One Night At Flobe’s Pizza Below Frye’s Apartment

Flobe’s Pizza below my friend Frye’s apartment one night last April was puzzlingly rowdy, so we climbed down to see what was up. The place was steaming, crowded, people sitting on the ceiling, hot cheese slipping, falling pepperoni pieces and mushrooms, while a string band fiddled. The open mic was live, with Pepper, Herb, and Fava’s trio in line on the sign-in sheet to perform Joe’s “Surf Surge.”

Frye and I occupied empty seats at the end of a rambunctious table in the corner, and Joe got in line to order some pizza and orange soda. The porthole sidewalk window next to our table was occluded with steam, the string band zipping, and a couple without a table was dancing, one with the pizza the other with the beer. Suddenly, Willa and Raymond took the stage with ukulele and tambourine.

They sang of an old photo of Joan Didion sitting in a Corvette, holding a cigarette. A young man riding a piebald pony rode up to the takeout bar and ordered a veggie pizza with extra garlic and sauce. He fed his pony a breadstick. Joe came with the orange soda and said the pizza was a forty-minute wait. He poured us each a glass from the pitcher, sparkling yellow, not as orange as we had expected.

Joe sat by the porthole orb. He saw flashing lights, paisley globes filled with silver and gold light. The bubbles flew like electrified parameciums escaping down the side of the window, along its tarnished curved brass edge. Big Dada announced Joe’s pizza would not be ready until September. By then no one would be reading poetry any longer than a tweet, and that before they realized what they were hearing.

By the time Joe’s name was called (“Pizza ready for Joe!”), he had grown a pony tail and Frye had gone bald. Pepper, Herb, and Fava were on tour somewhere in the Midwest. I had tired of waiting and moved back down to Southern California to be near the beach. Every day I ride my bicycle along the Strand, watching the surfers come and go without a thought for pizza or poetry.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. philipparees says:

    No more poetry? Statistics and damned statistics. My impression is that more are reading it, and listening to it but not probably searching for it or buying it in volumes or collections. Tripping over poetry picks it up, tweets it, quotes it but probably moves on. Dare I suggest that the gulf between poetry publishing and poetry reading has got wider. The gatekeepers have so wrought the guardian gate that it looks impenetrable.

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    1. Joe Linker says:

      There are the gatekeepers, those who keep readers in as well as those who keep readers out. And what is poetry? The WAPO article doesn’t really get to that. But we all know how popular jazz is, or is not. Or do we. John Cage said, “Jazz doesn’t work. If you’re going to have a conversation, have it, and use words.” Maybe poetry doesn’t work for the same reason. But work for what? But all those movies Big Dada indicates people seem to be watching, no jazz in them? No poetry? I’m not sure what sort of frontal lobe goes in for poetry. I feel somewhat ambivalent about spending more time on poetry on the blog these days, but we shouldn’t criticize a work of art for not being something it was not intended to be. I’ve come fully circle. Have you seen the Italian film “Il Postino”? Aunt Rosa goes to complain to Neruda for introducing Mario to metaphors he then uses to seduce Beatrice. But it’s Aunt Rosa who heats up her argument with Neruda with metaphors! But indeed in the end Mario discovers that poetry can be dangerous, as the politician Di Cosimo told him. Cage also said, “Music occurs whether we intend it or not”; and the same might be said of poetry. “And when we turn our attention,” Cage said, “to that music we did not intend, it is a pleasure.” And so we may turn our attention to that poetry we do not intend. Big Dada won’t know what to make of it.

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      1. philipparees says:

        From the quote John Cage has never listened to Indian Raag, which seems unlikely. Never was an orgasm more explicitly intended, and delayed than through that non-verbal conversation.
        I entirely agree that the poetry we did not intend has found its way through us, and comes from somewhere nearly beyond words, tiptoe words passing through the misted mind. I have seen the film but many moons ago, I must find it again. I suspect rappers are trying to trap poetry into protest ( and the hope of art-some is). I will report back next week after being brave and taking Involution into the basement of a London pub for an open mic slot. Everyone else will be a performance poet, so wish the old woman well?

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        1. Joe Linker says:

          Yes, yes! Please have someone tape or film your reading for posting, if possible, if appropriate. Well, that’s very cool, open mic in a London pub for a reading of Involution. By the way, I read your award winning short story, “Looking for Lucas.” Another example of the dangers of writing, but as the narrator says, “In fact the writing was why I was coming out of that gate. I was there for lessons. If you can’t speak then writing is another country.” Like poetry, a country without borders, except those put up by Big Dada or the Border Patrol sitting on the Wall of the Big Canon.

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          1. philipparees says:

            I think it is likely to be recorded. Heart in mouth but if so will send link. Thanks!

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  2. Surfers and all things surfing it is then 🙂 I looked up parameciums, which somehow reminded me of Tove Jannson’s Hattifnaters.

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  3. bristlehound says:

    Ah! Time tinkling away in the company of a rambunctious table. CCR would be proud.B

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