Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Swansea, days 6, 7 and beyond . . . !

. . . it should be noted that day 5 did not end at the Rhyddings in a pool of Graham-flavored nostalgia. No, it actually ended with Chris Samia and I at a dinner on St. Alban's road, hosted by our poetry professor and writer-of-many-books Nigel Jenkins and his partner Margot. The food was delicious, conversation both honest and inspiring and the wine was flowing. Oh man, was it flowing.

So it was after that I went to sleep at 1 am, woke up at 4:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. and Day 6 was the day I was to go to Cardiff and meet Anne and Howard Webb. Which I did. And it was nice. I just wish that my primo instinct the whole time hadn't been to find a corner of the pub in Glaedeou y Garth (sp?) and sleep a bit. Then in the backseat of the car and sleep a bit. But saw some amazing views of the area around Cardiff and caught up with Anne, whom it's always good to see. She dropped Howard and I off at City Arms in the 'diff's center, where we talked football (both types) travel (wherever feet may take us) and life in general. I switched between ales and orange juice when it was discovered that City Arms may have all the half-quirky, half-everyguy trappings of a big-city local, but it does not, in fact, serve coffee. In the last hours of our sojourn there, we were joined by Punk John for a round before I trained it back to Swansea.

the train ride was all sleep, and sort of surreal. in my current life context, I am used to waking up at the jostles of the 7, being shoved into a corner when the bus gets too full by an elderly vietnamese man who communicates to me largely with gestures. or the light rail, where the asexual female robot voice informs us "now entering. . . Beacon Hill station."
so to have largely the same in-again, out-again consciousness backgrounded by the landscape I knew well for two years and then disappeared from, the Welsh accents and all-- that was odd.
That evening I had a really nice dinner at Ian and Nessa Folks' house. While in Swansea I didn't go back to my old church (I chose sleep) and I missed seeing people from there whom I'd have liked to. But I was really glad to hang out with the Folks. I won't run down all the conversation topics, because there were many.

Tuesday. Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday. Due to phone-situations (and bad reception) I missed about 8,431 calls (fine, maybe 3)and my morning was spent packing. So it goes.
Dragged luggage to campus. Met for a too-short (not like the rapper) lunch with Wood where we talked music, home life and the time travel murder of millions (okay, maybe a little bit like the rapper.)
Dropped my shit off at Adam/Keiran/Jen's. Adam described his turkey-cooking efforts as "just bastin' away."
Took a quick run to Monkey (downtown) and met Theresa and Pat. Ate cupcakes. Drank coffee. Alun *happened* to be meeting Sophie there later, stopped in and said hi. That was person 3,456 that I didn't know I would see but was glad to (okay, like person 4. ish.)
On my way to the Cricketers I stopped in at Primark. I kind of regret not getting the rad coat for ten pounds, but am happy that a simple shoe-buy didn't turn into a spree.
Annmarie and I drank stella at the cricks. her new BF seems real cool. As does Pat, teez's new dude. All whatevers aside, good for them.
Weesh. My compulsion for play-by-play is wearying me, can't imagine anyone reads this all the way through. Next was Thanksgiving dinner at Adkeirjen's, then a round of drinks at the Bryn Y Mor for Punk John's birthday then various convos and mechanations to stay awake for the 430am taxi to the coach, where we were early, thus facilitating a walk around Tesco in the wee hours, Keiran suggesting various fruit fights.
Jen's sister Laura and I rode the coach together to Heathrow, where the last of the party (for me) disbanded.
the four hours in the airport did a lot to make me glad to actually get on planes and Icelandair's Iceland-centric charm did a lot to make the same three pop songs they played at the beginning and end of my trip a nostalgia-striker.

when I got home I rode the light rail, met Jake at the house, we had a pitcher of Manny's at Lotties and watched some Peep Show. I was back. Am back. Right now Brielle and a friend are making cookies in the kitchen and Jonny and Nat are watching Anime. I should probably take a shower.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Swansea, Days 4, 5.

The weirdest part of the whole trip was sitting in the Rhyddings Pub, after strolling campus, in the corner booth where the quiz crew of fall term '07 would rack up losses. The visiting Campus felt definitely like The Past but it was just odd being in the Rhyds again.
Wot the 'ell is a community college? A community is people, right? So what are all other colleges? You amerrricans sure like your convoluted language.
Which is I guess to say that a lot of the trip was, as Wood said: like you never left.

