Friday, May 22, 2009

Send Money, Send Ideas, Send Energetic Responses

from the bottom of the well, with new improved acres of concrete sprouting all over downtown Tacoma, I say:
Let's Party On It !
and to wit:

“They won’t have David Fewster to kick around any more,” says disgruntled aging enfant terrible.

“Not since Chip Van Gilder’s abdication has there been such a blow to the cultural life of the city. This is a tragedy,” Alex Clayton would have written in this week’s Volcano, if he had ever heard of Fewster.

Rumor has it that Fewster was driven to despair by the news of RR Anderson’s TAIP grant to print an edition of 100 hardbound books from specialty firm Lulu Publications at a cost of $16.66 per volume, while Fewster’s own project, the epic poem-cycle “Ballad of the New Tacoma & Other Sagas of the American West” (with accompanying folk rock opera of the same name included on CD) was stalled due to lack of funds, in spite of its budget of 66.6 cents a copy for ten copies.

Fewster, who is not on facebook or myspace and thinks twitter is what the damn birds do at 3AM to aggravate his insomnia, was apparently unavailable for comment until we found the following message scratched with a blunt stick in the dried mud from the city’s endless construction project in front of our place of business.
(ed. note: We love RR and wish him the best of luck in all endevours)
The following is what we could decipher before the rain started:

“The problem is, my message is misunderstood. I don’t hate people. I hate Community. In fact, that is what I like to see as my role, that of Community-Destroyer. Is that so wrong? What is everybody’s problem with that?

“I think it goes back to that night in September 2003, when there was a meeting held at the Karpelis Museum on ‘The State of the Arts in Tacoma’ or some nonsense like that.
I was sitting next to my buddy, Ray ‘Let’s-Put-On-a-Play-Kids’ Heaton, writer, performance artist, and beloved manager of Shakabrah Java.

Also present were the spunky neo-beat Dadaist action painter kids that were getting ready to start Pannemonica’s (which was fun for the year it lasted.) I myself attended in the (so-quickly) dashed hope that my slim volume of poems, due to be published that month, would do for our city what Sandburg’s ‘Chicago Poems’ did for his hometown—demonstrate that anyplace could be subject for serious artistic consideration. And I meant ‘anyplace.’

“But alas—also present, like the proverbial vipers in the midst, were two women (who shall remain nameless) who, unlike the rest of us, had a clear and ruthless vision for our future.
Before we knew it, their program of fashion shows, red doors, yellow furniture, suitcases, conceptual art projects that turned to plaster shards and gluten mush before our very eyes, endless grab-ass wine parties for slumming North End yuppies, and the like was sucking up all available funds from the Arts Commission, Economic Development Department, and credulous newly-arrived small businesses who were snookered into thinking that supporting such a groovy scene would put them on the fast track to popularity in what the internet assured them was a new Boom Town.

“These women were aided and abetted by feeding on the blood of our young creative types, who were seduced from the frequently tedious and frustrating task of making art that anybody would give a damn about into cavorting around like Rock Stars in Their Own Minds, prancing through the pages of City Arts and the Volcano like they thought it was People Magazine, posting 2000 pictures on Flickr (“hey, I’m a global artist”) and thinking that anyone was going to actually download this drivel, and running around half-undressed (“we’re free, uninhibited and avant-garde!”) at Art Parties for the afore-mentioned middle-aged Proctor perverts.
No doubt this is seductive for the artists’ egos (folks can spend a lifetime in the Bay Area without getting a goddamn sidebar in the SF Weekly), but the years have passed now and some of these hapless kids are discovering that they’ve wasted their precious twenties amassing a resume that consists of an interview on their favorite microbrew at Doyle’s.

“But, as it turns out, the days are numbered for this scene. The money is all gone and, as I speak, power is being shut off, over-priced rentals sit vacant, and the words ‘Seattle,’ ‘Portland,’ and even as God is my judge ‘San Francisco’, are turning up more and more on the blogsites.
And, as the Beautiful People begin to migrate to greener pastures, two distinct types will be left:
1) those born here and unable to gather enough escape velocity from its horrible vortex, and
2) those who crashed and burned here (or woke up and didn’t know where the hell they were), and, being now too weak and broken to move, have come to embrace its hideous splendor as a fitting purgatorio for the sins of a lifetime.

