Wednesday, December 3, 2008

DEC/JAN 2008: The Hub Kings; Holiday Party; Roadside Graves

8 PM, Fri. Dec 5
The Hub Kings
Live Music/CD Release Party

The Hub Kings call their sound Mondo Lounge. It's mondo alright, and it's loungey, but it's also very Memphis soul-y thanks to Hub King Jonathan Tristram's percolating Hammond organ. Throw in some bop jazz and groove happy funk and you're getting close. Huffing behind a bank of old-school keyboards, The Hub Kings plow into their songs with abandon, slapping and whacking their keys with inspired malice. Jimmy Smith, the reigning B3 player of all time, was instrumental in ushering in the soul-jazz genre, and the Kings pay him tribute,replicating what he called "the slow blues stroll" and covering Jimmy greats like "The Sermon" and "Back at the Chicken Shack." In addition to a slew of originals, they'll also cover Robert Walter gems like "Don't Hate, Congratulate," and the hard (sleigh)driving version of "Winter Wonderland" from Robbie's Christmas classic, In a Holiday Groove. FREE! Comp wine.

8 PM, Fri. Dec 19
The Holiday Hootenanny
Steve Kaplan/Guitar & Paul Caluori/Violin
Live Music/Party

400 years of music: from Gustav Holst's "In a Bleak Midwinter" to Coltrane's groovy "Greensleaves" to classic Zep (Led, that is), with detours into Celtic folk and Victorian dance hall. Steve Kaplan and Paul Caluori bring their love of traditional folk, classical music and acoustic jazz into sharp focus by using truly acoustic instruments to perform, exploring sonic possibilities without the "clutter" of other instrumentation. Their approach to the music is deceptively simple: wring out as much emotion as possible without losing the essential structure of the pieces they're playing.
Expect a variety of spiked nogs, puissant punches, and a withering concoction called Yukon Cornelius, along with a range of baked, roasted and boiled dishes (capon anyone?), marinated tench, and an edible lifelike scene sculpted in colored marzipan. Plus Cream Wafers, Date Drops, Honey-Filled Biscuits, Cinnamon Stars, Zucker Hutchen, Fattigmands Bakkels, Drumkake, and Buttery Nut Rounds. FREE!

8 PM, Tues. Dec 23
The Roadside Graves
Live Music

Their sweet-tempered country-rock is far more slippery than it might first appear and often conjures images of a roadhouse Bad Seeds. “I've drank enough to know that I've drank enough," announces front man Gleason on the world-weary “Live Slow,” the one song that comes closest to encapsulating the enduring spirit of The Graves. Performed with an uncommonly deft touch and subtle grace, their songs concern themselves primarily with the pause for breath that comes after reaching original destinations, and the long, careful glance at the atlas that comes before deciding where to go next. Joining Gleason & gang is Austin singer/songwriter Jonathan Terrill, who shared a Graves bill on their last tour and is up from Texas selling Frasier Firs on the streets of Brooklyn. Expect some rowdy Christmas covers, including "Fairytale of New York" (otherwise known as "Christmas Eve in the Drunk Tank") by the Pogues. FREE!

Friday, October 24, 2008

NOV 2008: Ian MacKaye; Kal Wagenheim & Bob Friedman; Pilar Timpane; Benjamin Parzybok; Mutts' Patrick McDonnell; Maltese Falcon Radio Play

6:30 PM, Sat. Nov 8
Autobiographical Storytelling/Q&A

A key figure in the development of hardcore punk and a staunch promoter of an independent-minded, do-it-yourself ethic, MacKaye is best known for being the frontman of the influential punk and alternative rock bands Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi, and The Evens. Along with his seminal band Minor Threat, he is credited with coining the term Straight Edge, though he did not intend it to become a movement. He is a founder and owner of Dischord Records, an independent record label based in Washington D.C. Venue: THE REFECTORY, 270 Woodbridge Ave (adjacent to the church boneyard), Metuchen, NJ. Doors open @ 6 PM. Admission: ONLY $5. Advance tickets now on sale at The Raconteur!

8 PM, Fri. Nov 14
Edited by Kal Wagenheim
by Robert Friedman

CUENTOS is a bilingual anthology of twelve short stories, many of which appeared in the 1960s in the English-language magazine The San Juan Review, co-founded by Kal Wagenheim and Augusto Font. Written by six of Puerto Rico’s leading writers, the themes vary in time from the 16th-century Spanish conquest to the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States. Each story is published in both English and the original Spanish. Sometimes sad and sometimes hilariously comic, these stories represent in many respects an authentic voice of the Puerto Rican people. Editor Kal Wagenhiem was a former correspondent of the New York Times in Puerto Rico and is the author of several books and plays.

In SHADOW OF THE FATHERS, Friedman turns a disturbing event in Puerto Rican history into a captivating work of fiction. American doctor "Dusty" Rhoades cruelly confides in a secret letter to have killed several of his Puerto Rican patients. When exposed, he claims it was all a joke, and quietly leaves the island. Four decades later, Dusty's son Pablo, a highly regarded Puerto Rican artist, is still haunted by the past and vows to finally discover the truth about the father he never knew. A rich, suspenseful tale, the novel moves from the colorful life of San Juan to the snow-covered streets of New York, from the pastel heat of Miami to the fog-shrouded canals of Amsterdam. Books on sale at event. FREE! Comp wine.

8 PM, Thurs. Nov 20
VEO A VICENTE(I see Vicente)
Spanish with English Subtitles
Directed and photographed by Pilar Timpane

Film Screening

Veo a Vicente is a short documentary about Vicente, a Mexican man living in New Brunswick. The film documents his alcoholic abuse in Mexico, what happened as he crossed the border, and his recovery in the states. Pilar is a senior at Rutgers University. This is her first film. The screening is part of The Raconteur's newly minted Emerging Artist Series, which offers a venue and promotion to burgeoning artists with something to say. FREE! Comp wine.

8 PM, Fri. Nov 21

A lot of people are looking for magic in the world today, but only Benjamin Parzybok thought to check the sofa, which is, I think, the place it’s most likely to be found. Couch is a slacker epic: a gentle, funny book that ambles merrily from Coupland to Tolkien, and gives couch-surfing (among other things) a whole new meaning. An apartment flood destroys almost everything owned by roommates Thom, Tree and Erik, leaving only a colossal orange couch, which the landlord demands they remove. Broke, jobless, and now homeless, the roommates begin carrying their couch through the streets of Portland, and quickly discover two things: it might be magical, and Goodwill won't take it. They reluctantly embark on a hapless quest to take the couch exactly where it wants to go. Occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, Parzybok's quirky humor recalls early Douglas Adams and his high-minded themes recall Life of Pi. Parzybok is the creator of Gumball Poetry, a journal published through gumball machines, and the Black Magic Insurance Agency, a city-wide mystery/treasure hunt. He has worked as a congressional page, a ghostwriter for the governor of Washington, a Taiwanese factory technical writer, an asbestos removal janitor, and a potato sorter. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with the writer Laura Moulton and their son. Books on sale at event. FREE! Comp wine.

3 PM, Sat. Nov 22
Reading/Signing/Chalk Talk

In 1994, McDonnell created the award-winning comic strip Mutts, which now appears in more than 700 newspapers in 20 countries and has been anthologized in books all over the world. It was described by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz as "one of the best comic strips of all time." A coffee table book of his life and work, Mutts: The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell, was published in 2003. In 2005, McDonnell wrote his first children's book, The Gift of Nothing, which was a New York Times best seller. The Best of Mutts, a ten year celebration of the strip introduced by acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold. In 2007. McDonnell again returned to the New York Times bestseller list with Hug Time, featuring a kitten named Jules who goes around the world hugging endangered species. His fifth children’s book, South, about the unlikely friendship between a cat and bird, was just released this fall. All of his books are printed on recycled paper. He is involved with many animal and environmental charities, and is a member of the Board of Directors for both The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals. Books on sale at the event. Books on sale at event. FREE!

