Friday, December 29, 2006

Yep, it was great

The Patti Smith Birthday Bash last night was really great. Jackie Sheeler did an amazing job organizing an eclectic 2-hour line up that started with Baudelaire's masterpiece "Drunk" and ended with Patti Smith's song of hope "A Farewell." The namesake guest of honor didn't make it, but her spirit was there throughout.

For yours truly, the strangest moment was before the show even started, when my 82-year-old father-in-law and his wife showed up, courtesy of sister Lisa. I was moved by their presence, but sort of freaked out as well. I mean, Patti Smith ain't exactly Sinatra and the spoken word sensibility she inspired is a somewhat acquired taste. But they stayed for the whole show, and seemed to honestly enjoy my work.

Highlights of the show were a Patticento, where Sheeler combined excerpts from hundreds of poems and songs of Patti Smith into a cool piece, accompanied by The Bass Player from Hand Job, who is himself a poet to be reckoned with. Rimbaud pieces were cool, too. I was happy with my pieces, but, due to a last minute demand from one of the other readers, I ended up sharing the mike on "A Farewell" with another poet and her psuedo-mime girlfriend (both in silver paint), which weakened the power of the piece considerably. Another highlight was my new favorite musical group, Rewbee. Check them out on myspace and look for them live. Very early X-like, with a New York edge.

Here's one of the pieces I read (the funny one). I'll be posting an audio of the other piece in the next few days.

The Crotch Sniffer

The crowd presses toward the stage, eliminating all
empty spaces between the goddess and themselves
as if proximity alone would ensure a touch of the same

spark that lights her fire. It's June 16, 2003, it's San Francisco and
it's Patti Smith. "Patti, Patti," the chanting begins. I'm a old pro at
holding position in a crowd. No one in this room has a chance

in hell to move me back. Three people in front of me now, and,
guaranteed, when the show ends, three people will be in front
of me then. I don't give an inch, not even for the cute little five-

foot-two blonde in Birkenstocks and backpack, armed with two
bottles of Calistoga. They're everywhere here. Backpacks full of
bottled water. So help me, God, none of them will get in front of me.

Even the six foot five dot-commer guy can't get past me. He's all
stringy hair and glasses. T-shirt, khakis, backpack. Been making
moves to get by but forget it, man, this spot is mine. Too bad for him.

Lights dim. Roar begins. Band appears. Then Patti. Then a
scream. The six-five guy falls flat on the floor. Patti starts to sing
as fifteen people rush to the guy and offer him sips of the

bottled water from their backpacks. "I'm okay, I'm all right, thanks,"
he says, still sprawled below. Fuck him. I'm here to see Patti. His
girlfriend mumbles, "It's okay, this happens to him all the time."

So why does he go to concerts, I wonder? Patti puts on one
hell of a show, with poems from her new book, along with the
classics. The tall guy taps his fingers on the floor and stays there,

the entire concert. Even the encores. There's got to be something
behind this. During the last song, I sneak a glance and see the key.
The guy's a freak. He's not looking a Patti, he's sniffing between the

legs of every chick that drifts near him. He's a freakin' crotch sniffer.
Probably pulls this act everytime he goes to a show. I'm torn now
between absorbing only Patti or giving this guy a quick kick in the

balls. Thank god for multi-tasking. Two quick boots and before the end
of the final song, he's making his way out the door like a dog. Patti turns
her head my direction and smiles. I know she is looking right at me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Big Show Tonight

I'm excited (duh!) about the big show tonight: a poetry reading in honor of Patti Smith's birthday party at Bowery Poetry Club at 10pm. Details about in yesterday's post. As for me: I'll be reading two new poems, along with a poem written by Ms. Smith. My poem Abigail, and Patti's poem "A Farewell" will be accompanied by music written specifically for the event tonight by myself and the fabulous Dean Parker, whose numerous credits include assistant composer for the new movie "The Good Shepherd." He'll be performing tonight as "The Bass Player from Handjob." I'm excited about the new pieces: they're at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Extremely funny and extraordinarily sad. The extremes of life. Everyday is the in-between. Black is the new black.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Patti Smith BDay Bowery Poetry Club Tomorrow at 10 pm

