropped to fourth with Rachel, Scott and Ethan Rivera in the top three slots.

We said goodbye to Gina Blaurock after the second round, but never forgotten.

So I'm in fourth, in the final team slot if I hold my position and I end up doing a piece I've only performed once in public. Juan Valdez's Burro Speaks is my version of a persona poem. Unfortunately I use an accent that makes me sound as if I'm doing a bad, bad impression of Cheech. It is a funny poem and I'm not doing an accent on a poem by, say, a matador who just got gored in the mouth by a bull's horn. I'm still working on the voice of that one, and it will never again be the voice I used last night.

At the end of round one Vernell was in seventh, but she used her experience, sideboard and talent to storm up the field and end up passing me and Scott Woods to come in third place overall. Scott came in fourth.

I missed making the team by .1.

Yes, it was that close. Thing is, I would not have been able to go to Nats, so it all worked out for the best.

It was a Hell of a night. Everyone left it out there on stage.

Here's the Writers' Block 2010 National Poetry Slam Team.

It's a diverse quartet of youth and experience that will go far in St. Paul.

Have to make note of J.G., who came in sixth place. I really did not know much about him before he started slamming this year. Whenever he's on the mic he makes me pay attention with his work.

What a great team slam season it was. I'm sure that I'm leaving a lot out, it's not deliberate.

Now it's time to defend my IWPS title.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Lawn is Mowed for Another Week

Last night America said goodbye to Jack Bauer, on the small screen at least. It was a fitting ending to a season that had more than it's share of outrageous moments. Jack pulling a SIM card out of a Russian assassin's stomach to name but one. Jack exits as he did for several seasons, on the run, like Richard Kimble.

Chloe faded the show to black, "Whatever just happened didn't happen. Shut it down." Now the Russians and his own government are searching for him. Good luck Jack, and thanks for the entertainment.

Poor guy could not even get any properly.

Looks like my Monday viewing will go back to Top Gear reruns.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

You Cannibal, You Meat Eater...

It can be a drag when two events you want to attend happen at the same time. I bought two tickets to the Mumford & Sons show before I found out about my friend's barbecue. I would have eaten the $12 tickets but I really wanted to see this band.

You never know what to expect when you see a sold out show by a very hyped group. Will the crowd be a bunch of people there just to talk through the show and be seen? Will the band be road weary and cynical of their own newly found fame? Luckily neither of these were the case and Mumford & Sons met all expectations.

The opening band was an Australian septet called The Middle East. I was thrilled that they were opening because I've heard a couple of their songs and liked what I heard. Onstage they presented themselves rather seriously with their quiet, folksy songs that were more akin to a sit down show rather than the setting of standing on the Mershon stage. I was more impressed by their louder songs, and they could make a glorious noise when they wanted, than the softer tunes.

While waiting for the headliner I was approached by the reviewer for the local paper, whi I used to work with at the bookstore. We swapped opinions and waited for the show to start.

The band came out, opened with Sigh No More and it was off to the races. These guys can play, they can sing. I have not heard such great four part harmonies live since Moxy Fruvous. Yes, it's an odd comparison.

I hope the band does not paint themselves into a corner, but a formula for quite a few of their songs is to start out slow, then go full throttle. While it is exciting to hear, you want a band to show some versatility. They are combating this, during one new song Marcus (the lead singer) went behind the drum kit and showed some chops. This caused the local critic to tell me he did not expect that and had not seen that since he saw Jack White play drums for Goober & the Peas about fifteen years ago. This kind of freaked me out since I was at the show he told me about. So I can now say I've seen Jack White play before he became the White Stripes.

The sold out crowd was really well behaved and respectful to both bands, each of whom made mention of the pleasure of hearing themselves play without loud talking going on. It was my second time seeing a show on the Mershon stage and the sound is excellent. We're getting old though, it's hard to stand for three hours. My wife is not a fan of the group, but she appreciates when a band could play well. She kind of squealed when Marcus played a thin body electric. She likes good gear.

