Friday, September 14, 2012

art. portland style.

Go to any happening, any event -- concert, sports, literary -- and the most ubiquitous aspect is the bevy of rectangular discs surgically adhered to the palms of the people. The viral share--the YOU ARE THERE--the feeding frenzy of HERE'S WHERE I AM RIGHT THIS MINUTE -- delivered in scooping haste by the masses. Gone are the dusty press-pass-toting members of the media, who, until very recently, everyone relied upon for reportage. Well, maybe not gone, exactly, but certainly upstaged.

Case in point. Last night three members my writing group, Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Cain, and Lidia Yuknavitch, teamed up to help launch Lidia's latest book, DORA: A HEADCASE. The venue, one of a handful of surviving indie bookstores, made 100 tickets available (and were sold out within the hour) for this unique confab: bedtime stories for grown-ups. The idea was to spike sales for DORA, while benefitting a brick-and-mortar book store by offering something you just can't get via, ahem, Amazon. Yes, there were adult beverages involved.

Well, the media showed up:



and, as is their style, the on-the-beat reporter began to voiceover during Chuck's reading of a story he'd just, that afternoon, written. Well, if there's one thing I've learned about Chuck lo these 20 years I've been in workshop with him, he's 1) not fond of being interrupted while reading, and 2) he thinks  lightning speed fast on his feet - even when they're covered in bunny slippers.

After a brief brow furrow, the ascot and smoking jacket-clad Chuck put down his fresh, reasonable story and picked up a three-hole binder (another Chuck thing--the binder). "That's it, I'm reading the dirty one," he said. "No going back."

Monica and I and the leopard theme
So while the reporter snagged Chelsea for commentary, and muted Chuck's super graphic, sexual, shocking and amazing reading of the sort of story that has the editors of Playboy salivating, the audience collectively squeezed their prized stuffed animals and got all Harry Potter-eyed while the iconic author of FIGHT CLUB hefted the lets-get-you-good-and-uncomfortable bar to new and glorious heights. Again, demonstrating how now, more than ever, art is defined on-the-ground, by the terms of the artist and audience. Which is really what this celebration of transgressive fiction is all about, right? And what better place than Portland to show it, eh?

What's the coolest event you've been to in the last year?

12 comments:

  1. louden wainwright performing in front of a small-ish group in the main room at the downtown louisville library. (he sang, he told funny stories, and he read clips from his father's Life Magazine columns.)

    i saw my 23 yr old sister give birth (just me her and the medical staff...and eventually my nephew) and THAT was an experience--it's a whole different thing getting to be the one helping vs. doing. it was...cool. it was.

    i saw gail collins talk politics...and she's cool.

    later this month, i'm taking my daughter to her first concert ever. we're seeing edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros at an outdoor amphitheater (is that redundant? outdoor and amphitheater?) while i love the band as much as she does, i'm mostly looking forward to her reaction.

    chuck is killin' that ascot.

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  2. A dirty story, read by a man in bunny slippers and an ascot. Kinky!

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    1. His smoking jacket was pretty silky, too.

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  3. Ah, the theater of birth. That's a hard one to top.

    And, Chuck told us that the ascot cost more than his first car. It's fetching, yes?

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  4. You Portland folks no how to thrown and party. I can't think of a single thing I've done this year that's been even close to that much fun! How does one compete with this group of writers, and bunny slippers in public and on TV. How!?!?

    I'm going to see Salman Rushdie and TC Boyle later this month ---- but I'm guessing their performances will having nothing on that swarm of folks in their pajamas!

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    1. P.S. I've figured out my posting dilemma. I can't post here or on any Blogspot account with an iPad or a MacBook Air. Only the big Mac daddy has the tools. Who knows why ....

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    2. "thrown and party" --- jaysusmaryandjoseph. Throw. A. Party. My typing skills need serious work.

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    3. Oh Teri, just you wait!

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  5. Coolest event? Apparently I don't do cool.

    But this! THIS! What a riot and what a fabulous way to launch Lidia's new novel. I love the way your writing group supports its members.

    And I love what Chelsea had to say about bringing people back into the bookstores.

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    1. It's funny. We've been together so long, we're getting to play out roles--like a family. Chelsea and that winning smile. When it doubt--put her in front of the camera.

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  6. “This is what happens you plan an event with Chuck Palahniuk – you end up in a shorty nightie and bunny slippers on TV.”

    Oh my god! Best event ever. *jealous* *jealous* *jealous*

    I think the coolest event I attended this year might have been The Sun party and reading on the last night of AWP. Either that or either of the barn dances at Bread Loaf.

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    1. The barn dances! I love them. Who did you work with at BL?

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