Superbowl Sunday

I welcomed the snow last Superbowl Sunday, despite the bone-chilling cold which inspired the first thoughts of needing thermal underwear I've had since I was kid growing up in New Jersey. Welcomed become I dislike the vibe on the streets in New York City when there is a major sporting event - patriotic, jingoist, violent. That vibe is valuable though, because it's packed with information about our cultural unconscious. Freud’s work on collective psychology sounds like it was written the day before yesterday, and it describes this dynamic compellingly. Drunken frat boys of all ages and types and races and classes and genders pour into the streets from the bars at end of these ceremonies with their intellects and critical judgments temporality erased. Even after hours of this they don't have their fill of imagining and combating otherness, you can feel them searching the streets for more. Us vs. them / destroy the enemy - this is how the world's elites wish us to think - how religions and governments and artistic movements wish us to think.

Americans are thought of as being anti-intellectual, but if you sit around in a bar during the world series you hear the most intricate and intelligent analysis of the histories and skills and dynamics of these teams and players. Analysis and intellectual activity are a natural function and have to be actively suppressed, which Americans do by directing these energies toward a phantom universe, a phantom that collectively reinvigorates the conception that the meaning of life is exploitation.

The snow knows better though. I pushed through it to the Parkside Lounge at around 7:30, where the game was playing on several TVs to a dispirited-seeming clientele. I ask if there was a poetry reading there and the bartendress shot me a withering, pitying look -- oh, that's in the back room-- and added a superfluous dismissive wave.

The back room indeed. Pushing aside a black curtain, I entered into a contrasting dream-like area. Six musicians lined the periphery of the room - blurps and textures in space. College-age kids were splayed out in all directions, listening, sleeping on the floor, talking, sitting in chairs, reading along. Papers with odd marking in crayon were scattered all around. On the stage Ann Waldman was in the process of reading the entirety of her book-length poem, Iovis. She had started about 3 hours earlier, and was not even half way through. I was impressed that she did not seem fatigued.

Because of the length involved and the quiet, slowly shifting ambient sound instillation/performance pacing, the sense that one sometimes gets from NYC poetry reading overmedication - of having to sit and briefly concentrate on something you're not that interested in - was absent. If you didn't dig what was happening you could come back in a few hours.

I took a break after a while and re-entered the Bar world, talking with Brenda Coultas near the pool table. Apparently a seriously unprepared pool player had inadvertently stumbled into the universe on the other side of the curtain. He spoke to us with a stunned and bewildered tone -- I went in there and it was like - whoa - I'm in a trance! -- Brenda, said, with her unique cheerfulness -- You should go back in, I think you might need more of that!

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