of The PondWater Society
by: De Fen
David Lynch made a movie about it. There's only one on the entire planet. We have some really lovely abandoned water-ways from way back . . . when there was water here. Alright, I don't want to play this game anymore. Wait! What was I talking about? The Inland Empire. More specifically, I was attempting top find nice things to say about it. About 12+ years ago, there was a pretty damn great poetry/spoken work scene sort of scattered about the general area. There was a fucking amazing group of poets called The Poets In Distress and there was an equally fucking amazing art punk band called The Desperation Squad and during that time, both troupes seemed to be all places at once. That was then. In all fairness, I've only been back here for a couple of years and in that time have heard that either one or the other had made -as in the recently past tense- an appearance somewhere around.

This past August I managed to catch The Poets In Distress at a place called The PondWater Society. I had never been there before and when I first arrived I was greeted by a creature that I first took for turkey. I suppose you can only stand on a person's front lawn talking to strange birds for so long before they either call the cops or invite you in. As it goes I went in and learned that the turkey was actually a guinea hen and that this particular guinea hen has the habit of perching itself on nearby telephone poles. It's not nearly as menacing a habit as it sounds and she had the good manners to introduce me to Joanne and Eddie Baines -the co- conspirators behind The PondWater Society- before she flew up there, so I'm sure it's not nearly as awkward as it sounds. Next, the Baines' introduced me to their "pond" which would be a typical suburban swimming pool except that the water is a dark green and that it is filled with fish, tadpoles, and lily pads. I chatted with them about their monthly poetry events for a bit before I realized that they had managed to subvert everything that was even remotely suburban about their suburban home.

I recently had a chance to ask Joanne Qualey Baines a few questions regarding The PondWater Society, her online periodical, The Hedonist Review, radical coupon-ing, the underground economy and more.
Punk Globe- Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. Can you tell the Punk Globe readers about The Pondwater Society?
Joanne Qualey Baines- No, thank you for your interest. On the first Saturday of every month we turn our house in the suburbs into a salon and open it up to artists of every variety and people who like that sort of thing. There is always a feature performance, so far we have had poetry, visual art, performance art, music, and theater. It's a nice place to meet other artists and share ideas and inspire each other. We also eat and drink a lot. We've had amazing support from artist communities all over S. CA and I am always honored by the caliber of artists who perform here. Really, I'm not quite sure how we're getting away with this.
Punk Globe- Cool, cool. How long have you been putting this event on?
Joanne Qualey Baines- This October was our 2 year anniversary. I should probably make a cake or something.
Punk Globe- Why did you start doing this?
Joanne Qualey Baines- The San Gabriel Valley is not a total cultural wasteland, but pretty close. I mean you can only see "Guys and Dolls" so many times before you start to feel violent. So my husband, Ed, and I drive all over to find poetry readings, Shakespeare, art exhibits, etc. and we've met some really great people. We went to a poetry reading at the Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica and there was such a ghost of an audience, really slim, and the poets were both so fantastic. It was a travesty. Then the Bookstore wouldn't let me use the restroom! I got this really cocky thought in my head that we could do better by these authors at our house. Jamey Hecht, Tim Green, Douglas Kearney, and Brendan Constantine were the first brave souls to support and perform here and I remain forever indebted to them for that.

I do think that the economy has been beneficial to our success. People don't have the money to go out to cultural events and they are starting to return to the days of entertaining each other. We don't charge a fee to get in, just a tip jar for those who feel flush or have a job. That has worked out well, the events almost always pay for themselves including some sort of dinner for anyone who wants to stay.

