As many of you have already graciously noted, we here at the Mercury have a habit of shamelessly flaunting our conflicts of interest with all of the charming discretion of a cheap Italian gigolo. Which is, of course, why I jumped at the chance to interview Manu Berelli, former Mercury contributor, and brand new booker at Towne Lounge (714 SW 20th Place, across from The Kingston).

What are you doing at Towne Lounge?

As of about four days ago, I'm the new booking agent. What that means exactly is still somewhat of a mystery. It appears to mean I spend a lot of time on the phone and the web, but seem to get nowhere. What I TRY to do is book great bands for a great venue.

Why did you stop writing for the Mercury?

That's a loaded question. I basically came to a crossroads where I realized that I couldn't compromise my vision with the conservative bent of the paper. I would go to the editor, Humpy, with a story and he would say, "You can't fill our paper with off-color half-truths! We're not in the business of offending people, good sir!" So we shook hands and I left. There's no love lost, really. I mean that. Really. I just decided to peddle my carpetbagger wares elsewhere. I do have to admire the fact that Humpy can juggle his Christian faith with his desire to do hard-hitting and fair journalism.

Are you even remotely qualified for this position?

Well, the short answer is no. My question to you is, who created this impossibly hierarchical word "qualified"? Are either one of us "qualified" to be music critics? Just because you aren't qualified, doesn't mean you can't do it. Just because I don't know who Led Zeppelin was, or what instrument he played, doesn't mean I can't write about it. Just kidding. He played led guitar.

Do you have a curatorial vision for Towne? What sort of events/shows do you hope to host?

All fun and games aside, I really do. It would be a lot to put into one tiny article. Only a writer could do that. Basically, it's all about creating consistent quality of shows, with a consistent audience. Many people still don't know the club even exists. Some of the few people who have gone, maybe have gone on an off-night, didn't enjoy themselves, and then wrote off the club. It's my job to change that.

Wait, no--how did you get this job again?