ACTION GUIDE: READINGS/PERFORMANCES 

After the latest airline disaster, a publicity insider suggested I "take the list of touring authors and cancel most of them." Say "so long" to the luxury of excessive book promotion! Authors' flight anxiety, combined with the publishing industry's economic weak-knees, points to road trips as the newly favored mode of self-promotion: books peddled out of the back of the car. At the same time, corporate publishing is ironically heavy with travel adventure, strategically marketed for these wistful days of staying home.

I've heard transgressive fiction is hiding in the closet, the filing cabinet, the publisher's desks. Books slated for publication--wild stories challenging social convention, breaking rules for the simple pleasure of feeling alive--they're not coming out just now. After 9/11, readers aren't so interested in the vicarious thrill of societal transgression; we're more about nostalgia for the placated world of the late '90s and early 2000, or even just four months back, when we still had that lovely, lovely stock market.

But, according to Portland's own Lil Weeny Kween, of the Cacophony Society, there's room left for acting out. You want transgression? Lil Weeny Kween and her compatriots point the way: "Santa Strikes Back," aka "Santa Rampage," aka "Santacon," hits Portland December 15th around noon, and happens all across the country on the same day. A busload of Santas unleashed downtown, foisting disastrously beautiful gifts on the unsuspecting. Handmade gifts straight from Santa's Sweatshop. Santanistas in full Santa gear--a winter's bloom of red polyester and spun-asbestos white--singing Nightmare before Xmas songs. All offered out of Cacophonist love, healing the world through tinctures of madness.

At the same time, The Cubby Creatures, that most healing, cathartic, San Francisco-based performance/video/zine collective, is coming to us! The Cubby, I'm told, is "like love," meaning it's everywhere, waiting to be accessed. Their new CD, Who Remembers Kathy Barra? is a karma-cleaning tribute to that poor, archetypal, gradeschool classmate unfortunate enough to look like a rodent, "picked on so much I thought she'd bleed."

Maybe in your school it was Naked Mole Rat, Albino Mouse, or Weasel. Poor outcast Kathy Barra was unfortunate enough to look like a rat and have a name that sounds like Cappybarra, the largest rodent of all. Sigh. Poor Kathy. Singing always makes the world a little kinder, doesn't it? Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash St, 226-0430

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