8 PM, Sat. Nov. 29
A Staged Presentation of the Radio Play
Featuring Laurence Mintz, Jeff Maschi, Kristy Lauricella, and Lawrence Paone

Celebrate a decidedly different sort of bird two days after Thanksgiving. Spade and Archer is the name of a San Francisco detective agency. The two men are partners, but Spade doesn't like Archer much. Just one hour after a knockout named Miss Wanderly wanders into their office everything has changed. Archer is dead. And so is a man named Floyd Thursby. It seems Miss Wanderly is surrounded by dangerous men. There's Joel Cairo, who uses gardenia-scented calling cards. There's Kasper Gutman, with his enormous girth and feigned civility. Her only hope of protection comes from Spade, who is suspected by the police of murder. More murders are yet to come, and it will all be because of these dangerous men...and their lust for a bird statuette known as the Maltese Falcon. FREE! Comp wine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

OCT/NOV 2008: Porachista Khakpour; Dark Views; Ringwood Manor; The Haunting; Shirley Jackson; The Thing; Haunted Bookshop

8 PM, Fri. Oct 10

Khakpour builds her luminously intelligent debut around the travails of an Iranian-American family caught in the feverish and paranoid currents immediately after 9/11. Darius Adam and his wife, Laleh (who, much to Darius's disgust, Americanizes her name to Lala), flee revolutionary Iran for the alien territory of Southern California, settling in an apartment complex with the allegorically enticing name of Eden Gardens. Khakpour's first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects was published in September 2007 to great critical acclaim. It was a New York Times Editor's Choice and was included on the Chicago Tribune's 2007 Fall's Best list. It won the 77th annual California Book Award prize in First Fiction. She has been longlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards for young writers. Her writing has been compared to that of Zadie Smith (by NPR) and Phillip Roth (by Paper Magazine).

"The characters burst from the page in fiery exchanges, while their chaotic inner lives are conveyed with witty precision." The New Yorker. FREE! With complimentary wine.
8 PM, Fri. Oct 17

Photography Exhibition
I met this gentleman in the shop this past July. He's a burly guy with a pony tail, a goatee, and a sleeve of ink that runs down his left arm. From what I can gather, he breaks into abandoned, frequently forbidden places -- asylums, orphanages, jails, castles -- and photographs what he finds. His trespassing takes him all over the world and often involves hiking through nettles, scaling walls crenelated with broken glass, and paddling up to the water-facing and, hence, unguarded sides of various properties in a long blood-red kayak, the bow of which is emblazoned with a stenciled skull. Fifty of his photos will be on display, along with various fearsome things filched from the locations: straitjackets, winding sheets, wheelchairs, morgue trays, shock treatment tables.
10 AM, Sun. Oct 18
Field Trip

Seated in northern New Jersey is a beautiful, rolling estate known as Ringwood Manor. Its reputation as a "haunted house" is well earned. Hans Holzer, the "grandfather of ghost hunting", visited the Manor years back with a psychic medium in tow, ultimately declaring it the most frightening place in NJ. Edward Cayce, one of America's most famous male psychics, fondly nicknamed “the sleeping prophet” because of his renowned trance readings, held seances there.

Behind the Manor pond is the grave where the original owner General Erskine, a Geographer and Surveyor-General for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, is buried. At dusk General Erskine can apparently be seen sitting on his headstone gazing across the pond. The ghost of a housemaid is believed to haunt the small third floor bedroom in which she was beaten to death. It is also said there is an unmarked grave filled with the remains of French soldiers who fought with Rochambeau during the Revolutionary War. After dark, the dead come to the Manor lake to walk along the shore. Sometimes, you can hear soft, sad voices speaking in French.

The Raconteur Motorcycle Club meets at the shop and proceeds en masse to a destination of literary or cinematic significance. The Club was profiled in The New York Times and recently featured in a travel book, Novel Destinations: Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West, published by National Geographic. An article on the Club, written by acclaimed author Robert Kaplow (Me & Orson Welles), will be included in the October edition of New Jersey Monthly. FREE!

8 PM, Thurs. Oct 23
Directed by Robert Wise from a story by Shirley Jackson
Film Screening

Certain to remain one of the greatest haunted-house movies ever made, Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is antithetical to all the gory horror films of subsequent decades, because its considerable frights remain implicitly rooted in the viewer's sensitivity to abject fear. A classic spook-fest based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House , the film begins with a prologue that concisely establishes the dark history of Hill House, a massive New England mansion that will play host to four daring guests determined to investigate--and hopefully debunk--the legacy of death and ghostly possession that has given the mansion its terrifying reputation. Like Jack Clayton's 1961 chiller, The Innocents, The Haunting knows the value of planting the seeds of terror in the mind, as opposed to letting them blossom graphically on the screen. What you don't see is infinitely more frightening than what you do, and with nary a severed head or bloody corpse in sight, The Haunting is guaranteed to chill you to the bone.

8 PM, Fri. Oct 24
World Premiere!
Written by Maire Martello
A Staged Reading Featuring Jane Hardy
Shirley Jackson, an American author, has powerfully influenced such notable horror and fantasy writers as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Her novel The Haunting of Hill House, which many writers, including King, believe to be the best horror novel of the twentieth century, is a contemporary updating of the classic ghost story. Jackson, who dedicated herself to rejecting her mother's sense of propriety, drank, smoked and fed to excess. She also dabbled in magic and voodoo, and was often described as a New England witch. She kept eleven black cats and believed she had caused the accident of an enemy by making a wax image of him with a broken leg. By the end, a tangle of physical and mental ailments made her feel unable to venture out into her own town of Bennington, Vermont. One hot August night in 1965, a 48 year old Jackson, frozen with paranoia, went to sleep. She never awoke. This play explores her destructive and mysterious life.

8 PM, Thurs. Oct 30
Directed by John Carpenter
Man is the Warmest Place to Hide!
Film Screening

In sharp contrast to the The Haunting’s conceit of unseen horror, The Thing is a grotesque exercise (thanks to FX whiz Rob Bottin, fresh off The Howling) in how to terrify even the most jaded viewer. A loose remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 sci-fi Cold War allegory, Carpenter's Thing isn't concerned with messages; it's just a terrifying meditation on paranoia and subzero dread as a group of scientists at a South Pole outpost (led by Kurt Russell) is infiltrated by an alien that assumes the bodies of its victims in very messy ways. Which member of the crew is the alien? The crew doesn’t know, and neither does the audience until the creature begins one of its stomach churning transformations. In the aforementioned Robert Wise classic we have creaking doors, cranky caretakers, and a house that was “born bad,” in The Thing we have a head dipped in spare-rib sauce skittering about on spider legs. But despite its many gross-outs, no moment in the movie is more unsettling than watching cuddly Quaker Oatmeal pitchman Wilford Brimley go insane. Though ebulliently resurrected as a cult favorite, The Thing failed at the box office during its initial run. Many factors have been attributed to the poor opening, including the concurrent release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a slightly more optimistic view of alien visitation. Carpenter is frankly surprised by the film's latter-day esteem. “When The Thing was released,” he says, “it was one of the most hated movies of all time.” Time to set the record straight. FREE! w/complimentary wine.

7 - 11 PM, WEDS. OCT 31
W/B-Horror Star Marvin Schwartz
Guaranteed to scare you Lit-less!

What goes on after a bookstore closes for the night? Come witness the death of Halpin Frayser from Ambrose Bierce's horror story of the same name; see Kafka's Gregor Samsa turn into a clacking black bug as Dr. Moreau’s hybrid manimals scrabble and yowl; observe Lovecraft's ghouls eat parts of their own body as the tragic Prince of Denmark addresses the exhumed skull of his dead court jester and Victor Hugo’s hideous Gwynplaine grins grotesquely; participate in the chilling Swiss Alps séance from Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain as a very dead Poe recites The Raven and Mary Shelley's monster is jolted into consciousness. Your guide for the night is B-horror star Marvin Schwartz, last seen as the king of the undead in Midnight Mass, scripted by famed vampire scribe F. Paul Wilson. Gallery of Horrors! Cabinet of Curiosities! Chilling Live Music by the Phantom Pianist. Admission: $5 @ the door.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SEPT 2008: Youth Open Mic; Delhi Rickshaw Doc; Traditional Peruvian Music; Poets Rachel Hadas & Diane Lockward; Author Joshua Henkin

7 - 9 PM, Thurs. Sept 4
Hosted by Rachelle Adlerman

Music, poetry & short prose. Parties interested in participating should arrive no later than 6:45 and sign in with Rachelle.

