About Town

Drunken! Careening! Writers!
August 18, 2004 @ KGB Bar

Reviewed by Jeff Gangemi

I knew I was in for it when I couldn't even get my Albanian Communist friend, Jona, to come to KGB Bar with me. And when I arrived on the scene, I understood how the red décor, Soviet flag, and numerous portraits of ex-Russian leaders might stir up a few disturbing memories from the homeland. The crowd that had gathered matched the night's theme of "nothing in common," a rag-tag assembly of middle-aged lesbians, Polo shirt-wearing golf clothing models, and young literature aficionados, which my friend, Jer, and I loosely fit into.

First, a bit of background on the event. Drunken! Careening! Writers! is a monthly event organized by Kathleen Warnock, an editor for Frommers Travel Guides who moonlights as a writer and freelance talent finder. The only three criteria for reading at the event (besides being literate past a fifth-grade level) are that the work must be good, it must be original, and it must draw a laugh from the audience (nervous laughter counts). Each night has an appropriately unspecific theme. The theme on this particular night was "nothing in common."

Jer and I weren't sure what to expect, but after another stressful day of being unemployed, we hoped the night would bring a welcome bit of comic relief. We sat down with a beer, Jer drinking a Jamaican Communist brew (Red Stripe) and I sampling a fine Czech Communist brew (Pilsner Urquell). Our first reader/writer of the night, Rachel Kramer Bussel, would provide our virginal glimpse into the world of lesbian erotica (aside from intermittent sessions on a variety of tasteful cyberspace venues). At her introduction, Jer and I shrugged at each other as if to say, "This ought to be good for a laugh."

It turned out to be good for anything but. A heartbreaking blow-by-blow detailing the inner turmoil of a final sexual encounter, "The End" was delivered with such obvious sincerity and skill as to effectively entrance the audience. I became so engrossed that I forgot I wasn't laughing. In fact, I didn't care. I could picture Rachel's lover lying naked on the bed, "without makeup, the perfect combination of girl and woman." I could feel the pain of her growing estrangement as her memories of previous sexual escapades turned into "someone else's pornographic fantasies." Yes, Rachel was my first - my first Drunken! Careening! Writer! And I have to say I was impressed.

A beer and a morose 15-minute break later, Joey Sanders and Company made their debut with that bit of comic relief we'd been hoping for. And just in time. This reading was a true Joey Sanders original. A musical love story of moronic (if not oxymoronic) proportions, Debbie, a hobbling outcast turned nuclear-powered superhero, falls for Eddie, a doped-out high school druggie turned sensitive lover. No one, not even the author himself, knows how the story will end, but there's little doubt that it will be funny. The highlight came when Hannah Lindroth performed a hilarious original song from the musical that brought the house down with laughter.

The third act of the night didn't show, which was okay with me. Any more variety might've made my head explode. Now, I'm already looking forward to next month's theme, which is sure to be a hit. The theme is "writers named Steve." And if this night was any indication, it should be very entertaining. Maybe next time I'll try to convince some of my capitalist friends to come crash the party with me.

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