Another reason that I wanted to do this in this format is that very often you go to a reading or play and you see a lot of people that you know but the venue is closing and so everyone scatters and you don't get a chance to chat unless you all meet at some annoying restaurant. At PondWater we make a big deal out of the networking and conversations that happen, we leave a lot of room for that and encourage it. Witnessing relationships develop and artwork that comes because of inspiration from these events has been incredibly rewarding.
Punk Globe- That's awesome. You're a culture enabler and a culture creator. Can you tell the Punk Globe readers about The Hedonist Review?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Oh, that. The Hedonist Review is my blog. The contents are very scattered and there is no real rhyme or reason for any of it. For a while I would do a writeup on the PondWater Society events with photos, video, etc. but that kind of trailed off. There are short stories and poems that other people have contributed, recipes for some of the food I've made for PondWater, reviews of events and readings we've gone to, rants about society and various mumbled or screamed things. I wish that I could be more disciplined and post things on a regular basis, but everything there comes from some sort of built up passion that needs a release and I never know when the damn is going to break.
Punk Globe- It's fabulous. I really like your writing style. When did you start writing?
Joanne Qualey Baines- I feel like I've been writing my whole life. I've taken a few writing and literature classes, not much to speak of. For me, the library has been a better education, I think that reading is the best way to learn how to write and find your voice. Before the blog and FB most of my writing was in correspondence with friends. Now there are so many ways to communicate that snail mail letters are a little archaic and so I write all of my letters to everyone at once.
Punk Globe- Currently, do you have any favorite social issues to rail against?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Probably dozens. The fact that we live in a fascist police state and no one seems to notice is pretty fucking annoying. The food that is affordable will kill you, I think that's a problem with everyone running around overweight with diabetes. Betty Crocker is evil. Did you know that one serving of Hamburger Helper has 41% of your daily allotment of sodium? That is insane. But does anyone acknowledge that Betty Crocker is trying to kill us? Not that I've seen. The mendacity that we are surrounded by and confronted with every day makes me want to puke and die. It just feels like we're in this storm of pure bullshit that will never cease until there are only 3 guys left who "won". That mendacity will probably be my next blog entry, it's just too much.
Punk Globe- What do you think about community gardens? Do you have any ideas in regards to how people might better support one another?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Community gardens are awesome! Organic farming is labor intensive and time consuming and, really, just hard work, but it's worth it. Unfortunately everyone has to spend so much time trying to make a buck to pay the rent that it is a luxury. I totally understand why people are eating that food, it's not only affordable but it is convenient. I just don't understand why the food corps seem to be going to so much trouble to make it terrible for people. Maybe I'll write to General Mills and ask them that. Betty and The General should be held accountable.

Most people are so busy trying to support themselves that helping to support each other is too much to ask. This is why we don't have block parties anymore or talk to our neighbors; the fear that they might ask to borrow the lawn mower or ask you to feed their cat while they're on vacation. I do think that everyone should go to nursing school because the way health care industry is going, we're going to need to treat ourselves and each other.
Punk Globe- Tons of work. The South Central Farm is the best local model I know of. It's a grievous amount of work. I almost think it seems like more work than it really is because it's a lost skill. Like entertaining one's self. People used to do almost everything themselves. Would you say this is true? Do you have any more thoughts on this?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Regarding the food corporations, do you buy any of the conspiracy theories or is that just naked, hyper- capitalism?

The health care industry is pretty much inaccessible...fucked at best. But then, even for those who have access...the "treatment" for whatever ails may very well kill you. What do you think about hippie herbs & natural medicine?

I've thought a little more about how we can support each other. There are a lot of people who have no work, no job and when that happens, it's hard to know where you fit on this planet. I am underemployed and I feel that a lot. One thing that has helped me is undertaking laborious tasks that use up my time but pay off big and therefore restore my validation here. Organic gardening is one and the dreaded couponing is another. In both of those occupations you can not only support yourself but you can be generous and help out others.

The only real conspiracy theories I believe in usually involve the CIA. Sometimes I wonder if "they" are trying to kill us or make us weak so that we won't be able to think. But ultimately I believe in greed. It feels like a huge, disorganized, mindless beast that can think of nothing but devouring whatever it can get and really has no thought for what's leftover or any kind of long term aftereffects.

I'm a big fan of not going to a doctor and especially avoiding the hospital so I'll try anything to get out of that. Herbal medicines, Chinese medicine, and most importantly, waiting for the thing to get healed itself are all valuable tools. I read recently that hospital-acquired infections are the 4th leading cause of death in the US so it's probably best to stay home. In Germany they have invested a lot of time and resources into studying herbal remedies and have vetted quite a number of them as helpful. We can't really do that here because there's no money in people growing milk thistle for the seeds to help their own liver.
Punk Globe- Gotcha. You're like a radical couponer, huh? Your "Extreme Couponing: AIR! BOGO!" piece is hilarious. Do you belong to any secret couponing societies that we should know about? Any tips for people new to this from of survivalism?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Thank you! The couponing is rather cultish, once you get in it, it's difficult to get out because how are you going to go back to paying $3.99 for a tube of toothpaste when you know that you can get it for 49 cents or free? But it does feel like a way to survive and maintain the hedonistic standard of living that I desire. It is a full time job and it's tedious and you have to do math. Here are some tips:

1. Do not walk out of the store with Hamburger Helper even if it is only 20 cents a box and you just found a quarter in the parking lot.

2. Do not walk out of the store with any kind of weird packaged foods that you would not normally eat. You'll just end up a lab rat and you won't save any money.

3. Do stockpile things that you always buy anyway, like toilet paper, tampons, toothpaste, etc. when they hit rock bottom prices. (free is a good price.) This way you will save money because you won't have to stop at the 7-11 and pay $12.00 for a box of tampons when you need them.

4. You will end up with a store. You have to play store and rotate the stock so that things get used and replaced.

There, that should be enough hints to make people cry with boredom or fear.
Punk Globe- Backtracking...what came first, The Pondwater, or The Hedonist Review?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Oh yeah. The Hedonist Review was first and you can actually follow the progression of PondWater from when I met Timothy Green at the LA Festival of Books and wrote about it and him. Next is the review of the Barnes & Noble reading with Tim and Jamey Hecht, both in April of 2009 and it goes from there to the first PondWater Society event in October. Wow, it took 6 months, what a slacker I am!
Punk Globe- So cool. Speaking of chickens, can you tell us about the guinea hen on the telephone wire?
Joanne Qualey Baines- She can be a real bitch, but generally, I like her. She is the last of a long line of guinea fowl that we've had. It was an experiment in organic gardening that brought her here. I was looking for a solution for the Japanese Beetles because they were eating ALL of the fruit. I came across information about these birds that eat Japanese Beetles and June Bugs and Potato Bugs and all sorts of insects that were ravaging the garden. So I ordered a dozen eggs, got an incubator and 26 days later we had guinea fowl!

Unfortunately they ran into some trouble with the law and that lead directly to me sitting in a courtroom with the District Attorney trying not to laugh (why couldn't we laugh?) and a $90.00 fine. That happened twice. The third time a guy came to the door in a suit and that was even more scary. So we put an ad on Craig's List and a very nice guy came and took them to La Canada, where he has a couple of acres. This one that we still have is the one who could not be caught. Now we are her flock. If I leave the doors open, she'll come in the house and flip the dog food around like tiddly winks and make a real mess. She's a character.
Punk Globe- You're killin' me over here! Can you tell us the story about The Pondwater's namesake?
Joanne Qualey Baines- The pond? The pond was a 26,000 gallon pool, but that seemed sort of pedestrian and no one really used it much considering the cost of upkeep. You know, it's like having another dependent. So when it broke and it was going to cost thousands of dollars to fix, we decided no. So it sat there for a few years looking all empty and tacky until the rain filled it almost half full. Instead of doing the usual and renting a pump, I just filled it up the rest of the way, put some fish and plants in and watched it grow.

Years later Ed was building the little house out back and the water was turned off and so he used water from the pond to mix the cement for the foundation and so that became PondWater Estates. Then he did that painting with the frog rowing on a leaf and the word "PondWater" at the top. I'm pretty sure that there are a couple of dragonflies "doing it" in that painting. Anyway, that's how we branded our living room. Was that too many begats?
Punk Globe- Why did Rimbaud go to Africa?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Ummmm, you want for me to tell you why Rimbaud went to Africa?
Punk Globe- Yeah, I do. Nobody really knows why. It's just one of those things people make up stories about.
Joanne Qualey Baines- Why did Rimbaud do anything? Why would he walk from the Ardennes, through the Alps and into Italy? Twice! Until his ribs wore through his abdomen.
Punk Globe- Who are your favorite writers?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Vonnegut, John Irving, Amy Tan, Anne Tyler, Richard Russo, etc. for the modern. I love All of the classics, well most of them. Shakespeare. Sophocles. It's the most difficult question to answer because I don't want to leave anyone out. So, so many good books.
Punk Globe- Favorite bands/groups?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Oh god, this one is just as hard! It would be so much easier to tell you what I don't like. I love music. My go-to is John Hiatt because he has somehow written a soundtrack for my life. I alternate him with Leonard Cohen. I listen to Concrete Blonde a lot. Fiona Apple. Alice Cooper shaped my adolescence and gave me an outlet so that I didn't hurt myself or anyone else, I have a personal debt to him. Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Orbison, Billy Holiday, I could type all night on this. And you know what? I don't even trust telling you what I don't like because there is a good chance that if I knew more about it, I would like it too.
Punk Globe- Watch this and tell me what you think about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1AGwDqm4BQ&feature=share
Joanne Qualey Baines- This hits me where I live. At one point we had some money and we became somewhat obsessed with the stock market, By "we" I mean me and Ed, not the royal we. It was an intense education because we both felt such responsibility to do right by my Mother's money after she died. We were lucky and I like to think that we were smart, but neither one of us ever expected to not have work and so that would explain why the house is not done and I don't know when it will be. We won in the market but the economy forced us to take all our marbles and go home, just at the right time. We put everything into this house.

I don't know how Exene would feel about this, but I think that the couponing is a little bit like investing. For decades I've spouted that the best investment is in toilet paper because we all know that we're going to need it and the price is only going to go up. I feel that now more than ever. The problem becomes real estate. Where are you going to store all of that toilet paper?

Taking care of myself, my family, in the future. That's an interesting concept. It is day to day. The future is what it is and I predict more misery. More feeling helpless. But what I think is that this underground economy is a method of surviving without having to fight or fly. It's more of a scuttle.
Punk Globe- Can you tell the PG readers about the most memorable Pondwater event?
Joanne Qualey Baines- The one that sticks in my head is the December reading last year with Brendan Constantine and Rick Lupert. Elizabeth Iannaci was here with them and it was just a phenomenal moment that felt like we were all very involved. Brendan and Rick are two of my favorite poets and people and they all worked on the performance and I felt so honored by that. There are probably other events that stick in everyone else's minds, but for me, this was very personal. And to this day people quote the poem that they read, it has sort of become an anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeoE5iHZdwU It gets me all emotional.
Punk Globe- Could you tell the readers about September's event?
Joanne Qualey Baines- The last event was really special because we had both two brilliant features and an open reading. We don't usually do open readings here because I have such a sense of responsibility that I find it difficult to let the show roam around on it's own. This random poetry is fine in the SFV with Rick Lupert doing his mad diplomat thing, but here, in my house, I really feel a need to have the slightest semblance of control.

However, the featured readers, Eric Lawson and Brenda Petrakos, requested an open. So we did that. Fortunately G. Murray Thomas was here and agreed to run the open and I just love him. Every single person who got up to read for the open was phenomenal. I'm still stunned by how that panned out. Really, if I thought for a minute that every open reading would be like that, I'd do it every month. Brenda and Eric were pretty fucking great, I love the way they play off of each other and there is a balance there that I love.
Punk Globe- Do you have any thoughts regarding the Occupy Movement?
Joanne Qualey Baines- My thoughts on the Occupy movement are very simple and concise. Really, for me, it's just one thought; we have to remove corporate America from our Government. I think that if we can do that one thing, we'll have a fair shot at what we all think that America should be. The thought of it makes me all emotional.
Punk Globe- Do you have any parting words for the Punk Globe readers?
Joanne Qualey Baines- Yeah, I do. Understand that there is the economy that they are feeding you and the bad news and fear abounds. But that is not the truth. The true economy is underground and that's where we are and they cannot tax us on that. We will survive and prevail! goddamsonsofbitches.
Punk Globe would like to thank Joanne Qualey Baines for the interview.

PondWater events can be checked on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PondWater/169019323137990

The Hedonist Review can be read here: http://www.hedonistreview.com/