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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 07.21.10
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The What would Gaga do?

What would Gaga do?

In retrospect, maybe holding a Lady Gaga-influenced book reading wasn't such a good idea. The legal fallout alone is going to tie me up for months.

When the organizers asked me to participate in Bookalicious 2010 over in West Farnham, Quebec, I asked myself how I could stand out from the other authors, poets, and playwrights. What was someone with minimal talent, a limited repertoire, and virtually no self-respect to do?

Then I thought of it: Lady Gaga. If crass, tasteless behaviour could work for the Princess of Pop-Porn, surely it could work for me.

The reading was scheduled to take place at a local restaurant, Everything Crab. I was third on the roster, following modestly acclaimed poet Darlene Forest reading from her collection Parsnips of Parnassus, and acclaimed modest author Derrick Smee promoting his recently published memoir Don't Mind Me. The room was filled with lovers of words and crab-themed delicacies.

Showtime!

The lights dimmed and the sound system began pumping out a bass-driven electro beat. Cue the dry ice and lasers! Lights flashed behind the swinging kitchen doors from whence I emerged, perched on top of the dessert trolley and pushed by waitresses wearing leather pants and bikini tops fashioned out of discarded Encyclopedia Britannica covers.

As for my wardrobe, well, I heard one literary critic comment later that my outfit was a terrific metaphor for global starvation, both physical and intellectual, and how it represented the glaring, skeletal nature of aid for people in need, but really it was just me with my shirt off. The thong also evoked gasps, I like to think of approval, but perhaps not.

As the busboys in bondage headgear swirled around me, I arose from the dessert trolley and descended to the floor on the rope ladder that had miraculously dropped from the ceiling. I then broke into my first reading, a selection of verse entitled "Topless Bars and Bottomless Pits." Due to the intricacy of the dance routine, a portion of my performance was lip-synched.

All my lovin's in the oven
ike a funky witches' coven
All this pushin' and this shovin'
Makes me bite my Egg McMuffin

If you want to stir my ladle
Sit upon my kitchen table
This here ain't no Aesop's fable
Havin' fun with Cousin Mabel

The elaborate light show and frequent inappropriate clutching served to distract the audience from the fact that the verse made no sense.

Things were proceeding swimmingly, with me reading my rant against people who use the phrase "best video EVER!!!" all over the Internet, while the waitresses and busboys simulated scenes from Lady Chatterley's Lover.

I sensed, however, that I was starting to lose my audience, so I decided to add more thrusting to my reading. Unfortunately, this caused my fishnet ankle socks to become entangled in a poorly placed soup terrine (crab bisque), causing me to stumble into a small press publisher. (The press was small; the publisher was regrettably large and sweaty.)

This in turn resulted in one of my platform shoes to go flying across the restaurant, landing square in the face of Bookalicious 2010's keynote speaker, Constance Nickel, who was on hand to promote her latest thriller Put That Thing Down! She was knocked out cold.

The rest is pretty much what was reported in the press: the fire, the suit for damages, the assault and obscenity charges, the stern resolution from West Farnham council.

On the plus side, an amateur video of the event has gone viral on YouTube. You should see it. It's the best video EVER!!!

Ross Murray's collection, "You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You"? is available through www.townships.ca

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