The big shoe tomorrow night at the Bowery Poetry Club is going to be great, for sure! It's a very special show celebrating Patti Smith's 60th birthday. Patti's performing Friday, Saturday and Sunday (New Year's Eve) at the Bowery Ballroom, so this is a great way to get the weekend started. Here's what organizer Jackie Sheeler has to say:

"we will have everything from rimbaud to baudelaire to patti rant soundtracks to dancers to accordions to a patticento (that's a new poem made out of patti lyrics from all over the place, with a background of amazing pattiloops put together by The Bass Player From Hand Job, who is a wonderful producer & musician).

"patti, lenny, and tony know about the party, and lenny said if time permits he will stop by. (they have practice that night, for the bowery shows.) a friend of patti's mentioned that jackson will be in town and said he thought this was an interesting thing, so maybe he'll come by. we've invited a lot of high-profile punk folks, but even if none of them show up this is going to be an INCREDIBLE night! we're also raffling off a number of patti rarities -- such as a signed mint copy of Ha Ha Houdini -- and everybody in the raffle gets an mp3 cd of live or hard-to-find or even unknown patti tracks.

"come on out! there's no cover, just purchase a few beverages to support the club that is hosting this event. full details at "

Line up includes:
Meagan Brothers & Mike Fornatale
Christine Goodman
Amy Ouzoonian with Colossal M'Lady
Kathi Georges
Lisa Gruenberger
Michael McHugh
Nelson Alexander & Moira Smith
Janet Hamill has written a poem for the occasion,
to be performed by Mary Fries

The club is at 308 Bowery, foot of First Street, between Houston & Bleecker, across the street from CBGBs. 212.614.0505

Hope to see you there.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

That's that

Went to New Jersey for Christmas dinner. It's nice enough to get together with family but these days, things have changed. It seems for every family get together, someone has a computer floating around and it becomes tough to concentrate on all the fun family type things we used to do, like screaming at the television when your team is losing, or drinking too much wine or playing the piano or peeling potatoes. With the computer around, one person gets to be in charge, and the others have to either succumb to his or her wishes, or sulk in the corner because they don't get to have a say as to what the computer is doing. And god forbid if there's more than one computer around. All immediate communication is lost.

Yesterday, there was only one, playing music. Who chooses what gets to be played? Whoever owns the computer. Touch someone else's computer it's like you stuck a finger up their ass. It's a very touchy situation.

The best presents were electronic, which was fantastic for me. I got a voice recorder that you can record your thoughts on and download to your computer. But I still found myself, with some nostalgia, missing the corny knitted caps or homemade cookies. That kind of thing.

Still it was great to sit at a table not in a restaurant eating turkey, stuffing and potatoes. And for that, I feel awfully lucky and grateful.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Poetry Submission Deadlines

If you want to get your work out there, but you can't remember where or when to send it, here's a helpful link to a plethora of Grants, Awards and publication deadlines. A lot of these deadlines occur in January and February, so rev up that typewriter (does anyone have a typewriter anymore, besides Brigit?), and beg Santa for stamps and envelopes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Patti Smith's Birthday Celebration at Bowery Poetry Club

Patti Smith changed my life. So as soon as I heard that Jackie Sheeler was planning a 60th birthday party for Ms. Smith, I begged to be a part of it. I played Patti Smith once on stage under the moniker "Padded Myth" (the nickname was an acknowldegement of the media's tendency to build up, then systematically attempt to destory everything good). I am more influenced by her work than any other female poet except Emily Dickenson (see "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry" where Patti's on pages 82 through 91, and I'm on page 477). I spent hundreds of nights listening to her music while writing record and concert reviews for The Eye newspaper in the early 80s. And, for the past 20 years, through no fault of my own (no surgery, no makeover, nothing, honest!) I have been told that I look like Patti Smith.

All of this made me a natural candidate for being on the bill, I explained to Jackie via email.

Guess what?