8 PM, Fri. Sept 5
With Special Guest Director Raghu Jeganathan
Film Screening/Q&A

The High Court recently tried to outlaw cycle rickshaws in the capital of Delhi after policy makers claimed they were violating traffic rules. If cycle rickshaws are banned, nearly two million pullers, most of whom are landless farmers, uneducated and unskilled, coming to the cities to ride rickshaws and earn enough to sustain their families, will be out of jobs, and the oldest, cheapest, most environmentally sound mode of transportation will disappear from Indian streets. An estimated 500,000 human-powered cycle rickshaws criss-cross narrow lanes in Old Delhi alone, ferrying passengers and goods for measly sums. This documentary explores some of the ethical dimensions of man pulling man in the thickening brume of pollution and against the increasingly menacing current of motorized traffic for less than a dollar a day. FREE! With complimentary wine.
8 PM, Fri. Sept 12
Live Traditional Peruvian Music

Daniel Eggers is a young man from Peru. Last Feb I met him for the first time. He'd heard I did events and had popped by the shop to perform an audition of sorts. After retrieving his guitar from his car he proceeded to play ten minutes of what is likely the most beautiful music I've ever heard. Naturally, I booked him immediately, and, accompanied by his friend Pocho on the djembe, he captivated one of the biggest crowds (May Pang aside) we've ever had at an in-store event. Well, he's back. This time on the quena. The quena is a traditional bamboo flute from the Andes once banned by the Spanish government. They said it inspired indecent emotions among the natives. There is a legend of an Incan princess named Ollantay. She fell in love with a commoner and, forbidden to marry him, she died of unhappiness. Her lover, visiting her grave, hears a haunting whistling sound coming from the wind. This gives him the idea of creating the quena, whose sound will remind him of his lost love. Now, you can hear it too! FOR FREE! As you sip complimentary red wine from the province of Ica (despite its hot and dry climate, Ica is actually a perfect place to grow wine grapes as the fields are thoroughly irrigated with water from the Andes). Songs will be accompanied by classic Spanish guitar.

8 PM, Fri. Sept 19
is the author of more than a dozen books of poems, essays, and translations. About Hadas's work, the poet Grace Schulman has written, "The poems are urgent, contemplative, and finely wrought. In them, antiquity illuminates the present as Rachel Hadas finds in ordinary human acts what never was and what is eternal" Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She is often associated with the New Formalism school of poetry, and her work was included in landmark collections of New Formalism including Rebel Angels and A Formal Feeling Comes. The daughter of noted Columbia University classicist Moses Hadas, she received her baccalaureate at Harvard Univerity in classics, her Master of Arts at Johns Hopkins University in poetry, and her doctorate at Princeton University in comparative literature. Living in Greece after her undergraduate work at Radcliffe, Hadas became an intimate of poets James Merrill and Alan Ansen. They strongly influenced her early work, as did Cavafy, whose work she translated, and Seferis. She writes regularly for The New Yorker and lives in Manhattan.

DIANE LOCKWARD is the author of What Feeds Us, which received the Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in several anthologies, including Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times, and have appeared in such journals as The Beloit Poetry Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Poetry International, Poet Lore, and Prairie Schooner. Lockward is the recipient of a 2003 Poetry Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has received awards from North American Review, Louisiana Literature, the Newburyport Art Association, and the St. Louis Poetry Center. Her work has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, and read by Garrison Keillor on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. She was a featured poet at the Warren County Poetry Festival, the Inkberry Festival, the Long Branch Poetry Festival, the Walt Whitman Poetry Festival, the 2006 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and the 2007 Burlington Book Festival. FREE! With complimentary wine.

The Back-to-School/F. Scott Fitzgerald Ride
10 AM, Sun. Sept 21
Cagers Welcome!

"Princeton is in the flat midlands of New Jersey, rising, a green Phoenix, out of the ugliest country in the world. Sordid Trenton sweats and festers a few miles south. Northward are the suburban slums of New York. But around Princeton, shielding her, is a ring of silence: milk dairies, great estates with peacocks & deer parks, pleasant farms & woodlands..."-

Taking its title from a line of the Rupert Brooke poem Tiare Tahiti, Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, is largely set in Princeton and examines the post-war moral let-down of a fast living generation know as "the flaming youth." We'll visit Fitzgerald's eating club, Cottage, his residence, Little Hall, and many of the locations mentioned in the book, including Holder Tower and Cleveland Tower, two spires that capture the imagination of the novel's protagonist, a precocious egoist named Armory Blaine. The Club will eat lunch at The Yankee Doodle Tap Room, part of The Nassau Inn, mentioned in this following excerpt from Paradise.

"The orgy of sociability culminated in a giant party at The Nassau Inn, where punch was dispensed from immense bowls, and the whole down-stairs became a delirious, circulating, shouting pattern of faces and voices."

The Raconteur Motorcycle Club, which now allows "cagers" (people in cars) to tag along with supplies, meets at the shop and proceeds en masse to a destination of literary or cinematic significance. The Club was profiled in The New York Times and recently featured in a travel book, Novel Destinations: Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West, published by National Geographic. An article on the Club, written by acclaimed author Robert Kaplow (Me & Orson Welles), will be included in the October edition of New Jersey Monthly. FREE!

7 – 9:30 PM, Weds., Sept 24 – Oct 15
Register Now! Sessions fill quickly
In The Spooky Art, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Norman Mailer talked about crisp words "clamping down…sticking." In an interview shortly before his death, Noir author Raymond Chandler spoke of perfectly pitched sentences "walking off the page." Despite using opposing metaphors, they are obviously describing the same thing. Good writing. A key focus of the class is this acoustical quality. The profound difference between how a sentence sounds and its mute presence on the page. Accordingly, a significant amount of time is dedicated to declaiming work. Students are not, however, permitted to read their own work, rather their work is "vocally published" by the instructor. The writer then becomes a critical part of the evaluating audience for his own piece, often noticing the same literary stumbles (and moments of grace) as his peers. Students should come prepared to revise/resolve a prior project or to draft a pre-existing idea. The workshop does not, for the most part, assign exercises, but rather use the students' own projects to instruct. The cost of the workshop is $100.00 payable at the beginning of the first class. For further information or to register, e-mail The Raconteur at

8 PM, Thurs. Sept 25

It is 1987, and Julian Wainwright, aspiring writer and Waspy son of New York City old money, meets beautiful, Jewish Mia Mendelsohn in the laundry room at Graymont College. So begins a love affair that, spurred on by family tragedy, will take Julian and Mia across the country and back, through several college towns, spanning twenty years.

"In the tradition of John Cheever and Richard Yates ... a novel about love, hope, delusion, and the intricate ways in which time's passage raises us up even as it grinds us down. It's a beautiful book. Here's to its brilliant future." Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Hours.

"Beguiling ... [Henkin writes] effortless scenes that float between past and present.... [He creates] an almost personal nostalgia for these characters."--Jennifer Egan, New York Times Book Review

MATRIMONY was named a New York Times Notable Book, a Book Sense Highlight Pick of the Year, and a Borders Original Voices Selection. Joshua Henkin is also the author of the novel SWIMMING ACROSS THE HUDSON, which was named a Los Angeles Times notable book. His short stories have been published in Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, Triquarterly, DoubleTake, The North American Review, The New England Review, Boulevard, and elsewhere. FREE! With complimentary wine.

3 PM, Sun. Sept 28

Please note: this is a rental, and, accordingly, The Raconteur makes no claims regarding its quality..
C. P. Klapper is the author of "The Washington Poems" and "Sonnets for the Spanish." Born into a family with decidedly mixed backgrounds and professions, his musical and academic talents were early recognized, as were his hyperactivity and strange mannerisms. After finishing an occasionally accelerated primary and secondary education, he attended Grinnell College, where he received his BA in Mathematics. After his graduation, Mr. Klapper was an industry economist for the federal government and, in his spare time, wrote poetry and letters, some of which were published in The Washington Post, and performed with various musical groups, including a choral performance in New York's Carnegie Hall. Mr. Klapper then returned to graduate school at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he received his MS in Mathematics.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


2 PM, Sun. Aug 17
Eric Zala & Chris Strompolos
Film Screening/Q&A

After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, three 12 year old friends, Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb, began filming their own shot-by-shot adaptation in the backyards of their Mississippi homes. Vigilant, resourceful, and a little bit insane, these Mississippi tweens gained access to sacks of gunpowder, gallons of gasoline, a retired WWII battleship and a functioning Navy submarine. They They broke bones, got grounded, burned down a garage, and got grounded again. Eric had to be hospitalized twice, once for having his hair set aflame, and once because shards of plaster from an exploding head "effect" had to be surgically removed from his scalp. Seven years later their film was in the can. In 2003 (22 years from the project's inception), Steven Spielberg and George Lucas watched the tribute and gave it their stamp of approval, calling it "hugely imaginative," "impressive," and "lovingly detailed." In 2004, Vanity Fair did an expansive 10,000 word feature on the boys' experiences making the movie, Quentin Tarantino became a fan, Wes Craven called the film "phenomenal," and Paramount producer Scott Rudin purchased the life rights to their story. Oscar nominated author/cartoonist Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) is currently working on a screenplay about them. This Sunday, Eric and Chris are flying into Metuchen to screen and discuss their now legendary cult sensation, Raiders: The Adaptation. THE REFECTORY THEATER, 270 Woodbridge Avenue (adjacent to the graveyard), Metuchen, NJ. Parking in rear. All tickets: $15. For advance tickets call 732-906-0009 or visit The Raconteur at 431 Main Street in Metuchen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

