THIS IS probably one of my favorite corners to stand on on the planet. Crossing Columbus Avenue, facing City Lights Books & Publishers.
Over the weekend, City Lights’ co-founder, the poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, marked his 100th birthday and there was much noise and celebration throughout North Beach and beyond.
I have been visiting the store since before college, I would guess. Dragging friends along to wander among the many floors of books, later to pose outside under the signage. But always what was the most magical thing about this place was happening upon its founder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, walking along Columbus or holding forth in one of the sunny cafes. This store is one of the important points on my personal map. I wouldn’t be who I was without it.
I wrote piece for the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed section that ran yesterday about both Ferlinghetti and the store’s legacy and impact. You can find it here.
TWO EVENTS this week as we ease into the end of the year:
On Thursday evening, I’ll be heading over to the Pasadena Central Library to join our lively and opinionated crew for a far-ranging conversation. We’ll be discussing and reading from the anthology: L.A. Baseball: From the Pacific Coast League to the Major Leagues. We get started at 6:30pm in the beautiful Donald R. Wright Auditorium. There will be a reception afterward and we’ll be signing books.
On Sunday afternoon, Angel City Press will be hosting a holiday party and signing, featuring books honoring Los Angeles’s rich history and culture.
Bill Bradley, Los Angeles Union Station: Tracks to the Future
Stephen Gee, Los Angeles City Hall: An American Icon, Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Central Library: A History of its Art and Architecture
Rachel Surls and Judith Gerber, From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles
Jim Harris, Santa Monica Pier
Robert Landau, Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboard of the Sunset Strip, Hollywood Poolside, Tales from The Strip: A Century in the Fast Lane
And, I will be there as well signing and discussing After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame.
Join us from 2 to 4pm at Traxx Restaurant in Union Station (we’ll be gathering inside, adjacent to the concourse) near the Alameda entrance to the terminal).
BOOK FESTIVAL time is upon us. I will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books next weekend signing “After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame.”
Both days, I will be at the Angel City Press booth (#119 near Tommy Trojan). You can find me on Saturday from 12pm to 2pm and on Sunday from 2pm to 4pm. Please come by and say hello.
On Sunday afternoon 4/22, from 12:30pm to 1pm, I will be in conversation with Karen Tei Yamashita and Geoff Dyer on the topic of “Photography & Narrative” moderated by David L. Ulin. It’s free, but to reserve your tickets click here.
It’s here…My new book, ”After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame,” on Angel City Press, is making its way out into the world. It’s a collection of essays and photographs examining sense-of-place and the ever-evolving identity of the City of Angels.
I’ll be doing readings next month at Skylight Books (3/18), Eso Won Bookstore (3/19) and Vroman’s Bookstore (3/22). I will also be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 21 & 22. Please stay tuned for details.
And if you are away from L.A., here’ where you can purchase directly from Angel City Press.
SCENES FROM last week’s opening festivities for “Octavia E. Butler — Telling My Stories” at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.
A special thank you to curator Natalie Russell who carefully selected 100 objects out of a vast archive of 8,000 to illustrate Butler’s life, work and struggle. It’s a beautiful survey of a singular life. We are all grateful to Butler for gifting her papers to the Huntington so that so many more people can learn about her way of looking at and being in the world. Most affecting is her depth of curiosity, her blinders-on focus. For all the sacrifice and sense of mission, her dedication at moments feels matchless.
The exhibit is up through August. Come early. Give yourself enough time to wander through. There is much to linger over, digest and celebrate.
ONCE AGAIN Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena outdoes itself with an elaborate Banned Books Week display. This time each title is outfitted with a backstory — about where and why the “notorious” volume made the list. I haven’t picked my title yet but as you can see there are many to choose from.
Exercise your right and freedom to choose.
Claudia Rankine via KCET
Just before I hopped out of town for a brief pause, I was able to speak to writer Claudia Rankine about her book Citizen: An American Lyric and the staged version that will be up at the Fountain Theatre here in L.A. until October 11.
Here’s a snip from the intro:
On the American “stage” — within mainstream media and in public discourse — the discussion of race and racism is often defined by spectacle: an event that we can collectively point to that plays out on our screens, large and small. It might be the grievous roll call of black lives cut short by raw acts of violence; or it might take shape in next week’s headlines — a bungled arrest or denial of dignity — that eerily mirrors incidents of three generations ago.
While those high-profile, super-charged moments are indeed odious and shameful, they are indicative of a deeper malady affecting the American psyche, writer Claudia Rankine argues in her most recent book, “Citizen: An American Lyric.”
Often, Rankine notes, these high-profile conflagrations — New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina, the murder of Trayvon Martin — are viewed with confusion or are categorized as aberration by those who don’t move through life with black skin. For those who navigate daily through fraught territory, the belief or assumption that racism is largely “behind us” is both a powerful articulation of privilege and a violent act of erasure.
To read the interview in full click here.
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.
It’s here … A collection of maps and essays that swerve off the city’s formal grid. LAttitudes: An Angelenos Atlas maps L.A.’s more abstract or hidden territories. I write about traveling the city via the radio band and what one might learn about Los Angeles if you only had radio as your guide.
For more, stay tuned.
MY REVIEW is up at the Chicago Tribune, on Gary Krist’s new book Empire of Sin — a deeply engaging, rollicking spin through late-19th/early-20th Century New Orleans.
I was truly sorry when this one was over.
(note all the bookmark flags)
The review is here.