Return to the Nuyorican Poets Café

Hello Guy,

Here is your Free Daily Horoscope Service for today, Feb 17.

You might need to connect with Mother Earth, Guy. Lately, you’ve been feeling less than grounded. You might have the sensation that your mind is drifting somewhere above your body. If your work is mostly of the mental variety, and if you spend a lot of time on your computer, you might experience some feelings of disconnection from your body. Correct this by going for a long walk in a park, or sit by the ocean or other body of water.

Amen to that as I’ve been feeling totally disconnected for the past few days. Between the impending one-year anniversary on the job I no longer love but don’t quite hate, the weird night hosting at the Nuyorican, and the future homesteading question – I’m in a mild state of confusion.

Last week’s return to the Nuyorican Poets Café was significant, for me, for several reasons, not the least of which was that it was my first time on that stage since that fateful night in December 1998 that led to an ugly 1999 and me being banned for a couple of years beyond that. While I did read at Felice Belle’s farewell at the end of 2002, that felt very different as it was one quick poem and I’d been completely off the scene for a year at that point. Hosting Encomium was a much bigger deal – even bigger than I initially realized as my presence apparently had to be cleared through Carmen Pietri-Diaz, the Café’s Executive Director. If true, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, I imagine it came about solely as a result of my co-hosting the Rev. Pedro Pietri benefit at the Bowery last month. It does present an interesting question, though: with Keith Roach long gone from the Café, and he and I having pretty much buried the hatchet, who’s still holding a grudge?

Anyway, the show itself was a lot of fun, even with the tightly scheduled line-up and Fish telling me beforehand that I was one of the few people that hadn’t stressed him yet. No pressure there! synonymUS, an interesting idea looking for proper execution, may have finally found its legs as Raymond Daniel Medina and company put together some excellent tributes, expertly melding music and poetry without the clumsily pretentious insider feedback element that handicapped their run at the Bowery last year. The performances were tight, well-rehearsed and well-deserving of feature status. I, on the other hand, took a blind leap into the great unrehearsed as drummer [and photographer extraordinaire!] Peter Dressel backed me up on Felipe Luciano’s Puerto Rican Rhythms, a nerve-wracking performance that I’m sure everyone was being nice in not pointing out that I yelled my way through like a punk rocker at a gospel concert. It served as something of a rock-star intro for Bonafide, though, so it was all good.

Bonafide – young punk that he is! – is quickly becoming one of my favorite poets. Outside of the slam scene – where his tendency to rush and stumble over his words often diminishes the true power of his work – is where he shines brightest, allowing his well-crafted work to sit on the ear a split-second longer, and his engaging personality to comfortably fill the spaces between poems. It was a pleasure to see him two nights in a row, something you can’t really say about most poets with their limited repertoires and forced banter.

Salomé and I talked about the housing question and got into the same chapter, if not quite on the same page. While I still have some issues with buying something in this area and have no interest in being a suburban commuter – subway or bust, mofos! – there are certain scenarios I can imagine that might work, all involving income-producing propetry. Whether or not they’re realistic is a whole other question! The main conflict is that I’ve always seen myself as a city person, defined specifically by apartment living and subway transportation. As the years pass, though, a part of me yearns for a small town life that I’m not really sure exists anywhere anymore. And if it does, am I really cut out for it?

This whole issue of grounding and disconnection is a complicated one when you realize some of the things you think do the job for you actually don’t. It’s like discovering a self-created Matrix where the two worlds have become so entangled that you’re not sure what’s real and what’s fake, and disconnecting the wrong wire could make the whole thing explode. Or, even worse, nothing would change.

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