It all begins in San Francisco...for me anyway...birth, coming out, my writing career...this city's been good - or certainly essential - to me....Alvin Orloff, on left, manages Dog Eared Books and is a force of nature...he's basically rebuilt a Castro reading venue - lost when A Different Light closed back in 2011....
Incidentally, Alvin and I first met here at A Different Light Bookstore, as we were both reading from an anthology called Beyond Definition: New Writing from Gay & Lesbian San Francisco, which I edited with Marci Blackman, and which was a Manic D Press production - special thanks to Jennifer Joseph as the publisher, who went on to publish three of Alvin's novels and also hosted the weekly Paradise Lounge reading every Sunday, the most important spoken word venue of the '90s in San Francisco... I am forever indebted to Jen and that community of writers...yes, Alvin and I have been at this a good long time! He also has a book out....Disasterama! ... and we will be reading together in Seattle on Nov. 9th at Elliott Bay Book Company...can't wait!
Arthur Tress, who took some beautiful photographs of my dad during his last year, and also provided the photo for the cover of Falling
with Mark Abramson, a wonderful fellow author and friend
A great night...we had 50 in attendance and sold out all the books (30+)...Thank you San Francisco!
Weirdly and completely unconsciously, per the usual, I ended up in front of my dad's childhood parish and grammar school, Star of the Sea, earlier in the day, which was also his birthday...yeah, I reverted, lit a candle to St. Francis and Our Lady of Guadalupe, made my wishes...watch out for Don, whereever he is.....my regard for my dad grows and grows by the day...like to sit and think on him..
And then it was vegan lunch with Nick Giuricich, a wonderful friend, writer and filmmaker I actually met in New York on a rainy night way down on like Canal Street on a former book tour... I took this pic to launch the beginning of my burgeoning vegan commitment....watch for more vegan food as the tour progresses!
Nick is a good dude...he lost his mom right when I lost my dad, so we've grown much closer of late ..
We took a nice walk around the Presidio, and then went our separate ways...I headed to my friend Al Baum's ...
Al as a college boy...on right
And sure enough, he had an Arthur Tress photograph on his wall (Al has a museum-quality art collection)...a foreshadowing of the evening to come..
I arrived at the reading without a good felt-tip book-signing pen...whoops... enter Jack Davis, savior...this pen will now travel with me :) Thanks Jack!
Best Q&A ever, really a great evening...
I'm excited to set out on this new journey, but it's been a rather intense month...grieving dad and then two of the great mentors of my youth also passed away in the last few weeks, as well as a boyfriend from Oaxaca...Rusbel... he'd been through so much...an evangelical upbringing which is so hard on a gay kid, and then he lost his sister in a car accident a couple years back...this year, he was unable to overcome an infection complicated by HIV...he first welcomed me to Oaxaca, and he constantly cracked me up...we walked a lot in the rain, and he sort of re-taught me that umbrellas are totally unnecessary...bless you Rusbel, and your sister, both way too young..:(
Robert Hall passed away in September...he was a meditation teacher I met out at Spirit Rock when I was super into Buddhism...he was the first major "out" queer dharma teacher and a lovely man....He was a dad to me....a spirit dad...he'd invite me out to his farmhosue in Tomales...sometimes I'd bike out there and stay the weekend...he had these great dinner parties, with artists, martial arts aficionados, writers, poets...talking about art, reading poetry to each other, smoking weed and drinking wine, laughing...he'd tell me tales about his time at Esalen when it was first emerging...he was a real California human potential movement guy..started a bodywork school based on the work he did there...had been a psychiatrist for the US Army in the '50s and helped get queer guys honorably discharged, and even did group therapy sessions with them using acid...an amazing man...I always thought he was like Sitting Bull and I gave him a postcard of the great Lakota chief with a butterfly pinned to his hat that he treasured and kept tacked up over his stove...
I met Ernest Posey through Robert... Ernest was an amazing and visionary painter, another mentor who taught me so much and got me to Argentina...he's the basis of Edward in the story "A Geography of Plants" in Falling.
Robert had a stroke about a year ago, and being the extraordinary man he was, he did a dharma talk about preparing for death. He organized the first gay men's Buddhist retreat back in 1993 or thereabouts in New Mexico with Eric Kolvig, which I attended, where there were 12 of us - and instead of dharma talks each evening after a day of silent meditation, he asked that over the 12 days each of us tell our life story in an hour or two before the group. It was amazing, and it birthed the story "Rite of Passage" in Falling, which I read at the San Francisco reading.
And then Frank Shawl, who I met at the Gay Men's Spiritual Retreat...he was a dancer, the person I have known in my life connected most utterly to his art...there was no Frank without dance...he went to NYC at 17 and lived his art from then on, opening a school in Berkeley after a successful career in New York. He performed into his 80s...he told me once "Every reading you do should be like the last reading you'll ever do - give it your whole soul. That is presence."
So, it's been a hard summer...I've basically lost three of my fathers and I don't know what to do with that void...just feel the love and gratefulness I guess ....that I had the good fortune to know and be treated kindly by and nurtured by these men...my dad, Robert, Frank, Ernest....
Lots of candles to light...which I'll do as I chance upon caves, temples, grottoes, and all manner of weird coincidences (and butterflies and hummingbirds of course!) on my travels.... need to write about Frank next...New York is a good place to start...
Next Tour Dates:
New York City
Oct. 12, Sat., 12pm - 6pm - Rainbow Book Fair
(panels and readings)
LGBT Center, 208 W. 13th St.
Oct 13, Sun., 5pm – 6pm - Bloom Readings
The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens
Pinehurst Ave. and W. 183rd St.
Stories about and support for immigrants
Wine and hors d’oeuvres
Oct 18, Fri., 7pm – 8:30pm - Violet Ghosts
Bureau of Queer Services
LGBT Center, 208 W. 13th St.
Oct 20, Sun., 7–9 pm - Enclave Reading Series
505 E. 6th St.
wj/Ricky Tucker, Court Stroud, Emanuel Xavier, Craig Gidney
Oct 23, Wed., 7 pm - Violet Hour Reading Series
1171 St. Catherine St. East,
w/Felice Picano & Montreal writers Johanne Pelletier, Su J Sokol and David Tacium
Oct 24, Thurs, 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Librairie Argo Bookshop
1915 St. Catherine St. East
w/Felice Picano, & Montreal writers Nicola Sibthorpe & Madelaine Caritas Longman
Oct 25, 26, weekend
gay men's book club brunch
Oct 30, Wed., 6-8 pm - Reading/Q&A
Glad Day Bookshop
499 Church St.
Nov. 4, Mon., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Magers & Quinn Booksellers
3038 Hennepin Ave.
Nov. 6, Wed., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
1220 E. Lake St.
Nov. 9, Sat., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 10th Ave.
Nov. 16, Sat., 11 am, Radical Faerie Coffee
201 SE 12th Ave.
Nov. 17, Sun., 6 pm, - Stage Reading
1400 SE Morrison St.
Nov. 22, Fri., 7:30 pm - Reading/Q&A
1814 N. Vermont Ave.
w/ Alvin Orloff & Tara Jepsen
Nov. 27, Wed., 6–8 pm – End of Tour Book Party
Palm Springs Cultural Center
2300 E Baristo Rd.
Dec. 5, Thurs., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
E.M. Wolfman Bookstore
410 13th St, Oakland
w/Alvin Orloff & Brontez Purnell