February 24, 2012 — Beatdown at the Beatbox! LDM SF, Ep. 43 came to a roaring crescendo as Devorah Major (San Francisco's own poet laureate) snatched the tie-breaking point from Madonna uber-fan/essayist Laura Barcella in a down-to-the-mat round of Literary Pictionary. The "Grapes of Wrath" never tasted so sweet!
As soon as the lights went down and raucous redheaded host Alia Volz took the mike, confusion set in. Why was LDM cofounder and billed co-host Todd Zuniga sitting on the judges' sofa next to snarky-before-the-term-snarky-was-even-coined columnist Leah Garchik and ZYZZYVA editor Oscar Villalon?
Where was the World's Greatest Entertainer, Bud E Luv? Volz broke the terrible news: Luv had dumped the LDM for an appearance on "America's Got Talent." (Was he not aware that one crosses the LDM gods at one's own peril?)
Volz then turned Round One selection over to Fate, which summoned Major (author of Black Bleeds into Green) and newly-sneakered activist Josh Healey (Hammertime) to the stage. Healey won the toss but chivalrously gave the powerful opening slot to Major. Oh my brothers! Major stomped! Major thrusted! Major gestured wildly like a Delphic priestess! James Brown! Encarcerated humanity! Major went over time!
After an LDM-mandated warning squirt at Major's feet, Zuniga bolted from the sofa to shield the poet laureate with his own body, absorbing the full force of the Time Guardian's watery wrath.
Healey gamely countered Major with a laugh-out-loud, crowd-pleasing tale about helping his girlfriend's grandmother score medical marijuana. He too went over time, but did anyone run up and shield him? Such are the wages of chivalry. Fortunately, Healey wrapped up while still dry above the knee.
The judges weighed in. They rent their garb. How to decide between such diverse performances? Zuniga dared to criticize the Time Guardian's squirting at Major, earning an additional, deadly accurate squirt across the stage from the not-amused Time Guardian. (Was he not aware that one crosses the Time Guardian at one's own peril?)
After much deliberation, the Major decision came down, and Healey left the stage in search of a towel.
Round Two began with Barcella (editor of Madonna and Me) putting a stake in chivalry's heart: she both won the toss against Jesus Angel Garcia (author of badbadbad) AND opted to go first! Barcella struck a pose, her nonchalance punctuated by unhurried sips from her cocktail straw as she wove a tale of how her Madonna Worship saved her from staying with a Holocaust-denying boyfriend.
Garcia, trademark megaphone in hand, mashed up his music and fiction to conjure forbidden lust. Garcia stomped! Garcia thrusted! Garcia also went over time! As the first squirts landed at his feet, Garcia turned his evangelical wrath upon the Time Guardian, bringing him to his knees and shaming him so powerfully that he turned his own squirt gun upon himself!
How could the judges be expected to discern literary superiority? And yet... In a decision that Zuniga declared to be the absolute narrowest in LDM history (only in San Francisco, ladies and gentlemen), Barcella was declared the victor/victoria!
For the finale, Zuniga shed his role as judge and joined Volz in marshalling two teams of audience volunteers to back up Major and Barcella for the Final Conflict. James Brown vs. Madonna! Classic R&B vs. Disco Bubble Gum! Frilled lacy cuffs vs., er, frilled lacy cuffs! Despite severe artistic challenges, the Literary Pictionary score was quickly tied 2 to 2, until a volunteer stepped up and drew... Grinch hair? Grinch hair with balls? Grapes? GRAPES OF WRATH!!!
John Steinbeck's ghost wept with pride as Major was crowned CHAMPION Episode 43! San Francisco, the city that still knows how!
Writeup by Andy Dugas.