It's back -- or is it? Most new open mics get off to a slow start with only a few poets showing up the first time. But this may have set a record with only 3 of us there, counting the host R.M. Engelhardt. The other readers were Rob's co-conspirator in "Dead Man's Ink", Jason Dalaba, & that pesky compulsive open mic habitue, me.
Rob has a reputation of starting very late, yet still I got there (where "there" is will be explained in full soon) before there was even a bartender at the basement bar. "School of Night" is a name that Rob has given to many incarnations of his open mics, dating back to the Lionheart when it was where Bombers is now. Now the "School" is at Ballingers, one of the new, trendy, uppity bars of downtown, at Howard St. & Lodge St., where once was Ogden's. Three floors of bars: a patio upstairs, a living room type setting, & a basement, or "The Cellar" with exposed brick & a slate bar. It's not the kind of place where poets go, the cliental here is mover & shaker wannabes who think paying high prices is a sign of success -- I mean, bottles of Heineken were $6 & I heard someone pay $11 for a Maker's Mark (it's no wonder the owner is a millionaire with those prices). Poets like cheap beer. Personally I think it's just an attempt to pad the audience for the later "Absinthe" event, also run by Rob on Thursday nights, with bands & '80s music (whatever that is) & a cover charge for guys but not for the women (someone please file a court case on this).
Which brings me to another issue -- most poetry events are run by someone in the community feverishly looking for a place to gather with poet friends & read &/or drink/hang out. Rob works for Ballingers. Not that there is anything wrong with that (I think some Borders open mics were run by employees), but it does make you wonder who is promoting what.
Then there were the mini-disasters/macro-annoyances, like the sound check on a mic that wasn't used -- with only 3 of us to read it wasn't bad not to have a mic, but they will need one for future events -- that is if anyone shows up. Then the Disco Ball -- another beer & I would've puked (next time maybe I will). Oh yeah, the loud dance music before & after the reading. Not one of your premier poetry venues. But I was glad to have some time talking to Jason about his poems, & publishing & print-on-demand, & whatever else we talked about. It was enough to make me nostalgic for the Skyline Pub & its undercover cops.
And why did I have to explain that when I said, "It Sucks" after Rob read Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Vampire" I was making a joke about vampires, not the poem? -- but now I wonder, "Rudyard Kipling?!"