Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Make Believe Ballroom

I have one piece of advice to make your Saturday nights from now on. The Oberon Project (hereafter OP) nights at Havana on Saturdays are a must have addition to your social life. I know it's a cliche (and if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times how I hate those) but there is such a variety of sounds that it doesn't matter what you're into, by the end of the night you'll have found something you love.

A small group of us made our way to Havana last night to experience the delights of OP for the first time. My particular highlights were some great piano music from Silent Hours, a seriously great set from The Edible Stems (who just look, sound and feel like such a great band that I cannot believe they've not yet been signed - and their drummer's hot) - including the most amazing cover of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire that I have ever heard - and the night ended with a long drum n bass set from DJ Simon Hm. Kate, Lou and I ended the night dancing like crazies and I told our friend Dan that everyone fancied him, even gay women, which I'm sort of glad I was too drunk to witness with a fully functioning memory card (friends exist to remind you of the embarassing things you do when you're drunk and Kate and Lou didn't fail me).

It was an Ah-Sum night. But don't take my word for it, obviously. We decided to organise a gathering there in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned and I'll let you know. If you can't wait, the Oberon Project gigs are running every Saturday night between 8 and 1. And you don't even have to suffer the smokers anymore - we've been banished to the gardens.

It takes nights like last night to remind me of what a great city this is for daily, urban culture. Grafitti on the streets, art galleries like Aspex, working spaces like ArtSpace, some of the most innovative artists, a university with a thriving commitment to creativity and culture, great bands and some seriously good venues. But what I like most is the constant evolution of that cultural life, the constant movement, change and development that make for a more satisfying, more exciting, and - I'll own it - more drunken life. Portsmouth is great! And I really never thought I'd say that.

My addiction to a daily dose of yielded this Missy Higgins video, Ten Days. I love anyone who can sing with an Australian accent, who isn't also Rolf Harris.

But the cultural highlights don't end there. Here's a great poem from Mark Strand.

Make Believe Ballroom Time

Judging by his suit which was excessively
drab but expensive, and his speech which was
uninflected and precise, I guessed he was a
banker, perhaps a lawyer, even a professor in
one of the larger, better universities. It never
occurred to me that he might be something
else until, during a lull in our conversation,
he suddenly got up and began dancing. The
others at the party, plainly disturbed by this,
affected a more intense involvement in their
conversations than was necessary. They spoke
loudly, rapidly. But the man continued dancing.
And because I recognized what calling,
what distant music he obeyed, I envied him.

He also said something about poetry that I love:

… it's not that poetry reveals more about the world —
it doesn't — but it reveals more about our interactions
with the world than our other modes of expression.
And it doesn't reveal more about ourselves alone in
isolation, but rather it reveals that mix of self and other,
self and surrounding, where the world ends and we begin,
where we end and the world begins.

In fact, I begin to realise that I'm a bit in love with Mark Strand the poet. There's something simple and accessible about his poetry that makes him a real joy to read. There's also something - as there often is with poetry - integrally spiritual about his work.

The Coming of Light
by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:

the coming of love, the coming of light.

You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,

stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,

sending up warm bouquets of air.

Even this late the bones of the body shine

and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.

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