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.