I ain't afraid to brag about it:
I watched Singles the other day. I thought it was fun, seeing all my high school crushes (hi, Chris Cornell, hi) on screen.
But what also hit me was that the movie capitalized on the highpoint of the Seattle music explosion. Grunge was taking over the world and the MTV video awards, so of course a hip, young-ish filmmaker would want to jump on board.
It's no secret that Chicago is creating some truly amazing reading series. But, I suppose we aren't attracting the Hollywood big shots because our events revolve around a person....reading....
It's not the MTV is what I'm saying. (If only they knew about all of the sex, drugs, and Artifice.)
Perhaps, in other cities, when someone mentions a live reading, visions of comas and sleeping limbs come to mind.
But in Chicago, a space has been created where live readings are more about the energy and envy and excitement that comes from hearing some really fucking awesome words read out loud.
There's no formula and often a total and complete lack of a mission statement.
When Lindsay Hunter and I started QUICKIES! it was mostly because we were sick of being bored at readings. So we implemented a four-minute time limit and brought along a loud whistle. We asked one of our favorite bars to host the reading and chose a night of the week that wasn't directly in conflict with any other readings. Two years later, we're awesome.
Wait, there's more!
What other readings are there in this city of ours? Well, off the top of my head:
Rec Room: In it's 7th (!!!!!) year, Rec Room takes place in the cozy back room of a bar (amidst couches and a fireplace). Every month the theme changes. Some in the past have been The Underdog, Sad Trombone, and Reading Bondage: Only the Microphone was Ashamed
The Encyclopedia Show: More performative. They also choose a theme every month and ask each reader to read a specific quality or character relating to that theme. Bastards are the same night as Rec Room. Previous topics include Wyoming, Hockey, and Serial Killers.
The Parlor: Hosted by the Green Lantern Gallery, this uber-mellow night gives a reader 20-30 minutes, but it's not one of those boring readings at a bookstore when you feel like your entire world is collapsing on your chest. It actually is a much more relaxed environment where the reader and the audience may drink beer or wine or whiskey. It actually feels like your just hanging out with friends. This also eliminates the pretension of the Q and A. You know what I mean. When the Q and A comes and some audience member just wants to show off how smart they are and even the author wants to tell them to shut up (which I saw Howard Zinn do once). Anyway, this Q and A feels more like a dinner party. Stop me, I'm swooning.
This is not to say that every reading in this city is A++. For every Nirvana there is a, I don't know, a Presidents of the United States.
All this is to say, it doesn't take much to make a good reading happen. Just get some fucking good writers and provide alcohol. And, if you're in Chicago, get your ass to the Innertown Pub tonight.