Alex Charalambides

Alex Charalambides

 Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
BandSpoken WordComedy

Exciting, innovative performance poetry from one of New England's best. Smart, funny, personal story telling mixed with blistering rhyme schemes and a chameleon's performance style that can blend and react with ANY audience!

Biography

Alex Charalambides is a Boston College Graduate ('96 History / English) who started performing poetry in the fall of 2000.

Has performed at The Green Mill (Chicago), Syracuse University, Boston Universitry, Clark University (Worcester), Worcester Art Museum, Mercury Cafe (Denver), Cantab Lounge (Boston), Starry Plough (Berkeley), Ego's (Austin) and Hawaiian Hut (Honolulu).

He's the first poet to represent Boston (2002), Providence (5th place 2003) and Worcester (2004) at the Annual National Poetry Slam.

Alternate for the 2001 Worcester Slam Team & Coach for the 2005 Providence Slam Team.

Winner of the IWPS "Last Chance Slam", he earned a bid to compete at the 2nd Annual Individual World Poetry Slam Championships, placing 17th (out of 60) in 2004.

TV credits include season #2 of PBS show "Fetch," as slam poetry mentor.

He's the Founder and Director of the Speakout! Poetry Collective, Worcester Youth Poetry Slam, mentoring youth poets on teams that competed at the 2004 & 2005 Brave New Voices Festivals.

He's fronted a band called Skint, and performed with musical acts One Flew East, Nikulydin, The Jeff Robinson Trio, Psy-Lab and Eleven Eyes.

He's an original cast member of the Cambridge Poetry Award Winning Ensemble Troupe "Doc Brown's Poetry Circus."

Author of 2 chap-books, "Too Little, Too Soon - The Crossover Poems," and "Drugs... & other Points of Reference," as well as a collected works bound book, "Soon to be a Major Motion Picture," released through Double Bunny Press. His first album, "I am B," (featuring music by Skint, Psy-Lab, Theta State, The Jeff Robinson Trio & Paul Brower) was released in the fall of 2005, leading to a 6 month National Tour.

He's shared the stage w/ The Jim Carrol Band, Comedian Jimmy Tingle, National Poetry Slam Champions Shane Koyczan, Mike McGee, Anis Mojgani & Regie Gibson as well as countless luminaries of the performance poetry world.

He's taught poetry workshops for You Inc. and has performed in Slam Venues, Rock Clubs, High Schools, Colleges and Coffee Shops around the Country.

Lyrics

Hamburger

Written By: Alex Charalambides

A couple years ago, I had one of those days where working... actually made sense.
Lifting heavy boxes, breathing air efficiently, humming a happy tune, feeling proud of my general usefulness.
For lunch, a bacon-double-cheeseburger, extra large fries and a coke, and it tastes soooo good, felt like it belonged in my body.
Later that evening, I performed, and I mean, I LET IT ALL OUT!
Afterwards feeling peaceful, while enjoying an extra large slice of greasy pepperoni pizza, chewed with a purpose, not merely to pass the time, but an intrinsically meaningful meal that fed my life, not just my hunger.
And I guess what I'm trying to say, if there's a moral or a point to be found anywhere in this story, it's that...

I USED TO EAT A LOT OF CRAP!

(singing)
SWEET LAND OF GLUTTONY,
OF
THEE
I...
once ordered a hamburger in Transylvania
don't believe me? then
"Dute muoshte, yo vorbestie romuneshte fuarte beene, multsu mesque!"
YES! First generation American. Parents? First generation Romanian.
Grandparents? For the record, they were Greek, but if you ask me, ethnicity only runs about a generation deep so...
back to the hamburger.
9 years old.
Family vacation to the foster-mother land.
Harshly ripped from America's affluent womb, entombed in a rented mini-bus complete with a paid chauffeur and a personal tour-guide who was really digging this new Beatles Rock & Roll craze...in 1984...
In 1984, your American Dollar went far on the Eastern Bloc.
Cab-drivers, waiters, bell-hops and shop-keeps of all persuasions welcomed us like royalty.
Transylvania, I was pretty excited, and my parents were proud to return to the land of their birth.

