Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WHAT'S COMIN' ATCHA.



[1]

Oh, great. The Extroverts are coming. “The Extroverts are coming.” They brought their friends, too: some Extra-verts. Now you’ll have to perform the entire suite of difficult handshakes: the clap, the hug, and the snap. With everyone! Here come the two Joes: Slappy Joe and Sloppy Joe. “Where’s Joe?” someone says. “I dunno,” says Slappy Joe. “You seen him?” says Slappy Joe. “Nah,” says Sloppy Joe. “I ain’t seen him.” It starts to rain, a sloppy rain. It starts to wind, a slappy wind. We go to the basement, to the Coffers, but discover, much to our chagrin, all the Coughers have been locked in the Coffers. It’s a Coffers fulla Coughers. Boy, are they relieved to see us. A clock that can’t tell time … has a tick disorder.

[2]

A bear chases a Russian man up a tree. “Nyet!” shouts the man, but the bear knows the difference between “Nyet!” and a Kalashnikov. “Nyet!” shouts the Russian as the bear climbs the tree. Perchance the bear shall turn on you someday, which is a good reason to avoid Russia, altogether. If you had to choose between the clippiz (sic) and the tweeziz (sic) which would you choose? One will buzz while the other will pluck. When your choices are getting (a) buzzed or (b) plucked—I suppose your choices ain’t half bad. This isn’t what isn’t coming toward you, and by that I mean the bus, the bus isn’t coming toward you, ever, despite the GPS readout, despite the GPS “arriving” readout, but that’s not what this is all about, no, this isn’t what isn’t coming atcha. The mockingbird swoops, of course, but the raptor is comin’ atcha, too. The gung-ho osprey swoops. It is so gung-ho, this osprey, it has maximum osprey de corps.

[3]

Your order arrives. An optimistic helping of waffle with blueberry “compote” on a big round plate: it arrives. “Compote,” you think. “Isn’t that a pile of junk in the corner of the garden?” Huh. Now it’s on your waffle. You sit down and decide to self-radicalize. The time has come. Every other attempt at self-radicalization (blueberry compote, etc.) hasn’t yielded much in the way of radical behavior. You notice a box of inflammatory literature on the front stoop, with a sign that reads, “Free Radical.” So long as you’re moving forward, the back of your head is—comin’ atcha! Scams and plausible deceptions may appear, but a few good words persevere. If you’re still reading this—and I hope you are—it means that I love you. So? … Make me an offer.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

THE IDEA OF A PUBLIC OFFICE HOURS.

The famous “Fake Attack” @ Drink & Walk, circa 2006.


In the late 90s and early oughts, my good friend MarkWallace and I co-hosted a “public alighting” that we termed “Office Hours.” We established ourselves at the Post Pub dive bar in D.C., on an appointed night (memory tells me Wednesday), at an appointed time (8:00 p.m.), and people knew where they could join us for conversation and merriment, every week at the very same moments. Mark and I both adjuncted in those days; our students frequented Office Hours to speak about their classwork. The gathering, in addition, featured a writing theme, and many colleagues from the DC Poetry crowd joined us; poetry students from the George Mason MFA Program joined us; the friends of these many good people joined the gathering as well. Some nights, Mark and I might have ministered to a single visitor, when other nights attendance swelled beyond fifteen or twenty people. Mark came up with the idea for the gathering, and if memory serves me properly, he had devised Office Hours in the image of another similar gathering that he had learned of in his travels. The Russian Poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (1946-2012) once told Mark to meet him at his office hours, but Mark couldn’t find him on campus. A friend later told Mark that by office hours, the poet meant a bar he frequented.

When Mark left Washington, D.C. for California, my good friend Rod Smith and I sought to replace Office Hours with an updated happy hours for students and writers. We hunted around town for a replacement location, and as the “hunting-around-town” often involved several watering holes on a given evening, we decided that we enjoyed the multi-site aspect of this field research, and in the end, conceived of a two-site happy hours. Dubbed “Drink & Walk”, the gathering commenced at a pub in Adams Morgan, on Thursdays, around 6:00 p.m., and at 7:45, we listed out into the evening and walked to the Red Room Bar at the Black Cat, where Drink & Walk continued until 10:00. People knew they could meet us at Angles, the first pub, or along the walk, or at the Black Cat, or they could participate in all three phases. Students attended, friends attended, visiting writers attended, Everywhere Man attended, and Everywhere Moped sat nearby, chained to a parking meter and tormented by street toughs. Whatever happened to Everywhere Pomeranian, I wonder, locked up in that ATM machine at the falafel place? Some nights, we attracted a fine crowd of six to eight people but some nights were all-out parties of forty or more. Together with third co-host, Mel Nichols, I created a blog of the same name, which lives on in a server someplace on earth. Drink & Walk persevered for about two years until a variety of circumstances (new jobs, etc.) forced changes in routines.


