Every year, The Stranger publishes this inexplicably popular Bumbershoot guide and all the wafting marijuana smoke and deep-fat-fried Twinkies cause ordinarily decent, law-abiding Seattleites to turn to the preferred resource of criminally minded sex addicts. No wonder Bumbershoot organizers typically invite Stranger hacks to host events: It is evidently extortion, probably delivered via threatening e-mail missives that say things like "PUT US ONSTAYGE OR WE RITE BAD STUF BOUT YU HA-HA."

However, this particular literary/artistic/musical event is too egregious a conflict of interest for me to ignore. It's true enough that as part of this program the author Sherman Alexie will be reading (with musical accompaniment) "What You Pawn I Will Redeem," a marvelous short story that originally appeared in the New Yorker. Alexie is an exemplar of Seattle's first-rate literary community, though why he continues to associate himself with gutter filth like The Stranger is beyond me. The Stranger-associated felons and deviants who round out the program include the paper's most famous comic artist, Ellen Forney; former associate editor Sean Nelson (who is also a well-known musician); Stranger contributor Trisha Ready; and The Stranger's editor-in-chief, Christopher Frizzelle.

Apparently, Ready, when not constructing incomprehensible essays about her feelings, is part of a country and western band called the West Marginals, and they will perform some sort of honky-tonk paean to the works of Annie Dillard and Pablo Neruda. Just as the audience recovers from that cacophony, Forney, Nelson, and Frizzelle will hold forth on their not-at-all-interesting love for the work of the American hit-makers Hall & Oates. Rumor has it Nelson may even caterwaul an approximation of their songs. Then Alexie will read.

One can only hope that Alexie has a secret plan in mind for this occasion. Maybe he has waited, patiently, to earn the trust of this band of self-abusers so as to all the more spectacularly and at long last publicly humiliate them, revealing them for the frauds that they are. I will be there, in the front row, ready to lead the taunts. recommended