The Mission: Lit Crawl 2014

Tonight was Lit Crawl in San Francisco’s Mission. Self attended a reading of Saint Mary’s College alumna, one of whom was the fabulous Rashaan Alexis Meneses.

Rashaan read the story that was recently in New Letters, a story that happened to be set in Bonnyrigg, near Hawthornden!  (Rashaan should send a copy to Hamish).

But, before the reading, we met up at local fave Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St) for some yummy sopes and guacamole, where self met poet Raina J. Leon and got her to sign a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn:

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

This picture of Rashaan reading was unfortunately a little blurred, but you can still get a sense of her energy:

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

She happened to take a seat facing the sidewalk, so that as the reading progressed, she found herself watching a building directly across the street. There was a FOR LEASE sign on the front. The ground floor had this rather fabulous home furnishings store (with real-looking white sheep), very “chi-chi” for the Mission.

As it grew dark, the rooms of each floor of the building lighted up. And self has always, always been fascinated by windows.

She remembers staring out the kitchen window of her brother-in-law’s apartment in New York City, just staring at parallel rows of windows, and seeing people doing different things: talking on the phone, reading the newspaper. Each little square a story.

Mission Street, Across from Bay Coffee & Tea

Mission Street, Across from Bay Blend Coffee & Tea

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Foolish Things

  • As a result of dropping by the Robert Frank exhibit at the Cantor Art Center on the Stanford Campus yesterday, self got it into her head that she would very much like to own a Leica.
  • After leaving the Robert Frank exhibit, self fully intended to go to Aquarius in Palo Alto and watch Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam.” But she did not.  Instead, after filling up with gas, she went home.  And today — alas! — that film is no longer showing.
  • Self hasn’t looked at her story “The Peacock.”  Not once.  Not since it was workshopped at Squaw. She has no idea what to do with that story. It just sits there, like a lump on a log. Taking up space in her computer. In her store of unfulfilled projects. She wanted it to be a memoir about her and Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying. She wanted it to be desperate and lonely, the voice of a soul lost in the Cambodian wilderness after failing to connect with the splendor that is Angkor Wat (Dear blog readers, do you know that there’s a RAFFLES HOTEL IN SIEM REAP???)
  • Self has wanted to replace the desert of the front lawn with trees — perhaps olive trees — to screen her house from the busy street. But she’s remained staring at that patch of bare, weed-choked dirt for 10 years. It sounds really lame to keep bringing up the drought.

Ugh, ugh, girl. Why can’t you just do? Why must you always be re-hashing the old, or rehearsing for the future? To what end?

How quickly you forget: just yesterday, you got word from Witness that a piece you sent them eight months ago is going to be in their Translation issue.

As for somehow missing “Last Days in Vietnam,” “Gone, Girl” is showing in the Redwood City Century 20 and she heard from a friend who read the book that it’s actually pretty good. Self is not a Ben Affleck fan — seems he is pretty much a control freak with his wife, and no doubt he took care to present himself in the best possible light in this new role — but what the heck? Maybe she just wasn’t in the mood for another hard-hitting documentary yesterday, maybe she should just try and ignite a new respect for Ben Affleck? She did like “Argo” a lot. He’s not a bad director.

And if she’d managed to watch “Last Days in Vietnam” yesterday, she would have missed seeing the San Francisco Giants’ nail-biting victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. She would have missed seeing the way the two teams went head to head all the way to the 9th inning. She would have missed that sweet, game-ending homer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Silence is your treasure”

Self is reminded of this again when she reads Diane Gilliam’s essay on “Working in Silence,” on A Room of Her Own Foundation’s website.

The full quote is:  Silence is your treasure.  Do not exchange it for an easy life.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn't know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn’t know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Last night, self found herself back in Stanford.  Self enjoyed the walk through the still campus.  She remembers thinking:  How quiet it is here.  How peaceful.  And that’s what Stanford gave her:  four years of peace.  Two years in the East Asian Studies Program, with a concentration in Chinese, two years as a Creative Writing Program Fellow.  What an unimaginable luxury.

