How I Learned
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1. Elissa Bassist and Sam Lipsyte, whose stories included lots of hair, and hair down there. 2. The night’s hostess, Blaise Allysen Kearsley, worked John Hughes trivia into the night. Someone in the crowd had just correctly answered the question, “Who played Long Duk Dong?”
If you have never had the pleasure of a visit to the Happy Ending, you should know this: the entrance looks very much like a sleazy massage parlor. Walk into that badly-marked storefront, and you will find a set of strangely translucent double doors, monogrammed towels in a glass case and a welcoming pile of free condoms nestled in a decorative bowl.
1. M.G. Martin, poet and co-host of Literary Death Match, and Tess, a writer. They are serial appearers on The Dish. 2. Nina Antonov, Etan Eitches and Susana Bejar. Despite nice outfits, they opted for the “unpopular choice,” and sat on the floor.
If you have been to the Happy Ending, you know this LES bar is where the literary party’s at.
People packed in last night for April’s installment of the “How I Learned” series, where authors, comedians, journalists and others chosen “primarily on personal hygiene and make-out prowess” take the mike to remind us that learning is rarely a pretty thing.
This month’s cringefest went by the title of: “How I Learned It’s Not Me, It’s You (Or Maybe It’s Me).” To take us there were Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask, author and comedian Andrea Rosen, Elissa Bassist of The Rumpus and Jim O’Grady, journalist and dominator of The Moth’s story slam.
The series’ self-described hostess/founder/creator/curator/producer Blaise Allysen Kearsley kicked off the night with a reading from her teenage diary in which she gets dumped, is wooed by the author of a poem called “The Lovebird Who Couldn’t Smile,” falls for and then dumps a guy for wearing an ugly hat who also happens to be her best friend’s boyfriend, and recruits 18 people for the cystic fibrosis dance.
1. Dawn Fraser works for Hot 97. She came to scope the out-loud lit scene. 2. Andrea Rosen and Jim O’Grady both “killed it” at the mike, in the words of fellow reader Sam Lipsyte.
We went from there.
Schadenfreude draws a crowd, and the misery did not disappoint. Bassist told us about the time she fell for an actor, and it hurt. After clearing up the fact that “I’m not fat in a weird way, I’m pregnant,” Rosen related her blind-date with a large, moonfaced man named Gary, who, soon after, “turned gay.” O’Grady recounted the tale of the day when he finally, finally, made it on the Leonard Lopate show, and shamed himself on live public radio. Lipsyte, who, in a nod to Electric Literature, Kearsley introduced as “the poet laureate of the American loser,” read a few scenes from The Ask.
Lipsyte prefaced his last passage by telling us that it, like the first he read, would feature a turkey wrap. “If you’re an English major and your ready to want to analyze the text — it’s about turkey wraps,” he said. “It’s not about the death of the American dream or anything like that.”
1. John Steigerwald, a “How I Learned” virgin.
The English major in me couldn’t help but notice the remarkable number of hairy body parts revealed in last night’s stories. There were fuzzy nipples, bushes, a “jungle-town vagina.” O’Grady’s story was hair free, but did include a Russian wife who beat her husband’s wide ass with a rolled up newspaper.
The night proved that with time and liquor, the most painful lessons make the best stories. The crowd left the Happy Ending smiling, and with new wisdom: It’s not me, it’s you. Or maybe it’s my aesthetician.
–Lisa Riordan Seville is a writer and reporter in Brooklyn.