Voice (29)

chicago-union-station-granger-28“Is the train station able to gaze at itself, revive the past, double it, a double as quiet as the face, the moving lips of my reflection within a mirror. Quiet as silences within the silences of Theolnious Monk’s piano. During the Twelfth Street Station’s heyday did people’s dreams truly float above the platform upon which I pcuture myself waiting for an Illinois Central train to arrive or depart, a platform lined with cardboard suitcases, ancient steamer trunks, duffel bags, shopping bags, string-tied bundles and cartons, colored gals carrying everything they own in a warm package they cradle in their arms, all of that dreaming and waiting, waiting, every shadow and echo and breath of those lives dust and grit and somebody brooms away each morning from the station’s concrete floor.”

— John Edgar Wideman from Writing to Save A Life: The Louis Till File

“Got to, Got to, Got to”

LOOK OUT, Otis Redding is back. 

A new Concord compilation gathers for the first time all three nights and all sets of Redding’s famous Whisky A Go Go run here  on the Sunset Strip fifty years ago. 

I provided liner notes and the package is gorgeously designed with a vintage-style poster to boot. 

Release day,  today 10/28. 
Got to go get one! 

Patience, Survival, Mind: Inside the Octavia E. Butler Archive

IN CASE you missed it. Last week, I took over the Huntington Library’s Instagram and led their followers through science fiction writer, Octavia E. Butler’s massive archive.  I wanted people to have a sense of what it was like working with her papers, which also meant being privy to her hopes and fears and drive.

I’d been commissioned by Julia Meltzer at Clockshop to write a piece for their year-long Radio Imagination project, and my starting point was full immersion into Butlers personal papers — her journals, commonplace books and busy marginalia. I’ve learned much about her in my time here. What has struck me the most however, is just how vulnerable she felt within the writing process.

You can take a look at my Huntington Takeover here.

Also,  the lovely Julia Wick at LAist interviewed me about archive and you can view that here.

Thanks so much, Kate Lain at the Huntington for inviting me to take part in this. I really did have a blast.

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Stray Cards from the Octavia E. Butler archive, Courtesy  the Huntington Library. 

Who Is Los Angeles?

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Dana Johnson: Moments before our Interview after being circumvented. Union Station, Fall 2016. Photo by Lynell George

I SPEAK to Dana Johnson about her evocative new book,  In the Not Quite Dark for USC Dornsife. IIt’s a tough look at changing Los Angeles.

If you are moving through these changing corridors, you’ll find yourself somewhere on her pages.

From my piece:

Poetic and, at turns, unflinchingly raw, the 11 stories explore a wide-ranging Los Angeles experience: People pulled from elsewhere seeking transformation; natives sprung up from L.A.’s soil carving out life around the noise. It considers that projected dream — the West as a site of transformation — but its inverse, too: What happens when you chase a dream that dissolves each time you reach out to capture it.

The L.A. that many of Johnson’s stories pull into focus is not the telegenic region of rolling lawns, beaches and opulence. Rather, it’s a series of backdrops and situations that most Angelenos move through daily — city dwellers overwhelmed by traffic, keeping one step ahead of gentrification, at turns bewildered and humbled by homelessness.

As I consider in the piece, “one story overtakes another; some have more weight” All we can do is write our stories, our presents and pasts.

You can read the entire profile here.