Self originally meant this post to be about the Rolling Stones.  Specifically, the Rolling Stones as they were in 1972, when Robert Frank made the documentary “Cxxxxsucker Blues” (Self blushes to admit that the x’s are her own.  The early 1970s were still the 1960s. What self means by that is that drug use was still rampant, and so was free love. And Mick wore velvet jumpsuits spangled with sequins and looked vaguely reminiscent of Elvis, only much thinner).  They showed it in Annenberg, last night. Amazingly, the theater was packed, even though at that very moment, the San Francisco Giants were facing off against the Saint Louis Cardinals.

Frankly, it was just painful to see the way women were treated in this movie (like pieces of meat — yes, exactly. Thank you Jennifer Lawrence or whoever): they were either in bed or shooting up or sewing. Yes, sewing.

With one exception:  Bianca Jagger. Who was in no way a groupie. Who Mick treated with affection.

Thank God for Bianca Jagger.

The album “Exile on Main Street” was self’s first ever Rolling Stones album. And the Robert Frank documentary was about the 1972 tour for that album. If for nothing else, self had to see the documentary.

And Mick had this amazing, amazing diffidence (Keith Richards had it too, to a lesser degree). At one point, he stares straight at the camera (presumably being held by Robert Frank) and says, casually contemptuous, “Fuck you.” And it’s not as if Frank caught him in an intimate moment, either.  He’s just standing there, and he decides to turn his head, look at Frank, and without his face changing expression, says “Fuck you.”

Now, that’s a moment.

And now, before self gets too carried away with this post, she needs to get moving. She realizes she hasn’t even connected the dots between the quote “Silence is your treasure” to the Stones documentary.

But, ta-ta, dear ones! To be continued.

Still More Dreamy in Magalang, Pampanga

Self spent the weekend poring over her pictures from last year’s sojourn to Magalang, Pampanga, where she was invited to address students of Pampanga Agricultural College.

She wouldn’t have looked back if it hadn’t been for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, posted Friday: DREAMY.

Words from The Daily Post prompt:

real but not-real; silent, peaceful, perfect

House of E. Aguilar "Abe" Cruz in Magalang, Pampanga

House of E. Aguilar “Abe” Cruz in Magalang, Pampanga

DSCN2026

The house of “Abe” Cruz is clearly a house that was designed by an artist. Each door, window, and screen has its own unique pattern of metal fretwork. LOVE.

The first floor of the house has been turned into a kind of museum, filled with family memorabilia and art. Self has no clue who the model was for this bust, but if she were to take a guess, she'd say it was Abe Cruz's wife.

The first floor of the house has been turned into a kind of museum, filled with family memorabilia and art. Self has no clue who the model was for this bust, but if she were to take a guess, she’d say it was Abe Cruz’s wife. Interesting, the woman’s face isn’t exactly beautiful but it’s a very strong face. The cheekbones!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

In Addition, “The Maze Runner”

Self wanted to do a quick post about “The Maze Runner,” which she saw a few days ago (Self apparently has so much time on her hands. Everyone, please feel free to dump more work on self, if she’s got this much time to see movies, she must be bored stiff!)

The lead actor (played by Dylan O’Brien — WHO ???) reminded self a little of a young Kevin Bacon, only darker. He was pretty good.

He wasn’t built the same way, for instance, Channing is, which is another thing that self found pretty good. After all, in the dystopian universe that Hollywood is pretty sure we should expect, no one — self repeats, NO ONE — gets enough to eat.  Yup, it must be really hard to get meat on one’s bones, out there in the future (There is one overweight kid. Why is he there? So that he sticks out like a sore thumb?)

It’s an all-male universe, self got her hopes up that this would indeed be one of those rare, genre-defying movies where there is only one gender around, and it doesn’t matter, because there can still be tension.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

But it does not seem to be that kind of movie, after all.

