by Mary Lannon
Photos by Margaret McCarthy and Mark William Butler
Music bookended a night that featured a play, plenty of fiction, and even some ghost stories at a crowded Tuesday night salon at the Cell.
Peadar O’Hici and Pio Ryan
Peadar O’Hici and banjo player, Pio Ryan, led off the night with some foot-stompin’ tunes. “The Irish Echo” (not the newspaper) is a song about Irish immigration and keeping the past in mind as we march into the future. “The Blind Eye” is a song about choosing to ignore certain injustices in the world in order to continue to participate in society in a way that is compatible with mainstream media and mainstream political agenda.
The night ended with John Munnelly singing a Christmas ballad of his own composing, intended to be “pure and unfettered by modern story ornaments.” Munnelly also sang two other songs: “The Reason Why,” a slow jazz inflected number for as he jokingly says, “all those who have lost someone and don’t know where they left them” and “Green Card Blues,” recently composed by Munnelly in Ireland. See more of Munnelly at a fund-raiser Christmas show at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16th. Information at JohnMunnellymusic.com.
Daniel MacGowan and Kathy MacGowan
In between the two musical acts, the audience was treated to a dramatic scene from Sheila Walsh’s Finders expertly performed by Kathy MacGowan and Daniel MacGowan playing ex-spouses. The two actors captured the wit and compassion of this work that looks at the terrain of art, money and heart. And let’s not forget that kiss: talk about chemistry! We look forward to more scenes from this exciting play.
The multi-talented Michael Nethercott, visiting from Vermont, sang a song and told some true ghost stories from his sprawling Irish family that sent shivers up audience member’s spines. He then read from his new mystery novel The Séance Society just out from St. Martin’s Press.
Kathy Callahan offered two stories: one a touching tale about the memorial reading for Seamus Heaney and the other a Kafkaesque nightmare of a traffic stop gone wrong. In the second story, the main character conducted her own hostage negotiation on behalf of herself as she was surrounded on all sides by a sea of blaring black and bluest of blue. She walked the tightrope but she could not walk the line in 7 inch heels with sirens flashing and headlights blaring in her beguiling smiling eyes after the show -in the swamps of Jersey.
Playwright and poet Margaret McCarthy read a monologue from a female Beatle fan featured in her play The Sacrificial King: A Play for John Lennon, which is scheduled for a Dec. 9 reading as part of the “Talent On Tap” Reading Series at Ryan’s Daughter. Set against the turbulence of the 60s, the play tells the coming-of-age stories of both the fan who is also an aspiring young artist and John Lennon as they cope with questions about fame and family. For McCarthy, the play’s over-riding question became: What in our nature causes us to build up and then tear down our heroes?
As always, a talented slate of fiction writers also read from their work.
Cherie Ann Turpin
The versatile Cherie Ann Turpin, an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of the District of Columbia, read her short stories “doll,” “Red Canister,” and “Baracas,” as well as her poem “Invoking the Vision.” Turpin’s publications include the book How Three Black Women Writers Combined Spiritual and Sensual Love: Rhetorically Transcending the Boundaries of Language (Mellen 2010). Her poetry has appeared in Reverie: Midwest African American Literature. She will present her essay “Reimagining Gabriel Byrne: Heteronormativity, Irish Diaspora, and Celebrity Culture” at the 2014 PCA/ACA Annual National Conference in Chicago, April, 2014. Follow her on Twitter: @drturpin.
Tom Mahon entertained the crowd with the latest chapter from his business novel-in-progress, Mastery in which Charlie Fenton nurses a crush on Holly Simpson, his bank co-worker, though he has never been able to say a word to her. That is, until the bank picnic when his brother introduces him to her, and Holly asks if he’s going to Japan, and he says, “yes”. Now he has to go, but he’s deathly afraid of flying. He’d rather face a firing squad and get it over quicker.
Our avuncular host John Kearns read a new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. Laura, the bartender, is driving her rundown BMW toward midtown Manhattan and ultimately Hell’s Kitchen in the wee hours of Holy Thursday 1998. The young Englishman, Gavin,is asleep in the backseat and Paul Logan is giving directions and hoping to have a more meaningful exchange with Laura. As the car gets closer to Madison Avenue, Paul’s dilemma is portrayed more and more in parodies of famous advertising slogans.
Jon Gordon read an excerpt from his book, For Sue, which focuses on his friendship with the great jazz drummer, Eddie Locke. A long time resident of the Upper West Side, Eddie was also a living history lesson of jazz and had a great impact on me.
Two of the fiction pieces referenced JFK as the nation reflects on the 50th anniversary of his assassination Nov. 23rd.
Mystery Writers of America NYC crime writer Gary Cahill capped a series of readings from his JFK-related short stories with a masonry-nail-tough selection from “Fathers, Sons, Ghosts, Guns”, currently featured in the Big Pulp Magazine print anthology The Kennedy Curse. In the story, a modern-day oil baron fails to get his son (and business heir) to accept and come to terms with the family’s violent history
Brendan Costello Jr.
And in quite a different take Brendan Costello Jr., a creative writing instructor at The City College of New York, read the final installment of his story “Circus Brunch at Zapruder’s,” where the chickens come home to roost for the narrator, who works at a restaurant with a theatrical experience built around the Kennedy assassination. Just in time for the 50th anniversary of that tragic moment in American history, the story ended with a twist that demonstrates how our personal lives can be affected by the echoes of history. Bonus: believe it or not, here’s the “official” MTV video for this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94kyxG3jY7o
Last but not least, Mary Lannon offered a short untitled piece that involved a cat, a talking chocolate chip cookie and a resident weather forecaster (because every story should have a resident weather forecaster!).
A great night at the Cell! Happy Thanksgiving! See you at Bar Thalia on December 3rd …