Wayne's Weekly Reader

by Wayne Klick

April 28, 1999

It made perfect sense.

I'm right in the middle of taking another big step in what is becoming a huge overall transition for me and my life: buying a house and moving from the coffeehouse district cool artisto hip liberal funky nonconformist character-laden character-rich neat-little-store Albuquerque Downtown to the (generally considered among denizens of the former) white snooty uncool too-polished anti-creative conservative espresso-substandard shopping mall mainstream and boring Albuquerque Northeast Heights.  All of these allegations about the heights are really unfounded.  There are many places to get a cafe mocha in the heights.  And our new house (yes we got the house) will be a great place for us to live.  Keep in mind, this is but one step in a huge overall transition that began when Lucy came to town a couple of years ago, yet somehow pivots around the fact that I now work for the Republican party.  But more about the switch from downtown to uptown reflecting greater changes in a later column -- perhaps several later columns.

Yes it made perfect sense.

I'm right in the middle of another big step in a huge overall transition and Clebo Rainey comes to town.

He shows up to remind me of what I am, or at least what part of what I am.

Clebo is a poet -- a road poet of the highest order.  We met a few years ago when he came to town with a friend on another performance tour.  I wrote a poem about the experience.  He showed me a lot of what I am then and this why we bonded so well.  Read the poem.  You'll understand.

Clebo lives in Dallas with his wife, but spends several months a year touring and doing multimedia poetry performances.  He is something like 50+ years old, guzzles Dr. Pepper at the rate of a twelve-pack a day with the teeth to prove it, is a former rock-n-roll leadman and record store owner who started writing poetry in his late 30's after a divorce.  He discovered the poetry slam somewhere in there.  His Dallas slam team took second place in the Nationals last year.

I love Clebo because there's no bullshit.  He's a self-absorbed egomaniac and doesn't try to be anything else.  When he's not performing, he's still performing -- telling road stories, moving about frantically, and generally being the center of attention.  He's got the spirit and innocent enthusiasm of a sixteen-year-old, yet with the wisdom generated by his rich life experience.

I have no desire to live the life Clebo is living -- reading his poems on the road for whoever may show up to hear it. I sampled that lifestyle.  It was fun.  But it really didn't take.  I saw in myself what trying to please an audience night after night can do to your personality if you're not careful.  I decided to just stay home and please myself.  And I'm glad I did.  So is Lucy.  And so is the mortgage company.

Yet I admit to getting a little wistful when Clebo comes to town.  And when he leaves right after his gig to make the drive to Phoenix, where he is usually gigging next.  I can't help wondering.  It's okay to wonder as long as I don't regret.

And I don't.

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