You may as well stop looking for me at this year's Bumbershoot; I am not in attendance. In fact, I only visited Bumbershoot once, 37 years ago, when the tire of my town car went flat and my driver was struck and killed by a passing Volkswagen bus full of Slovakian Gypsy acrobats whilst manning the jack. Disoriented, I wandered onto the Seattle Center grounds looking for help; I will never forget the sandaled-and-bearded hordes, wandering to and fro, grazing on what appeared to be chunks of fried animals impaled on sticks as the racket of arrhythmic jungle beats blared overhead. Being in such close proximity to the general public turned my stomach and scarred my brain; I still consider that chill September morn to be one of the worst experiences of my life.
But I digress: You are picking up The Stranger because you need a guide to the horrific pageant of circus freaks and itinerant buskers swirling about you this weekend—after all, who better to judge a freak than a freak? Unfortunately, you have come to the wrong place. The schedules are so graphically incompetent that they are unreadable, and the write-ups drip with The Stranger house style, a curious mix of know-it-allery, willful ignorance, and a lame misanthropy cribbed from a lifetime of skimming comic-book adaptations of Dostoevsky novels. To be charitable: This guide is less than unhelpful.
Ignoring all the "blurbs"—an unfortunate word for an unfortunate printed medium employed by and for illiterates to miscommunicate nonessential information—we are left with a series of too-long essays scribbled by Stranger regulars about various acts at Bumbershoot. Case in point: DAVID SCHMADER contributes an apologia about an elderly street preacher named Courtney Love. Why would Mr. Schmader put forth even the marginal effort on display here to explain a marginal talent to a disinterested audience? He provides no answers. Likewise, the comely young lass ERICA GRANDY documents the collapse of an obscure jazz combo that performs under the unfortunate nomenclature "Weezer." Who cares? Not I, even if Miss Grandy's porcelain, lavender-scented hand is the one operating the typewriter.
Elsewhere, DAVE SEGAL pens a pornographic ode to something called "funk" (I do not want to know), LARRY MIZELL JR. scribbles a mash note to a chanteuse named Mary J. Blige (unreadable as always, Mr. Mizell), a busload of children take crayons in hand to scratch out their opinions about a Jewish folk singer (run as fast as you can from The Stranger's grabby hands, children!), and the hideous he/she called PAUL CONSTANT finds a pen somewhere in the folds of its girth and uses it to whinge at length about a disgusting comic strip doodled by an inebriate.
In conclusion, if you are from one of the suburban expanses outside the Seattle area and this Bumbershoot marks your first experience handling The Stranger, I have the unfortunate task of confirming your worst nightmares: Yes, it is like this every week. Drop it, walk away as quickly as you can, and do not fail to wash your hands as soon as possible.