in the filth
of a paradise
whose first dupe on earth
was not father nor mother
who diddled you in this den
screwed into my madness.
And what seized hold of me
that I too rolled my life there?
I am there,
and it is life
that rolls its obscene palm there.
The old Artaud
in the chimney hole
he owes to his cold gum
to the day when he was killed!
He is this unframed hole
that life wanted to frame
--excerpt from Artaud the Momo
, translated by Clayton Eshleman
What an eventful Valentine's Day.
Went to see Clayton Eshleman
read his translations of Antonin Artaud
. It was wonderful, magical even. I'm not terribly familiar with Artaud, but I know enough to have come away absolutely entranced and amazed at the level of potency Eshleman brought to Artaud's words, which, arguably, are not only difficult to immerse oneself in and fully comprehend, but are the words of a madman.
Eshleman, through his translations, masterful vocalization of Artaud's poems, and commentary on Artaud's artwork, was able to really convey the essence of that madness, the distillation which seeks the very root of human existence. Our existence as animal, and what that does to us intellectually. The confrontation with our true selves, without pretense, which I think is impossible to really fully do. It is terrible, yet fitting, that Artaud came to many of these realizations within his work after barbaric and aggressive shock therapy.
In addition to the Artaud seminar, we got a few nuggets from Eshleman's new Cesar Vallejo translation
at the reading as well, and it was marvelous. From his translation of Vallejo, in keeping thematically with Artaud and the "Theatre and its Double
," he read:A man passes by with bread on his shoulder.
Am I going to write, then, of my double?
Another sits down, scratches himself, extracts a louse from his armpit, kills it.
What use in speaking of psychoanalysis?
Another has entered my chest with a stick in his hand.
To speak, then, of Socrates to the doctor?
A cripple walks by, giving his arm to a child.
Am I going to read, then, Andre Breton?
Another shivers with cold, coughs, spits blood.
To play ever at alluding to the profound I?
Another searches in mud for bones, rinds.
How to write, then, of infinity?
A bricklayer falls from the roof, dies, no longer eats lunch.
To innovate, then, the trope, the metaphor?
A merchant steals a gram of weight from a client.
To speak, then, of the fourth dimension?
A banker falsfies his balance.
With what face to cry in the theatre?
A pariah sleeps with his foot to his back.
To speak, then, to anyone of Picasso?
Someone goes to a funeral sobbing.
How, then, to enter the Academy?
Someone cleans a rifle in his kitchen.
What use in speaking of the beyond?
Someone passes by, counting on his fingers.
How, then, to speak of the not-I without screaming?
Clayton Eshleman, check him out if you can. He'll be in Malibu, California on February 24 at Diesel, A Bookstore
to read some of his own poetry, and some of his translations of Vallejo.
After the reading, we rushed home to get gussied up to see David J
's Cabaret Oscuro at Cafe du Nord
This was my first time seeing Cabaret Oscuro, and it was a really terrific show. David created Cab Os as his take on 1920's Berlin cabaret. He says in Ear Pollution
:In the '20s it was very politically charged and challenging. It was rough and ready and combative. There was a lot of friction that went on between the performers and the audience. It was commenting on the social climate and it was challenging the status quo, and that's all very punk rock.
I also love the whole look of it, like the German expressionist kinda stark visual presentation, which was always a big part of Bauhaus. So what I'm doing is bringing that into my solo music, and really having some fun with it. It's just great for me to put down the guitar and not have to worry about it.
Such a treat. It was lovely to hear David sing Black Dahlia work -- especially as the songs he chose are songs that are sung by other artists on the forthcoming EP -- as well as some favorites of mine: Antarctica Starts Here (a cover of John Cale), Candy on the Cross, Joe Orton's Wedding, and This Vicious Cabaret. The latter he sang with a singer/pianist he is producing, Vinsantos
, and it was really well done. Vinsantos was essentially the opening act as well as being a performer in Cab Os, and I highly recommend checking out his music on MySpace. "16 Seconds" is beautiful.
I was a little disappointed to not see Cabaret Oscuro's regular cellist, Joyce Rooks
, but both Joyce and David had said that for the current Cab Os shows he was going to try to pick up local musicians for each show. Of the local talent, I particularly enjoyed Kitten on the Keys
. Very lively and fun. I think I will be checking out her next gig at the Rite Spot Cafe
Though poor Kitten -- we chatted a bit after the show and she was mortified she had played the chorus bars during the verse in "Indelible Blue." I hardly noticed, but it did make David stop the song. I spoke with David afterward, and he said that they had only rehearsed for an hour or so before the show, which lends itself to minor problems, but I think is also very right for this style of cabaret.
Funny, more distracting to me was David using prompts for some of his songs, even the old ones, which lent a more scripted and less uninhibited air to the show. But, again, so minor that it failed to be anything of importance. Most impressive and what drowns out minor gaffes such as these is that energy of throwing a bunch of creative and classy musicians together, coupled with the improvised banter during the gaffes that evokes the essence of live dinner theater -- the moment. It felt more vibrant and fresh, more alive.
It was so nice that I got to chat again a little with David afterwards too. He is just such a gentleman, and a visionary performer.
The setlist, courtesy of one of my tablemates:
*Ghost of the Multiple Feature (Love and Rockets, from Lift
*Candy on the Cross (from Urban Urbane
*Joe Orton's Wedding (from Etiquette of Violence
*unsure (Poetic Young Man?)
*Antarctica Starts Here (John Cale cover, from Candy on the Cross
*Indelible Blue (from The Black Dahlia Movie
and forthcoming EP, Devil's Muse
) cut short
*The Black Dahlia Theme (ibid)
*Indelible Blue (ibid)
*This Vicious Cabaret (from V for Vendetta
*unsure (but David attempts to scat, and admits he shouldn't try it for the first time live onstage)
*Streets of Berlin
*Falling in Love Again (in German)
*My Funny Valentine
*Time (David Bowie cover)
*Who Killed Mr. Moonlight? (Bauhaus, from Burning From the Inside
His next show is February 23rd at Safari Sam's
in Hollywood, California, and will be more Black Dahlia themed. The lovely Ms. Rooks will be sitting in for cello, and other performers will include Ego Plum, Nora Keyes, Abby Travis, and Vinsantos.
I'm a big fan of David's projects, but I highly recommend Cab Os for anyone who just loves bawdy, lively, improv musical theater, and smartly visceral songwriting. The man does it well.
Labels: Antonin Artaud, books, cabaret, Cafe du Nord, César Vallejo, Clayton Eshleman, David J, poetry