Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The UnRealist

AP--May 22, 2011. Zinc Bar. Warm day, overcast. A rustic gate, bolt locked, barring a set of steps descending into the reddish-grayish maw of Zinc. This gate, the sort we imagine of old lift elevators, opened at 5pm behind the lethargic efforts of an older Indian gentleman. He asked that I return in a half hour.

I circled the block for 24 minutes and returned a bit early to a bar quietly, but pleasantly, populated. A new curator is in town. He announced himself fingering a glass of whiskey with a serious expression, but an ever-friendly attitude. Long black hair, neatly pulled back. Jeans with the cuffs turned up. A sort of Milesian cool. David Jou, for his first crack at the Zinc Bar reading series, had asked the poets Paul Legault, Kendra Grant Malone and the mysterious Jon Leon. A wonderfully intriguing roster.

Kendra and Paul, it goes without saying, were wonderful readers. Kendra's voice moves with thread-bare intensity behind a poetry of grotesque charm. She read some from her first collection Everything is Quiet and some new poems from her forth-coming collection Morocco. Paul read an effervescent mix of poetry and (after being coaxed into an encore performance) Virginia Woolf prose that was precise and incredible. (Some of his work can be heard playing in the Bronx Botanical Garden--apparently a favorite of Michelle Obama)

But Jon Leon. Who is Jon Leon? The Man--The Poet. Remains something of an enigma. He read from a previously published story, Hit Wave, which was written from the depths of a penitentiary in Georgia (The Poet was considered a threat on an outbound flight). Penitent? Maybe. Maybe not. Committed as he was to reading the full story (1982), Jon was on stage practicing an elegant theater of cruelty in balenciaga, dior and levi's for an hour and twelve minutes. 1982--A salacious tale of power and decadence as could only be told by this mysterious agioteur. He was accompanied by another mysterious poet, clad from head to toe in Silver Fox pelts, who refused to share her name. Instead, she spoke only the three words, Worn Out Joy repeatedly in an infrasonic croon. Her name, I later found out: L. Rodriguez.

Following the reading, the gentleman poet was escorted from the premises by an entourage of no less than 14 people. Standing outside it was difficult to manage a word with the poet. But we were able to snap photos of his limited print copy of Hit Wave, compiling a bootleg simulacra of his work for the archives.

Here is one such photo, now circulating the seedy back alleys of the internet.