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.

NOVEMBER 2007: Abraham Awolich; Raconteur Reader NYC; Roadside Graves; Bouncing Souls; Arthur Nersesian; Noelle Kocot

8 PM, FRI. NOV 2
Featuring Lost Boy Abraham Awolich

“My life story begins with me leaving my family in 1988 after government-sponsored militias attacked our village of Kalthok. I went to Ethiopia, then fled another war there and returned to Sudan. In 1992, our camps were attacked so we left on foot running. We settled in a small town east of Kapoeta, southern Sudan. When Kapoeta was overrun by the army, we were forced to flee at night. We lived as refugees in Kakuma camp for nine years before we resettled in America.” Mr. Awolich is now co-director of the New Sudan Education Initiative (NESEI) and is committed to inspiring people—both Americans and members of the Sudanese diaspora—to get involved with development efforts. In 2006 he traveled back to Sudan for the first time in seventeen years, and the devastation convinced him that Sudan needs access to education in order to recover from decades of war. Abraham is working with NESEI to rebuild southern Sudan’s education system. The Raconteur will also be selling copies of What Is the What, written by Dave Eggers. What Is the What is the novelized autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, from his pre-war life in southern Sudan to his resettlement in the United States. All proceeds from What Is the What go to aiding the Sudanese in America and Sudan. Complimentary food and wine. Admission: TBA. Admission fee will go to NESEI and their efforts to rebuild Sudan.

7:00 PM, FRI. NOV 9
Featuring music by Jeremy Benson and readings by Kelly Link, Clay Mcleod Chapman, Alex Dawson & Robert Kaplow

Many of today's most celebrated and up-and-coming writers have climbed the narrow staircase to the splintered podium at New York City's KGB Bar to share their work. This iconic East Village watering hole, once the expat meeting house of Ukrainian socialists, has grown over the last decade into one of the choicest venues for literary talent. Ricky Moody, Susan Orlean, Michael Cunningham, Robert Bly, Jimmy Breslin, Budd Schulberg, Joyce Carol Oates, Luc Sante, Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, Jerry Stahl, and Jonathan Lethem have all appeared on its hallowed stage. FREE!

8 PM, SAT. NOV 10
Live Music

We're called The Garden State because our soil is so rich that no matter how much we pave it or waste it, the land still calls to us. These are two of the most gifted and astute bands to get in tune with those echoes. From their doleful dirges to their sweet, romantic blues to their wild American poetry, these bands serve up torchers, scorchers and languid back porchers bursting with woodland wisdom and street corner philosophy. FREE!

6:30 PM, THURS. NOV 15

“I Went For A Walk, and kept on going, around the bend, outside the box and out of this world.” This new children's book explodes off the page with the trippy energy of a psychedelic rock song. Greg Attonito, singer for the nationally known punk band "The Bouncing Souls," has teamed up with his actor/musician wife Shanti Wintergate to create an unconventional picture book for the precocious pre-schooler. Within its pages, you’ll explore a kaleidoscopic ocean, a psychotropic jungle, and a universe that will blow your mind. So, come for a walk, adventure awaits! FREE!

8 PM, SAT. NOV 17

Nersesian's novels, which include The Fuck-Up, Dogrun, Chinese Takeout, The Unlubricated, and Manhattan Loverboy, are sprawling, obsessively detailed portraits of the Lower East Side and of the sweat and toil inherent to the creative act. Neressian was the former managing editor of The Portable Lower East Side, a magazine whose principle political objectives were to publish "work by those who are more than just writers, this is porno stars, musicians, political dissidents, AIDS activists, transvestites, cop killers, and junkies... 'outsider' writing from an insider's perspective." Begun in the mid-1980s as a photocopied and stapled bundle, The Portable Lower East Side also published work by Hugh Selby, Grace Paley, and Herbert Hunucke. Compared to Richard Price and Charles Bukowski, Nersesian's work has been championed by The Village Voice & Time Out New York. FREE!

