collective review

TBA 2011: Jesse Sugarmann

Sometimes Nothing (everything) Happens

By Claudia La Rocco September 13, 2011

Oh, you guys. I blew it.

For those of us (lunatics) who try to see everything at these cluster**** smorgasbords, there are always at least two festivals. The first is the ideal one, the one we see in our mind’s eye, when every event we intend to catch has been laid out neatly on paper and, because things like nerves, exhaustion, afternoon drinking binges and the like do not exist on paper, seems totally doable.

The second is the actual, where all of those things and their like exist with a vengeance, and prevent us from even approaching the ideal.

And, so: I didn’t make it to the Jesse Sugarmann performances. In my ideal festival, see, I managed to be in two places at once.

Well, whatever. What’s done is done. I don’t get to see that slo-mo walrus ballet of minivans and mattresses. The actual has to live in the ideal.


Last night I was in only one place, and it was grand (ideal and actual): Barry Sanders’ writing class at PNCA. Barry is marvelous. His students are marvelous. I just tried to keep up.

We spent awhile workshopping some of the writing about tba they’ve been doing. And, as luck would have it, some of them chose to write about Sugarmann. And how:

“Negative space between the stacks of mattresses shrinks and you’re almost sure that something is going to happen. One of the vans is going to slip off and topple to the ground. One of the mattresses is going to burst. It is going to be violent, you’re sure. You want it to happen because if it doesn’t, you won’t be satisfied.” – Rebecca

“The beads trickle along the folds and angles of my positioned self; I am enjoying my sweat now. The lifeless chunks of sheet metal slowly move toward the sky in the escalating moment.” – Travis

“I too share this type of admiration for the car & yet, I am the first to admit the lunacy of the attraction as well. Those old cars, some with ridiculously useless twelve cylinder engines, others with quirky hand tooled bodies, the types of cars in which you don’t care if they break down daily, because you’ve given them a name.” -Jeremy

I wouldn’t have said it that way. I wouldn’t have said it better.

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