Monday, October 13, 2003

Dave Tells a Story

So the second Monday of each month, a group of writers known as the West Coast Alliterates gathers together to drink beer, critique each others' work, and complain about the unfairness of the universe. This month, however, we did without the critiques and minimized the complaints in order to offer our support to one of our number, who performed brilliantly before a live audience.

A Guide to Visitors is a story-telling venue with both open mike slams and "curated shows" on particular themes, operating out of the Rendezvous bar in Belltown (just north of Downtown, 2320 2nd Avenue). The Rendezvous itself is a nicely renovated bar with a small attached theatre, originally used to screen movies for MGM back in the 20s. The theatre seats about 50 without claustrophobia setting in, and there were about 49 of us in the room.

The theme for the night was Ghost Stories, and one of our number, Dave Gross led off with a tale I had never heard him tell before, of him scaring his younger brother with the "Ghost in the Attic" and what happened when the tables were turned on him. Dave was relaxed and personable, a natural talent on the stage, and made both his cruelty and comeupance hilarious. His story was a great opening bell for the five storytellers who followed him.

Not that the other five were slouches - Jake Warga, who has done gigs on "This American Life" told of a haunted summer camp, going into the field with modern ghost-hunters and a psychic. Julian Tudor told a more personal tale of his last meeting with his father after his death. Dave Beck, host of the local radio show "The Beat" did probably the second-funniest bit, dealing with an ill-fortuned Dodge Caravan, literally the Dodge Out of Hell. And Jean Lenihan told a creepy story of electrolysis.

It was the last tale, however, that managed to truly raised the hairs on the back of my neck. It was by the bartender, Owen Clark, who an hour and a half before was pouring drinks up front. He told a bit of the history of the Rendezvous and the theatre, and the three ghosts (that they know of) haunting the place - The Applause, the Fedora, and the One at the Door. Of all the tales, it created the most effect after the show was over. I was checking over my shoulder on the way to the rest rooms.

The hostess for the evening was Jeannie Yandel (who gave me the correct spellings of the names, though I blurred her name in my notes). One of the things that struck me was that how stories tended to beget stories - At Intermission we gathered around, and in quick succession, heard about other ghost stories, being terrified of a broken gas main lighting up the sky, a nuclear war dream, and the most recent large earthquake. It was a good group, and an excellent set of speakers (and though I am playing favorites, I think Dave held his own against a strong field).

Anyway, this is exactly the sort of thing that I would never do back in the Midwest, but given sufficient support and opportunity, would try out here. If you're local, check out the A Guide to Visitors website for their next show.

More later