Tuesday, March 31, 2009

APRIL 2009: Jellyfish Artist Bill Ward; Transatlantic Web Cam Jam; John Wray; Postively Main Street; David Gates & John Wesley Harding

8 PM, Thurs. April 2
Biochemist/jellyfish artist/bamboozled Nobel Prize candidate

How well do you know your neighbor? Why is their basement light on? Why is their chimney belching rags of purple smoke? And why exactly is their dog gnawing on a narwhal tusk? Find out! Local Color is a new Raconteur series exploring the eccentricities of the people that live next door.

I first met Bill Ward when I decided to purchase one of his psychedelic jellyfish prints. A biochemist at Rutgers, he'd found a way, through the use of various dyes, to transpose the image of a bioluminescent jellyfish known as a Sea Walnut to paper. The result was stunning and a perfect gift for my father.

My father, long retired, counts and tracks migrating horseshoe crabs in Cape May. I'd recently joined him for a tally, which involved stalking a desolate piece of shoreline at midnight with cap lights, thongy things that look like miner's helmets made from jockstrap bands. Dad fished out several plastic pipes from the bed of his station wagon, a wood-sided Buick Roadmaster, and we assembled them like tent poles to form a square. Clipboard in hand, we walked a precise number of paces, laid the pipes down, and ticked off how many crabs the square circumscribed. We did this for about a mile, alternating the paces between 5 steps and fifteen. We had trudged this wet spit of sand for about fifteen minutes, when we noticed something that my Dad, who'd done this exact stretch every spring and fall for the last decade, had never before seen. Thousands of green-glowing objects the size of silver dollars and the color of firefly tails floated along the beach, riding in on the lapping water. They looked like fallen stars, like alien eyes, like nuggets of debris from a crashed mother ship. Upon further research, we learned they were Comb Jellies (or Sea Walnuts), and this is what Mr. Ward so beautifully turns into art. But I'll let him tell you about it. As well as how exactly he was cheated out of the 2008 Nobel Prize. Seriously.

Upcoming Local Color events include a man who rafted the Raritan in a pontoon made from plastic storage tubs from Target, and a girl who has found corn flakes shaped like all fifty states. FREE! Comp wine. Art for sale at event.

11 AM, Sun. April 5
Musicians Wanted!
Transatlantic Web Cam Jam Session
Live Music

The first Sun of each month The Raconteur hosts a transatlantic jam session. The shop's session is concurrent with a very similar session occurring in Reading, England at a pub called The Retreat. Participants alternate, collaborate, and symphonize via a Google web cam. Web Cam Jam is more about the performers than the performance, but that doesn't you can't come in watch. Raconteur musicians drink coffee and play in the rear of the shop. Retreat musicians quaff pints (morning here, Happy Hour there) and are projected onto a movie screen behind local performers. All instruments welcome. Expect a triple necked guitar, electronic bagpipes, a jaw harp, two kazoos, a beer bottle organ, and something called a fluba, which appears to be a tuba-sized fluegel horn. HOMEMADE CORNBREAD!

If you watched the Oscars last month, you heard Best Actress winner Kate Winslet mention this very same pub and the pickling contest her mother recently won there. Indeed, February's Web Cam Jam, Kate's mom, Sally Winslet (now known as the Queen of Shallots), was in the foreground eating bangers.

8 PM, Fri. April 17
John Wray

Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-year old paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Like most people he knows, Will believes the world is being destroyed by climate change; unlike most people, he’s convinced he can do something about it. Unknown to his doctors, unknown to the police—unknown even to Violet Heller, his devoted mother—Will alone holds the key to the planet’s salvation. To cool down the world, he has to cool down his own overheating body: to cool down his body, he has to find one willing girl. And he already has someone in mind.

Lowboy, JOHN WRAY’s third novel, tells the story of Will’s fantastic and terrifying odyssey through the city’s tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope. Suspenseful and comic, devastating and hopeful by turns, Lowboy is a fearless exploration of youth, sex, and violence in contemporary America, seen through one boy’s haunting and extraordinary vision. The opening pages recall Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, but the denouement and haunting aftertaste may make the stunned reader whisper “Dostoevsky.” Yes, it really is that good.FREE!Complimentary wine. Books on sale at event.

8 PM, Sat. April 18
Live Music

Musicians from all over New Jersey jam locally. Hosted by celebrated music zinester/Jersey Beat editor Jim Testa. Testa published the first issue of his zine Jersey Beat in 1982. It covers the music scene in New Jersey and beyond. Jersey Beat covers a wide cross section of music but most particularly Punk and its many off-shoots, including Hardcore, Old-Skool, Pop Punk, Synth Punk, Anti-Folk, etc. Several well-known zine writers have contributed to Jersey Beat over the years, including Donny The Punk, Jim DeRogatis, Ben Weasel, and Tris McCall. FREE! Complimentary wine.

8 PM, Thurs. April 23
Live Music

Featuring Lisa Kowalew & Jeff Weiner
A liquified circus, nothing more, nothing less. FREE! Click HERE to sample their music. Please note: we occasionally rent the rear of our shop to budding poets, filmmakers, and musicians; The Raconteur does not screen "tenants" and, accordingly, makes no claims regarding the quality of the entertainment they offer. If you are interested in renting our venue, reply to this e-mail or call Alex at 732-906-0009.

8 PM, Sun. April 26
Pulitzer Prize Finalist David Gates & Folk Noir Gangster John Wesley Harding
Reading/Signing/Live Music

The author of the highly acclaimed novels Jernigan (a Pulitzer Prize Finalist) and Preston Falls (a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist), and a collection of short stories, The Wonders of the Invisible World (also a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist), DAVID GATES was anointed a "true heir to Raymond Carver and John Cheever," by New York Magazine. His work, stylish and ferociously humorous, nimbly explores the dark side of suburban masculinity and has been called "brilliant" by both NPR and the Boston Globe, and "beautiful" by the New York Times.

Chosen by Springsteen as his first opening act in 20 years, rocker/poet/punk/folkie/popster JOHN WESLEY HARDING has been called the British Bob Dylan and is often compared to Elvis Costello (probably fueled, in part, by the fact that two members of his band had been members of The Attractions). Rolling Stone Magazine hailed him as, "a literate and ironic neo-folkie with enough bile to win over a younger, hipper audience not attuned to folk music." His best known work includes "I'm Wrong About Everything", which was featured on the High Fidelity soundtrack and an accoustic cover of the Madonna song, "Like a Prayer." He has been joined onstage by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, John Prine, Bruce Springsteen (with whom he recorded a duet on his album Awake), Joan Baez, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Peter Buck, Evan Dando, David Baddiel, Rick Moody, Scott MacCaughey and Robyn Hitchcock and has opened for Michelle Shocked, Los Lobos, and The Band.After placing his music career on hold while working as an author (under his real name, Wesley Stace, he wrote the international best seller Misfortune and 2007's By George), JWH released Who was Changed and Who was Dead this March, his first rock album in five years.FREE! Complimentary wine. Book and CDs on sale at event.