Welcome to the mind of John Scott Ridgway. Beware falling rocks and angels.

YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER WHAT THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY CALLS THE 'WITTING.' The implication being anyone who doesn't know what is truly going on in the world is 'unwitting.' I have an academic/artist background that includes three books, oil painting, radio and tv... though mostly, I write on the web and give the words away. Better read than dead, I always say. I studyied military intelligence, cults, english, history, and philosophy, among other subjects that I took in my quest to have something to say in my work.... I am proud to say I studied under peaceful warriors, like Dr. Danial Stern, an icon in the sixties who hung out with the panthers, dealt with agent provocaters, spies.


Find me on facebook at john scott ridgway... there are two of me... one is active. I trust you can figure it out. Doing a lot of stuff there. Basically showing my daily trek throughout the dozens of papers I peruse while waiting in some bush, pr parked somewhere, you know, out stalking, or whatever, you know... hunting humans, maybe... but not in an illegal way. Really.

I urge you to try out my new Jesus, blog, too. He is nothing like you have read before. This creature from the planet Heaven is mistaken for an alien, a cult leader, a terrorist.... Military intelligence agents and secrets are thrown all over in this blog.... please spread my writing whereever forfree... The book is not just for Christians. I am almost an agnostic... I, Christ... will lead you to heaven, or at least give you a lot to think about. After years of getting mostly a's in college, I can at least parrot a few things you have not heard.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


The irony is that going into THE FUCKING READING TONIGHT, I was afraid that my poem was too obvious, when in reality the language of my microcosm seemed to be entirely unknown to the audience. One table of black on black hipsters displayed utterly blank expressions, which I believe is the sophisticated equivalent to a slack-jawed air of 'HUH?' Afterwards, confirmation of their confusion came in the spontaneous comments, as one person after another wasted words by offering me meaningless ‘LIKES’ without ‘WHYS?’

Shattered Presence still makes sense only to me. A reasoned, scientific response to New Age be-witchery and all other non-explanations built on wishful thinking, made no sense to them. A poem that says a TV show titled Touched By An Angel should just be called ‘Touched’ was taken for more pointless, whining. They took me for another depressive rant on a world seen through the glass darkly.

I DO NOT write professorial puzzles or nifty pictures to be taken in whatever way the receiver’s past tells them to---my goal is to create convictions; make this fucking world offer more shade to babies and lovers; convince that the meaninglessness is malleable; to do so, my texts have to be clearly understood. Tonight, my seed dies ignoble, encrusted on paper rendered garbage by its presence.

Part of the problem could have been the poet who read before me, Gorgeous Surely (sic). Our local performance artist was dressed up as an S & M nymphet, wearing a skintight, black leather mini skirt, dark brown nylons, hot pink garters, and a black leather vest worn sans shirt. She breathes poetry through pouted lips painted glossy red, takes the most innocent words and turns them into whore heat with husky, ‘fuck me more tones.’ The actual words she uses are more a comment on how they sound side by side than anything else. The subject was sex---surprise, surprise.

Her performance, like her chapbook, Let Me Suck It, is a puddle of images designed to create strong reactions in apes – make their crotches tingle and juice. Surely Shirley is a stripper on the wrong stage.The One called The Nervous/Touchy Woman hosted. She has stubby fingers that tremble slightly from some psychotropic or another (she wrote a poem titled the name of the drug . . . I, of course, of course, half listened as I doodled away my boredom, and now the name escapes me). She was wearing yellow lipstick, had heavy black lines of black mascara around her eyes, a black skirt and a white T-shirt that was tight enough to contour no less than four bulbous tiers of fat. Her hair was spiky orange with a half-inch or so of black roots, and there are too many tattoos and nose/lip/ear/whatever rings to count without obviously staring.I’ve heard enough of her ‘making sense of my journey’ poems to know more about her than anyone needs to --- including that she’s been in and out of therapy all her life and hates the idea of a poet like herself (but not herself, the poem that I am referring to had to point out) soiling her artistic soul doing a job exactly like hers, data entry. She also gets drunk on cheap red wine and calls up psychics to talk about angels.

The Upshot of her poetry is always, ‘everything works out like it should, and there are angels everywhere, and she’s just fine, thank you, pretending that she lives in the best of all possible worlds.’Milton Eugene Peters read next. I've never written him. He signs his work ‘The Scoffer,’ though I’ve never seen him scoff at anything. Indeed, he always comes off drunk and defeated.