JULY 2008: Mountains of the Moon; Inner Paths; Photo Exhibition; Princeton Writers

8 PM, Thurs. July 10
Film Screening

In the 1850's two British officers Capt. Richard Burton and Lt. John Speke set out on a spectacular adventure to discover the source of the Nile. They are warned that great dangers await them, but, against all odds, they push on deeper and deeper into the magnificent untamed African wilderness, where no western man had ever gone. As the difficult journey takes its toll Burton and Speke forge a strong bond. A bond that one will eventually betray.How did Bob Rafelson, the director of small-scale American studies such as Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens, find himself helming an old-fashioned adventure story such as Mountains of the Moon? Whatever the reasons, Rafelson invested this 1990 epic with passion and professionalism. The hero is one of the greatest British explorers of the 19th century, Sir Richard Burton (played by Patrick Bergin), a fascinating figure and a man out of time: a modern in the Victorian era. Mountains of the Moon is primarily concerned with Burton's trek into East Africa to discover the source of the Nile, accompanied by fellow adventurer John Hanning Speke (Iain Glen). Rafelson is at least as interested in the tricky psychological jockeying between the two men, as he is in the grueling conventions of the adventure movie, but he delivers well on both counts. The brawny Bergin is sensational in a role that should have made him a star, but didn't; the film disappeared quickly. Perhaps audiences were put off by the lack of marquee names and confused by the title, which refers to a piece of African landscape. Providing solid support are Fiona Shaw (another should-have-been star), Richard E. Grant, and Delroy Lindo, as an African warrior. A very satisfying excursion into the National Geographic pith-helmet genre. FREE! Comp Wine.

8 PM, Sat. July 12

For thousands of years, voyagers of inner space--spiritual seekers, shamans, and psychoactive drug users--have returned from their inner imaginal travels reporting encounters with alien intelligences. Inner Paths to Outer Space presents an innovative examination of how we can reach these other dimensions of existence and contact otherworldly beings. Based on their more than 60 combined years of research into the function of the brain, the authors reveal how psychoactive substances such as DMT allow the brain to bypass our five basic senses to unlock a multidimensional realm of existence where otherworldly communication occurs. They contend that our centuries-old search for alien life-forms has been misdirected and that the alien worlds reflected in visionary science fiction actually mirror the inner space world of our minds. The authors show that these “alien” worlds encountered through altered states of human awareness, either through the use of psychedelics or other methods, possess a sense of reality as great as, or greater than, those of the ordinary awareness perceived by our five senses. FREE! Comp Wine.

8 PM, Fri. July 18
Photography Exhibition: Joint Show

Marvin Schwartz: I’ve known Marvin for about ten years. As an actor. Before opening a bookshop, I ran a theater company in Manhattan, of which Marvin was a regular part. He’s seventy-eight. He lives in a rent controlled apartment in the West Village. He’s held its lease, even while living for long stretches in Puerto Rico, France, Spain, and Germany, for the better part of forty years. Marvin doesn’t make much money as an actor. He’s appeared in a handful of independent horror films and a few Off Broadway plays. He played the king of the undead in a movie written by famous vampire scribe F. Paul Wilson. Sometimes Marvin gets enough equity work to support his health insurance through the union. Sometimes not. In the first half of Marvin’s life he was a professional photographer. He doesn’t speak of it. Despite our decade of friendship, I’ve seen just one of his photos: an elephant being unloaded from a ship. But when he needs money, for rent, food, medicine, he sells one. Marvin, as it turns out, had done alright snapping his little pictures. He worked for Life Magazine, shooting such subjects as Norman Mailer and Muhammad Ali. He was friends with Paddy Chayevsky. His work is part of the permanent collection of The Whitney Museum, and one of his pictures sold earlier this month for 22,000 USD at an auction in Germany (although he’d sold it to them for five thousand years ago). Come meet Marvin and see thirty of his rarely seen black-and-white photographs. FREE! Comp Wine.Helen Stummer: In the tradition of Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange—who dynamically and passionately photographed impoverished immigrants, child labor and migrant workers from the 1800’s through the 1950’s, Stummer has been photographing the struggle and dignity of people in Newark, New Jersey, Manhattan’s Lower East Side, rural Maine, and Comalapa, Guatemala, for over twenty-five years. Although geographically diverse, they speak the same language. It is the language of the streets, the subsistence farms, the aldeas. It is the mother tongue of oppressed people everywhere: Poverty. Because of her decades being involved with urban families, Stummer is unique among American photographers. Her commitment has allowed her to depict children growing up. From babies to young adults, she captures their spirit, their hopes, as well as their disappointments and tragedies. FREE! Comp Wine.

8 PM, Fri. July 25

Local resident Edward Carchia is a four-time nominee for the prestigious Pushcart Prize and his short fiction has been published countless times in a variety of literary anthologies.Juditha Dowd's poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She has performed throughout the metropolitan area and as far afield as Portland Oregon. Her work recently received honorable mentions in two esteemed poetry contests--the Allen Ginsberg Award (Paterson Review) and Passager.Lois Marie Harrod has had over 300 poems published in journals and has nine collections in print. She is a professor at The College of New Jersey. FREE! Comp Wine

Thursday, May 22, 2008

JUNE 2008: Workshop; Man Who Would Be King; Outsider Art Exhibition; Raiders; Austen Afternoon; Jim/Karen Shepard; Pulp Art Doc Screening; PAPA

Click to enlarge. All events start at 8 PM unless otherwise noted. For more info, scroll down.

7:00 - 9:30 PM, Mon. & Weds., June 2 - 11
Register Now! Sessions fill quickly.

In The Spooky Art, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Norman Mailer talked about crisp words "clamping down…sticking." In an interview shortly before his death, Noir author Raymond Chandler spoke of perfectly pitched sentences "walking off the page." Despite using opposing metaphors, they are obviously describing the same thing. Good writing. A key focus of the class is this acoustical quality. The profound difference between how a sentence sounds and its mute presence on the page. Accordingly, a significant amount of time is dedicated to declaiming work. Students are not, however, permitted to read their own work, rather their work is "vocally published" by the instructor. The writer then becomes a critical part of the evaluating audience for his own piece, often noticing the same literary stumbles (and moments of grace) as his peers. Students should come prepared to revise/resolve a prior project or to draft a pre-existing idea. The workshop does not, for the most part, assign exercises, but rather use the students' own projects to instruct.

The cost of the workshop is $100.00 payable at the beginning of the first class. Complimentary wine is served. For further information or to register, e-mail The Raconteur at

8 PM, Thurs. June 5
Film Screening

Before Raiders of the Lost Ark, there was The Man Who Would Be King. Adapted from the Rudyard Kipling story of the same title, King was directed by John Huston (The Maltese Falcon) and starred Sean Connery, Michael Caine (who maintained that if any film of his is remembered after his death, it would this one) and Christopher Plummer as Kipling. It tells the tale of two rogue British soldiers/freemasons who set off from 19th century British India in search of adventure, and end up as kings of Kafiristan. Shot on location in Morocco, Huston had planned to make the film since the 1950's: originally with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, then Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, and then Robert Redford and Paul Newman — Newman suggested Connery and Caine. It's a rollicking tale, an epic satire of imperialism, and the good-natured repartee shared by Caine and Connery is pure gold. FREE! Comp Wine.
8 PM, Fri. June 6
Group Exhibition

Fifty plus pieces by tattooists, street photogs, and graffiti artists -- all members of the maverick cultural organization: Robots Will Kill. FREE! Comp wine. Art on sale at event.
2 PM - 5:30 PM, Sun. June 8

Special Event
Beginning at 2 PM, The Brass Lantern (327 Main Street) will display modern and collectible works of needlepoint while a food historian/tea specialist speaks about edibles and drinkables during Austen's era. The Raconteur's Jane Hardy and Laurence Mintz will present a theatrical reading from Austen's Pride and Prejudice at 3:30 PM in the Westerhoff School's new theater (5 Calvin Place). The event will conclude at the School with tea and a classical concert at 4 PM.

Jane Hardy is a former Off Broadway actress. Raconteur patrons my remember her from her riveting performance as a panicky invalid in the staged radio play Sorry Wrong Number, her stunning portrayal of the dynamic titular character in Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, or, most recently, her poignant reading of the epistolary romance, 84 Charing Cross Road (with Laurence Mintz). In July (date TBA) she'll perform Joan Didion's one woman show The Year of Magical Thinking at The Raconteur.

