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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Initiation in the Freak Parade

I had my first reading of my writing career last night. I was invited by the good people at Loose Change to join them for part of a Wonderroot/Loose Change open mic mash-up, tangentially celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but really just celebrating being alive. It went late into the night. I'm really tired right now.

During my decade as a musician I went to a hell of a lot of open mic nights, and almost all of them were soul-sucking affairs in which everyone swam around the bar eating each other for that highly unlikely chance someone of any importance was there. Perhaps I went to far too many open mics in the insanely competitive city of music, Nashville, but I was entirely unprepared for the bizarro love-fest that Wonderroot threw last night.

Hosted by Cameron ? (I actually never got his last name) in full-on Andy Kaufman mode, the event featured some forty+ poets, songwriters, electronic musicians, rappers, spoken word slam artists, novelists, and one ukulele player named Jesse, all packed into a 10x10 basement with a few folding chairs and cracked-out couches. At some point this guy and his buddies told us all to shout that we "lived for this shit" and we did and it was glorious. At another point a girl named Anna played two heartbreakingly beautiful songs with her back turned to us, stopping at least three times per song to moan "Oh God" into the microphone in horrifed dejection, as if the very act of singing these songs was some form of Draconian torture. It was awesome.

I read about 1/108th of my novel-in-progress at around 12:43am, after spending four hours with all these strangers who now seemed really very familiar to me, when I had to work only six hours later, in my polo shirt and flip flops, having not got the memo about the dress-code and the suspenders and the short skirts and the horn-rimmed glasses. I read as best I could but knew I was rushing the words that I'd spent so much time tearing out of me. I knew I was strangling them with my stage fright and my blurry eyes and my paranoia of reading over-long and boring everyone. But when it was done and I wandered away to take my seat, the applause was just as genuine as it had been for everyone else, and I realized I was among brothers. We all had ugly facial scars and knock knees and it was all good that I had on a damn polo. In a room full of freaks, it's fine to not fit in. It's impossible. To fit in, I mean.


Mister Booze said...