Just who the heck are you - after pomade?
Everybody knows. There is a gap between what people see of us - and what goes on inside. "Ebony Makes The Man" takes a peek at what's on both sides.
I'm not asking you to go to church, to go to class, to stop smoking, or to change your apparel.
Two women are talking, one young, one old, when the elderly woman has something to say regarding her deceased husband.
"If he weren't already dead—I'd've killed him by now." She gives the young woman a hard look. "You think I'm kidding?"
They stare at each other for a moment, in silence, when suddenly the elderly woman, peering over the top of her glasses, abruptly laughs. The young woman responds uneasily, shifting her stance. Sensing the discomfort, the older woman waves her arm in the air, vigorously, as if to wipe away any residual seriousness.
"Ahhhh…no, no," she exclaims, dismissing once and for all what's been said.
See… that's Martha. And she's checking your responses. Young or old, you'd better be on your toes when this woman comes your way.
Martha is the Falcon Arts Community apartments matriarch, and residents here understand just whom they are dealing with, if they know what's good for them. The title of matriarch is unofficial: she's not the building owner, there's no sign on her door, but there's no other word for it. In a three-story building with 47 apartments and 25 art spaces, Martha keeps tabs on thing, see. She knows what's going on, even if she appears exasperated to know, even if the knowledge came without her asking, even if she'd rather not know, Martha knows. And on those occasions when she doesn't have a clue, the pitch of her voice rises defensively, as if you expected her to know. Which, likely, you did.
Martha sports a keen shock of red hair that is as bold as the woman beneath it. Her speech is direct and to the point, and it shows, her face flushing, when she holds her tongue, which is not for long or often. Eyeballing an interlocutor, she takes your measure, watching for your acceptance or rejection of what she puts forth. Though not exactly intimidating, the woman is formidable: when she means business, she means business. Which is not to say that the Falcon Arts matriarch is unfriendly. Quite the opposite. Her talkativeness, her neighborly friendliness, her interest, is central to Martha's effective delivery, her peculiar charm.
While she may be blunt, the thing is, Martha cares.
RUNNING UP THE TAB
Killingsworth and Albina is an intersection infamous a few years back for gang banging and drug crime. It has since adopted a more elevated personality, something quite like an alcoholic nervously off the sauce yet not far from the nearest bar. It's at this intersection that you'll find the Falcon (as it is affectionately known to tenants), a block-long mustard-colored building with the kind of construction reminiscent of gulag administration, stoic and gloomily outward looking, with sad-eyed window frames. But that's only the outside. Inside are quaint and charming apartments with slanting wood floors, tall window casements, elegantly high ceilings, tiled kitchen sinks, baseboards that don't always meet the floor, and no two apartments boasting the same floor plan. Inside are patterned red, green, and gold carpet-runners, which run along hallways and up three flights of stairs. Inside are artists, musicians, and writers, doing their thing. And rounding out the picture are the remaining tenants: a few random professionals, students, working stiffs, a half dozen old timers, and the occasional eccentric.
The surrounding neighborhood is urban—though hardly urbane, resembling more old school Brooklyn than cosmopolitan Manhattan—with bus stops that run east and west, north and south, intersecting at Killingsworth and Albina. The intersection sponsors a variety of habitué, some of whom wait in abject resignation, quietly restless, while others, less subdued, make a point of talking loud and conspicuously, littering the sidewalk with their fast food trash, scattering crushed white bags and catsup-stained wax paper for the wind to toss end over end, like a drunken Bukowski poem, up and down the sidewalk.
In the parking lot of the corner convenience store—the In N Out Grocery—a street tough in a wifebeater and porkpie hat stands smoking a cigarillo for hours, jiveassing, like he's got business to conduct, though hours pass and none materializes. Sucka! A low-riding red Toyota truck, with four Latinos in the front seat, parallel parks, the truck bed filled with furniture, wicker chairs, and end tables. Vámonos, a mi casa! A homeless white woman trundles past, pushing a shopping cart, nearly soundless but for the slow grinding wheels on pavement grit, the cart piled above her head, brimming with tin cans and bulging black plastic bags. She grumbles. Whatevers.
