Bumbershoot Recap (and the BumberNovel)

We would have posted this Bumbershoot recap sooner, but we’ve only just now recovered from our three days at the storied Seattle festival!Kristin and I spent no small amount of time planning our program for this year’s Words & Ideas stage. Our lineup included a knockout list of panelists: Michelle Tea, Jerry Stahl, Mandy Stadtmiller, Chelsea Cain, Peaches, Brian Doyle, Tim Egan, Laurie Frankel, and Marcie Sillman. We also wrangled our beloved colleagues into mixing with the festival crowds for a variety of activities: from an editorial smackdown delivered by our fearless leaders, Lam and Ingrid, to word-nerd Twister to a crowd-sourced, live-tweeted novel. We got a ton of material for our podcast—which we can’t wait to share with you—and had an absolute blast mixing it up with this arty, eccentric, fun-loving crowd.  

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And now, at long last, the BumberNovel in its entirety, with an intro from one of the newest Girls Friday, the multitalented Devon Simpson. To say that Bumbershoot attracts an eclectic crowd is an understatement, which made my job very interesting. With the help of a few lovely GFP comrades, I meandered through the masses at Seattle Center, encountering flower-crowned girls, die-hard Social Distortion fans, and dreadlocked men with affinities for tie-dyed shirts, all in a quest to create a crowd-sourced Twitter novel. Equipped with our Girl Friday shirts and stickers, we asked festivalgoers of all walks of life to contribute lines for our story. As you can probably imagine, the reactions were priceless. Some gave blank stares. Others charmed us with their (likely substance-induced) creativity. Many expressed their dismay at the thought of Donald Trump becoming president. At the end of the weekend, we compiled these lines—equal parts entertaining and confusing—into a story for your enjoyment.

“It looks like a walking artichoke!” cried Mayor Sullivan, peering at the foreign object descending toward the town square. “It sure would look better if it were grilled with garlic and aioli sauce, also some onions,” replied Deputy Ralph, clearly distracted by the menu for his Labor Day BBQ. Suddenly, the mysterious object became clear, shocking everyone. “But it’s the mayor’s daughter, how will we get a moment alone with her?” “Use fire! If no fire is available, a series of handshakes will work as well,” said Sullivan, remembering that the same trick worked on his daughter last Christmas. Suddenly, an inconspicuous spectator interjected, “It is now time for extreme interpretive dance. So let’s get crazy!” The group instantly forgot about the mayor’s daughter, who had oddly taken the form of a giant walking artichoke, and broke into a very conceptual dance routine to Cher’s “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.” Impressed by the synchronicity of the dancers, a pizza-delivering dog-walker approached the group. “How about this piece of pizza, but don’t feed it to the hungry dogs, it’s bad for them. Feed it to the cobras, they’ll eat anything. Or maybe we should feed it to the flamingos instead?” The flamingo trainer instantly had reservations. “Let’s not do that—the flamingos have been bad lately.” She reminisced on last week’s incident in the flamingo encounter. “THEY HAVE BEEN REALLY BAD,” proclaimed her assistant. “But we sort of enjoyed it,” he said with a far-off look in his eye. For the assistant, the only thing better than watching his boss struggle with the flamingos’ inappropriate behavior was the look on his ex-girlfriend’s face when he introduced her to his new girlfriend. Suddenly, everyone in the vicinity turned as a pigeon deftly swooped through the crowd to snatch popcorn off the ground. “This is an omen!” exclaimed an onlooker. “Perhaps Donald Trump will become president in 2016. We should get our ponchos and trash bags to protect our fancy tie-dyed T-shirts from the downpour of sadness.” Without complete loss of hope, the onlooker gravitated toward the mayor’s aura and gave him a hug. Somehow, he was confident that Mayor Sullivan would save them from the clutches of President Trump’s reign. The mayor hated having his personal bubble invaded. He awkwardly proclaimed, “Now is the perfect time to go forward and eat gelato for breakfast.” Sullivan had no doubt that gelato would raise the spirits of the townspeople. Despite the gelato for breakfast and wet turtle massages that were unexpectedly pleasing, the mayor’s daughter still could not shake the unspeakable horror that gripped her. She was still in the shape of a giant artichoke, and it was very unfortunate. An intense wave of nausea overcame her, but no matter how hard she tried, she just could not vomit. Suddenly, the mayor called an emergency gathering around the town’s largest fountain. During his speech, he realized that there were no bathrooms, and the fountain didn’t really help. Sullivan continued with his speech anyway, because somehow the fountain was so calming that he persisted. “It seems as though it was just yesterday when the blissful scent of this fountain ran across my nostrils.” “That’s what she said!” yelled an immature teenager in the audience. Thus, the end was his. It was a cloudy day when the townspeople heard the news about who would be running the country for the next four years. Just as a hot-pink storm began to brew, all hell broke loose. People gathered to cry, enthusiastically realizing that theirs were indeed tears of deep pain. Freddy, the neighborhood clown, was so overcome with grief that he fainted, collapsing on the ground for all to see. “Freddy took a digger!” yelled that pesky teenager, but no one seemed to care. There were more important issues at stake. “We must build a new society,” said the mayor’s daughter, who had just accepted her fate as a vegetable. “We will call it Turnip Land!” Suddenly, the grass under their feet grew ten times larger. In horror, the townspeople ran with reckless abandon throughout the forest of grass. Soon, they started to regret eating all of that gelato. It was a horrible decision, because they were puking for the next forty-five minutes. Luckily, the psychedelics started to kick in. That’s when everyone jumped on the backs of the giant raccoons and rode to the next town.