Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rita Dove and other stuff

Rita Dove's reading tonight was very good. She read from her forthcoming book, Sonata Mulattica, which I am now seriously looking forward to -- it's good stuff, yes, but also it is sort of a biography-in-verse about this mixed-race violinist, George Bridgetower, who hung out with (Rebecca Loudon take note) Beethoven, until they had a falling-out and Beethoven took the sonata he'd written for Bridgetower and renamed it after someone else.

Narrative/lyric hybrid: check! Biographical story: check! Musicians having stupid interpersonal drama: check! I think I may learn a few things about how to deal with my own current project from this book.

While her actual reading was very good, I was beyond annoyed with the undergrads sitting around playing on their cellphones (very annoying with those brightly-lit screens, especially the big touch-screen ones) and drinking frappuccinos and whispering and, swear to god, napping. I would rather read for an audience of ten people who are actually paying attention than for an auditorium in which half the people are not listening to a word I say. Grrrrr.

Also, when you spend fifteen minutes introducing the person who is going to introduce the poet, you might be venturing into overkill zone. Just sayin'.

[Added: Here's a recap of her reading from the student newspaper.]

* * * * *

So, the E Street Nation is all abuzz with the news that, when drummer Max Weinberg has to leave the tour for a while in the late spring to fulfill his bandleader duties on the Conan O'Brien show, Max's son Jay will be sitting in. My first reaction to this news was "what?! Has Bruce Springsteen completely lost his mind?!" Jay Weinberg is 19 years old and plays in a metal band. No way in hell, I thought, that a 19 year old metalhead -- no matter who his daddy is -- should have the very heartbeat of the E Street Band in his 19 year old hands.

Well, the band played a couple of "rehearsal shows" in Asbury Park this week, and Jay sat in for a few songs. And while I obviously wasn't there to witness this for myself, and haven't had a chance to download & listen to the bootlegs yet, credible sources report that the kid was more than up to the task. Apparently he's an amazing drummer, and absolutely thrilled to be there keeping the beat for a bunch of 60 year old guys -- go figure. And it is just possible that his presence and passion and enthusiasm can give the "old-timers" in the band an extra little kick in the pants -- not that they really need it as a rule, I've never seen musicians as totally into it and joyously passionate about performing as they were when I saw them in August, but how cool to have someone along for part of the ride whose attitude is still "oh my god I can't believe I get to do this!"

So now I find myself hoping that, when the real tour begins next week, they have Jay sitting in for a few songs at every show before he takes over from his dad, which will happen when they get over to Europe. Because I really wanna see this crazy kid for myself.

I mean, it's just cool to have someone in the band who's NOT yet eligible to join the Hair Club for Men. :) :)

* * * * *

Sent a whole sheaf of "Chasing Angels" poems off to a journal that asks for whole sheaves of poems. Whether or not they take them, it was really interesting to go through them picking out a handful that could carry enough of the story to stand by themselves, and to see how the arc of the narrative is developing. Whatever happens with this project, I am learning a lot from it. So that's good.

1 comment:

Lisa Allender said...

Ditto on the whassup with students playin' w/cell-phones, etc. while RITA DOVE READS!!(WTF??)
Interesting "take" on the E-Street Band "relacement". Amazing!!
Continued success with your work. Me? I'm trying to "caught up" with all your recent posts--look for my comments.