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A Noxious Bestowment

17 Nov

from December 12. 2008

Hi kids! I was at a poetry slam today! Yeah, they’re all the rage. SLAM! See? You’ve just been slammed! Deal with it be-atches! Boo-yah! Big poetry style!

Whatever.

I do this thing at CSI: CSI (Crime Scene Investigation: College of Staten Island.) Thursday afternoons after work. Every single week it has been wet and cold. Welcome to life on Staten Island. I know for a fact that it was 75 and sunny on the other side of the VB (Verrazano Bridge) today. Anyway, DI (Discovery Institute) held a PS (poetry slam) in the darkest closet of an “experimental theater” I have ever been in. My previous experience with “experimental theater” came from the movie The Boys From Brazil, in which Gregory Peck played Josef Mengele. The plot revolved around Mengele’s attempts to raise an army of Hitler clones in his “experimental surgical theater” deep in Brazil.

Here is an excerpt of Gregory Peck’s third act soliloquy:

Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, Living like an animal! The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master! I will perfect my own race of people. A race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! *

The film also starred Sir Laurence Olivier and Steve Guttenberg. Insert your own Police Academy Arrests Hamlet joke here. (HINT: The name “Polonius” is good for a laugh. Break it up into “pole” and “anus.”)

So I entered the experimental theater expecting something quite unlike what I saw- a lot of artsy-fartsy high school kids in a room the size of Jolanta Rohloff’s brain. And almost as dark.

There was one tall high school kid wearing a black turtleneck and a beret. I swear I am not making this up! There was an Asian kid who ran through his poem so fast no one understood a word. There was a short girl with glasses the size of Montana. There were assorted poetic stereotypes- the aforementioned beret, the kid with a journal hanging out her pocket, the Goth kid (or do they call them Emo now? Or Elmo? I think it’s Elmo.) mumbling about death, the gay and /or lesbian (I could never quite tell the biological gender of that one) yelling about his or her uterus, and the teachers with patches on the elbows of whatever they were wearing- tweed sport coat, turtleneck, t-shirt.

I walked in toward the end. I had been held up leaving work, hit traffic, and, with no shot at being on time, rushed all the way to 7- 11 for a Big Gulp (75% Diet Pepsi, 25% regular Pepsi) and a tuna sandwich. I ate it sitting in my car listening to my iPod, then went to CSI. (Hey, late is late.) I walked in after thrice- yes thrice- walking past the entrance, which was cleverly hidden as a closed door marked “room 108 at end of hall.” I was just in time to hear a girl, who looked both nearly in tears and ready to burst out laughing, somehow, intone “I don’t want the noxious bestowments you are trying to bestow on me!”

I walked back into the hall, wrote that one down, and went back in, girded (yes, girded) with the remains of my Big Gulp to hide my laughter. Good plan, but at one point, to stifle a laugh, I took a sip and nearly chocked. I looked across the tiny room, spotted some other teachers from my group, and the facilitator looked at me and shook her head, sadly, and then just closed her eyes and hung her head. It was that bad.

The “poets” left the room while the judges deliberated. When the winners were announced, they all said “this was soooo close” and I expected this to turn into one of those “everyone gets a trophy” things they do at kindergarten and summer camp. It didn’t though, and the winner was a girl who had giggled all through her poem about her sad life. And she was wearing a tin foil shower cap under her baseball cap.

All in all, Gregory Peck had a better time cloning Nazis in Brazil than I did at the poetry slam today. About the only thing that got slammed today was those kid’s dignity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

Yes, Gregory Peck blatantly stole that soliloquy from Bela Lugosi’s opus Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. The man knew genius.

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