I arrive early, as it’s been a long time since I was in that neighborhood on the Lower East Side and I want to find it in daylight. There seems little left of the area I knew from the 60s and 70s at East Houston on the border of Alphabet Town. New shiny high rises now, fancy bars, swarms of hip young people.
The Nexus Lounge is small with brick walls and soothing lighting. The seats are the cushioned benches you might find in a church—color, maroon, placed in a semi-circle around a tiny stage with microphone stands. The performers are young, passionate, and while very different, they have a similar message and play together, if separately. The experience of this audience member is impossible to describe—except for the fifty or so minutes I spend sitting in the room, waiting for the performance to begin.
Waiting for a show called Verbal Measures, presented by the Inspired Word. The logo is everywhere. Hanging on the wall as a placard, spread out on cards (5×7) spread out on little tables all around the room – the word “WORD” in white on a black background with a black pen running through it that drips a drop of blood. Just one very red droplet, but it’s enough.
So, what “words” do I write while waiting? What notes do I make in my little (for once) unobtrusive notebook? Well, I notice (for the first time) that ART – the word “ART” – can be seen like this: A RT, meaning a route (not a RT as in Twitter) – though perhaps a “ReTreat” – instead of a ReTweet, meaning “a retreat from the world, as it were – as “art” can certainly be that for many of us. Not that it’s a bad thing, or a negative – to pull away from the world (in order to create one’s own).
The notes I make pre-performance continue with how inspired I feel simply sitting in a room with the phrase The Inspired Word plastered all over it. It causes me to think of a new idea for a radio show, should I ever go back to Blog Talk radio…
It is perhaps relevant that I left the Facebook group Art and Ascension before I left for the theater. I didn’t start the group – Anton Krasauskas – my co-host for the first six months of the show – created the group back in ‘09. As time went on during my stint as solo host, I realized just what a misnomer that phrase is/was. Art and… “Ascension”? For me it was more of a descent. For me it was the exact opposite of going ‘up’ – it was a total downward journey! As in, to the depths of my soul. If there is a coming up after the plunge to the below, it maybe only to catch another breath of air.
But that’s another story. Meanwhile, the thought comes to me at Nexus Lounge, beneath the sports bar on First Street, of “Art, Descend-Dance.” Art and Descend—Dance! Or maybe the abbreviated form of Descend-Dance—De-Da. I think of calling the show “A-Rt De-Da.”
It reminds me of the phrase, “La-Tee-Tah,” the expression my sister and I used when we were very small to describe women who gave themselves airs. We didn’t yet know the word snob, so we made up our own expression. We said that so-and-so was La Tee Tah, and then we knew exactly what we meant.
Anyway, my advice is, visit the Titles of shows. Like, “Verbal Measures.” Arrive early. Soak in the atmosphere. Stay for the performance.