Monday, February 25th, 2008
We arrived Friday and did a fun interview with KINK FM. Their listeners had already begun submitting six-word memoirs, and we got to select the winners and read them on the air. I especially liked “I am what I seek—antique.”
Then we headed over to the word’s most legendary independent bookstore, Powell’s City of Books. I wandered agape like a tourist in Times Square ’til Larry calmed me down with coffee and grilled cheese. We were worried we’d have a low turnout, since the only person we know in Portland is SMITH cofounder and creative director Tim Barkow. I even pleaded with the guys setting up the event space to stop unfolding chairs at two rows so we wouldn’t feel so silly.
And then people started rolling in. Young and old, bespectacled and besneakered, in twos and threes, they sat and scratched out six-word memoirs on the cards we’d placed on their chairs. One woman was holding our pal Jeff Yamaguchi’s excellent 52 Projects book in her hands, while her friend browsed through ours. By the time we’d done our video and reading and were ready to invite the audience to slam, there were about 80 people filling the chairs, sitting on the floor, or leaning on bookshelves around the room. Even more exciting, I didn’t have to goad, wheedle, and plead for audience participation! My bribe bag of Pop Rocks and Nerds, so instrumental at our previous events, was merely icing on the story-sharing cake. The responses were wonderful too—just as brutally honest as those submitted from the anonymity of a computer screen. Some examples:
“Want the fairytale. Asking too much?”
“He’s not even worth five words”
“Yes, I’m fifty. Shit, damn, hell.”
“Infertile. Quit sending me baby pictures.”
“Eating shit, learning to like it.”
“Still a nerd. Rich now. Ha.”
“Six colleges down. Still no degree.”
Rumor has it that “Love the sex; hate the men” even gave her number to “I’m 42 and just getting started” after the show.
Famously dumped Zak Nelson (”I still make coffee for two.”) drove down from Seattle to participate (”Drove three hours; read six words.”) He brought along his six-worder’s happy ending in the form his beautiful new girlfriend Angie, whose memoir cleverly describes her career as a midwife: “My work is another woman’s labor.”
But Portland’s highlight really came the next morning at breakfast when a local woman, apparently more thoroughly caffeinated than we were, marched over to our table, announced “I’ve got it!” and shouted out six words. That’s right boys and girls—we’ve been recognized! Portland Rocks.