Laurence Mintz is a painter, actor and scholar. Raconteur performances include the Russian Colonel Zaroff in The Most Dangerous Game and Briton bookseller Frank Doel (to Jane Hardy's Helene Danff) in 84 Charing Cross Road. He also played multiple characters (Major Calloway, Baron Kurtz, Dr. Winkel) with a range of accents in The Raconteur's recent production of Graham Greene's The Third Man.

8 PM, Thurs. June 12
Film Screening

Released exactly 27 years ago today, on June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first film I can remember seeing more than once. I was eleven and lived on a horse ranch in southeastern Alabama. The Peachtree movie theater was almost an hour away in Columbus, Georgia. To see a movie multiple times meant multiple two hour round-trips across the state border. Not an easy thing to accomplish when you're in seventh grade. Fortunately, my family loved the film as much as I did, all of us watching wide-eyed and thunderstruck as the Ark heaved its sinister contents into the furious Cairo sky, again and again. An homage to the glory days of Saturday matinee adventure serials and back-lot B-movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most unabashedly enjoyable cinematic events of the 1980s. Packed with breakneck action and a cheerfully absurd plot, Raiders celebrated old-school adventure, making it palatable to an increasingly jaded contemporary audience and turning otherwise stodgy film critics into gleeful children. FREE! Comp Wine!
8 PM, Fri. June 13
JIM & KAREN SHEPARD (w/special guest Clay Mcleod Chapman)

Stories about dissolving marriages are fine, but how about two gay engineers on the Hindenberg? Or a 19th century man searching for a giant half-shark/half-whale? A recent finalist for the National Book Award, Like You’d Understand, Anyway reaches from Chernobyl to Bridgeport, with a host of narrators only Shepard could bring to pitch-perfect life. Among them: a middle-aged Aeschylus taking his place at Marathon, still vying for parental approval; a maddeningly indefatigable Victorian explorer hauling his expedition, whaleboat and all, through the Great Australian Desert in midsummer; the first woman in space and her cosmonaut lover, caught in the star-crossed orbits of their joint mission; and the rational and compassionate chief executioner of Paris, whose occupation, during the height of the Terror, eats away at all he holds dear. Brimming with irony, compassion, and withering humor, these eleven stories are at once eerily pertinent and dazzlingly exotic, and they showcase the work of a protean, prodigiously gifted writer at the height of his form. “These are uniformly bold and exhilarating stories. Let's hope Shepard becomes as influential as he should be. He's the best we've got." —Dave Eggers. "With a near spooky sense of empathy and a wit that finds its mark like lightning, Shepard’s stories transport readers light-years beyond what they think they know of the world." —Vanity Fair

PLUS Karen Shepard's masterful third book, Don't I Know You?, opens in 1976 on Manhattan's Upper West Side as 12-year-old Steven Engel comes home to find his mom, Gina, stabbed to death. Karen Shepard is the author of the novels An Empire of Women and The Bad Boy's Wife. Her work has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Bomb, and other publications.

With special guest: acclaimed performer/author Clay McLeod Chapman. Chapman has been called “hauntingly poetic” by Time Out New York and compared to William Faulkner by The Village Voice. The Scotsman, Scotland’s leading newspaper, called him “Stephen King transformed into a punk, preacher poet.”

FREE! Comp Wine. Books on sale at event.

8 PM, FRI. JUNE 20
Film Screening/Discussion
Hosted by NYC documentarian JAMIE MACDONALD
With Special Guest: Pulp Art Historian ROBERT LESSER

Hard-boiled dicks, lantern jawed thugs, dames in distress, jungle warlords, and evil oriental masterminds. Pulp magazines, frequently sadistic, occasionally rascist, and always misogynistic, reigned for about a quarter of a century as the most popular entertainment medium in America. They were cheaply produced and cheap to buy, generally a dime. And they were plentiful. After a low-key beginning, the format took off and the initially tame art became more garish, promising endless excitement and ever greater thrills. Western covers went from an illustration of a serene Indian gently paddling his canoe to ferocious savages tomahawking a defenseless frontier family. Mystery covers went from cops on the beat to hoodlums ripping blouses off buxom young blondes.

Pulp writers knew how to write compelling stories and, indeed, many of the best went on to extremely successful and more respectable careers (Dashell Hammett, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Raymond Chandler, Isaac Asimov, and Tennessee Williams). But with the exception of N. C. Wyeth, the pulp painters (J. Allen St. John, Margaret Brundage, Rafael de Soto) rarely left their lurid beginnings.

This documentary takes a look at the macabre magazine covers that even the artists who painted them sadly seemed to disown. Winner of the 2006 Best Documentary award at both the Dragon*Con Film Festival and The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, documentary filmmaker Jamie McDonald gained exclusive access to the world s largest pulp art collection - owned by pulp art historian Robert Lesser. Whether you are a true fan of the form or a curious newcomer, Cheap Thrills & Painted Nightmares will leave you thinking differently about what constitutes true art. Filmmaker MacDonald and historian Lesser will introduce the film and answer questions following the screening. FREE!

7 - 9 PM, Thurs. June 26
Hosted by Rachelle Adlerman

Music, poetry & short prose. Parties interested in participating should arrive no later than 6:45 and sign in with Rachelle.

8 PM, Fri. & Sat. June 27 & 28
Two Nights!!
Staged Reading
Featuring Jeff Maschi

If Papa, John deGroot's unsparing dramatic portrait of Ernest Hemingway in his later years, has any degree of accuracy, the macho titan of 20th-century American fiction was one mean drunk. He was also a bully, a misogynist and a liar, obsessed with manliness and devoured by envy. Halfway into Papa, the character works himself into a competitive frenzy, grabs one of several hunting guns from the wall, and shoots, imagining William Faulkner as a game bird.Set in Hemingway's trophy-decorated home outside Havana in 1959, five years after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and two years before his suicide by shotgun in Ketchum, Idaho, Papa coheres as the story of a man in pain. Without going into medical details, the play conveys the debilitating physical toll of all those macho exploits: the war wounds, plane crashes and car wrecks that facilitated his dependence on alcohol, his favorite general anesthetic. As the author desperately shadowboxes with literary ghosts and fires his gun (figuratively and literally) into the air, you feel the agony of a man whose body and soul are irreparably racked. (blurb excerpted from Stephen Holden's New York Times review of the 1996 Broadway production). FREE! Comp Wine.

ON DECK FOR JULY: Ray Tintori/Death of a Tinman (Film Screening); April Smith & The Great American Show (Live Music); The League of Gentleman (Radio Play); Marvin Schwartz & Helen Stummer (Photography Exhibition); Reign of Fire (Film Screening)

Monday, May 12, 2008

MAY 2008: Rac Fest; Michael Hastings

2 PM, Sat. May 10
Acclaimed Authors/Live Music/Sideshow Performers

What do a sword swallower, a young female folk singer from Seville, Spain, and an author whose latest novel, Skin, is slowly being written on the bodies of ten thousand volunteers (each who've agreed to have a single word tattooed on their body), all have in common? RAC FEST!

The Raconteur Festival is a semiannual hootenanny/cultural clambake featuring acclaimed authors, live music, sideshow performers and an independent press book expo. Performers include Charles Bock, John Crowley, Gabriel Brownstein, Shelley Jackson, The Dan Whitley Band, The Roadside Graves, Samantha Hunt, Clay McLeod Chapman, Alex Dawson, Sandra Rubio, Arlan Feiles, James Braly, Jeremy Benson, and The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. 2 pm, Sat. May 10 (Doors open at 1:30 pm). The Refectory, 270 Woodbridge Avenue (one block from the train station, adjacent to the First Presbyterian Church), Metuchen, NJ. Fest Tickets: $15. Book Expo Free! to public. For advance tickets call 732-906-0009 or visit The Raconteur at 431 Main Street. Tickets available at The Refectory day of event ONLY. While clams covered in seaweed and steamed on hot rocks is typical of clambakes, The Raconteur is anything but typical i.e. no clams. For more info/participant bios visit and click on "Rac Fest."

8 PM, Weds. May 14

At age twenty-five, Michael Hastings arrived in Baghdad to cover the war in Iraq for Newsweek. He had at his disposal a little Hemingway romanticism and all the apparatus of a twenty-first-century reporter -- cell phones, high-speed Internet access, digital video cameras, fixers, drivers, guards, translators. Back in New York, Hastings had fallen in love with Andi Parhamovich, a young idealist who worked for Air America. A year into their courtship, Andi followed Michael to Iraq, taking a job with the National Democratic Institute. In many ways their romance is typical: they call each other pet names, they exchange frequent IMs and text messages, they make plans for the future. But in many ways it is not: they frequently fight about the risks each of them must separately take, all the while trying to figure out how to physically connect, when each visit puts bodyguards and drivers in jeopardy.

