Sunday, April 21, 2002

I found out this morning that the McSweeney's Store in Brooklyn held a reading last night with my good friend John Hodgman and Viggo Mortensen, everyone's favorite Aragorn from The Lord Of The Rings.

I love the McSweeney's calmly sits in the heart of Park Slope, looking for all the world like an innocuous junk shop with no signage to indicate that it is filled with the clutter and desiderata of our modern lives. Disassembled gas lights, bizarrely detailed dioramas, brass widgets, tiny swatches of fabric--all these eclectic supplies are organized in meticulous and dizzying detail, like a mad inventor's back closet. They hold readings there, and in the past, before the show ramped up, I've been a frequent contributor--it is a space that redefines the word 'intimate', as you can get the feeling of a crowd in there by having just eight or nine people.

So, I have to geek self is feeling pretty jealous this morning, as even though I rationally know that Mr. Mortensen has no real affiliation with Aragorn, nevertheless I keep thinking that if I'd been able to read with him it would a book reading with Han Solo. Not Harrison Ford...Han Solo. It's very immature, but I can't shake the cultural programming of worshipping people who play my childhood heroes.

Also on the 'fame' front, things are going a little that the show is in performances, I ran into two groups of people while walking about the Village who had seen it, and both were very warm and friendly. Everyone keeps promising to tell their offices and coworkers about the show, so if that happens we may hit the vital nerve that the show should strike--deep into the soft underbelly of corporate America.

Last night I actually got to hang out with my friend Zach, whose own blog is cryptically and cleverly entitled Rooster Spice. What a great name! He went to college with me, and since then worked in the theater for a bunch of years, touring with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a technician and stage manager. He's now moved on to an even more hard-core task: he's currently being a stay-at-home dad, caring for his first son, Drew, and awaiting the arrival of his second.

It was good to see him--he looked well, and it was such a relief to actually hang out with someone. We sat at the bizarre Cafe Milou, the oddest restaurant in the Village. Everyone there has a generic pan-European accent, they come to your table sixteen or seventeen times a meal, obsessively slavering attention on you to a degree that you wish they would just relax.

There's this one hot woman who stood at the door of the cafe, trying to corral people into the restaurant--she was quite attractive, and striking in her wild, kinky black hair, tall boots and faux snakeskin dress. After we had been seated she kept coming over to us, bending over us to show us her cleavage and inquiring about each stage of our serving experience:

"Is the water okay?"

"Is the drink okay?"

"How are your condiments? Okay?"

Jean-Michele asked our real waitress, who was also checking on us often, what the job was of the hyperactive girl--she would run out into the street and hug people, then pull them into the restaurant. The pan-European girl cut JM off and said:

"The crazy girl? She does not work here. She works at another restaurant owned by this owner, and she comes here on Saturday nights and does this. She is a crazy girl; we do not know her. She is not paid."