I used to be a storyteller; I’m a storyteller again.
A few weeks ago, after a long day at the beach, after I’d already settled into the couch and the Tivo, Rob reminded me that we’d promised to go to a story slam.
As it seems that not everyone knows what a “story slam” is, it’s sort of like a poetry slam, but instead of poems, the slammers tell stories. If you don’t know what a poetry slam is, then, well, gee. Read this nice Wiki entry. And for every “poem,” insert “story” and you’ll get a what a story slam is. Or read this recent Times story about the Moth, a story slam that has been around since 1997 but was finally noticed by the Times, you know, last week.
(Last week, The Paper of Record also ran a story about how pot bellies are trendy. It’s as if no one noticed that Americans are fat until last week. That story should have run in the Onion. Guy Trebay is going to end up in the same special level of Hell reserved for hack Styles writers that was originally created especially for Alex Witchell but now has numerous already predestined denizens.)
Rob reminded me that we promised to go, and since I’m always griping about how there is no culture in San Diego, I should probably get off my ass to go see the culture that is actually here. And we should support the folks pouring their sweat and tears (and occasionally blood, if there’s an accident) into such ventures. Through our friend Jess, we met such folks, and they’re responsible for So Say We All, which is San Diego’s version of the Moth… minus the professional actors and arrogance. And they’re also responsible for VAMP, which is a video, art, music, and performance event that complements So Say We All. They’re each monthly, and they usually share a theme. Because Rob and I were going to be part of the first VAMP, we went to see a So Say We All story slam.
It was at Cream, a coffee shop in University Heights that I used to frequent because it has big tables you can stack a lot of books on and because their salads were good. Then I discovered that Twiggs had much better coffee and all my friends were usually there. Also, Cream has weird ventilation problems: When we arrived at So Say We All, it was hot. Damn hot. And crowded. Really, really, really crowded. I couldn’t believe that there were 200 people in San Diego who wanted to hear amateur strangers (or mostly strangers, since I’m sure every storyteller brought 10 or 20 friends) tell five-minute stories about “When Disaster Strikes!” which was the theme that month. But there they were. It made me feel, I dunno, warm and fuzzy inside. San Diego!
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkxTv0Wurh4]The stories started out okay and then got very good. Of course, it was after two beers and only a few okay stories that I put my name in the hat, thinking, “Heck, I can do that!” Then the really good folks got on stage, and I got nervous. I went second to last. And I won! Well, there was a three-way tie for 1st place, but the lady had won in a previous month and the guy worked at the place from where the prize came from, La Jolla Playhouse. So, I won the prize, which was two tickets for Herringbone, a new musical starring BD Wong. The video of my story is above. It’s about debt, Williamsburg, lawsuits and the evil that is Patenaude & Felix. Remember what those asshats did to me? Now there’s video!
The event was inspiring. It’s made me write again. For realz. For VAMP, I got dirty. For the next slam, I’m going to be sentimental. And next Thursday. I start a poetry class. And… AND… I’ve started working on my novel again. W00t.