Thursday, May 28, 2015

He liked the scripts better when they had coffee stains on them.

One of my college professors at Fredonia died yesterday. John P. Malcolm was a gregarious and knowledgeable man. Whether in the classroom or walking about town he always had a kind word to say, and if years had passed since you had seen each other, he did not forget who you were.

When he found out we were moving to Columbus, Ohio State was his Alma Mater, he would always ask if we were going to live in Buckeye Village, which he called "Fertility Acres." Many conversations or lectures you had with him started, “Back in my old days at Ohio State!” He was a good man who is directly responsible for my having a degree.

Here’s the story: when I ‘graduated’ in 1985, my GPA in my minor was not high enough so I did not officially earn a degree. No, I was not the best of students. A couple of years later, my ex-wife asked him, he was Chair of the Communication Department, if he would waive that requirement (all without my knowledge) and allow me to have the degree, which was well within the rules at the time. He did it without hesitation.

My schedule has it that I will most likely be unable to attend any services for him, and that distance makes me sad. Dr. Malcolm leaves behind a loving family, scores of colleagues and the many students who had great respect for him. Rest in Peace Dr. Malcolm, and thank you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

World Party at the Basement

His music helped calm and keep me sane in the nineties. It was his most prolific songwriting period to date and he almost did not make it out of the following decade. Karl Wallinger, for all intensive purposes is the band World Party and last night I finally got to see him live.

The wait was almost twenty five years. As far as I know he only played Columbus once, for a local radio station’s festival and I blew that off because I did not want to deal with a crowd of people and hear bands I did not like while waiting for the group I wanted to see play half an hour. So when the date was announced I was bummed because it fell on a kid night, but my wife took on the duty so I could go.

The Basement is an odd venue. It was my first time there and I plan on avoiding it as much as I can. There are pillars that erase sight lines, a pit in front of the band that has to be Hell to be in when a band with a heavier sound plays. The audience crowds a smaller space just to be able to see the band, leaving tons of empty space by the bar wasted - the sound is quieter, and better where you cannot see the band. It’s a messed up design.

Gabriel Kelly opened and played to a mostly inattentive audience. He gave it his best, thanked the people who were paying attention and laid into the Nashville songwriting scene, which he was a part of for a few years. He did a quiet set of well crafted, introspective songs and added a very good cover of Springsteen’s Atlantic City. Told him he did a good set when he walked by me, “Thanks brother,” he said as he tapped me on the shoulder.

Right after his set, my friend Teri showed up, then Wallinger, along with fiddler Danny Duffy and guitarist John Turnbull began some rather astonishing work. Not having a drummer by choice can hinder a band. I’ve seen Lucinda Williams and Warren Zevon strain to connect with a crowd because they did not have anyone behind them kicking their ass forward but in this instance all was well. The musicianship and new arrangement were superb and Turnbull, who played with Ian Dury’s Blockheads, was incredible with some very tasty leads.

As for the songs, I’ve been waiting to hear Sweet Soul Dream for such a long time and they delivered. A lot of the Goodbye Jumbo record was performed. He did a wonderful She’s the One. It was almost as if Wallinger asked me to put the set together before the show. The banter with the crowd was pleasant and witty, the man is a pro. He was in great voice and showed no effects from the brain aneurysm that required years of rehab over a decade ago. Took home a cd they were selling of a recent show. I heard everything I wanted last night and more, it was worth the wait.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Trip to Gem City

Yesterday took us to Dayton, where I was the featured reader for the Gem City Poetry Stage. Their venue is in a combination beauty parlor and Buddhist Worship Center and I enjoyed the duality of the place.

It was a pleasure to be there, and to meet people I had only known through the internet. There was even an energetic five year old running around, felt like home! Here are the set lists, for record keeping.

