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Miami, Ep. 2

May 31, 2011 — In an end-to-end thriller, Literary Death Match Miami's second-ever episode at Churchill’s Pub was an epic clash that saw fictionist Matt Gajewski out-sharpshoot performance poet extraordinaire James Sprang 5-2 (before a wonderfully boisterous packed house) in a basketball shootout that won Gajewski the LDM crown. 

But before the first shot was fired hoopward, the night kicked off with the dazzling Annie Vazquez (a.k.a. The Fashion Poet) reeling off a gem about the "Cuban curse" (big bottom, tiny on top), that included this line: "Giant mama legs like the trunk of a palm tree, an ass wider than Calle Ocho, a waist the size of a frijole, and your chest, as flat as a tostada." Then up stepped performance genius Sprang, who read a hilarious piece about a cook at at Johnny Rockets (at Sunset Place) that featured this repeated line: "See that's why I like you, man. We pussy killers. Say it! I fucking love pussy!" 

Then the mic was turned over to the cast of all-star judges: Cocaine Cowboys and Square Grouper director Billy Corben (of Rakontur), brilliant author Diana Abu-Jaber (Origin and Crescent), and the inimitable hilariateur Jessica Gross. Abu-Jaber reeled off lightning quips in awesome fashion, Corben called Sprang "The Maya Angelou of Sunset Place," and everyone one — Gross included — wanted to steal Vazquez's fantastic shoes (Corben referred to her as "The Maya Angelou of Hialeah"). After a mini-infomercial in which LDM Miami producer P. Scott Cunningham explained the wizardry behind Jai-Alai Magazine, the judges were ready to announce the Round 1 winner. With a vote almost too close to call, they narrowly selected Sprang to advance as the night's first finalist. 

Then after a booze-and-NBA Finals Game 1 fueled intermission, Round 2 commenced with short story scribe Brett Rosenblatt leading off against Gajewski (creator of radio's Pure Imagination). Rosenblatt was an incredible force, reading his dark short story from memory — with a few classic mis-speaks. Lines like 2. "I love Jesus, but I'd also fuck the Tooth Fairy" set the tone for what looked like sure victory. But Gajewski was not to be outdone with a poem rich with religiosity: "The Angel Gabriel, like a winged positive pregnancy test, told the Virgin Mary she was to bear the son of God." 

The judges again were handed the mic, and between Corgen's NBA Finals score checks (Miami was up by 1!), Gross praised Gajewski's clothing choice (he was wearing a jersey), and Abu-Jaber found plenty to love in Rosenblatt's gloomy work. After another hard choice, it was Gajewski who was selected to advance to compete in the finals. 

Then LDM creator Todd Zuniga took center stage, explaining a finale that had Sprang and Rosenblatt ripping pages out of Star Magazine, and firing them through LDM-backboarded basketball hoops. The first to five — or if someone hit three in a row — would be champion. Sprang came out hot, scoring his first two buckets, but then after a miss, Gajewski became unstoppable, hitting five of seven, while Sprang's jumper went ice cold. Gajewski's final shot — a Nerf basketball — was thunderdunked through, and the Literary Death Match title, and literary immortality was all his. 

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