I got doughnuts the other night before what seemed like a musical love child of the E.T. soundtrack and songs of Oompa-Loompas. T was interested in the musician who was not only performing but put the whole thing together at a place called Ham and Eggs downtown.
It came after checking out Chisme y Queso put on by members of the Center Theatre Group. The experience entailed improvisational skits inspired by chisme, which means gossip in English, written on the back of promotional coasters by people in attendance of a quaint bar in Boyle Heights. The reward for the most tantalizing gossip included tickets to a showing of Into the Woods, bottle of wine and a gorgeously giant wheel of cheese (one of those that can be easily melted over food and more conveniently consumed in slices cut straight from the plastic casing).
After a few rounds of applause-influenced evaluation for the winner, D won the prized package of goodies with his poignant piece of chisme. Unfortunately I missed the reenactment of his writing because I stepped out for a cigarette with T and was lured to dance in Mariachi Plaza by an elderly woman. She was dressed in a turquoise blouse, eggshell cardigan, denim shorts and comfy brown leather boots. It was like my spirit animal could tell the smoke was a mere distraction from being enticed by cumbia blaring from a stage that held a modest dj stand. Moving the crowd to dance from the stage was a short bearded man with a knack for strumming his güiro.
When we returned to Eastside Luv, we caught the last round of chisme and participated in the judging the winners of previous rounds. While D won the main prize, second place went to V, which was an inevitable consequence given his fantastic talent in storytelling. I don’t even think my story bit was pulled from the large plastic container holding everyone’s pieces of gossip. It didn’t matter. My mind was on doughnuts and I knew Ham and Eggs was just two storefronts down from a Dunkin Donuts. After a slight detour of foosball and some more dancing, we left Boyle Heights and concluded the night with a grand gesture of solid carbs.
Echo Park Rising was my first taste of the expressive charm of Soul Scratch when the band performed at The Lost Room to a packed audience. That was two months ago but luckily they were playing again in the basement of downtown’s historic Pershing Square Building in October. Although nights had gotten cooler, the heat of anticipation or beverage consumption gave the pursuit of music a particular buzz.
After descending the white and black tile stairs to a balcony stretching along the perimeter of Mrs. Fish, I moved toward the seductive seating area and blue hued bar in the upper corner. To the left was the main lower level where Gramps The Vamp opened with brassy-swanky funk rhythms. At some moments, it almost felt like listening to an eerily cartoonish soundtrack. This explained why the railing behind and above the stage was lined with people propped and engaged.
I found a spot between two couples overlooking the band played and noticed people bunching and dispersing at the base of the staircase of the entrance. A monstrous fish tank suspended from the ceiling where new guests arrived and bombarded into the congestion for drinks. The glass bottom gave sight to lively colored creatures and suddenly became an emblem of the fishbowl experience I was having behind the band and discretely shadowed by the cobalt beams of light cast against the wall.
Regrouping with friends became a significant priority but easily accomplished with the temporary height advantage to help with sorting through the crowd. Making sure we got a good space to listen to Soul Scratch was another pain objective but seeing how late it was and they still hadn’t arrived on stage, I figured there was plenty of time for a cigarette. Squeezing a way up the stairs was a little easier than going down and the bouncer swung the door open but the atmosphere was so chill, not a curl of hair was pushed out of place by the greeting of street breeze.
I nearly dropped my lighter in excitement upon seeing Dale, the vocalist of Soul Scratch, standing on the curb already a few steps ahead as he exhaled a cloud of smoke in front of the tightly clad passersby. He was caught off guard but I was enthused to meet him. His expressive use of voice with the band quickly became the focal point of our conversation was cited as coagulation with funky flows of a trumpet, saxophone, drums and guitar. Shortly after a few exchanges, he finished his cigarette, then fled through the door and down the stairs in preparation for his entrance to the stage.
The yellow and amber tint of downtown’s streetlights spread across the busy pavement and gave way to a attractively distracting scene. However, Soul Scratch was due to perform shortly inside and luckily the bouncer recognized me so there wasn’t much of a wait behind the growing line on Hill Street. By the time I entered and found a seat on the patent red leather couch, the lead vocalist was beckoned onto the stage after a groovy introduction from the band. In the same fashion as the performance at Echo Park Rising, Dale made his introduction with a walk through the audience and swooned everyone through the night with vocal nods to Aretha, Etta and Otis over a funky swag of melodic pleasantries.
Before the tin was left nearly empty, the weather began taking a dramatic turn but the behavior worsened in the sixth grade but somehow lessened in the seventh. Announcements for buses were nowhere near and the chatter was incessant with the exception of the few willing to learn. In almost every class, at least one student possessed athletic abilities and small stature while peers carried fuller frames and personalities expressive of a desire to learn.
With contributions from specialized students of scheming, the review twisted into more of a game where admitting a selection of a prize to the strongest performer garnered more attention than perceiving respectful behavior as the norm. Chaos ensued in the peculiar manner dismissals incited. It was clear the organized process of the activity evaporated with Mr. F’s management of the classroom the first week of the year. Smiling was one mistake realized merely three weeks into the year but something from which he felt vital to recover.