On a typical day, these are the things Martha sees. As the Falcon Arts matriarch, a woman with a comprehensive worldview, a strategic window ledge, and a small corner of the world to preside over, Martha knows. She knows what's going on. And sometime last year, as she watched, the street fell off the wagon of clean living. The scene quickly got tougher and tougher, dirtier and dirtier, then completely soured. Killingworth and Albina, the dry drunk, crashed the gates, hitting the bar with cash in pocket, and doing so with a vengeance. Quickly running up the tab.
It begins months before with a contingent of teens at lunch hour. From the Falcon, they can be seen descending on the perimeter, like birds hailing from all directions to alight on a single tree. Only these birds saunter on two legs, and do so with the slow motion nonchalance of smokers to their den, their tree nothing other than the Falcon's sidewalk boundary, where the youth spend afternoons in congress, engaging in an hodgepodge of prurient activities.
Their congress is easily ignored, though difficult to overlook, at first; school kids wanting to smoke, mack on each other, and not be seen; a venerable tradition of cat and mouse with authority. But soon the street is attracting something more extreme. It's no longer just kids playing at grownup, it's grownups playing at fuckups, then it's real crime making the scene. And they're not playing at anything.
With greater and greater frequency, drug dealers cruise the Falcon's perimeter in their cars, stopping long enough to exchange words, cash, and folded plastic bags through the passenger window. They never get out. It's a street version of a desk job, business from your nubby-fabric chair. Gangs of four or five or six, never more, mostly men, stroll past throughout the day: the street contingent. In a series of quick gestures, tightly folded dollars and "product" are passed back and forth. It's the street version of a commercial handshake: money and drugs are hidden, tucked behind extended fingers and straight palms, held in place by a stylistically bent thumb. Magicians palming cards.
Inexplicably, as if a citywide bulletin had gone out regarding hassle-free seating on a laissez-faire avenue, itinerants join the lawlessness parade. In smaller parties of ones and twos, homeless people get skunked, drinking from paper bags in the very spots vacated early in the day by the crackheads and the kids, tossing bottle and bag into the shrubs and onto the curb. Killingsworth and Albina are now nearly non-stop with all manner of illicit activity. Cops cars become an increasingly frequent sight and sound, adding to the diversity of visitors in the social soup, until the flashing of the blues and the growling throttle of white cop cruisers racing to the scene becomes more regular than sunrise and sunset.
A No Trespassing sign goes up in the Falcon's southern alcove.
The sentiment feels both archly defiant and fearfully desperate. The effect is nil. As a for-instance, one day, two middle-aged and well-dressed crackheads share a pipe while standing directly in front of the sign. Addressing tenants who nudge passed them to get the apartment door, the crackheads speak cordially to the tenants. Howya doin'? Wha' sup? Evenin'. And so on. Palming the pipe is their sole concession to guilt. The everydayness of it, along with the tenants' polite surrender, says everything. The whole scene is resigned, sordid, and dismal. By any measure, it seems that Killingsworth and Albina, the drunk, has captured the barstool and will be closing the joint, night after night. But then something happens, something out of the blue.
It went down like this.
One afternoon, just before the lunch hour, Martha appears, a blaze of red hair beneath the sun's glare. She steps out from the Falcon's side door and onto the sidewalk. Although she doesn't look entirely comfortable with the role—she is glancing this way and that, pacing the sidewalk, eventually standing and waiting at the corner, arms stiffly crossed—Martha is in fact taking a stand.