8 PM, SAT. NOV 24

"Imagine Rilke with a sense of humor, and you're halfway ready to hear 'A chicken cooked under happy circumstances/Is a chicken that lasts forever,' then catch your breath at her prediction that 'false empathy will be wielded/Like a blowtorch through a box of cake mix/Toward the one of us who survives the other.' Though this may be the product of a dramatic streak to rival Sylvia Plath's, she's self-aware enough to note (in Civilization Day) that 'it's easier to say/I have this or that to do instead of simply/I am always in pain.' She can be simultaneously brutal and self-glorifying, too, as when she begins The Maddest Kind of Love with 'Two retarded men are kicking off their shoes,' and ends it 'I want to save the world.' In a year that's seen Franz Wright take the Pulitzer for his limpid, almost simple poems wedding European symbolism and American melodrama, Kocot's melancholy cascades of gorgeous imagery play like Chopin to Wright's Satie." The Village Voice.

She is the author of three books: 4, The Raving Fortune, and Poem for the End of Time and Other Poems . She has received awards from The American Poetry Review, The Academy of American Poets, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Fund for Poetry, among others. Her work has been praised in The Village Voice, The New York Times, and The Boston Review. She teaches poetry at The New School in New York City. FREE!

OCTOBER 2007: Susan Orlean; Halloween Ride; Paul Watkins & Elizabeth Gaffney; Most Dangerous Game; Fright Night; Haunted Bookshop


In her latest book, My Kind of Place, Susan Orlean goes from the heart of the African music scene in Paris to the World Taxidermy Championships in Springfield, Illinois. She trawls Icelandic waters with Keiko, everyone's favorite whale as he tries to make it on his own; explores the halls of a New York City school so troubled it's known as "Horror High"; and stalks caged tigers in Jackson, New Jersey, a suburban town with one of the highest concentrations of tigers per square mile anywhere in the world. Orlean is, most famously, the author of The Orchid Thief, which centers on south Florida and John Laroche, a quixotic, charismatic schemer once convicted of attempting to take endangered orchids from the Fakahatchee swamp, a state preserve. The Los Angeles Times labeled it “fascinating,” The Wall Street Journal called it a "swashbuckling piece of reporting," The Detroit Times called it “deliciously weird,” and The New York Times described it as, "like an orchid, a small thing of grandeur." The Orchid Thief was turned into the Oscar winning film Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze and starring Nicholas Cage, with Meryl Streep playing Ms. Orlean. Other books include The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, Red Sox and Bluefish, and Saturday Night, a New York Times Notable Book, which, in the words of Entertainment Weekly, "calls to mind Damon Runyon and Evelyn Waugh." She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. Her articles have also appeared in Outside, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Esquire. FREE!

10 AM, SUN. OCT 14
Field Trip/Ride

Friday the 13th is a 1980 independent horror film directed by Sean Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. It became one of the most popular slasher films in cinema history, and its box office success led to a long series of sequels. The film was shot in and around Blairstown, a small, bucolic town West of Newton, NJ. The Club will eat lunch at The Blairstown Diner, where camp owner Steve Christy whiled away a stormy evening while his counselors got slaughtered out at Crystal Lake. 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 will be featured in a travel book called Novel Destinations, published by National Geographic and due out early 2008.

8 PM, FRI. OCT 19

Literary wunderkind/Booker Prize finalist PAUL WATKINS is the author of ten novels and the memoir Stand Before Your God. Dubbed the heir to Hemingway by Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post, his work has been called an “amazing tour de force,” by Newsday, “intense and precise,” by The Chicago Tribune, “dazzingly rendered,” by The Los Angeles Times, and “lyrical,” by The Wall Street Journal. Rife with gangsters, grifters, drifters and greenhorns, ELIZABETH GAFFNEY’s Dickensian debut novel, Metropolis is a riveting account of a young immigrant's journey through the chaotic underbelly of post Civil War New York. It was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and has been called, "thrilling, elegant and massive," by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, "brawny, old-school storytelling," by Newsweek, and a "literary page-turner," by Vanity Fair. From 1989 to 2005, Gaffney was the editor for the acclaimed literary magazine, The Paris Review. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. OCT 26
Performed by Jeff Maschi, Larry Mintz, and Lawrence Paone

