Friday, April 10, 2009

MAY 2009: Web Cam Jam; Joe Romeo; Arthur Phillips; Mary Ann McGuigan; Kurt Wenzel; Daniel Eggers; Jake Cherry; Armsport; Mark Doty; Mike Edison

11 AM, Sun. May 3
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. NOTE: If you watched the Oscars this year, 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 and in April’s Mr. Winslet sang the old broadside “Darlin’ Old Stick.” MUSICIANS WANTED! FREE! Comp cornbread (fresh from the oven)!

8 PM, Thurs. May 7
Live Music

Influenced in equal parts by Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Robinson Crusoe, and Dalton, Patrick Swayze’s dive bar doorman in the 1989 film Roadhouse, low fi, quasi-country, folk singer Joe Romeo fills his album with a rustic eclectism that’s funnier than he is generally given credit for. But his lyrical preoccupations remain tragic--God, loss of love, drinking, death. After the whacked out preacherman blues stomp of track one, the album slides into a series of sprawling ballads that highlight Romeo’s baritone croon. Romeo is not merely in a different league from most of his peers; he's scarcely even playing the same game. FREE! CDs on sale at event.

8 PM, Fri. May 8

Arthur Phillips’ first novel, Prague, followed a group of young expats living in Budapest and yearning for the more glamorous city of the title. His second, The Egyptologist, set mostly in Egypt in the 1920s, had two unreliable narrators and was plotted with one devilishly clever reversal and switchback after another. Angelica, his third, began as a Victorian ghost story and gradually darkened into a complex psychological tale. Now comes The Song is You another radical departure in a career of radical departures. A middle aged man, a troubled relationship, an IPOD. At first glance The Song is You sounds like pure Nick Hornby territory, but it turns out to be a lot closer to the grim fable of The Red Shoes, a story in which characters are tragically torn between the twin forces of love and art. Julian Donahue is a skilled director of commercials who has come to know his limits. Cait O'Dwyer is a singer, and a bit of a comet that Julian somehow catches the tail of. Their courtship--as Julian evades a marriage split by an unbearable loss and Cait shoots single-mindedly toward stardom--is an intricately constructed pas de deux that is both surprising and convincing. Recently praised on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, The Song Is You takes on loneliness, alienation, middle age, and what it means to be saddled by your past. Yet despite these sober concerns, Phillips' sparkling prose makes for a seriously fun read. Life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think, and for those of us who try to think and feel, The Song Is You captures the flip sides pretty much perfectly. Labeled “one of the best writers in America” by The Washington Post, Arthur Phillips is that rare thing among authors, a wisenheimer who's also wise. FREE! Books on sale at event.

3 PM, Sat. May 9
National Book Award Winner

An act of teenage rebellion in November 1963 sets off a chain of events that irrevocably changes 14-year-old Fiona O'Doherty's life and the world she inhabits. National Book Award winner Mary Ann McGuigan is as adept at evoking the class consciousness and racial politics of '60s New York as she is the timeless horrors of adolescence and with the twin evils of domestic violence and President Kennedy's assassination looming in the background, the author's portrait of the chameleonic nature of teenage girls builds aggressively to a powerful finale. FREE! Books on sale at event. Ages 12 & up.

8 PM, Thurs. May 14

I was a theater district bartender/East Village playwright when Wenzel’s debut novel Lit Life came out in 2001. A boozy, sardonic take on artistic self-absorption and the grind and glamour of literary life, it quickly became one of my favorite books of that year. ‘Nuff said. He’ll be here Thursday with his latest novel, Exposure, a blistering mash up of Phillip K. Dick, Nathaniel West, and Chuck Palahniuk. FREE! Books on sale at event.

8 PM, Sat. May 16
Live Traditional Peruvian Music

Daniel Eggers is a young man from Peru. Last spring 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.