Okay, see, just imagine for a second what this really means. We're talking about a solitary woman in her seventies, deciding to face down whatever serious characters the street has to offer, starting with the young toughs. Martha, of course, does get into things, people would say, that's what she does. She has been spotted standing in the street directing the apartment building's business, or shuttling the across-the-hall neighbor who, though adroit with engine repair, needs help getting to and from his doctor appointments. In the right season, you can catch Martha returning from her patch in the Falcon's garden, dispensing unsolicited advice on growing plants (when to start tomatoes, how much to water), or dumping spleen on the numbskull who has left the sunflower stalks to collapse under their own weight. Coming and going from the south entrance, Martha can often be found at the sidewalk chatting up the gay boys from the first floor about the spotty mail delivery by the substitute mail-carrier, the guys laughing, smoking cigarettes, and demonstrably agreeing with her pronouncements on the carrier, who, Martha says, needs to hang up the phone and deliver the fucking mail, 'cause otherwise she gonna give 'em a piece of her mind! But this High Noon standoff that she is instigating, this challenge facing the Falcon matriarch, this is of a different order. Yet, for Martha, right is right.
THE LUNCH HOUR
And here comes round one: the lunch hour. And there is Martha, waiting. Red hair beneath the yellow sun, arms crossed. And here comes the gangs and the groups and the free-agents, on schedule, gravitating toward the Falcon, wearing their tough-guy and dirty-girl faces. Yet, today is different for them, today they pull up short, collectively, their swagger slowing. One by one, they see Martha approaching, stepping off the sidewalk and into the street, straight backed, a stern expression, that cropped red hair blazing in the sun, and you can sense their confusion, you can sense the wheels turning in their heads. And, moreover, you can almost hear their thoughts, the thoughts of these street toughs, and it's almost funny. They are calculating, with sidelong glances at their peers and back to Martha, just what they would be willing to say to their own mother.
Martha is sympathetic to the plight of the down and out, she understands how lives can get beyond our control, can grow dark. But what are you going to do? And, more immediately, what is she going to do now? Well, Martha does what she always does: talks to people. And she talks to this crowd the same way she would talk to anybody.
"I'm not asking you to go to church, to go to class, to stop smoking, or to change your apparel. Just to move along, please. And don't pee in the doorway. You wouldn't pee on your mother's porch, would you?"
And they move along, all of them, each and every one. And Martha calls after them: "Thank you."
ON THE CAT WALK
In the early evening, Martha comes round the bend in the hallway, walking her cats, a loyal crew of adopted felines, rescued from abject circumstances, some caught feral, others liberated from neglected homes. Memphis and Handsome Jack are always in front, scouts at the vanguard, accompanying Martha at the onset, then striking out on their own, a loose prowling team. The other cats prefer to remain inside the apartment. Izzy occasionally peeks out the door and around the corner to see what's what, only to scoot back inside at the slightest commotion. As Martha ambles along, heading to the hallway's end, she is often seen sporting a cut-glass tumbler. Sometimes she gets only halfway down the hall and, sliding down the wall, takes a seat on the floor, exhausted at the end of the day, sipping that drink.
If you happen to be in the hall, Memphis will find you first. Memphis greets with a grand gesture, dropping to the floor and rolling onto her back, exposing her belly, begging for attention. Handsome Jack, an entirely black cat with a good physique and strikingly bright yellow eyes, is a close second with his own ploy, a strong rub at your shin, playing a familiar and friendly cat game of who-do-you-love.
Martha knows this performance, as well as the others they smoothly deploy. She comments dryly on their various stratagems, a wry voiceover on the cat competition, like a judge raising scorecards for each arabesque.
How is she such a good judge of the cat dance? "Years of practice," Martha informs you. That's the advantage of age. Years of practice.
If you're a rock n roller," exclaimed Todd, "why would you wanna look like you just rolled out of Guitar Center?"
Todd and I approach a doorway. It's an inconspicuous entrance, so unremarkable that first-time guests would never suspect what awaits on the other side. Todd swings open the door and we step into this weird hallway. And it's as if we stepped into an amusement park fun house, there's no better description for it. Only it's not a fun house; it's a hallway.