The packed bar at The Black Squirrel for StoutParty.
The DC Poetry crowd inspired and attended the event.


These public gatherings, moreover, served to create (1) buzz (2) community (3) offshoot events such as house (and apartment) parties; (4) enduring friendships (5) extreme storytelling where none existed before (6) energy for the various poetry reading series about town (7) happenstance (8) recipe sharing (9) wine woogie; and (10) there is no 10. I can’t emphasize enough the need for a gathering, as such, to be dependable, week-in, week-out. The weather might’ve been crappy; the co-host might’ve been ill; there might’ve been a keen event someplace else—but Office Hours and Drink & Walk always had to go through! We also brought with us: commerce. Some locales treated us better than others, but in the end, we brought regular business where nobody else brought regular business. The current version of DC Poetry Happy Hours, a legend in its own right, takes place at our partner pub, The Black Squirrel, where a number of us have hosted readings, given readings and participated in special events, such as DuoExchange and StoutParty. We can be found there every Thursday night, starting around 8:00 p.m., but owing to The Idea of a Public Office Hours, as well as A Need for a Public Office Hours, I have a special announcement to make:

I shall be holding my Spring 2014 Public Office Hours—for the remainder of the winter and through the middle of May—at The Black Squirrel, upstairs, at the bar, from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. You will find me there every week, on Monday evenings, at those times. Come along if you’d like to discuss coursework or craft stout or poetry or fiction or Swansea City Football Club or jazz or jump or anything else. I shall be very grateful for your company.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

RING OF FIRE.

video


Cast:
Dan Gutstein as Himself

Alternate Title:
"Ring of Fiiiiiire"
(Shot on location at the Black Squirrel, D.C.)

Running Time:
25 Seconds

Parents Are Strongly Cautioned:
Contains one (tiny) "F-Bomb"

Advance Praise:
"After Hours as never before!" --Cinema Swill
"Gutstein's deft handling delights!" --Film Flask
"Five pint glasses! Must see!" --Movie Mug

Thanks to:
Amy
Morgan
Stout beer
Porter beer
Stout beer

Thursday, February 6, 2014

ANON vs. ANON.

Comment Boxes have never been the same.


When Allen Ginsberg wrote “Jaweh and Allah Battle” he hadn’t surfed or slalomed the Internet, never mind the Comment Box at the Blog. In his poem, each deity does battle—“Jaweh with atom bomb // Allah cuts the throat of infidels”—according to his resources, but neither has anything on Anon vs. Anon in Comment Box. Nope, nope-a-dope.

There is no amity, only enmity. It is The Anonymityville Horror. For inspiration, Anon reads Anonymaus II while Anon reads The Secret Life of Walter Anonymitty. They type simultaneously. Briefly, they are the same person, briefly they wear the same knickers. They both listen to Modest Anonymouse. It is not anime; it is anonyme.

Anon with ripe riposte vs. Anon tortures the forward outlook of dual citizen. Anon with rhetorical stab through arras vs. Anon impeaches the wide eyes of youthful innocence. Anon with lubricated word hoard vs. Anon hammies the salubrious halloo. Anon with one cheek salute vs. Anon gooses the plump buttix (sic) of inertia.

Friends of Anon confront him about his problem, and demand that he seek help. Across town, the same happens to Anon. They both wind up at Anonymous Anonymous, a support group where Anonymous can share about Anonymity, without revealing identities. At the Facebook page, Anon leaves incendiary comments, as does Anon.

The weather service forecasts an ice storm, then dismisses an ice storm. The storm arrives and slicks the inclines and the declines and the level, it brittles the power lines, which yearn to break, and do. Anon cannot type word verification and Anon cannot type word captcha and Anon cannot type “fiery provocation” and Anon cannot type “arse weed.”

Anon dreams of being the definitive Anonymous, the Eponymous Anonymous, as does Anon. In the end, though, they are “samey.” They are Anonymous Synonymous, Anon and Anon. The nuances of their ire do not amount. No. What they have is: the next Blog Post and the next Comment Box, in which, they will encounter each other . . . anon.