Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tour update

Accomplishment of the day: downloading Open Office. I can't believe I went so long without knowing of this wonderful free software. I was pissed off at the scam Microsoft runs where they let you use Word on your new PC for a few weeks and then cut it off, forcing you to go out and buy the program. So pissed I refused to buy Word, and went without a word processing program on my laptop for months. Now that school is closed, I was close to caving in before I found out about Open Office. Let the typing commence.

Touring is the weirdest thing. You never know where you will end up. If somebody had told me even a day ago that I would be spending the night at some house in suburban Portland, passed out on some dude's little sister's bed...well, they'd have been correct (for the record, the little sister is in college and no longer lived there). The night before we stayed at a hippie house. Two nights before that we stayed at a hotel with a continental breakfast. Where will we be tomorrow? Reading stories to rodents under a train bridge? A mansion in eastern idaho? Who the hell knows?

Last night we did Space Art Collective, a pretty rad little spot in Vancouver, WA. Apparently they've had all kinds of different events there, including marionette shows. The crowd was mostly the organizers and people who came to see the bands who went on after us. More Kim's crowd than mine, but everybody was cool people. Faced with a crowd that I was pretty sure didn't come to see us, I pondered which story to read. I settled on a chapter from "Assistant," the Jim Crow-era horror novella that ends the book. It went well, even if my reading capabilities are a bit rusty. I have found, no matter what crowd you read before, the worst thing to do is pander. Reading stories about things people are already familiar with is a first-class ticket to a bored audience. Reading about Jim Crow to Pacific Northwest musicians might educate some people, so that's what I did.

Kim absolutely killed, by the way. One of the guys at the space filmed our reading, and I'll be sure to link to it whenever they post it somewhere.

I've noticed how I've been using the mic. All artists have different ways they relate to this strange, phallic piece of sound equipment. For instance, Kim never touches it. She sits or stands right in front of the mic, with her mouth close to it. Usually when I read, I hold it with my right hand, while holding the book in the left. I always lean way too close to the thing. I think I can trace this mic-holding habit back to my poet friend Heather Hong, who always held the top of the mic when reading. I thought that looked cool. It gives the impression of intimacy between the reader and the object that conveys their words. I remember, in previous readings, I did not hold the mic so much. I would veer away from it sometimes, start projecting my voice, move into the audience, or take it off the stand and get mobile with it. It's probably some level of insecurity over my rust that is making me content to stand there, holding the mic to anchor myself. On the positive side, I've been working on my storytelling voice and my pacing. Simply reading the story into the microphone, and gauging audience reaction to the words with minimal physical gesture, is a good way to work on storytelling dynamics. Blah blah blah boring artist stuff blah blah blah.

So that went well. Did the reading. Saw some bands. Slept in little sister's bed. The night before was the 1000 Words reading at the Waypost. Kim remarked that she was glad she chose not to do that one, as many people brought their children and her poetry is not suited for delicate ears. The format was that five readers get four weekly prompts, in which they have to include certain words and a certain phrase. From there, everybody writes whatever they feel like. I wrote a prose poem that mixed my love of San Francisco with my love of pulp novels. My personal favorite piece was the hilarious "guidance counselor" segments, but everybody's was amazing. I didn't sell any books, though I did trade books for some CDs and a chicken dinner.

Kim and I have some pictures. We'll upload them soon.

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