Jackie understood! I'm reading at the Patti Smith Birthday Party, which is at the Bowery Poetry Club on Thursday, December 28th from 10 pm until... Please go! Other confirmed performers include Christine Goodman, Meagan Brothers, Jackie Sheeter, and The Bass Player from Hand Job. And maybe some of the band members from Patti Smith Group and maybe Patti. The whole night will be videotaped and given to Patti as a gift from the people who love her and her music.

Be there!

By the way, if you've never heard Jackie Sheeler's poetry, this will be a good chance to experience one the best poets in New York, or for that matter the world.

See you Thursday.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Things I learned in college--the real link!

Okay, so yesterday's link didn't work. But this one will, for sure!

Just click on this:

Things I Learned in College

and voila! Click on the song of the same name and you will hear it!

Then let us know what you think...


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Things I learned in college

If you can listen to this--please do! It's a poem with music and hilarious. It is a response to the high-pitch, nasal, 3-year-old voices that seem to be common today among many women in their 20s and 30s. Walk on the street and you can hear it live. It is a symphony of sonic torture, and this is coming from a hard-core punk rock fan. The cause of this new source of audio immaturity is likely due to the imitation of digitally processed voices of tv commercials, computer games and cell phone vocal processing as opposed to any regional influence.

Things I learned in college.m4a

Friday, December 15, 2006

JDs playing on Sunday at Reade Street

One of New York City's secret treasures, the JD's (formerly, kind of, Band of George) is playing this Sunday at Reade Street pub on Reade Street! 9 p.m. FREE!!

With a mix of original and classic tunes, anchored by father-son team Bob and Jake Musial, the JD's always inspire. Some of the three rooms press staff will be on hand; check for the whirlwind on the dance floor!

Treat yourself to fun on Sun-day. See you there!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How to get a popular blog

The new most popular blog is Why Men Cheat. Over 6,000 comments already! The only question I have is "Why is Why Men Cheat so popular?" This age old question has been answered by poets for thousands of years. Women are the beautiful mystery that male hormones are driven to explore. The only real question is why more women don't take advantage of this. If you want to see a film version of this, check out the movie Baby Face, in which Barbara Stanwyck, still saddled with her native Brooklyn accent, works her way from a penniless orphan to the top of the Empire State building with a pout and a wink. It's way racier than any of the tame flicks of today. Which reminds me: why do so many movies today show a) men peeing and b) men getting their balls tortured? Maybe it's garbage like this that makes men cheat?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Painting and Poetry: Creations that Inspire Creation

The El Greco to Picasso exhibit now at the Guggenheim is truly amazing. Throughout the winding inner shell of the Guggenheim, hundreds of paintings offer a wider range of contributions than ever seen outside of Spain itself. The setup itself is what really sets this exhibit apart. Rather than offer a simple chronological scheme, great care was taken to offer a contrast between modern and classical artists based on thematic content. For example, on one wall sits Juan Pantoja de la Cruz's The Infantes Don Felipe and Doña Ana, 1607. Next to it: Picasso's Two Seated Children (Claude and Paloma), 1950. The composition of both paintings is nearly identical, but the marked difference in style shows the contrast between modern and classical interpretation of subject matter. There's no reason to imitate the masters of long ago in their style. The world has changed. Take the form, place it in the modern context and make it as charged as a Corvette on high-octane.

For a poet, this contrast is a revelation and inspiration. As a poet, whenever I feel stuck or doubtful, I don't turn to the masters of poetry. I look at art. Several years ago in San Francisco, I was working on a piece and lost confidence. I couldn't shake the feeling--I knew the core of the piece was great, but something was holding me back. After banging my head against a wall for a few days, and still getting nowhere, I took a field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art and had a look around. The featured painter in the exhibit was Robert Ryman. His featured work? Surface Veil III, 1971, a 12 foot x 12 foot piece painted on white canvas using only white paint. White paint on white canvas? The nerve! The comments around the room were universally derogatory. But I was fascinated. From a distance, the piece looked like a blank page. Up close, you could see every brush stroke, carefully placed, beautifully capturing light in fantastically subtle ways. The fact that it was created made it worthy of attention. Had it never been created, had the artist lost confindence, not only would the painting itself had been lost, so would all that it inspired. I went home, sat down and the poem flowed out of me like it never had been any other way.


