Few conversations echo and ping-pong in my head as did the conversation with Quincy Flowers and Ronnie Yates atop the balcony at Avant-Garden last Thursday. Following an incredible reading spanning both style and geography (yes, they're linked, but not always so neatly), after conversations and first impressions, we amassed our aether and visited the bar on it's 15th anniversary celebration. The effervescent Mariana wore an orange Argentine dress and chassed her way through the packed house like a melting ice cube. "Why is the dress Argentine? Do you know?" she asked us? "Because you're wearing it?" I replied. "No," she said, holding the round vowel in her mouth like a fleshy horn, "because the tag is on the outside." She reached her hand between her shoulders, down her spinal column and rubbed the tag between her thumb and index finger. "Is it on backwards?" She wondered off on another errand, the Doppler of her long vowels trailing after her.
We sat where a stage had once been, in the backyard of the house of adaptive reuse, partial use, partial reuse. The back-wall of the stage with its short, acute overhang lumbered behind us, making invisible the town homes put up some ten years ago while making itself also almost invisible. While I knew there was anniversary party, I hardly thought I'd run into half the people I once knew while ascending the tightly wound spiral staircase. If someone were on their way down, there was hardly room for more than one, and there followed the brush of bodies a sense of falling in simply for the fact you almost fell off.
Ronnie was preaching about something by the time we reached the corner. Actually, they were there already because I got caught up running into an old friend who had, in some strange way, cyber divorced me while I found my way into daily writing and reading, a ritual of remove. Carlos, an inventive musician, smart and bold, but self limiting in some aspects that I find also in myself, which later became painfully evident to me. I should call my friend Franke, who can do a spot-on impersonation of Ronnie, which I admire deeply; anyone who can imitate the manner of speech of another person accurately and with inventiveness just gets me. Franke should write this part. Ronnie always answers the phone, "My Brotha," with a terrycloth scratch in his voice and fermata on that last a. If you don't smile the second you speak or hang out with Ronnie, that's your cue to lighten up. But we're way past that part. I mean, we've had a reading together and Quincy (overloaded with PhD and teaching work) came by and drank wine with us while we were waiting to speak while listening, caught in an etiquette of silence that is strange (as it is outside the norm) to know so much about someone before you meet them, pour them a glass of wine and sit silently beside one another for a good hour before you ever say an audible word to one another.
"There's got to be something greater, man..." Although Ronnie may sound like a hippie in typed speech (which in ideology, he certainly comes close), he's also extremely grounded. My best way to place him ideologically (forgive me the violence) is an existentialist, post french structuralist disillusioned by 1968, born again hippie traversing the continent in all manners beatnik.