I admit it. I was prepared to not like the evening lineup. I mean Eileen Myles reported attitude had left a bad taste in my mouth. And frankly, for some strange reason it is easier to be against something.
I got the flyer for the “art happening” at The Whistle Stop via email and I diligently posted the event – yes, with a sarcastic headline—at SanDiegoBlog.com. And then I even made plans to go. To go see what “art” in Eileen Myles’ mind really is.
Wednesday started with my weekly Read and Critique Group. We meet every Wednesday. The group is facilitated by Judy Reeves, Writer. We’re making art in our own right. Quietly. Diligently. We write. We work on our craft. It just isn’t public, but it is indicative of art happening in San Diego. It’s subtle. Like winter in San Diego. Or spring. You have to slow down and look. It IS there.
Only this time I had coffee. So I could stay up past 9 pm… After my Read and Critique Group, Judy, Rich and I headed up to South Park to the Whistle Stop, to get a little more art.
I was the first to arrive, which was amazing considering I drive like my grandma, but that’s another story. In the 20 minutes it took my to get a beer (ever feel like you’re invisible as taller people reach over you to shove money in the bartender’s face?) the place got pretty full. And finally I saw Judy and Rich come in through the front door. It was 9:20 or so. The show was scheduled to start at 9 pm. Strike one. (military brat here. Bad to be late)
The show was billed as “old fashioned kite flying puppetry collective featuring eileen myles. ryan griffith. esteban ortega.
Ryan Griffith was the first on board, closer to 10 pm than 9pm. He introduced himself, and said something along the lines of “I know there’s a lot of people here from UCSD, and San Diego State. And City College. And we’re all writers. And there’s just no place for us here in San Diego….”
And under my breath I said “bullshit.” Because I know there are tons of writerly events going on all the time in San Diego. Many of which are hosted by San Diego Writers Ink. And take place RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET AT THE GROVE every First Friday of the month… and the booze is free….
But I didn’t say that. This was his gig after all.
As Ryan continued, “We just really wanted to create something here in San Diego.” I was feeling like he was being so patronizing, like he was so proud of himself, creating a little art for the poor art-deprived folks of San Diego….
And I kept my mouth shut. And I was prepared to dislike whatever his “art” was.
But I didn’t. He performed a poem, set to music (a melodic electric guitar in a sort of ambient minor key sounding riff that was very mood setting). In the background Ryan had a digital art presentation to follow along. It was cool. It was exactly the kind of art I would do, layers of visual expression, words, and music. I was intrigued. I wanted more.
Next up, Eileen Myles. I was truly prepared to dislike her. Which I hate to admit because I like to think of myself as open minded. I don’t care if she’s a post punk lesbian… my best friend is a lesbian (Hi Julie !) But considering the fact that she dissed my town, well, I had high expectations. She’s from New York. She must know art….
I noticed her when I first came into the bar. She was the only one that looked like a more masculine version of Andy Warhol (but with a better hairdo). Her look is a little harsh, but I fits her post modern/punk/feminist/lesbian/poet persona…
So when she came up on stage, I was ready. I was sure I would get some good solid angst-ridden post punk feminist poetry. And I was disappointed.
Instead, what I saw was a woman who came alive on stage. And as I watched her read her harsh look softened. I thought to myself, she’s actually pretty. I could tell this was her bliss. She was doing what she loved to do. Words.
Now I wouldn’t call what she read poetry. And I realize there is a pretty broad definition of what constitutes poetry, and I embrace that definition, but she read a piece that she had contributed to an anthology. It was about flossing. And so much more. And I would call it prose… but that’s neither here nor there… Eileen herself was engaging, and animated, and endearing in her reading. So I get why she’s published. I get why she’s “a cult figure to a generation of post-punk females forming their own literary avant guarde.”
But I still don’t get why she doesn’t see that there is art, even poetry events in San Diego.
Now the third “act” of the evening… the puppet portion of the evening… to quote my friend Rich:
The Ship Is The Essex!!! The Whale IS The Essex!!! This Is Not The Real
Essex!!! This Is Nantucket!!! This is a Town Just Like Nantucket!!
It was too loud. It was cacophony at its finest. It hurt my ears and frankly I put on better shows when I was in third grade. Besides I had finished my beer and the line at the bar was too long to get another. Oh, and I had a 20 mile drive home. So I left.