Brilliant orange from floor to ceiling and shinning brightly, like a beach ball in the sun, this room is a disruption to a person's good sense. The orange alone will make your head spin, but beyond just the color scheme, the hallway is so loopy that it does not even bother to follow a straight line. Instead, after just a few paces, it cuts sharply to the right, before it then rights itself again, entirely without logic.
I was just being like, Go for it! Go for it! Go for it!
Glaring white light reflects off the walls and ceiling, the light blazing overhead from naked fluorescent tubes, adding to the overall sheen. Todd ambles along, part of his everyday, but I'm laughing at the razzle-dazzle. Although clearly an imaginative fellow, there is a dose of stoicism that runs down the center of Todd's otherwise animated self. And he's clearly over the hallway, if it ever did make an impact on him. Todd does give me a momentary glance, however, as I continued to snicker. But his face is without reaction, his bright blue eyes shinning the same expression, framed by blonde hair curling out from his workman's wool cap, his pace steady.
Our destination is near, but first: one more amusement. We step into vestibule whose walls are green chalkboard, upon which all kinds of marks and notes are scribbled in white chalk. For instance: "8 is the new 15. Therefore the motion is a simple harmonic with: W= √g/L √1+ m/M. Studio X, use door to the left ?. " My neck is craning this way and that, as I'm trying to read all the notes, when, at last, we pass through one more set of doors, and Todd and I enter a workshop, a space cohabited by seven idiosyncratic woodworkers and their businesses.
This is the home Todd's company: Roller Sound.
From the bizarro preamble at the entrance, you could wonder what goes on in this joint. It's a collective space where metal and woodworking tools, along with trade-crafts and ideas, are shared between businesses who work alongside and support each other. These are small businesses and that's the deal.
All the same, Todd Corbett is not only the owner of Roller Sound, he is its one and only designer, craftsman, and laborer. The guy is everything. Working alone, Todd hand-makes completely original, elegant, colorful, and fun speaker cabinets for electric bass and guitar players.
Todd is giving me a workshop tour. I find it oddly entertaining to be surrounded by so many industrial objects: giant table saws and large aluminum dust vents and oversized, dusty belt sanders, as well as other things that I can't immediately identify. The workshop itself is busy and animated; woodworkers are hard-at projects in various parts of the room. The tour ends up with the two of us in the northwest corner—Roller Sound's corner—where speaker cabinets are stacked, scattered, and partially assembled. Many of the cabinets are only shapely wood shells at this stage of manufacturing, still in the process of being built. But once I've seen a completed cab, with metal grills in art deco shapes, exposed speakers peering through the grill, stylish color, and curvaceous lines, it's obvious that these speaker cabinets are as madly elegant as the shop entrance is vibrantly wild. There's no mistaking a Roller.
Just as there is no mistaking their maker.
An hour later, having parked us outside at a table underneath a sun umbrella, surrounded by small clusters of chatting couples, Todd and I are drinking Jameson's at The Standard. It's "$4.00 Thursday," so, what the heck. But it's also only mid-afternoon, and I'm gonna regret this somewhere around 6:00. Todd professes a counter claim. While I'll be sleeping it off later, Todd will be at the shop working it off. He puts the blame on his Scottish ancestry.
Curiously, Roller is a family name, Todd tells me, but it's not Scottish. The name comes from his maternal grandmother, who was, in fact, a Scott. Back in the day, she made a ship passage, along with her family, from Scotland to America. During passage, her parents died. Arriving alone in the New World, she was adopted by an American family. That family's name was Roller. Todd named his business in honor of her, an important figure in his life.
"She hated my tattoos," he laughs. "But she was legally blind. So, go figure."
"I worked in radio for years and years and years," says Todd. "Which is probably where a lot of my ear got developed. I was actually lucky. I got to work with a very, very smart engineer, someone who had major years on 'em… This guy—Rob Taylor."
