'The Last Train' was the final reading for the Delusional Writer’s Imagined Performance Series, which ran concurrently with the Vancouver Writer’s Festival. An excited crowd packed the executive meeting room in the Rocky Mountainview Hotel on Hastings for the festivities. This was the best turn out so far for the reading series. But the event was almost shut down before it started when our M.C., Gordon Jefferies, drank some mushroom tea and walked down the hall naked, gesticulating wildly and trying to convince anyone who would listen that he was noted news anchor Knowlton Nash. The management threatened to throw everyone out; at the very least break some legs to show that they meant business. They said that they ran a tight ship and this freak-out behaviour was scaring away the Johns.
With things settled down, the evening began with the extreme clown crew, Industrial Bondage, taking the stage to warm up the crowd. “Drop and give me 20 of your best!” a purple-haired Doc Ravage shouted into a megaphone while the rest of the crew led those in attendance through a calisthenics routine.
I took the stage next. I read from an unfinished novel that, for the event, I translated into a language that I had invented. The language itself consisted of fart noises, burps, clicks and hoots. After 45 minutes, I took a bow and walked off stage for a well-earned bevvy. .
Next was Art Kravan, who gave a spectacular performance. He began with a wonderful riff on Wordsworth with his poem – “I wondered lonely as a crowd”. A few minutes into his set, his face became distorted and he began to moan. Clutching his stomach, he dropped to the floor shouting “I’m going to shit my pants!” He rolled and writhed across the stage, hands clutching his ass. The custodian and the stage manager came out and dragged him off the stage to great applause.
Jack Raggotte followed with a performance of his latest epic poem dedicated to the life of George Oppen, which he read with a Kazoo in his mouth. After 25 minutes, he threw the instrument into the audience and said “That’s better. Let me continue without that thing making all that racket.” He pulled an air horn from his pocket and continued to read. Each time he spoke, he blew the air horn, deafening the first 10 rows of the audience and, of course, preventing anyone from hearing what he was saying. Which I think was for the best as this work is much weaker than his poetic tribute to Louis Zukofsky.
The evening ended with Descending Light Explosion performing an 82-minute sound poetry piece. The three-man group started a cappella with their extended tribute to sound poetry innovators, Four Horsemen. They brought in their beat boxes for the next few pieces, “Lather up and rock the steam seat”, “Honey Jo” and “Did the funky again.” Things hit high gear when the Emetics took the stage with the trio and created a funkadelic wall of noise and sound for DLE’s epic “What? Now? Hello Tricky!”.
Now, that was a great way to end the night.