Saturday, November 9, 2019

Minneapolis

More interesting people...



Met the amazing Mike Gonzalez, my seatmate on the short flight to Minneapolis - he'd been in Toronto teaching first responders first aid and emergency triage. He explained how in the military they use sedated pigs to mimic injured soldiers, while domestically they use a kind of crash dummy, like above, that can talk, bleed, etc. Thirty two years in the Navy, with stints in Iraq, El Salvador, Egypt, Guatemala, and probably others I'm forgetting, this Cubano-born American also spoke Spanish and works for LAPD and offered to take me on a ride-along when I'm back in LA - really an incredible look into a world I know very little about 




The frigid north is another world I don't know much about. That's a small dusting of snow on the grass at the Walker Museum from what's left of the storm I just missed...but it snowed the next day just a bit and has been freezing ever since...


I stayed at Vaughn Ormseth's lovely building in Uptown. 


Vaughn is one of the coolest people I know. He is just so easy to hang with, such a kind and generous host - he basically just joined the Trebor tour while I was here...
below, his bookshelf - or is it an abstract painting? Both!


Vaughn works for Minnesota Public Radio, and so of course he has very sophisticated tastes...he played me this lovely song, along with many others, but this one was really special....







...hadn't heard this in a long time...sounds like mine, or anyone's, love song to life....all love songs are love songs to life, all love stories are ghost stories (that last part from David Foster Wallace)

Vaughn generously threw me a dinner party, connecting me with another writer, Mike McGehee, left, who just published a story in the  Chiron Review, an excellent literary journal where I used to publish poetry. Mike suggested we go to the Commodore, the bar of a hotel (now turned into condos) made famous by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who came up often here in Minneapolis/St. Paul







Fitzgerald's St. Paul neighborhood is interesting, quiet, sort of lost in time...residential and yet with this giant hotel in it, and the enormous cathedral stage left...how weird to be Fitzgerald and/or to live in such a time/place. He grew up here as a rich kid, comes back as a famous writer and party boy, and moves into a hotel in that same neighborhood full of bootleggers and gangsters...not gonna happen in Contra Costa County I'm afraid...I'd end up a junkie in the Concord Days Inn, drinking bad wine at Olive Garden ...not quite as romantic



Back in Minneapolis, Vaughn lives in Ilhan Omar's district, where Trump came to town to diss her and the city refused security, forcing him to pay for it himself, which apparently he did not, and the bill remains outstanding as in most cities where he's held rallies...I saw one of his tweets on the street this morning...


We were on the way to the hardware store to make me some keys, that were quickly dispensed with by the fabulous Margie, who is a technical writer when she's not doing hardware. In fact, come to find out, she wrote numerous trade magazine articles explaining the retrofitting of SF City Hall that followed the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. So she took an interest in me as a fellow writer and SF native and later showed up at my reading...

The store also had a display of root beer, which made me think of my dad who had a lifelong passion for sarsaparilla


I read at Magers & Quinn, an excellent and sprawling bookstore I've read at twice before


This time I read with Raymond Luczak, who has a new book out and edited a wonderful poetry anthology, Lovejets, that I'm included in and that we both read from as well. As a deaf man, he did his whole reading in sign language, with an interpreter reading it by his side. It made it very performance-like, almost like dance. It's beautiful to see.



The magnificent Mark Lofstrom.
Mark, as Vaughn succinctly stated it, put me on the map in Minneapolis back in 2003 when I did my first book tour for Through It Came Bright Colors. Mark was a friend of Shaun Kadlec's who went to Carleton College nearby, and who I met at a wine bar in Montecito when I was visiting Don Tatum, who was a fellow writer included in Queer Dharma, an anthology of Gay Buddhists. I say all this for the weird 6 degrees of separation of life. It gets better.... Shaun later dated one of L.A. Mayor Garcetti's inner circle, and my nonprofit in LA worked closely with Garcetti for years. Shaun and I both became close friends with Garcetti's wife, Amy Wakeland, and began to run into each other. By then he was an award-winning filmmaker. One day at a brunch, I met Don Tatum's niece, who turned out to be my grandmother's aunt's great-grandaughter.
So I guess Shaun is the weird nexus of all this. He's also a friend of Vaughn's of course!