Todd's radio tenure was spent working for a company that produced syndicated radio programs. Programs that included an interview show for Snoop Dog. Snoop, incidentally, was in the habit of no-showing for his interviews.
"Yeah, Dick, don't be a dick," is all Todd had to say on the subject.
After having started out copying CDs, over time, Todd worked his way into his own studio, where he produced and engineered shows. The education and experience, along with years as a musician, added up to confidence in his own expertise.
"It's only later in life have I learned to respect my own talents. And recognize that I do know something."
GO FOR IT! GO FOR IT! GO FOR IT!
Our whiskey glasses are starting to run dry. And Todd, typically a calm presence, someone who looks you in the eye when talking, a fellow with a solid, bulldog stance, he is now gesticulating with his hands, animated, passionate, recalling the birth of Roller Sound.
"I rode a wave of being excited a lot," he says, speaking of the early days of the business. Days in which he was frequently amped up on excitement and adrenaline. Enthusiasm, Todd informs me, is part of his business strategy.
"So not worrying about consequences," he says. "To just feel good. And throw your hands up and go, 'Fuck it. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna make it happen.' I crammed in as much shit as I could. Every day, I'd be on the computer, reading, reading. I got this program on how to design the speakers, and I taught it to myself. I was just being like: 'Go for it! Go for it! Go for it!'"
To start a business, it seems you have to be naive, courageous, or just plain crazy. Or all three. These days, Roller Sound is up and running, however tough and bumpy the road, and what remains of its beginnings is Todd's serious dedication to work and to his imagination. And, perhaps, to the periodic whiskey.
Todd gets up to order a second round.
"Want one, too?"
So, here's the kicker. Roller Sound also builds custom cabinets, to order. For these custom cabinets, Todd works closely with the player on nailing down the player's sound. What style do they play? Who do they listen to? What are they aiming for? And so on. From this exchange, Todd conjures the technical data, which is matched to the player. Everyone must be in agreement about the sound before wood meets the saw. That way, when the technical data translates into the building of a speaker cabinet, the cabinet that comes out the other end will be smartly married to the player. As a fellow musician, Todd knows what it is like hit the sweet spot with your sound.
And that's his goal.
But there's more. Far from being high priced, or a shop for snobs, Roller Sound aims to build its one of a kind line of cabinets for everyone. Todd is happy to point out that the cost of a custom Roller is in the same ballpark as a decent cabinet that just fell off the conveyor belt. It seems a bit altruistic for a business. I mean, money is money, right? But Todd's has another way of looking at it. A way that is, I admit, of all things, surprisingly practical. Though still uncommon.
"It's insurance, really," he says.
Todd explains it like this.
Once a musician has gone home with a custom Roller, no one, neither buyer nor seller, should have any reason for recall or return. That's because Todd isn't in the business of selling speaker cabinets, per se. Not exactly. Instead, Todd thinks of Roller Sound as selling some happiness.
"If someone's happy, I'm happy," Todd says. "I really like giving people something that they wanted. It's that feeling of walkin' away sayin': 'You own this now. You can own this the rest of your life, if you want to.'"
Todd is a matchmaker, arranging a long-term relationship with a thing of beauty.
IT'S BAD TO DO IT WRONG
Earlier, back at the shop, Todd had pointed out that most musicians are about personal style. Individuality is part of the reason people become musicians.
"But if you're a rock n roller," exclaimed Todd, "why would you wanna look like you just rolled out of Guitar Center?" The same goes for musicians of any music genre. "Shelling out $800 bucks for something you need, you know—it should match your style."
That sentiment appears everywhere around the workshop, a feeling apparently shared by the other businesses in the space. Upon a wall hangs a sign that reads: "It's Bad To Do It Wrong." Nearby, on the same wall, is a follow-up sign. That sign reads: "And More Importantly: Don't Bore The Shit Out Of People."
Objects find him, they fly into his hands and work shop, begging to be combined with something else....
