Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Because Mike Finley Couldn't Make it to the University Club

For those of you who delve into my Blog each day to hear culinary rants, let me cut you off at the pass.

There is nothing food related in tonights post.

I'm officially on vacation as we speak, and I'm taking a break and going to use my posting time to update a friend of mine on an event he missed.

Feel free to join the literary parade, or simply come back soon and we'll get back into the kitchen.

Each year the city of Saint Paul has this sidewalk poem contest.

Hundreds of people submit short poems, and 5 get chosen as winners.

Capitol City replaces 10 miles of side walks each year, so the top 5 submissions get (engraved?) in these new walk ways.

This year the winners were to be revealed at the University Club during Carol Connolly's monthly literary review.

In addition to being Saint Paul's Poet Laurette, she may bring me more joy than anybody I have met this decade.

when standing erect, and in 4" heels, I think her sight line might be flush with my knee caps.

But great things do come in small packages, don't you think?

For the last year I've visited her "To Do" every 3rd Tuesday of the month with my writing mentor Mike Finley, and you can always find us in the back row nursing cocktails and whispering our opinions as to who should be exalted, or who needs a flogging for wasting our time.

The event & venue is the best in the entire metro. Part of this is because you sit in a room that makes you feel like you are in the belly of a wooden pirate vessel, and while the aesthetic charm sinks into your pours, you can look through the windows on the east wall and overlook Saint Paul from the top of a hill that stands as high as a mini mountain. The view is spectacular, it allows you to look down on the High Bridge and the Mississippi River.

So anyways, their was a little hiccup in last nights presentation.

Instead of presenting the usual poets, there were 4 prose writers that would read from current books.

Typically I would have thrown my hands up to Christ....prose is a lot like a loaded hand gun, you don't want it pointed in your face by somebody who lacks expertise.

But I had no choice....I would have to sit through it if i wanted to hear the side walk winners.

So there I am, it's 2 nights before this dealio, I think I was multi tasking in my prayer closet.

While my mind sent supplications to our Lady of Victory and reminded her that God wanted my poem to be selected, my hands rifled through dress shirts and numerous receptacles of hair products.


It was Mike Finley, and to cut to the quick, he was sorry to inform me that he couldn't attend the event.

To be honest, I really didn't care why, I was just despondent.

But I did ask for an explanation anyway......

"My wife is making me go camping. I have to lift boats and things, you know, guy stuff."

When you go to an event of this magnitude, especially when you think you are going to win, it's always best to have a power date.

So I got on the horn and called Dara Syrkin.

Dara is an arrow up in Klecko's world. She works at that "Writing Place" in Mpls called The Loft, and was the woman who coined the phrase......

"Klecko is more about content than comma's."

She agreed to be my escort, and another thing that I so value about her is like me...she always arrives to events before 90% of the audience.

So there we are, sitting in the back row. The space is practically empty and Dara starts unraveling foil packets of gluten free Ginger cookies.

"What do you think Klecko, should I enter them is the State Fair?"

OMG, they were so good, and I swear to Caesar I'm not just saying that because she was my date, the flavor just pounced on my tongue, that's a hard sensation to create without the assistance of wheat.

For the next 20 minutes, I pretty much sipped on a G&T and listened to some of Dara's ideas which revolved around her collection of motor cycle poems.

I typically don't like to stereo type people, but I guess I just don't know many 5'4" Jewish women in the literary field that wear dresses,quote Shakespeare and sit on the back of a Harley.

In spite of her exterior beauty, and bitching motor cycles boots, it's her laugh that won me over the very first time I heard it.

Remember how.....(unique?) Amadeus's laugh was in his movie? The one that starred Tom Hulce?

Dude he's Triple A compared to my friend.

EYE-SPY....could it be, yes! Tonight's first presenter comes walking through the door.

Her name is Laurie Hertzel and she is the "BOOK" reviewer of the largest newspaper in the state on Minnesota.

Just a couple weeks ago her newest book won top honors at the Minnesota book awards.

