Friday, January 23, 2015

MURDER MAYHEM AND BEER IN THE DARK OF NIGHT





Dark. Night. Moon up there somewhere. Temperature in the low twenties and the raw wind numbed my nose. We stumbled across the ice-rutted parking area in the industrial heart of a suburb somewhere on the northern fringe of the city. Box trucks, vans. Shiny automobiles. Harsh floods bolted high on the concrete walls of the narrow parking space sent needle-sharp shadows caroming off dingy windshields. Behind me a faulty compressor rattled in its cage against the concrete block wall. The wind moaned low.

I slowed and scanned the area, noting two small huddled clusters of figures. Male or female it was impossible to tell. They were plotting or sharing a joint. The lone point of color was a garish red orange sign, OPEN, over a glass door. Behind the door, a raucous crowd sampled beer from Bent Brewstillery, ate Jimmy John sandwiches, told each other jokes and lies.

I pushed my way through the tables, heading to the bar. Behind a tall iron-barred barrier, two-story fermenting tanks stood silent sentry duty. Overhead, set against the ribbed ceiling, big televisions sprayed silent electrons of colorful light from sports competitions that the crowd mostly seemed to ignore.
 
The trim bartender in a tight t-shirt raised her plucked eyebrows at me. I pointed at the menu and gestured for a small glass of beer. We were checking out an event hosted by a microbrewery. The server poured a glass of rich amber fluid and took my money. My companion and I eeled through the press to the middle of the room where we found a table and two empty chairs. The crowd, a mixed range of ages, got louder and bigger. In another time the atmosphere would have been thick with cigarette smoke. People shifted and surged around the room. I glanced around again slowly, wondering how many were carrying.

A large bearded fellow in a dark woven stocking cap aslaunch on his forehead picked up a wand and cleared his throat into the sound system. He looked like he could handle himself. He looked like he could be competently employed at any of a dozen downtown bars as door minder or bouncer. He muttered an expletive and welcomed the crowd. The beer was excellent. Applause rattled the pile of old board games. Another Noir at the Bar evening of dark readings by local crime writers about nasty, violent crimes, was about to begin. There were a few minor celebrities from the local crime scene in the audience.

Kristi Belcamino, mob organizer of the evening in a long dark gown took the mike. She stared malevolently at us until the restive crowd subsided. Her reading was followed by Kent Gowran, Dan O’Shea, Jeff Shelby and Frank Wheeler, Jr. Later, a short indie film was projected on the painted block wall. We escaped with our lives into the windy winter night.

Friday, January 09, 2015

FEMMES, FUN, FESTIVAL OF CRIME



Festival of Crime
ISBN: 9781935666646
A 2014 release from
Twin Cities Sisters in Crime
Chapter and Nodin Press of Minneapolis.

Whoever said women were the weaker/nicer sex? Wrong. At least it’s not true of the women portrayed in this delightful collection of nineteen short stories. They are offered by writers/members of the Twin Cities Chapter of Sisters In Crime. Every story takes place at a celebration of some kind, from small town to big city, urban to rural, simple vengeance to sophisticated torture. Women of all ages parade through these pages, bent on asserting themselves in sometimes vengeful, sometimes random and often murderous ways.
As is usually the case with collections, there’s a degree of variation in the quality, but the efforts of Husom, Turk and Mallory, editors of the works are evident in the overall strength of the stories. Readers will smile, cringe, laugh and nod in sympathy, and I predict, talk about these stories with spouses and friends.The trade publication is available at all the usual outlets.

Monday, November 24, 2014

MUSIC IN THE PARK OFFERS SALSA BAROQUE



Music in the Park brought an intriguing ensemble to the venue on Sunday, November 23. Ensemble Caprice presented a late afternoon program of music of Latin America and Spain. Entitled Salsa baroque, the program consisted of a range of music from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The music, performed on modern recorders, flutes, drums, cello and baroque guitar, demonstrated the excellent range of talents of the performers in this Montreal-based musical and performance group.
Mathias Maute, founder and leader, is ably backed up by Sophie Lariviere, co-director, David Jaques, Susie Napper and Ziya Tabassian.

After 30+ years of independent musical service to the community under the brilliant artistic direction of Julie Himmelstrup, the series is undergoing administrative changes. Music in the Park has been merged into the Schubert Club of Saint Paul. Music in the Park concerts are performed in the acoustically magnificent main hall of the Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ in Saint Paul.