Monday, December 3, 2018

12/10/2018 Chris Chandler hosted by Jim

12/10/2018 Chris Chandler hosted by Jim

Celebrating 30 years on the road! Few musicians can claim "on-the roadisms" the way Chris Chandler can. He is a true veteran of the road, traveling across The United States of Generica for many years. His anthology of road tales transforms into a flock of doves beneath the musical high-wire act. He has worked with everyone from Allen Ginsberg to Ani DiFranco and Pete Seeger to Mojo Nixon.  Utah Phillips says, "Chris Chandler is the best performance poet I have ever seen."
Originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia the son of a Baptist minister, Chris has been on or around the stage his whole life. As a teen-ager he was in the bars and on the road working as a roadie for bands like the Georgia Satellites. He graduated from the North Carolina School of the Performing Arts in 1988. That summer - which was supposed to be a "summer away from college" he hit the road as a street performer to fund his way to audition as a lighting designer in Theaters across America. He actually landed a job on Broadway no-less but turned it down to become a performer in his own right. He has been on the road ever since.
For the first few years he was living in his car and stopping in every town from Bangor to San Ysidro where he opened his guitar case and waxed the manifesto electric sporting a sign that read "Stranded Musician Needs Gas Out of Town." Eventually he hooked up with a group of performers busking in Harvard Square where he joined a commune of other traveling street musicians. These nomadic experiences naturally fed him into the world of activism. Since then he has performed at thousands of festivals, colleges, and bar rooms across the US and Canada.

Poetry Express is proud to be able to present Chris as a featured poet/performer. 

Paradise Found

By Chris Chandler
Oakland, CA
Thanksgiving, 2018

as we walk through the streets of San Francisco,
Oakland, Sacramento...Berkeley...
complaining that the elastic band
on our N-95 masks fits too tight...
... then remembering the lives that have been more severely impacted than our own.

Loss of life...
loss of family..
loss of home...
loss of community...

Big Picture stuff...

But every big picture is composed of many smaller ones.

Smaller ones that depict lives impacted in ways we don't even think of...
can't even think of...
even though... it is the smaller picture that depicts the greater reality.

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.

In Paradise California,
before the fire...
like in any community...
everyday dramas were being played out on a routine Sunday morning sidewalk basis.

"Ya know what pisses me off - is that they do the trash pickups on Mondays - and almost every Month has a Monday holiday.  Veterans day... No Trash Pick up?  Whats up with that?
Do you think they will ever fix the potholes?
"Hey, did you see the Paradise Adventist Academy had advanced to the Northern California Semi-Finals?"

"Paradise Adventist?  Really?  Do they even have a football team?"

Girls Volleyball."

Before the fire
these were the buzzes of front porch
morning coffee neighborhood chit chat.
The stories on the local AM radio station,
the front pages of the local newspaper
"The Paradise Post"
that is now in ashes.

And although in ashes The Paradise Post - through the help of her sister paper The Chico Enterprise-Record continues to publish as they had...
Now there is no town to deliver to, so they deliver... to the evacuation centers.

we all know...
what happened...
over a two day period...

What started as a small brush fire well west of the town...
swelled into a bonfire...
that turned Paradise...
into Hades...
in a matter of hours.

Potholes  and Volleyball are no longer on anyone's mind.

Grab your family and escape...

But not all of the pre fire drama
of Paradise's "Refuse to Die Community"
was turned into floating ash
that settled on to your car windshield
in Berkeley.

There are twelve players on
The Paradise Adventist Academy Girls Varsity Volley Ball Squad... (GO COUGARS!)

They and their families all made it out alive...

Eight of them
and their families
had lost their homes.
Lost everything.

They were all spread out - staying in shelters or with relatives
from Shasta to Stockton.

How could there be a Volley Ball game?

But, this is the semi finals.

No sport in the school's long history
had ever made it that far.

Their opponent...
The Forest Lake Lady Falcons assumed that the team would have to forfeit, and the Falcons began preparing for their next opponent.

But the Cougars refused to be defeated!

The Cougars had no equipment,
no uniforms,
no place to practice.
No Homes.

But these girls?  Now, that is a different story.

Thank god, on Thanksgiving that they don't see things
like you and me.


under-estimate the power of young women.
These girls took to social media and they let it be known that THEY needed the game to go on!

In Solidarity, the Lady Falcons agreed to host...

The Lady Cougars...
their lives in total chaos...
arranged for transportation from points unknown to...
Auburn, California....
Home of the Forest Lake Christian School.

The twelve girls
met in a parking lot for the first time since the fire...
they linked arms.... United.  Defiant.

Together, they marched into the opposing team's gym....

There they were met with something that few "visiting teams" receive when they walk into an opposing teams' home:
They were met with a standing ovation.

They were also met with much more...

Within 24 hours of the devastating fire,
the Forest Lake Falcons had collected donations of $16,000

Laid out on the visiting bench...
were new knee pads,
and most impressively...
new  uniforms.
Each matched with the players' number and name on the back.....
matched perfectly
with what they would have worn
if the fire had not happened.

Instrumental in this act of generosity was Forest Lake coach Travis Smith
who had recently retired from coaching...
but was asked to return for one more season.  Initially, he was ambivalent, but his wife had had a premonition that he needed to do this.
So he agreed - for this - his final season.

When he
was asked to address the crowd...

the applause calmed into an appreciative hush.

"I had been looking for a reason to have returned as coach this year... and I think this...
this moment right here...
is it.

The Paradise Lady Cougars went on to win that game against the Forest Lake Falcons.
They won the game, but not the match.

But in truth, they won much more
than any volleyball squad could.

They are the champions of my heart!

It would be poetic to say that the Lady Cougars went on to win the state championship
but in a way they did.

Instead, (sorry for the pun)
Paradise Lost.

They had to...

because, my friends,
this is not Hollywood.

This is Paradise.

1 comment:

  1. I heard this amazing song on KPFA's "Accross the Great Divide" show this afternoon.
    Bravo, Chris! Thank you.