It has been decreed that the next edition of Get to the Point! (exact date to be determined) shall have an Elizabethan vibe. For many that will mean Shakespeare. For some it will be a chance to share fave lines from Will’s pals Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe. From those hoping to address the gender imbalance (of a time when not only did few women write plays, they weren’t even allowed to act in them), perhaps we’ll hear some Elizabeth Cary or Mary Wroth.
Lots of possibilities here. Maybe you’ve written a sonnet. Perhaps you modernized a Shakespearean plot. Know a song based on the bard. Or maybe your name just happens to be Elizabeth.
We can pretty much promise that there will be an updated Jonsonian masque. And it’s hard to imagine that your humble host, Christopher Arnott, won’t be doing his popular rendition of Act One, Scene Three of The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus on the ukulele.
If you want to take part, it helps if you let Christopher Arnott know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your contribution doesn’t HAVE to have an Elizabethan slant, but if you are thus inspired, go with it.
Cafe Nine, 250 State St. No cover. Free pens.
We’ll let you know the date when we do. The first Monday of November had a scheduling conflict, so it WON’T be on Nov. 2.
We’ve had two colossal Get to the Point!s in a row now, with stand-alone main events following impressive line-ups of stories, readings, songs and such. September was the full-album concert version of The Point, commandeered by Dean Falcone. That needs its own essay, which will have to run here out of order. For I have just returned from the October edition—a Beatnik spectacular featuring an outstanding reading of “Howl” Part One by Karen Picone Ponzio (posing as Allen Ginsberg), not to mention all the other key poems of the famed Six Gallery reading of Oct. 7, 1955.
Some esteemed Get to the Point! regulars made up the cast of San Francisco poets: Kenneth Rexroth was played by Ken Carlson with a stentorian swagger. Philip Lamantia was played by David Pilot with an aloof air and no-nonsense delivery. I was Michael McClure, trying to make McClure’s oddly shaped, capitalized and punctuated verse leap as it does on the page. Sarah Russell brought out the Francophilia in Philip Whalen. Craig Gilbert rose to the difficult task of following “Howl,” as Gary Snyder reading “A Berry Feast.” At the back of the stage sat Saul Fussiner as Jack Kerouac, shouting “Yes” and “Go!” as Ginsberg (Karen) howled.
Sitting there onstage, it felt literary and poetic and rhythmic and all that, but it also had the rush of an explosive chemistry experiment. It was impossible not to get swept up in “Howl.” It was hard not to pound the floor and bang on chairs and yell, and slap things until your hands hurt. So we did.
Ginsberg only delivered Part One of “Howl” at the Six Gallery that historic night in ’55, but the GttP readers of today were intent on delivering the whole thing. So there was an encore, a full-crowd yelling of Part Two (“Moloch! Moloch!”) and then a hardcore poetic blaze through Part Three (“I’m with you in Rockland”) by Saul and myself, while the ever-attuned Lys Guillorn played A-C-D chords on a fuzzy electric guitar.
And that was only the finale. Even without the main Beat event, this was a strong and diverse Get to the Point! evening, with several newcomers: musician/memoirist Steven Christofor of the well-remembered local band Flowerland, poet Julie Ann McCormick, Cafe Nine stalwart Jamie Arabolos with a heartwrenching tale of depression and survival, and a guy called Liam who was not just a solid reader/writer but a terrific audience member. Among the regulars and increasingly regular visitors who contributed: Karen Picone Ponzio (with her own poems, not Ginsberg’s), Billy K. (whom I praised for his “scatalogical wordplay jukebox”), David Pilot (short story this time), Dulcet-toned Terrence intoning an original love poem and Ken Carlson with a new episode of his golden-age-radio space saga Inferior Planet.
Andrew Williams of the Placing Literature website contributed introductory knowledge of the Six Gallery reading. Rebecca Scotko, who has swiftly and securely insinuated herself into our merry band of rebel writers, paid tribute to Banned Books Week and also brought stylish “Howl” headgear and accessories. And when new-guy Liam happened to mention the Jack Kerouac portrait which has been hanging above the bar at Cafe Nine for the past 24 years, it gave me an opportunity to talk about how I helped put it there.