While it was sad to miss the party, seeing this band for $12 is never going to happen again, and I'm very pleased to have made that decision. I even bought a t-shirt, something I have not done since seeing Robyn Hitchcock about eighteen years ago. That's how good Mumford & Sons are. They're selling out their shows, hitting the festivals, and will be playing much bigger venues the next time around.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jeff Abraxas Memorial Event

On Sunday, May 23rd, at 3pm, there will be an event to pay tribute to Jeff and his artwork. Its at Urban Spirit Coffee Shop on Long St. There will be a chance for anyone to share reflections about Jeff. Then, there will be a walking tour of his murals.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Resting My Pitching Shoulder

Catch phrases from last night Writers' Block: Negroberries, Paula No No, Trouser Mirages, A Paramedic Feature, time penalties, shower, a poet telling another poet to sit down, teachable moments with Hall & Oates, Jesus - wrapped in bacon.

Somewhere in there was the dynamite feature of Simone Beaubien. She will also be doing a First Draft feature at Kafe Kerouac this Friday night.

It was a full house that saw the last preliminary round for team contention in the National Poetry Slam. The Grand Slam is Wednesday night, also at Kafe Kerouac. I did not slam last night since I'm already it. Been a bit scattered and out of poetic focus last couple of weeks. Nothing to worry about, I'll be ready next week. Assembling weaponry now.

I am a bit miffed the CD player in my car is dying, if not already dead. Had it for about five years and it's been in two cars. I can say that it has been very well used over that time.

Had another one of those wish fulfillment dreams in which my son went to sleep and woke up able to speak.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome Back Mr. Hannon

He made a cameo on the God Help the Girl album last year. "Is that Neil Hannon?" My wife asked. I had no idea who he was. She sent me links to a couple of his videos and I was hooked.

The record has a UK release on the 31st of May. Not sure if it's coming over here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mr. Misery Guts

The more I distance myself between now and my last job is a distance between a lot of anger and bitterness. It was not working there for me, the customers, coworkers, anyone. Have to say for at least half the time I was there I was absolutely miserable. Looking back on the old journal entries from 4-6 years ago shows me as a total wreck. Trapped, losing control that may have not really been there in the first place.

Don't want to imagine what it was like to see me then, could not have been a pleasant sight. Stuck, not promotable for good reason, and unable to get out of there for three years. My escape was best for everyone. I am happier now. Much happier.

Sleep, however, continues to remain elusive.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's in the Trees, They're Coming!

A busy weekend of cleaning, throwing crap out, and eating. My wife stained some furniture while I goofed off and tossed crap out of the dusty basement. We got a lot accomplished. Minor things upstairs were shifted around, media was consolidated.

We went up to Highbanks park for a lovely walk among the trees and animals. I'd never been to the observation deck that overlooks the Olentangy River. It's pretty spectacular. There are nesting bald eagles that people come specifically to view. One of the spotters generously showed us some pictures he had taken. His camera lenses came to about a foot in length. He got some cool close ups. About ten minutes after we arrived, three bald eagles flew about fifty feet over our heads. It was quite the surprise. They're huge and magnificent. You do not realize how big they are by seeing them perched in a zoo.

Hit up a taco truck for dinner last night. It was her first time at one. We had a bit of a language problem. No carne also means no chicken. Then the person taking my order thought I said no beans when I said no meat. We got it right. The odd thing was when I went to pay and was charged a nearly insulting amount of money for the food (and it was excellent) we had just eaten. I was also given one of the dinners that she did not eat, along with two extra pieces of chicken. I left a massive tip and have no problems going back there. Maybe this weekend.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Interlude from My Subconsious

There was a concert in my dream. A lot of my friends were there, but I'm not sure who. We were sitting very close to the stage, maybe in the second or third row. Then the stage emptied Duck Dunn started playing the piano and singing. Very strange since he is a bass player. A lot of people did not like this and left, which left the front row open. I moved down and was about ten feet from Dunn as he played. Dunn was awesome!

Not sure where this came from. At Writers' Block Scott was wearing his Stax shirt, and Booker T. and the MG's came up. Booker T. also played Columbus recently, and took some flack from the critics who preferred it when he played the organ instead of the guitar.