Nevertheless, self did not get bored.

Patricia Clarkson has a magnificent bod. Better even than the bod of the young actress who gets thrown in with the boys. Self knows whereof she speaks because, somewhere near the end of the movie, Clarkson gets to throw off her white Nehru-type lab coat/jacket and reveal that she is wearing a sleeveless, white, form-fitting top and pants underneath. And there is not a trace of jiggly anywhere.

YAY for the Asian guy who emerges as the hero’s Man Friday. Because self only just realized that, the entire movie, she kept trying to predict when Asian Dude would demonstrate his utter Asian expendability and fall by the wayside. Which. Did. Not. Happen. Thank goodness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The White Guy Trapped in a Den of Iniquity: J-Hutch’s New Movie

Don’t get self wrong:  she is a huge Josh Hutcherson aka Peeta Mellark fan.  So huge that it took her a year to get to Catching Fire (the book) because she was under the impression Peeta would be off-ed.  A day after she saw the Catching Fire movie, she went to B & N and bought the book. Then she bought Mockingjay. And since it’s been a long time since she’s seen Josh Hutcherson (All of 21. Or 22. Whatever) in anything other than SNL, which he hosted November 2013, she’s been reading fan fiction about Peeta Mellark. Like crazes.

Apparently, J-Hutch has a new movie coming out that is NOT Hunger Games. In Escobar: Paradise Lost, he has to play the innocent seduced by exotica. Which is, admittedly, quite a stretch from the Hunger Games LOL.

The film also stars Benicio del Toro and a lovely, scorching hot babe who is a much better match for Hutcherson as she is way more petite than Jennifer Lawrence.

Anyhoo, the Escobar movie has been making the rounds of the Film Festival circuit, and was recently at Telluride.

The writer assigned to review the movie on Indiewire is obviously a man (even without having to read his by-line, which self just did), because only a man would need to ask such an obvious question:

At some point you may wonder why we’ve devoted an entire first paragraph to Josh Hutcherson when the title character is played by Benicio freaking del Toro . . .

Self will dispense with the movie’s plot points, as it is so obvious that the only reason to make this movie was — EXACTLY. Josh Hutcherson.

LOL!

And to provide J-Hutch with a new love interest because, ya know, J-Law has given her heart to another!

Musing over the current crop of screen hunks, self would have to say that Channing is quickly losing her interest (Those ears! Why did self never notice until now?), and Liam (Hemsworth, not Neeson, Neeson still totally rocks) just never did it for her, and Loki is fine but damn could they hurry up with another movie, and she was never into Ben Affleck, not even after Good Will Hunting, and Bourne was for a while the epitome of hotness but now they’ve replaced Damon with Renner (albeit playing different characters in the Bourne universe) and self still can’t get over the sense of betrayal, not to mention the fact that Josh is just so cute, especially in hijacked Peeta mode. Let’s just say self can understand 100% why Katniss, with Gale standing right by her side, completely loses it when she sees Peeta’s face projected on a large screen in the District 13 cafeteria — self means that it makes complete rational sense, and she thinks she’ll get a big kick out of Josh trying to evade Benicio del Toro. Because Benicio del Toro. Man. It’s enough to give self all sorts of FEELZ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure” : A Piece About General Yamashita

This piece appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Our Own Voice,  a magazine of the Filipino diaspora.

There’s a legend about General Yamashita, who the U.S. held accountable for war crimes in the World War II occupation of the Philippines.  Yamashita was executed shortly after the war, after a brief trial.

They say he stashed away bars of gold bullion, and treasure hunters have been trying to find the riches ever since.

Self suddenly recalled this piece after listening to Joanne Diaz, a poet, whose reading in Moe’s Books self attended last night, along with Jay D and Lillian H, who belong to her fabulous writing group.

Joanne Diaz is an AWESOME reader. Self bought the two collections that were on sale last night:  My Favorite Tyrants (which won the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry), and The Lessons.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

He was a shaman. Oh, something very old.

