Sunday, March 1, 2009

MARCH 2009: Web Cam Jam; Rapscallion Book Club; Kyo Morishima/Joan Arbeiter; Dante's Inferno; Glad Hearts; Achy Obejas; Watchmen Radio Play

11 AM, Sun. March 1
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. MUSICIANS WANTED! FREE!

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

4 PM, Sun. March 8
Book Discussion
w/Lit prof Liz Mazzola and author Alex Dawson
Ages 7 - 12

Okay. So now you know what banana dogs, mustache mugs, and french fry contests are. But you still have questions. What, for instance, does poppycock mean? Has Nigel ever shot a gun? Will Uncle Jonathan's third floor Piper Cubs every see the sky? How did Uncle Edmund lose his fingers? How much money can you really make from poop? Find out!PLUS: Hear about Dawson's month long trip to visit his brother (a bonafide adventurer) at The South American Explorer's Club in Peru, and learn top secret tid bits from Book 2 (due out next Christmas)!

The Raconteur Children's Book Club
meets once a month and is open to children ages 7 - 12. Children choose books and direct the discussion, although Ms. Mazzola is on hand to keep things running smoothly. Upcoming titles include Gary Paulsen's My Life in Dog Years (April 19) and Lauren Myrade's Eleven (May 31). Contact Liz Mazzola ( with any questions. Elizabeth Mazzola lives in Metuchen and is a Professor of English at the City College of New York, where she teaches courses on poetry and Renaissance literature. She shares her love of children's literature with her two daughters.

8 PM, Fri. March 13
Joan Arbeiter & Kyo Morishima
Art Exhibtion

You couldn't find an artist better suited to a Raconteur exhibition than Joan Arbeiter. The life size figures in Arbeiter's colossal pencil portraits of neighborhood locals and NYC street people are surrounded with a sprawl of dense text relating their colorful biographies. At first she recorded their experiences herself, but soon she turned the pencil over to her subjects, asking each one to write their personal narrative directly onto their portrait. Stand back to take in the full image, get close to read the quirky stories. Kyo Morishima is a street photographer with a proclivity for bluesmen, bikers, and subway buskers. But when you look at his wonderfully theatrical photos (like the rank of red umbrellas pressing through a Manhattan blizzard or the glam vampire descending a steep subway escalator) you'll find it hard to believe not one was staged. Kyo's success as a photographer comes from being in the right place at the right moment and, of course, recognizing what that moment is. FREE! Comp wine.
8 PM, Sat. March 14
Jean Hollander

The epic grandeur of Dante’s masterpiece has inspired readers for 700 years. Indeed, translating the intricate, rhyme-rich tercets of Comedia has been the ambition (and despair) of many a distinguished English language poet, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Metuchen's own John Ciardi. Now comes a new hard-boiled translation that will for many be the definitive edition for the foreseeable future. Robert Hollander, who has taught Dante for nearly four decades at Princeton, supplies the scholarly sinew, while his wife, acclaimed poet Jean Hollander (Organs & Blood), attends to the verbal music. The result is a terse, lean Dante with its own kind of beauty. Hear Ms. Hollander read about a three faced Satan waist deep in ice, weeping from six eyes, and find out exactly what she thinks of the upcoming video game from Electronic Arts, in which the poet-philosopher is transformed into a hulking veteran of the Crusades battling monsters designed by Hellboy's Wayne Barlowe. FREE! Comp wine. Books on sale at event.
7:30 PM, Thurs. March 19
Robert Kaplow
Book Club

NPR alum Robert Kaplow’s novel Me and Orson Welles, a beautifully rendered and hilarious valentine to the burly thespian, was recently turned into a movie by indie filmmaker Richard Linklater (Dazed & Confused). Set in 1937 New York, Kaplow's novel tells of a teenager hired to star in Welles' production of Julius Caesar. In theaters this fall, the film stars America's sweetheart Troy Bolton (I mean, Zac Efron!), Claire Danes, and Christian Mackay as Welles. Critic Roger Ebert called it, "one of the best movies about theater I've ever seen." Meet Kaplow and find out how a cantankerous bouncer at a local New Brunswick bar cast the man playing Welles.
8 PM, Weds. March 25
Ryan Bing & Glad Hearts
Live Music

Promises are made, bottles are drained, fists are raised, seasons change and a pair of would-be revolutionaries bike across town. Theatrical, folk-influenced chamber pop that slots in somewhere between Belle and Sebastian's delicacy and the robust classicism of the Chills, the Glad Hearts debut album, The Oak and the Acorn, drips with enough romanticism to rival Jeff Buckley's Grace. Bing’s kitchen sink arrangements include the use of guitar, accordion, banjo, crumbling paper, a glass jar full of coins, a jingle bell wreath, a slide and e-bow, saw, drums, falling snow, tape loops, bass, lap steel, and keys (black, white, and car). Come for the singing and shouting, stay for the all abouting. FREE!

8 PM, Thurs. March 26
Achy Obejas & Robert Arellano
The Ruins & Havana Lunar

Junot Diaz said of Cuban writer Achy Obejas, who recently translated Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, into Spanish, “Obejas writes like an angel: flush with power, vision and hope ... one of the Cuba's most important writers." In addition to Havana Lunar, Cuban-American Robert Arellano is the author of Fast Eddie, King of Bees, and the graphic novel Dead in Desemboque, a collaboration with three comic-book artists that was inspired by the illustrated pulp fiction of Mexico. When he's not writing or teaching fiction workshops at Brown University, he plays guitar for Nick Cave, The Palace Brothers, and low-fi, quasi-country legend Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Bill), who said of Arellano's provacative fiction, "I hope he's not killed for writing this book." FREE! Comp wine. Books on sale at event.

Staged Radio Play
Live Sound Effects!
W/Jeff Maschi, Larry Mintz, Laurence Paone, David Liss, Carlyle Owen, and Kristy Lauricella.

A graphic novel, a movie, and now a radio play! Both comic scribe Alan Moore and Terry Gilliam the original director assigned to the movie deemed it unfilmable, but nobody ever said you couldn't stage it. Six actors play everything from Mr. Rorschach to The Comedian. Featuring live foley effects and panels from the strip projected onto a screen behind the performers. With The Watchmen Moore reflected contemporary anxieties and deconstructed the superhero concept. It is regarded as the seminal text of the comic book medium and is one of Time Magazines Top 100 Novels. FREE!

Bill Ward, a biochemistry professor/jellyfish artist cheated out of the Nobel Prize, Thurs. April 2; Transatlantic Web Cam Jam Session Sun. April 5; John Wray (Lowboy), Fri. April 17; Positively Main Street, musicians from all over NJ jam locally, Sat. April 18; Charles Bock (Beautiful Children),Thurs. April 23 tentative; Pulitzer Prize finalist David Gates (Preston Falls) w/ Wesley Stace (By George), the given name of musician John Wesley Harding, Sun. April 26; Arthur Phillips (The Song is You) Fri. May 8; Mike Edison (I Have Fun Everywhere I Go) Sat. May 30