A night of smooth contours and sharp jagged dangerous edges. Variety and unsteady beats. It made me realize, with awe, what a special community has been forming at Cafe Nine on those unpredictable first Mondays of each month, and how meaningful they have become. Boy, do I feel like I’m with you in Rockland.
Haven’t done a GttP summary in many moons—not because I don’t care to, but because the shows are so in-the-moment that when I wait to collect my thoughts about them, I realize I’ve forgotten half the details. Definitely a live experience. I could print out every word that was said last night, and it would make a heck of a book, but it wouldn’t be the same.
I forgot to bring a ukulele—horrors!—but, miracle of miracles, one of the performers, Will Ianuzzi, had a banjolele with him. So I loudly resonated my way through the Velvet Underground’s “Beginning to See the Light” on banjo uke. Perfect way to start what became a clattery evening rife with musical history references.
Lys Guillorn drew our attention to the impending James Joyce holiday Bloomsday (June 16) with an original poem that included several modern phrases with a Joycean flair.
Craig Gilbert had some of his insidious comedy rhymes about ill-fated folks and their fraught faces.
Vanessa Fasanella read some amusing and heartwarming tales about her children, her husband and herself.
The Three Elements appeared twice—the first time with Billy K on vocals, then later in the evening with Steve Bellwood. While Billy or Steve spoke, Tony Juliano drew cartoons and comments on an overhead projector and Will Ianuzzi provided musical accompaniment on an accordion and the aforementioned banjolele.
A newcomer to Get to the Point, Chris Coleman, read several sweet poems.
Franz Douskey told tales of Memphis, early rock & roll, and his lost teen years.
Saul Fussiner had a new story, about his recent introduction to martial arts.
I read a myth about the Hydrades, who bring the rain. (Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabula 182).
Bad jokes about rain, taken from the internet, were told.
Jason Krug of the band Grimm Generation read, sang and played. This was his first appearance at Gttp, and he innately grasped the sense of the room, with listen-in-close lyrics, a hint of darkness and an impressive steadiness.
Live Mike Cooper, who hosts his own monthly Cafe Nine talk show, subjected us to a failed monologue from the last episode, with additional self-deprecating commentary. This was a cool deconstruction of an underappreciated literary form.
A woman named Annie, celebrating her birthday at Cafe Nine with friends, read some comedy bits she’d scribbled on her phone.
Karen Picone Ponzio read a batch of arresting modern odes.
David Pilot had poems and stories and grace and charm. I like putting David up there late on the bill. He has a calming presence.
The evening ended with a one-act by Ken Carlson, a golden-age-radio sci-fi pastiche featuring Saul, Craig, Karen and me in the cast plus Ken himself doing sound effects from his phone. Next month Ken wants to do a longer radio-theater-like piece, running before Get to the Point, at 7 p.m. July 3.
Despite the rains, this was the best attended Get to the Point show since the fall. I quipped onstage that the shows all tend to happen on the coldest days of their respective months—though most writers don’t mind cold and desolate themes. In any case, it was nice to see so many people come out. We have even higher hopes for July.
The grand return of Get to the Point! (after a summer hiatus) is chock full of stories, music and humor.
The line-up (almost certainly NOT in this order):
Elizabeth Walker, telling (for the first time in public) her adventures as a child actress, making The World of Henry Orient with Peter Sellers and director George Roy Hill.
Brian Wolfe (aka Ebin Parker) using words and music to describe his admiration for the late British singer-songwriter Nick Drake.
Brian Robinson, managing director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and classical-grunge leader of the band Tet Offensive.
Sunnie Lovelace, librarian and rock climber.
Derek Holcomb of legendary local band The Furors.
Ina Chadwick & Duncan Christy, with stories and songs and parodies.
Phil Rosenthal, photographer/philosopher.
Michael Cooper, experiencing the best night of his life.
Sara Russell, long cool poet.
Craig Gilbert, dropping anvils on little cartoon girls.
Saul Fussiner, turning his life literary.
Ken Carlson, writer/humorist, grabbing the mic.
… and your humble host Christopher Arnott.
We start around 8 p.m. and go until everyone’s done talking. No cover! The wondrous Margaret as your bartender! And assuming they arrive in time, a FREE GIFT to the first 35 people to arrive.
The last Get to the Point! was back in June.
