Vox Pop Cafe, has a short, but very eventful history. I am not going to go into that history in detail, but let us just say it has included a series of interruptions in its’ normal day-to-day operations. Maybe a more detailed history will be supplied in the future, but for now we will leave it at that. The reason I am not going in that direction just now is that I want to introduce this blog and the reason for its’ arising.
The events that have been hinted at in the above paragraph, have been well documented on our neighborhood blog, Ditmas Park Blog. The administrators of that blog have done a wonderful job at keeping us up to date as to what is taking place in the neighborhood. They cover just about everything that happens locally. Restaurant openings, or rumors of coming new business. Accidents and shootings. Local celebrities and aspiring artists and artist events. Political meanderings and police precinct reports.
Throughout all these postings are the series of comments that get posted in response to a given article. Now anyone who runs a blog should know very well about trolls and detractors who see the bleak and bad in everything. But the commentary also gives neighbors a forum in which to exchange their views on the things that affect them. Other then the “gee, can’t wait” comments or the occasional “cool,” most folks come across rather intelligently and have a great deal of care for their community.
So this brings me to why I am starting another blog. I have never seen myself as a blogger nor am I a writer by trade. It just happened. Much of this can be read about on my other blog, The Free School Apparent [http://bzeines.wordpress.com/].
There has been a lot of news over the past 12 months regarding Vox Pop. After Sander Hicks, the founder and original visionary, departed for other adventures, there was a great deal of problems that followed in his wake. It is as if he had a great big closet, and it just burst open after he left. When news of some of the tax seizures hit the local blog, there was an outpouring of support for Vox Pop. It is seen as a hub of activity for the whole area. It supplies a venue for socializing that none of the other new businesses can. But at the same time, there many who got to vent their dislikes in a way that went over the border of hurtful.
One of those comments, which I cannot prove existed (it may have been deleted) came on the heels of one of the closings. It went something like this “That is a place for the riff-raff to hang out.” The on line dictionary has this definition: an insulting word for people who are noisy, badly-behaved, or of low social class.
Now this is the first time I have ever been referred to as riff-raff. It may be true. I do not know. But somehow, I had heard this comment second-hand and have been unable to find any proof of it on the Ditmas Park Blog. Maybe Ben Smith can substantiate if for me. But the thought stuck in my mind.
It stuck in my mind as I sit in the now beautiful outdoor space sipping my iced Americano. It stuck in my mind as I would exchange jokes and stories with my neighbors. It stuck in my mind as I shared ideas with local musicians. It stays in my mind as I sit on stage where I am given the opportunity to share my music with the world or when I join in a game of scrabble on a lovely evening. It has stayed with me as I and others have hung art work, both good and bad, on the cafe walls. It stayed in mind every time I speak to the very hard working and loving manger, Debi Ryan.
And as I looked into the faces of the many, many people who I have come to love as my neighbors, a light went off in my head. These people have stories to tell. And from my encounters, interesting stories. Artists, poets, musicians, writers, craftsmen, workers of all kinds, mothers, children and foreign visitors who have happened upon this magnetic corner. And it came to me that I want to tell their stories, one-by-one.
So with Debi’s blessing, I have taken on the project that for at least one year, I will try to speak to at least one person a week, and write about it here on this blog. I have given it the name of Vox Pop’s Literati, but I am not married to that yet. I just wanted to get started, and start I have. I see Vox Pop as a kind of artist collective, similar to those that were in vogue in 1920’s Paris where Dali, Paul Klee, Magritte, Picasso, and many of that era’s poets and writers collected sharing drink and story of all kind.
As administrator of this blog, there are going to be postings of all kinds here, as Vox Pop is a home to many writers and poets. Many of them attend the frequent Spoken Word segments or read at the Sunday open mike. But the main focus of my involvement will be this series of portraits which I hope to get going on soon.
As I have done with my other blog, the community is welcome to share. Of course the trolls and the naysayers will have to deal with me if their comments go down the dark hole.
A few years ago, my wife and I ran a gallery. We had many who came and loved how we did things. And then we would hear through the grapevine, or an email, about someone who didn’t. And we extablished our firm philosophy right there and then. It goes like this:
We are not fascinated by those who are against us. Only those who are with us. If you love my work, fine. If not, que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.
Until next time,