The Most Dangerous Game is a famous short story by Richard Connell and the author's most well-known work. It concerns a big-game hunter trapped on the island of a fellow hunter who, bored with conventional prey, has come to see humans as the only quarry worthy of his skill. The story has been adapted for film numerous times. The most significant of these adaptations was released in 1932 and was shot (mostly at night) on sets used during the day for the "Skull Island" sequences of King Kong. The story was also twice produced as a radio play for the series Suspense, in 1943 with Orson Welles as Zaroff, and in 1945 with frequent Welles collaborator Joseph Cotten playing Rainsford. In these productions, Rainsford narrates the story in retrospect as he waits in Zaroff's bedroom for the final confrontation. $5 Suggested Donation.

8 PM, SAT. OCT 27
Film Screening

Hosted by special guest/Fright Night star STEPHEN GEOFFREYS
A fun eighties horror indulgence with memorable performances by Chris Sarandon as the vampire-next-door, Roddy McDowall as a recently fired Creature Feature horror host, and Stephen Geoffreys as Evil Ed. Soundtrack includes cheesy greats by Devo, Ian Hunter and the J. Geils Band. Nominated for a Tony for his role in the Broadway production of The Human Comedy, Stephen Geoffreys' winning blend of wild energy and manic intensity made a strong and distinct impression in a handful of hugely enjoyable comedies and horror films made throughout the 80s. Mr. Geoffreys will introduce the film and field questions following the screening. $5 Suggested Donation.

8 - 11 PM, WEDS. OCT 31
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 manimals scrabble and yowl; observe Lovecraft's ghouls eat parts of their own body; and watch a very dead Poe recite The Raven as Mary Shelley's monster is jolted into consciousness. Gallery of Horrors! Cabinet of Curiosities! Chilling Live Music by The Phantom Pianist. Admission: $5 @ the door.

SEPTEMBER 2007: Raconteur Reader; Jack Kerouac; Spider Monkeys; Wrecks

Readings/Live Music
The inaugural volume of Raconteur Books, The Raconteur Reader is an anthology of short fiction 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 (Grizzly Man ); pro-skateboarder Chris Pastras (Stereo, with Jason Lee); 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 last book Me and Orson Welles is in pre-production with filmmaker Richard Linklater; 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 "tattletale psychiatrist turned rodeo clown" by acclaimed author Tom Robbins; and more!

8 PM, FRI. SEPT 14
September marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of On The Road, Jack Kerouac's iconic novel. To celebrate The Raconteur presents...
Featuring The New York Times' JOHN LELAND

Having immersed himself in Beat culture while writing Hip: A History, John Leland, a New York Times reporter and the former editor-in-chief of Details Magazine, makes a convincing case that Jack Kerouac's most famous novel has endured for half a century because it's a book about how to live your life. Framing On the Road as a spiritual quest, Leland deftly combines the biographical facts of Kerouac's life with discussions of his literary antecedents in Melville and Goethe, as well as the inspiration he took from contemporary jazz, finding in bebop's rhythms a new way to circle around a story's themes.