So maybe it all came from that soup, or maybe it means I'm gay.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Mike Needed a Shot of Penicillin

After waiting for the bus yesterday morning I ended up driving my son to school.

When I drove by the school close to us, I noticed there were only a couple of cars in the marking lot. Suspicion grew. When I drove by the next school and it was shuttered like a Circuit City I realized that there was no school.

Got home and had a kid upset that his routine was messed up. After he calmed down there was a bruise on the blow when the Emergency Broadcast System ran a test on television. My son is terrified of the noise it makes and he quickly sprinted upstairs when it started.

When I got to his room, he was lying, prone, on his bed. Poor guy.

This is one of the many reasons I'm trying to seek treatment for him. He does not sense, or process the world around him normally. The way he sees the world is not giving him a good quality of life.

I had a consultation with a doctor about this planned for yesterday, which I had to bring him to. First read about it here.It's an alternative therapy, a bit hippy dippy in some of its methods but there's no pain, drugs, chelation or adverse treatments involved - so why not?

And my kid looks cute as Buddy Holly.

There are times when I do not think he looks like me. Not there.

Just another night at Writers' Block last night. Music stand knocked over. Tabasco
sauce/ass/Kentucky Fried Chicken. STD's. Spirituals. Cotton picking. A Virgin. God cubed. Ken Nordine. Low power laptop. Women killing. Spark plug with a white tip. Shady publishing deals.

We were named as a great place for a first date by Columbus Monthly magazine. When poems like the above are mentioned, that makes us even more special. I had a new one which came about when a Chicago poet put out a Facebook note about wanting to train a couple of poets to be successful in slam. I admire the intent of the poet, who I do not know. But the way it came across creeped me out, in a Marv Marinovich way. So there was a minor blow up on another poet's Facebook page and drama ensued.

Hey, I got a sweet four minute poem out of it that killed last night. So thanks!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Cereal Bowl Does Not Go in the Trash

There have been a lot of weird things in the alley behind my house in the seven years I've lived here. Tires multiplying, women crying at 4AM, a guy in a sombrero with a shopping cart who regularly picks though the trash bins, a bike in our parking space...

On Sunday there was a basketball left behind our trash bin. I gave it the twenty four hour rule. On Monday it was still there, so I tossed it in the yard.

When his mother dropped him off after OT yesterday afternoon, my son noticed the ball right away. He started rolling it around, but then he passed it.

It was an impressive effort. He used both hands, threw the ball forward towards me. I got him to say the words up, daddy, and throw.

Every day is different. He fell asleep at 10:30, woke up at 3AM and would not stop singing, humming, using silly speech until about 6:15 - when he finally fell asleep. He was not happy when I woke him an hour later to get ready for school.

Oh yes, he's going, and I'm off to work on this rainy Tuesday.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Before I Call Mom

This just in: I will be a guest tonight, Sunday May 9th on Speaking of Poetry, with Miss Vernell and Miss J. You can listen in at THIS ADDRESS starting at 6PM EDT.

Everton's season is over. I can bemoan what could have been. Those late second half blown leads against Aston Villa and West Ham come to mind. Four more points would have put them ahead of Liverpool. After the injuries and the horrible start though, eighth place and out of the Europa League seems about right. Now it's time for Moyes and the board to find some players, early, in the summer transfer window and get it right next season.

Made another visit to Jeff's shrine late Friday. More notes of remembrance, flowers, someone left a couple of paint brushes. It's very sweet. WOSU made mention of his death also. No mention in the Dispatch yet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Holding My Brush as Best as I Can

The city, hell, the world has lost a fine artist.

I did not know Jeff Abraxas very well. He was a good friend to several of the poets at Writers' Block and had only recently started coming to the night. We were Facebook friends, we played Scrabble. When we talked he was incredibly supportive and positive. Then, a few weeks ago, he got sick. He called us from his hospital bed and Vernell read a poem he had just wrote. It was for us. We all cheered him and wished him a speedy recovery.

He died today.

