By Tawny Sverdlin
Photo by Fernando Alonso
VENICE - Last Sunday evening April 23rd at the Sponto gallery in Venice three recent exiles of lower Topanga; Toylit, Log and
Two exhibited artwork and poems from their recent chapbooks "The Last Nowhere", Craplexity", "Nothing Next to Nothing" and the "Crap Poetry Manifesto" (Brass Tacks Press). On the walls of the gallery hung Toylit's drawings and paintings. As the invitation promised " This psychological spaceship includes art, performance, and fake enlightenment by Toylit, Log, Two, and YOU! Wear a costume and bring your favorite stupid musical instrument!"
The small gallery was stuffed with people ranging from mohawked young hipsters to grey-haired hippies, who spilled out into the street talking and drinking wine. Pablo Capra aka Two sat at a table near the entrance to the gallery selling books and rolls of toilet paper upon which poems had been printed. Next to him a woman painted ornate designs on the faces of gallery visitors.
On the walls artist Toylit's chaotic drawings were interspersed with strips of toilet paper upon which poems were printed. One drawing featured a crude drawing of a sad rabbit with red tears. A circle of yellow lines centered around the rabbit's chest while the writing below it stated "I'm not crying my eyes are bleeding/ my heart is the sun". An earlier work of Toylit's was placed on the back wall of the gallery. The large painting was called Krishna and featured kaleidoscopic swirls of yellow and orange around Hindu deity Krishna who was painted in electric blue glitter paint.
Log, a statuesque, tall and thin young woman in her twenties had taken center stage by the time I had arrived. Stripping off her long raven wig to reveal a closely shorn head of red fuzz. She laughed a strange high-pitched cackle that perfected her radiant aura of weirdness. She proceeded to strip off more clothing until she stood naked and skinny in the center of the room. She and a friend, an equally tall and skinny young man with white blonde hair and a top hat and eye-liner began to stage an 'argument" in gibberish. Both seemed experienced at improvisation.
Next Log and Toylit, a barefoot man in a pin-striped suit, and a handsome, rugged face with thin, light brown curly hair took turns reading from their recent chapbooks. The crowd cringed in disgust and laughed when Log recited a poem entitled "Western Medicine" that chronicled a visit to the gynecologist. It began "Sitting in the OBGYN's Office/ My Orifice about to be Exposed/ Waiting for the Cold metal Prod And the Chalkboard Cervical Scratch".
A memorable poem that Toylit recited was called "Puffy the Clampire Slayer" and included a verse that read "I am a Soldier, I am a Sexually Transmitted Disease, like Language or Syphilis/ I only aim to Please My Maker/ My Destroyer My Star-Spangled Dracula. / Here They Come to Scrape Me off the Street/ The Brides of Count Spatula." As Toylit read the poem his delivery was dead-on. He yelled the lines a la Ginsberg with a look of concentrated bravado in his brown eyes.
The Crap Poetry Manifesto (Brass Tacks Press) states "We are the mighty poetic proctologists, the conquistadors of the mighty brown-out of civilization. As crap poets, our biggest job is to not be watching television. As long as we're not watching television, we're winning. Because crap poetry is the least important thing, it's the most important thing. Like the Taoists say, 'Know the big, but stick to the small.' Similarly, 'Know talent, but stick to the crap.'"