Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tell Me a Story

Q: What do you get when you mix Ray Bradbury, Rod Stewart, an east-Asian porter and a Spanish tour bus, with a religious cross made out of sugar cubes, a generous shot of pepper-laced vodka, and a festering pool of watered-down cow shit?

A: You get a Moth, of course.

A Moth (or, The Moth, if you're talking about the read deal: ) is simply a gathering of people who like to tell and/or listen to stories. The event—in no way reminiscent of that bland butterfly cousin with a maniacal fluttering compulsion, though named for it (the original crew of storytellers swapped tales in humidity-ridden Georgia, to a far-reaching audience of the beastly insects)—was founded by George Dawes Green, who, after moving to New York, "missed the sense of connection he had felt sharing stories with his friends back home." So he recreated it in his living room.

That was 12 years ago. Now, The Moth stories are broadcast on radio stations throughout the nation and have featured such storytellers as: Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Gopnik, Ethan Hawke, John Cameron Mitchell, Susan Orlean and—as of last week—Claires! (Although, as we have no professional connection to the public airwaves, we acquiesced to the living room version.)

Last week, more than a dozen people crowded into our Brooklyn apartment to hear stories based on the night's theme, "I Had it Bad," and nearly 10 people spoke. While most of the stories featured awkward encounters, physical ailments or some sort of heartbreak, one centered on the hilarious embarrassment of public nudity (and, no, this was not the tale of the pepper-laced vodka).

From what I could tell, the night was a success. And if we can generate another theme with the power to inspire such diverse topics as sugar cube crosses and festering cow shit, I think the Moth will have to make a comeback.

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