We gussied up and traveled north for Wet Daddy's Badass Lit Joint Saturday in the outer reaches of Altadena, as our friend Neal Pollack (the greatest living American writer) was hosting a reading in conjunction with the Book Expo America booksellers convention. Neal uncharacteristically ate it, as he read satire about the Jayson Blair controversy from his purposely ponderous blog, during which he satirically suggested that black professionals no longer be permitted success. Although everyone got that it was satire, he didn't read it convincingly enough, as he was embarrassed and he was sitting in a house comprising (almost exclusively) black intellectual professionals. It died long and slow before he finally euthanized it in the middle. Other readers included organizer Donnell Alexander reading from the wonderful Ghetto Celebrity,Touré reading from the beautiful Soul City (and attended by his gorgeous Middle Eastern girlfriend—a "consultant" to fashion designers—in her cherry Manolos), and Danyel Smith with the trying-too-hard coming-of-age More Like Wrestling. Still, if Wrestling wasn't my thing, it was as well received by the rest of the house as any of the others. Not so for poor Dennis Escobedo, who read the first scene from his new play, charlotte sometimes, where a blind date features conversation that is actually more dull, if possible, than actual blind-date conversation. Also, halfway through the scene the accountant remembers his tenor-sax days and as he's remembering it, a red light comes up. At that point, desperate to avoid the train wreck before us, we started flicking pennies at Pollack, who took it rather well. Twerpy Escobedo reads: Charlotte stands, and as the tenor sax wails, does a sensual dance, caressing her breasts and stomach and thighs.
A red light? Seriously? And an imaginary sensual dance? And the lonely wails of a tenor sax? Escobedo, darling, XYZ: your barn door's open and your clichés are coming out.