Full Moon Heat (Hammerstone's, Soulard

Tim finds moonstruck strangers.

We've come in to escape the bizarre heaviness of the air outside, that thick mugginess you get even at night during the apogee of summer that plays cruel tricks on the equilibrium: curious and discombobulating, making everything seem a little distorted, surreal, dreamlike. Even dangerous. Makes you think these people, even the unassuming ones standing closest to you, are capable of anything: Singing karaoke, reciting Shakespeare, performing magic, murder. Anything. Everyone is a little touched, inside or out.

Something here seems a little off, even indoors. It's one of those nights when anything can happen. A cow could walk in dressed as a fish and order a drink with a British accent, and even that wouldn't seem out of place. Blame it on the full moon, blame it on this incorrigible weather. A drunk at the bar topples over, falls completely off his stool. The girl he's with — a burned-out Modigliani incarnation — searches her purse for a dust broom and...

The unhealthy never look so unhealthy as when they're drunk, gurgling hot wet steamy summer air.

Now the singer, Eric Brooks, responds to a request shouted from the audience: Elvis. Elvis! To complete his Sun Records tribute, which began with Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. And when the performer dons his rubber Elvis mask as he rolls into "Suspicious Minds," it doesn't seem the least bit unusual. Nor does the gaunt fellow onstage with him, the one with the stand-up bass who doesn't seem to be playing the instrument, only pretending to be.

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