Like the turtle you forgot about that grew to 10 times its size in your mother’s garden.

My uncle looked for the gold bars, you know.

Under the old fort.

Why would they be there?  Why would General Yamashita leave them behind? Underneath an old fort in Manila?

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jade . . .

The rest of self’s piece can be found here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2 (The West Coast & Beyond Issue)

The latest in a series of issues focusing on “Place.” Crab Orchard Review initiated the series in 2009, at a time when, according to the Editors’ Prologue, Vol. 19 No. 2, it seemed that the magazine might go under.

The “Land of Lincoln: Writing From and About Illinois” issue became the first series on place because Carolyn Alessio, Crab Orchard Review’s Prose Editor, was born “in the Chicago suburbs and lives in the city itself today.” The issue focused on two of Chicago’s literary greats, Carl Sandberg and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Next followed “Old & New: Re-Visions of the American South.”

At that point, everyone was very aware that Crab Orchard Review was approaching its 20th year.  So the editors decided to make the review’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 “special issues into a kind of anthology exploring the United States of America and its regions as a subject.”

The series developed into four issues: “Old & New: Re-Visions of the American South,” “the North,” “Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts” and, finally, “The West Coast & Beyond” (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawai’i, the Commonwealth countries, territories and areas of U.S. occupation)

Now, in this “final edition in the series,” the editors point out that they have managed to “include at least one story, poem, or essay about, or work by an author born in or living in every one of the fifteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.”

Here’s an excerpt from a poem by one of the writers in the issue, April Christiansen.  Her poem is “The Great Seattle Fire, June 6, 1889″:

Shouts, pitched water, the surface glazed,
boiled over. Glue embers tumbled into shavings
littering a turpentine-soaked floor, and men
grabbed their coats, flew to the stairwell as flames

fastened themselves to the building’s walls,
inching towards the liquor warehouse next door.
Glass shattered, the crisp smell of burnt alcohol and paint
filled the sidewalks, and a crowd gathered.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Diane Arbus in the Year 1928

from Diane Arbus: A Chronology, 1923 -1971, by Elisabeth Sussman and Doon Arbus:

In September, following in her brother’s footsteps, she enrolls at the Ethical Culture School on 63rd Street and Central Park West, a progressive private school begun by Felix Adler, founder of the Ethical Culture Society (1878). Originally known as The Workingman’s School, it emphasizes moral education, psychological development, teacher training, and the integration of “manual arts” with academics. The academic curriculum is designed to parallel the evolution of human civilization, from tree dwellers to contemporary society. Students in each grade study their subjects through the lens of a particular time period and culture.

The school is still in existence! Self just googled. Here’s the link. The name’s been modified but the address is the same.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Elsewhere: a Lit Mag for Writing About Place

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS, ELSEWHERE:

“We envision Elsewhere to be a space for work that has trouble finding its place. We are interested in creative work that deals with marginalization in some form or another. We don’t think of race, gender, class and sexuality as dirty words or as problems to be dealt with outside of literature and art. Rather, we think of them as central to creative activity.”

So, send them your stuff, dear blog readers.

*    *     *    *

A few weeks ago, self was traipsing around southern California in the company of her ex-Assumption Convent classmates (even just typing those words — Assumption Convent — sounds quaint to self’s California ears!). And one of them agreed to spend the day with self, driving to and from San Diego.

And after almost three hours of driving, the two of us ended up in Balboa Park. In a section that was very very hot, with small trails and a children’s playground. And after some woebegone wandering about, self found the greatest discovery:  THE MUSEUM OF TORTURE. And she persuaded her classmate to venture inside and have a look. And indeed there were so many wonders contained therein, wonders such as:

  • the self-mortifying iron ring
  • the iron chastity belt
  • The “Iron Maiden” of Nuremberg (the last recorded use of which was August 1515)
  • All manner of scourges and flails

Self will not get too much into it, but suffice it to say, this museum is so interesting, situated right in Balboa Park.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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