Bob Rixon: Devoted to DJ Rix
Once in a blue moon someone asks why I don't do poetry readings anymore.  I never gave many readings even when I wanted to do them; opportunities were not abundant, demand for my services was small, & three minutes at an open mic don't count (is one no less anxious?).  Then poetry readings turned  theatrical & competitive, featuring more actors who wrote & memorized  long monologues than poets who did a little acting. I began getting postcards that said, "Dear Bob; I'm organizing a 'slam' at the Olde Earth Holistic Bookstore, & you're invited!"  Wow. Throughout most of the 80's & 90's I also had a weekly radio program. Although I rarely ever  read poems on my shows, free form  required creativity & improvisation, & I talked as much as I desired, about  whatever I wanted within  F.C.C. "guidelines."  When I gave up the weekly programs, a strong urge or need for the immediacy  of a "live" audience wasn't there; I was tired & wanted to read theology & listen to all the Mahler symphonies plus Das Lied Von Der Erde, which I did.  Live readings could make me feel vulnerable & exposed in ways that all stutterers will fathom, & only a nice payday really compensated for that. At WFMU, besides working to an invisible audience that reacts by phone or e mail, I get to do a character that sounds like me because it is me, but which is slightly skewed as Bob Rixon playing DJ Rix. If you call during a program & request music or say you're enjoying or not enjoying the show, & that's all, you're talking to DJ Rix. If you're under the surface of the proceedings, really into a piece of music, or how a set is coming together,  or something I said, you get through immediately to Bob Rixon. Of course, I'm always Bob to the WFMU staff (Rix to some of the Upsala College era dinosaurs), but if I show up at a public station event wearing a Hawaiian shirt, an "Aloha Surf"  baseball cap, & sunglasses, they know I'm there as DJ Rix. I can't do a credible poetry reading in that costume unless I perform Boardwalk. Probably one of the reasons I wrote it.

I was also annoyed that many poets I encountered around Jersey assumed WFMU was a minor league NPR  & wanted to be on my show mainly so they could add it to their resumes.  Poets I knew from other parts of the country somehow grasped what it really was about & sent me homemade lo-fi recordings to use any way I wanted. You  have to believe  it's cool to have one of your poems aired in the middle of a set of music,  with the DJ later announcing something like,  "& during that piece by Sun Ra we also heard a poem by _____."  (Just one possibility, but it's a meaningless compliment if you don't know Sun Ra is from Saturn.)  Poets in Jersey never caught on to this easy little gig, which astonished me for a long time given that so many of them, myself included on one occasion, were willing to drive forty miles to do a free reading at a Barnes & Noble, usually at the bidding of some poet/functionary who passed out money at other venues on other occasions.  There are a few poets in Jersey - everywhere really -  who would never do you a favor for the simple reason that they like you or your poems. For these types, if you have nothing to trade then you better hope genuflection or old fashioned ass kissing turn the trick.  I recall making only one such deal, with Betsy Schwartz when she was producing a local cable TV show out of Metuchen NJ., & we laughed about it. Betsy  read her poems & chatted  on late night alternative radio, & I wore a Sofran McBride  hand-painted silk tie on  television & was famous for a week with my younger co-workers at Pearl Arts & Craft store in Woodbridge. When I walked out in the middle of an aggravating yet snooze-inducing Gary Snyder / Paul Winter performance at the 1994 Dodge Poetry festival, I discovered Betsy had preceded me outside the Big Tent. Neither of us had the patience  to sit through the awful concert, & I would have been humiliated had Bill Moyer's  PBS cameras caught me politely applauding when it  ended. Oh, how I envied the  Dadaists on that evening, & wished I had brought a boiled lobster to throw on the stage.

March 30, 2005
Bob Rixon Blog