Seven Strangers

seven strangers

Spoken word trope on the forthcoming book, Mercury’s Wake, by Stephanie Vlahos and mixed with Blasto! by Wayne Peet’s Doppler Funk

Alex Player Wavesurfer

Seven Strangers, subtitled (What’s My Book About?), is a performance response to the process of pitching a novel.

Mercury’s Wake is an extensive text which introduces John K and Seven Strangers.

Please be introduced to John K. Mercury –
a misanthrope on a mission to Mars.

A story about reading a book
a road trip in the American South West

I struggled with an impetus to tread the dreaded trek toward writing the perfect pitch. Oh, my, the online Do’s and Don’t’s from seasoned pros were overwhelming. The process brought on deep self-doubt and, moreover, visceral memories of my father in career depression.

He may have been a successful screenwriter, having won the first Emmy, but he was depressed. His creative purview inverted with the advent of the pre-recorded TV show (an invention courtesy of I Love Lucy). The television play with its marvelous potential to bring the vitality of live theatre into suburban living rooms became less desirable, and, with that, my father lost his creative bloom.

However, he had to make a living and preferred to stay on the East Coast. He wrote soaps or the occasional Hollywood television show, and he was generally lauded for his work, but he hated it. Back then, television series lacked the emotional grit of complicated characters with nuanced dialogue.

And so, every night after dinner, I would watch my otherwise solicitous dad abandon the family for a nap on the living room couch. I didn’t understand depression as a child; I thought that’s what a hardworking daddy did – nap.

What I didn’t know was the nap was a prelude to a night owl’s routine. After a short shuteye, he would make a cup of Greek-inspired coffee, strong enough to hold up a spoon; tuck his children in bed; and then, brave the seasonal Connecticut night along the walk to his office at the top of our hill. The screen door would slam as he entered an ever-cold space filled with memorabilia from theatre and screen, schooldays and cool days of the Golden Era. He’d light a fire in the pot-belly fireplace and sit at his Underwood typewriter until dawn. From out of that idyllic solitude, sonnets emerged.

Whenever he traveled (which wasn’t often), he would carry his briefcase of precious cargo with him–his poetry.

It took me months to get back to the joy of creation and the realization that my work, in whatever format, will always be textured, and I must speak to it, even in a synopsis.

Armed with the resolve of authenticity, I decided to render the requested synopsis as I have. I can only speak to my work within the nuanced combination of words, more poetic than boilerplate. The joy in that small act of irreverence is nothing short of who I am as an artist.

The recording on this page is a fitting companion to earlier shows in an earlier incarnation (Completely Weill, Elle Qui Chante, and The Gangster Hour), yet it is the proper inheritance of those years where I established my voice in the Los Angeles performance art club scene at Cafe Largo, The Atlas, and Luna Park.

I was fortunate to perform with musicians Wayne Peet, Steuart Liebig, Kenny Lasaine, Nick Ariondo, Rob Lockart, and John Fumo–great artists who supported my creations with enthusiasm. The nature of our musical explorations was inspiring. I have always enjoyed bending and blurring forms. Moreover, I have always been blessed with colleagues who have brought insight to that endeavor.

I cannot think of any better music against which to spin a beat tale than Wayne’s Blasto.