By Jack SkelleyNovember 15, 2023

CASUAL ENCOUNTERSZ, No Moon LA, Los Angeles, November 2, 2023.

Strip poker with a blow-up doll, Minnesota meth murder, sub sex addiction, JetBlue fuckups, a bloody foot accident, a publicist undergoing a nervous breakdown, and other compelling topics: Must be the latest Casual Encountersz (CE) extravagonzo … this time back at Chinatown’s No Moon LA gallery, packed wall-to-white-wall and spilling outside with a cross section of L.A. word nerds and other scenesters. Multi-dozens of them.

The glut of such events is now an embarrassment of riches, with happenings nightly in Los Angeles. (Time for our city to declare a lit “scene war” on NYC!) Suavely ebullient CE impresario Sammy Loren upped the ante again with this writer roster: Chris Kraus, Juliana Halpert, Lisa Teasley, Derek Brooks, Kennedy Wright, Christina Catherine Martinez. Honestly, there were too many highlights to fit this column, so here are three …

Martinez is a triple threat: writer/artist/comic. She delivered “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”—a text in the form of a hyperbolic press release from a stressed-out arts PR gal. The performance climaxed with Martinez crawling through the gallery, growling: “Sammy said NPR was here! Are you from NPR?!?!” Freaking hysterical and brilliant. (No Moon LA is currently showing Martinez’s photo installation, “Eleanor.”)

Kraus read from her newest docu-novel, The Four Spent the Day Together. It recounts a chilling homicide (is there any other kind?) among methed-up kids in Hibbing, Minnesota. Kraus continues to purify her trademark product: unflinching, fact-based narratives from the margins of America interwoven in socioeconomic insights. I got a River’s Edge vibe from the text (if you know that creepy-cool 1986 movie). Kraus says the book will publish in 2025 by “I’m not sure who.”

Then there was Wright, who goes by ILoveGreenDay on Instagram, and whom Loren intro’d as a shitposter and podcaster. Wright read: “Ça plane pour moi.” (Extra points for its title referencing classic Belgian punk song of the same name.) Sample line from this tale of JetBlue mishaps: “I’m grunting as I fumble with my chargers which are falling out of the sockets like loose pussy.” If the podcast (Doghouse) is anything like her droll fiction delivery, I’ll listen to the end.

Loren kicked it off with a kick-ass story of his own. Halpert, Teasley, and Brooks also impressed. Teasley (of the blow-up doll strip-poker story) is legit-quality writing and has a recent book (Fluid) out. Halpert is an artist with a command of both the written word and the stage. In fact, let me conclude with this: For L.A. to extend its hot lit-happenings streak requires readers like these who keep it short (“5 minutes each, please!”), interact with their audience, and entertain at venues like CE, which graciously supplies vibe, booze, and tuneage. (In this case by DJ sweetheart.tree, a.k.a. Jacob Romero Gibson of the Netflix show One Piece.)


Photo by Anya Gta.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

Jack Skelley is the author of the novel The Complete Fear of Kathy Acker (Semiotext(e), 2023), and Myth Lab: Theories of Plastic Love (Far West Press, 2024). Jack’s other books include Monsters (Little Caesar Press, 1982), Dennis Wilson and Charlie Manson (Fred & Barney Press, 2021), and Interstellar Theme Park: New and Selected Writing (BlazeVOX, 2022). Jack’s psychedelic surf band Lawndale released two albums on SST Records, and has a new album, Twango.


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