Sunday, September 28, 2003

Can you mosh to poetry?

Kearny Street Workshop's 5th Annual APAture was a sound success as it wrapped up with it's 12hr and counting mega-performance day on Saturday 1pm - 1am. (Officially it ended 2:25am)

I left around midnight after Asian Crisis. There was the gallery, theater stage and hall with tables and rocking bands and poetry. It was great! By the end of the evening, I had pledged for a sorority, T.P.'d a room, and was the follow up act to a punk rock band. More on these things later.

Must have been several hundred folks wandering in and around the different performances and exhibits in the SoMarts (South of Market Art Gallery) that sits just under the freeway. I wish I had gotten a chance to write down some of the artists names in the galleries. Much appreciated was the bedspread made of checks and the pillow case from receipts. There was the large mechanical dragonfly and the light shadow sculpture made of light bouncing on two mirrors with pieces of broken crystals. I also liked these images made of resin. The images are made with chlorophyl then the image created is cast in resin. I don't know how that works, but the image of mother and child on a large leaf reminded me of finding fossils and I wondered what other things the leaves and trees record about our lives.

The performance schedule moved back and forth between the theater and hall which conveniently allowed people to walk past the bar to quench their thirst.

I finally found someone who had a precious program guide. I was on at 10:37, they said they were running 30 minutes behind so I had a few hours and then some. Ran into helluv fools I hadn't seen in a while. Good to catch up with them. I stopped by some of the zine tables and comic book tables. One of the comic books was about a geek superhero. The guy had also done work in a comic book on how to pray the Rosary. Mother Mary had more of a Virgen de Guadalupe look which I appreciated. I thought about buying a copy, then decided not to.

Passing by another table, a woman stops me and puts a wire necklace on me, a mix of beads and a metal disk of black concentric circles that would make anyone who looked at it mesmerized. I had to pass, no cash.

At another table, another comic book about the lives of workers who work in toxic situation at work from the Silicon Valley Toxics Network, working to improve working conditions at manufacturing plants. Make your own button for a $1 and miniture display at another table.

I would have liked to talk with people but the band was playing and all I got to do was hand signals. But I understand why people like to socialize at loud clubs, cuz it means you have to lean in and talk directly into someone's ear. You would think I would have figured that out when I was single? ah well.

After the band, the audience migrated to the stage and the hall quieted down. I found filmmaker Matt Abaya next to the Kero Kero Pi table. Pausing momentarily brought up a Kero Kero Pi sister to tell me all about it while Matt filmed the way he always does. The sign in the back said it was for Asian Sisterhood unity. The back wall showed folks who were accepted as pledges. She handed me an application. When she told Matt guys could enter too, he picked up a clipboard too.

Name: Michelle Bautista
Favorite Singer: Sharon Cuneta, Golda SupaNova (I figured picking Asian singers would get me bonus points.)
What does Asian Sisterhood mean to you?: um....folks to eat late night dinner with?
Why do you want to pledge Kero Kero Pi?: to connect with a greater community of Asian wo(men)
What can you contribute to Kero Kero Pi?: wine (when in doubt, sororities/fraternities always go for liquor), Jedi Mind Tricks (gotta add a splash of pseduo-stardom), and rides to BART (you can't beat rides to the train station.)

I let Matt turn his application in first. They interview him, ask him who his heroes are (he dutifully named Jose Rizal and Larry Itliong). Then they made him do push ups while screaming Kero Kero Pi as loudly as he could while being smacked on the butt with an inflatable bat. (what one does for art!) After he screamed to a sufficient level, they conversed amongst themselves. There were only two prized pledge positions left. They return. He gets denied.

Now I'm nervous. It's my turn. I haven't done a push up since junior high! They ask me why I want to join, what I would give, I feel like the interview portion of Miss America or maybe Miss Chinatown. They go and converse. (whew! no pushups!) The head Kero Kero Pi person comes back, she sounds kind of sad. "it doesn't look good," I say to Matt's camera.

Then, drumroll, they accept me as a pledge with a nametag with the kero kero pi mascot. Jello shots all around!

While the audience is occupied in the theater, we take rolls of toilet paper and TP the room in time for Charmin's performance. It's harder than it looks. The toilet paper can't just travel over the light rack, it's gotta unravel and stream paper behind it. We were obviously not delinquent enough in our youth to know how to do this, so it took a few tries. Charmin rocks the house with a mini-mosh pit in front of them. Photographer Jay Jao is a brave man with his expensive camera equipment as I watch his camera flash bounce through the pit.

You know, I love Charmin, they've got good music, but I've never had to read my poetry after a band complete with mosh pit and hoola-hooping women on tables. They finish their last song and I get introduced.

As I take the mic, toilet paper is torn to shreds on the ground like the gray slush of old snow. Most of the crowd has dispersed for fresh air, the band packs up behind me. There's a sparce crowd left, some old friends, some new folks, others sweeping up. Thank GOD for those people! I didn't plan anything special, just me reading words. I did happen to know most of the photographers, so I got a lot of pictures out of it. I read a few poems, some of my newer work letting some of my old friends know where I've gone in my writing. It was good. One of the hardest follow-up gigs I have ever done! I realized it doesn't matter about the size of the crowd. It's often said poetry is not a popular genre. It's about being able to connect with folks. You read where you're invited, you read when you can, and if you're lucky, there'll be a few folks to hear you talk. if I can only generate a mosh pit for poetry...

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