But for a child of 9, food had been a bit of an issue,
they had tried to warn me,
no BK, no McDee's, no hot dog stands in the capitol of Bucharest.
Their sodas? Merely un-carbonated bottles of colored water.
A couple weeks of traveling & goulash started pushing me towards the brink...
that is.. until I saw the menu at the Hotel Dracula...
HAMBURGER - simple - joyful tears swept down my face...
It had all come down to this, a TRANSYLVANIAN HAMBURGER
- extra bloody.

Now William Faulkner once wrote that "Memory forgets, before knowing remembers," but what I distinctly recalled was the absolute Hollywood / Rock-Star fit I threw when my plate arrived.
On it was a piece a toast, topped with a slice of BURNT HAM! - covered with a fried egg, peppered with some oozingly morbid type of goat-cheese...
no fries! no Coca-Cola! NO KETCHUP!!!
It took a couple of days for my anger to morph into cosmically immature form of pity, wherein I genuinely felt sorry for a people, for a culture that could not understand, dared not grasp the simple concept that was THE HAMBURGER!!!

I let it ruin the trip. Yawned at family reunions. Failed to appreciate the beauty of the countryside, stared incredulously at the overjoyed peasant farm family, who we visited on a whim, commandeering our rented mini van off a thin winding highway so my parents could barter barrettes & bubble-gum for a cup of fresh, un-pasteurized milk from their cow.

Mom & Dad were thrilled with the novelty.
I refused the sip offered to me.
Seemed like a lot of things were beneath me then.
Sure, I was 9 all day long, but this land of the free has a way of instilling supremacy into its young.
I was an American Brat.
Cancel that!
I AM a spoiled American Brat.
I'm racking my brain, trying to find the Romanian Translation for I'm sorry.
I can't find it.
I'm sorry.
I live in a land, where I don't have to say it all that much.

T-Shirt

Written By: Alex Charalambides

He wears his No-Fx t-shirt to the Mogwai concert, his Mogwai long-sleeve to the Radiohead show, retrieves his Radiohead hoodie from exile in his mom’s laundry basket for an outdoor reggae fest on the Charles.
it’s an excuse to visit, a ritual he’d picked up from his older brother.
His vintage Pixies t-shirt hugs his belly a little too close for comfort at the George Clinton lecture on funk, but he doesn’t dance anyway, or get drunk, or kiss girls who may find his monumental music collection irresistible.
His mantra, “monks get a lot done,” amuses him a moment while waiting in line for a Belle & Sebastian patch for the beat-up denim jacket he’d inherited from his brother years ago.
So many moments planning, picking the perfect apparel for the upcoming night’s performance.
This whole “t-shirt” business… goes back to ’94, his first show, canon-balling out the door, only to crash hard into the brick wall of his brother’s face.
“What the hell are you doing? You can’t go to a Green Day concert wearing a Green Day t-shirt!”
“Everyone there likes the band! That’s why they bought tickets! What? Are you gonna be twice the fan? Get inside & change, ya little punk!!!”
& his knees boxer-buckled beneath the brutal lesson, but he never questioned, simply slipped on his black Beastie Boys “Check Your Head” T-shirt & went.

His brother went on to become a college radio DJ, the mix-tapes he received sustained his need for new sounds between laundry visits. His collection...
134 Cassettes
17 CD’s
31 Vinyl – without even owning a turntable

Neither aspired to play, pre-adolescent piano tutorials from Mrs. Johnson round the way ruined too many MTV music marathon days.
“There’s enough great music out there,” his brother would say between sips of Pabst Blue Ribbon, as he drove him to the only “decent” record store in town, “You just got to look for it.”

162 Cassettes
221 CD’s, including 71 titles he had previously owned on tape
49 Vinyl – still no turntable

Mom & Dad didn’t go to concerts anymore. They mainly took anxiety medication, fearful he would follow in his brothers swerving skidmarks.
The late night call.
The trip to identify the body…
162 Cassettes
317 CD’s
101 Vinyl – the used turntable, purchased at a yard sale crapped out after only two weeks.

He finds peace in the challenge of finding the right ironed-on representation to display when going out. He fondly recalls a conversation he shared with a stranger while in line to see Mogwai at the Middle East Downstairs in 2000. They spent the pre-admission hour, rating No-Fx albums and discussing the term “punk.”
He didn’t have many friends before his brother crashed a car into a telephone poll after a Chemical Brothers show in ’99.
He winces when his mother refers to it as “ the accident.”
The t-shirts are not a tribute to him. They don’t signify the bond they shared. They serve more as a litmus test for someone out there who may be like him.
The Radiohead stadium show was an exception. Apart from being a less intimate musical experience, the numbers & letters on his ticket stub highlight the fact that he sits alone.
General admission club shows let him roam, in search of a friend who can weave between pure hip-hop and punk as easily as he negotiates traffic when he drives home sober every night.
He’s never forgiven his brother for taking away his best friend.
He wears the jacket when it’s cold. Still enjoys the juxtaposition between the “Nirvana,” & “Bad Religion,” patches.
212 Cassettes
511 CD’s
191 Vinyl

He gently folds his Modest Mouse t-shirts while debating how to spend the money he got, selling his brother’s collection on-line.
“Fuck that sale on I-Pods,” he decides.
He’s gonna buy a guitar.

30

Written By: Alex Charalambides

There's an old saying....
"If you're not a rebel by age 20, you've got no heart -
but if you haven't turned establishment by 30... well, YOU'VE GOT NO BRAIN!!!"
Fashionably disinterested chicks, GONE WILD, flashin' their tits to the apocalypse.
Relatively elevated youth, gone, child, partin' lips to kiss a pre-traumatic populace.
And how I miss those Disney Days.
Back when the magic eclipsed, the tight fanatical grip, of the goodwill corporate sponsorship, and its evil ways.
I'm just a hop skip and a busted lip away from 30 ya'll
and I guess I'm still no closer to the establishment.
If I only had a brain - washing machine
operating on the coin cycles that I resent,
living week to week, paychecking the stubs of a dream deferred temperament.
Changes in gratitude,
I'm severing these systems of attitude that I currently represent.
For I shall not fade into that dying of the light-beer commercial,
consumer of the year, dress-up rehearsal,
casual friday, reversal of fortune - tellers,
selling me prophecies...
Just so I can be the pewter race car in the real-life version of Monopoly,
passing go,
screwing countless victims just for show,
blowing happy hour lines of memory just to turn my back on what I know,
that this society I live in, stopped feeling natural a long time ago.
And even if there's no actual puppet master to catch the vast net of shame,
it does not excuse us from ignoring the daily decisions
wherein we disassociate ourselves from accepting any blame.
This fraternity of useless phrases we abuse,
choosing to maintain a straight face,
while sipping coffee and discussing the morning news...
"eh, my vote doesn't count! they're all crooks, all politicians are the same!"
and how we clutch so vehemently to views that fuel the cauldron of electoral apathy.
Cause I'm just a rocks throw away from 30, damn it!
and the day I say my actions have no direct effect on this dirty little planet,
is the day I go play Hamlet on the corner of Cambridge & South Main,
improvising its meaning, screaming until I've had my fill of the neighbors complaints.
"Are we free... or not too free!"
That is the question
I would like to ask the scared little boy who occupies my high school yearbook photo.
I'd ask him about what he wants to be.
I'd ask him how he'd feel about becoming someone like me.
I'd ask him about time... and change... and that strange little heart that I've only discovered recently.
Cause I'm just an angel's kiss away from 30...
another year added to my collection.
And the struggle between my heart & my mind
has finally taken a back seat
to this search dedicated to understanding their connection.
Passionately exhilarating, ways, I search, having a say in shaping my own environment.
I no longer lament the loss of Disney Days.
I know what I am, a rebel with a brain, taking aim at what comes next.

Discography

"I am B" - Self-Released (2005) - Poetry concept album, blending several music styles with spoken word, tied together by a narrative play.

"Best of Eugene (OR) Poetry Slam '04/'05" Compilation CD

Set List

A selection from 10-15 performance poems (1-5 minutes in length, most about 3 minutes) a few covers mixed in, entertaining humorous banter between pieces, interacts w/ audience. Available for workshops as well.