Neal Pollack & John Hodgman The Pollack-Hodgman Interviews

Sun Sept 5, 8:30-9:30 pm, Literary Stage

After many years of unjustly neglecting my importance to American culture in general and my place in the hearts of Seattle residents in particular, the people at Bumbershoot have finally allowed me to appear in their little festival. They shouldn't expect much gratitude from me. I know they only booked my ass because Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam Presents a Bunch of Amiri Baraka Knockoffs Thrice-Removed canceled at the 10th hour. Still, they should be glad they snagged me now. This lightning was about to forever escape from their bottle.

What a privilege it'll be for me to appear on a "literary stage" sponsored by Starbucks. Way to transcend your stereotypes, Seattle. I'll also enjoy waiting in the Microsoft Green Room and washing my ass backstage in the Kurt Cobain Memorial Bidet. But seriously, folks. These aren't outtakes from my first-round-elimination appearance on Last Comic Standing. When I appear at Bumbershoot this week, accompanied by my valet, John Hodgman, it will be a landmark event in American literary history. I'm perhaps America's leading avant-garde writer with an eye toward complete mainstream sellout, and Hodgman is the funniest man I know whom you haven't heard of yet unless you live in New York or waste your life posting on McSweeney's bulletin boards. Our event is from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. You all must attend.

Perhaps it'll help your decision when you look at the program guide to see that Hodgman and I have no real competition whatsoever. I fear only one act in the entire festival, and that's Nancy Sinatra. In fact, when I heard she was appearing, I changed my flight to Seattle just so I could see her before I died. If you're feeling snobbish about Nancy Sinatra, you're a moron. Nancy Sinatra kicks all y'all's collective ass from here to Hoboken and back again.

So let's see what direct cage-match competition Hodgman and I will be facing. In ring one, the provocatively named Mainstage in Memorial Stadium, we have Public Enemy and Nas. Now, I like watching a middle-aged Stepin Fetchit prance about with an oversized clock around his neck as much as the next guy, but if you're skipping an evening of high-end satirical literary conversation to see Public Enemy, then I can't help you. Yes, I know, I know, 911 Is a Joke, Chuck D. Tell it to the nation of millions who listen to Air America's morning drive-time hour. Besides, the group hasn't been the same since the tragic death of Inspector Gadget. As for Nas, what do I look like to you, a white suburban teenager from the mid-'90s? I don't know what Nas sounds like. But I'm sure he sucks.

Meanwhile, in McCaw Hall, Boeing presents Celtic-fiddling virtuoso Natalie MacMaster. Let me quote from the Bumbershoot website: "Her latest endeavors, fusing her brilliant fiddling with banjo, dobro, and mandolin, push the boundaries of traditional bluegrass." Thanks a lot, Boeing. Can we have our jobs back now? I'm pleased to say that Ben Kweller will finish a half-hour before we begin, which is good, because our fan bases intersect so totally. Not. Ben Kweller is Ricky Nelson in updated clothing, people. If you don't know who Ricky Nelson is, consider yourselves totally fooled by Ben Kweller.

At the same time, the unfortunately named Miller Genuine Draft Bumbrella Stage brings us Soulive featuring Reggie Watts, who together will provide an "urban soundtrack for the multiculti age," which is fine except that the multiculti age ended sometime in the fall of 1992. If you need a band for your workplace diversity-training seminar, call these guys. Concurrently, the Backyard Stage presents the competition I'm least worried about, New York's the Walkmen, which, in the words of a Stranger editor I've never met, is a "band people like." You know, the Walkmen were pretty cool three years ago when no one had ever heard of them, but I saw them at Sirenfest in 2002, at, like, their peak, and since then they've been treading water. Have fun, trendoids, while Hodgman and I, who are also influenced by Brian Eno and the Velvet Underground, blow their Walkbutts away.

Also at the same time, the Bagley Wright Theatre is offering a rare chance to see Peter Bagge appear with other graphic novelists like the underexposed Harvey Pekar and Jessica Abel. It's about time that a woman broke through the male-dominated comic-book firewall. Salon should really do a think piece on that topic. You go, sister! Really, though, why do graphic novelists always have to appear on panels about the graphic novel? Are they afraid that they can't hold the stage by themselves? John Hodgman and I can.

The Blues Stage is hosting Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, who's perfectly good, but the blues had its last interesting moment approximately 30 years ago, when Buddy Guy signed with Arista, a fact that I'm completely making up. Besides, if you miss Gatemouth, I'm sure you can hear his set replayed over and over again on your mandatory local NPR blues show for the next five years. And if you attend the Electro-Deck Electronica Showcase instead of the Pollack-Hodgman Interviews, then I really don't want to know you. Yes, yes, electronica is the wave of the future, so they've been saying at that festival in Barcelona for the last decade, but most of those people go spend a week in Ibiza after that's done, so how reliable is their judgment?

My goodness, all this hip sub-referencing is making me tired, so let me just say don't go see Greg Behrendt perform at the Laughingstock Comedy Festival when you could be seeing Hodgman and I, because Behrendt's performing every other night this weekend, too, and you should never trust a comedian who says he intends to "Bring the Rock." Besides, the Pollack-Hodgman Interviews will feature a half-hour parody of "literary conversation," therefore making it the true capstone of American comedy.

Finally, in conclusion and completely off topic, let me just say that I love you and that if you go see the Pixies on Monday you're just asking to be called a washed-up loser. Wake up, my friends. You're in your early 30s at best, your tummy is turning to dough, and your kids have school in the morning. You wouldn't find yourself renting Batman or watching reruns of the last season of Family Ties on Nick at Nite these days, would you? Because the Pixies are relevant to that cultural era only. "Wave of Mutilation" is our generation's "Puff the Magic Dragon." Don't disagree with me, suckers. You're fat and old and stupid. The only thing that can save you from obsolescence is the Pollack-Hodgman Interviews. See you there.