Plus a Special Screening of: WHAT HAPPENED TO KEROUAC? A lively and revealing investigation into the personal history and creative process of Jack Kerouac – father of the Beat Generation, author of On The Road and pivotal figure of the fifties countercultural revolution. This portrait shows us what happened when fame and notoriety were thrust upon an essentially reticent man whose influence is still felt all over the world. Features Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, Steve Allen, William Buckley, Charlie Parker, Neal Cassady, Carolyn Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and Gary Snyder. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. SEPT 21
Live Music
Psychedelic Jazz/Funk

Though some say there is something Mingus-like about The Spider Monkeys, hinting toward the experimental melodies of the Black Saint in full Sinner Lady mode, the sound is oftentimes closer in feeling to the sonic textures of Sun Ra and the mood music of early Pink Floyd. Featuring the silvery fluidity of Zack Leffand's guitar work, The Spider Monkeys combine the strong rhythmic groove of funk with open-ended squeals, wayward horn blats and sound effects from Atari video games. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. SEPT 28
WRECKS: A Staged Reading
By Neil Labute
Featuring Jeff Maschi

The tail wags the scorpion in Wrecks, a slender, prickly tease of a monologue propelled by a poisonous punch line, in which the thoughts of Edward Carr, a cigarette-sucking businessman with a passion for vintage automobiles, are unfolded in conversational stream of consciousness as he stands by his wife’s coffin. To understand LaBute's play, the viewer must first grasp its philosophical background. LaBute's contemporary America is the world Dostoevsky forecasted when he suggested, in The Brothers Karamazov, that if God is dead, there are no ultimate sanctions. And indeed, the raison d'etre of Wrecks is a horrific last-minute revelation that will induce gasps of shock (and perhaps admiration for its having been so neatly and insidiously built)."I think that very few people are completely normal really, deep down in their private lives.” The line comes from Noël Coward, but it may well be the perfect epigraph for Ed Carr. $5 Suggested Donation.

JULY/AUGUST 2007: Robert Kaplow; Peter Arakawa

8 PM, FRI. JULY 27

Kaplow, author of the Top Ten BookSense selection Me and Orson Welles (currently in pre-production with Fast Food Nation filmmaker Richard Linklater), aims his satiric pen at best-selling writers Danielle Steel, Sue Grafton, Curtis Sittenfeld, and Tom Clancy. It's up to Stephen King to solve the murder mystery even as he risks becoming the next victim. In an unforgettable finale on Swan's Island off the coast of Maine, King encounters former Enron executive Ken Lay, a terrifying
lizard, and Anne Bancroft. Funny. Irreverent. Fast-paced. Parody at its best. Kaplow's clever spoof will please everyone but its victims.

8 PM, FRI. AUG 10
PARTY # 33!
Art Exhibition/Live Music

Featuring the mix-media artwork of PETER ARAKAWA. Over 50 Works of Art!! With classical and jazz piano by composer John Wicke (tickling the ivories of the shop's scarred, but in tune, mahagony upright).

JUNE 2007: Alatriste; Pearl Buck; K2; Steve Hart; Lit not Litter; James Braly

ALATRISTE (Spanish Lang/English Sub)
U.S. Theatrical Premiere!
Film Screening

Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte has generated an eager international readership for his erudite thrillers which include Club Dumas and the recent Queen of the South. Alatriste is based on an earlier five-novel sequence (though each title was a phenomenal best-seller in Spain, only the first has been translated and released stateside) featuring swordsman-for-hire Diego Alatriste and set in Spain's quickly tarnishing seventeenth-century Golden Age. Captain Alatriste, a veteran of Spain's Flemish wars, deploys his sword for anyone who will pay, which inevitably leads him into some dicey situations. Featuring Viggo Mortensen (speaking Spanish) as the swashbuckling title character, Alatriste was released abroad in late 2006 to rave reviews and box office success, but has yet to find US distribution.

The Pearl Buck Ride

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 significance. Next ride: The Pearl Buck House. This 1835 farm, set on sixty acres of good earth in Bucks County, is now a museum to the illustrious woman who lived there for over forty years. An acclaimed American author and Nobel Prize winner, Pearl Buck is best known for her novel, The Good Earth, which won The Pulitzer Prize in 1932. The ride is two hours each way. We stop for lunch in the river village of Frenchtown around 1:30 PM.

