Tonight my coworker Steve Wiecking organized a really great, fun reading at Bus Stop, a newish local bar where he and four others read excerpts from trashy celebrity autiobiographies. Lots of instant-classic moments throughout: Steve, who read from Joan Crawford's memoir, putting an arm straight up in the air as Crawford discussed the virtues of being stopped by fans in public and throwing out a clenched-teeth-chatty "How ya doin'!" Nick Garrison deadpanning Elizabeth Taylor's back-cover blurb for Maureen Stapleton's autobio and portions from Shirley MacLaine's Dance While You Can that sniped oh-so-politely at her Postcards From the Edge costar Meryl Streep's isolationist (so sez MacLaine) acting technique. Patrick Baroch seemed a bit stiff at first, which was a trick--reading the portion of Mia Farrow's autobio about the Woody Allen/Soon-Yi Previn affair, he turned in the evening's most-repeated portion, variations on the phrase: "He fucked Soon-Yi!" The most inspired performance was Sarah Rudinoff's, of the Janice Dickinson book, which I must track down immediately--there were more stop-you-in-your-tracks lines in her 20 minutes than most writers come up with in a lifetime. (Indisputable highlight, based on Dickerson's becoming aroused: "My flower opened up and barked.") Neal Schindler and I gave her a standing O, and we weren't the only ones.
Neal, Kate Silver, and I then headed over to Broadway in search of food; after considering Dick's drive-in (the greasiest cheapo cheeseburgers in the world, a cross between McDonald's and White Castle, only very, very local--a Seattle institution, with good reason I think; they satisfy a junky junk-food craving like nothing else on earth) and finding most everything else closed, we settled on Jai Thai. I was the only one really hungry--Kate shared two appetizers, Neal left everything alone, and I ate some apps and a chicken curry dish--but that soon became beside the point when we were drawn to the back room, where karaoke was taking place. Karaoke, I've come to realize, works best in two ways: One, as something a ton of friends plan for and attend together, and two, as something you accidentally happen upon and then join in with. Kate did Split Enz's "I Got You," I performed Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman," and I don't think Neal did anything. Fun enough on its own, but (a) this one mid-30s (older, maybe?) dude (seemed Indian but I might have that wrong) got up and wailed on "Billie Jean," dancing a la the video, totally into it, just killed; (b) the fellow manning the controls (youngish, African-American, dyed blonde) was as much fun as any of the clientele, and probably more than most; and (c) the book was, like, a foot thick. Nearly everything I or Kate could think to want to sing was in it; it must have at least 3,000 songs. I'm no one's idea of a karaoke specialist (though I have seen the Huey Lewis-Gwyneth Paltrwo vehicle Duets, not that I'd suggest anyone with a low tolerance for things like the Steve Wiecking reading detailed above), but that book is the most thorough I've never seen. It put the book from Staraoke, thrice weekly at Minneapolis's Grumpy's, to shame, and that's a great book. I think I've found a new second (or third, or fourth) home.