Didn’t know what was wrong with New York this last month, but it felt uncanny, unheimlich, no one saying savvy rude things to you or the guy next to you, no one slapping you on the back calling you names or complaining about this or that as you enter Katz’s, no one offering unasked for wise-crack put downs with that unmistakable faint Brooklynese (rhymes with pekinese) people here speak even if they have been manhattanites for a quarter century & more, no one that makes you wonder how come that’s the third time the same evening you’re in some place with that same person. And then I get an email from Paris bitching about the fucking French, but loving & living every minute of it totally, & it is signed by Steve Dalachinsky & then I realize, ah, that’s what’s wrong with New York City, Steve’s not here, it’s his wonderfully grumpy presence I missed!
But don’t worry, all you newyorkese, Steve is back, I saw him Monday night through the window at Katz’s & we had pastrami together (he had some of their fries too, but that’s the last thing you should eat at Katz’s they are truly terrible — slightly dried out overcooked fingers of cardboard). It was the night after the blizzard of ’10 & we had come in on a D train from Bay Ridge, which was where the D train went that day as Coney Island was cut off, and weirdly enough it was the fastest we ever traveled back & forth between Sorrentinostan and Houston Street where that Monday night Nicole, Steve, the latter’s Italian poet friend Erika Dagnino and a few others (who couldn’t make it because of the weather conditions — ever tried to walk a double bass for a mile or two through 3-foot snow drifts?) were to do gigs in the “Evolving Music / Evolving Voice” series. Well, we had ourselves a ball, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte got a lot of guitar playing in, Sylvia Gorelick read some excellent new poems & duetted with Miles (check them out here) while Ras Moshe sat in drums for several numbers.
And it was wonderful to hear two extended poems by Steve, who, for my money, is the finest of what used to be called jazz-poets going — maybe the only one around I am awed by, as he has kept it fresh and can swing like none of those simili- Kerouac cats ever could even when they were twenty way back when. Dalachinsky is the man — & if you want to check out that statement but can’t get to New York City (or Paris, he’s going back soonish for some gigs), get a hold of a copy of a totally marvelous book, Reaching Into the Unknown 1964-2009, with Steve Dalachinsky‘s poems and Jacques Bisceglia‘s photographs of jazz artists — 430 excellently produced pages — published by RogueArt in 2009.
And here below an all-too brief extract of Steve’s reading (that is him, I swear it, even though he studiously kept his head out of the light), backed by Miles’ guitar: