While vacationing down Palomino Road, a voice that used to light up the sky on a daily basis, went out. The world went quiet on his passing. The vacation came to a stand still, we had to stop, catch our breath. The tears hadn’t come yet. Only the shock. We lost Scott Wannberg, perhaps the most brilliant Los Angeles poet from the Gen X era. Most definitely the best poet I’ve ever met in my lifetime. His poetry flowed like music, and song. Even those who say they hate poetry, loved Scott.
Post beat, film buff, literature aficionado and culture historian extraordinaire, Wannberg was the kind of person anyone felt comfortable to sit and talk with, listen to or laugh with. It was as if pretension, affectation and snobbishness knew to stay away from him. His light was so real, so bright, phonies didn’t stand a chance. He could rip truth in 10 seconds flat. His style was jovial, so jovial, you may not at first smell the biting wit, the heartbreaking sarcasm, and his cut to the quick brilliance of knowing. He rattled off kinetic poetry like it was so much fodder for just tonight. Leaving behind a blaze of words that amateurs trotted after, carefully hanging on each one while Scott made them dizzy with a blinding trail of more.
He was the kind of guy that felt like home. His smile, his wisdom, all in a carefree, happy go lucky just be and let be way, was comfortable and an island of authenticity, in a rocky sea of platitudes and hipster snark. He was bogglingly prolific. Rattling off mind blowing riffs with the snap of his finger.
Some of us, walk around wearing a cloak of humiliation stuck to our backs. Maybe we don’t think we’re talented enough, funny enough, good looking enough, witty enough, cool enough, to be in the spotlight. With Scott, it didn’t matter. He found something about you that made you interesting enough to write about. Either your goodness, or ridiculosity, he had metaphors that danced with dogs who howl at the moon, to describe it perfectly.
He has left a giant hole in the Los Angeles poetry community, as well as worldwide for the people who knew him, heard him, or read him. He will go down in history as one of the greatest unsung heroes and treasures of the West Coast.
Some say they can see Scott, in the moon, and that’s why his dog still howls. Some say, he’s up there with all the other poets we’ve lost. Maybe, he’s still reminding us why we want to keep our parking spot, in this thing we call our country. Wherever he is, the world has gone quiet with his passing. As we rouse, to pick up the pen, the mic, or the memories again, not a day has gone by yet that we haven’t thought of him at least once.
If you’ve never read or heard of Scott Wannberg, and you like absurdity, words and metaphor thrown together in wondrous ways, then pick up his words and take a ride. You’ll never be the same.
There are numerous events in tribute and memorial to Scott, happening in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere. Here are a few:
The Music Show. Poetry by Scott Wannberg, featuring S.A. Griffin, and music by Double Naught Spy Car. Hosted by Miiko Watanabe and Carlye Archibque. Thursday, Sept., 15, 8pm. Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA
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