Friday, July 16, 2010

KaraokeFanboy Weekly #1: The "What Are You Running From?" Issue

Following "KaraokeFanboy 202," I've decided to attempt a weekly newsletter compiling my week's worth of napkin scribbling and cell phone photography, with the occasional drawing or YouTube link tossed in for good measure. The hope is to collect things that have inspired thought and add a little something to them to further the creative process. Sometimes, like this week, they'll share a theme. We'll see how it goes, and if I actually write more than.


KaraokeFanboy Weekly vol. 1, no. 1: The "What Are You Running From?" Issue


First of all, since I moved back to Arizona, I've discovered slam poetry. I've been writing poetry for a long time, and I've had the honor of featuring a few times in Orange County, but the realm of slam is a bit different. It's competitive -- and frankly reminds me a bit of my high school speech and debate, but fortunately the Phoenix area is dense with immense talent, stripping away the awkwardness of that association and challenging my writing to evolve. I've been trying to write more topical pieces; I wrote and read this one just yesterday, an elaboration on a poem I wrote for National Poetry Month. Transcribing it from scratch paper makes it official:

The Greatest Storytellers of Our Time

Forget the poets.
Their nouns are too proper for the common man;
their verbs aren't helping anyone anymore.

Forget the novelists, too.
They're too thick to think of the little things.

Forget the musicians, the movie makers, even the ministers --
they keep telling the same tired tall tales.
If history really repeats itself,
researchers can pinpoint precisely when the circle stops and starts again
by the way these stories rerun.

Skip class.
Your professor has nothing new to say.
His syllabus is just academia's answer to intellectual recycling,
if only he didn't waste the paper.

You really want to learn something?
Gather, ye, at the feet of the adulterer, the cheat.
These are the greatest storytellers of our time.
These, who invest in story like their bonds were at stake;
these, who digest the story, their bread and butter,
but not for a publisher's sake.
They don't sweat over submissions, creators' rights infringements,
The New York Times Best Sellers' list, pop radio top 40 hits --
they're just redefining what "is" is.
(Remember that line?)

The story is the perfect accomplice,
the where-have-you-been,
the, "Tiger, did you learn anything?"
Their story's only ambition is to be the custodian of the status quo,
sweeping their secrets under the carpet so their loved ones never know.

Theirs aren't t he adventures over Reading Rainbow.
When Joseph Campbell wrote of the hard-travelling hero,
he dreamt of stormy seas, Odysseus, Ahab --
he never considered paparazzi, tabloids, sex addition rehab,
but, Great Storyteller, don't apologise for your disgraced celebrity!
That plot device we couldn't see coming, your tarnished integrity,
man, we revel in those twists!
Our faith in you, the hapless victim!
Like Kaiser Sose losing his limp,
like Luke's father slapping him on the wrist,
we're hanging on every word!

Adulterer, cheater, with this, the sermon of your mount,
we're moved by your words,
we feel the spirit --

Oh, I wasn't speaking in tongues.
That's just what my fist typed when it pounded the keyboard.
Even wanton outbursts of raw emotion have something to say,
and sometimes it doesn't make sense.
Great storyteller, I'm finally speaking your language.

So forget the ministers, their holy fables,
and the music makers, their record labels.
Forget the novelists, with their tiding endings.
Forget rhyme and reason.

Forget the poets.


With another new album on the horizon in less than a year, David Gray continues to prove himself my favorite singer/songwriter. Further, I'm officially dubbed the release from his last album, Draw the Line, called "Fugitive," my favorite song. Dave Matthews Band's "Warehouse," held that distinction for a long time, since it's first lines captured a reverence for youth as the foundation for a progressive adulthood: "Hey, restless mind/Don't throw away your playful beginnings." Interestingly, "Fugitive" takes it a step further, as Gray asks, "Is the answer none of the above/Crouched in a hole like a mud-streaked fugitive?" I need some time to understand his analogy, but it makes sense to me now; life often offers us a distinct list of options, and sometimes none of them are what we envisioned for the future. This dissatisfied side of ourselves can only run, like a fugitive from his bonds, for coveted freedom. On top of that vivid lesson, the video for "Fugitive" has some great artwork -- also symbolic of life's endless possibilities, perhaps?


Below: Poster montage on 20th Street and Washington in Phoenix. The voices are getting louder, the fists, more tightly clenched -- on both sides of the argument. I've had a few revelations about the immigration debate lately, mainly, that I lock my door at night. Every night. And I know I'm not the only one. I'm willing to wager that the folks that pasted up these posters do, too. However, if my deadbolt broke, I was too lazy to fix it, and my neighbors decided to stroll in and help themselves to my stuff, I couldn't blame them. Despite the law that demands they resist that urge, my laziness toward the lock was the real problem. Besides, I have some awesome stuff! Who wouldn't want some of it? Now, if my neighbors were completely happy with what they had in their place, maybe they wouldn't peep into my apartment at all, or if they did, we could invite one another over freely. Honestly, that's the real issue, but it's too daunting to address . . . or, as these posters spread, we're too afraid to behold what we may yet become.


Finally, today is the first full day in Arizona without speed cameras in a long time. Speed Cameron mourns his fallen brethren today. Wait, who's Speed Cameron, you ask? Well, click here to find out!

My legs are tired.
Russ, a.k.a. KaraokeFanboy

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