8 PM, FRI. JUNE 15
Featuring Jeff Maschi and Marshall Correro

The curtain rises on an icy mountain in Pakistan. Two climbers have just spent a desperate night on a ledge 27,000 feet high. Trapped, cold, and short of life-saving supplies, they make what they call a "situation assessment" and arrive at the inevitable conclusion: one of them, physically injured, cannot possibly climb down. Now, as they face the elements, they must also face themselves, the reality of death, and the substance of their lives. Here is a drama rich in dialogue and characterization, a portrait of two men who begin what they consider to be a recreational "hobby" and are forced to confront their ultimate fates. K2 takes you to the frozen altitude of the world's second highest mountain and the chilling climax of a life-and-death struggle.

Steve Hart

In the tradition of Robert Caro's The Power Broker, a sweeping, investigative history of the building of the road connecting Manhattan to the rest of the country. At the dawn of America's love affair with the automobile, cars and trucks leaving the nation's largest city were unceremoniously dumped out of the western end of the Holland Tunnel onto local roads wending their way through the New Jersey Meadowlands.Jersey City mayor Frank Hague-dictator of the Hudson County political machine and a national political player-was a prime mover behind the building of the country's first "superhighway," designed to connect the hub of New York City to the United States of America. Hague's nemesis in this undertaking was union boss Teddy Brandle, and construction of the last three miles of Route 25, later dubbed the Pulaski Skyway, marked an epic battle between big labor and big politics, culminating in a murder and the creation of a motorway so flawed it soon became known as "Death Avenue" -now appropriately featured in the opening sequence of the hit HBO series The Sopranos. Books on sale at the event.

10 AM, SAT. JUNE 23

A monthly effort to keep clean the six block span that comprises Main Street proper (from Route 27 to Amboy Ave). Interested parties should meet at The Raconteur.

8 PM, FRI. JUNE 29

Written/Performed by James Braly & Directed by Hal Brooks
Take my wife - just kidding. You love her, you need her, but she's cold-storing your seven-year-old son's placenta in the back of the freezer. How do you stay married? James Braly joins forces with celebrated director Hal Brooks (2005 Pulitzer Prize nominee Thom Paine: Based on Nothing) to explore this and other domestic dilemmas in his solo show, Life in a Marital Institution, 20 years of holy matrimony in one terrifying hour. "Life in a Marital Institution" currently contains a half-dozen stories that capture the major emotional themes of his marriage and refracts them through the lens of his family. We meet his siblings; his parents; his children; his college girlfriend; the half Sioux medicine man Susan consulted about natural childbirth; and of course Susan herself - Braly's wife and muse. He takes us from a quiet hospice room in Texas where his sister lays dying of cancer as their dysfunctional family gathers and her most recent boyfriend (a tattooed, tangle-haired Kiwi) arranges a bedside wedding; to his contentious first meeting with his future wife at a pastry shop near Columbia University; to their back-packing vacation through Europe; to the very risky home birth of his second child in their luxury apartment on Central Park West; to a gathering of oddball neighbors at their new residence in upstate New York.

APRIL/MAY 2007: Art Exhibit; Inger Frimansson; Word Fest; David Blake

PARTY # 28!
Art Exhibit/Live Music

Drink complimentary wine while viewing over forty works by four of the best artists in central Jersey (hand picked by Raconteur proprietor Alex Dawson) and listening to live jazz guitar/violin by Steve Kaplan & Co. Paintings by Larry Mintz, photographs by Kristy Lauricella, dioramas/sculptures by Leon Walsh, illustrations by Chris Gash. FREE!

Inger Frimansson

Considered Sweden's premier mystery writer, international noir author Frimansson has written 25 novels, 7 of them thrillers. She received The Swedish Academy of Mystery Authors Award for Best Swedish Crime Novel for both Good Night, My Darling and its sequel The Shadow in the Water, making her the only female crime author to win this award twice. Frimansson's novels have been translated into several languages and published in various editions throughout Europe and the Netherlands. Good Night, My Darling is the first English translation of her work. FREE!