If you've been to the Lincoln Theater or have traveled down Long Street in Columbus you've seen his murals. Colorful, historical and full of life. I understand he was always drawing, using pen, marker, pencil, whatever he had at hand. I think he was in the corner during Scott Woods' 24 hour reading, sketching the dawn.

He left a lot of empty canvases. I'd like to think he left them for us to fill in.

He's gone way too soon.

Rest in peace, Jeff. Thank you for your short time with us. You gave us much to be inspired by.

Go down Long Street. Start at Zanzibar, then head east to Urban Spirit and see the art Jeff left for us to appreciate, and the portraits we shall not forget.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bottom line: You do not mess with poets

These days I try very, very hard not to blog about and archive outrage here. It's better for my state of mind to keep the online world a lighter place.

You know what's coming, right?

I became aware of this ignorant posting by an Ann Coulter wannabe this morning and have added one comment to the fray.

Notice that, for the most part, those who disagree with the ignorant statement are more articulate and reasonable that the initial wave of sycophants who tried to cleverly say, me too.

I give the blogger credit for not telling any of the educators to die in a fire, although one of the replies suggested hanging. Ouch!

Also, the blogger has not banned or screened comments, including comments from those who are directly involved in the event, nor suggested any of the people who disagreed with her are too chicken shit to attack her physically. Not that I'm completely comparing this to anything that recently happened in my life.

Sitting around your house, pointing fingers at things you do not like and saying hate hate hate, not cool, especially if you have no idea what you are talking about. Or if one is so ingrained in their own fear to see clearly. Asking a few simple questions about what this event, or another event, like a womens poetry slam, is about could do wonders for a personal education. Instead we see the malice, the snark that masks not having a clue, and the fires of bigotry are stoked even higher.

Something Else to Do After Work

Twenty three percent of registered voters showed up yesterday and approved moving the Columbus casino from the Arena District to an abandoned plot of land on the west side of the city.

I'm not against a casino, but not in favor of a constitutional amendment granting only one company to own and operate it.

Now, instead of being five miles from me, it's only three and a half.

My Scottish Wife asked if we could bike there. I wonder if there will be bike racks.

Getting caught up, last month at Writers' Block Bill Campana featured.

Bill went on for over half an hour, always leaving the audience thinking. It's very hard to describe what he does, only that he leaves you scratching yourself with the unexpected.

Columbus loves Bill Campana, here's what the crowd threw at him.

Writers' Block treats poets it loves the way ladies in Vegas took care of Tom Jones.

Broke out the weed whacker for the first time yesterday. Spring is here. The roses are blooming.

A bit early if you ask me!

Monday, May 3, 2010

His Soul is Dancing

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans has the best use of reptiles in a motion picture I've seen in a long time.

Nicholas Cage is a cop in post-Katrina New Orleans. He shakes down people for drugs, gambles badly on sports, smokes crack with criminals and threatens to kill old ladies.

Yes, he's bad. He's a bad lieutenant. Somewhere in this two hour film is a murder plot, but it's secondary to Cage's over the top performance that people will love or hate. This film has nothing to do with the Harvey Keitel version from the nineties.

For me, it's about the trust between director Werner Herzog and Cage.

Has Herzog found a new Klaus Kinski? I'd watch another film with these two crazy kids.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's May Day!

Celebrated the end of 30/30 by waking up at 2AM with a cluster headache. Man, those things hurt and there's not a damn thing you can do except toss and turn on the couch in the dark waiting for it to go away.

Thank you all again for following along and supporting the April Project. It was quite the experience.

For the first time in nearly three years, I have a stereo. Picked up a lil' Phillips system last night. Tiny speakers, but it is freaking loud!

Maybe I'll get my baseball uniform back someday before my son grows out of it, or before the person who gave it back to me just so she could see my son wear it, dies.

And who'd be reading my blog from Fiint, Michigan? Hmmm.

Gallery Hop tonight, my friend Stephanie has an opening. Hoping an umbrella will not be needed. New, to America anyway, Doctor Who tonight then the Crew at Claddagh.