I was really excited about our most recent show and so I decided to write to you about it, so that those who were there can share the memory with me, and those who weren’t can still join us in the experience.
First of all, if anybody really knows me, then they know that I try really hard to give unique gifts. We were celebrating Urban Jibaro’s birthday and though we usually do not exchange gifts, but this year I wanted to surprise him. I heard through the informal Bochinche News Network that Boo (proprietor of Boo’s Bakes, a unique baker that flavors her treats with Puerto Rican cultural tradition and artistry) was going to perform at the Capicu Peoples Open Mic. Boo had already made the “Capicu Cookies” for some of our shows, which was given out to our community during the event, so I thought it was a natural fit to ask her to make a special set of sugar free cupcakes for Urban Jibaro’s birthday. And wow, were they amazing! Boo actually flew in miniature Puerto Rican “pavas” from the island in order to make her vision complete (visible in the pictures). Along with Jede (part-owner of our new venue, LP & Harmony), we decided to move a table and set up the cupcake tower display right on stage as the backdrop to a night of amazing artists. A special thank you to you, Boo!
We opened our night with a special surprise guest, Miguel Algarin. I am a tremendous fan of Miguel Algarin, as his book “Love Is Hard Work” impacted my decision to get into the performance end of poetry. This is something many of you know, as I’m well aware that I will recount this story to anybody that will listen! In that book, he speaks of the Nuyorican Angels, which appear as metaphors both living and inanimate, sometimes sociopolitically charged, sometimes sexually provocative, all of the time challenging and all of the time very human with all of the range of splendor and decay that humanity lives with. Here I give a special thank you to community activist Maisha Morales for bringing Miguel out to us, I have come to believe Maisha is Miguels last true Nuyorican Angel.
My official co-host La Sensacion did a wonderful job with the first half of our open mic as always. She took a break from her studies to bring style and vigor to our show in that sassy way that she has, and I am always appreciative that her taking care of the first half of the show actually allows me to build with some of our community in better ways. As far as the Open Mic… when you play dominoes, bueno, Puerto Rican dominoes, we usually start with the Double 6. It represents the opening of the game, the fresh start and unlimited possibility of the night. It is quickly becoming a tradition that our Double 6 is the multifaceted Brooklyn artistTaino Image, who paints, makes our flyers, takes professional pictures, tells jokes, and of course does poetry. Taino’s work is often a fusion of two or more of these roles on any Capicu given night. After this, we were entertained by a sultry set by Red Clay Woman, Mona Bode, performances by Magik, Boo, ChristBearer who is quickly becoming a crowd favorite, and our very ownYubelky who gave us a brand new piece. In the audience, I spied with my little eye many of Jibaro’s frat brothers, shout out to Phi Iota Alpha– the oldest Latino Fraternity in existence! I also saw former Capicu music features ‘Estampas De Borinquen‘, the Wepa Man George Acevedo & host extraordinaire Keith Roach all eagerly waiting for his arrival and celebration along with our family and friends.
Around 9 PM, it was my turn to take the stage for the ‘Chupacabra Hour‘. After a steady diet of Presidente Beers and awesome conversations, I offered a toast to all of our special ladies for Mothers Day. I spotted a suited and shaved Jibaro who had came in late due to a family event, but in actuality he came right on time as I got the whole crowd to sing him Happy Birthday while he took the stage to share a few emotional words with us, genuinely surprised by the cake and the song. After this, I had some members of the community come up and talk about upcoming projects. Uraidah Hassani, founder of the Womens Worldwide Initiative shared with us her goals at this years AIDS Walk and we passed around a collection plate. LP & Harmony (our venue) donated part of the proceeds from the bar to their AIDS Walk as well. Poet Tamara G Saliva talked about collecting notebooks for her 900 Notebooks initiative for the Children’s Arts & Science Workshops and some of our crowd donated books to the cause. We also introduced a new Capicu member to the team, Leslie Cruz who is interning for our Radio Capicu Show (Leslie, make sure to take some pointers from our very first crew member,Boricua Goddess! I’m sure she can tell you how to deal with our loquerias!). Open Mic performers on my set included the professor Carlos Manuel Rivera, Tamara G Saliva, TATU, Vigo, Yexenia Gómez, Liz Bajo, musiciansSolitaire Revival and from the Capicu team the Taino Historian Bobby Gonzalez (who announced he will be publishing his new work through Capicu later this year), and la Colombianita Nessa!
We were joined by our featured poet, Rick Kearns Morales who spent a good part of the night reconnecting with Miguel Algarin which was extra special to me because we had recently talked over the phone about his experiences with Miguel. Ricks poetry, the way he tells a story, feels very warm and nuanced with equal parts traditional history and lighthearted touches of humor. He read from his new work, “Rufino’s Secret“, which is Ricks re-imagining of a 17th century Puerto Rican legend that was known as ‘Rufino, el matador de tiburones’, a Taino warrior famous for killing sharks. I feel honored that he came down to Brooklyn to join us in our celebration, and tonight I will be ordering his book, as well you should if you were there!
By the way, if you were indeed there, you may have heard me mention that there are shows out there that are effective at building audiences. These are one-way communications, the performer and the audience member are somewhat removed from one another. But at Capicu, we are Community Builders. The Performer and the Community Member is on the same level, and speak about the issues we deal with together, from an authentic, engaged connection.
That being said, we want to thank you for joining with us in wishing Jibaro many many more birthdays, and we look forward to building with you again at the Peoples Open Mic…
The Nuyo Chupacabra
Capicu Poetry & Cultural Showcase