Tuesday, August 08, 2006
When One Must, One Can
Every writer called upon to read in front of an audience has rituals for warding off nerves. Usually this involves wearing certain clothes, bringing good luck charms, and drinking enough alcohol to tranquilize a small elephant. Writers by nature are not performers (why become a writer if you can act?) and fear crowds. When the poet Charles Bukowski had to get in front of a live audience, particularly an academic one, he'd say, "I see a lot of typers in this room, but no writers. There's only one poet in town and that's me." Nothing like a little diplomacy to get the evening rolling. Anne Sexton blew kisses to the crowd (read, a few vodka tonics prior to performance and many after) and Raymond Carver spoke so inaudibly at times that the audience could hear nothing. He was so beloved, however, nobody had the heart to tell him to speak up.
My first reading was on top of a bar called Cool Beans. It was a windy night, and the microphone kept hitting me in the face. I made the mistake of being very sober doing the performance and reading a story that wasn't all that great, one of my first published stories, "What to Eat, What to Wear." It was about a ballet dancer who was dating someone she didn't like and pining over someone who had left her. It was, I'm afraid, the best thing I had. These were the years that "In Living Color" played on television and one of the characters would say about any experience, no matter how trivial, wrote a song about it, want to hear it, here it goes and launch into an impromptu blues song. I kept this in mind as I read and somehow everything became funny, the clink of glasses in the crowd, the song of the coffee grinder periodically firing up, the train going through town, drowning me out for a couple of minutes. I finished, the wind picked up, the microphone hit me one last time in the face. Someone in the crowd sent me a drink. I lifted it up in salute and promptly spilled it all over myself. I was a typer all right, but I was getting there.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The female is skilled at betrayal and torture and damnation. Never envy a man his lady. Behind it all lays a living hell. " Charles Bukowski
1 part vodka
1 splash of vermouth
garnish with olives stuffed with jalepeno peppers
Benedictions and Maledictions
In answer to Trouble Man's question from yesterday -- What are your guilty pleasures?
I have many pleasures that could be described as guilty, although I find that I don't feel guilty all that much. I watch certain television shows over and over. (Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under) Right now, it's Entourage. I'm totally enthralled by the agent, Ari (Hug it out, bitch!), his assistant Lloyd, and Kevin Dillon (Matt Dillon's brother) playing Johnny Chase, Aka Johnny Drama. I think it's safe to say that champagne also serves as a guilty pleasure.