Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’
December 2, 2013 | by August Kleinzahler
Wildsam Field Guides just released its San Francisco edition, which includes interviews, illustrated maps, an almanac, and personal essays. Below, the poet August Kleinzahler writes about living in the city by the bay.
Cold steamy air blew in through the open windows, bringing with it half a dozen times a minute the Alcatraz foghorn’s dull moaning. A tinny alarm-clock insecurely mounted on a corner of Duke’s Celebrated Criminal Cases of America—face down on the table—held its hands at five minutes past two. —The Maltese Falcon
The neighbor with the bad dog fiddles with her helmet and adjusts her front bicycle light before pushing off downhill in the fog. It is late for a bicycle ride, after ten P.M. Her dog throws himself against the glass of the front window behind the curtain, nearly strangling himself with snarls and a torturous medley of barks. She is headed west, in the direction of the ocean or park. There are dangers to be found this time of night in both places. But she is a fog chaser, and deepening night is best with the wind up and the cold, damp smoke blowing in off the sea at twenty knots. I can spot them, fog chasers, after so many years here. You might even say I’m such a one myself from time to time, especially when I find myself feeling more than a little remote from “society.”
In the daylight hours, walking her vicious companion, occasionally bending over to pick up its stool with a small, white, plastic baggie, one can see it in her eyes—the eyes of a fog chaser—haunted, darting about as if pursued by some threatening inner phantasm. She will rarely, if ever, engage the eyes of any stranger walking past, even as her creature takes a murderous lunge in his direction, gargling delirium at the end of his leash. But not mine—my eyes she will always look directly into, appraisingly and with a sneering displeasure. She knows that I know. Read More »
October 7, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
This interactive Bay Area Literary Map, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle, is fantastic, and because we are greedy, we want one for every city in the world.
May 10, 2013 | by The Paris Review
“‘Quinoa cranberry pilaf,’ I wrote down. And then, ‘coregasm.’ Because that was the subsequent topic of discussion: women who have spontaneous orgasms during yoga. The barista was saying how wonderful it was that the issue was receiving attention, coregasms being something a lot of women experienced and were frightened to talk about. Those days were over.” Emily Witt on sex in San Francisco. —Lorin Stein
Last night, I turned to an old favorite, Bring on the Empty Horses, David Niven’s memoir of his years in Hollywood. Niven had a successful second act as a raconteur and author, and his wit and urbanity are well known. But what I’ve always liked is how kind and generous he is about fellow actors: without ever resorting to gossip, he manages to give us fully-realized portraits of icons like Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart. My favorite is the chapter on Fred Astaire, who comes off as modest and down-to-earth. Both men were widowed young, and their close bond is palpable. Niven also relates, amusingly, that Astaire was shy about dancing socially, and apparently embarrassed his daughter Ava at a school father-daughter dance with his ineptitude. Today is Astaire’s birthday: I’m celebrating by watching this over and over. And if you want a living tribute, my colleague (who is bashful about writing staff picks himself) says that the New York City Ballet’s current revival of the Astaire-inspired Jerome Robbins piece, “I’m Old-Fashioned,” is terrific. —Sadie Stein
I frequently visit The Public Domain Review for its wealth of interesting and unusual out-of-copyright tidbits, and its recent video on the Kawana Trio, described as “Artistic Foot Jugglers,” is no disappointment. It was filmed by Hans A. Spanuth for his Original Vod-A-Vil Movies series; you can find a handful of his films online that are a hard to match, however limited, record of the vaudeville acts that were so popular at the turn of the century. —Justin Alvarez
I’ve read a couple of Kate Christensen’s novels, but right now I’m enjoying the food writing on her blog. I find that many food blogs are picture-heavy and prose-devoid, but Christensen’s posts feature no photos and the suggested recipes are eloquently imprecise (most-used measurements include glug, handful, and knob). I’m looking forward to Christensen’s upcoming Blue Plate Special, an autobiographical account of her life in food, out in July. —Brenna Scheving
March 14, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 31, 2012 | by Aria Beth Sloss
I first heard of Lysley Tenorio a little more than a decade ago, when his story “Superassassin” came out in The Atlantic. “Superassassin” is the rare work that gets a child narrator right, and it features all of what I now recognize as the trademarks of Tenorio’s work: startling imagery, moments of sadness combined with gestures of heartbreaking intimacy, and an unstinting commitment to character. Monstress, Tenorio’s first collection, is out from Ecco this month. Characters include transsexuals, lepers, healers, and a horror-movie screenwriter named Checkers. Reading about them, you feel, as the narrator of “Felix Starro” says, “that breath of relief that there is someone in the world, finally, who understands what hurts you.”
There’s an emphasis in this collection on the power of imagination. The narrator of “Superassassin” is a young boy whose fantasies have started to eclipse reality, and the narrator’s teenage sister in “L'amour, CA” follows her dreams about America and love to an unhappy ending. In “Felix Starro,” the grandfather performs ritual “cleansings” for men and women who believe themselves to be truly healed. What place do you think imagination has in our lives as children and how does that change, or not, as we become adults?
I can really only speak for myself. As a kid, I had a pretty good imagination but one that, in retrospect, was fairly systematized to the ways of the world I knew. For example, for years I had a fantasy world on the side, one in which I was a child star who had his own sitcom, was a frequent guest on talk shows, and even had a few cameos on—should I admit this?—Dynasty. Read More »
December 15, 2011 | by Liz Brown
Silvano and I met about ten years ago through mutual friends. I don’t remember the exact shirt he was wearing at the time, but I know it had bright colors and elaborate embroidery. (Later, I learned it came from Alpana Bawa.) Also, he was wearing one dangling, bauble-y earring. Possibly it included a feather. This was at a party where most people worked in publishing, which is to say, he stood apart.
Other details I have filed away about Silvano include that in the house he shares with his husband, Craig, there is a shrine to Anna Magnani and a poster from his 1977 campaign for supervisor of Board 5 in San Francisco. In the poster, he wears a one-shouldered top and tights and is beaming, his long arms flung skyward, a look inspired by a Patti Labelle album cover. He was running as the “dada alternative” to Harvey Milk. Also, in Robert Gluck’s novel Jack the Modernist, the narrator goes out to a performance piece in which Silvano appears as “Madame Chiang-Ch'ing.” More recently he got his associate's degree in accessories at FIT.
I knew all this about Silvano, but I didn’t have any idea how much Elizabeth Taylor meant to him. Not even when I met him at his home Sunday morning and he came to the door wearing a purple felt fedora, an iridescent purple mandarin-collared jacket, and purple suede boots. We were on our way to a preview of the Elizabeth Taylor collection being auctioned off this week. Read More »