One more stop in Desert Hot Springs before heading home for a great dinner with Ruth Nolan, 100 TPC Palm Desert, Patricia D’Allesandro, 100 TPC organizer Palm Springs and Lee Balen, artist and friend who took this picture!
100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change mixer, spontaneous poetry and music happening, at Megabite Cyber Cafe, Thursday January 24, 8pm to midnight, 1910 Hollywood Boulevard Hollywood, FL 33020. (954) 237-2888. This is where you want to be if you are interested in meeting poets and artists from around the world. Come exchange ideas and plan for the upcoming Hollywood/Miami edition of 100 Thousand Poets for Change Global event scheduled for September 28, 2013.
So who showed up? Our host Francesca Smith 100 TPC & TMC Hollywood. Jamaica poet and 100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change-JA organizer Damali Adele Ife. David Plumb, poet, teacher, 100TPC organizer in Broward county which I have been wanting to meet for years. Andrew Earl Singer, videographer, promoter, publisher International Talent Magazine, Inc. W. Adrian Jones, Music Educator, leads the full moon drum circles at Young Circle Arts Park (we’re going there on Saturday night). Poet and musician friends of Damali- Heidi D., Maru, Lee Tafari… A couple from the Midwest on vacation wandered in off the street and joined in. Two street people from the neighborhood wandered in off the street. (The poetry was blasting on the speakers outside).
Lots of introductions, and this time around the predominant theme was money. How do your raise money to help fund the global organization? The local organization? How do you raise money to help the community? Money! Fundraising! Not my favorite subject.
Well, let’s be real. There is just so much you can do with just your hands and willpower in a world where bartering is a utopian concept. Yes, in a material world, somebody always wants to get paid or at least gain something. We all do our best to volunteer our time, we ask others to volunteer printing costs, webmastering, venue overhead, and a lot of people do volunteer their service, very graciously, but it is always an uphill battle. A lot of energy goes into door to door solicitations, something many of us are not real good at, so it eats up a lot of energy when we could be focusing that energy on education, creation, communication…the important stuff.
Grants? That’s a big job. Sponsors? You want them (businesses/corporations) to see the world the way you do. Individual sponsors? That sounds good, but maybe you don’t know people who have money! I don’t know why I don’t have “rich friends”. Wish I did.
And it all takes time, time from work, time from family, time from writing, time from resting… But I don’t mean to say this gathering was a bummer. Let’s face it, it takes a certain amount of courage and selflessness to put aside the opportunity to read poetry and play music all night, sit back in the cool Megabite Chillout Lounge drinking frosty beer and minty tea, to end up focusing on a subject like money. But we did that. And it is a sacrifice. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but remember, we are all tired people, working all the time, so to take some precious free time and focus it on more work is not that much fun. But we did have fun! Because we knew that together we had something important to do, that there is great joy from our personal, local, 100 Thousand Poets for Change programs and plans for the future.
Just look at the videos and photos and posters from Jamaica, from the Hollywood, FL event. Look at all the amazing photos and videos and posters from anywhere around the world. When you look at the big picture, the amount of work people are doing all over the place, you realize it isn’t a sacrifice to sit down and talk about money when we could be just chillin’ instead. Passion rises above it all.
Money, money, money. Let’s not talk anymore about money.
We ended the night with a great poetry reading, music and poems and new faces and spirits together in the same place for the first time, sharing global vibrations that travel around the world. Common ground. Hope. Lots of laughter. Everyone was on top of the world when the evening ended. Great work ahead, great energies everywhere.
I am writing this post on January 6, Epiphany. In the Christian tradition, this is the day when the three Magi visited Jesus and gave him the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. For a secular take on the word “epiphany,” James Joyce defined it as, “the revelation of the whatness of a thing.”
What an amazing and unexpected “whatness of a thing” it was to sit with the two of you in person this past Friday night at The Greek Joint in Hollywood, Florida, eating the most excellent galaktoboureko (Greek custard cake) and talking about the next iteration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Like I said on Facebook after our meeting, “you really are real!” Of course you are, but how nice to sit with you to talk and share and scheme.
I will never forget that night almost two years ago when I was sitting at my dining room table in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and I saw on Facebook the small image of you, Michael, smiling in front of a sunflower. There was something in that photo that said “good energy is here,” and when I read your request: “would you be willing to organize a day of poetry to support change in your community?” I felt as though the only possible way to answer this question was “damn straight I would be willing to do that, brother!”