Then Andi goes on a dangerous mission for her new employer: a meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters that ends in catastrophe.

Searing, unflinching, and revelatory, I Lost My Love in Baghdad is both a raw, brave, brilliantly observed account of the war and a heartbreaking story of one life lost to it. FREE! Comp wine. Books on sale at event.

Monday, April 7, 2008

APRIL 2008: Art Exhibition

8 PM, Sat. April 12
Pietro Barbera

I've been trying to get this artist to do a show at the The Raconteur for three years. Now almost eighty, he rarely exhibits or makes public appearances. But I was determined. I renewed my efforts this past winter and months of vigilant coaxing has managed to do the trick. Some of you may have noticed his work in our shop. Indeed, his five foot Indian which stands at the entrance to the store has provoked many comments, unsettled many children (who must be carried past it, eyes closed, head buried in the chest of a parent), and has been highlighted in almost every article on The Raconteur. His rawboned prizefighter, reminiscent of Giacometti's blade thin sculptures and gaunt post war figures, stands on a stack of leather-bound Thackeray in our front window. His crayon/beaver board depictions of schemers and guttersnipes (my personal favorites), which hang to the left of the cashier counter, were done decades ago, when Pietro himself was homeless. Binding the boards with a frayed electrical cord, he'd carry them under his arm wherever he went. When he wanted to make a change, he'd melt the crayon wax with a cigarette lighter and move it about the board with his finger.

Pietro will be here this Saturday with OVER FIFTY ADDITIONAL WORKS OF ART.

As always, Raconteur events are FREE! and include complimentary wine and amuse-bouche (I make no promises, but I hear tell of bacon-wrapped quail and prunes soaked in cognac).

Friday, February 15, 2008

FEB/MARCH 2008: Art Exhibition; Arlan Feiles; Oscar; Rac-On-Tour; 3rd Man Radio Play; Starfish Headquarters; Hard Eight; 3rd Time Around; May Pang

8 PM, SAT. FEB 16
Featuring Lawrence Mintz, Steve Epstein, Rita Herzfeld, and Bob Shore
With Live Music by Steve Kaplan and Paul Caluori

View over sixty paintings/drawings by four of New Jersey's best artists while sipping comp Cab and listening to an eclectic mix of acoustic jazz and 18th/19th century Celtic folk played live by Steve Kaplan on guitar and Paul Caluori on violin. Lawrence Mintz paints pre-modern portraiture and urban scenes in the atmospheric shadows of Hopper. Expect lots of nudes, belching factory-scapes, and moody rail yards. Steve Epstein vivisects the social anxieties of the preconscious, recomposing them into unique works of magical, often horrific, expressionism that recall Francis Bacon and H. P. Lovecraft. Rita Herzfeld's bold brush strokes -- some celebratory, some painful -- are more important than the subject matter she depicts. Indeed Ms. Herzfeld's huge, vivid impasto paintings are often abstract, resembling craggy, colorful sections of a blistering foundry wall somewhere south of Key West (I mean that in the best possible way). Plus pencil drawings, intaglio prints and photogravure by Bob Shore! FREE! (the exhibition, not the art...the art you have to pay for you lousy pinch-fisted skinflints).

8 PM, FRI. FEB 22
CD Release Party
Live Music

Arlan is one of the first musicians I scouted (most of the bands that play here I've known for years, either personally, or from my days of bartending and booking music in NB). I saw him at The Saint (in Asbury Park) and sent my girlfriend Kristy up to the stage with a business card. Arlan sings about the street and the barking of distant dogs. He sings about greasy brother crows wheeling, beak to heel, in a troubled sky. He moans about how he's sick of love and of himself. He's been compared to a young Bob Dylan and a class five hurricane ("if songwriters were bad weather..." you get the idea). He plays a mean little harmonica and a damn sweet guitar. In any case, whether you like Dylan, rough winds, brother crows, or just fine music, Arlan Feiles is not to be missed. CDs on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, SAT. FEB 23
Featuring Theatrical Readings from:

With Jeff Maschi, Jane Hardy, Lawrence Mintz, & Morrowbie Jukes.
Looking forward to the Academy Awards? Get geared up with Oscar @ The Rac (ever notice how the last three letters of Oscar, once reversed, spell out "rac"?) with theatrical readings from four novels whose cinematic counterparts have been nominated for awards. FREE!

7 PM, FRI. FEB 29
Readings/Live Music
FRIST 302 (Frist Campus Center)

The Nassau Literary Review, the literary magazine of Princeton University (and the second oldest undergraduate literary magazine in the country -- it once published F. Scott Fitzgerald and Woodrow Wilson) is hosting an on-campus Raconteur Reader event. The event will include readings by Robert Kaplow, Clay McLeod Chapman, and myself (Alex Dawson). With live music by Jeremy Benson. This event is part of The Rac-On-Tour (get it?), a literary road show that attempts to bottle The Raconteur "experience" and uncork it at other locales. For directions and parking suggestions, visit FREE! With Comp Pizza.

The inaugural book of Raconteur Publications, The Raconteur Reader is a compendium of short prose edited by Alex Dawson and featuring work by Oscar nominated screenwriter Robert Festinger (In the Bedroom); O. Henry Prize winner Douglas Light (East Fifth Bliss); Werner Herzog film editor Joe Bini (Rescue Dawn); Nebula Award Winner Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners), whose stories have been called "cross-genre gems," by Time Out New York, "amazing" by New York Magazine and "intoxicating," by Alice Sebold; Whiting Writers' Award and Pushcart Prize winner Jess Row (The Train to Lo Wu), recently selected as one of Granta's 2007 Best Young American Novelists (alongside Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer); novelist/NPR regular Robert Kaplow, whose latest book Me and Orson Welles is in production with filmmaker Richard Linklater and stars Claire Danes; memoirist Jeremy Mercer, whose recent reminiscence Time Was Soft There was touted by famed Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and won raves from The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal; author/essayist Lynn Lauber (White Girls), whose fiction has been praised by Entertainment Weekly and Newsday and whose essays have appeared in The New York Times; novelist Rich Perez (The Loser's Club) whose clear-eyed chronicle of the East Village has been cheered by Tama Janowitz, Barry Gifford, Mary Gaitskill, and Poppy Z. Brite; storyteller Clay Mcleod Chapman (The Pumpkin Pie Show), who's been called "hauntingly poetic" by Time Out New York, compared to Faulkner by The Village Voice and described as a "demon angel on a skateboard" by acclaimed author Tom Robbins; and more!

The Raconteur Reader, which comes with a free music CD and lists at 16.95, will be on sale at the event.

A Staged Radio Play
Sound Effects!
Featuring Robert Kaplow, Lawrence Mintz, Jeff Maschi, Jane Hardy, and Kristy Lauricella

The atmospheric rubble and melancholy damp of war-smashed Vienna is powerfully evoked in this thrilling radio play, based on Sir Carol Reed's 1949 film starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles. Holly Martins is a "scribbler" of hack Westerns who arrives in postwar Vienna to land a job and join his old pal Harry Lime. Instead he finds himself drawn into a murder mystery and a network of deadly black-market racketeers. The story blurs the lines between what's comic and what's corrupt and cankerous, melding melodrama and smirking frivolity with razor-blade noir tones and grave ruminations on the seductive nature of money and evil. FREE!

Live Music

Alt Rock with heavy jazz influences. Further description coming soon. FREE!

Film Screening

There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar-nominated epic American nightmare, arrived in theaters early this year, belching fire and brimstone and damnation to Hell. But before that. Before even Boogie Nights, his kaleidoscopic saga of seventies porn, Anderson impressed critics with this deftly conceived, low-budget film noir chamber piece. With its minimalist plot, deliberate pacing, and brief, but shocking bursts of violence, Hard Eight won't please everyone, but Anderson and his first-rate cast were clearly working on the same authentic wavelength. It's a mystery at first why a solemn professional gambler (Philip Baker Hall in a captivating performance) cares for a down-and-out loser (John C. Reilly) and a dimwit Reno cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow). But his motivations soon become clear when he faces blackmail by a small-time crook (Samuel L. Jackson). In tandem with Boogie Nights, this largely forgotten 1996 film marked the arrival of a new filmmaker whose talent is easily as impressive as that of another nineties hotshot, Quentin Tarantino. FREE!