Not in a long time had Mr. F been challenged in tactics encouraging adaptability, wit and creativity on such fast pace and in large volume but a challenge of significant proportions it was. Instances of hardship were ill-phrased obstacles worthy of time and consideration, especially when seeking an immediate resolution, but he decided this would be rewarding on several levels.
These thoughts of the classroom circulated as quickly as people who passed the counter at Mr. F’s frequent destination. Old Bess offered a banquet for the senses and spirits but very often turned into a mecca of inebriation. Though he could savor a bottle or two by himself, customary it was to find him observing fellow patrons and engaging in delightful conversations with the ease of a butterfly out of its cocoon while offering libations to new and familiar comrades. Memories of Old Bess and visits to familiar places strung together his daily habits in spite of inevitable responsibilities in the morning.
This New York experience was intriguing
though quite unsettling. I lost my phone
the first night of debauchery as well
as a generous amount of almonds and
blah blah. New York is exhausting. I don’t
know why I find it so enticing but I can
see why some are fond of Jersey. It is
such a different pace there I can’t help
but feel like it’s a lovely escape from
the chaos of the city of Manhattan and
its surrounding boroughs. As I sit here
in LaGuardia peering around the tablet
station, I see a woman looking at the
cost of education within the Butler
University website. There is also a
hearing on Syria military action with
Secretary of State John Kerry playing
on the television in the corner of the
large window. I noticed he stumbled
upon his words when responding to a
question about support being provided
by the government. I can’t really pay
attention to what’s being discussed
mostly because of a hangover that
hasn’t really gone away since I woke
up after eleven in the morning and
rushed as fast as possible to Queens
to gather my belongings and catch the
bus to travel for an hour and forty
minutes in order to get to my flight
in time, which wasn’t departing until
four thirty but for some reason seemed
to be sooner than I had expected. This
city does that though—influences a
sense of urgency among its residents
and visitors no matter what the activity.
Even as I sit and wait for my computer
to charge completely, it’s like I cannot
stop thinking about life but that doesn’t
really mean anything. I guess the pace
of my brain is so swift with nothingness
it’s kind of comical. I wish I could take
photos but my batteries are dead. I
thought about purchasing new batteries
for my Nikon camera but my feet are so
tired and my body wants nothing but
cheesy carbs on a level that deems
movement of the body frivolous. So
silly this does feel as I ramble on.
Oh, the day’s been long
and it’s not quite ten.
Brain cells may very well flee my head.
So long, I hear myself say to the boss
until I think about the inevitable money loss.
Change may come but never fast enough.
Perhaps slow it needs to move
while one sits in wonderment
of where the spirit should travel.
I remember the days I would daydream
on the vast school playground
watching clouds float by
and other kids move about,
never present was I
rather in a flight of listless thought.
Pausing to contemplate
the movement of my body
as it rotates in a chair,
the scent of salmon
in the midst of oil and butter
soothes the day’s exhaustive chatter.
[This is meant to be hummed/sung as an exploration
of the blues through an omniscient narrator.
Think Pink Anderson, J.D. Short, Otis Rush, Sonny Terry]
Through the screen of a window, the sun shines brightly
illuminating leaves small and still dangling
from branches reaching far above the lazy streets.
Suddenly, a sweet female voice shouts with fury
to confront a gentleman whose tone’s so raspy.
Their argument resembles the blues
if two voices could be used
to show how emotions
can lead to such confusion.
Words are unclear until the woman exclaims,
“Boy, you’ve got me sitting idly
only to tell me someone’s waiting on you.
I said why you got me sitting idly
when someone’s already waiting on you?”
The gentleman sways his body weight to the other side,
flings his arms up, then loudly declares,
“Now, now, now don’t go chasing me with your insanity
just cause you couldn’t come to that party,
though I won’t deny seeing you then would have been mighty nice.”
To which the woman responds with an extraordinary howl,
“Don’t you dare try that move,
I hear about what you’ve been up to.
It’d be best to use less trickery
so I don’t keep feeling like such a fool.”
With disbelief, the gentleman replies,
“I wonder why you act so funny
but your words show me you misread
why I have to go run and hide.
I guess you don’t, no, you don’t know much about me.”
The woman can’t help but laugh with a bit of surprise,
“Honey, hasn’t there been enough time spent
reflecting on our likenesses?” Even as he nods his head,
with pity she says, “Don’t talk to me
like I’m a fool who shouldn’t walk the line.”
When the gentleman pauses, his eyes widen
and jaw drops so he can express,
“This only proves what wasn’t meant to be.
Damn, now I see what woes may come
in more forms ’an one by over thinking compatibility.”
Hidden behind her hands, the woman gasps incredulously,
“I can’t believe I wasted time
helping you find comfort in being divine.
