NEW YORK - Last night the scribe and Omar Torrez set down a first performance in their mini-tour of New York.
Departure from Los Angeles was at 10 p.m. the night before. The flight, like all flights, was cramped, stuffy and uncomfortable. the scribe marvels at how air travel has descended over the years into the state of inelegance and implied misery it currently represents. It’s no wonder the airlines, peddling in discomfort as they do, are in trouble. The virtuoso guitarist and the novelist watched “Big Momma’s House II" being emitted from a very small screen above someone three seats ahead of them, with the sound off. Even this low-grade entertainment could not put them to sleep.
The arrival in Newark was hampered by a one-hour wait at the baggage claim where the duo commiserated with an actor from “Hill St. Blues” - the one with the southern accent (this is going back 20 years and more now).
The New Jersey Transit train was packed heading into Penn Station as Omar and the scribe wrestled with their luggage, the guitar, and the black bag of electronic tricks the musician brings with him. Trying to load Omar onto the "1" train for his West Village destination, it was a site to see as the working hordes surged into the subway tunnels in powerful waves at 8:46 a.m. – height of the rush.
Heading their separate ways, the guitarist and writer went to sleep for an hour or so and reunited around 2 p.m. on the lower East Side, Ludlow Street, at a music store where they tried to anticipate the technical demands of the evening’s performance before the Women’s Club of Forest Hills.
They grabbed the "F" train and slipped out of Manhattan just before the heavy rush and enjoyed some excellent pizza on Austin St. upon stepping out of the subway in Queens.
The audience was a little slow to arrive and the starting time was put off while the ladies (and their escorts in some cases) laid waste to most of the wine and snacks brought by the group’s members.
They then uniformly and dutifully sat down. The lights were turned off and a spotlight trained upon the scribe and Omar that affected the scribe mightily and Omar not at all.
You could hear a pin drop. The crowd was quiet following the first piece and remained so throughout, lending a tension and building a mood by their very silence. We were clearly before folks engaged with the show, interested in literature, and stimulated by the unique nature of the presentation.
the scribe struggled inside a bit, used to practicing to Omar’s CD in the kitchen where the table, chairs and refrigerator are stand-ins for the audience.
At one point, the scribe, sensing a deepening involvement on the part of the audience, pulled out of the recitation so that Omar could weave his flamenco magic.
Clapping gently, the slap of his palms echoing softly across the wooden auditorium, locked into a tight circle of light with his collaborator, the audience seemingly enlarged by the blackness and anonymity achieved through the subtle and intelligent lighting, the scribe felt suspended by his own words and the music, sustained and frozen in dark time, moved by a pure kind of literary bliss.
Give yourself up, move towards the fear; the world will give back, things to hold dear.
The performance closed to sustained applause, kind remarks, and healthy book sales. It was hard to sleep, despite the exhaustion, with all the energy the evening had produced inside.
Today, a taping at WBAI Radio down on Wall St.