Grand gesture of solid carbs

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 Dunkin sticker 2stand. 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.

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Funky Swag At Mrs. Fish

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.

img_soul-scratch-1

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.img_soul-scratch-2

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.

 

fool who shouldn’t walk the line

[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.house on Farmington

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?”
house and tree on Cass
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.”

finding a voice

“The way you wear your hat, the way you sip your tea, the memory of all that, no, they can’t take that away from me.”

As this song drifts in my mind, I can’t help but think about how to show an interest in the Charlotte culture when I have so many memories of the past floating in my mind’s eye. Everywhere I look, thoughts race through my brain and make no sense as I try to slow the stream. It’s like I’ve reverted to the days I scribbled notes of madness in the journal given to me by my brother as a gift a few years ago. I can’t help but smile and chuckle a little bit because avoiding the mess of contemplation no matter how hard I try to organize my thoughts is rarely a possibility. The pursuit of fulfilling employment has proven vital the organization of thoughts as I search for a space of my own where I can thrive in finding a voice in literary mumbo jumbo.

Twas the night before…too dated and season specific.
As I find myself sitting…too existential.
In all of my days, one never seemed so…I’m onto something.
Slow movement in the right direction never hurt a soul except for the impatient…closer.
Begin with a J and continue with the medicine of frivolous behavior…so I’m Mary Poppins?
Scribble some notes and be on your way, damned wrinkled thing of a brain!…am I summoning Dr. Seuss?
Make the impossible one of reality’s closest relatives…this requires an intoxicant or two.
Find peace in thy mind, twas there no better time to establish tranquility…no words.

After taking stabs at a few voices, I find the challenge awkward, redundant, silly and occasionally enlightening. A balance must be required when trying to rationalize diction, tone, speed and clarity in addition to making characters move through time and space. I wonder though, as I sit in a room with a partial view of the buildings of Charlotte and a rather intrusive view of a living space encased by pink windows, why does this difficulty seem most imperative to resolve during moments of uncertainty, restlessness and debauchery?

[written in February 2012]

oh, Gates

What is the feeling one gets
when one feels pressure to do
something in order to achieve
a goal or task, which may have
been acquired after meeting an
individual capable of enhancing
stimulation of the conscious state?
And what is the expression one uses
when one needs to accomplish something
of a strange sort but resources available
somehow obscure one’s comprehension of the
strangeness of that something? While
I haven’t listened to the song yet,
Gates, thank you for gracefully
capturing this debacle in
A Vague Ambition.

[this was recovered from January 2011
but the reference to A Vague Ambition
lyrics was not made until 2013]

southern something

The couple behind me, eating
in the Atlanta airport, were
discussing enthusiastically
their strong distaste for
current occupations and
the mother expresses rather
fervently a situation in
which a manager approached
her about something that she
(the mother) needed to address.
Before this conversation took
place, the mother scolded
the young child in attendance
for demonstrating an inappropriate
amount of carelessness before
arriving at the table while
there in the line to exit
the plane. The child remained
quiet throughout the adult
conversation of the workplace
and extraordinary frustration with
employers but I didn’t notice
the age of the little one until
I turned casually to find my
waitress and to my surprise,
she was barely ten years old.

As the parents carried on, the
next interruption from the
child came about what was
being referred to when
the waitress asks about
a drink in the rocks to
which the father explained
affectionately using the glass
of water in front of him as
an example of what it means
to serve a drink on the rocks.
The young one then asked about cutlery
that was lain on the tables; the
knife was the only plastic piece
on the table top. When I heard
this, I immediately thought,
Well, someone can most certainly
stab someone with a fork, in response
to the argument posed by the father
regarding federal regulations on
what can be carried on a plane.
To my pleasant surprise, the
young one rebutted with a
similar question but more
in a way that made one feel
ridiculous for not considering
such a hypothetical situation.

I couldn’t help but smile
and notice my ears perk up
when the mother began speaking
of how well the waitress had
been doing her job based on
the waitress’s affectionate
diction and agreeable service.
The waitress was a splendid
breath of fresh air but at
the same time, I couldn’t
help but feel like this
was my initial immersion
in Southern hospitality.
Oh, she did have a special
something about her though
(the waitress) in the way she
makes one feel so very welcome
in a very foreign environment.
I believe her name is something like
Tekneshia and her spirit is meant to be celebrated
after hearing the way she used her diaphragm for a brief melodic moment.