Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ken Arkind and Denver

When I first started doing readings with Ken Arkind, I had to get used to the concept of being upstaged. Of course, I wasn’t the least bit surprised by this — after a decade of winning national competitions, becoming executive director of Denver Minor Disturbance Youth Poetry Project, and touring throughout the nation and world, Arkind has become an institution in the Denver poetry scene. So it just makes sense that his spoken word performances are less of clumsy readings through material and more of events to behold. Recently he teamed up with another venerable Mile High City poet, Charlie Fasano, to release Denver, a book including a longer poem by Arkind with linocut block print illustrations by Fasano. Arkind and I got to sit down and hash things out for the better part of an hour. Below is a transcript of this momentous conference.

Embracing my Inner Contradictions

As any number of rock and roll lyrics can attest, we are flawed beings rife with endless contradictions. On “Talking Shit About a PrettySunset,” Isaac Brock encapsulates this phenomenon perfectly when he sings, “I changed my mind so much I can’t even trust it. My mind changed me so much I can’t even trust myself.” But since no one likes a hypocrite, it’s all the more difficult to accommodate the myriad discrepancies that constantly duke it out in the mind. We like to present ourselves as a substantive, unified front of cemented opinions and personality. Of course, we’re imperfect beings who can easily be influenced by any number of factors from weather and sickness to a lack of sleep and alterations in serotonin levels. With this constant state of flux in mind, I realized that since attempting to be a perfect person is pointless, I might as well accept my inconsistencies. Some might accuse me of giving up, but I tend to think of it as maturing. Whatever the case may be, I have compiled a few of the inner contradictions that I have come to welcome in my life.

1) Driving. There are so many ways in which I am a hypocrite when it comes to maneuvering my automobile, that it’s almost painful to list them all. That’s why I’m only admitting to a few, such as driving as fast and inconsiderate as possible even when I have ample time to reach my destination, getting upset about people driving while on their cell phones only to answer a call of my own a few minutes later, not letting people into my lane when they signal and then getting mad when people won’t let me in when I signal, and hating people for tailgating me when I’m driving at a speed I deemed fast enough even though I do the same thing when others drive at a speed that I deemed too slow. 

2) Television. When other people watch TV, they’re wasting their lives in front of the idiot box. When I watch it, I’m just trying to get my mind off things.

3) Mistakes. I have no patience when it comes to the mistakes that others make in my presence, yet if I ever make a mistake in your presence, I expect you to cut me some slack. I’m only human, you know.

4) Music. Throughout my life, music has played an integral part of my day-to-day existence. My love for music manifested itself as a very young child when I would ask my mom to leave the keys in the car after we got home so that I could finish listening to a particular song. I started playing drums at 10, formed a band at 16, and have been playing in one form or another since then. The first record I remember owning was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I began collecting cassette tapes in third grade. And currently, I own over 1,000 records. It goes without saying that I spend hours upon hours every week listening to music — and that’s because it means so much to me. And if you ever want to put your record on the turntable or play a CD in the car, you can fuck right off because your music sucks.

Review: Land Lines

Cash Cow Production

Have you wondered what the genre of captivating cello rock has to offer? Apparently the Denver trio Land Lines has it pretty well figured out — at least if the group’s self-titled debut is any indication. A few years after the breakup of Matson Jones, cellists Martina Grbac and Anna Mascorella started crafting songs together. And after reuniting with drummer Ross Harada, they recording a batch of tunes that depart from the more rock and roll influences of their former group. The song, “Boards Over Walls,” for example, abandons bowed cello parts and incorporates plucking in its stead, giving the song a succinct background over which Grbac and Mascorella harmonize the chorus, “I’m a stern worman.” Of course, the bowed dueling cello approach isn’t deserted completely, as demonstrated by the brooding, “Vegas,” a track lyrically penned by Charlie “The City Mouse” Fasano. Still, while this lineup boasts a similar roster to Matson Jones, it’s enough of a divergence to necessitate a completely fresh approach, which benefits Land Lines in the most graceful of ways. More information.