When a poet or a writer says their book is hot off the press, it usually isn't meant to be taken literally.
When I put The Cantab Anthology together in 2012, about thirty of the one hundred books I picked up actually were still warm from the Goutenburg machine. And while our new chapbooks had barely been finished printing when we picked them up on our way out of Cambridge they were not, alas, warm. Even though Bobby's cover is made of fire.
They were, however, still fresh. Both audacious and brand new. Much like this tour. And much like Bobby's limp.
The rumor that I gave him that hobble when he mentioned being the headliner of this tour is vicious and untrue. The rumors that I started that rumor, however, are accurate.
Bobby's limp, like my ability to drive a car, is not new, it's just not something constant in his life. Also like my ability to drive a car, no one knows where it came from but it looks simultaneously practiced and accidental and is, at times, distressing.
After a brief stop at My Problematic (formerly Racist, but she's been diversifying her prejudices) Grandmother's house, we made it to Wallingford where the lovely Adele and Josiah were waiting for us.
Our premier show was to be a live broadcast public access show where we would be performing "more than 20 minutes of poetry". There had been talk of a puppet show, a theater troupe that did a lot of work for/about mental illness, and a recently formed improv troupe. And about a half an hour before we started we found it would just be us and the improv group who wanted to "interact" with our poetry, a phrase whose possible trainwreck factor had both Bobby and I in wide-eyed agreement that we would like this to happen and be recorded for posterity.
We started precisely on time with just Bobby and I, sitting in comfy armchairs like we were the new sarcastic hosts of a Whitesterpiece Theater show. I opened with "Hello, I Wrote You A Song Called Welcome To The Jungle", Bobby followed with "Love Is A Hernia" and then we abandoned our set list entirely. In no particular order, Bobby nearly ran over Junot Diaz, I struggled to have a Christmas conversation with my father about Ferguson and Eric Garner, Bobby argued his identity with a liquor store clerk, I tried to discuss gender norms using street team sales tactics and homophobic dudes in love, and then....then something magical happened.
Bobby had just finished his poem about dinosaurs, and I saw that the improv troup, consisting of a Hulk Hogan impersonator, a Wolverine impersonator, a guy in a Ghostbusters track suit, a woman dressed as a Native American, and a blues guitarist were in the back. So I said something to the effect of, "Well, the subject of dinosaurs seems to be a good time to bring on the improv troupe." because it did.
The leader of the troupe said "I don't know anything about dinosaurs but I want to know where that missing plane in the Atlantic is." which didn't seem much related to anything either of us had said (although Bobby later did a poem that mentioned the Wright Brothers, so maybe he was prescient). The next fifteen minutes revolved around "Hulk Hogan" talking about 1984, trying not to swear but using the word "bitch" (which I SHOULD have riffed off of with my poem about the word, but I was FASCINATED by what was happening around me), the woman dressed as a Native American talking about spirits, and a brief conversation wherein Hulk Hogan and Wolverine argued about who was stealing whose voice.
From the audience came a chant of "Po-e-try. Po-e-try." in the rhythm of the Cantab "Three Word Chant!" so...so, the improve troupe decided it was time for Hulk Hogan to freestyle over a blues guitar riff. Which was really everything I'd dreamed of since I was told the improv troupe wanted to "interact" with us. When the song was done, Hulk Hogan picked the seventy year old woman dressed as a Native American in the air, as though he was about to piledrive her. There was a brief silence before the chant of "Po-e-try. Po-e-try." picked up again, and the troupe went downstairs to plan their next set.
During the troupe's performance, Bobby had turned to me and said "YOU'RE following that."
So I did "How To Survive A Sixty Hour A Week Job On Just Above Minimum Wage" which sort of related to Wolverine and completely related to my usual existence of utter bafflement of what was happening all around me. And while Bobby followed it up, I went into the audience and asked Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib to step in and do a poem, which was, as expected, stellar, and something I'd never heard him do before.
We each did a few more poems, ending with Bobby reading his poem about giving inaccurate tours of Boston to his friends and family, and we headed outside where he and Josiah smoked, and Hanif, Laura Willis-Abdurraqib, and I commiserated. The improv troupe closed the night with a story about the Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Elizabeth love triangle.
We ended up back at the amazing Adele and Josiah's house, where we talked slam gossip, the trials of love, and how many parts per million of air to carbon is allowed in your house compared to what is allowed at a business (hint: what's considered too dangerous to be legally allowed in your home is totally acceptable in a space where someone is making money off your labor).
This morning we had a quick breakfast, managed to NOT to leave anything behind, and drove to Brooklyn, after a brief stop in North Haven, Connecticut where, apparently, every one in town is part entitled sloth, part daredevil, as they all drive and walk very slowly in very dangerous situations.
Barring internet issues, I should be posting snippets of the video we recorded during the first portions of our car trip tonight.
There should also be a post up at Drunk In A Midnight Choir in the coming days!
After tonight's show at Beauty Bar, we're headed to Columbus Ohio for a New Year's Eve Celebrity Board Game And Wine Party. And then....The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
Mr. Crawford is on his way with the limo to meet Mr. Stone to begin their completely relaxed, not at all stressful drive to Las Vegas.
