January 27th, 2005

flavored with age

Oh yeah

How it went:

First, let me say, the Hideout is one of my favorite bars. I love the atmosphere, I love the staff, I love the out-of-the-way location, I love the layout, I love the bands that play there, I love the owner, I love the fact that they take a chance on unusual or interesting events, and I love the fact that they serve Point Special in cans. So I'm always happy to go there.

Anyway, the reading:

Last night was snowy and grim in Chicago; when we left, it looked like broad daylight because the lights were reflecting of a bone-white bowl of sky. Fine fat flakes were tumbling down, the streets were nearly innavigable, and it wasn't too warm neither. So when I arrived at 7:15, there was hardly anyone there, and I figured it was likely to stay that way. (So did the very panicky and immensely talented John Green, who co-organized the event and is a gentleman and a scholar.)

What I was unprepared for was that the Hideout would, just after 8:00PM, be filled to capacity. I mean, literally, so fucking packed that they turned people away for fear of running afoul of the fire codes. (Which, by the way, resulted in a few of my friends, who had the good grace and kindness to haul ass all the way the hell down there on public transportation in a snowstorm, not being able to get in the building. To all of you, especially Lara and theletterr, I'm so sorry.) Now, understand, I have never seen the Hideout filled to capacity. Not for a reading, not for a DJ, not for a band. Never. And certainly never for an early show on a Wednesday night in the middle of a near-blizzard.

So all the readers were blessed with a huge, receptive and just-rowdy-enough crowd in front of which to present their small jokes. All praise for this due to John and especially the lovely and talented Claire Zulkey, who is indefatiguable and works harder than anyone I know at this writing hustle.

The presenters, in order, were Mark Bazer, who did a handful of funny pieces including a swell bit about a letter to a newly married couple; Todd Dills, mastermind of Chicago's own literary fistfight, The 2nd Hand; and Wendy McClure of the infamous Pound, who has a book coming out you should buy because she's a funny writer who will make you smile. Then there was a short film written by my boys Nathan Rabin and Steve Delahoyde, which went over like gangbusters despite Nathan's belief that, all evidence to the contrary, he is not talented and hilarious and loved by boys and girls.

After a brief intermission, we heard from Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a writer whose stuff I've admired since way back in the days of the late lamented Might magazine and who also has a new book out you should definitely buy. Then...me.

I dunno. I did okay, I guess. There seemed to be a good reaction from the crowd, but I'm the world's worst judge of my work. I just hope people enjoyed the three pieces I read and weren't too put off by how horrible my voice sounded because of this cold I've had for about 32 years now.

Apres-moi, the heretofore-unsuspected-of-being-funny Annie Logue read a neat little number about criminal chefs, and Steve Delahoyde showed a handful of short films which, as they always do, killed (including one in which he documents a five-hour car trip in which he listened to nothing but ABBA's "Dancing Queen" on repeat over a hundred times in a row).

All in all, despite the weather and the fact that some people got rebuffed at the door who I would have loved to have seen there, it was a pretty damn good night: funny readings by talented people to a supportive crowd in a great bar, and it also raised money for a good cause. Claire and John will be doing it again -- probably next in May -- and I will be reading again, so if you couldn't make it last time, do come out next time; ain't no one said a bad word about it yet (at leastways, not them that SAW it). And for all of those of you who came, thanks a lot -- 'specially Lance, Kate, never_fear, thaitea, thevulgartrade, and so_crates. Y'all's my fams, ramalam bams, bring me some peanuts and some Point in cans.