For a bit, my friend Aaron Cynic and I hosted a reading series called The Liquid Burning of Apocalyptic Bard Letters. We mostly just called it The Liquid Burning. It started when I released my novella Turban Tan, I was looking to do some readings, and I knew Aaron from the days when my old roommate Alicia would participate in zine readings in various spots throughout Chicago; storefront apartments, the old MoJoes coffee shop before it moved to West Belmont, before unfortunate ownership issues and its closure. I teamed up with Aaron because I felt his writing and mine would mesh well thematically, a apocalypse/dystopian reading. We grabbed some other readers, my friend Ian Randall, I think Marcus Gilmer read at that first one, so did Donny Rodriguez. I don't think I read from Turban Tan that night, I think I read my short story about sewage backed up on the streets of Nagasaki. We enjoyed ourselves, enjoyed the wide range of pieces and each's take on apocalypse. We wanted to do it again, we wanted to keep the theme.
For a year we did it at Matilda Baby Atlas, where we had done several Three Leaves Theatre fundraiser performance parties. It was the most colorful basement bar imaginable. Supposedly it was haunted - I learned of this several years after we had to move our reading series to Black Rock Pub & Kitchen after a redesign of Baby Atlas and a shift in direction made it a dance club. But we came to like Black Rock, it's wood paneled and fireplace warmed back room was perfect for a little gather of literary performance.
I think we did The Liquid Burning for 2 years or so. We had some good turn outs, some intimate ones with us gathered round the fireplace reading to each other, those were also special. We even one time had a noise musician whose large amplifier, on its lowest setting, shook the building and I thought that would be the end of our show, but no, we did a few more before Aaron and I each respectively had chock full life plates. Occupy Chicago was ignited, he was covering it for a variety of outlets. I became obsessed with revising my novel Votary Nerves, and moving apartments, and trying to close deals at my sales job so I could afford to contribute to mine and my girlfriend's household. The monthly Sunday kept falling on some sort of a Holiday (excuses, excuses), then 2012 rolled around, the time when an "apocalypse" themed reading series would have possibly thrived. But we let it run its course. I kind of wanted to move onto new themes, after all having a monthly reading series is a great motivator to create a new piece and share it, to hear it, and I felt like stepping outside of that kind of zone.
I've been wanting to do a new reading series for some time, and damn, the year flew, we all felt it. But my friend Jeremy Solomon - who read at quite a few Liquid Burnings, been in many of our Wood Sugars live shows, does his own stand-up comedy, has written some novels - and I joined forces, got our shit together, and have something new going on at Black Rock Pub & Kitchen. Drawing on elements of a salon, we're keeping the themes a little more liquid than the apocalypse tones of the Liquid Burning.
To any in Chicago interested in checking it out at some point, please follow our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PungentParlour.
And interested in getting involved? We're doing this monthly and want to rotate in a nice variety of writers, please do drop me a line at jeffphillips dot thirdleave [at] gmail dot com.