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Friday, May 28, 2010

Making Some Noise in the Park City

Making Some Noise in the Park City
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

The following is a collection of free-flow vignettes about “Park City Noise 5”, a modest gathering held in Baldwin Plaza Green on Cannon Street in Bridgeport, CT on Thursday, May 28, 2010. This describes the scene and some of the interesting folks I met there.

The setting sun reflects off the stern face of the Federal Courthouse, which stands watch over the Green. Along a side street, the Metric Bar & Restaurant, a Haitian eatery that features a comedy night tonight. Inside, coffee bean colored bartender Eve serves up refreshing libations to Jessie, Jasmine and James, whom I’ve dubbed the O’Jays. Jessie is Jasmine’s boss, doesn’t say much, looks at me sort of suspiciously. Jasmine, from a town near Ponce in Puerto Rico, laughs at my humor but likes her space and keeps a pocketbook on a bar stool between us. James, a soccer fan, is from Stratford and is calming his nerves with Grand Marnier in prep to meet his beau Darline.

On the Green, Sean, an event organizer, struggles to hang between two metal poles a banner that says LEVELution. He’s a performance artist and sells t-shirts with made-up language. We share this fascination for words. I just happen to have weight packs in the car and lend them to him to keep the poles from toppling.

Pasquale, a wiry brown fellow, cycles up on a bike toting a bass.

Keith, THE head organizer, a squat guy with a mission, rolls up and springs into action, running electrical cords, posting flyers on light posts, setting up speakers. I seek his guidance on where to set up my stuff – a sports chair, cooler and Mexican blanket – and he gives me the lowdown. I drop on a spot on the lip of a circular clearing composed of brick and iron pillars, the pillars like a mini Stonehenge, standing like sentinels.

Curious commuters coming off work eye the scene, pass through and hurry off to home and normality.

Jay settles down nearby. He tells a tragic tale and bears a tat on his upper right arm that says it all. But from the dust, he’s emerged, brushed himself off and is sculpting and creating amazing illustrations, with a passion and renewed purpose.

Jay is joined this night by his cousin Nicole, who he calls “Diz” and their friend Kellie. Kellie and I gravitate to each other after it’s learned she’s a writer. I encourage her to grab her journal from her car and she reads aloud a poem to me dedicated to a lifelong friend. We discuss it and then begin to collaborate on writing a piece together, describing the evening.

Pete, an electrician from Lordship, cycles up. His mom works at the courthouse. He wears a Yankee cap like me and says he just quit smoking 15 days ago. He asks about tonight’s event.

In the background, music begins. It’s experimental – the promised NOISE in the event title. I’m not sure it’s what the gathering was longing to hear. Many of the three dozen people that have now settled in cry out for something to dance to. But Keith has dictated the music agenda. There will be no budge.

Sedation becomes the pursuit, in the form of brew, and wine, and Seagrams and other numbing, intoxicating pleasures. And food is broken out and shared – chips, crackers, chicken, rice and beans and even Brie. I cop some grilled meat from my friends Aaron and Veronica, who have brought a small hibachi.

They are joined by Amy Irish, Veronica’s hula hooping partner. The setting has become sort of like a dysfunctional picnic, with the wailing and drone of experimental music, Frisbees whizzing by and even poker games breaking out. We realize the much spoken about “band all the way from France” has taken center court and is jamming. They are know as The Dreams and rooted on by the crowd.

A mad bike parade ensues, with a posse that grows from two bikes to four to eight to sixteen. They circle the courtyard then head off down the street, not to return for what seems like an hour later and then joined by a unique individual with a Joker mask who takes a daring spin around the park like some crazed madman.

A few pets are in attendance, feeling the love and accepting belly scratches as they are offered by adoring fans. I miss the name of the ones I encounter but capture one on film. He’s a happy mutt framed by a field of sprouting clover.

Taking in the scene is Grace, a kinky-haired ball of energy who bops around from blanket to blanket, mugging and smoking. Equally engaged in the proceedings is Shayna and two close friends. Shayna sips Seagrams and tries her hand at hula hooping. To establish a coolness factor, we stage a shot with her drinking a beer while hooping – with the hoop being held by her friend off camera!

There are more hoopers here and they jump into the fray to swivel and gyrate. They are joined by other visual acrobats and even fire twirlers, who strut about and do their thing.
There are even some junior performers – two small boys – one of whom does tricks on a skateboard and leapfrogs the iron pillars and one that rides a small trick bike around. People look on in amazement.

Quite unexpectedly, a team of Red Bull energy drink girls parachutes in and begins handing out samples from can-shaped soft-sided coolers, much to everyone’s delight. “Mixers!” is the cry.

It’s time for Veronica and Amy to do their bit, a performance that caps the night. They hoop and swirl and bend and groove to the electronic drone. It’s been a happy time for all, an escape from the rat chase.