El Toro

Valencia and 17th. It looks, sounds and smells exactly as it did in 1994. San Francisco has this dynamic in general -- one leaves for six or seven years, and returns with the sensation that the city had frozen for the entire time, despite the shifts in human presentiment, which are were one’s sense of place really comes from.

San Francisco seems to exist only when you are within its boundaries, which contributes to its reputation for embodying the dangers of stagnation given via the twin powers of comfort and splendor. But this is also part of the city’s power. Spicer had a doctrine that poems should not leave the protective confines of the city, a kind of magic circle.

The burritos fall under the spell of this same limitation, you are not going to find them in New York or Chicago or Boston any more than you would find Six Poems for Poetry Chicago in Poetry Chicago.

Entering El Toro, one is presented first with the man chopping on the cutting board, a cleaver in each hand, a percussionist. I prefer sticks and mallets to be lighter, because the muscle motion involved is then capable of more mercurial shifts, heavier sticks are good for volume and groves with a lesser density of pulsation. The tempo here is medium-fast. The sense of practically of dividing the meat is pushed to the background, and the feeling of performance and rhythmic purposefulness is upfront.

Improvisational musics seem to be dividing between revivalism, extreme techno-reductionism, and extended hybridization. Is poetry falling into similar patterns? Are these tendecies themselves already combining? Here we have purposefulness aloft on wood, metal and flesh.

Certainly this could be conceived as falling within the tradition of Milford Graves, Spirit, Gunter Muller. Less so hail or rain. Is it the outboard motor to the hissing of the grill, as Glenn Spearman once said of the relation of William Winant and Donald Robinson to Glenn’s collectivity boat. Aren't our little groups and mags and reading series collectivity boats? Why does it not feel this way?

I pick especial. The searing of the content, the exchange of carbohydrates and proteins for life. The strata of selection, so unlike the draining energy one feels when confronted with a wall of cereal boxes, as though the possibilities of ingredient combinations here were designed for actual problems and situations of life, levels of hunger, needs – it is all so attainable.

I love content. The totally unique savoriness in the overall mixture of the ingredients. They way the differences hold together, remain themselves, mix in the most delicious ways.

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