The Spellout

Art, Culture & Unavoidable Spite

Category: Reading (page 1 of 3)

Three Wise Guys: A History


On December 28, 2011, I’ll fly down to Las Vegas to see my friends Dayvid Figler (that’s him in the middle) and Gregory Crosby (on the right). After we’ve had enough drinks and shot an acceptable amount of shit, we’ll lock arms and march on the P3 Gallery at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where our friend Jerry Misko is currently the artist-in-residence. And at 7 p.m., surrounded by Misko’s art and probably less people than we’d hoped would turn out, Crosby, Figler and I will do something we’ve done many times before: We will date the same girl perform a holiday-themed spoken word reading. Dayvid will tell his hilarious and poignant Vegas stories; Gregory will recite his exemplary poetry and prose with great dignity and gravitas; and I’ll do whatever it is that I do. The full event details are here. And you should come if you can, because the odds are we’ll never do this again.

Gregory, Dayvid and I first got the idea for a trio reading in 1995. At the time we were all popular Vegas writers in our individual ways. We greatly admired each others’ work, and we were good friends before velour abuse and dalliances with Nancy Sprungen drove a wedge between us. And we alighted on the idea of a winter holiday-themed reading because the three of us came at the holidays from entirely different angles: Jew, lapsed Jehovah’s Witness, 1940s movie buff. So we booked the outdoor stage at the late, lamented Enigma Garden Café through our dearly missed mutual friend Julie Brewer, and The Three Wise Guy was born.

(We chose the “Three Wise Guys” name under the gun. We needed to give Andy Hartzell a name so he could get a poster done. We never dreamed that cheesy sobriquet, with its flip subhead “They came from the West bearing frankincense, myrrh and beer,” would begin the modern-day War on Christmas, which has by now claimed billions of lives. So, we’re sorry?)

The Enigma reading was successful enough to make the Wise Guys readings into an annual event for a time. We chose a new venue for each reading: the Arts Factory, Jazzed, the Double Down Saloon, the Michael Graves-designed Flamingo Library, and Café Espresso Roma. Then, in early 2002, Dayvid’s law career jumped into overdrive, Gregory moved to New York, and I moved to Seattle.

We took the opportunity afforded by the forced hiatus to work through our feelings of intense seething hatred towards each other. We haven’t quite gotten there yet, but the same team of lawyers and PR flacks that convinced The Police to reunite for the money got us to agree to perform one more holiday-themed spoken word show at the Griffin in downtown Las Vegas in December 2009.

Well, as soon as we saw each other, it was just like old times. Gregory said, “Good for you, Carter, you’re not quite as fat as the last time I saw you.” I spat on his wingtips, and Dayvid ignored the both of us to sext on his Blackberry. We put on the show for a capacity crowd who thought they were getting a Pj Perez reading, then we threw ourselves under separate limousines.

That brings us to 2011, and our last show. We’re doing this one for you, the fan(s). This is to be our Abbey Road; we want to make it the artistic grace note that compels you to say, “They were mostly pretty good, I guess. ‘Specially when Figler was up.” After this spectacular night — our first show on the Strip, framed by the art of a true Vegas success story, with a bar serving vodka-based drink specials named after us — well, we don’t know how we can top that, or if we can be together even one more time. Dayvid, Gregory and I are past the point we can do this for you and pretend that we don’t want to bite the curb when we have to talk to each other. We’ve even made provisions in our wills that we won’t be buried on the same continent together. We drew straws and I got stuck with Micronesia.

So I hope you’ll come see us perform together on December 28 at the Cosmopolitan’s P3 Gallery, 7 p.m. I still love Dayvid’s and Gregory’s work, even if I’ve flirted with having contracts put out on their lives, and I gotta admit that my abject hatred of those bastards has spurred me to write some pieces good enough to shame them. And oh yeah: Mike Upchurch, the Emmy-winning writer of The Chris Rock Show, Mad TV and Mr. Show, is tentatively scheduled to perform a few minutes of opening stand-up that will surely illustrate how unprofessional and unfunny the three of us are by comparison. It’s going to be sick. Somebody might wet himself, and this time, it isn’t going to be me.

Clock Strikes 13, and 13, and 13


I love a good, classy scare, which is why I stopped watching American Horror Story after the second episode and why I’m enjoying my friend Gregory Crosby’s 13-word horror stories. For the past few days he’s been all but burning up his Twitter feed, playing these grisly baker’s dozens:

“Death took a holiday,” he hissed between teeth like razors. “I’m filling in.”

Suddenly, she was on the other side; her reflection laughed, raised the hammer.

“We made jack-o-lanterns!” He beamed, knife in hand. But that wasn’t a pumpkin.

“Nothing alive can get through that door!” he screamed… and he was right.

