WRITERS WITH DRINKS: toward eternal life

Saturday night is the night you can take it all back. It is the only day of the week that most people in society count as free. One entire day free of work and social responsibilities. The mind begins to reel. People have finally received a decent amount of sleep. They wake bright with a thousand radiating notions of what their life could fully become, what unfulfilled potentials are percolating. They need the night air and to know that time has stopped. That there is still some time left. They hire babysitters, book Zipcars, and order tickets online for shows. They look for time-forgotten places like the Make-Out Room. And Christ if they aren’t punctual.

I am late. Only five minutes late, which in typical readings’ time, means I am at least ten minutes early, but oh no, not on a Saturday night. The information for Writers with Drinks states the show will start at 7:30. At 7:35 Charlie Jane Anders is five minutes into the show, and I am the asshole. The lone asshole, apparently, as everyone else has properly read the memo. The Make-Out Room is packed.

The story is that Charlie Jane Anders is actually a terminator sent from the future to stop George W. Bush. She arrived safely back in 2001, but her wiring was scrambled in the time leap. Instead of stopping George W. Bush from world domination, she founded the award-winning Writers with Drinks reading series….

Okay, no, I am not Charlie Jane Anders, but her introductions are legendary. As I arrived at the current show, she was introducing the comedian Sampson and highlighting all of the challenges Sampson faces in pursuit and persecution by Buddhists and Unitarians.

click to watch Sampson perform "The Black Church & Homosexuality"

click to watch Sampson perform “The Black Church & Homosexuality”

This is how Writers With Drinks works: Charlie introduces each reader with an exceptionally elaborate (and often entirely fictitious) biography.

Sampson’s comedy threads the complexity of being a Baptist and a homosexual. His comic timing and beats are impeccable and he sets the mood for the night, basically that the crowd should be ready to laugh. We laugh at his stories like the time he accidentally went to a sex party in Palm Springs.

click to read some of Kendra's poems

click to read some of Kendra’s poems

Kendra DeColo takes the stage next, and I feel hair tickling my fingers. Some dude’s ponytail is almost dipping into my drink… crowds…. Kendra’s reading begins with a poem about the word “pussy” carved into a wooden bench. She reads fantastic poems about Rodney Dangerfield from her book Thieves in the Afterlife.

According to Charlie, Adam Rogers is 300,000 years old. He looks well for his age. The author of Proof: The Science of Booze, Rogers reads entertaining sections about Alan Marlatt’s experiments in the 1970’s.

click to read an interview w/Lipson in the L.A. Times

click to read an interview w/Lipson in the L.A. Times

Charlie then explains how Mimi Lipson brought democracy to Borneo. Mimi takes the stage and reads a story about internet dating from her new book The Cloud of Unknowing.

Jordan Ellenberg is king of deprogramming people in math cults, says Charlie. Jordan once fought a squid god. Jordan takes the stage and reads sections of How Not to Be Wrong.

There are two Daniel H. Wilsons, Charlie warns: the robot Daniel H. Wilson, and the meat body. Daniel takes the stage and reads a short excerpt from Robogenesis about a soldier finding a robot brain and the parallels to Southern folklore.

Overall, Charlie knocks the event out of the park and presents one of the best readings I have seen in a long time. I recommend all of these authors’ books. For a couple hours, a crowd of people in a San Francisco bar communally share the notion that they will live forever.

IMG_20140118_173902Christopher Patrick Steffen is a bartender in San Francisco. He wrote the short story collection Thank You for Supporting Our Dreams and the novel The End of All Things Planned For