Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tango and Creme Brulee

Last night I could have written the most beautiful things about my very cool experience, but today I have drifted back into the mundane and am losing the feel of the magic. I'll describe it, though, as best as I can because I want to remember it - but - well, I lost something already.

There's this place called The Basement in downtown Long Beach - and if you don't know Long Beach, I can't help you. You need to live there to know it. I live on the outskirts, lived in Signal Hill for a minute, attended college in it, my cousins live in it and play in it and work in it, and I dated a guy who lived in it, and so I am allowed to know it but not belong to it. Long Beach is a culture unto itself. I could spend my life writing about Long Beach. I am fascinated. I love it. I walk carefully around the edges because when I let myself cross that border I don't want to leave.

Last night I dressed up in a black cocktail dress, wore my pearls and houndstooth coat, added extra mascara to my lashes, and headed to The Basement, my friend Kim in tow. It was a magical night - raining just enough so that the sidewalk looked gold from the streetlights. We found free parking - as if we needed proof that there was something special going on.

We headed down the stairs, gave our three dollars, "lbm" written in sharpie on the back of our hands, and met up with my cousin Alex and the folks he hangs with these days. We got the famous champagne in a can, complete with pink sippy straw, and lounged in the swankiest lounge in long beach (according to the website).

There's usually a poetry slam before the main event, though tonight there was a lack of participation, so it was limited to a 3 person open mic. I liked the idea of it more than the content of it - the first poet I don't remember at all. The second one was okay - indulgent. The third was ridiculously awful, a caricature of what bad beat poetry looks like today - with forced pauses in unnecessary places just to-be-a...poet, then talkingrealfast to - pause - switchit....uuuup? She did fake maniacal laughter at the end. I was not impressed. However, I was delighted by the whole damn experience, so it was okay. And honestly, I have heard many worse open mic nights.

Then, Derrick, the host of the evening started the real thing. It's called the Lightbulb Mouth Radio Hour - and it's an old fashioned variety show for radio - they podcast it - and it's just - quirky and eccentric and great. You feel a little bit like you are in a speakeasy - they encourage people dressing up, so they are in vests and hats and suits. They sang "on Broadway" but changed the lyrics so that it was "in Long Beach" - each radio hour they have 1 musician, 1 informationist, and 1 poet.

The musical guest was the band We Barbarians - thoroughly enjoyable. I was iffy (I'm always iffy) until the girl who was playing piano started doing background vocals. Then I bought in.

The informationalist was an Armenian guy who lived in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Interesting perspective.

The poet - though - my God, the poet - Brendan Constantine - was PHENOMENAL. He's bald, looked like gay Bruce Willis, and he twists his torso when he reads. After the reading, he was interviewed by Derrick - which I actually enjoyed even more than his poetry itself. He talked about poetry being a necessary tool for some people - an organizational system for them to figure out the world.

After that, the show was over.

I'll try to post more later - I've been writing this off and on all day and can't focus anymore.


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