Is it a rabbit or a pig?
Answer: I need to get home and write the next book
Coming back to NYC brings it all full circle...went for breakfast with the same group from last time and walked around the village
Draper and Skylar
Queer consciousness and magic still live even as the rents push all the artists out of the West Village
Sitting in Julia's, one of the West Village's oldest gay bars
Off to my final reading at KGB Bar, a place I have dreamed of reading at for just about forever..thank you Elena, my publicist at UWISC who used to live nearby and made sure we landed one :)
The story of my signing pen: sweet Christian, whose umbrella was carelessly abandoned weeks back in Canada, also gave me this signing pen. As he is an artist, he knew I needed the perfect signing pen for my books..not too thick, not too thin--a number 8! Well, not suprisingly, it finally disappeared. I realized I had foolishly left it in KGB post-reading while imbibing Lagunitas IPA--this after vigilantly guarding it for the last two months. It was a small thing, but had sentimental value, so when I found myself back in the East Village a week later, I dropped in...a crowded reading was about to begin and I sidled up to the bar, and sure enough, there it was being used for credit card slips--my sacred pen! A man sitting at the bar (Lee pictured below) asked me what the bartender should expect for his reward for finding it? I stayed for two drinks and tipped him generously.....
Lee, a book dealer from Palm Desert who was in town for the Book Expo America...I went as well, landing a copy of Kay Ryan's collected poems and a poetry book by Miguel Hernandez...publishers are generous at BEA and will often give you their books on display, esp. on the last day...Lee turned out to be a very interesting guy, 82, an orphan who lated learned he was from a family (from Westphalia) that had been in Maryland since before independence, and was given a 200-acre parcel of land by King George. They still own it! He reminded me of my Dad, also an orphan, also 82, and once my partner in genealogy when I was 13 and into that kind of stuff. We found no fame or fortune, just the facts: I am 75% Irish, 12% German, 12% English, splash of French and we still haven't resolved the Jewish fantasy about some dude named Lev, all of whose records were destroyed in the carpet bombing of Danzig. Note to self: must do DNA test when it gets cheaper! Favorite finds: 11 red-headed Irish brothers, 10 of whom were stovemakers on Natoma St. in SF long ago, the lone holdout being my great-great granddaddy who painted fire trucks for the SFFD. Which means in the 1906 earthquake and fire, he was conscripted to fight the blaze. His wife, my great great grandma, lost all her 4 fireman brothers in the fire, and though great great grandpa was loving being a fireman in the way of Irishman, regaling the children with stories when he came home, his wife would have none of it and hid him in the attic. Same woman eventually saved my Dad from orphanhood...another long story
Later, I took part in a wonderful and raucous poetry reading at the legendary Bowery Poetry Club for Flicker & Spark, with editors Regie Cabico and Brittany Fonte
J MASE III
Guillermo Filice Castro (un argentino!)
J Mase II
Cathy Petch..yes, she plays the saw and was in town for a saw-playing festival...eerie weird!
The inimitable Jennifer Blowdryer...always great to see her and absorb her nuggets of wisdom..she is an East Village legend going on 30+ years now...heart of gold, mind of crystal, and aging better than any crazy artist I know!
Then went to visit Manny in Bushwick, with its great graffiti
Leo and Manny in Bushwick, and the great graffiti of that Brooklyn neighborhood where Manny grew up. He was telling me how amazing it was to have grown up there as a hated and oft-bashed fag...now he's celebrated in neighborhood fairs as a local queer poet...the world is changing for the better, at least in some places....
en espanol y ingles...love practicing spanish via walls
I love all clowns with the exception of Ronald and Pennywise, for obvious reasons (see above)
wonder how long it will last there...since the employees have no incentive to care considering how poorly treated they are, it will likely be there awhile
And to Coney Island with Evan to visit nice clowns and roller coasters
And then the big event.....the Lambda Literary Awards where I was amazed to be up for two...here I am accepting the James Duggins Midcareer Novelist prize, which is so encouraging to receive...
http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/06/04/25th-annual-lambda-literary-award-winners-announced/ (pics are flicker proprietary, thus the link)
I thanked my Dad, the original storyteller for me, and the following people who have been so amazingly supportive over the years.
A Horse Named Sorrow did not win in the Best Gay Fiction category (It was a tight field, with 10 finalists, the winner being Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. He also won the PEN/Faulkner, so he's an honor to lose to!)
At reception with the legendary Edmund White...(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_White)... Ben Franklin and Emanuel Xavier
Two of my close friends won awards....Tom Cardamone for Sci Fi/Fantasy for his book Green Thumb (he's among my favorite queer writers, and I had the honor of reading with him way back in April at Barnes & Noble here in NYC..when it was still springtime cold!....see earlier blog)
Jeffrey Round won for mystery for his book Lake on the Mountain: A Dan Sharp Mystery
Jeffrey and I took the Staten Island ferry the next day to enjoy the view before we both head home (myself to LA, he to Toronto)
We walked back through the cavernous labyrinth of downtown
Often referred to as the 'freedom finger'
I do love the Frank Gehry building...best post-bauhaus modern highrise ever
Done with my bookish duties, I reconnected with my dear friends, Bill and Mark, here shown lost in technology....we went to a party in Carroll Gardens where they set up a screen in the backyard and we all watched Lana Turner's last film, The Cube, about an acid trip gone badly wrong
Fashionista, Royelyn...I love the faces on his drawings...
.....we had a great time at the Brooklyn Museum where the full circle idea once again started to orbit
A thunderbird in the exhibit on Transformation & Death in Pre-Columbian America...see Thunderbird in my Whidby Island post way back when the tour started
While it may appear obvious that I don't miss LA, I do miss the California mountains...so it was a nice surprise to find John Singer Sargent's watercolors from the Italian alps that reminded me very much of the High Sierras and so began the long pull home...looking forward to backpacking and seeing all my friends, some of whom I hope will go backpacking with me!
Is it a marble quarry, or is that tofu?
Tree statues in Flatbush
real trees in Manhattan..I love trees!
The last word in shoes, Loretta
And the last words always I suppose (even when discarded on the corner of Flatbush and Parkside)...keep going everybody!
Had a smooth ride home, watching Manhattan disappear over my shoulder from the plane (trying to sing Rhapsody in Blue backwards, and what would that sound like?)
At security, my ritual bracelet, which I made here in NYC when I arrived way back in April, exploded and scattered across the linoleum...it either didn't want to leave NY or it's job was done, blessing my tour. Thx Gary, Langston, Robert and all the pagan guys for that wonderful beginning.....
once a ritual-addled pagan (catholicism is no less), always a ritual-rich pagan...
All that remains: (mostly air! which interestingly was where the ritual began and ended)
Came back to two readings....at Skylight below, read from influential GLBT writers (Tom Spanbauer for me :)
...and to top it all off....
just had yet another cool moment as I put the finishing touches on this blog in a cafe early on a Saturday following my return: Eric Garcetti, LA's new mayor, just walked in, and being that I've worked with him via my nonprofit for years, I gave him a hearty handshake to congratulate him and told him to say hi to his wife, Amy, one of our boardmembers, who I am particularly fond of :)
I'm likely leaving LA next March, and it's sweet to know I'll leave it in good hands! Looking forward to working with Eric and all my friends in social justice this coming fall...they are what I will always value most about my experience these past 12 years in LA...being part of really positive change and community building in a city that needs it so much!...much more work to do of course...and frankly, I'd be amazed if I ever met a group of people more admirable and just plain good-hearted
So, am hopping back on my horse to hit the road and gambol among the fauns I guess...will let you know where I end up!