Wet Daddies for Everybody

The thing about ranting (albeit poignantly) about the weather is that the thought’s relevance expires quickly. As in, it was a lovely weekend, considering the shit we’ve been putting up with so far. My incredibly foul-mouthed spew did get me a link from Gawker, which to me is kind of like winning the blog lottery. But most people I bragged to were like, “Uh, what’s that?” But what do I care, because I happen to read the thing rather religiously. Today it lead me to Liz Phair’s letter to the Times editor in response to being trashed on the front page of last Sunday’s Arts & Leisure. The letter is a fairly painful read, but in an amusing train-wreck sort of way.

In any case, let’s segue into actual writers. Last night I went to the Wet Daddy Manifesto (festival?) which was chockfull of good writing and good reading. I’ll be frank. No I didn’t know what a wet daddy was. For the benefit of my fellow squares, it’s a cigarette or joint dipped in formaldehyde and apparently anyone who’s ever done any drugs knows this, or maybe it’s a ghetto celebrity thing.

What do I know? It only strikes me that getting formaldehyde seems hard. I’ve never seen it sold anywhere. Is it a specialty item behind the bodega counter that only the ins know about? And is it cheap? And jeez – formaldehyde? Yuck.

Forgetting for a moment, my troubles with the title, the readings were all quite good. I liked that the first guy up, Rich Byers, cursed his publisher under is breath while reading from his book. Really. The whole publishing experience must have been traumatic since he’s given it up completely (he claims) for bike messengering, which as a rule I’m in favor of. Those cats are hot. All that sweaty biking.. yum. After that Paula Bomer read an erotic short story about this guy’s consuming lust for his 4-months-pregnant wife. This isn’t really that weird, except the part about hearing erotica read out loud in a room full of strangers. That was weird. I felt like it might be a cleaner version of how it was when people went to theaters to see porn. I really didn’t know about this pregnancy turn-on thing, although I’ve had my suspicions.

Donnell Alexander’s excerpt from Ghetto Celebrity was also quite good and I almost bought the book outside. I didn’t because it was around $30 if I remember correctly, and I was counting out my nickels so I could buy a slice on the way home. I’m glad I waited since I now see it on Amazon for about half that. Shit, if you don’t watch out those literary types will screw you ten ways into Tuesday. From the passages Donnell read, I gathered it was nicely paced memoir of sorts. I liked the way he wrote about his father. I’d describe it as generous maybe, which I admire because I often feel the opposite of generous towards my own family. So I respect that. But I haven’t read the whole thing, so I won’t talk any more of it.

I also quite liked Victor LeValle who read a short monster (really he was a troll) story which was really an essay on his trip to Iceland. It was sweet as monster stories go, but maybe that was just the way he read it. I kept thinking the monster and him would end up as friends, until, I think, he got eaten at the end.

Anyway it was a good night except that it ended with a really tortured reading/play/performance art thing about growing up as Angela Davis’ niece, which apparently consisted exclusively of one-liners about socialism and near constant name dropping. The writer played herself as an excited and wide-eyed child with a whiny little-girl voice for most of the piece. I couldn’t tell if the entire thing was a long exercise in sarcasm, or if she was really that bad. I won’t even mention the writing. It’s a bad sign when the best relief of dramatic tension is when one of the actresses stumbled over a line.

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