Above, top: Juan Pantoja de la Cruz's The Infantes Don Felipe and Doña Ana, 1607. Next to it: Picasso's Two Seated Children (Claude and Paloma), 1950; bottom: Robert Ryman, Surface Veil III, 1971

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Plug In Poetry

During November, we conceived and created Plug In Poetry, which was a great success. Held in the Chashama storefront on 44th Street in Times Square, we offered a virtual mountain of words for people to add to the walls or windows to make poems together. The first day it was pouring rain. Amazing how many people walking down the street don't want to get out of it--they just want to get where they are going! Those who did come in were very happy--a direct result of a) creating something unique and original, and b) being warm and dry for a few minutes! The other two performances were not so wet, so we moved to the window and made poetry outside and inside. It was great to see the poems grow from single words, to complete works of art, anonymously rearranged by whomever was present.

But it's not over yet! Visit the Plug In Poetry website and let us know your favorite pieces. Also, we're looking to do it again and would love to know if you can suggest any venues, in the U.S., Paris, Italy, or Greece (or anywhere in the world).

So far, favorite lines have included "look restless between an easy light," "die waiting," and, my personal favorites "let hopes ease what heaven might" and "she can steal the beautiful." Favorite poem?

favorite dream

know surprise
where love is

believe enough
to give this mad
war peace


she can steal
my morning thought
before the beautiful
would be shrine

If you visit the Plug In Poetry website, be sure to listen to the hip hop version of T.S. Eliot's Rhapsody On A Windy Night. We produced it as part of the soundtrack for the play Jack the Rapper, performed at Marilyn Monroe Memorial Theater in San Francisco a couple years back, and it sounds awesome! We played it during the performance.

P.S. to Karen: I figured out how to make the links!!!!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Being 18

It's tough to be 18 these days. What do you do? You know so much is fake in this world, and yet you still try to believe in something. But everything seems to be able to be pulled away, ripped out of your hands, dragged into the dirt and abused. The more you got going for you, the less you believe in it. There's nothing to aim for, there's too many choices, everything's about money and that's the one god you only believe in when necessary.

What do you do? Who do you see? How do you find someplace to go that treats you like an adult (over 21) but also knows you're still a kid at heart?

Thursday, December 7, 2006


In a church on a Thursday for the Writer's Studio birthday.
Edward Hirsch, among others, reads. There's a list,
somewhere. There are many lists these days.

Churches have lists too, but churches also have arches
and under one arch I have found my muse, Bob.
He is speaking of churches and arches and I am

Facing my urges to do more in churches than
muses allow (or at least urge) to be done. Or
so I have heard or been told or both. His book

of new and collected poems "The Figured Wheel"
probably nailed him the Poet Laureate gig. 10 years old
and still "hot." He signs my copy not just "Bob," no

he writes an inscription to remain close to my heart and
in this church under this arch with this urge I feel
heat emerge, warm enough to rekindle ashes.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Notes on the New York poetry scene

The poetry scene in New York seems to be as divided as that of San Francisco. There are the "Slammers," with their ubiquitous phrasing, standard rhythm and common subject matter; there are the "Shuckers," who rave about lusting after 14 years olds or find weird/semi-obscene/drug-and-or-drink-related stories about other people to tell; there are the "Columbia-vers," whose goal in life is to have more poems published in the New Yorker during their lifetime than Mark Strand.

Three Rooms Press is not associated with any of these cliques. We embrace all forms of verse, and would just as soon weep over a beautiful Shakespeare sonnet as down a shot of Jack after reading an inspired Bukowski poem.

Sometimes things just hit you. It's like falling in love.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Three Rooms Press blog begins

Three Rooms Press is a poetry publishing entity going from the gut about what good poetry is. It began in San Francisco and has migrated to New York in the past few years.