For this reason, I was ecstatic to be invited to the Whistle Stop on Thursday to get some practical writing advice from Mike Sager, author of three books including his latest, Revenge of the Donut Boys, before he was to read some of his short stories for the Whistle Stop crowd. A small group of CityBeat writers and editors gathered as Mike talked to us about his credentials, his writing, notable interviews, and tips for writers (which you can find on his site, and which I seem to break in every single post on this site). He's such an amazing guy, with intense eyes and a knack for telling stories that had me paralyzed in awe. Here's this guy, a writer for Esquire and published author, taking the time to talk to our small group while sipping his Jack and Cokes, telling us about visiting Aryan nation headquarters or hanging out in barracks with guys going through boot camp.
The jukebox was playing loud in the background as we heard the clack-clack-clacking of the cue ball breaking up a tight rack on the nearby pool table, testing our ability to drown out background noise while we focused on this one voice sharing his experience and knowledge with us. It was inspiring in more ways than I can describe.
Before we knew it, the bar was filling up, rows of chairs were set up, and we all made our way to the bar to refresh our bevvies. Two parts of The Stereotypes, Mike Kamoo and Johk Finkbiner, took the stage to play an acoustic set of music. I loved the couple of times I saw the full band play, but I especially liked the intimacy of this acoustic set.
After the music portion of the evening, the authors read from their collections of short stories. Local Greg Gerding was first to read from his book, Venue Voyeurisms. It was a little funny to me because I'd never met Greg before this night, but somehow I was subscribed to his MySpace blog and had been reading his posts for a while. His book would be loved by any San Diego bargoer, with stories about all the haunts we love and the ones we love to hate. Livewire, Pacer's, The Morena Club and more are the backdrop for his musings about love, life, drunks, and karaoke.
The bar filled up with people who were interested in cocktails but not so much into hearing authors read from their respective books. Mike was reading from a couple of his books when some hecklers in the other room got rowdy, to which Mike had no problem telling them to shut the fuck up and show some respect. There was one guy in the room in particular who wouldn't stop. Clapping to certain lines the way Alf did on that lame show in the 80's, we just waited for the "Ha! You slay me!" comments. At one point Andrea turned to me and asked if I thought he was maybe "special" because he was so obnoxious. I think "overserved" was more accurate. Still, those of us in the room were attentive and engaged by Mike's reading.
After Mike read, we were treated to poetry by Ed Decker, whose experience as a bartender and as a regular bar patron give him a lot of material for his writing. He read from his latest, Barzilla.
The night could've ended there and I was ready to head back to the 'hood, but with some arm twisting by Abraham, we went to the Casbah to catch Polysics.
We arrived in time to catch about 4 or 5 songs, but it was clear that the night had been high energy. Not only were the band members soaked in their orange jumpsuits, but the crowd had that sweat that isn't regularly a part of the head nodding crowd of the Casbah. I took the opportunity to join the fun and suddenly found that I was now "overserved." Still, I took a couple pics.
After the show I bumped into a chick from the band, who asked me if I came to the Casbah often. When I laughed and told her yes, she proceeded to give me all of her drink tickets. So nice. I hung out in the patio for a while with Abraham who was a super bad influence on me and with even more arm twisting, we went to the Turf Club for last call. (This is the part of the night where we left my car parked on Kettner, where it stayed for two days.)
To think, this was only Thursday...