SPX 2008: The Cross Hatch Rehash

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News travels quickly in alternative comics circles. You’re greeted with reminders of this, from time to time.When the when the half of the North Bethesda Marriot conference room devoted to the Small Press Expo opened, just after 11 AM on Saturday, I soon discovered that tales of our roadside culinary misadventures had managed to arrive at the showroom floor far ahead of my fellow passengers. The reactions, strangely, were mixed between an outpouring of gastrointestinal sympathy and a defense of that American South chain that unrepentantly displays the words “scattered, smothered, and covered” at every imaginable opportunity.

The evening before, the decision was unanimous—some combination of morbid curiosity and the desire to sample the local cuisine, knowing full well that neither desire would be appeased by the next two days’ food consumption, which would likely revolve largely around the quasi-swank ambiance of the restaurant just down the hall from the North Bethesda Marriott lobby. Really, it was the same desire that drove Heidi MacDonald to purchase a bag of crab-flavored potato chips, a touch of the Maryland seasoning that she was immediately forbidden from opening within the confines of the maroon SUV thoughtfully rented by one Jeff Newelt.

As we sat down beneath the neon yellow glow of the Waffle House, moments before our waiter smiled to reveal a pair of brown filmy incisors, Ben McCool uttered cheerfully like a ravenous harbinger of impending doom, “you know, I think may be the greatest decision that’s ever been made, ever.” The tale of distress that followed that evening (and, troublingly, into the next morning, for me), is one which will live on in roadside lore, for years to come (though, for the record, so far as I can tell, The Beat’s reports of “explosive diarrhea” have been somewhat exaggerated). I mention it here for it was precisely because of that unfortunate decision that we missed the pre-SPX festivities occurring that evening at Atomic Books, featuring an impressive lineup of familiar names, like Brian Ralph, Lauren Weinstein, Jesse Reklaw, Julia Wertz, Laura Park, Theo Ellsworth, Austin English, Ken Dahl, and Ben Claassen III.

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