Flobe’s Pizza below my friend Frye’s apartment one night last April was puzzlingly rowdy, so we climbed down to see what was up. The place was steaming, crowded, people sitting on the ceiling, hot cheese slipping, falling pepperoni pieces and mushrooms, while a string band fiddled. The open mic was live, with Pepper, Herb, and Fava’s trio in line on the sign-in sheet to perform Joe’s “Surf Surge.”
Frye and I occupied empty seats at the end of a rambunctious table in the corner, and Joe got in line to order some pizza and orange soda. The porthole sidewalk window next to our table was occluded with steam, the string band zipping, and a couple without a table was dancing, one with the pizza the other with the beer. Suddenly, Willa and Raymond took the stage with ukulele and tambourine.
They sang of an old photo of Joan Didion sitting in a Corvette, holding a cigarette. A young man riding a piebald pony rode up to the takeout bar and ordered a veggie pizza with extra garlic and sauce. He fed his pony a breadstick. Joe came with the orange soda and said the pizza was a forty-minute wait. He poured us each a glass from the pitcher, sparkling yellow, not as orange as we had expected.
Joe sat by the porthole orb. He saw flashing lights, paisley globes filled with silver and gold light. The bubbles flew like electrified parameciums escaping down the side of the window, along its tarnished curved brass edge. Big Dada announced Joe’s pizza would not be ready until September. By then no one would be reading poetry any longer than a tweet, and that before they realized what they were hearing.
By the time Joe’s name was called (“Pizza ready for Joe!”), he had grown a pony tail and Frye had gone bald. Pepper, Herb, and Fava were on tour somewhere in the Midwest. I had tired of waiting and moved back down to Southern California to be near the beach. Every day I ride my bicycle along the Strand, watching the surfers come and go without a thought for pizza or poetry.