Author: Michael Konik

Xandria Phillips’ “Reasons for Smoking”

“I write to you from the predicament of Blackness,” is the opening line of Xandria Phillips’ new collection of poems, “Reasons for Smoking.” Unwritten, but deeply felt, is the predicament of Femaleness. And Gayness. And Differentness. All these challenges are met (and rhetorically bested) by this fierce poet’s keen sense of self and of the...

Report from the Street: Voices of the Homeless

It began as a a New Year’s resolution: “Do something each day that takes you out of your comfort zone.” Interacting with people living on the streets was at the top of that list. Like many of us who reside in proper homes, I preferred to look away. But for more than a year, I listened to homeless...

Earl Flowers Can Read

Earl Flowers can read. He can read this sentence. He can read every word on this page. If he doesn’t immediately recognize one of the words, he can sound it out phonetically – or, if it’s completely unfamiliar, he knows how to use a dictionary to teach himself. When Earl reads out loud – when...

Lance Mason’s “A Proficiency in Billiards”

Like legions of other itinerant seekers, Lance Mason has backpacked and motorcyled the world, crossed the oceans on freighter ships, seen how the rest of the planet lives. He’s got tales to tell. All traveler’s do; among the peripatetic horde, Mason is among the most gifted writers we’ve encountered. His collection of travel essays, “A Proficiency...

Kevlar for Kids

When news of the latest school shooting reached us, our first impulse, of course, was to offer “thoughts and prayers,” and to make sure via social media everyone understood that we were offering thoughts and prayers. Our second impulse — and this seems to happen every time there’s another mass murder involving an angry white...

Farewell, Meltdown. We’ll Miss You.

For 25 years, Meltdown Comics has been a part of our Sunset Square neighborhood. At the end of this week, they’ll close shop, another brick-and-mortar casualty of online commerce. As the largest tenant on the block, Meltdown was the area’s commercial anchor. Its closure will help the landlord, Jack Ilulian, demolish the low-slung retail building(s) consistent...

Owen Broder’s “Heritage

The saxophonist and composer Owen Broder has assembled a band of beautiful musicians for his American Roots Project. On their new recording, “Heritage,” the ARP explores blues, bluegrass, folk, and church hymns, filtered through a light jazz scrim. It’s Appalachia meets Manhattan.  The results are lush, piquant  and altogether addictive. ARP’s music on “Heritage” feels comforting and familiar — and...

Secret Meeting

Thank you, esteemed representatives, for joining us at this historic congregation. I know it wasn’t easy for many of you, especially the flora. We appreciate your commitment to the revolution. Almost all living creatures are represented directly or indirectly here tonight. We understand and appreciate the passionate feelings surrounding our decision to have many crawling insect species be...

The Humorous Concept of President Garcetti

Failing upward. That seems to be the path to political success. You can be a serial fondler, a repeated bankrupter, a fraud — and that won’t disqualify you from positions of power. So long as you’ve got a good story to tell, your failings — both personal and professional — won’t hardly matter. Remember this...