James does not think like you and I do. He is genuinely creative. The kind of creativity that is muse to local artists. James wants to live in a universe where James Dean and Dr. Seuss are in the White House. A place where individuality, style, and the ability to make everything with your bare hands, are a way of life. The kind of guy with 4 nicknames, each one personifying unique aspects of his creativity. "Rich Handsome," "Bird," and "Fizz" are his aliases for making music, winning the dance contest, and sending the kickball out of the park. "Flip" is true James. Flip is his alter-ego in Seussland. Flip makes bicycle powered smoothie machines and 10ft. tall rocking chairs, to make his universe complete. The man is different. Art is James' native tongue. It is something that comes effortlessly to him. Make no mistake, James is the coolest person on the planet. So cool, that is his presence, you feel a little lost, like you are missing something. Like you forgot how fun it is to not give a shit what people think about you. But being cool is of no importance to the guy. He just is. He dresses the same way he did in high school. It's as if he had it all figured out before the rest of us. A man of true confidence.
James is the ultimate artistic survivor man. Objects find him, they fly into his hands and work shop, begging to be combined with something else just as foreign, only to be resurrected in the form of something you would find in Terry Gilliam movies. When our end of days inevitably comes, James is not the guy you want scavenging for food, but he will invent the object that takes your mind off the hunger. James will wander off and return with directions to the hot tub he built out of an old truck, car batteries, tyvek, and roller skates. While I would be scared to death, desperately looking for something to eat, James is elbows deep in post-apocalyptic Jacuzzi bliss. God bless him.
He threatened us with his credentials
We had a destination and no reason to stop before reaching it. Gas in the tank, water bottle rolling around the back seat, camera bag fully loaded, off we went, driving straight up Albina, passing Killingsworth, heading north, talkin' shit. Little did we know we wouldn't get far. Two blocks away, we crossed Simpson, passed the manicured lawns and upstanding-citizen architecture of the college campus, and were closing on Ainsworth when we spotted it. A 100% what-the-fuck object. We slowed for a better look.
Right at the intersection, parked on the sidewalk, was this oversized blob of random stuff, piled high and wide, ballooning in every direction yet somehow holding together, the entire thing heaped upon a single shopping cart, its wheels peeking out the bottom, nearly invisible beneath the obese farrago. It looked every bit an art installation, ready-made concept art for a modern art museum. I swear to god, the Whitey would pay good money for this. Well, not without the name-artist's signature—but I've seen worse. At least this felt authentic.
We had to stop. Free admission!
We parked and climbed out of the car. Something about the scene suggested caution, I'm not at all sure what. But we moved carefully toward the object, keeping some distance, neither of us saying a word, animals in the wild. A neighborhood man, lounging on a nearby porch, watched us. Although the object did not belong to him, the man tracked us with circumspection, all the while remaining slumped deep into his chair. Clearly, we looked foreign, or otherwise suspicious, though not immediately threatening. We were lions casing carrion. The man on the porch, a wildebeest standing in tall grass, ears at full attention, his body still, unmoving, while his eyes followed every detail of the big cat's movements.
We stopped on the sidewalk just south of the object. Our inspection revealed the mystery pile to be heavily populated by white, translucent one-gallon plastic jugs, as well as black and white plastic bags, filled to bursting with god knows what, all hanging off of the rotund sculpture like lights on an avant-guard chandelier. Somewhere near the top of the pile rested a lone nylon athletic bag, a red accent on a black and white foundation. Perfectly placed. Not since photos of the New York City workers' strike of the nineteen-seventies, when the city was broke and in chaos, and citizens had amassed their trash week after week on top of each other's, had I seen a garbage pile so large and weirdly artistic.
That's when Destiny pulled out her camera. And we sidled up.
As we drew close in, the vibe changed. The sense of the thing became not so much that of an abstract sculpture but something more organic. An armadillo-like creature came to mind. One with a bulbous shell, white plastic spikes, a thing having lost its way from some creepy fairytale fiction and onto the living streets.
