Thursday, March 3, 2016

Your reception at the Riverview Cafe

We were at the Open Mike Night at the Riverview Cafe again last night, and I finally figured out the key to the audience response. I think it took the first really bad performance to put everything in perspective for me. From there it fell into place. A young man took the stage and announced that he was going to perform some spoken word poetry, but first he would tell us a little about himself. Then he told us some not particularly interesting or illuminating things. Then he performed his spoken word poetry, which was in the nature of bad rapping without music.

The audience was completely silent and respectful. Well, except for my wife and I, who, cleverly, stood in the back with the drinks we just bought and talked amongst ourselves. But here's the thing: the Riverview audience is never silent and respectful. Even the best performers work through a cloud of chatter and noise.

And so here is your key, should you ever decide to perform at The Open Mike Night at the Riverview Cafe and want to know what people thought of you:

No matter what it will be noisy and people will talk during your performance. Don't let that get you down. But the more that people like you or are impressed by you the quieter it will get. However, if it gets fully quiet and respectfully attentive, it means everyone hates you.

My wife and I, sitting at the front table are exceptions and are harder to read. If either or both of us go to the bathroom we're probably not wild about you, and if we step to the back of the cafe together you're in real trouble.

Outside of that it's going to be difficult to tell, especially since we are, in all other cases, quiet and respectfully attentive. So if you wanted to know you'd have to ask us. And most likely we'd tell you.


  1. Hey. What do you think of somehow having your blog onstage at Riverside Cafe? I mean, not that you would have to go up there and read them, but maybe a puppet show of some sort? A visual canvas? An anonymous speaker representing Clerkmanifesto? How about you ask everyone to go to the day's post on their computer and read it out loud, but start at different times and then repeat, like a song in a round? As a long-time reader of your posts I would like very much to see that. I will be patient in waiting for a response.

    With thanks for your time and consideration.



    1. Well, that got avant-garde fast!!! But I will address what I believe to be the secret core of your proposal:

      I often think of reading my blog onstage at the Riverview. I'm not sure if the sad fact that the first person who was not a musician was also the first person who kind of sucked at the open mike made me want to do it less or more. I'm trepidatious about breaking the spell. But I have a proposition for you G A.

      You come to the Riverview open mike and perform, say, Witness I Can't Hide, Late Last Night, and Careful on the Wind (all negotiable), and I will do three of my blog pieces about the Riverview live for the Riverview audience.

      This may sound outlandish as I live thousands of miles from you, but consider these points:

      1. You'd get to see me!!!

      2. You missed out on the opportunity to take me to Springsteen's "River" concert just this last Monday (We won't so publicly go into just why you might want to have done that).

      3. It would be so amazingly great!

      4. You're a rich professor with time on your hands.

      We await instructions on when to pick you up at the airport.

      Sincerely yourself,



If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.