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Portland, Ep. 1

November 12, 2009 — The debut of the Literary Death Match in Portland was a massive hit, a wild and rowdy night, filled with audience howls, joyful drunkenness, and some of the best judging in LDM history. In the end, it all added up to Future Tense rep Riley Michael Parker out-fruit-smoothie making Tin House rep Arthur Bradford in a narrow 2-1 finish (as chosen by a panel of three taste-expert volunteers) to take home the Literary Death Match championship. 

But well before any fruit had been halved by the resident knifestress, the show — sponsored by NYC atelier Against Nature — kicked off in wild fashion with Parker going first against storyteller Jeff Hardison. Parker was on the top of his game from the word go, clad in a tracksuit top that shimmered in the dull Blue Monk light. He won laughter, and crazed applause. Then Hardison (representing Back Fence) took the mic. Hardison told a script-free collegiate-aged tale that included heartbreak and him wrapping himself in a blanket. 

The spotlight then turned to the judges, including New York Times bestselling author Chelsea Cain (Evil at Heart), OPB’s poet in residence Scott Poole (author of Hiding From Salesmen), and alternative rock goddess Zia McCabe of The Dandy Warhols. The three whipped through a series of seen-to-be-believed comments (viewable below). After they had judged both men, they narrowly chose Parker as the night's first finalist. 


LDM Portland, Ep. 1: Riley Michael Parker judged! from Opium Magazine on Vimeo.



Then came round two, that featured Bradford going up against the beloved Kerry Cohen (author of Loose Girl representing Writer’s Dojo). Bradford led off with a strum-filled hit (he had his guitar in tow) of a story that kept the crowd enraptured for over ten minutes. Then Cohen stormed onto the scene, pulling a random man from the stage to serve as the whipping boy in the story she then read. 

Then, again, the judges were handed the mic. Cain and Poole were rip-roaring in both of their critiques, but it was McCabe who hilariously high-jacked the show with a record-long critique that lasted over six minutes. Once the judges were finished, they struggled to elect the night's second winner — Poole, in part, because he'd been flashed by Cohen only seconds earlier — but decided Bradford was to advance to the finale. 

Then the finale began. A smattering of Whole Foods fruit was spread on a piano bench, and the goal was for each of the finalists to make the best possible smoothie in two minutes time. A belle from the crowd sliced the fruit while three taste-testing volunteers were equipped with masks of famous Portland writers — Katherine Dunn, Chuck Palahniuk and Ken Kesey. At one point during the smoothie-making, Bradford lost his mind, winging fruit skins into the unsuspecting crowd with joyful vigor. The taste-testing, like the judging, is best witnessed in video form. Watch below to see the finale, and the judging that led to Parker's eventual victory. Only 2:19 out of your life!  

LDM Portland, Ep. 1 Finale: Smoothiestravaganza! from Opium Magazine on Vimeo.




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Reader Comments (2)

Hardison's a real killer. He'll bring it all down without breaking a sweat.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Bruce

Kerry Cohen trains at the Writers' Dojo - 'nuff said. The title is hers, and there will be plenty of blood.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave J

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