Friday, January 22, 2010

Open Mic - A Thursday Evening Delight - 1/22/2010

Last night I attended “Open Mic” at the Fresh Brewed Coffee House in Myrtle Beach. It is a weekly event held on Thursday evenings at 7:30 PM. This was my first visit to this establishment and I immediately felt at home and comfortable. The laid back atmosphere carried through to the ‘Open Mic”. Everyone is encouraged to perform In this totally nonthreatening environment. You can sing, tell jokes, juggle, read poetry, whittle, whistle, whatever. I am happy to report there was no juggling in last night’s presentation. I was the oldest person in the room by more years than most of them had been alive, but the ambiance took me back in time. I half expected the audience to snap their fingers in lieu of applause. The only things missing from the coffee houses of my youth was the woody aroma of patchouli and the smokey haze, neither of which I am nostalgic for.

I had friended Brian Roessler, who honchos the affair, on Facebook, and last night we met for real. He is the type of person that one instantly likes. Engaging and genuine, he opened the show by singing a few of his own fantastic compositions. He has a very smooth style that has obviously been honed through years of performing and fusing his many musical influences into one that is uniquely his own. He even sung a song he wrote about his love affair with Little Debbie, which I could identify with. He then acted as emcee and brought up a parade of other performers.

The singer/songwriters, which made up the lion’s share of the performers, represented a wide range of musical styles and influences. Justin Newman was unmistakably bringing us a blending of Lou Reed, the Beastie Boys, and Bob Dylan. The small stage definitely did not allow him the freedom of movement that his body craved to fully convey his music. He is a very animated and physical performer.
James Dunovan (obviously of Polish extraction) brought a quiet angst to his very original sound. His vocals were heartfelt and genuine. James and I worked together at Frito Lay a couple of years back until I realized that stocking grocery stores was one of the many things I am ill-equipped to do. That realization came on day 2 of my employment.

A young man named Tripp Cappelman channeled the vocal stylings of Gregg Allman and Ronnie Van Zant while his partner Seth Kellum wowed us on the guitar and mandolin. These two were my personal favorites, as I love southern rock and they did it justice. Seth is from Missoula, Montana, not far from where I grew up and Tripp is an Air Force brat from Sumter, SC. One verse into their first song and I knew Tripp was not from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This boy is southern born and southern bred. You could practically smell the grits on his breath. I did not get their last names. Maybe someone can help me out with that. I didn’t want to ask too many questions lest I be labeled a stalker. There is a fine line between getting enough info to write a piece and being creepy.

This was not simply a sausage fest as next came a beautiful young lady named Renee, who read some of her original poetry and the piece of prose that inspired her to become a poet in the first place. One of the poems she read was crafted that evening as she waited for her turn at the microphone. The emotion that she invested in her poems was felt by every heart the room as we experienced them with her. She ended her performance by including audience participation for a future piece she is working on. She queried “if you could only have one decadent dessert before you died, what would it be?” That was so easy for me, “crème brulee is to die for.”

What these young people share is a passion for their art. The beauty of this showcase is that it gives them an opportunity to share their talent with an intimate and supportive audience without fear of judgment or rejection. There is no Simon Cowell to appraise their performance. It didn’t happen, but I am certain that if someone took the stage with absolutely no skills at all, a hearty applause would reward their effort. With that in mind, I am considering reading my crappy poetry next Thursday night. If only I could juggle or whistle.
I left a little after ten and I know there were several more entertainers yet to come, but I had a beagle at home that was impatiently waiting for a nightcap walk. I hope to observe those that I missed in the future.

I am not a coffee drinker, but when in Columbia……. I drank three cups of a robust Jamaican coffee which I think was blended with methamphetamine. The combination of it and the phentermine I am taking as part of a weight reduction plan caused me to experience an enjoyable rush in spite of the minor stroke I experienced. Vision in both eyes is highly overrated. The music I enjoyed on the drive home was incredible until I realized the radio was not on and it was a combination of tinnitus and the thundering of my own heartbeat. At 3AM, I was simultaneously applying the Dewey Decimal System to my bookcase, sweeping the floor, and attempting, unsuccessfully, to coax Skooter into fetching things. I think I better understand the popularity of coffee now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why I haven't written, or have I? 1/22/10

I haven’t written here for well over a month. I have had a few of my loyal readers contact me and it was their consensus that my real-life stories entertain them better than my attempts at 55 word fiction. Frankly, I had not had any events in my life lately that inspired me to post. Having posted here for nearly three years, I am often not sure which of the outrageous shit that is my life I have actually written or just thought about writing. Often, I compose an entire post in my head before actually putting it to Word. When one is in the early stages of dementia, there is very little difference in thinking it and writing it. Kind of like Catholic sin. Fantasizing about having sex with your friend’s wife is the same as actually doing it. It is certainly not the same to the friend but it is to the Pope. Maybe that is why Popes don’t marry. Too many guys would be nailing their wives.

It is the same way with the spoken word. I often think I have said something to someone, when I have actually only thought about saying it. Then of course I insist I have told them and a fight ensues. For example: I went in for a fairly important medical procedure and thought I had told my kids about it. Evidently I had not. They found out some time later during a normal conversation at a birthday party for one of my grandchildren. I now know that is the kind of information they would like to have before the fact. Had I been one of the 1 in 200,000 that die from the anesthesia, they may have been confused and disturbed by the morgue calling them to claim my cadaver. That is, if there had been anything left to claim, as I am an organ donor.

Conversely, sometimes I say something aloud that I was only thinking and had no intention of saying out loud and a fight ensues. What is perceived as a lack of tact on my part is actually a serious cognitive disorder. An example: I was visiting a couple, let’s call them Steve and Brenda Moss. They were fairly close friends but I had not roamed their home before. Their wedding photos were displayed in their hallway. Now at this time Brenda weighed in at about three bills. The bride in her wedding photo resembled a young Grace Kelly, only with a better body (for you younger people, imagine Jessica Alba). I thought to myself, “What happened to you?” But it turns out; I was not thinking that to myself. I was thinking it to her. You can’t put those bullets back in the gun. I have never felt like a bigger crapweasel.

So, I guess this post is a good illustration as to why I do not write often. I do not know what I was trying to say here.