Her book talks about how she stumbles into the world of journalism. It's chalk full of news room description's, you clouds of smoke, fat balding men pounding on typewriters,the kind of stuff you'd see on Lou Grant or All the Presidents Men.

Of the 4 readers, Hertzel was the only one who gave a presentation that was strong enough to over power my A.D.D.

She claimed the book was about working at a newspaper, but I think there was a little more to it.

Her time allotment was 12 minutes, and I think her heart wanted each one of us to at least catch some of the loose rust off of her life's work.

How daunting is that? To transform peoples perception in less than 1/4 hour?

But at the beginning of her talk, she volunteered a monologue where she mentioned growing up in a gray house with a red front step in the port city of Duluth.

She went on to explain to us that she was one of (oh-oh...was it) 10 siblings, and if you hadn't grown up in a huge family, you might not know how easy it is to go through life off the radar (my words, not hers).

So while she read her stories, I wasn't looking for plot lines as much as what it was about herself that she was willing to reveal, I really liked how she imitated herself with words.

She crushed so hard, it was unfair to the other 3 readers in my opinion. the #2 woman must of been awful because I think I've blocked her out of my, it was only 24 hours ago, and if world peace depended on it....I couldn't tell you a word she said.

The 3rd woman....Sweet Jesus of Texas State Bank, she talked about going to the airport in a cab, and how Saint Paul was like Rome because both cities were built on 7 hills.

Then she gave us a blow by blow description of each hill and attached what she thought were clever little quips.

The problem was though, her story ends up taking place on the Autobahn. Huh?

She was in a car, and get this, she had a conversation with some kid that had some androgynous name. I couldn't make out the kids name, was it Kecktor?

But either way, it didn't matter. In the span of 3 minutes, she recited the kids name 142 times.

That's more than Klecko mentions Klecko in a L.A.B. blog post.

How sad is that?

And the last reader was an older gray haired woman who actually lives in my neighborhood.

She was 75ish, and read about trying to pick up old guys in Highland Park.

There was one moment where she spoke of imaginary conversations with Sean Connery, and how she yearned for gusts of wind to alter the course of his kilt.

A lot of the people loved her. I told Dara that she just talked about stuff that I hear in line at Super Target or Cub Foods.

Motor Cycle Girl responded by rolling her eyes sarcastically and asking me if I knew of any other writers that spoke randomly and puddle jumped with their thoughts.

Well played Dara.

But then the presenters were finished, and the hoopla for the sidewalk poetry was about to start.

I shouldn't tell you this, but I had an acceptance speech rehearsed, not just for myself, but for Finley in the event that he won.

Neither of us fared well.

Five savages won instead lol, but then they announced that there was honorable mentions as well, didn't matter.

Me and Finley were about the only people that went home empty handed.

As the crowd filed out and I sulked in my shame, Hertzel expedited my mourning process by telling me stories about old woman and dogs attacking her in Russia.

Soviet dog attacks have always brightened my day, or at least they help take the edge off of abject defeat.

Now 93 people have left, there's 6 or 7 of us remaining.

My escort is talking to some Olympia Dukakis woman that kind of intimidated me so I camped out with my host instead.

Carol Connolly has always been so nice to me. I don't get it. She is a women who has access to great writers, people who are 50 times smarter than me, but instead of ignoring a blue collared lout, she brags about me or says nice things about me in front of other people.

So when we all realized it was about time to go, Carol asked if I ever thought about any other vocation other than being a baker.

I confessed that I kinda dreamed about being a priest, but I like girls too much.

Then Carol sat, thought a moment, looked at me and said....

"You kind of are a priest Klecko" and then she smiled.

I have no idea what she meant, but it was time to go, and I think it was a compliment.I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Although I got to hang out with 3 delightful women, for the record Mr. Finley, I wish you would of been there.

I might not have minded losing as much had you been with me.

Listed below is what I thought should have been the wining poem.



  1. "in the belly of a wooden pirate ship." that's sheer brilliance. it was a great space. and those windows! i want to knock out all the walls of my house and put in those windows.

  2. Sorry I missed it!

  3. me too -- am still toting barges up on the north coast -- que lastima babe -- next year we'llclear the walkways