Pantoum for a Child with Insomnia
From the Streets of the Underserved
Emaciated Compassion
Son, Sport, Sestina
My Great Uncle and His Inventory of Effects
After Birth
All Time, None of the Time

Do Not Talk to Me About Lunch
Run Away From Time
Redhead at Gallery Hop
West Side Passion Play
Is Gun
318 Feet From Home Plate
The Wine List of the Overlook Hotel

Always great to hang out after for a drink at a very cool neighborhood bar just steps from the venue. Nice job Dayton, and thanks. They also have a good soul station (98.7) that took us some of the way back to Columbus.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Following up a little and some self promotion

Earlier in the week I wrote a post criticizing the Columbus Arts Festival's Word is Art committee for decreasing the amount of poetry on the stage this year.

There was some open, honest discussion on my Facebook page about what was said that I appreciated and respected. I'm still not sure if my message got to the right people though, to the anyone on the committee itself.

Two days later, the festival did blast out three posts on social media linking to the same post by the chair of the committee, one that expectedly said how great the stage is going to be this year. An interesting coincidence, eh?

I stand by my original post.

On Sunday May 24th I'm going to be reading in Dayton at the Dharma Center. Starts at 7PM. I'm honored that the Gem City Poetry Stage asked me to take part. You can read more about it here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dreaming of the past and those gone

Somehow I found myself in a situation in which I was going to buy into or begin working in a wine shop. I was not sure of the ownership, if the boss was telling the truth about employees scamming him or if he was the scammer.

Somehow a friend of mine became involved as a potential investor or part time employee.

We were on a large couch, she was on one end, talking to people, I on the other and her late husband, J., was in the middle. He looked younger, I think around the age when we first met. No one was talking to him, she did not seem to notice he was there.

So I said to him, “You’re the ghost between us,” and he laughed. I said he looked well, and he said he was alright and that he was making sure his widow's business dealings were on the level. I was the only one who could see him because I was getting odd looks having a conversation with an empty space next to me on the couch. It was a pleasant conversation.

Then I woke up. And that was it, I let her know about the dream and she seemed pleased, and she let me know she was not in any potentially risky financial deals - neither am I.

Have to say it was a comforting dream. I rarely remember them and it was good to see J., he's missed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Nobody backs poetry in the corner

This is not a criticism of any of the artists who will be appearing on the stage during the weekend. They have all deservedly earned their place. Nor is it a call to not attend the festival.

The Columbus Arts Festival has announced its schedule for the 2015 event which includes that of the Word is Art stage.

Readers, publishing panels and storytellers have multiple readings this year.

Notice I said readers, publishing panels, storytellers and not poets.

Poetry seems to have been given seriously short shrift this year, with poets scheduled to begin during a poorly attended period when the festival starts, at noon on Friday. There do not appear to be any half hour slots for the top three poets from the juried competition, as there has been in previous years. No mention of any poets appearing on the main stage, which was an innovation introduced last year that was a success. No poets doing multiple appearances.

As an organizer/poet who was a former committee chair of the Word is Art Stage, participated in and been more than a casual observer of this festival for nearly a decade it has to be said that poetry has been locked away in the attic this year. Friday afternoon is a horrible time to gather an audience for anything, let alone poetry. People are busy on at that time, they have jobs and other commitments during the day and cannot get downtown. It is embarrassing to see that the executive committee and those running the Word is Art stage have given poets, who have brought the crowds in and kept them in previous years, wastelands of time slots.

The focus away from poetry to prose and print has happened very quickly, with the direction of programming not necessarily going in the right direction for an outdoor event. Previous committees have worked very hard curating and enhancing the role of poetry while bringing in authors and storytellers to assemble remarkable weekends of art and performance on the Word is Art Stage. Works that engaged and entertained audiences of festival goers.

I believe the accomplishments achieved by the hard work members of the Word is Art Stage committee over the past ten years have been erased by this uneven and poorly assembled schedule. Poetry gave the Word is Art Stage a well known positive reputation for Columbus poets, authors, and storytellers to perform, many for the first time. Poetry did the main work in building that esteem. Now that foundation is being dismantled.

