Sunday, November 9, 2008

Livewire + Wordstock

Last night we went to the Aladdin Theatre to see the Wordstock edition of Livewire!, a live radio show my friends Robyn and Kate produce.

Robyn previously produced West Coast Live out of San Francisco. She met Kate when she moved to Portland a few years back. They thought this city was ripe for a live variety show with music and comedy and interesting guests and thoughtful interviews. They were right. The shows consistently sell out, and they earned a slot on OPB radio. I appeared on the show in the early days. Last night they had a hot line-up of writers, from Lynda Barry to Allison Bechdel to John Hodgman.

The Long Winters were one of the musical guests. Their song and interview were my favorite part of the evening. Singer/guitarist John Broderick was sincere and goofy and human.

Here's the bio he wrote about himself on his band's website.

I grew up in Anchorage, AK, which is a drowsy little city, perched on the very lip of the civilized world. Like most small American towns, Anchorage is a conservative and insular little shithole, but because it’s surrounded on all sides by Alaska it has the good fortune to be a jumping-off point for every kind of maniac and outlaw, and it was from these salty characters that I learned all the truly important life-lessons: keep your powder dry, know a good Audi mechanic, and never feed your dogs first. As an American teenager I was only dimly aware of how stupid I was until I got out into the world and saw it for myself.

I love making records and playing music—it’s a pretty good life for a person like me—and I’m lucky to have played with some great musicians. I’m a little bit of a dictator, maybe, and I have a sharp tongue, but to balance it out I’m also paranoid and greedy. Still, there are so many people in the world, (6.4 billion) that even an unlikable and grouchy little Napoleon like me is able to find plenty of talented musicians to be in his band.

Later, Alison Bechdel and Lynda Barry had a conversation with each other and the audience listened. It was enjoyable.

I've always liked Lynda Barry. Her Marlys and Maybonne characters are painful and hilarious and true to me and she wrote a piece about the creative process that I've held onto for twenty years. Alison's Fun Home is one of the favorite memoirs and graphic novels I've read. Twice.

They talked about art and the creative act. Lynda called art the immune system for our mental health. Alison talked about how her process had changed since using the computer as her creative tool vs. pencil and brush. "Oh yeah," Lynda Barry responded. "It has a delete key. If I had a delete key, my life would be 27 minutes long." She talked about the need for mistakes in your creative life.

The next day I saw Alison Bechdel again, this time on the Powell's stage at Wordstock. I guess she does a lot of events like this, and confessed that it's gotten a little boring for her to talk about her process and themes so many times over her twenty-five years as a cartoonist. She said struggled with what she could speak about at Wordstock that she'd "get it up" for. Sex, she concluded, and proceeded with a 45-minute slide show of some of the most sexually graphic panels from her comic, Dykes to Look Out For. It was funny but maybe a little awkward.

Which made it funnier.


trh said...

Thanks for taking me with you. t

John Helm said...

damn you like an interesting life - time to get back to my tivo