Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cornelia Street

What does Woody Allen say? Eighty percent of life is showing up. Something like that. It turns out I was going to support George Wallace, a poet buddy I know, by attending his reading in the West Village. Running late as usual, I bumped into him heading to the cafe.

"Hey Johnny," George said. "What's shaking?"

"Good to see you too Frank," I said.

I've always likened George to Frank O'Hara. George is a damn good poet, a hell of a reader, and a hell of a guy.

"What's this the first time we've bumped into each other in the city?"

And it was. For the past two years we've been running into each other out in Oregon. Both of us are New Yorkers, but we've never shaken hands on our home turf. this was our tipping point.

It was an amazing lineup of poets. Some paid tribute to the late great Kerouac. Ah, my Kingdom for a Beatnik! George called out before the night was said and done and made me get on stage to read from Shades of Luz. Boy, was I shocked.

You think this guy, hosting the event, would want to read. But, no. He gave me his final slot so that I could share with the packed house my Sven Bergstrom thumb-wrestling scene from the novel.

I had to give him an autographed postcard. It was the least I could do. He has a big reading lined up for the penultimate day of the year. I have a big surprise for him. And I'm not telling.

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