Live Music

I saw this band's front man, Bryan Hansen, sing when he was still a senior at Edison High. He was in their production of Cabaret. He played the emcee opposite my girlfriend's cousin (the reason we were there) who played Sally Bowles. Having been the artistic director for a Manhattan theater company prior to opening the Raconteur, I've seen a lot of plays (both in Manhattan and out) and am typically unforgiving when it comes to community theater, let alone high school theater. But this production of Caberet, specifically this kid's idiosyncratic performance as the emcee, absolutely blew me away. Anyway. Fast forward one year and I run into him at one of those strip mall Halloween superstores where I'm getting some last minute cobweb fluff for The Raconteur's haunted bookshop. I find out he has a band. I book that band. They play tonight. FREE!


John Lennon is the most famously photographed Beatle, but you've never seen pics like these taken by May Pang, Lennon's girlfriend from 1973 to 1975. Collected for the first time in Pang's new book, Instamatic Karma, these photos are that rare thing: intimate images of an icon. They show Lennon in a variety of settings: at work, at play, at home, and away. They portray a lighthearted Lennon, blithe, flirtatious, casual and unguarded; they're the kind of photos one lover takes of another. Accumulated during a time when, according to legend, Lennon was unhappy and unproductive, estranged from his family and bandmates, Pang's photos and rich accompanying captions clearly tell another story. They show Lennon clowning around, working on his hit album "Walls and Bridges", embracing old friends and family, hanging out in their apartment on Manhattan's East 52nd Street, relaxing in the country in upstate New York or spending peaceful days swimming in the waters of Long Island.

In 1973, Lennon and Ono separated and Lennon and Pang began a relationship, which Lennon later referred to as his "Lost Weekend," that lasted over 18 months. Tired of being "airbrushed out of the Lennon history", Pang published her memoir, Loving John, in 1983. It was later updated and re-named, John Lennon: The Lost Weekend. Pang claims that she and Lennon remained lovers until 1977, and stayed in contact until his death. Instamatic Karma will be on sale at the event.

Plus that same night following Ms. Pang:

Film Screening

Nobody expected A Hard Day's Night to be much more than a quick exploitation of a passing musical fad, but when the film opened it immediately seduced the world--even the stuffiest critics fell over themselves in praise. Wisely, screenwriter Alun Owen based his script on the Beatles' actual celebrity at the time, catching The Fab Four in the delirious early rush of Beatlemania: dodging rampant fans, killing time on trains and in hotels, appearing on a TV broadcast. American director Richard Lester, influenced by the freestyle French New Wave and British Goon Show humor, whips up a delightfully upbeat circus of perpetual motion. From the opening scene of the mop tops rushing through a station mobbed by groupies, the movie rarely stops for air. Some of the songs are straightforwardly presented, but others ("Can't Buy Me Love," set to the foursome gamboling around an empty field) soar with ingenuity. Above all, the Beatles express their irresistible personalities: droll, deadpan, infectiously cheeky. Better examples of pure cinematic joy are few and far between. FREE!

As always, all Raconteur in store events are FREE! and include complimentary wine/amuse bouche.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008: Flamenco Guitar; Fun Machine; 84 Charing Cross; Ed Wood

8 PM, SAT. JAN 5
Performed by Daniel Eggers
Live Music

Quick story. A young man walks into the shop. His name is Daniel. We start talking. He's 23. He's originally from Peru. He's heard we do events. After a few minutes of skinny chatter about the shop and our programming (which frequently includes live music), he goes out to his car and gets his guitar. I excavate an eagle claw-and-ball piano stool from a mound of newly arrived Lit Crit, and he sits down. He proceeds to play ten minutes of what is likely the most beautiful guitar music I've ever heard. Now, you can hear it too! FOR FREE! As you sip complimentary red wine from Rioja (known as the Spanish Napa Valley) and Manzilla Sherry, produced in the coastal district of Sanlucar (where the sea air gives the Sherry a slightly salty taste). Several songs will be accompanied by the djembe, a skin covered hand drum shaped like a giant goblet.

8 PM, FRI. JAN 11
THREE BANDS for the price of...FREE!
The Electro-Magnetic Thrills of
And the Seville Soulfulness of
With Special Guests!

The toxic air which envelopes the factory flanked corridor known as the New Jersey Turnpike causes some unfavorable side effects: toe-less babies, blind dogs, wingless geese, two headed snakes, fish with tiny pink mouse feet that leap up from the Meadowlands bog and scramble across the blacktop to drop with a plink in a fetid puddle on the opposite side. But from this unforgiving stretch of land, a balance was sought, and a techno-organic anomaly rose up in revolt against the noxious smog and its adverse affects upon the world. Their mission, to put smiles on the faces of groping, unsighted dogs and thoughts in the pea-sized brains of each of the snake's two heads, to get fingerless hands clapping and webbed feet stomping, continues with no end in sight. The parts which make up this Fun Machine have been electro-magnetically connected since their initial forging, many years ago, in a Woodbridge machine shop known as Freddy's Foundry. These parts are: Johnny, Wetzel, Colin, and Renee.

Sandra Rubio is a singer-songwriter from Seville, Spain. Now living in central Jersey, she performs with Hope, Star, & Browning (as well as on her own). In Spain, she was a member of the bands Senior Chinarra and Hebrides. She moves easily from Neil Young covers to original songs to traditional Spanish guitar and folk tunes. She is one of the friendliest human beings on the face of the Earth, and she also knows a really good joke about a fat bird, to which I forget the punchline. Ask her. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to tell it.

With Special Guest: TANGENTS

8 PM, SAT. JAN 26
A Staged Reading
Featuring Jane Hardy and Laurence Mintz
With Full Set, Costumes & Theatrical Lighting!

The scene is New York, 1949. While searching for rare English books, Helene Hanff, a feisty, but struggling New York writer, sees an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature for an overseas shop that does mail order. She writes a letter to Marks and Company, a London bookstore run by reserved Briton Frank Doel, and so begins a special correspondence, an epistolary romance that spans several decades and two continents. Joined by a passion for literature, Hanff and Doel become lifelong friends but, though many visits are planned, they never actually meet. The model for this kind of bittersweet relationship is, of course, David Lean's Brief Encounter (from Noel Coward's play, Still Life). Based on a true story, 84 Charing Cross Road was famously adapted to the screen in 1987. In the film, Anne Bancroft played Hanff and Anthony Hopkins played Doel. FREE! With comp wine & crumpets!

8 PM, Fri. Feb 1
Film Screening

George "The Animal" Steele is wrestling in Metuchen! To commemorate this incredible event, we're screening Ed Wood, which stars, along with Johnny Depp and Bill Murray, that's right, you guessed it: George "The Animal Steele" playing Wood reg Tor Johnson. To accommodate those wishing to see Mr. Steele eat a turnbuckle (such as yours truly), we're screening the film the night before the match. Directed by Sweeney Todd's Tim Burton, Ed Wood is a bio-pic of the life and work of the legendary "worst filmmaker of all time," Edward D.Wood, Jr. The film concentrates on the best-known period of his life in the 1950s, when he made Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space, and focuses on both his transvestism and his touching friendship with the once great but now ageing and unemployed horror star Bela Lugosi. FREE! With comp popcorn.

DECEMBER 2007: Film Fest; Adlermans; Andaman Aborigines; Mutts; Janice Fried; Barbara Crafton; Chris Grabenstein; Dan Whitley; Holiday Party

8 PM, FRI, SAT & SUN, NOV 30, DEC 1 & 2
Hosted/Introduced by Reed Scholar Lawrence Mintz

Fri/Odd Man Out:
The telling opening preamble to Odd Man Out - Carol Reed's first great postwar film - stresses that it's the 'conflict in the hearts of the people' that most concerns the director - and not the specifics of the 'struggle between the law and an illegal organization'. Which is just as well, as barely any mention is made throughout this fantastic, thoughtful and stunningly photographed thriller of the exact beliefs and motives of James Mason's fugitive IRA chief Johnny McQueen and the various characters he meets while on the run from the police one dark night in Belfast. Ultimately, the IRA element is but a catalyst for a subtle, near-metaphysical portrait of a character in crisis. As Johnny stumbles deliriously through the city's underbelly and the police run him to ground, Reed lays the foundations of the nightmarish noir he'd perfect in The Third Man. A fascinating supporting cast, and a rousing score by William Alwyn add brio to Mason's fascinating performance. $5 Suggested Donation. Complimentary wine and freshly popped popcorn. Two great tastes that go great together!

Sat/Fallen Idol:
In the impressive filmography of British director Carol Reed, The Fallen Idol is sandwiched between Odd Man Out and The Third Man - the second of three consecutive masterpieces (adapted by Graham Greene from his short story "The Basement Room") by a filmmaker at the peak of his artistic powers. Of those three, The Fallen Idol is the most delicately subdued, but it's a flawlessly plotted thriller that achieves considerable tension through the psychology of its characters. By telling the story through the eyes of a child, the plot gains even greater urgency as a variation on the theme of "the boy who cried wolf," as young Phillipe (Bobby Henrey) - the 8-year-old son of the French ambassador to England--struggles to clear his beloved embassy butler Baines (Ralph Richardson) from being wrongfully accused of murder. $5 Suggested Donation. Complimentary wine and freshly popped popcorn. Two great tastes that go great together!

