Saturday, March 6, 2010

Aimless Reading: The G's, Part 2.3 (Geoffrey Gatza)

Gatza, Geoffrey
Kenmore Poem Unlimited

Given to me by the author. Not inscribed.

Kenmore sits at the edge of Buffalo, NY. It is what as known as a "first ring" suburb. Kind of like the rings of Saturn, only not as beautiful. I don't know how many rings of suburbs there are. If I had to guess I would say two. The second ring is the one that doesn't look like the city at all -- it's all strip malls and and four lane roads clogged with the traffic that is mostly absent from the city of Buffalo.

First ring suburbs have some older, suburb-like homes, but what makes them "first" ring, aside from geography, is the fact that it's hard to distinguish them immediately from the city itself. If you didn't know that Kenmore Avenue was the northern city limit, you'd never know you'd left the city proper, at least not until you hit Sheridan Avenue, which is where I would say the "second ring" begins.

Geoffrey Gatza grew up in Kenmore and lived there with his partner, Donna, until a few months ago. They lived in a second floor apartment in a house near the corner of Tremaine and Delaware. I guess it was a three-bedroom apartment -- or maybe a two that had been converted into three, and which included use of an attic space, which Donna claimed as her jewelry-making studio.

I remember it had lots of thick shag carpet.

You came up the stairs and entered into the dining room, which was also filled with books. When Lori and I had moved from Black Rock, we had passed along an old Depression-era China cabinet, which took up part of one small wall, and an old telephone cabinet, which I'd originally been given by Taylor Brady when he and Tanya Hollis left Buffalo, and which was now being used to house Geoffrey's collection of specialty tobacco.

To the left was the kitchen, a bedroom and a bath, as well as the back staircase leading to the attic studio and the back yard. Another bedroom hid behind the dining room. To the right the dining room opened up to the living room, which in turn opened to a winterized sun porch that served as Geoffrey's headquarters and thus the HQ of Blazevox books.

They had (have) two cats, Blaze and Clarisse.

Donna's artwork adorned the walls, and the shelves were crammed with tchotchkes, dolls, action figures, books, DVD's and various and sundry other items. The TV was always on. Geoffrey had (has) a little writing desk on wheels on top of which sat his Macbook. This desk was always in a different place when we visited.

In the winter it was always very, very warm in the apartment.

Geoff, being an amazing chef, would often invite us over for elaborate and delicious 3, 4, 5 6, and 7 course meals, all of which were served on China that had mysteriously disappeared from his former places of employment.

And then last year they were told they had to move because the house was being sold to a car dealer next door so it could be torn down to add more parking, which sounds a lot like the second ring creeping in on the first.

They live in the city proper now, about a block away from where William McKinley was assassinated a little over a hundred years ago. The spot is marked with a stone in a little island in the center of the road.

from Kenmore Poem Unlimited

Panic at the Bookshop

after The Smiths

Panic on the streets of Kenmore
Panic on the streets of Buffalo
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again?

And I wonder to myself

Burn down the bookshops
Hang the blessed poets
Because the words that they constantly use
Hang the blessed poets
Because the poems they constantly write
Speak nothing that reflect me, or my life!

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