7 PM, Thurs. May 21
w/special guest child star JAKE CHERRY
Film Screening

Jake Cherry, the young star of N@M and N@M2: Battle of the Smithsonian (which opens the following day), introduces the film, delivering a fascinating show-and-tell of production stills, movie props, and shooting scripts, while sharing his experiences working with Ben Stiller, who plays his divorced dad, and the various rampaging fossils that populate both movies. Inspired by a 1993 children's book by Milan Trenc, the film stars Stiller as a well-meaning ne'er-do-well father who takes a steady job as night watchman at New York City's Museum of Natural History to give his son (Jake Cherry) some much needed stability. He soon discovers that the exhibits (Roman centurions, Attila the Hun, T. Rex, etc.), animated by a magical Egyptian artifact, come to riotous life at night. But with the help of President Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Larry may just figure out a way to control the chaos and become a hero in his son's eyes. Wildly imaginative effects, costumes and makeup, help make the film appeal to the 8-year-old in everyone. With Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs and Steve Coogan. FREE! With comp popcorn.

8 PM, Sat. May 23

Inspired by the 24 hour arm wrestling competition between the dogged Santiago, the titular character in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and “the great Negro from Ceinfuegos,” The Santiago Armsport Tourney is sponsored by The Raconteur and occurs in the rear of the shop on a regulation table. Shop proprietor Alex Dawson takes on all comers. Victors (should they emerge) win $25 gift certificates and get their names engraved onto a trophy which remains in the shop. To reserve your slot, contact The tournament will be preceded by a short theatrical reading from the Pulitzer Prize winning OMS and followed by a free screening of the Spencer Tracy movie. $5 to enter contest; FREE to watch!

8 PM, Weds. May 27
2008 National Book Award Winner
Poet MARK DOTY Reading/Signing FIRE to FIRE

Mark Doty's Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008 and features a hefty selection from his seven collections, plus a generous sheaf of new poems, should solidify Doty's position as a star of contemporary American poetry, a career which took off in 1993 with My Alexandria, his third book, for which he won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Fire to Fire contains only two poems from his first two books—“Adonis Theatre,” about an old movie palace turned gay porno theater, and “The Death of Antinous,” about the Roman emperor Hadrian's lover's afterlife in statuary, both of which are meditations on representation, absence and desire. Readers are guided through a world of female impersonators, street musicians and homeless poets. There is an all-pervasive sense of doom in some of the poems, from the dying man who gives away all his animals to the dog shot in the head that refuses to take its final breath. But Doty's death-haunted poems from earlier books give way here to recent poems about a more hopeful life with new friends, new vistas, new narratives, all rendered in a way that feels at once confessional and universal. Not that death’s irrelevant—ghosts and apparitions, such as spotting John Berryman having lunch in a diner in Chelsea, still make regular appearances—but the poet has made his peace with it. FREE. Complimentary wine. Books on sale at event.

8 PM, Sat. May 30

Edison’s memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World recounts twenty years of druggy adventurism and his parallel careers as a magazine editor, writer, and musician. Between 1985 and 1988 he was the author of 28 pornographic novels, wrote about German whorehouses and Spanish coke dealers for Hustler, and published a series of erotic “confessions” for the legendary Penthouse Letters. In 1998 Edison became publisher/editor of marijuana counterculture magazine High Times. Following HT, he was named the editorial director for Jewish culture magazine HEEB, for whom he went undercover and exposed Jews for Jesus as a Baptist organization. Edison has also recorded a “beatnik bop and punk rock boogaloo, outerspace soundtrack and spoken word” companion CD, collaboration with rock musician and producer Jon Spencer. He is the long-time drummer for New York cult-garage band the Raunch Hands, as well as being a collaborator of infamous punk rocker GG Allin with whom he wrote a number of songs and recorded two albums. He currently leads his own band, the Edison Rocket Train. FREE! Books/CDs on sale at event.

Graffiti Art Show/Transit Poetry 8 PM, Fri. June 19; Sung Woo (Everything Asian) July