Monday, January 09, 2012

Marc Zegans: A Creative Person Who Helps Creative People.

(Photo by Scott Erb)

Marc Zegans: A Creative Person Who Helps Creative People.

By Doug Holder

Every now and then I find it necessary to leave my beloved Somerville and go into the hinterlands of the Republic of Cambridge. But let's face it both cities trade precious body fluids so this is inevitable. So I found myself talking to Marc Zegans at Harvard Square's bustling Au Bon Pain Cafe one cold winter's afternoon.

Zegans is a man of many hats-literally--he is often see wearing a rakish fedora. He is also the Poet Laureate of Narragansett Beer, an accomplished poet/performer, and the founder of Creative Development, a consulting service that helps artists implement strategies to realize their goals.

Zegans is a Cambridge resident but he also admires Somerville. I told him Somerville is like Cambridge but without the jerks. Zegans smiled but offered no retort. He did say he likes Somerville's honesty--it seems more real here, he opined. Zegans can often be found at places like my beloved Sherman Cafe in Union Square as well as Bloc 11, and the Diesel Cafe in Davis--to name a few joints.

When Zegan's was in his early 40's he suffered a bout with cancer. He survived but realized it was time to follow his true path in life. Up to this time he had been involved in places like the Harvard School of Government as Director of the Innovations Program. He advised government organizations of how to innovate in a hostile environment. But he always had one hand in the arts-- over the years working in a writing and recording studio in San Francisco, managing an art space in Brooklyn and other venues. So he decided to use the skills he learned at his tony position at Harvard and start advising artists and artistic organizations to realize what is blocking them; what behavior is preventing them from realizing their full artistic journey, whatever that may be. Zegans works with them to build skills and has enjoyed success with a roster of local artists--one being Somerville's Shakespeare Project. Zegans wants his clients to market themselves well, but unlike a business he does not have them alter or lower their standards.

But of course Zegans is not only a consultant. Zegans describes himself in his own words: " I am a Spoken Word Performance Artist, and one of my major influences has been Tom Waits." Like Waits he writes poems about folks who are challenged by life. But unlike Waits: "I bring more of myself to the stage. Waits has said more than once that he is the character on stage not himself." Zegans incorporates Jazz, and the Blues in many of his performances. He counts Leon Redbone, the noted Blues vocalist as an influence as well. One of his recent performances was with poet Charles Coe, where they engaged in stagecraft for a public spectacle that dealt with mortality. A popular subject, indeed!

I told Zegans that I read somewhere that he rails against the Hipster mentality. He laughed. " I had a night at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge titled: No Hipster Rock and Roll Revue--it was sort of tongue and cheek. But I do think hipsters today are the product of the mass media. They are told to wear the skinny tie, skinny jeans--the pierced noses, etc... The hipsters of the 1940's and 1950's were genuinely involved in opposition to the culture. They lived the life. They did not have corporate jobs in the day. They were devoted to their art," he said.

Like yours truly Zegans is Jewish so I asked him if there is any ethnic material is in his work. Zegans said his background doesn't play a big role in his work. But he wrote a piece about a walk he took with his grandfather when he was a boy. It was from Greenwich Village in NYC (Where the elderly gent lived) through the Lower East Side; a place many a Jewish immigrant cut his or her teeth in the New World.

Zegans appears like a man who has found his true path in life, and is a good example for others to follow their bliss.

To find out more about Zehgans go to: --

A Hipster Retires

Do you remember the days when it meant something

to be a hipster? When sunglasses

worn over benzedrine eyes in nightclubs

in the subterranean precincts

Of the West Village, where thirty dollars

paid your rent, was not an ironic

quasi-historical, counter cultural

reference to post-vernacular

psedo-American sartorial

style, but a way to keep your fucking bloodshot

eyes safe from the scintilla of light

reflecting off the bell of Cannonball's

horn, so you could follow his solos

deep into the heart of a place no one

had ever been, and never again would see.

Do you remember when manifestos

written on Royals, white-out corrected

shared by hand, and read only by a few

could, by their dangerous sentiments

change in a moment the national discourse

rallying the voices of free love and free speech

and the possibility of moments

explored, consciousness expanded--the bomb

hanging above yellow and black fallout

markers--when to be hip meant to be brave

to be hip to the truth that power denies

to be knowing of the shadow pulsing

in the night of our American soul

to give birth to the cool and forget it

as soon as Miles turned his back on stage

because a change was gonna come

real soon, when to be hip was to be invested

with one's brothers in defiant meaning

knowing always, that our blood could be spilt

by nightsticks and fists and fruitless war

Do you remember those times as you wear

your too tight plaid shirts, drink your PBRs

sport your skinny jeans, ape trailer culture

in Disneyfied neo-bohemia

while you entwine yourself , unwitting

in neo-fascist social networks

a happy creative economy insider?

If you do, I applaud your ironic

self-awareness. As for me, I've no need

to be hip to the inside joke

my time is short, there's hearts to be won

the time has come for our hipster to retire.

Marc Zegans, October 20, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful evocative poem....thank you Marc