You Got a Problem With That?
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
1. A Public Space. 2. Wagah on screen.
A Public Space took over BAM Café last night with its series Between the Lines. The event, co-curated by A Public Space and BAM, aptly titled You Got a Problem With That?, focused on the idea of innovations in the face of problems. By problems I refer to the entire gamut of the word’s meaning: Southeast vs. Deep South; India vs. Pakistan; Boy vs. Girl; Evangelical vs. Muslim; Rye vs. Bourbon.
Tom Drury reads.
Author Tom Drury opened the event with the first chapter from an upcoming novel. This was followed by a screening of a short documentary by Supriyo Sen entitled Wagah. While Drury’s contribution was predictably awesome, it was Wagah that set the tone for the evening.
The film centers on the nightly flag ceremony at the only road border crossing between India and Pakistan. Soldiers from both sides aggressively goose-step around each other to an audience of roughly 20,000 on either side. The performance is both aggressive and fraternal as the soldiers approach and finally fold their flags before again locking the gate that divides the two countries. A young boy from India who sells bootlegged DVDs of the ceremony says to the camera, “If the two countries were together, we could sell more DVDs. I wish we could play with the kids on the other side.”
Manhattan Valley Ramblers.
The film segued into Eliza Griswold’s recap of her time on the 10th Parallel in Sudan with Franklin Graham, son of Evangelical leader Billy Graham, in which he met with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. After a brief introduction, Griswold read an excerpt from her book The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam. Griswold ruminates on the meeting between Graham and al-Bashir in which they attempt to convert each other. After a bleak warning of a possible continental war following the next Sudanese elections (in which Southern Sudan may or may not secede), Griswold finally lifted the heavy air with a reading of her poem “Bed Bugs.”
The evening rounded off with a reading by J.D. Daniels and a performance by the bluegrass group Manhattan Valley Ramblers. I have to say, I love what the people at A Public Space are doing, be it putting out issues of their magazine featuring scantily-clad Russian men on the cover or putting on a show beneath the giant electrified breasts that are indicative of BAM’s amazing architecture. The next installment, Help Me Help You, will feature stories on help from friends, strangers, and bail bondsmen. As the line goes from the Simpsons’ version of Streetcar! The Musical, a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met. I’m just excited to see how it’ll all go down.
–John Zuarino is a freelance writer and editor in Brooklyn. He spent several years writing for Bookslut.com and other blogs. He also edits textbooks in hopes of not accidentally corrupting the youth of America.