By David Walters

I went to the Kraine Theater last night to experience something that I didn’t know existed; I thought was pretty cool, and something that is unlike anything else you’ll probably come across. It’s spoken word, but not personal stories. More along the lines of what happens at an academic seminar where people present their papers to the inquisitive crowd. They call it the Odd Salon and drinking is involved.

In ten minutes or less, a speaker shares any subject that is interesting to them, inflames their personal fires, or has the desire to divulge something they feel we should all know about, complete with a PowerPoint presentation, continual audience feedback, and a drink in hand.

The guest curator for the evening, Olivia Owre-Bell, brought together six speakers and a wide array of topics. She began by telling us the story of Christmas lights. They first came from Thomas Edison’s lab in 1882 (costing the equivalent of over $300) and were refined (to stop catching the trees on fire) through the years by several other companies to bring us the twinkle we see today.

She then emceed the evening with the following guests and topics:

Honoring the Herbalist Women of the Lenape People presented by Pam Segura.

Pam shared with us her passion for the life and work of Lora Thompson Dean who kept alive her people’s medicinal traditions that are even practiced today in modern medicine, being taught at Columbia School of Nursing.

From Perfection to Puppy Chow: The Painful History of New Jersey’s Hopewell Castle shared by Odd Salon Fellow Theresa Handwerk.

Before Ralston-Purina made puppy chow, the Ralston part was derived from an early 1900s eugenics cult led by Webster Edgerly and stood for Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen and Nature.

Jelly Donuts are Jewish! with Odd Salon Fellow Jessie Wayburn.

Why are jelly donuts ubiquitous for Hanukkah gatherings? Sufganyot are fried in oil and are symbolic of the lamp that burned for eight days with only a one-day supply of oil. We got samples.

One Voice, Dozens of Votes shared by Andrea Fondulas.

Politics has always been self-serving, crooked, and a distorted version of democracy. Andrea shared some historical bases of why we are where we are currently as concerns our political landscape and leaving us with a smidgen of hope.

The Raft Expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl with Odd Salon Fellow Matt Codner.

Remember Thor Heyerdahl’s voyage on a balsa raft called Kon-Tiki? Well, it turns out that the only thing impressive was the fact that he did the voyages. The reason for doing the voyages and his theories of ancient peoples and world migration were totally poppycock it turns out.

The Madman and the Pentathlon with Odd Salon Fellow Rain Weigartner.

While holding the story cards close to his chest, Rain walked us through the life of a man named George and all of the personal and social setbacks that he overcame and built upon to become WWII General George Patton.


Odd Salon is inspired by the salonnières of the Enlightenment and the illustrated lectures of the Victorian period and will be moving to Under Saint Marks with fewer seats in the coming year. Keep an eye on their website for the next rendition as tickets will be limited.

FRIGID New York and Odd Salon presented for one night only ODDMENTS NYC: III, at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street). Performances are also available on live-stream. Tickets ($25 in-person; $20 streaming) are available at

This performance ran for approximately 2 hours.

You’ll learn something and find yourself a part of an active audience all wanting to be there for their own edification and have fun doing it. You’ll come out a better person.