“’So,’ some of you may ask, ‘what makes this such a pressing time for a Community-Wrecking Festival?’ Some may even think to themselves I may have an ulterior motive.
And I do.
It is simply my selfish need to spend a few precious moments with the special and wonderful creative individuals that I want to destroy, before we come to that sad parting of the ways and leave the Tacoma art scene forever.

“Oh, and my other ulterior motive. Cash. Lots of it, but not so much that people will think I’m insane. I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars, which is still a mere fraction of what other groups ask for on a weekly basis at the City Council meetings.

It is my dream that the Funkoma Vintage Anti-Festival will take place in July and August, featuring such performers as the Tacomen, Tommy Dean, Colin Sannes, Doug Mackey, Heather Lum, Teddy Haggerty—all the folks that were here long before the b.p. showed up, and will be here long after they’ve gone far away. The festival would also be the publication party for my 10 xeroxed pages from Kinko’s.

“But, for this we’ll need start-up funds. So, I’m calling out to all my brand new best friends on the blogosphere to help me
1) find ways to cut through all that red tape on those nasty 501C-3 applications
2) grease the palms of the bureaucrats who vote on grants for me
3) maybe some wealthy patron could just give me a big wad of greenbacks in exchange for immortality—who would have heard of the Medicis if it hadn’t been for Leonardo, answer me that. And did I mention how much I love you guys up on the North End?
4) while I’m waiting for this to happen, I still gotta eat. There’s a list of restaurants I’ve never been to in town. It’s called the Yellow Pages. Give me a ring when you want to take me out. (No breakfast calls before ten, please.)
5) the back panel of my electric guitar amp has fallen off, and I get a wicked shock every time I try to turn it on. I need someone to come over and fix this. (Please have own insurance.)

“Well, that’s about it for now. I’ll keep everyone posted as I discover other needs. In the meantime, I would like to offer the first page of my book for the world’s perusal. Because you won’t find it in “In Tahoma’s Shadow: Poems from the City of Destiny”—


Sometimes, as a kind of game while I’m waiting for the light rail
To take me from nowhere to nowhere a mile and a quarter down the street,
I pretend to timewarp my youthful self of 25 years ago
(runaway college-dropout denizen of dens of LA and San Francisco depravities)
To my present situation with no word of explanation,
Then I try to figure out where I am using Sherlock Holmsian powers of deduction.
The tall buildings that rise at different points of the horizon
Would seem to imply a city,
But the street I’m on is composed of vacant lots,
Half-block long complexes of shops with the personality of
A strip mall gone to seed, and broken brown stumps of
Abandoned buildings of a century past.
To my right is a large, multi-storied aluminum structure,
Looking all the world like the exoskeleton of
A High School Football Stadium erected by a Proud and
Moderately Affluent Midwestern town.
Although it is 10 o’clock in the morning on a business day,
The street is completely deserted.
I decide my quarter-century twin from the past
Might feel like Burgess Meredith in the old Twilight Zone episode,
The one where he goes outside after the Nuclear Blast.
Oh wait, I lied—looking as far as the eye can see,
I can spot one speck of humanity in one direction,
A couple of specks in the other.
“What IS this place?” I wonder aloud.

“Oh, what will happen if Frank Russell leaves?”
The business section and bloggers moan.
Shit—bring it on—what’s the worst that can happen?
Tacoma will turn into a ghost town?
I’ll only be able to see two specks instead of 3?
Hell, it’s already so bad that the Starbucks kittykorner from the Convention Center
(Remember the Convention Center aka home of the Gooseberry Falls Iowa Corndogs—
It was going to Revitalize Downtown!)
Our Starbucks is the only one in the Goddamn Universe
That closes on Saturdays.
On weekends, it is very funny to see
The occasional tourists saunter confidently to the door,
Reach for the handle to swing it open,
And nearly wrench their shoulders from the sockets in the
Inexplicably arrested movement.
Some of them even try twice,
Then peer through the tainted glass
Before turning around in pained disbelief.
Sometimes our eyes meet. I shrug,
As if to say
“I dunno. Don’t ask me. I’m just passing through.”