Yesterday the Dusty Owl Reading Series hosted Jim Christy, author of Scalawags: Rogues Roustabouts, Wags and Scamps—Brazen Ne’er Do-Wells Through the Ages (Anvil Press, 2008).
Jim punctuated his entertaining stories with entertaining poems reminiscent of the Beats. He read a story about encountering an eccentric Russian count, Count Navratillini, who he’d met when he was a runway 12-year old kid. He also read a brief paragraph from the book about le Comte de Waldeck:
“On the occasion of his one-hundredth birthday, Jean-Frédéric Maximilien, Comte de Waldeck, led an American journalist to his fifth-floor painting studio in Montmartre. The young woman was winded by the climb whereas the Count, over six feet tall, ramrod straight and breathing easily, apologized for not being as sprightly as he used to be. ‘I sleep well and eat like a wolf but my legs are lazy these days, due to an old rattlesnake bite.’ "
In the book there is a plethora of eccentric rule breakers, including one of my favourites, Kiki of Montparnasse, kiki being French argot for an eager and willing vagina. Naturally that caught my attention right away. The stories are succinct and entertaining, representing a bygone era and Christy was an interesting man in his own right; he’s described as a literary vagabond, has written about Bukowski, who said about Christy “You remind me of Malraux,” has written 24 books. He’s been called a dormant anarchist, troublesome and cranky… someone who probably has a lot of stories yet to be told. I hope he comes back.
I have to say that the Dusty Owl is the perfect place for reprobates of all description. Christy fit in very well.
And jwcurry made a rare appearance at the open mic, reading poems to do with trains, since he’d heard that Christy was someone who’d jumped trains. the poems Curry read were full of sound gymnastics and his performance of them was entertaining and compelling. this is what i like about open mics, the surprise of a really good quality reading and piece of work.
Coming up at the Owl on March 15 is Call Me Katie, the band formed by Monty Reid, Sarah Hill and Mike Rivoche with some poetry hopefully thrown in as well. I want to hear Luskville Mud again. Swizzles where the Owl is hosted is the kind of bar where you’d expect to experience an Elvis sighting. Maybe at Call Me Katie.
And then on March 29, the Owl celebrates its 5th anniversary at Swizzles. expect surprises. expect evil Steve with voices choreographed by Christopher Doyle of Dog and Pony Sound. His participation giving the Owl the best sound for readings in Ottawa. rest assured, there are more scalawags, reprobates and rogues coming to the Owl.