Essays, tunes mingle at library

Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Zachary Lipez of the Freshkills will combine literature, performance art and, of course, music, tonight at Olympia Timberland Regional Library.

“If it works, it will hopefully be sort of Spalding Gray-ish,” said Lipez. “If it doesn’t work, it’s going to look like someone’s senior thesis.”

Lipez – a singer, songwriter, bartender and lapsed poet – will read excerpts from his essays while Zinner plays guitar, and literary and musical collaborator Stacy Wakefield plays keyboards.

The three friends and New York City artists are kicking off a tour in support of their latest literary project, “Please Take Me Off the Guest List,” that combines Zinner’s photography, Lipez’s essays and Wakefield’s design.

“We have never done anything like this before,” Lipez said. “We are curious and terrified to see how it goes over. We’ve written sort of pieces. They’ve done very loose compositions for the background music while I read.”

If this is new to the authors, it’s hardly new to the library, which often hosts after-hours concerts in its atrium.

“We’ve got a bunch more planned for fall,” said Sara Peté, a librarian at Olympia Timberland Regional Library. “It started with, I think, Harry and the Potters and moved on from there. These get a big turnout of young people who are sometimes underserved by traditional library programs.”

What Lipez will be reading are excerpts from the humorous essays that are bound into a book between Zinner’s photographs.

An example: “A friend recently told me that he was seeing, in a professional capacity, a therapist because he was tired of waking up angry. Acknowledging the surfeit of other problems that would hopefully be addressed, I accepted this, but still thought, at the time, that if it weren’t for waking up angry, I wouldn’t wake up at all.”

The book marks his first venture into essays. For the trio’s previous collaborations, he wrote poetry. “I knew that I wasn’t interested in writing poetry anymore, and as it turns out, I’m not that good at it.”

The essays are full of anecdotes – about Lipez and others – that are often embarrassing and occasionally even illegal. They are, more or less, true.

“If there was a choice between something being amusing and something being true, I went with amusing,” he said. “This is not something I needed to get off my chest. Even if they’re not ha-ha funny, they’re still supposed to be entertaining.”

He also changed some stories to protect identities.

“We’ll see,” he added. “I’m sure that there might be one or two people who read it and know that a story is roughly about them and think that everyone else can tell that it’s them, too.

“I may lose one or two friends, but I have plenty.”

Please Take Me Off the Guest List'

What: Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Zachary Lipez of the Freshkills and designer/keyboard player Stacy Wakefield kick off their book and music tour in Olympia with a combination reading/concert.

When: 8 to 9:30 p.m. today

Where: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 Eighth Ave. S.E., Olympia

Tickets: Free

Information: 360-352-0595,


 • A reading from “Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution,” by Sara Marcus, with a performance by a local band. 8:30 p.m. Oct. 12.

 • A reading from “Destroy All Movies: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film,” by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, with a performance by a local punk band. Nov. 15; time to be announced.