After the wedding, reception, drinking, walking to town, thick pints of Welsh Porter, driving to Mumbles, well, Saturday wasn't going to be too active. I transferred my suitcased life to Wood and Tracy's, got to see the kids, (still cute, still smart) and sit at the table where I was lucky enough to share more than a few meals during my tenure.
Rallied my energy, which wasn't much, for a few at Mozarts with Katie Weston and Liam Hellwood Blues and a Welsh hippie-ish dude named Scott. At first I thought I would collapse into my orange-vodka, but a little time rendered it a really good visit before Katie went back to Southampton, Liam to Bristol and me to sleep.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


. . . once again, from the Heathrow airport. Heading in a different direction this time. Days 4,5,6,7 will be hastily documented and chronicled before I allow myself any other blog posts. I do not guarantee satisfaction. a really scandanavian hot woman just sat down across from me.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Swansea Day 3

The wedding was great. Never heard the phrase "I'm not really that worried about it" or "yeah, we'll figure it out" so often in any sort of wedding-planning capacity, and I've been privy to some pretty chill weddings.

Anyway, it was fancy dress, which is british for "costumes." I went as Dr. Venture, which involved growing a beard, shaving it to just a chin-beard, getting glasses and a bald wig. I looked more like a bad Star Trek Alien than anything else.

The ceremony was court-held and brief and as best man my primary job was to hand over the rings at the right time. I didn't fuck it up.
People cried, took pictures. It was laid back but didn't feel inappropriately casual. It felt appropriate to interrupt the first dance with a rickroll.. For real.

later, went out with a crew. Liam, one of Swansea's most recognizable characters, has moved to Bristol and on return is talking about how "no one likes him."

Susie:That's not true, Liam. I like you.
Liam: Fuckin' no one likes you either. 's why we get along.
Susie: Hey!
Liam: Oh, fuck off Sooze. You know it's true.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Swansea, days 1 and 2

I am sitting in a bald-cap with the grossest chinbeard in a while, as Jess blow-dries Jen's hair in what has to be the calmest pre-wedding living room ever.

I flew into Reykjavik then London, then coached to Swansea. Punk John joined me in Cardiff and we pulled in behind the Swansea Tesco where a clean-sober Dave Beer drove us to the Brunswick, thereby joining Keiran's in-progress stag do.

"I feel like I'm in Minor Threat."-- Dave, on drinking a coke in a pub.

There were a lot of quotes. lots of "bloody hell, didn't expect to see you." After a while we moved to the Potter's Wheel where Keiran ordered many pitchers of a green cocktail made with Monster. Yeah. I had one. fuck you, jetlag. So the night carried on and after a trip to Vice we finished off at Mozarts where Adam's brother was amused/annoyed at us, but he was getting paid to be there.

Also: Swansea punks still love their John Reis/Rick Folberg. This makes me happy.

Yesterday I secured my costume. Wandered the downtown with Keiran. A few places have painted their walls. There's an H & M now. The giant BBC Screen in Castle Square still broadcasts nothingness to no one.

Did my reading at The Crunch. Adam has really gotten into his role as a host, and Wood and Becky's help in organizing is evident. Got to see a lot of people and readers I hadn't in a couple years.

Felt fairly jetgovered, but powered through. The set looked like this:

A Brief Thanks for the Diners
You, In Your Heyday
Paintings of Famous Satanists
Zombies and Paint Thinner
When Saying Mean Things About Strangers
Extra Wide Bathtubs
Rules for Riding the King County Metro

Ambition is Critical
Story Problem

basically, overwhelmed by love and support. mainly new stuff, which I'm feeling more and more confident in both as text and performance.

soon I'll be standing by Keiran's side at possibly the casualest wedding ever, best man dressed as a mad scientist from a cartoon we watched so many hours of.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Writing this. . .

. . . from a bus station in London, waiting for a coach to Wales. Oh yes.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Napowrimo continues as I split time. . .

. . . between new stuff and edits. Witness.

Sitting at Goth Night with Punk John

In a tin can with blacked-off windows, raccoon-eyed girls dance,
backs of hands-to foreheads. the music distorts with volume.
boys from the role-player's club lead each other around
on leashes. The next track, from an '80s movie about
Doomed Teenage Love, gets spliced under with a steady industrial thud.

