Category Archives: Choir Debuts

Chicken Thief – Matt Barnett

A few Labor Days ago, some of my union friends insisted that I attend the Cleveland County Democrats Labor Day Picnic held in Andrews Park in Norman, Oklahoma. It cost twenty bucks a plate, and all the money was going toward beating the Republicans in the 2010 election.

“Be sure and be there,” they said.

“We’re going to have a big chicken dinner, with all the fixins, and Jari Askins is going to be there. It’s going to be really great. Don’t miss it,” they said.

They figured Jari Askins stood a good chance to become the first female Governor of Oklahoma. Well, that sounded good to me. Somebody’s got to turn this thing around. So my girlfriend and I piled into the car and headed to the park.

Before 9/11, I worked at this fried chicken place in Seminole County. We all had to wear these pleated blue pants, a Boy Scout belt, a red polo shirt, and a blue snap hat bearing the company’s idiotic cartoon chicken logo. It was humiliating.

From “A Chicken in Every Pot” political ad and rebuttal article in the New York Times, 10/30/1928

“The Republican Party isn’t a “Poor Man’s Party.” Republican prosperity has erased that degrading phrase from our political vocabulary. The Republican Party is equality’s party—opportunity’s party—democracy’s party—the party of national development, not sectional interests—the impartial servant of every State and condition of the Union. Under higher tariff and lower taxation, America has a stabilized output, employment and dividend rates . . . ”

At Andrews Park, high cirrus clouds hovered over a sinking late afternoon sun. Cicadas ratcheted out an end of summer song. Kids chased and screeched around the playground equipment. I saw a few democrats forming a line outside the old pavilion. Continue reading

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Three Poems – Jared Duran


Black and White Night Of the Soul
for Chet Baker

Three notes take flight and drift 
out the window, down to the street 
below. In Amsterdam, far from mother, 
children—one of whom looks 
like you might have if only, 
under different circumstances, 
would that you had it to do all over 
again. Your absence of eyes 
belies the sole truth—every outcome is the same. 
When there is no satisfied, 
when you are perpetually almost blue, 
all is addiction: women, cars, jazz.

There is the high and then, 
there is the next, or 
there are three notes crushed 
under the tires and feet of Amsterdam.
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BOOK REVIEW: “wreck/age” – Bill Moran & Simon Kindt (Alien Mouth Books)

wreck/age: an odd little book
Bill Moran
Simon Kindt
Alien Mouth Books, 2015
[purchase]

reviewed by Donna Vorreyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not odd at all, this gem of a book gives us a narrator whose “holy mess” of a life is a love affair with the sea, a sailor who is one of the “strongarms and loudmouths” drawn by salt and waves at the expense of all other desires. Divided into three sections, the book follows the narrator’s life from his earliest days to goodbye. In “Slack Water,” we get an origin story of sorts:

“at age 2, your father says he will teach you to swim.
teaching you to swim is tying you into a sack,
weighting the sack with stones,
dropping you in.

the water hits like a delivery room slap
of cold white roar and WAKE UP BOY
THIS WORLD IS NOT IN LOVE WITH THE IDEA OF YOU
THIS WORLD IS NOT GENTLE OCEAN AND WARM BELLY
THIS WORLD IS BIRTH AND BLOOD AND MURDERED LOVE”

The suicide of the narrator’s father and mother are co-mingled with the butchering of a whale, the “holy mess” of the whale’s guts also referring to the father’s bloody death, the “red ribbons” of the whale’s intestines the same as the mother’s self-inflicted stab wound.
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The Popes & the Punks

The out of uniform day is the Catholic school equivalent of a prison tattoo. It’s your chance to show what you are all about. If you didn’t go to a Catholic School, this is how it worked. Once, maybe twice a month there would be a fundraiser for a particular club. The band needed new uniforms, the theater department needed to rent costumes for the spring musical, I’m pretty sure I gave money to the Pro-Life Club to buy paint for their protest signs. They would go around at lunch or in homeroom, charge you a dollar and on a specific day you got to come sans uniform.

T-shirt choice was a huge factor. You only had one shot and if you blew it you’d have to wait weeks before you could make amends. No matter what music you listened to, most kids chose to wear a concert shirt. This was the mid 90’s in the suburbs of Chicago so there were a lot Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band, and Pearl Jam shirts.

If you were into punk rock, it was your only shot at finding like-minded punks to hang out with. We couldn’t have piercings. We couldn’t dye our hair. All we had was the out of uniform day. When it came to shirts, the more obscure and local the better. Green Day had already sold out so if you wore a Green Day shirt you were instantly a poser. And since the bassist from Green Day wore a Screeching Weasel shirt onstage at Woodstock ‘94, they were out as well. But that was okay. There were a number of oddly named bands to choose from: Sponge Tunnel, No Empathy, 88 Fingers Louie, Los Crudos, Trenchmouth, Naked Raygun, 8 Bark, the Bollweevils, etc.
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Roadhouse Bars, Cock Rock Guitars, & the Healing Powers of Johnny Cash

Our guides that night were a boyfriend/girlfriend tag team from Detroit. I can’t remember their names only that they had androgynous ones like Jaime, or Lesley, or Alex and I kept calling him by hers and her by his. They were taking us to an authentic Japanese karaoke bar on the east side of Louisville, Kentucky

An authentic Japanese karaoke bar in Kentucky is basically a road house bar where the only thing remotely Japanese is a poster of a slender Japanese woman in a black cocktail dress holding a bottle of Sapporo. A beer they didn’t even sell

The bar was split into two factions. On one side were the kids we were meeting. All out-of-towners with too many tattoo’s and piercings. who wore mostly black and almost exclusively sang 80’s cock rock classics. A lot of Poison, Skid Row, and Motley Crue.

On the other side were the painfully obvious locals who, both male and female, wore tight white jean shorts that stopped just above the knees. They sang almost exclusively sang Top 40 Modern Country hits by Garth Brooks and other country singers I guess.

Both groups were loud.

Both groups were rowdy.
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