September 13, 2007

Erika Staiti & Chris Stroffolino @ The Gallery of Urban Art.

1. #14 bus downtown to number #19 bus that dropped me off at 12th and Peralta, a few blocks from the gallery. On the walk down, there was a block party happening near a small park. The whole neighborhood seemed to be there. car doors open paying music. Folks dancing in the street. Later found out that it most likely amounted to a wake for a funeral that happened earlier in the day.
2. Pre-reading talk with gallery owner Daniel Coffman. He has such positive and incredible energy. Working on grants and eventually getting the 501(c). He's very passionate about the gallery and what it can do, and is putting in the time & effort to see that it happens. I had doubts, but fuck me, he's been doing it for five years, and isn't about to quit now or later. He's a steamroller.
3.Early banter. According to Stroffo: Spicer=John Lennon, Duncan=Paul McCartney, and Blaser=George Harrison. I think I got this right. Correct me if I'm wrong.
4. Dillon's idea for the reading cliff noted: Urban areas are no longer mono-lingual, just as they aren't homogenous. Readers were asked to read their work, while five translators simultaneously translated their words into Spanish, Portuguese (via recorded media), French, German, and Mandarin.
5. I am a sucker for simultaneous multi-speaker anything.
6. Erika Staiti read poems directly related to Oakland and the idea of citydom. (I learned on the ride home that one of the poems was a direct response to folks asking if she lived in Oakland or Berkeley, as she lives near the invisible but tangible line between the two, but on the Funktown side.)
7. Intermission. Got a beer and talked to Dan the owner about the artist in the second room. I like the work. It reminds me of a few folks, but I think overall it is a strong exhibition.
8. The Stroffolino show. I now after the fact know that Chris played trumpet in high school. He has some chops. Accompanied by an accordion, always a yes, and a saxophone who knew restraint. Chris did the spoken ad lib that some of us might know him for, but also read from his flyer for a workshop he's going to hold at his place. The translators were valiant in their efforts to keep up with him. [see Dillon's blog for info on the tranlators and a recording of the reading] Off the cuff, musicians winging it, all the hallmarks of a Stroffolino show, yet somehow Chris came across a little less vitriolic, or is that acerbic? Still much on point, still very Chris, but somehow different. I don't want to say subdued, because that's not right ... Someone help me out here.
9. Dillon found me a ride home. Sorry Dan for the full beer left on the table. My ride was leaving right then.
10. Dropped off someone with a bike who sat in the truckbed, then Erika who (why?) sat in the back seat of truck. Had a conversation where I learned # 6, and that she like me appreciates a good ride home, but doesn't want to put anyone out.
10. After getting dropped off on the top end (Grand Lakish) area of the Lake, I walked home. For whatever screw-ball reason, I had a Tony Barnstone's poem in my head: the one about pissing in the ocean.
I'm not the kind of person who gets poems stuck in my head often (apparently my brain usually saves that resevoir for Ozzy's early 80s career).
I saw Tony read years ago with his dad and Aliki. I guess it stuck and somehow this walk home was the moment for my brain to revisit that particular poem.
It is a joy to piss in the ocean.



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