13 June 2010

To the Pain

Listening to: Voxtrot, "The Start of Something." The lead singer Ramesh Srivastava, is Indian American and when you Google him you get essays on "Wit and Humour in Indian English Literature" by a Dr. Ramesh K. Srivastgava, who is obviously not the same person but interesting nonetheless. Voxtrot are currently on their farewell tour, which is a shame because they do nice retro pop.

This past weekend, I attended Literary Death Match, for the express purpose of seeing the inimitable Taylor Mali (tumblr). A few hundred people crowded into the Yuerba Buena Center for the Arts -- a beautiful vast venue that I had been to before, for a night of (very too long) house dancing -- to watch four contestants face off. Think a poetry slam but less poetry. The judges for the event included Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket and Brian Boitano aka Olympic figure skating champion.

Everyone involved in the event was hilarious and entertaining. I was surprised that so many people were gathered together for an event that essentially featured only thirty minutes of reading. Perhaps this is the new thing, to combine theater and performance with literature. I guess it's not a new thing exactly, since technically performing has always been a part of literature. But I hope you know what you mean. Or maybe it's just new to me. I kept running calculations in my head like "There are four hundred people in the room, at ten dollars a head and seven minutes per performance...this is a racket (for charity)!" The important thing is that Literary Death Match is loads of fun and I would love to go again.

Mali ended up losing in the first round and I was sorely disappointed because I know how much he likes to win -- and I thought he definitely should have won his matchup. Daniel Alarcon, who was recently named one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" and is thus hot stuff, was crowned the night's champ after a literary geography trivia contest. Alarcon looked dramatically young and had a cheering section of Oakland folk planted at the front of the stage. A friend of a friend was seated with his adorers and I had a hard time processing that this much lauded writer genius was my age and hung out with the same types of people. That and he wasn't twenty feet tall or something. Actually, he probably is twenty feet tall, he just looks smaller close up. His book, Lost City Radio, is apparently a must-read. So I will read it.