Down in North Miami, near Little Haiti, is a local ‘English’ pub. Jazz fills the front; the long dark bar to the side, with just enough light to see that your glass is properly filled. Not a big place, it’s made bigger by covering the back yard and patio with awnings and using folding chairs and benches so patrons can hear the Spoken Word artists a few nights a week. I am a Spoken Word artist.
I am also, on occasion, a South Philly Intensely Spoken Word artist, should I find my Self in the same space as a Bragging Bigot; Pseudo-Macho Misogynist; or a General-Asshat-I’m-Better-than-those-‘others’ type person et al; all spouting their particular brand of negativity, darkening the room and dissing anything and anyone they see as ‘not them’ or what they’ve been spun to believe.
Normally, though, I shine them on. I am, after all, not the Jerk Whisperer; and the Spoken Word Artists are diverse and cool.
The breeze is a welcome caress, as the warm night moves on. The Jazz musicians up front take a break and come to the back to smoke, and listen to the artists. A young woman does a piece entitled, “Death of the Vagina.” We in the small ‘audience’ – all ethnicities, ages, and lifestyles; and other artists waiting to be called up on the wee makeshift stage – look at one another a bit confused, but accepting. When the passionate gal finishes, we clap in appreciation as the young volunteer M.C. puts an arm around her, and smiling, says, “As a man, would it help if I say I’m sorry?”
As she sits down, a 78 year old ex-New Yorker named Dan begins his new work. He’s a regular here, and everyone seems to know him. We listen intently because he’s good. This is a music guy. Used to be in the record business back in the day. Now, he lives with his thousands of Jazz records, his memories, and his poetry he writes and shares at the pub.
The Jazz group, back on the small, but functional stage, saunters into a medley of some of the greats: Miles; a decent enough attempt at Coltrane, then Parker. The sax guy handles Ben Webster well…nice.
And so it goes…we empty into the mercifully cooling North Miami night and head back to a friend’s house. It’s been a mellow time in Miami. Good friends, a fun time practicing my Spoken Word (I wasn’t bad, either!), and Jazz flowing through it all…
P.S. Back home, I happened to turn on an episode of “The First 48.” The people shot were being taken to hospital (where one died.) The detectives were questioning people outside a small pub…yep.
And so it goes…