A strange thing happened while on my way to getting my ghetto discount pass and catching a double feature of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ I went to the Nuyo to Slam.

First off, I did get to see ‘Hotel Rwanda’ with MC and will say that Don Cheadle did an amazing job of a seemingly effortless acting performance while Terry George manages to shine in a directing effort that displayed an enormous amount of effort. This film moved me through quite the emotional trek as I was bouncing all over the place, initially believing that Cheadle’s character was just a simpleton caught up in a huge mess to rooting for his clever machinations. All the while scared to death that this film would have a bad ending then rooting for the feel good closer then going back to the acceptance that not everything in life (or film) is just and right then flipping back again. Towards the end, I was so emotionally exhausted (though still intellectually enthralled) that I would have believed that space rangers from the future would save the day.

From there, Matt and I had the pick of best seats in the house for a complimentary viewing of “Million Dollar Baby” when Rich calls me up and tells me he’s hosting the Friday Slam at the Nuyo. Oh well, time to support my homie and it’s off to the races!

When we get there we find out that Rich will not actually be hosting but did manage to bubble gum and duct tape a nice slam lineup for the night.

I draw the #1 slot and now I start getting nervous at the possibility that I may actually blank out while doing “Mercy on the Battlefield.” Good thing I had a copy of my chapbook with me to at least review it. Nuff of dat. I get called on stage and (as is my way) I go straight to the poem. Three minutes later I am limping off the quite precarious Nuyo stage feeling pretty good about myself. I nailed all the right spots in the poem and was able to draw the crowd into a nice quiet space towards the end, or at least I hope that’s what I did. Me thinks it may have worked as my scores were pretty middle of the road.

Next round, I hit them with the full version of “Sorta Rican.” Still nervous but able to use that fact to my advantage. I may have figured out the trick to generating the proper emotional chord in the middle of part 3. It involves riding the “righteous indignation” wave from just one section of the poem into the next section and then finding a release valve at the end of that stanza before going into the last stanza. I am also going to have to work with somebody to help me sing this one particular phrase that seems more effective as a medley. Again, I am able to generate some good moments of distinct silence and again, lousy scores.

Last round sees me going to the page and reading “anything to declare?” (with some new edits). At this point, my voice is hoarse and the idea to read it from the music stand comes back to bite me in the ass as I lose my place at least four times. This was not an example of strong page reading skills. I would like to say that I nailed this one down but I didn’t and, of course, I get my best score of the night.

And this is why I can’t take slam that fucking seriously especially not at the Nuyo. This formula of ripping “MotB” in the first round to whack scores and then doing whatever I feel in the last round (since I am mathematically out of the running) to amazing scores is old hat for me. The only real reason I do these things is to get my voice out there and make a good accounting for myself.

The formula for winning slams is out there and it is far from complicated. I may be able to, as an exercise, write one of those pieces and see what happens but that would be like going back to the tricycle. Ya know?

On a side note, I really hate when people refer to slam as edgy, innovative and risk taking. For me, there is no bigger comfort zone than the slam. I do what works and if that doesn’t get me the W then do whatever moves me at that point. There is a lot to be learned from an analytical view point but not much to be gained anywhere else.

Love ya like cheese puffs at 2am

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