The first thing he did on-stage was hold up a cheap looking chapbook to make sure everyone knew they could be bought. A slim volume with colored paper for a cover, something he put together on an ambitious afternoon at Kinko’s. I’ve looked at it before. The intro says that they’re written in a ‘Whitmanesque style, celebrating the wonder of Toledo, Ohio and the surrounding mental vicinity’ (this oddly askew vision of Toledo most likely originated when Valium was ‘non-addictive’ and then just carried right on through the Prozac revolution). Milt read a first person narrative about a mailman who overcomes rain, sleet and snow, only to be mauled by an ennui monster.

The poem is in the early morning, with the narrator sitting in a postal truck sipping whiskey to stem off a hangover that’s been trying to settle in for years. The mourning cords of a broken heart country song remind him of his ex wife, which then brings to mind getting his divorce papers delivered at the YMCA. The bad news was handed to him in a dingy lobby of a Y.M.C.A. by a wrinkly faced, toothless, old queen who reeked of lilac perfume, BO and Vic’s Vapor rub. After the memory, he either goes to sleep and dreams, or has a vision (the reader can choose either, depending on their level of sanity). A truck rocking wind blows though an open window and a cloud of envelopes fly up into the air around him. Some stop in front of his eyes and he can read who wrote them, where they’re addressed. It’s all the evil mail that he’s delivered over the years: a shut off notice that he delivered to a young couple with babies a few days before their lights went out, a scam that he took to an old Italian woman who lost forty grand, the mocking deluge of get well cards that he delivered to the dying (he actually only wrote ‘cloud of evil mail’. To quote the poem: “I was too despondent to drop off missives of misery.� This line is evidence of why I have to make some of this up - otherwise,Dear Future Selves, as you read over this, you will curse me for writing down such boring shit).Milt drives back to his house, grabs a cane pole and a .45, tells himself that he’s going out on his boat to do some fishing, and then shut himself down once and for all. He goes to a Turkey lake, which his poem purports to have ‘water as clear as a tear,’ gets in a rowboat, paddles out to the middle and starts to prepare a line to cast. He spikes the hook into a worm and yellow gunk comes out. He wonders how his head will look after he fires the gun into his temple? If his gray, crinkled brains will show? He wants to get rid of, quote, ‘a bag of psychic thorns,’ so he’s brought a gray, lumpy mailbag with him. He drops it over the side of the bow and watches the words 'U.S. Mail,' sink into the murky water.

Then his poem veered out of control and crashed. I don’t know where the remaining words came from, but they were not generated by the preceding text. Well, whatever their source, the tacked on lines describe how Milt suddenly realized that ‘frogs find reason enough to live in the crunch of a fly,’ and is magically transformed into a, quote (for god’s sake) 'paradigm of peace.’I wish to hell that I could make peace with the universe in two lines. I think my differences run much too deep. Did he attend that workshop on writing ‘life-affirming’ endings? He could be trying to reinvent himself as happy?A happy man in a sad world--is there anything as repugnant?

I should write down that Milt really is a divorced, depressed, half-drunken postal employee who indeed still lives at the Y.M.C.A. After reading, he propped three copies of his book up in front of the podium for people to, quote, “ . . . peruse and purchase during the break� (didn’t happen), then gave the stage back to the nervous women.

She stepped in front of the Mic, reintroduced herself, and then extravagantly proclaimed that the next reader would be The Big Fish, saying how she read all his books and took his classes, knew him as a beautiful Father, Teacher, Brother. I mean, she blew him up and down that little stag horn of his. Had him strutting up to the stage ready to rut.He of grammatical greatness still hasn't lost the weight that he gained while writing ‘Ambrosia,’ his book of passionate love poems to his favorite gourmet meals (complete with pictures, recipes and center-piece ideas). A loose narrative runs through the Ambrosia text, describing a monastic initiate learning ritual eating habits. The Big Fish based the regime on what he learned from the last survivors of an obscure religious sect . . . Ugh, it’s sad, but I’ve forgotten their name. He met them while he was on an academic sabbatical in some country, or another. The introduction says, quote: ‘I am in the unfortunate position of having to single handedly preserve a culture,’ then goes on to ‘implore' readers to ‘use the rituals as a dinner party theme.’I once asked him about the metaphorical underpinnings? He spewed out something about how ‘Zen moments contain their own truth.’ I’m not sure if that was a blow-off, or an answer? I hope it was the latter, but . . .

