Back Room Sessions: Matthew Stadler in Conversation with Pablo de Ocampo
Family Supper Space, 2240 N Interstate, 235-2294, Mon Nov 14, 7 pm, $35

Matthew Stadler is writer in residence for the ripe culinary complex. It sounds odd, but the practice was common in early 18th century London, when writers like Alexander Pope and tabloids like The Tattler operated out of coffee houses. Following their example, Stadler works to create interesting, memorable literary experiences at ripe. How? With live music, food and wine by ripe, and lively conversations about what it means to participate in the creation of a text; the result is a combination of literary culture and social hedonism called the Back Room. I discussed the event with Stadler over burritos.

STADLER: Going into it, I have a pretty vague idea of how it will work, so it's not really organized or scripted.

MERCURY: You leave room for improvisation.

Yeah, and in fact, the sort of key element is a commitment to not know much ahead of time—to actually arrive there interested, and not with a list of expectations.

So you vaguely try to engineer that dynamic.

I haven't figured out what gland I am in that organism, but I'm a very important gland. I might be the pituitary.

Oh, the pituitary?

I secrete a tiny amount of enzyme that is important to the organic totality.

Maybe you're adrenaline, then.

Oh, could be. What's the one that makes you really... chocolaty and excited?


Serotonin. Where does that come from?

It's a brain chemical. So, in terms of the actual dynamics, what does this event look like?

You arrive, and there are all sorts of free things to drink, and somebody's playing music, and you all get to sit around and chitchat while the tables are being set. Then after about a half hour of music, I make a toast and welcome everyone. Then we're going to have one song so that we can all be sitting, listening to the guest. Then everyone gets to eat, and we have a meal and you talk with whoever's near you. Then, as dessert is being served, the guest and I either speak loudly or have a microphone, so that everyone can pay attention to the conversation we begin. Typically that conversation opens up and gets interrupted and includes the audience.

Matthew Stadler will discuss all things literary with Independent Publishing Resource Center director and artist Pablo de Ocampo. Plus live music by Thanksgiving and food and drink from the fine folks at ripe.