“Come, look at the full moon,” she sighed. “I’ve… seen it,” he growled.

After so many policeman disappeared, the authorities decided to leave Occupy Transylvania alone.

He’s promised to keep at it — 13, 13, 13, the coffin clock endlessly tolling the hour — until October 31. Follow the blood trail at his Twitter page: @monostich.

Ten reasons you should give $25 to the Seattle Public Library

Pack of Kools 02

1. First and foremost: You should give $25 (or more) to the Seattle Public Library because it is so desperately needed. The glib morons at Wired can long-tail this situation all they like, but the truth is that your public library is more needed and more heavily-trafficked than ever, in spite of your iPad and/or Kindle. Circulation of books and materials has risen 20% over the past few years, yet SPL can scarcely afford to procure new books — still waiting on that second Steig Larsson book, ain’tcha? — and they have to close their doors for a week at a time to keep within their shoestring budget. As Emily Dickinson once said, this is fucking bullshit.

2. The Library was recently promised a $500,000 gift from an anonymous corporate donor, provided they can raise a matching amount from the community by the end of December. Your tax-deductible gift will help to separate that corporation from its money, and you can’t tell me that notion doesn’t make you even a little bit happy. Maybe it’s JP Morgan Chase!

3. SPL is the source of your DVD viewing. You know it is. And if it isn’t, it should be. Paying Netflix every month to watch junk like “Alice in Wonderland,” “Letters to Juliet” and “Cop-Out?” What are you, a fetishist?

4. Hey, comic book nerds! They’ve got graphic novels, and in every color of the nerd rainbow. (What does it mean?) The Library is gonna help me to finish the “Preacher” series, which is a goddamn privilege considering that it’s $15 per volume retail.

5. SPL is helping people to find jobs. Their free web access allows those who can’t afford to pay Comcast or Clearwire to reach out to potential employers in a world that’s becoming less inclined to answer its phone or receive cold-callers.

6. You can’t honestly tell me that you’re glad you paid cash for all those “Twilight” books. I know, you were curious; we all go through that phase. But you could have read them all for nothing. Stephanie Meyer doesn’t exactly need the money.

7. There are free classes to be had — computer basics, ESL, even home canning and food preservation. You can pay for books and DVDs on these topics, but why? Go to the library.

8. Author readings and book clubs. Retain your snooty NPR cred without the temptation to plunk down impulse money.

9. The Friends of the Seattle Public Library fall book sale, an annual event boasting thousands of bargain-priced books for purchase extra-cheap, is doomed to shrink as SPL shrinks. Money paid now will allow the Library, and the sale, to remain gargantuan.

10. You’ll want to see how this turns out. Our libraries are transforming, like our newspapers and our public transit. I’m certain there’s a place for all these things in the future — despite the iPad, despite everything that’s happened. A small donation could create something glorious a decade from today, a Seattle Public Library whose utility and awesomeness we can’t even begin to imagine. The future is indeed coming on fast, and SPL deserves to be there.

Richard Hugo serves up “Cheap Beer and Prose”


This isn’t strictly new: Richard Hugo House has been holding its “Cheap Wine and Poetry” reading nights for a good while. But by substituting one-buck Pabst Blue Ribbons for wine and prose for poetry, the Hugo has kinda reinvented the wheel, at least as far as I’m concerned; I mean, who doesn’t love hearing authors read their work? And who doesn’t love beer, even if it’s Pabst? The Hugo has made prose readings into a kind of cerebral night at CBGBs.

This night of “Cheap Beer and Prose,” happening this Thursday, March 11, is a full-on punk rock rasslin’ brawl between four raw, seething literary talents. One after the other, Jonathan Evison, Stacey Levine, Bret Fetzer and Janna Cawrse Esarey will step to the mic to read their screed, and at the end of the evening, the vacated mic will be attacked and subdued by hooligans. Sign-up for the open mic begins at 6 p.m., the readings at 7 p.m., and there’s no cover.

Back to the well: “Castalia” flows at Richard Hugo


“Castalia,” a monthly reading series presented by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Washington, happens this Tuesday, February 2 at the Richard Hugo House. I like readings; I’ve even done a few in my time. They’re fundamental; ya feel me? Though to be perfectly candid with you, I’ve never actually attended one of these UW readings at Richard Hugo — have no idea if they’re good, bad or mediocre. But I do know these things for certain: Scheduled to read are Sarah Erickson, Matthew Ian Kelsey, Anthony Manganaro, Rebecca Hoogs and UW faculty poet Richard Kenney; Richard Hugo is a fine place to hang out and listen to someone read their work; there’s no cover at the door; and no matter the quality of the featured works, they’ll be better written than “Avatar.” And you paid to see that.

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