Best of Manhattan 2001: Normal's Not an Ordinary Word

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But first things first: If you want to drink in classy surroundings and hear some poems, e-mail now to reserve your spot at the Intoxicating Poetry party this Wednesday, Oct. 3. Intoxicating Poetry is sponsored by Alizé, cohosted by a delightful woman named LindaAnn Loschiavo and free to anyone willing to adhere to the dress code. (Guys: Wear a jacket, tie and business "trousers." Women: Don't wear jeans or sneakers.)

The party has a clever theme. Two poets, Jonathan Galassi and David Baker, recently published books called North Street and Changeable Thunder, respectively. Cohostess Loschiavo thought that these sounded like cocktails, so she put out the word to would-be bartenders and sots: Come up with drinks named "North Street" and "Changeable Thunder" using Alizé cognac, and we'll judge them at our party. The drink recipes came in; "professional mixologists" selected finalists and now judges ("well-known actors and people who are involved in the theater") are ready to give their verdicts at 6 p.m. at the Player's Club (16 Gramercy Park S., betw. Irving Place & Park Ave. S., 475-6116). Once the top cocktails are crowned, everyone will sip free samples of them while the poets read from their corresponding books.

Loschiavo has hosted similar get-togethers for 15 years; she's like the Queen of Coming Up with Ways to Get Drunk Based on Poetry. "I'm actually the Queen of Trying to Develop an Audience for Good Literature," she counters. "Because if you have a poetry event and you invite poets, you do not expand the audience...and this is why the arts are dying, because they don't reach out to broad groups of audience. I try to appeal to the general literate public who might not necessarily want to go to something billed as a 'reading' or a 'literary event,' but when you come to my events, they're wild.

"This event, we're having about 15 raffle prizes... One of the prizes is a watch designed by Andy Warhol with his face on it; another prize is tickets to opening night and the cast party of The Headless Horseman Rides Again, a revival of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow being performed starting Oct. 20."

"Gramercy Park S." is what they call 20th St. where it borders Gramercy Park, so don't get confused as to where the Player's Club is.

...Or, if you have a problem with dress codes, you can attend perhaps the loudest, least poetic tour of all time, which rolls into NYC on the same night as Intoxicating Poetry. It's called the Metallennium Tour (why Metallica didn't use this, I'll never know?oh wait, they can't, because James Hetfield's been in rehab) and it features Darkest Hour, Six Feet Under, Lamb of God, God Forbid and Candiria.

The most exciting of these pummelers is Darkest Hour (that's why I put them first on the list, stupid). Hailing from DC, they meld early, non-sucky Metallica riffs with hardcore vocals so low in the throat that you can't possibly understand them without a lyric sheet. Luckily, the band's new CD So Sedated, So Secure has a lyric sheet, and hey, what's this? The words aren't merely un-embarrassing; they take on real urgency in the wake of 9/11. The album's title now describes the last American decade, and "Another Reason" becomes a mantra for the bastards flying the planes ("Keep your eyes on the trigger/And your mind on the ecstasy"). This is one of the best albums of the year, and the band is road-ready, having driven nonstop from Rhode Island to Chicago back in 2000 to get inked to Victory Records.

This show is also Oct. 3; it goes on at the WWF Times Square venue the World (1501 B'way, 43rd St., 398-2563) at 5 p.m., with tickets $22.50 at the door. Check it out and bring earplugs if you aren't already deaf.

...Bringing it back to poetry, a frank and hilarious wordsmith named Robbyne Kaamil begins the second run of her one-woman show Raw and Real: Life from One Woman's Perspective at Rose's Turn this Wednesday. I know; it's another Oct. 3 event, but if you miss this one, you can at least catch it Saturday, Oct. 6, or on any Wednesday through Nov. 14.

Robbyne ("Me being black, [people] think it's some fancy shit, but it's just pronounced 'Robin,'" she explains) made a name for herself by writing Get Off the Titty, her first poetry book. "I had been acting for years before I started writing...and as a full-sized woman and a full-sized black woman, I wasn't getting a lot of roles. So, my saying was, 'Okay, I'm not gonna sit up here boo-hooing and crying.' My saying was, 'Fuck it, I'll channel my creative genes to something else,' and that's when the writing came."

Robbyne's show, which first ran in late summer, is dirty enough for Howard Stern but also genuinely, let-the-truth-be-told funny. It's up there with this year's Queens of Comedy CD, which set the bar pretty high for black female humor.

"It's a mesh of the poetry, which is very raw, in-your-face kind of stuff, and comedy. I talk about police brutality. I talk about sexual things. I go into all types of things?masturbation, darling...maintenance fucking..."

And what's maintenance fucking, Robbyne? (When you think about it, it could be a couple of things.)

"That's the man that you call when you're in between boyfriends, honey, and you just need to get your rocks off, you know? Yeah yeah yeah, I got that covered."

Robbyne is on the way up?her handlers are looking for a bigger venue to accommodate next year's shows?so you should call 604-4864 for reservations before heading to Rose's Turn (55 Grove St. at 7th Ave., 366-5438). The performances begin at 7 p.m. and cost $15 with a two-drink minimum.

Mini-Blurbs from a Thursday night in Soho: I eradicated free sushi and potent drinks at William Monahan's Light House book party, which went down not-so-recently in refurbished Veruka (525 Broome St., betw. Thompson St. & 6th Ave., 625-1717). I'm proud to say that in this endeavor, I was not alone. Since writers and their assorted scuzz made up most of the crowd, we tore up the open bar and grabbed all the food we could stuff in our thin little cheeks; and when we got tired, we were relieved by other writers coming in the door. Veruka reopened to the public sometime after the Light House party, so here's the word for those wishing to go now: ugly. How ugly? Okay, in the last level of Super Mario Bros. 3, when you're in Bowser's castle, the walls have this red-and-yellow checkerboard pattern that's meant to confuse you as you dodge lasers and fireballs?that's the pattern Todd Oldham picked for his wall. You could load up on beers, play Super Mario Bros. 3 (with warping) and get the same effect in 10 minutes.

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