For unknown reasons the audience gets double doses of authors, publishing panels, and storytellers, who may be fine and engaging on their own, but they’re not poets. No poet seems to have been allotted two appearances on the stage. No poet gets more than a fifteen minute time slot. It is a step backward for the Columbus poetry community who have supported, had incredible involvement and investment with the event over the past few years that the festival has taken them out of the limelight and placed them in poorly attended time slots. Times in which nothing was ever scheduled in previous years because of low crowds.

The committee once again had a number of missed opportunities in marketing the activities on the stage. I only saw one mention of applying for the stage on the festival’s social media feeds. This in contrast to numerous mentions of the 5k run and pictures of a toy shark in various places. To my knowledge there was no committee outreach to any of the open mic nights in this city to invite poets to apply for the event. I once again have to question if the executive committee is serious about poetry’s involvement in the festival.

Columbus poetry is thriving, it does not need the Columbus Arts Festival to succeed. It already is through the open mics and readings that anyone can attend nearly every night of the week. The Columbus Arts Festival and the Word is Art Stage needs Columbus poetry to further connect with its audience, not two prime time publishing panels during an outdoor festival! Perhaps next year the Arts Festival executive committee will be capable of meaningful change and reassess the role of poetry on the Word is Art Stage by bringing it back to the rightful places on the stage that it has earned.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This would be very big of me

Dear Friend,

My name is Hannah Anderson; I am 25 years old, from London -England,
where I school and work as a fashion designer for part time job after my
school. Am the only daughter of my parents, my father died on a fatal
auto accident on his way to see my sick mother at the hospital where she
was admitted for Cancer treatment, she also died when she heard about the
death of my father in same day at the hospital.

Before the death of my father, he had willed part of his Real Estate
Business, Gas Stations and a total sum of £50,700,000.00(Fifty Million,
Seven Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling) to me. After the death of my both
parents, things became hard for me, paying my school fees, putting food on
the table and taking care of my other needs with my fashion designer work
which I do as a part time work after my school, I went to the
bank where my late father deposited the fund on my behalf to with-draw
money in other to take care of my self and pay for my school fees with
other bills.

I was shocked when the Bank Manager explained to me that I will not be
able to with-draw from the deposited money, because my father had put a
clause on the Will, which he used in depositing the fund with them, saying
that before I will be given access to the money, I will either have to be
30 years old or if only I get married before the age of 30 , in which
case, my husband will be legible to claim the money on my behalf by
standing in as my late fathers next of kin to claim the deposited fund on
my behalf.

Today I am only 25 years old. And I have no access to the money till I'm
30 years. So, I’m contacting you to stand as my husband to claim this fund
on my behalf and in case if you are married already, you can still help me
by standing in as my late father’s next of kin to the deposited fund. So,
please get back to me as to know how you will be remunerated as I will
part with 25% of the total sum £50,700,000.00 (Fifty Million, Seven
Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling),while 10% will be mapped out for any
expenses that we're to use to receive the money from the deposited Bank.

Please remember that I am writing you this email purely on the ground of
trust so we can achieve this deal together. This transaction will last for
two weeks after you get back to me on how serious you are to claim this
fund on my behalf. Reply me at:

Yours Truly,
Hannah Anderson

Monday, May 4, 2015

Another boss bites the dust

1985 was a crazy year. I graduated college, got married shortly after and began work for a local radio station that was in the process of having its broadcasting license revoked.

This is the second former employer of mine who has died in the past year.

It was a strange place to work, like many of my jobs, with weird and wonderful coworkers. I've never been so scared at work before, as I tried figuring out a newscast out of the local paper and nicking the other station in town. Had no idea what I was doing. None. There was no AP teletype in the station, the owner was too frugal to pay for that. The morning guy was a hoot, a former stand up comedian he made me laugh on the air constantly, God rest his soul.

The former owner of WBUZ, Hammerin' Hank Serafin, died on Saturday, aged 89. I've been playing with this for over a year and a half, finally got motivated to finish it today.

Ten Reasons You Lost Your FCC License

In 1989 radio station WBUZ Fredonia/Dunkirk had it’s license pulled by the FCC. It was only the second license revoked since the Communications Act of 1934. The owner of the station, Hammerin’ Hank Serafin, died on May 2nd.

1) Do not rig a contest in which first prize was a trip to Niagara Falls in which you sent a major advertiser and his wife went to because you were worried people in an immoral relationship would win. Second prize was a hi-tech radio you kept in your office.

2) That time you called the agency for a secretary then asked her supervisor if they had any white girls because the one that showed would make charcoal look white.

3) That day you hacked a public phone booth to air a high school baseball game.

4) Do not keep the public from inspecting your public file during business hours. Do not harass the person who came to view your public file by mocking his hair length.

5) Do not forge the records in your public file. Even if the guy you strung along for years so you could try to sell him the station lied for you.

6) You were also a well known local slumlord. Do not call an advocate for the poor a bitch on the air. Said person was the daughter of a well known county judge. But you could not help yourself, could you?

7) Never charge sponsors for ads they did not agree to run. It also helped your bookkeeper pay her electric bills without you knowing for years.

8) Do not lie about paying your ASCAP fee. Even the polka musicians had to get paid.

9) Because you were such a cheap bastard, you left a visible storefront in town, bought a double wide and parked it next to your transmitter. Enviably located next to a pallet factory at the end of a dead end street. Painted a sign that read the temporary home of WBUZ.

10) In the last days even nature knew you were done. Days before the station went dark a bird flew into the trailer, fluttered around the station, then shat on your desk

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Coronation is Not an Election

On Tuesday, those who vote in Columbus will be voting in primaries for Mayor and City Council. I will not be voting. Mainly because in order to vote in an Ohio primary, you have to register for the party whose primary you will be voting in. My views belong to neither of these parties.

For most of my voting life though, I have been a registered democrat. No more. They abandoned any form of progressive ideas in favor of banking, insurance company and military support. Great for them when they’re able to swim in donor cash and give them influence. Bad for me who does not have the financial means to purchase my own political candidate. That’s the way it seems now though and I do not foresee a time when that will change. And I’m fed up with voting for the lesser or two evils, even with the supreme court set to change dramatically in the next decade.

Locally, there are three democrats running in the mayoral primary and one republican. All male.

Terry Boyd, the republican, is being sent out by the local GOP as the under funded sacrifice as Columbus’ current political climate will have a democrat as Mayor. This is not a prediction, but as nearly solid fact as you get today, barring major scandal - and I mean major.

Zach Scott is the county sheriff. His plan is essentially hope for the best and continue the status quo, which is a great climate for developers to line their pockets. Not so good for the neglected parts of the city, which includes my area of Briggsdale in West Columbus.

James Ragland’s enthusiasm masks his political inexperience. I have not been impressed with his arrogance on social media and local message boards. He comes off to me as a theocrat, even though he’s backed away from his stance against gay marriage. He may challenge Scott for second in the primary and you may not see the last of him in local politics.

Andrew Ginther is the party endorsed candidate. Mayor Coleman has all but given him the job, especially since Ginther has become Coleman’s shadow. Ginther has developer support on both sides of the political line, a school board scandal in his open closet (as does Boyd) that most do not give a crap about and will be the next Mayor of Columbus. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly the man has done for Columbus besides ride Coleman’s coattails.

Regardless of who the next Mayor is, life in Columbus will continue as we know it. The boners of the developers will point to what they want the Mayor and city council to do next. And they will abide, oh yes they will. Little will be done for the neglected parts of Columbus other than lip service and some asphalt in the occasional pothole. The casino the west side did not want is not bringing in the expected revenue. Sure, we have some interesting ethnic food available but Four String Brewery joining Dirty Franks West and Cream and Sugar is far from enough to make West Columbus the vibrant community other areas of the city that have benefited from tax reduced development and gentrification have become. After living here for twelve years I’m tired of waiting. My patience is done, and my vote is for none of the above.

Edit: I was mistaken about having to declare allegiance to a particular party to vote in this primary. It was an open primary. Also, Ginther won handily, with Scott coming in a very close second to Boyd. So two democrats are going to be running for mayor this year.