Anyway, back to Mark who proved to have a passion for agenting, for want of a better word, and has just been so good to me over all these years - he got me on a radio program, hosted two parties (one at his home and one at a little hipster bar, Jetset), and got me in as one of 3 speakers at National
Coming Out Day, which in Minneapolis is like a huge annual gathering of politicians, business leaders, etc. held in a hotel ballroom (it's that progressive Scandinavian thing - Univ of Minnesota also has the largest gay archive in the country), a reading at a gay youth center, Project 202, where Target (headquartered here) bought a case of books so every kid in attendance could go home with one. And then he got me a reading at Magers & Quinn. So yes, 2003 in Minneapolis remains the ultimate book tour visit, and all thanks to Mark, who has also put me up several times. Now, Project 202 is gone, Jetset is gone, I was a month late for Natl. Coming Out day (and it's not as big a deal now anyway)...the world has indeed changed in the 15 years since then...

Below.....with Mark Lofstrom, on right, and his partner Ramon, on left....we met up for dinner after the reading 


Ramon made us a traditional Puerto Rican dish, with 3 tubers - sweet potato, yucca and malanga - which you cover with olive oil and eat with eggs, tomatoes and avocado...delicious!



I had to work off those tubers, so I did some manual labor at Vaughn's as it was the annual leave-raking weekend....this is not just posed!! I worked for hours :P



I had no idea squirrels liked pumpkin...squirrels are very bold here


Never seen a brick Victorian in California.....such beautiful houses here




I did another reading a few days later at Quatrefoil LGBT Library, where I'd taught a class previously, and they invited me to offer to do another...perhaps over a month or two...worth considering...
Quatrefoil was named after this groundbreaking 1950 gay novel, that portrayed a far more positive view of gay life and relationships than other books available at the time





We all need to be reminded....



Thanks Minneapolis, always a special place for me....

and I didn't forget a Qdoba vegan burrito in the airport!

Seattle

Nov. 9, Sat., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 10th Ave.
w/Alvin Orloff
(206) 624-6600

Portland

Nov. 16, Sat., 11 am, Radical Faerie Coffee
Triumph Coffeeshop
201 SE 12th Ave.
(971) 229-1631

Nov. 17, Sun., 6 pm, - Stage Reading
Crush Bar
1400 SE Morrison St.
w/Daniel Elder
(503) 235-8150

Los Angeles

Nov. 22, Fri., 7:30 pm - Reading/Q&A
Skylight Books
1814 N. Vermont Ave.
w/ Alvin Orloff & Tara Jepsen
(323) 660-1175

Palm Springs

Nov. 27, Wed., 6–8 pm – End of Tour Book Party
Palm Springs Cultural Center
2300 E Baristo Rd.
(760) 325-2582

Oakland

Dec. 5, Thurs., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
E.M. Wolfman Bookstore
410 13th St, Oakland
w/Alvin Orloff & Brontez Purnell
(510) 679-4650

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Toronto


Arrived by train to Toronto where I had the good fortune to stay with one of my writing mentors, Ian Young, a giant of Canadian queer publishing, who like Felice, built his own press (s). He also wrote a important book about the gay movement and AIDS Crisis, The Stonewall Experiment: A Gay Psychohistory and did a bunch of groundbreaking anthologies (The Gay Muse, On the Line) which is how I originally connected to him...way back when I was asked to edit (along with Marci Blackman) Beyond Definition: New Writing from Gay & Lesbian San Francisco by Jennifer Joseph, who ran Manic D Press 
as well as the premier SF poetry reading of the early '90s at Paradise Lounge. I had not published a book before, so it was an honor and I reached out to everyone who'd come before who had done something similar, and so I met Ian...but only digitally...it would take another 10+ years to meet him for real one day in NYC.
Ian was born in South Africa and grew up in both England and Canada, along with many years spent in NYC as part of the Gay Liberation Front in the early days of the gay movement

Ian below, on left, with partner Wulf, who grew up in a hunting lodge in northern BC and now does sets for the Toronto Opera. Interesting guys to say the least, and lovely hosts....



Wulf whipped up a very northern meal (pirogis, beats, red cabbage, peas, sour cream), except for the Filipino sausages

Their house is a lovely menagerie of books, records, cds, films, statuettes, art, toys and wonder...