A break was required while host Christopher Arnott moved from New Haven to Bethany. He is learning to drive and was unable to easily get back and forth from country to city without either perspiring a great deal or begging.
Cafe Nine, in its infinite wisdom, has placed the series on a new schedule. Instead of being held on the first Monday of every month, it will now be held on the SECOND Monday of every Month.
Future Get to the Point! dates include:
The format will remain more or less the same. There’ll be a greater attempt to plan ahead, and actively promote, the shows. Other than that, there’ll be the same diversity, the same looseness, the same hardfought unpretentiousness.
Requests to perform and other queries may be addressed to Chris at email@example.com
For Monday, June 2, the mix is just what Get to the Point! does best: representatives of the local music scene trying new things; theater types (including a special guest from Chicago and a sweet Connecticut playwright); writers of all stripes; cherished regulars who really get what Get to the Point! is all about; and one of the most appreciative, adventurous audiences in the area.
• Chicago-based singer/songwriter/musical theater composer Diana Lawrence (http://dianalawrence.com/).
• One-act comedies by Connecticut playwright Susan Cinamon, read by: Zuzanna Szadowski (Dorota Kishlovsky from Gossip Girl), Caitlin Hale (from the movie School of Rock), Erin Moffat, Joanna Keylock, Sabrina Brier and others
• Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking Inc., mixing business-speak with martial arts
• Frank Critelli, a singer-songwriter who also dabbles in prose
• Rob DeRosa, local-music booster who books the Meriden Daffodil Festival, runs the Thin Man Music label and hosts the Homegrown local-band radio show.
• Ken Carlson, comedian and funny writer.
• Saul Fussiner, screenwriter and ace memoirist.
• Craig Gilbert, funny guy
• Lys Guillorn, artistic and articulate musician
• Seth Osborne, bedraggled poet
• Ina Chadwick, Fairfield County storyteller/producer, with writer/musician Duncan Christy
• Sara Russell, statuesque poet
And your hatted host Christopher Arnott
…plus others to be announced. Plus a myth. Plus a fairy tale. Plus jokes.
Get to the Point! June 2, 2014, 8 p.m. No cover.
A personal recap of the April 7 Get to the Point!:
A musical voice expected for the show was unable to materialize due to a crisis. A call was put out Monday morning. FOUR musicians arrived, throwing off the balance of music to words. But that’s OK. These singer/songwriters had answered a call of distress, and were very welcome.
Less welcome was the “open mic” attitude of one of the performers, who did all the obvious things that suggested he thought this was his show and he could go on as long as he wanted. He launched into songs before he could be brought offstage. He spent too long setting up. He played too loud.
Such things happen. They’ve happened with the word folks at Get to the Point! too. It’s remarkable, in fact, that they don’t happen more often.
What was wonderful was that the other three last-minute musicians DID get what the series is trying to do. One, Christian Marrone, tried out new material, and prepared for an upcoming New York gig. Another, Ben, immediately grasped that he wasn’t needed to play an entire set, and scaled back beautifully with songs that could appeal to the literary persuasion of the crowd. Another, Xavier, did a long flowing psychedelic folk piece that captured the tone and mood of the room.
Most impressively, both Ben and Xavier were willing to indulge me in the very exercise which I wanted to have a musician there for: so there could be background music when I read a Brothers Grimm fairy tale and a myth about Dionysus.
Thanks, guys. Music makes a difference. I’ll be careful with balance in the future. There are plenty of multi-musician events at Café Nine, and only one storytelling event. But Christian and Ben and Xavier get it, and can come anytime.
Mary Lee Delaney went first, talking about how she pranked an annoying guy back in her college days in Boston.
Jeffrey Thunders shared an embarrassing and elucidating anecdote about actually meeting, in a bar in New York, someone he’d idolized at the age of 14: Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.
Tony Juliano had found old slides of some of his cartoony paintings. He told some of the stories behind them—how priests had bought paintings mocking priests, how a doctor bought one featuring an “amazing iron lung,” etc.
Not incidentally, Tony also used his time onstage to propose marriage to Erica. He’d proposed previously, and this time it went just as well.
Craig Gilbert read some of his Little Nell poems, with large, funny, easy-to-see illustrations. After each recitation, Craig did a gentle flourish with his arms which I thought was as amusing as the words.
Seth Osborne read poems short and poems epic, including one referencing Café Nine.