We share an eye-roll.
Where some trot out the old
"they think they're soooo different . . .”
and less patient friends threaten to chuck a chair
into the crowded dancefloor, we just grin.
In this-- like nightslugging 12-ers of John Smiths up the hill,
Replacements-soundtracked chili-feeds-- there is comraderie.

"You know, if you're a math whiz from the valleys
this might be the most punk rock thing you can do."

Eventually, and against most bets, we dance.
Maybe a cut we both know. Maybe a girlfriend-pacifying measure.
maybe a whole-table migration, a sudden swirl of energy, or
perhhaps simply non-involvement fatigue.
In this-- like the room itself--
there is community.


A Brief Thanks For The Diners that Understand

The world today is an old fisherman's cringing face.
This entire district is so hungover they can feel it
in their shoulders and knees are a challenge.

On the kinsey scale of practical worthlessness
I am at least a 7.

It is with this in mind that the lights are low,
even over breakfast burritos. The waiter also has
deep grey bags under his eyes but moves with calm
precision, is reassuringly rugged but not threateningly
handsome and everyone manages a wan smile.

Let the fog take downtown and emergencies crack
the last ditch efforts of men in important buildings.

I will take this corner booth
for as long as it will have me
in another little victory.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Riffing on familiar themes.

napowrimos 2 & 3:

Election Night Blues

when the whole county switched to mail-in
while I was switching addresses every six months
I was rendered someone who, by default
could not complete his civic duty and therefore,
practical wisdom says, can't complain.

like a studio gangsta dialing 911 during a break-in
or a non-praying Christian who feels
"so disconnected from God lately," I can say whatever
the hell I want,
for all the difference it makes.

the news feeds are incrementally creeping percentages.
the social feeds are lined with friends' increasingly
anxious screen-refreshers, the occasional gloat.
longtime friends who disagree trying to out-civil each other.

I will find out soon enough just how bad it is and for whom.
Recall the Goldman quote I don't entirely agree with
but can't help, after the shrug and the sigh-- a smirk.
The hard work will be here either way. Cynicism rolls back in.
This afternoon I watched an episode of Venture Bros
and thought about how some things,

you know
don't change.


Where It Really Feels Like a City

Dragged past the gum-stains and the huge billboards
for made-up neighborhoods, alleys full of needles and cats
and quick high-fives, you can look up on either
side and see curtained windows, the posterchild for
changing demographics and lots and lots of people
quickly sliding down stairwells to restaurants and
offices and back again.

You have to see these things time and again
in case everything starts seeming too cute.
In case you forget that crime still happens
on blocks with dog parks.

There won't be a reckoning, there won't be
a toppling, you'll never get your art-space back,
those seedy, beer-bearded merchants
you iconify in the black-and-white photobooks
of Old Seattle, they have found new haunts
and you're not invited. The great glass
sheen of downtown on one side,
the postcard view on the other, duck
in for sushi at a well-groomed restaurant,
stop for pizza where everyone eats loudly,
constantly darting their heads back
every time the door opens.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Heated Conversation About Steampunk

Its like all these people put on their grandpa's peacoats
and have suddenly conjured a culture that doesn't really exist

Likewhat? saywhat? Youyouyouyoudontevenknow!
how can you say tell me the 5,000+ crammed into
top hats and convention centers
don't exist. This is about a past-future that never really was.

just ask the world's major religions.
just ask the north renton ghost society.
just ask the 53 year old woman who went
as slutty hermione for halloween.

(just because it's not pretty
just because it's not your scene--
this is the future we're talking about.

this is culture we're talking about.
this is the future of culture we're talking

--where things happen instantly!
all bolts and gears and buildings creaking
to life fired by boys with bangs
shoveling coal into ovens)

just ask the 15 Seattle-area entertainment magazine writers
getting paychecks from inventing and dismantling Zeitgeists.

You can't say that when the hats are so cute.

ten thousand elvis impersonators, drunk off prohibition cocktails,
dancing in a circle around brand new anachronisms.
Ten thousand others taking notes and shaking heads.
Complete rolling blackouts.


this month is Nanowrimo. Instead of trying to squeeze in a Novel in my spare time I want to 1) write a new poem a day or 2) edit existing pieces or pieces of pieces. I think I can do this, even while I'm in the UK. The above needs some editing but it doesn't feel like a rehash of other things I've done, so I'm happy about that.

in other news, I'm getting rid of my mattress. wanna know why? last owner had cats. THAT. MIGHT. EXPLAIN. A LOT.