And so began a friendship that has developed over two years and lots of “agonizing organizing” and miles and miles of distance represented by tiny profile photos of people all over the world who are dedicated to the same process: poetry and change, music and change, friendship and change…
Our little curbside table was wobbly until Terri took charge—as she is wont to do—and improvised a folded napkin table-stabilizer. Then, the conversation could continue without distraction. It was the stabilizing effect of “being together” that brought into focus a more three-dimensional version of what 100TPC is all about: the evolvement of a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. That vision of change became palpable at our little table oasis last Friday night as we discussed the future amidst the hullabaloo of the balmy, restless streets of Hollywood where couples strolled and belly dancers and fado singers beckoned customers into glittery emporiums of merriment.
Here’s to more chances for all the poets, musicians, artists, and agents of change to sit and be inspired at the same table. There is so much strength when we go forward into the whatness of everything together, not just in cyberspace, but for real….
January 6, 2013
Today – Jan 6
Green umbrellas, palm trees, and French Canadians
Reheated pizza, cranberry juice and club soda, home equity loan
Cooing doves, crows, barking dogs, fan’s turning shadow
Lumpy white delivery truck
Goes down the street
Everyone flies somewhere in a jet plane, just listen
Tiny shouting kid voices, Terri shooshes Puma
Magic and melody, ritual and entertainment
Meet Lisa Vihos, 100TPC Sheboygan in Downtown Hollywood, FL
When we first heard that Francesca Smith would organize a 100 Thousand Musicians for Change event in Hollywood, FL it was like a coming home party. This is where Terri used to live when I first met her 8 years ago. And this is where Terri’s mom still lives, and so it is a kind of second home for us. Change would be coming to Hollywood, FL. Whoohoo!!
Hollywood (aka Hollyweird) is a funky town. It has always been kind of an eclectic bohemia in the scheme of glittery South Florida cities. Not much in the way of towering condominiums, more like old houses, one night stand motels like the Lucky Boy Motel, and more legitimate vintage motels, local bars, fortune tellers, old hippies and other dissolute souls found refuge here, side by side. It has changed a lot in the last 10 years, like most old downtown districts, but it still holds on to that strangeness. It is still the place where you can go from the pizza joint open until 4am, to the Exotic Bites
Hookah Bar, to Chocolada where there is always a tourist crowd and a one man band playing out front…
…to the Transylvania Restaurant, part of the large Romanian population that still inhabits Hollywood, FL, which has the twentieth highest percentage of Romanian residents in the US. There is Jamaican food and Peruvian food, Chinese and Mexican, Argentine steak houses and an Irish Pub. Downtown is not far from the dog track and the race track, so those gambling mobster characters with Elvis glasses and gold pinky rings are still around with their thick east coast accents. But the downtown strip does have its dance clubs and hip venues, restaurants and bistros with tables on the sidewalk. Hollywood Blv. downtown is still a bit of a cruising street. Some hot bodies and extreme makeovers with their designer handbags and dogs do make their way through the reggae and rock sounds bleeding out of the nightclubs into the warm night breeze.
But you can also go down to the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a totally different scene, and join the masses of half-naked and toasty pink Ontarians in speedos baking beneath the endless rows of umbrellas. You can watch people line dance, Budweiser in hand, to French Canadian oldies at the beach bandshell. Fumes from the long row of eateries waft through the air as the toned rollerbladers and joggers whip past the strolling tourist families.
There are oysters and clams and peel your own shrimp at Nicks, one of the oldest places on the broadwalk (I think) a landmark and magnet for all the local misfits and beachbums and location of the opening scene in the classic 1981 movie Body Heat (and also in the more recent goofy movie Marley and Me, which was filmed all over south Florida).
So, back to downtown, where Francesca met us outside of Megabite Lounge, where she held the first part of her two part Musicians for Change event.
We went inside and sat down at a comfy table and didn’t bother to order a drink, we just talked, and the global mysteries began to unwind. The global question apparent: “Is this town right for 100TPC?” I hear this all the time! And I think there should be some comfort in knowing this is indeed the global question, and that there is no need to single out Hollywood, or any other city as an example of “one of those places” where people seem disinterested in wars and global warming. But despite my reassurance that this is a universal problem, that she is not alone in her frustration, that indeed a community for change can be created in Hollywood, Florida, but it might take some time… I don think Francesca was comforted. Like for many of us, the frustration and disappointment and stress of trying to bring people together for a cause bigger than themselves takes its toll.
We then met the owner of Megabite and thanked him for letting the event take place in his venue. I told him I hoped one day there would be 100 Thousand Venues for Change. Afterall, we are in this together, poets, musicians, shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors, electricians and teachers. Venues for Change! I gave him my card.