Sun/The Third Man:
In this Cold War classic, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), an alcoholic writer of pulp westerns, arrives in Vienna to investigate the mysterious death of his old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime (Orson Welles). This was Reed's second collaboration with British screenwriter Graham Greene (after The Fallen Idol), a clever thriller simply evoked by one sentence written by Greene: "I saw a man walking down the Strand, whose funeral I had only recently attended." Surprisingly, it was nominated for only three Academy Awards in 1950, including Best Director, and Best Film Editing. Its sole Oscar was for Robert Krasker's moody black/white cinematography. Its two most famous sequences include the fairground showdown high atop a deserted Ferris wheel and the climactic chase through an underground network of sewers. The distinctive musical score was composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas. Before the production came to Vienna, Karas was an unknown wine-bar performer. Reed fell in love with Karas' zither after hearing him play inside a café. $5 Suggested Donation. Complimentary wine and freshly popped popcorn. Two great tastes that go great together!

2 PM, SAT. DEC 1

Do you ever look 'round for something you can't find? Domino does! He looks 'round and 'round...and everything looks round to him, too! A game of fetch has never been this fun and colorful. So look 'round inside this book. You'll be surprised at what you find (and you'll have a ball). Ages 3 and up. Danny and Kim’s previous books include How Much Would Could a Woodchuck Chuck, Africa Calling, and Rock-a-bye Baby. Books on sale at the event (all titles). A signed children's book by Danny and Kim makes an excellent holiday gift! FREE!

A Sherlock Holmes Society

Featuring lectures by Dr. Robert Moss (The Mind is the Man: Samuel Pepys as a model for Mycroft Holmes) and Dr. Michael Blumenthal (CSI: Victorian London - the origins of forensic science from the French Revolution through Conan Doyle's time and why/how Holmes was up to the minute in deploying the latest technology). Plus a special reading of an original Sherlockian pastiche, The Poor Folk Upon the Moor, by Alex Dawson. "The aborigines of the Andaman Islands may perhaps claim the distinction of being the smallest race upon this earth…they are naturally hideous, having large, misshapen heads, small fierce eyes, and distorted features…they have always been a terror to shipwrecked crews, braining the survivors with their stone-headed clubs or shooting them with their poisoned arrows. These massacres are invariably concluded by a cannibal feast." The Sign of the Four, Arthur Conan Doyle. Comp Port served. FREE!

7:30 PM, FRI. DEC 7
Spoken Word/Live Music

2 PM, SAT. DEC 8
Reading/Signing/Chalk Talk

In 1994, McDonnell created the award-winning comic strip Mutts, which now appears in more than 700 newspapers in 20 countries and has been anthologized in books all over the world. It was described by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz as "one of the best comic strips of all time." A coffee table book of his life and work, Mutts: The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell, was published in 2003. In 2005, McDonnell wrote his first children's book, The Gift of Nothing, which was a New York Times best seller. The Best of Mutts, a ten year celebration of the strip introduced by acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold, and his fourth children's book, Hug Time, were published this fall. All of his books are printed on recycled paper. He is involved with many animal and environmental charities, and is a member of the Board of Directors for both The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. DEC 14
Art Exhibition/Live Music

Janice Fried has been working professionally as an illustrator for over 20 years. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, children's books, pop-up books, card decks, and on book jackets, CD covers, and gift cards. Her clients include The New York Times, Scholastic, NBC, Newsday, and Highlights for Children. Both originals and prints of her work will be on sale at the event. For an online gallery of her art, please visit

In the mid-80s Bruce Donnola was a semi-regular player at Folk City, Speakeasy and other folk venues. He's opened for Pete Seeger, the Red Clay Ramblers, Buskin & Batteau, and many others. In the mid-90s Bruce fronted a cult all-acoustic rockabilly-bluegrass band, The Nor’easters. Bruce recently returned from a European tour for his most recent album, The Peaches of August, which will be on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, SAT. DEC 15
Live Music

With a sawed off vocal approach that can sound like a lumberjack's gassed up tool-of-choice revving and rampaging through the American landscape, Whitley's range runs from gospel and plain-spoken blues to complex spoken-word enigmas that rival T. Bone Burnett's most cryptic, labyrinthine lyrics. Zack Leffand's powerful guitar is at various times rampant and elegant, and Elf's thumping drumwork sounds like something beating on a cabin roof in the dead of night (I mean that in the best possible way). Like his influences, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf, Whitley's best songs pick you up, shake you hard, and throw you down in the dirt. But rest assured, you'll dust yourself off and ask for more. Dan Whitley is the younger brother of music legend Chris Whitley (with whom he frequently played). In 2001, the New York Times called the older Whitely "restless ...evoking Chet Baker and Sonic Youth as much as Robert Johnson," The Rolling Stone said "The post-Hendrix explosion of whammybar wankers hasn't produced a single axeman who can compare to Chris Whitley," and Dave Matthews said, "I have a fervent, religious devotion to the magic that Chris Whitley makes." Chris Whitley died in 2005 at the age of 45. FREE!

1 PM, SUN. DEC 16

For an ordinary girl named Mary, living in an ordinary family in a dusty first-century town, extraordinary things were beginning to happen. This delightful story re-imagines the Christmas narrative from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It’s Mary’s story, and it’s told with gentle humor, lively imagination, and a sense of wonder. Each chapter is beautifully and tenderly illustrated. Barbara Crafton is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director and author. She was rector of St. Clement's Church in Manhattan's Theatre district. She was also a chaplain on the waterfront of New York, and served both historic Trinity Church, Wall Street and St. John's Church in Greenwich Village. She was a chaplain at Ground Zero during the recovery effort after the WTC bombing. An actress, director and producer, she has worked for many years in combining the lively arts and the life of faith. Her books, articles, and radio scripts have won many awards and she is seen frequently on television both as a preacher and as a commentator on Hallmark's "New Morning" and "America at Worship," and has been profiled extensively in electronic and print media throughout the world. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

7:30 PM, THURS DEC 20
James Patterson Protégé CHRIS GRABENSTEIN

When kidnappers seize seven-year-old Carlos, the son of a U.S. customs official, Jersey City FBI agent Christopher Miller (St. Chris), whose own seven-year-old daughter Angela remains traumatized from an encounter with a savage, sanguine Santa the previous Christmas, prepares for a spectacular showdown at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Grabenstein's hair-raising holiday sequel (after 2006's Slay Ride). A former improvisational comedian (he and Bruce Willis were in the same Greenwich Village comedy troupe in the early 1980s), Grabenstein spent almost twenty years writing commercials. You've probably seen his spots for Seven Up, Miller Lite, KFC ("Everybody needs a little KFC"), Dr Pepper, and many others. He was, perhaps most famously, the copy writer who created Trojan Man, a radio campaign that still rides the airwaves today. His writing talent was first discovered by James Patterson, the Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. Patterson had come up with a Writing Aptitude Test, which ran as a full-page ad in The New York Times under the headline "Write If You Want Work." Over 2,000 applicants responded. Grabenstein was the first writer hired. He won the "Best First Mystery" Anthony Award for his debut Tilt-a-Whirl, the first in a series of John Ceepak stories to be set "Down The Shore" in a New Jersey tourist town called Sea Haven. The second book, Mad Mouse, was called one of the "Ten Best Mysteries of 2006" by Kirkus. Hell for the Holidays, his fifth book, was published on December 1. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. DEC 21
Featuring a Staged Reading of

A Play by Connor McPherson. Performed by Jeff Maschi.
Perhaps you know that St. Nicholas is more a play about vampires than Christmas. Perhaps you are prepared to be scared. Perhaps a small part of you wants to be scared. So when the lights go out and stay out, when you sense that someone has entered the space, your skin, if you allow it to, will crawl a bit. From the inky pitch you hear, "When I was a boy, I was afraid of the dark. And perhaps one of the things I thought was there, folded into the blackness, were vampires." So begins the journey of a play that takes the audience from Dublin's literary scene to London's vampire scene. It's not a fright fest. It's simply a holiday story about a drunk drama critic on a bender. But is it real? Or not. The tale, swinging through many forms of storytelling, from the kinds of extended, self-serving lies born of drunkenness to a proper Brothers Grimm-like fable, is a memorable theatrical voyage, rich in both symbolism and metaphor, as character and audience come together to find human light in the midst of moral darkness. $5 Suggested Donation.