And beside this creepy fiction was a man, its guardian, lying on the sidewalk. Jumping to his feet, the man was unwelcoming, agitated. And while he threatened us with his body, gesticulating madly, he threatened us more aggressively with his credentials.
"I'm the mayor!" he shouted, waving his arms. When we responded with silence, or at least without a quick and appropriately reply, he amended his statement. "The former mayor!" he said. "The Mayor of Portland."
"...And Vancouver," he added, with an inflection suggesting that being the mayor of Vancouver was evidence regarding his Portland status.
We asked about the cart. We really didn't have another reason to be there.
The Mayor informed us that the cart was a life support system. The plastic sacks contained titanium, which The Mayor used for breathing in adverse conditions. He did not provide details. The titanium likewise helped with the construction of several of the buildings at the very street corner. Furthermore, there were aliens and spies assailing earthlings via their cell phones. (Which, I admit, sounded eerily plausible, albeit the connection to the cart wasn't entirely clear.) But The Mayor was not soliciting our opinions on the subject. It was simply his report to the press corp.
He was not "doing interviews," he scolded. Though we hadn't asked him for one. But I guess that's what this had become.
Destiny had taken several pictures of The Mayor—which, apparently, can't be done without scheduling with City Hall.
At one point, he told Destiny he was going to shove the camera up her ass. Partly as a threat, partly to protect us from the alien radio signals the camera was receiving. Needless to say, although it was respect and curiosity that had drawn us to him, the whole situation was going south. The Mayor didn't like Destiny, for whom he reserved periodic, spastic curses. Suffice to say, he simply didn't appreciate our interest—or the unscheduled press conference.
So we left.
A few weeks later, we ran into Todd Corbett, and we shared this story with him.
"Oh, I know that guy," he said. "I've seen 'im up Albina, by the park. He's disappeared."
At that intersection where the Mayor used to park, Todd informed us, someone had left flowers.
TURN UP THE VOLUME AND HEAR LESTER GO!
(Yes, there's audio.)
Opposite Day stars Lester, an animated columnist. He might look primitive, but Lester keeps on eye on the human animal. Each month, Lester makes a report — about the funny business, the niceties, the hypocrisy.
There's something about driving that can make your day—or break it. Lester ventures out and discovers just what kind of driving day it's gonna be.
James Yeary explains what it might mean to be "drinking vinegar in the chalice of valor."
Colin Green and Destiny Lane interview James Yeary: poet, artist, actor, and performance artist. A funny and smart guy, James explains some of the whys and whatfors of the following poem.
Poem by James Yeary
-though its theoreticians useless (myself included)
corresponding to anthropic principle, and 2nd
to physics 1,000 and 1/1000th sloppy
Christ my brethren's memory of aluminum included:
streetsigns and glass in the roads are patron
matriarch, bizzare. Our calling card, index of fashion
collectors and though the street has its creditors
also it has medics and mediums, and a pithy
detachment whose is the only sorrow
with drive and whose torture is the only torture
that releases its prisoner with its blows
Flappin along the show are the only people
Who're their very own soul in technicolor
still on a spinning glass world shattered, alas...
Sometimes I can think only of water even
when the poison they offer sets in reeling vision
the world behind the world.
There is a lot of talk about Jesus, but
mercury in my neck rises and all I know for sure
is they lock the pearly gates behind me
and I'm drinking vinegar in the chalice of valor
When I left the school of law for the rioting
legion of voices for peace, I found an unlocked
dumpster, a garbage bag full of assembled
hamburgers and fries, dragged it all the way here
sandwiches falling by the wayside and like
the pied piper I led all you rats to the promised land.
All the urchins on clam beach are grateful.
You can see by these pearls in my mouth
and cops aren't come splashes when
I'm lighting this, it's a hell
of a lot easier to watch me cook on the beach
than rent me a hotel with bars in the windows
you see what I'm sayin?