First stop? Adam's grandmother's house.
But first the boys go out drinking at Grendel's (fourteen hours before they have to drive, don't worry). The drinks are good. The food is fine. The company, Peter Jagielski and Melina Collins, is excellent. In fact, things are too good. Why would anyone want to leave this bar? Poetry is disappointing. Driving is awful. Change is terrifying. Who knows if they even HAVE food outside of Cambridge. When the bill comes, Adam's eyes glaze over.
"I'm not leaving." He says.
"The hell you aren't!" Bobby replies. "We have to drive out first thing tomorrow afternoon. I've poured my life savings into this tour, and I won't have you ruin it because you're a lazy alcoholic."
"Hey! I'm not a lazy alcoholic! I WORK at my alcoholism."
Peter and Melina exchange a worried glance. "Well, now that we've paid the bill, I guess it's time to go."
"NO!" Adam says. "I'm not ready."
Bobby cracks his knuckles, brute style. "We'll just see about that."
Seven hair-pulling, eye-gouging, breadbasket-popping minutes later, they get Adam to the exit, where he hangs on for dear life.
Finally, Bobby says, "You know we're coming back in three weeks, right?"
"Oh." says Adam, and calmly walks out the door. "I forgot we were coming back."
Adam sighs. "It's a shame we won't be able to find any place with that hot rum cider on the road, though, huh?
Bobby Crawford is the “one-man-boy-band” of Emerson College. Bobby competed on three consecutive College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational teams representing Emerson (2011-2013). He also served as a curator of the Emerson Poetry Project from 2012-2013, where he was instrumental in helping the EPP win Emerson’s Student Organization of the Year. Bobby competed at the 2013 National Poetry Slam with the Mill City Slam team from Lowell, Mass. and represented the Boston Poetry Slam at the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam in Spokane, Wash., ranking 15th out of 70. A competitor and showman by instinct, Bobby is a retired nationally-ranked figure skater and a former chess-club kid. He plays harmonica and wears a leather jacket.
Adam Stone got into poetry to impress someone he no longer talks to. Author of The Desert Island Your Favorite Albums Washed Up On and Bad At Notes, Adam also edited Twenty Years Of Poetry At The Cantab Louge and has been narrowly published in a variety of anthologies, including Flicker And Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology Of Spoken Word And Poetry and Drunk In A Midnight Choir, where his weekly column, "Honest Conversation Is Overrated" appears. He is the long-suffering bartender at The Cantab Lounge Open Mic & Poetry Slam, as well as its most frequent and longest reigning Champion Of Champions. He's also been on twelve nationally competing poetry slam teams representing several different New England cities and towns. When he's too exhausted for wordplay, he sells comics at the second oldest comic book retailer in the world. This doesn't bring him as much joy as you'd imagine.
December 29th: WPAA TV in Wallingford, Connecticut
December 30th: Beauty Bar in New York City
December 31st: No show, but hanging out in Columbus, Ohio
January 1st: TBA
January 2nd: TBA
January 3rd: Omaha, Nebraska
January 4th: New Shit Show at The Mercury Cafe in Denver, Colorado
January 5th: The Mansion in Salt Lake City, Utah
January 6th: settling in Las Vegas
January 7th: shenanigans in Las Vegas
January 8th: All-Star Battle Born Poetry Show at The Bunkhouse Saloon in Las Vegas
January 9th: Book Signing in Las Vegas (venue TBA)
January 10th: more Vegas stuff
January 11th: even more things in Las Vegas
January 12th: cleaning up the mayhem from Las Vegas
January 13th: The Poetry & Beer Slam in Albuquerque, NM
January 14th: Red Dirt Poetry Slam in Oklahoma City, OK
January 15th: no show, but enjoying the food at FnG Eats in Keller, TX
January 16th: Wonderland Books And Games in Martin, TN
January 17th: no show but hanging out at St. Louisa's CHURCH Of The Living Room And Ping Pong Emporium in Atlanta, GA
January 18th: Java Monkey Slam in Atlanta, GA
January 19th: TBA in Charlotte, NC
January 20th: TBA in Richmond, VA
January 21st: TBA in Baltimore, MD
January 22nd: TBA in Baltimore, MD
To celebrate the complete annihilation of 2014, Bobby Crawford and Adam Stone are caressing the road, bound for Las Vegas. With stops in Wallingford CT, New York City NY, Columbus OH, Omaha NE, Denver CO, Salt Lake City UT, Albuquerque NM, Oklahoma City OK, Martin TN, Atlanta GA, Charlotte NC, Richmond VA, and Baltimore MD, this tour is guaranteed to be exhaustive and exhausting.
In addition to doing poetry, Bobby and Adam will be updating their tour blog with performance videos and podcasts from the car. They're also doing a massive poetry show with Karen G, Daphne Gottleib, Mighty Mike Mcgee, Jesse Parent, and a surprise guest or three at The Bunkhouse Saloon.
Check back for frequent updates.