7 PM, SAT. MAY 5
20 writers. 4 hours. 2 intermissions. 1 vaudeville venue.

Featuring 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp (Red Light Winter); Oscar nominated screenwriter Robert Festinger (In the Bedroom); O' Henry award winner Douglas Light (East Fifth Bliss); author Sigrid Nunez, whose latest novel The Last of Her Kind was labeled "remarkable" by The New York Times and "dazzling" by The Boston Globe, NPR regular Robert Kaplow, whose last book Me and Orson Welles was just optioned by filmmaker Richard Linklater; memoirist Jeremy Mercer (Time Was Soft There), whose recent reminiscence was touted by famed Beat Lawrence Ferlinghetti and won raves from The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal; 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; literary wunderkind/Booker Prize finalist Paul Watkins (Little White Lies), who's been dubbed the heir to Hemingway by Entertainment Weekly and whose work has been called "an amazing tour de force" by Newsday; former Paris Review editor Elizabeth Gaffney, whose Dickensian debut Metropolis has been called "thrilling, elegant and massive," by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, "brawny, old school storytelling," by Newsweek and "a literary page-turner," by Vanity Fair; novelist Rich Perez (The Loser's Club), whose clear-eyed chronicle of The East Village has been praised by Tama Janowitz, Barry Gifford, Poppy Z. Brite and Mary Gaitskill; and 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! $20 Gen Pub; $15 Students/Seniors. The Forum Theatre.

8 PM, SAT. MAY 12

David Haven Blake, an English professor at the College of New Jersey, views Walt Whitman and his work in relation to the rise of celebrity culture in the nineteenth century -- the time of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Fanny Fern, and PT Barnum -- paying particular attention to the emerging ideas of publicity, promotion, and society's changing notions of fame. As authors, lecturers, politicians, entertainers, and clergymen vied for popularity, Whitman developed a form of poetry that routinely promoted and, indeed, celebrated itself. Walt Whitman and the Culture of American Celebrity proposes a fundamentally new way of thinking about a seminal American poet and a major national icon. Books on sale at the event. FREE!

MARCH 2007: Gertrude Stein; Fall From Grace; Mouthpiece; Portrait of a Bookstore

A Staged Reading Featuring Jane Hardy

The Raconteur cordially invites you to spend an evening with Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Isadora Duncan, Henri Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Salvador Dali at 27 Rue de Fleurus. Hosted by Gertrude Stein. A work of theatrical magic that captures the essence of an extraordinary woman, "Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein" is an imaginary monologue set on the eve of Stein's eviction from her famed Paris studio. Jane Hardy is a former Off Broadway Actress. Raconteur patrons may remember her from her riveting performance as a panicky invalid in the staged radio play "Sorry, Wrong Number" or her witty reading of Dorothy Parker at last year's WORD FEST. Includes complimentary wine and Alice B. Toklas brownies (sans "cannabis," sorry!). FREE!

Wanna spend the night being jostled and jounced by frat boys in mesh crop tops and plastic leprechaun hats drinking green Killians? No? Well, then...SPEND ST. PATRICK'S DAY W/THE RACONTEUR!
Film Screening

As the frontman/driving force behind Irish rock band The Pogues, dentally-challenged dipso Shane MacGowan crafted a unique brand of whiskey-soaked punk influenced by Celtic musical traditions. Dismissed from the band in the early nineties for his staggering liquor consumption, he carried on the torch with his new band The Popes, releasing their debut album THE SNAKE in 1995. Over ten years later, MacGowan is still the unrepentant alcoholic, but for all his toothless cackling and constant stupor, MacGowan is seen here as an amiable Irish pub-crawler, coherent in thought if not always in speech, still making music (with The Popes), and obviously devoted to his wife, Victoria Clarke, an enabling saint whose love for MacGowan is joyfully unconditional. Considered one of the most important and poetic Irish songwriters of the last thirty years, MacGowan often echoes his influences such as Irish playwright Brendan Behan and 19th century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan. Funny, sad, depressing, uplifting and utterly irresistible, IF I SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE provides a rare glimpse at the phenomenon of Shane MacGowan, who remains one of the iconic figures in Irish music. Featuring archival clips, live performances, "Shane about town," and commentary from friends/followers including Nick Cave, Elvis Costello and Johnny Depp. FREE! With complimentary Raconteur Stout, homebrewed by The Raconteur's Monday night volunteer/resident classicist/beermaker Octavian Walsh.


