Wednesday and Thursday night were spent surrounded by artist types. Some of them were artists– of all kinds, including writers, poets, and painters. Others were artistes who do not per se create art, but appreciate art at a level to fit in with the artist community. The sort of pretentious people who are extremely interesting and irritating.
On Wednesday, I ventured out to Broad Street to a local bookstore which was small but cool. Called Book Tavern. There the Verge held the Inkling release party. Stacks of the magazines sat at the front for the attendees to peruse. If you haven’t read it yet, particularly my story, go get it immediately or read it here online.
The first few minutes I spent shaking the hands of those I did not particularly recognize.
Hi, I’m a writer. My name is…..
After meeting and greeting, I talked to an artist and poet I’ve known for some months. Although I’d seen her perform several times, rarely had I talked with her. Good times were had, discussing literature and the creative process. She even introduced me to her friend, who flirted with me intensely. After about fifteen minutes, I accidentally let slip I was a senior in high school, the awkwardness of which was magnified by the fact that she taught English at a high school.
That night, I briefly spoke with my editor whom I had never before met. She seemed younger than I anticipated but just as nice as she seemed in her e-mails. Maybe that was her character: grandmother kindliness but young spunky-ness. When we wrapped up that event, some of us floated over to Sit-a-Spell where we were having an open mic. More importantly, we celebrated Catherine the Great’s birthday. No, not the Russian one. The poetess from Augusta.
After we performed and clapped and snapped, we ate cake. It was fun and enlightening to meet new people.
Now, about those artistes I mentioned. You can spot them from a mile off. They like to wear loud earrings and nose rings and sport tribal tattoos. This evening, I recognized one such man. I had met him before months ago at my first open mic. He sits fresh in my memory because he sat on the floor trying to drum the guitar but failing. Perhaps the first time I met him, he was beyond stoned.
The second time I encountered this greased-ponytail-wearing fellow, he was instead rip-roaring drunk. Not even drunk in the especially funny way or even in a mean way, but instead that “oh dear, he is very drunk” drunk. Which I think is the worst, since he spot it only as a drunk out of context. At a party where every person is drinking, every person is this drunk. Everyone, however, is too drunk to notice. The awkwardly-drunk drunk appears in inappropriate situations: super markets, elementary schools, and open mics.
As he stumbled out the door halfway through someone’s performance, knocking over an expensive guitar and fist-bumping everyone he saw in the process, I realized why it is important to distinguish between artists and artistes.
Artists work on their craft and exercise some talent over what they do. Artistes wonder around with a ukuleles tucked under their arms, get drunk off free wine at magazine release parties, and videotape poets on his cell phone, bent on the floor for a better angle.
You see this a lot in the artist community, though. People who smugly LOVE art. They’re the same people who will scold you for not listening to the Devilish Egg’s new album the day it comes out. “What? You’ve never heard of them? Well, I expect not. Not very well-known, but basically, the best band in the world. They’ve been out for- what- five years? Still, can’t believe you’ve never heard of them.”
“Sorry. I haven’t.”
“Well, you should. I’m in the band.”
He and his Uke may make up the elusive band which plays what they describe “hard rock with rap influence and a twang of new-age Banjo.”
Besides encountering the drunk artiste, I had a perfectly lovely time. Later today or tomorrow depending on my levels of laziness, I will tell you all the fine adventures had the Verge New Year’s party.
What I learned last Wednesday, though:
Don’t serve free wine anywhere. You will attract alcoholics. And artists