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NYC, Ep. 8

June 26, 2008—The third-ever outdoor LDM (Ep. 8)--this time at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City--was the site of a literary bloodbath, as’s John Williams outhopped Wigleaf’s Debbie Kuan in a grueling tooth-and-nail battle that captured the imagination of a continent. Williams late rally (whilst jumping along in a GLAD ForceFlex trash bag) scored him the LDM medal, and superstar status for the rest of his days.

While soccer star Thierry Henry (from France) and NBA players like Baron Davis and Jason Kidd played soccer only two blocks away, the truly beautiful game--the LDM--kicked off near Houston and Forsyth with co-hosts Todd Zuniga (Opium’s founding editor) and playwright Terry Selucky. The evening’s beautifully-weathered first round featured Gabrielle Mitchell-Marell ( doing battle against Debbie Kuan (Wigleaf). After a masturbation v. Tofurkey-charged first round, judges Ben Greenman (New Yorker), writer/comedienne Julie Klausner and Jeff Gordinier (X Saves the World) had a tough decision to make, but selected Kuan as the night’s first finalist.

After a fifteen-second yoga intermission, the second round commenced.

History was in the making early, as Amy Shearn (Brick Magazine’s representative and the author of How Far is the Ocean from Here) wowed with a record-breaking reading of 5:18. Not only was it the shortest in LDM history (in which she read two stories!), it was based on chairs. Then up stepped Williams, who’s lack of a suit jacket drew ire from judge Jeff Gordinier, but his reading about literary figures captured the imaginations of both the crowd and the other two judges. It was one of the toughest judge deliberations to date, but by the narrowest of margins, Williams advanced.

Garbage bag race!Then came a ludicrous, take-no-prisoners finale. Each finalist stepped into a GLAD ForceFlex trash bag, and were told to hop around a jungle gym, then race for a ladder--the first down the slide would be crowned victorious. Kuan broke out to an early lead, but was slow around the first turn, in which her flats just couldn’t compete with Williams’ Chuck Taylor’s. He launched himself five feet in the air with each hop and five feet forward, shed his bag quickly at the staircase while Kuan struggled, sprinted with a never before seen haste to the ladder, climbed it in seconds and slid to an easy victory. Not only was it a sight to behold, its a sight that will be beheld, as video of the event is being processed as you read.

In the end, a crazy affair, with endless thanks to Open City’s Park Lit reading series, for making it possible. Tally ho!

From left to right, then down one, then to the left again: Co-host Selucky intros the judges (Greenman, Klausner and Gordinier) while Zuniga looks on. Kuan talks Tofurkey. Shearn breaks the land-speed LDM reading record. Mitchell-Marell talks plates.

See all the photos from this event here!

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