Amazing painting above the fireplace which changes colors with the light...it depicts Anubis, the Egyptian dog-headed god at the gates of the underworld (the Aztecs have a similar myth of a dog who guides departed souls through the underworld)



The Pan altar


Ian's downstairs study where he showed me his extensive collection of chapbooks, one of mine included...I'll send him the other 4 when I get home...he also asks visiting poets to add a poem to his poetry guestbook, which I was composing on that yellow legal pad that just happened to be a favorite writing surface of my late Dad


That's Ian's house across the street from a coffeeshop. It was a grey, rainy few days, so we stayed in a lot, spending 
most nights in animated discussion about all manner of things - economics, politics, art, film, literature, history, architecture, etc.
At one point, I mentioned Gus Van Sant's Mala Noche, an excellent film...Ian casually pointed...it was sitting on the table :)


Some of the stand out music that played while we sipped beer and wine, smoked weed, laughed and discussed:





Morton Feldman
Tangerine Dream

Miriam Makeba

Nusrat Ali khan

We went out for Native American food, something I'd wanted to do in Toronto as I'd heard there were several places of note.
We went to Tea N Bannock


Squash soup


That's Ian's Arctic Char and my Char burger on frybread...below is 
Wulf's bison stew


frybread!!



Camille at Glad Day bookstore...she was so helpful, welcoming and friendly...bookstore folks are often socially awkward and/or a tad morose and reserved...not Camille! :)


I read from my story "Ghost" which is becoming a favorite it turns out....

Thursday, it was raining for the second day in a row, but I wanted to go see a new neighborhood...where are the artists? Where are the transitioning neighborhoods? (a nice word for gentrification, or the sweet spot before the salaried and the developers come in...Wulf directed me to Parkdale on the west side of the city....exactly what I was looking for .... in my ideal world, we'd stop the process right at the point Parkdale is in.....rent control I guess....and let them build lofts and apartment towers stage left in some nearby neighborhood, but not here!
I tooled along for hours, ducking into coffeeshops and Dollaramas when the squalls proved too challenging...as long as I have a book and a pad of paper and a pen, I can just wander the cities of the earth like this forever, completely content




Note the queer rainbow steps on the church...this isn't the gay neighborhood, but the more adventurous gay folks are here....the gay neighborhood, which is downtown and where the gay bookstore is, has gone the route of  most gay ghettoes over the last couple decades and is touristy, expensive, bland and rather soulless

The two cool Parkdale sisters who opened Tattoos & Coffee, sheltered me from the rain, and then encouraged me to also check out the western reaches of Bloor Street



So it ended up a big circular walk and I headed north and then east back down Bloor Street ...

finally reaching downtown and Yorkville where Felice was doing a presentation on gays in Hollywood in the golden age of film (Carey Grant, Randolph Scott, Garbo, Dietrich, etc.)....




Passed this window and thought of Ernest Posey, my late painter friend and mentor, who often did meticulous spirograph type paintings similar to these...
Some of Ernest's:







Felice Picano and his friend Beverly, who he went to college with...teacher, dancer and, as she reminded us - and most importantly - a New Yorker! We had a nice Middle Eastern dinner together



And an answer to my question about the mystery salad in Ottawa:
Thank you Marshall Moore who nailed down the scientific name, and Paul Holden, who as a Quebecois, gives us the colloquial - 
sea bean salad :)

Marshall and his boyfriend Simon on left


Paul and two of my favorite people, his twin sons Henry and Patrick :)

Samphire originates on the coast of Northern France in sea-sprayed marshes...so not quite seaweed, but kinda......another indication that the Quebecois are Northern French...will be eating lots of it if I move to Montreal....


I ate mine with cheese balls, so not vegan, but this just in from a non-vegan:

Question: How do you know if someone's a vegan?

Answer:  They will tell you.


The Goof

Returning to the U.S....wish me luck!!

Minneapolis

Nov. 4, Mon., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Magers & Quinn Booksellers
3038 Hennepin Ave.
w/Raymond Luczak
(612) 822-4611

Nov. 6, Wed., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Quatrefoil Library
1220 E. Lake St.
(612) 729-2543

Seattle

Nov. 9, Sat., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 10th Ave.
w/Alvin Orloff
(206) 624-6600

Portland

Nov. 16, Sat., 11 am, Radical Faerie Coffee
Triumph Coffeeshop
201 SE 12th Ave.
(971) 229-1631

Nov. 17, Sun., 6 pm, - Stage Reading
Crush Bar
1400 SE Morrison St.
w/Daniel Elder
(503) 235-8150

Los Angeles

Nov. 22, Fri., 7:30 pm - Reading/Q&A
Skylight Books
1814 N. Vermont Ave.
w/ Alvin Orloff & Tara Jepsen
(323) 660-1175

Palm Springs

Nov. 27, Wed., 6–8 pm – End of Tour Book Party
Palm Springs Cultural Center
2300 E Baristo Rd.
(760) 325-2582

Oakland

Dec. 5, Thurs., 7 pm - Reading/Q&A
E.M. Wolfman Bookstore
410 13th St, Oakland
w/Alvin Orloff & Brontez Purnell
(510) 679-4650