“If I could have fashioned a model of my own imagination, perhaps it would have resembled the telescope my father was working on: heavy, made of steel and glass, and run through with lenses …pointing off into a distance that had no shape. Perhaps there would sit, at the outer edges of that distance, something I was afraid to bring into focus, some knowledge or presence, the power or verity of which might cause the rest of me to cower. It felt like that sometimes, like there were limits to what I would let myself understand, limits to the whole to which I’d give myself access. I was ten years old, living with a vague knowledge that pain was part of my birthright, part of what was meant by a word like Home.”
— from “Ordinary Light” by Tracy K. Smith.
I’ll be in conversation with Tracy K. Smith tomorrow at ALOUD. Details and ticket information here:
“I can be feeling bad backstage, and the minute they say, `Now, ladies and gentlemen, here’s B.B. King,’ for a little while I forget whatever was hurting me.”
— B.B. King
(full NPR interview here, obit to come.)
SOME MOMENTS from last weekend’s LitFest Pasadena.
Our LA On Foot Panel — with writer Geoff Nicholson, urban planer James T. Rojas and moderated by documentary filmmaker, Steven Reich — was well attenended and the audience asked great questions,suggesting there are a lot more of us out there who want to explore the urban environment without the barrier (and at the speed of) a car.
Nice notes from Geoff about our conversational wanderings here.
We strolled around the theater district for the day-long event, taking in the renovations and additions — public art and new buildings designed to look older. There was poetry read on the steps, quick lines written on-demand on the sidewalk– and lots of conversation swirling. (And in the grid above you’ll see Janet Fitch & Lisa Freeman, David Kipen, chef Roy Choi, Greg Nichols (and a side view of Mr. Nicholson. And Ms. Karineh Mahdessian at the lovely typewriter)
Thanks to Jervey Tervalon for working tirelessly and on a shoestring to make this event shine.
HOW ABOUT a little black-and-white noir L.A. in color:
Take a ride through Downtown Los Angeles, click here.
I think I could look at this all day …
downtown los angeles, 1946
TODAY I’M thinking it’s going to take the cape that Sly Stone wears on the cover of this classic LP.
This afternoon we celebrate the launch of Black Clock 20 at Mandrake, at 4pm. Info including coordinates here.
Following close on this event’s heels, I hope to slide by in time for the official launch party for Latitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas, also this afternoon, at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, info here.
And a big thanks to all who came out last night to Clockshop to show us love and help us welcome this book and its ideas out into the world. We appreciated it.
I CAN’T remember when I wasn’t radio-obsessed. Growing up in Los Angeles, the radio was my first set of keys. You could visit so many far-flung places by way of announcers, DJs and deep, loose mixes that brought together textures of a vivid city. The radio could inspire. It could also be a release valve. Call letters were addresses to places where you could wander in and sit a spell.
Tonight at Clockshop in Frogtwon we are having our first “LAtitudes: An Agneleno’s Atlas” event, bringing together four writers from the project. Wendy Gilmartin, Josh Kun, Michael-Jamie Becera and I will talk about ugly buildings, L.A. soundscapes, tacos and ghost frequencies, respectively.
You can read an excerpt of Latitudes here, now up at KCET|Artbound (thanks!) And here is a little tumbler I created to go with the piece if you want to hear some of the touchstones, music, voices I’ve referenced in the essay. Click here.
After tonight’s formal presentations , Josh and I will be playing music either inspired by or recorded in Los Angeles.
And of course, there will be tacos and L.A. spirits to go with the stories …
Come share your L.A. with us.