One of the coolest consequences of the recent New York Times feature about The Raconteur is it put us on the Manhattan radar, making it easier for us to coax big city entertainment like MOUTHPEICE out to our little central Jersey bookstore. A new twist on the ancient tradition of oral history, MOUTHPEICE tells stories. Period. No scripts. No crib notes. No rehearsals. But the group's true tales don't begin with "Once upon a time...," more likely it's "It was Christmas morning and Dad was going through our dead neighbor's stuff" (think David Sedaris or Spalding Gray). They're veterans of a rapidly growing New York storytelling scene where organizations like The Moth (whose eclectic assortment of tale-tellers include Ethan Hawke, Moby and Mira Nair) and floating specialty nights with names like Speakeasy, Sound Off, and Yackety have brought to the stage an oral tradition that grew up around campfires, at dinner tables and on front porches. Their shows aren't literary readings (they don't read, they tell), or stand up comedy, but they're thoughtfully crafted, frequently hilarious and disarmingly honest. Mouthpiece has been featured on NPR, Fresh Yarn, and The Moth's Mainstage and incorporates a dynamic/constantly changing cast of storytellers that have included such greats as Mike Daisey, Jonathan Ames, and Lewis Black. FREE!

Film Screening

Gonzague Pichelin's award winning documentary has won raves overseas but has yet to find domestic distriubtion. In 1951, New Jersey born expat George Whitman opened a unique English Language bookshop/commune in Paris called Shakespeare and Company. Offering free, but often dirty beds to poor literati, cutting his hair with a candle and gluing the carpet with pancake batter, Whitman ran his "den of anarchists disguised as a bookstore" well into his nineties. More than 40,000 poets, travelers and political activists have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, writing or stealing books, throwing parties and making soup or love while living with George's generosity and sudden fits of anger. Illustrious guests include Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Jacques Prévert, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, James Baldwin and Richard Wright. A fascinating account of Shakespeare & Co's crotchety and complicated owner and the strange residents of this Tumbleweed Hotel. $5 (FREE for Raconteur Society Members!).

FEBRUARY 2007: Daniel Pinchbeck; Evening with Eco; Get Lit Pub Crawl; Roadside Graves; The Proposition

8 PM, FRI. FEB 2
Daniel Pinchbeck

A daring, intriguing, and sometimes deeply disturbing book that puts an entirely new slant on the ancient Mayan prediction that 2012, the Mayan calendar's end date, would bring about the end of the world as we know it. From quantum physics to aliens, from shamanic hallucinogens to the Burning Man festival, from the Amazon jungle to Stonehenge, from fragments of jaundiced autobiography to the ancient prophesy of the Plumed Serpent featured in his subtitle, Pinchbeck takes us on a mind rattling, paradigm busting ride. 2012 has been called "dazzling" by Sting, "fascinating" by the Washington Post, and "memorable" by The Los Angeles Times. Pinchbeck has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Harper's Bazaar. His first book, Breaking Open the Head, a drug riddled psychonautical expedition/investigation, was heralded as the most significant writing on psychedelic experimentation since the work of Terence McKenna. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. FEB 9

The Raconteur celebrates the career of Umberto Eco. Featuring a short talk by Eco scholar Professor Gary Radford, theatrical readings from Eco novels including The Island of the Day Before and The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and a screening of The Name of The Rose, in which maverick monk William of Baskerville (Sean Connery) investigates a series of mysterious deaths in an isolated abbey. FREE!

