Barefoot in the Park
Last week's Samples item about William “Upski” Wimsatt and his hip-hop polemic Bomb the Suburbs generated more reader response than anything we've printed in this space over the past year. But as Upski was to discover at the Chameleon's Monday night open mike, S.F. can be a tough town. One whiff of his heady idealism and stumbling delivery, and the jaded artistes in the house took to heckling. Save the Marginal Prophets in attendance, it was a decidedly non-hip-hop crowd unfamiliar with Upski's writing on race and class issues: that is, mostly white people sitting at a poetry reading in an increasingly gentrified Latino neighborhood criticizing him for his “privileged,” “bourgeois” background. “Your feet smell,” someone interjected to the barefoot speaker as he discussed bringing together different groups in society. A woman in a beret chastised him for his separation of art and process. “You're not really putting your ass on the line,” one man argued, in reference to Upski's travels through inner-city neighborhoods, “because you can always go home to comfort.” “They were just projecting their own white guilt,” another commented during intermission.
“It was hard, but I liked it,” Upski remarks. “When people try to take me down, it means they're starting to think about things, especially about themselves. If I'm out to provoke people, I certainly succeeded tonight.” Upski got a more positive reception Sunday night at Your Mama's Cafe in Oakland, where he and a small crowd fired away at each other for close to three hours. “There were quite a few people with good, pointed questions who were obviously actively interested in the book's central issues,” he says. Later Monday evening, we passed the Chameleon again and heard the assembled cheer as a shaggy-haired man played an atonal harmonica jam, pulling up his shirt to display his jutting ribs. Yes, he kept his shoes on.
Germ's Demo Tape Show on KUSF has been a big boon to the local music scene for years, giving up-and-coming bands crucial airplay, and releasing the Germ's Choice CD. Now the people Germ has helped along the way are throwing a benefit. “I though it'd be nice for some of the scrubs he supports so much to get together and help him and the station out,” says Killian of the Gun and Doll Show, who will be performing with Tom Barnes of Engine 88, Sonja Waters, the Krinkles, and Patrick Goddard at Arena Interplay on Friday, Aug. 11, for a measly $5. … Also, Killian and some friends are starting a mail-order catalog of Bay Area bands, called SF Unscene. Contact Raven House Records, 915 Cole, Box 296, San Francisco, CA 94117. Call 928-6276.
By Sia Michel