Then we moved down the stream to a real strange place, the Mystic Water Kava Bar. We found this description of the place online and I think it holds:
“This bar brings a taste of mysticism to Hollywood with its unique kava based drink offerings and one of a kind interior. Kava is a root that creates mildly euphoric effects in users. Trees snake through the space and create an organic feeling in the heady atmosphere. On an open mic night you may be treated to a professional chair massage amongst a crowd of artists, new-agers, ad adventurous spirits in search of a good time off the beaten path.”
We wondered at the art and speculated on the Kava. We met the venue owner, he had just shaved his beard and was explaining how hair has a certain energy projection that can be modulated by its presence or lack thereof. I am sorry to say I got lost in the science. But whatever it was, this place was extremely mellow. A stark contrast to the more glitzy, sexy Megabyte and the Downtown strip in general.
Then we went down to the Arts Park outdoor theater, where the “big band” reggae band, The Resolvers, were playing for free.
They had a full on horn section that was “tight” (Francesca agreed). We stopped a while and listened, it was pretty good, the singer unique and soulful, but we really came to speak to one another, to know each other better, so we headed to the small, great, Greek Joint Café and spoke about Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrel, Blaise Cendrars, Jim Harrison, Flannery O’Conner and T. Coraghessan Boyle. The conversation got much deeper and livelier, less full of doubt. We finally found something we were sure about. Our love of literature! We could think about 100TPC later, make our big plans (or not) later, for the time being, we had real Greek Salad (no lettuce, just thick juicy chunks of peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, just enough calamata olives and a slab of feta cheese) beer, souvlaki, bread, lemon roasted potatoes,
“Bitter Lemons” and “The Colossus of Maroussi”
to heal us,
to help us bridge
a common ground.
A nice winter’s day in Florida, 72 degrees, sunny and clear, so we sat outside Exotic Bites for lunch with 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Jamaica organizer, Damali Adele Ife.
Hummus, babaganoush, tzatziki, and Egyptian musaka (Terri’s favorite), pita and mint tea. (and leftover baklava we had from the night before that the waitress forgot to put in our to go order…yummy).
The first time we saw Damali’s beautiful face was on the youtube video she sent us before we knew anything about her. The video was a personal call from her home to the poets of the world, a call for change.
The video made us both cry, because we were so amazed that this stranger across the oceans was moved so much by the idea of 100 Thousand Poets for Change that she sent out such an honest personal plea. It was one of the first responses we got that really made us feel like it was real, not just an online virtual illusion.
We got one from Yashika Graham too.
Damali took/takes the whole 100 TPC thing VERY seriously. She was always the poet in the back of the room at the reading, she says, wondering why everyone just came and read their “political” poetry and then went home. She wanted to do more that just rant about what was wrong. 100 TPC gave her that opportunity and she embraced it fully.
We were excited in 2011 to meet each other for the first time, making the human connection beyond the surreal and disembodied resolution of virtual communication. And we were tirelessly excited about the possibilities for 100TPC future as we shared all the details of the first events around the world. It was the second time we met Damali in person, in Hollywood, FL. Last year we met at Young Circle Arts Park and gave a cell phone radio interview together for “Carribean Riddims”
It was awesomely great to see Damali a second time! She has this energized immediacy about her, a telegraphic intensity, when she’s talking you know she has a big vision, and she knows she must make it work.
Damali has come together with other passionate and dedicated poets and artists in Jamaica to expand the message and try to make real change. One of her strong partners is d’bi young who in 2011 was in Cape Town, and helped organize the 100 TPC event there with the Badilisha Poetry X-Change. She moved back to Jamaica, her homeland, and worked with Damali, Yashika Graham and other poet and musician activists on 100 TPC JA 2012, which focused on bringing attention to the silence that surrounds child abuse in Jamaica and beyond.
Terri, Damali and I sat at the café table on the Harrison St. sidewalk dipping pita in humus, hardly taking a breath for more than two hours, telling local stories, sharing news from the world, comparing notes from Kingston, Jamaica to Santa Rosa, California.
Our minds traveled through the obstacles we encounter in organizing and how to remove them. We looked at organization problems and solutions learned from New Orleans, Albuquerque, Palm Desert, Los Angeles, San Antonio, retracing our Santa Rosa on the road journey and the lessons we learned, the models, working and broken, that would give us hints of where we all should go next.
We gave Damali one of the 100TPC buttons we got from Viktoria Valenzuela in San Antonio, TX. She took a picture of it with her cell phone, then pinned it to her shirt. This is how global goes global…this is how we truly connect.