I did a story myself, and am not sure I will again, at least not without notes. I am not cut out for long form extemporary oration. I like to watch others do it, and am even intrigued when they slip up. When I do it badly—get distracted, lose my place—I’m not so intrigued. I’m better off writing things down and reading them aloud—a practice that is not verboten at Get to the Point! the way it is at many spoken-word shows. If a piece of paper keeps someone on track, by all means they should hold the piece of paper.
I can do off-the-cuff introductions, and launch into short anecdotes, with ease and with a compelling vocabulary. I find those intros and follow-ups to be invigorating. But longform structure apparently eludes me.
An evening of revelations. Now I know where I stand.
I stood, in fact, for hours after the show wrapped up and had excellent conversations with several of the performers. Don’t always get a chance to do that.
The audience was considerably larger than the ones we’ve gotten on the stormy GttP days of January, February and March.
High hopes for May. Really getting back on track for spring.
First month in several where bad weather isn’t going to be a good excuse for not coming!
Confirmed thus far:
• Jeffrey Thunders (of Lost Riots)
• artist/vaudevillian Tony Juliano with a slide show
• Mary Delaney, theater director and talker
• Seth Osborne, returning poet
• Lys Guillorn, literate musician
• Craig Gilbert, amusing writer
… and your host Chris Arnott, telling a story myself for a change: about how a bumper sticker parody I wrote ended up on a fleet of police cars. Free bumper stickers will be awarded to five lucky audience members. (As seen in the New Haven Independent!)
…and others who are still making up their minds.
Some slots are still open, if YOU have a story YOU must tell.
Monday, April 7
250 State St., New Haven
It was below freezing. A few hardy folks braved the chill for the March 3 Get to the Point!
Due to a number of late postponements and cancellations, this was that rare underbooked Get to the Point! where presenters got a chance to do encores.
Steve Bellwood monologued whilst David Pilot keyboarded. Highlights were an episode from Bellwood’s sexual awakening saga The Vagina MANalogues, and an improvised creation myth. When Pilot scored some of the world-making bombast with crashing chords, Bellwood cautioned “Don’t get TOO fucking literal.”
Seth Osborne, after stating that he felt ambivalence about writing poetry, read a bunch of very good poems. One of them was titled “The Problem With Poems.” Another: “Ineffable Poetry.”
Kyle Flynn, one of GttP!’s regular singer-songwriters, mentioned his new musical project ShipWrecked Heart, which has more of a folk/pop sound than his harder-edged band The Vespers Five. He sang of “A Stormy Sea.” ShipWrecked Heart is currently raising funds for its debut EP; help finance it at Kickstarter.
Sara Russell explained that she’d been helping a septuagenarian relative turn a “lovely anecdote” about a romantic coincidence into a story they hoped to publish in a Christian magazine. She then read the story.
For my part, I read my father’s deft translation of Dionysus’ opening speech from The Bacchae, in honor of Mardi Gras; read a short story I wrote a few years ago when same-sex marriage was being debated in Connecticut, “The Thawing of Parson Brown”; recited “Dr. Boniculus’ Devil” from Terry Jones’ Fairy Tales and Fantastic Stories; and called attention to the Tom Hearn photos of ‘70s punk bands lining the walls of Café Nine. (Hearn’s exhibit has an opening reception this Friday, March 7, during the monthly “On9” festivities in the Ninth Square, and remains on view for a month after that.)
Margaret ably took care of things behind the bar.
A calm and serene evening, among friends. Took the chill off things.
OK, some of the outliers and suburbanites pulled out when it looked like heavy snow. The snow has not happened, but it’s still crazy cold. And we’ve lost at three folks who were due to be on the bill tonight to illness.
Here’s who I’m expecting tonight:
• Music and words from Steve Bellwood and David Pilot.
• Songs from Kyle Flynn of Kyle Flynn & the Vespers Five.
• Something from writer Seth Osborne.
• More poetry from Sara Russell.
• plus me, Chris Arnott with fairy tales and myths and random writings.
plus…. you! If you feel so inclined. Seems like there’s room for surprises. Bring us a surprise!
8 p.m. TONIGHT, March 3 at Cafe Nine (250 State St., New Haven; 203-789-8281, www.cafenine.com).