Sunday, August 20, 2006

that was the salon that was

For those of you keeping score, the final results of last night’s salon were: goddess 117; godless 23; France 2; gay hillbilly marriage 1.5.

Wallace Stevens was declared Best of Show, and God failed to appear.

What can I say? It was a real nice clambake. We began by casting up – or out; or down – good thoughts to all our Higher Powers in support of Jeffrey Pressman out there among the alien corn in Brooklyn and Little Tommy Chaffin, a former salonista facing some serious surgery back there in Hotlanta.

Then, Miss Edith Landrith shared a bit of the Pelasgian creation myth as configured by Mr. Robert Graves, featuring a provocative footnote from Mr. Graves in which he shared the insight that back in those halcyon days “woman was the dominant sex and man her frightened victim.” *Big* points for the goddess.

Then Gayle Feyrer did W.S. Merwin’s “The Judgment of Paris,” which has not one, not two but THREE goddesses offering their services to the Trojan prince, who, lacking the brains to ask for brains, opts for the sex, instead. Well, at least he wasn’t frightened.

Then, Barbara Dietrich and David Reinke did a tag-team goddess thing that started out as a serious goddess homage but then, to the surprise of some and the delight of all, turned the corner toward the comic in a celebration of the goddess Asphalta, garbed in day-glo orange, she who provides parking spaces to the prayerful and oh so much more. The audience thus softened was more than ready for Brother Bob Wieder before whom all shibboleths quail as a baby seal quails before a crazed Norwegian. Seems that not so long ago sitting alone in his underwear Bob heard a C&W song called (I think) “Now I Know Why God Made Oklahoma.” Now you and I would have been moved to tears and gone to stare at a sunset, but Bob’s response was to create a list of Why God Mades running through most of the lower 48 and pretty much suggesting God is a drunken old poop.

Needless to say, this was greeted with tumultuous approval.

Then, Michael Koppy, the Hillbilly Hesiod, shared not as expected one of the cuts from his new CD, available at a Dollar Store near you, but a brand-new composition inspired by the folk lined up for marriage licenses outside San Francisco’s short-lived Window of Love several years ago. Actually, the song spoke neither of hillbillies nor of gays – Koppy supplied the back story – and actually it was sweet and nice. But with Koppy there’s always a certain danger, a certain premonitory dread. For instance, he draped one of those things that looks like an orthodontic device around his neck and then clamped a harmonica in it, with the net effect of supplementing his sangin’ and pickin’ with some blowin’. All quite delightful, of course, but it did add the frisson of hoping against hope he wouldn't suddenly strap cymbals to his knees and start banging them together.

Ah, then I myself shared a bit of the old work-in-progress, reminding the crowd beforehand that my master is the great Henry James, which means my sentences are gravid and difficult, and the psychology of my characters is nuanced and deep, positively sub-atomic. But lest they feel excluded from so opaque and attenuated a universe, when certain folk in my fiction began to chant VICK–tree, VICK-tree,VICK-tree over masturbation, I invited the bunch to join right in.

Which they did in right good spirit.

Then the break. Much wine wine more wine. So the god Baachus had his moment.

Gayle Feyrer led off the second half with a lovely bit of Mary Oliver – who may be the salon’s poetic goddess – and then Wieder returned with a pithy description of some of the courses that might be offered by a “Christian” college in the grip of Intelligent Design mania. I don’t think Bob believes there ever was an age of miracles during which the whale stomach, for instance, was capable of selective digestion.

Then, Lyle York and Mary (not McCarthy but I always think of her as Mary McCarthy) did something from the French on not one but two (2) viol de Gambas. (Viols de Gamba? Les viol de Gamba?) Anyway, there is something mournful and spiritual and, of course, beautiful in the VdG in the right hands – and these hands were very right, indeed – so finally the wandering salon was back on firm ground. (And you should have seen the many notations on Lyle’s sheet music, delicately penciled suggestions and instructions from various teachers. If God is in the detail, there was a lot of God on that sheet music.)

And finally Jon McKinney did that McKinney thing where he has the poem in front of him but then does it from memory – or by Braille from touching the edges of the pages; he doesn’t look at the damn thing. The more offhand, the more brilliant, right? This time the poem was Wallace Stevens buoyantly pagan “Sunday Morning.” It is a poem that reads well but sounds better, and Jon sounded it very well, very well.

So that’s pretty much it. An October salon is in prospect in San Francisco, either at Sue Russell’s or Dan and Ora Harder’s. T’is a consummation devoutly to be wished, n’est-ce pas?

1 comment:

Goddess said...

Anyone who's interested in learning more about the Goddess Asphalta, Our Lady of the Parking Space, can learn all about her at the Create A Goddess Contest . . . and feel free to join in on the fun!