Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, and me cloaked in the volcanic vapors that frequently follow a quickly downed round of Dooms.
The weekend began with us doing shot pitchers of a withering Asbury Lane concoction aptly called The Temple of Doom, with Chris and Eric, two thirty-something guys from Mississippi who'd shot a now nationally known adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark when they were ten. I'd been wanting to see the fan film since reading the breathless 10 page article Vanity Fair wrote about them three years back and had joined forces with Juicy Jenn, the programmer for the the Lanes, a bowling alley-cum-rockabilly joint in Asbury Park. Jenn, who was premiering the film the night before our screening, agreed to pay their airfare if we would handle ground transportation and board the boys in Metuchen for the weekend. Shop friend Grace Shackney offered up her beautiful Victorian, which stands adjacent to the former home of the late John Ciardi(an illustrious poet whose fame can be best described by the fact that he appeared twice on Johnny Carson). Grace is the administrative director of Princeton's esteemed McCarter Theater and the boys stayed in the same 2nd story suite (two adjoining bedrooms with a shared bathroom) where Athol Fugard, acclaimed South African playwright/former overnight guest, had slept.
It was my first time at the Lanes, though Raconteur house band The Roadside Graves play there frequently and have always spoken highly of it (and indeed friend Dan, a.k.a. Carrot-Top, is the "chef" at their burger counter).
The retro pine-paneled lounge at the Lanes.
It's unquestionably a cool venue, but, while we filled The Refectory, our 165 seat theater, they struggled to find an audience for the film. Mosh pits and burlesque shows are more their style and I fear the typical Raiders fan may have been intimidated by the Lane's notoriety as a venue full of face ink and nipple barbells. Conversely, The Raconteur battles not its own reputation, but rather the square pedantic standing of bookshops in general. While we've certainly had our share of academic evenings (the poet Rachel Hadas, Al Gore's global-warming road show, theatrical readings from Umberto Eco novels, etc.), we've also hosted hardcore nights, sword swallowers, graffiti exhibitions, and are presently organizing an event that will feature Ian Mckaye, former front man for Fugazi and the seminal punk band Minor Threat. Even still, I have a feeling we'll forever be thought of as a bit button-down by all you kids with bull rings and ten gauge lobes. Oh well. Chris Strompolos and I in the feverish throes of a T.O.D. buzz.