Oh, why does this happen
whenever I help minds of a new light?”
All of a sudden a car in the distance
screeches noisily to a halt
but the two continue bickering
as though nothing happened at all.
Before the gentleman opens his mouth,
he points to the smoky scene,
“Maybe that’s a sign you ought to consider
in saving some of that energy.
Yea, you may want to learn how to use that energy.”
This makes the woman cringe and reply abruptly,
“You take and take but stand without
any respect for my universal love.
So silly, oh, so silly to think
you’d be there in my time of need.”
Stomping her heel against the ground
making cement seem quite hollow,
she advised him, “Send me no more temptations
to things you know I like to doing.
Time enjoyed was heaven sent, was it ’cause I’m such fool?”
The woman repeated, “I said the time enjoyed was heaven sent,”
then the two said in unison,
“And I’ve met the self I’ve suppressed for so long.
Maybe you’re the reason why
it’s easy for it to be hidden and found.”
Perhaps lust is too strong
to use when referring to
the concept of and ability to
dream but does the determination
to interpret overshadow interactions with
the present self and surroundings?
I woke up this morning feeling
I dreamt something intriguing,
about running, but couldn’t
remember much more than
seeing my legs stomp
on the pavement.
When I returned
from the bathroom
and adjusted my body
beneath the blanket, I was
filled with angst and disappointment
because I could not remember the context
of the dream or the pace of my mind
during that scene. Do we look to
our dreams for guidance or are
we meant to use them as a
monitor of our deepest most
vicious insecurities that we so
easily conceal in the public eye?
Upon ending that sentence, my mind
drifted to the word theologian. I recall the
ability to say the word correctly when
I attended Catholic school during
my elementary years but now
I have removed myself so far from
any notion of adopting a philosophy with
a fictionalized, criticized, or alleged sufferer
of many a sacrifice. As a consequence,
I struggle to understand the basic
function of vowels in elocution.
Has my silence affected my speech? Have
I no need to hone this sense with those in close proximity?
Betwixt myriads of contexts in which
one can find the mind floating as
though nebulous clouds bound
along the perimeter with
structures complexly obscene
is precisely where the desire to
solicit a marking, an indication of a
progression from one’s former self to the
experience of a self that one creates
with the guidance of an alternative
authority, resides. In gauging
one’s oral progress, it
seems the desire to verbally
use words iterates many difficulties
of dream recollection.
As I transcribe the words
of a person sitting on my right at the
outdoor area of Common Market,
I find the content of his speech
rather superfluous for his companion.
I realize in my desire to capture
distinct surrounding affects,
I need not rely on conversations
of others in order to animate
the mind. Many would likely
avoid wasteful contemplation of
those in close proximity since there
are many who bask in bromidic cordialities
that impede understanding the depths of
consciousness with which we crave
acquaintance. I hate ending a
sentence with a preposition
but the help of this grammatical
crutch can be extremely advantageous.
It’s been over a month
since I arrived in Charlotte
and I am learning my patience with
verbalization, despite the veil
of interest that can be used
to extract what it means
to be, is dwindling.
However, I still crave
listening to stories that
cultivate one’s mind during
today’s economic and political
chaos of American and global
societies. Then again, with
coverage of frivolously
political dras, and
it seems easy to fall into
ignorance of positive impacts
on marginalized and disturbed communities,
which ones who live in bounteous bliss can incite.
As I end my second glass of Merlot,
I find my mind traveling further
from reality while male and
female voices around me
seem progressively foreign.
Perhaps the speakers’ blaring
99 Luftballons alters a comprehension
of brogue more so than Bordeaux merriment.
I also arrive at the point of intoxication
where the validation of inquiring for a
cigarette is inevitable and I cannot
avoid laughing at my laudable
expenses, which contradict
saving money to address
the financial obligations
accrued during unique
But what of bodies
of legislative, judiciary
and executive exploits, how
are college graduates expected
to fulfill repayment standards
when governing bodies, both
domestic and abroad, seem
incapable of setting
a positive example?
This thought bubbles
after taking heed to the
perspective of a commentary
created by an insightful minority
as does the influence of social
networking on conversations
enjoyed when in public.
How can online sensations
serve as points of elaboration
for those in close company while
jointly transforming into pivots of babble?
First, with how much wine should I fill another glass?
I can’t help but feel slightly guilty for hoarding numerous business cards, newspapers, books (which were the result of sneaking past a gate and shuffling through a large pile of reading material on the side of a building near Bar 13), gallery and museum pamphlets, postcards, opened and unopened mail, photocopies of textbook chapters cited for CELTA course assignments, and so on. Even though I’ve amassed a large number of printed materials after living in Harlem and Bushwick, thanks to two indescribably generous friends, I explored only a small fraction of Manhattan and Brooklyn’s facets, which guests and residents experience on a daily basis. I anticipated spending more time writing but the pace of the city makes one feel like time and money can disappear at the same speed that a marble drops into a body of water.