Field Trip

Group meets at The Raconteur and proceeds en-masse to New York City (via NJ transit). Stops on tour include The Algonquin Hotel (home of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of NYC writers/wits that included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley & Harpo Marx), McSorley's Old Ale House (the oldest Irish tavern in Manhattan and the focus of several now classic articles by New Yorker author Joseph Mitchell; Brendan Behan and ee cummings were known regulars), The KGB bar (named "best literary venue" in NYC by New York Magazine and The Village Voice), Chumley's (a celebrated former speakeasy, notable scribes who imbibed there include Anais Nin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Norman Mailer, Eugene O'Neill, and J.D. Salinger), and The Whitehorse Tavern (where Dylan Thomas famously drank himself to death one night in November 1953). $35.00. Cost of tour includes literary history/bon mots, train fare and one round of drinks. 25% discount for all Raconteur Society Members*.

8 PM, SAT FEB 17
Live Music

We're called The Garden State because our soil is so rich that no matter how much we pave it or waste it, the land still calls to us. These are three of the most gifted and astute bands to get in tune with those echoes. From their doleful dirges to their sweet, romantic blues to their wild American poetry, these bands serve up torchers, scorchers and languid back porchers bursting with woodland wisdom and street corner philosophy. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. FEB 23
Written by Nick Cave & Directed by John Hillcoat
Film Screening

An Australian western set in the 19th century, The Proposition recalls the operatic grandeur of filmmaker Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) and the brutal poetry of author Cormac McCarthy (The Blood Meridian). Outlaws Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and baby brother Mickey (Richard Wilson) are captured by outback copper Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). Both face hanging, but Stanley offers Charlie a deal: if he hunts down and kills his older brother Arthur (a psychopath who's managed to elude the frustrated authorities by hiding in the mountains), Charlie and Mickey will be free to go. But if he doesn't return by Christmas Day, Mickey (by far the most innocent of the Burns bunch) will hang. Haunting music and screenplay by rocker Nick Cave. FREE!

JANUARY 2007: Lord Love A Duck; An Inconvienent Truth

Written & Directed by George Axelrod
Film Screening

The term "cult movie" might have been invented for this little-known satire. Lord Love a Duck was the directing debut of screenwriter George Axelrod, who wrote The Seven Year Itch and adapted Breakfast at Tiffany's. High-school senior Barbara Ann Greene (Tuesday Weld) has a lot to overcome to reach her dreams of being popular: she's poor, her parents are divorced, and her mother is a cocktail waitress. She turns to her Puckish best friend/Svengali Alan (Roddy McDowall), a manic mix of mischievous misfit and mass murderer, for support. He helps her get 12 cashmere sweaters, a job in the principal's office, spring break at Balboa, and more. Along the way, the film spoofs adolescent mores, beach-blanket bikini movies, adults in charge, the country-club set, Christian-youth programs, teen girl innocence and old man fantasies. How popular will Barbara Ann become, and what lengths will Alan go to get her there? Hosted by Scott Cooper, film enthusiast/former proprietor of Video Bazaar (a beloved, independent video store). Discussion to follow. FREE!

8 PM, FRI. JAN 19
Tina Wieshaus
Presentation/Discussion/Slide Show

We're on thin ice! If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet’s climate system into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced- a catastrophe of our own making. Former Vice President Al Gore, in the wake of presidential defeat, re-set the course of his life to focus on an all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change and to get the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our “planetary emergency” out to ordinary citizens before it’s too late. Tina Weishaus is a member of a select group which Gore trained earlier this year to deliver his "traveling global warming show," a power point presentation intended to refute critics who claim global warming is unproven and insignificant. "This is a Global WarNing!" declares the films tag line, and indeed it is, but the presentation is hopeful, mixing bracing facts and dire future predictions with a passionate and inspirational call to action. FREE!