remembering southmorehouse

southmorehouse logo

Tooling around on the social networks that will remain nameless I saw a post onto a friend, the poet / musician Aaron Trumm’s wall (this may be a better link to him) from a guy I knew back in the southmorehouse days, Alex Wukman, another poet that frequented the community. He commented from his mobile on watching Marie Brown, a Houston slam poet, performing at Inprint! , probably for slam nationals, and remarked how great she was. “When Ruby do hair, Ruby do hair right!” I can remember her starting the rhythm. Alex said he almost forgot how good it was. So did I.

southmorehouse was an avante garde art space, sometimes called a venue, sometimes a gallery, sometimes a commune. Overall it was a loose knit community of outsider artists in many genres. As quoted from a lighter bearing the logo that I pocketed one night, it was a “home for the functionally insane.” The best summary of its existence from beginning to end was written by Buffalo Sean’s Art Blog. Sean would know. In the early days he would pass out drunk on the sidewalk and we would spray paint a chalk outline around him. In the later days he would pass out drunk and we would spray paint a chalk outline around him. Although the location changed, the outlines remained. After 7 years Sean had spray paint outlines of his body all over the city.

I snooped around Alex’s profile not sure if I should send him a friend request. We knew each other. I remembered him. Self doubt crept in and asked if I really thought he remembered me when I saw a link on his favorite movies, “Southmore House: the Rise and Fall.” Edd McCoy, president of the community in the last of its days and art coordinator for the three years prior, told me of a rumor he heard that this was being created. We both thought it was pretty bold for any movie to be made about the venue without consulting either of us. Now that I saw the title “Rise and Fall” it was downright shocking.

After I got over the elation of somebody actually wanting to make a movie about this piece of time that played a major part in my life, I began to notice discrepancies that unsettled me. The first was the separation of “southmore” and “house.” The second was that they capitalized it. Not being much for capitals I tried my hardest to make the lower case clear to the people who made the flyers, but they were making flyers so i was happy enough about that. One thing that did come across eventually was the lack of separations. Evidently not to these guys.

The next, and the biggest, was the lack of the logo anywhere on the page. That logo was a branded symbol encompassing the spirit of the (dis)organization. One part anarchist’s circled A, another part the chaotic randomness within the order of pi, a house with a swooping roof and arched doorway like the original when it was on Southmore street, simple enough to be drawn quickly with a paint can, encouraged to be done on as many occasions as would arise, yet flamboyant enough to be penciled with care and stenciled over with a sharpie there was never a set graphic style to the logo. It was made for everyone to use. It was trademarked and copyright free. But I still never saw it anywhere on their profile page.

So, I looked harder and realized from the photos and videos and comments posted that these were all the kids from the post founder days. These were the attendees that took it over after 2005 when it turned its focus to the hardcore scene. One friend that I do keep in touch with must have seen the “Tyson Moore likes Southmore House: the Rise and Fall” post on my page and went to check it out while I was still perusing for the logo. He seconded the comment Alex made about not focusing just on the music. Alex mentioned the poets. Doug Shields, an event coordinator at southmore, really jump started the slam scene in Houston at the space. Another guy brought up the theatrical production of “The High Elves Christmas Play” hinting at the other stage presentation offered in the pre mid decade years. Rob, the aforementioned friend, said he had the best birthday of his life there. He had pictures to prove it. Was that the night when Organ Failure from Super Happy Funland played Robot Parade and Muff of Amish Acid Dealer knocked over the cabinet? We could not get the smell of vinegar and mustard out of the floors no matter how much Terry, Wendell, and Guido tried. Yes, in case you were wondering, that is what that smell was. Armpits, ass, and vinegar. Maybe a little corn syrup dried up and leftover from the Halloween Blood Bath party. The good ole days.

These memories made me seek out pictures, videos, blogs, whatever would show up in the first couple of google pages. This was problematic. The version of the house that will be remembered by people who do not read will be the latter years when it ended. In 2000 when it started we were on the edge of social technology. Digital camera were astronomically expensive. You can imagine how much streaming web cams cost. You were lucky if your cell phone had color much less the ability to take images or, god forbid, video. Facebook had not even been invented yet. The documentary had 400 friends. I can only imagine how many friends the actual place would have had. For better or worse we touched many lives. If you go to the place our website used to be, southmorehouse.com, somebody bought it up and is selling painting on it.

My next favorite summary was from Loop Scoop in a nostalgic look back on Houston in honor of their 200th post. “#83: the southmorehouse for being whatever it wanted it to be.”

So, I ask you who find this to tell me in the comments about your favorite show at southmorehouse. Make it as long as you want. Put it on your blog and provide a link for us. If you were involved in any way, put a link to yourself. Tell us what you did. Tell us what you are doing. Post those rare pictures and video. Especially the pre 2005 days.

Thanks to everyone who made up southmorehouse. You were the best.

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12 Responses to “remembering southmorehouse”

  1. Alex Wukman Says:

    My favorite show at southmorehouse? There were so many that’s it hard to describe. Of course there was the Naked Tuesdays (that is capitalized right?), then there were the Slams. My God the Slams were amazing I remember going to see poetry at the second location and the room would be packed. My favorite was when Tamara improved a piece about Muhammed Ali, Jesus and strawberries while a drunk professor from HCC cheered her on. Those shows taught me that the sign of a truly good poetry reading is that the cops are called…three times.

    • were you at the show a week after september 11?
      and marcel murphy did that piece that got a 0 and a 10 from the judges
      tamara nichols told him he was never allowed to do it again
      he tried to only once in my memory
      but it was never the same like it was that night

  2. the southmorehouse was never a physical manifestation. it’s been many places. it has risen. it has fallen. but it’s never ceased to exist because at i’s core it’s really just the spirit of a man who continues to wonderingly wander across the face of this planet, always seeking…

    • you are right southmorehouse has never ceased to exist
      it was, however, never the spirit of just one man
      but the collective entity of those that interacted with it

      Kiri played a show on the rooftop on halloween 2000
      it was our first Bloodbath party with Mike (of Havok) spitting pig’s blood
      and sprinklers with rit dye and cherry kool aid hooked up to the trees
      everyone had to sign a waiver accepting the fact
      that they will get bloody upon entering these premesis

      a thousand newspaper strips hung from the ceiling in the main room
      with a masked Isaac McKinney playing that out of tune piano
      that eventually lost its legs and became our stage in the warehouse

      the greatest houston poets
      took that stage and called it home for a little while
      while the noise and percussion groups
      stripped off the head to bang on the strings with hammers and metal beads

      no, southmorehouse was never just one person
      it was many that made it great

  3. Burt Reynolds.

  4. I played my first and last shows here. They just dont make em like they used to :/

  5. Puckmagoz Says:

    Ancient Southmore trivia for whoever wants to answer. Name the first four occupants of the Southmore House…..anybody?

  6. puckmagoz Says:

    You are correct in a sense, 4 then 3 followed in the first year, plus 2 dogs. Where they were painted? My guess would be the art room on the bottom floor southeast side of the house, what was a den/ library. Let me now 🙂 Their names were Dave, Ian, Rob x 2, followed by Joe, Isaac, and Veronica. The dogs were named Puck and Elkie. 1801 Southmore 99-00.

    • Everything right except the year. it was feb 00 when they got the first house and threw their first party as a collective. Not 99. 99 was still the daydreaming phase.

  7. Puckmagoz Says:

    I am always bad with dates, numbers and escorts alike. It was Feb 00. I still like to know the answer on the painting location:)

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