Okay, back to the actual events that took place at The Tuesday Night Toledo Poetry Slam. . .

The Big Fish plays the crowd, walks across the bar touching people’s shoulders, looks down at them and smiles. He knows everyone, of course, because in the cultural Anti-Mecca of Toledo, Ohio, the dozen of so people who show up at readings are poets and their lovers. On stage he adjusts the Mic down below his chin and asks the bartender to aim the spotlight so it’s shining directly on his face. He wears an over-sized, beige Peruvian sweater with a blue llama that seems to be kneeling on his protruding gut, and starts out by saying that he has a signed copy of Milt’s book at home and recommends the volume as ‘a record of how Toledo is viewed by today’s working class’. Of course, he then brings up his own book, which he strangely enough says can be purchased at a lot of bookstores (I happen to know that at least in Toledo, only the university sells them).When the political preliminaries are finally finished, his face goes pointedly blank and he silently gazes out over our heads, takes a drag off a cigarette and exhales into the circular beam of the spotlight.

Thick tendrils of white smoke swirl around him. He silently smokes until the silence itself is the first stanza of the poem-– if indeed, not it’s entirety. The audience is unsettled by the lack of words. I personally grow almost terrified at the thought of spending the next five minutes attempting to follow the vague mental direction of smoke swirling around a bulge of fat. One minute 39 seconds into said silence, a couple people in the back of the room begin whispering. The Big Fish's face takes on a stern, knowing expression as he switches from Beat Poet to Worldly Professorial Mode, leans into the microphone and says, “Some people are here to experience the arts - please, give them a chance.�

Then his face goes blank again and he returns to his silent smoking. It goes on and on . . . On and on. . . On . . . On. . .

I feel like I’ll be noticed if I get up and leave. I try not to look at my watch but there is no way in hell that I can stop myself. The second bout of silence clocks in at two minutes, forty-three seconds, point . . . suddenly the Big fish throws his arms up into the air and yells loud as hell in a Martin Luther King cadence, “I have been to vulva! I have disappeared into heavily verbiaged pussy! Fuchsia! I say, Fuchsia!“

Beer is spilt, a couple people yell out . . . everyone is startled as planned, including your normally unflappable narrator, who dropped a pen that rolled away into the netherworlds of the dim bar lights.He falls silent for another 37.9 seconds, then launches into a whispery jazz riff using alternative words for a vagina as notes. I get out my pad and another pen to write down any new nicknames that he’s discovered for my favorite place in the known universe; sit with my pen hovering over the page for the rest of the poem. When he’s done, there is hooting and hollering a-plenty. I write a note to myself - -‘ everyone seems to 'get' a poem about fucking.’

I used my years of Lit-Crit to look under his prose for the secret language of the literati, the gems supposedly passed from writer to reader, jot down, ‘The 'message' is the same old, same old; gray little nothings; infant lies sponged from movies and ad's and idle conversations; images that scream about how cars crash, little kids cry, people fall in love. I confirm my criticism later, during the smoky, slurred chitchat phase. I use the student voice, display the demeanor of a novice impressed by the teacher’s insight and wanting more, “What is it that people should take home with them from your poem. You know, the revelation?�

“The revelation?� He acts like I need to be clearer if I expect him to bless me with an answer.

“The point, what it means?�

“Fucking is fun.�

“That, I never would have known.�

“What do you mean by that?�

“As a Baptist, I was raised to think as little as possible about sex - and then only bad thoughts. But if you say that fucking is fun, then I damn well might give it a try.“

He half-laughs.

I hope to convince people that over-dramatic times deserve over-dramatic responses, to take their ethical circles and expand them, to see themselves as part of the generations yet to come; to destroy the delusions of religion, ego, politics . . . It’s not like I’m praying to the sky. Empirical data shows my talent could nuance consciousness, actually shape minds more in tune with the world around us, rather than the word-worlds that we’ve made up for all those reasons that have nothing to do with the search for truth. I mean, my god, writing a poem that says fucking is fun? Money? Praise? I might as well write a poem about how windows open.

don't steal my shit.... no use what-so-ever of this material is lawful, unless you have my permission.... don't make me come smack the shit out of you.

1 comment:

Jack Mercer said...

Johnny, too much to read for the moment, but I'll be back. I read all your stuff.