"I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not." - Kurt Cobain
Sometimes I daydream about what Kurt would be doing now. What he'd be making, what his music would sound like, if he'd still have long hair. I'd like to think that he'd be outspoken, that maybe he'd have shed his apprehension for the spotlight and embraced it, becoming the elder statesman of the misunderstood, enduring godfather of misfits. I imagine that he'd be serious but also more lighthearted. Spontaneous but allied to self-mockery. I see him in photos with Michael Stipe, both sporting matching grey beards, their heads tilted back in shared cacophony somewhere off the coast of France. I like to think that Kurt would have gone solo, acoustic maybe, as gentle would have been a better form of rebellion. I like to see him as a one-man poetry band, rasped rage embracing a powerful purr.
"Black is the uniform of poets. We lined them up and gave them new customs..." - Poem #2 by Richard Hell and Patti Smith
I have not wept openly at a concert since I witnessed Tori Amos sing "Me and a Gun" a capella in the firefly light of Austin, TX, sometime around 1996. Last night marks occasion #2. We arrived at Milk Studios around 8pm for Steven Sebring's ILLUMINATION: Who Are Poets exhibition expecting a short poetry reading, as promised, by his friend and subject Patti Smith. The entire exhibition celebrates the work of poets--lyrical and otherwise--such as Jim Carroll, Neil Young, Michael Stipe, Philip Glass, Joey Ramone, Richard Hell, and Ms. Smith herself. The performance that was given, however, was something else altogether.
The room was wall to wall with the usual black bedraggled fashion-slash-artist armada, and we all staked our spots in front of the small, piano covered stage an hour before anything started. It was sweaty and close, but no one cared, and when the music finally faded (REM over the loudspeakers, coincidentally), Michael Stipe took the stage to snap us to attention with his fingers. Patti emerged, her hands clutching several sheets of paper, and she gave a ferocious reading of Poem #2, dedicating it to Richard Hell, and finished by tossing all of her sheets to the nonexistent wind as the piano tinkered on, the rest of us hooping and hollering, happy with what we thought was the entire performance. But, lo, there was more...
What followed was Patti singing a soft, stripped-down version of Neil Young's "It's a Dream" (which started my tear-train), her longtime bandmate Lenny Kaye honoring his other former bandmate Jim Carroll with a song, and Patti reciting her emotional poem, Radio Baghdad, while her daughter Jessie Smith played a Philip Glass piece on the piano. Then there was the moment of true tears, the opening chords to REM's "Everybody Hurts." Everyone looked over at Mr. Stipe, who was standing behind the piano merely watching, mind you, clearly not intending to participate. Then, as Patti began to sing, she "accidentally" forgot all of the words, and he jumped on the stage to rescue her. Together they led us all in a sing-a-long which saw not only me, but several softies, bawling our eyes out as we shouted the lyrics with not one, but two of our heroes in a smallish concrete room on the westside of Manhattan.
I know I'm being dramatic as I type this, but it was that kind of night. This was not the song that ended the show, however. Joey Ramone was the last honored poet, and his musical homage included another sing-a-long which Patti insisted the audience lead, this time to "Blitzkrieg Bop." There wasn't a single person in that place--not even the coolest of the cool--who wasn't smiling and singing along to the chorus. It made me wonder, hope really, that maybe we could all leave that room remembering the importance of a poet's words, be they spoken, shouted, keyed, strummed, or read.
They're piling in the backseat
They're generating steam heat
Pulsating to the back beat
The Blitzkrieg Bop
Two swans, black and white.
One sexy, the other tight.
Ballet is crazy.
I saw Black Swan a few nights ago in a dark and heaving screening room. No one moved, no one breathed, and no one got up when the credits rolled. That should tell you everything. Also, Ms. Portman gives one of the most exciting performances of the year (if not in a very long time). Bold, brave, astonishing, and exact ... I can't stop talking/thinking about it.
Yes, folks, it's been quite awhile since I last blogged, but I'm back and ready to get this party started! I've spent the past several months cavorting with vampires, touching down in international waters (more on that later), and generally just devouring--and writing about--music and film as much as possible. Unfortunately, spitting out 140 character bursts proved easier than blogging in these hectic times, but as verbosity is my forte, I long to return to this handsome webspot to spill words by the thousands and images worthy of stealing.
Thus, please stick with me over the next few weeks as Verbose Coma goes through a bit of a redesign and I get this choo-choo back a chuggin'. Until then, a haiku for you:
The lonesome whistle
Desert train, tumbleweeds, rain
An eagle circles.
Train tracks in El Paso on a quiet Saturday morning.
Got Sass? Poise? Body?
Got field potential and legs?
Sign up! Give up! Cheer!
The above photo is from what is, quite possibly, the best three seconds of television I've ever seen. If you haven't been watching the CMT reality series Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, I highly recommend it and all reruns. Trust me, there is no reality show that tackles its subjects (in this case, "true athletes") with more wicked sincerity and gratuitous irony than this one right here. You will witness verbal lashings of extremely healthy women and their 1% lack of tone (Trainer: "The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders do NOT HAVE girls that BIG!!"), the horrors of too much eye makeup, the underlying importance of a high kick, and lessons in being more "gracious and fun" on field trips to frozen margarita bars as taught by "this book you should read by Jackie Onassis."
You will laugh, you will cry. You will learn how necessary it is to put the squad before your 7 year-old daughter ("she said she was serious about this team!"). Most importantly, though, you will be entertained like you've never been entertained before.
Click here for more information and show times. This is comedy gold, people, and the woman above is my new hero.
Welcome back Verbose!
I missed you in my coma.
Awake and dreaming.
Hi everybody. We've been gone awhile, and now we're back. Rested/invigorated/enchanted. There was a capful of rain, hidden tropical waterfalls, and spurts of minor urban spelunking. There were random parties and ecstatic chit chats with other lonesome souls. Sometimes photos were taken. Sometimes words were written (for others to speak). Now, here we are. Again. Alert and loud! We want to scream. And sing. And laugh. Smirk/sigh/sneeze/spit. Live live LIVE in New York and the world at large. Bless.
We will write words. We will take photos. We will share our broken hearts and mended minds and sometimes cacophonous rantings on everything and nothing and something in between. Stick around if you'd like. We're sure glad to have you.