Every Wednesday night at 7:30 at the 303 Vodka Distillery (2500 47th street in the warehouses) is The New Basics Brain Candy Showcase Slash Bohemian Get Together. They have featured musical acts, speakers, and a poetry open mic. I’ve been going almost every week since they started at the beginning of September and I like what goes on there.
I remember the first week me and Get in The Car, Helen were at The Bustop Gentlemen’s Club. I had some extra beginning of the school year taxi money and wanted to use it to see naked women. Neither me nor GITCH had seen a real live pair of breasts in a long time and we’d forgotten what they look like. It was good. Everyone knows us there as ‘The Poets,’ cuz GITCH always brings a notebook and makes the strippers write poems in it. They also know that I’ll start throwing down a reckless amount of money if they play any music from the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack. By the time “Hungry Eyes” came on that night we were wasted and had filled up several pages with nonsense about thongs and Patrick Swayze. I was wearing dark sunglasses for some reason and clutching my chest and going “oh this soothes my broken heart!” Then I suddenly remembered something.
“Shit,” I told GITCH, “we’re supposed to be at 303 Vodka. We’re the featured readers.”
Our friend Max Toast had started the series so that the artists of Boulder would have a launch pad from which to finally rise up and take over the entire world. Max had just tried the same thing at that 50’s style Diner at the 29th Street Mall, but it didn’t take there. Too many families were there to eat hamburgers and drink milkshakes in a kitschy retro environment and they thought the poets were WEIRD. But now Max has teamed up with the endlessly high and energetic True Believer of Poetry Dank Phart the Pirate Poet and Bus to Show (party bus company). They’ve chosen a location that weeds out all normal people and leaves just artistic freaks and hardcore vodka enthusiasts. And they’ve brought in the crucial element of live music, cuz people will go to shit if there’s music.
“Go on without me,” Get in the Car, Helen said, “I’m going to stay here with the people who really love me.”
“I understand,” I said.
I too had my doubts that anyone at New Basics would love us as much as the strippers, but I went ahead anyway for journalistic reasons.
When I got to the warehouse there were girls there. Lots of them, hot, hip with thick framed glasses and scarves and long boots, smoking cigarettes outside.
“Hmm,” it made me say and then I went inside to the bar.
They have so many different kinds of vodka and whiskey infusions. You have to order like it’s ice cream. You say something like “cookies and cream” or “neopolitan.” Or maybe you have to order like its dinner, “i want meatball sub vodka, general tso’s chicken whiskey.” I don’t know, the flavors are always changing. Like an alcoholic monkey I’ve been getting banana whiskey and Cokes when they have it. It’s weird and good.
The poets and bands are set up right in front of distilling equipment and sometimes people are actually manufacturing liquor as you perform. There’re seats around the bar and a few tables but a lot of people just hang out outside the big garage door and a poet can easily get lost up there on the mic and lose attention. That’s why I’ve been reading outside.
“Come with me,” I got on the mic and said that first night.
Then I went into darkness of the parking lot. A small but passionate band of people followed me and huddled around closely and shined their cell phone lights on me as I really socked it to the assholes from the cab that week with my poetry. I had a good drunk yell going and it made the crowd go “yeah!” and “assholes!” and “long live poetry!” It felt like the old days reading at a bar every week during the Burnt Toast or Speakeasy eras of Boulder open mics. There’s nothing like a good bar reading. Everyone is there to drink and hangout and poetry is the sideshow, but when you really let it rip and steal some unsuspecting drunk’s attention for just a moment there is no more golden feeling. It’s great that we have things like Innisfree’s open mic now (7pm Tuesdays) where you know you’re going to get listened to by an engaged and well behaved audience, but it’s also good to balance it out with something like the 303 situation. As much as we want to infiltrate people’s hearts and minds with our art and change the world and all that shit, let’s not kid ourselves, we’re also doing this to meet friends and lovers and feel like we’re part of a community. The bar gives you the space and alcohol to accomplish this.
And then there’s music. The poets and musicians in this town tend to stick with their own. But at New Basics they’re forced to interact together. That first night they had a punk/bluegrass and a DJ who played the most eclectic set of techno and early jazz and rocknroll. His name was Gangsterish and when he played The Beatles “Honey Pie” I had to get up and dance. And then a pretty girl started dancing with me. I’d never seen her before because she probably only goes to music events and I only mostly go to poetry events.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” I said and then I spun her.
Oh my god, I thought, what if I meet my Soul Mate here? And what kind of hopelessness had me at the Bustop earlier? Stripper poetry and boobs-in-the-face while “She’s Like The Wind” plays is awesome, but I was fucking paying for it. Who at the New Basics reading at 303 Vodka might take their tops off for nothing? Who here might love me forever for who I am?
Look, man, I didn’t say anything else to that girl that night. And I haven’t hooked up with anyone I’ve met at this thing yet. I’ve gotten a few looks I haven’t had the balls to follow thru on. I’ve had a few random dudes say they like my writing. But that’s not the point. This is a weekly event, a group of regulars will form, supplemented by intriguing randoms. You can get to know people in a slow building and meaningful way. There’s hope here at 303! And poets, what if we all decide to start going to this thing? I know it’s in a weird part of town, its out there, you can’t just stumble home afterward, maybe you don’t dig vodka. But isn’t it worth it to make new friendships, hookups, collaborations? Don’t you want to try to create the Great Revolutionary Art Party one more time? Come to this fucking series. Come read, come listen to music, come get your pumpkin pie/taco vodka (may not actually have this flavor), come be a part of the new community. Wednesdays 730.
– jonathan montgomery