Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’
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 »
November 2, 2011 | by Francesca Mari
A few weeks ago I found myself accidentally enacting the drama of a book I was reading. The book was Homesickness: An American History, and I was reading it on the subway, somewhat embarrassed by the title, which, held up right in front of my face, was like a sign saying: Here in New York, I can’t cut it. I comforted myself with the idea that I was only a few stops from home, where I could read safe from potential pity. But when I got to my door, I discovered that I’d locked myself out.
I looked up at my windows. I wished I could use the bathroom, foreign bathrooms costing at least a coffee. But it struck me that I didn’t long to be in my apartment. My place, with its card table in the kitchen and mattress on the floor, is unsettled—I would feel as dislocated inside of it as out. I can’t imagine what feeling settled here would look like; the only settled place I’m familiar with is the home where I grew up.
How long does it take to cultivate the feeling of home? I’ve been in New York for three years, on the East Coast for eight, and I’ve never suffered from acute homesickness. But still, when I’m called to define “home,” I think of El Granada, a town of 5,436 that staked itself twenty-six miles south of San Francisco down the coast. I mean staked quite literally: between 1906 and 1909, Ocean Shore Railway, which was building tracks from Santa Cruz to San Francisco along what is now Highway 1, planted thousands of fast-growing, blue gum eucalyptuses with the hopes of flipping El Granada into a seaside resort for train-traveling San Franciscans. The railroad company also commissioned the eminent architect and city planner Daniel Burnham (famous for the Flatiron building) to plan the streets. They go in two directions, up the hills and around them, so that it looks from above as if a four-square-mile spider web has been draped over the thousands of trees. But the dream of El Granada was not to be. Two years later the railway company collapsed. The tracks were abandoned. Some speculators bought land, but the place never really caught on until computers did in the late eighties and nineties, and intrepid commuters from Silicon Valley bought BMWs and began building houses. Read More »
October 8, 2010 | by Thessaly La Force
Here in San Francisco I spent the evening giving a talk at City Lights with Oscar Villalon, the decomissioned book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Later the conversation migrated across the street to the back room at Tosca’s, where the general manager of City Lights, Paul Yamazaki, played host to a crowd that included writers Daniel Alarcón, Josh Jelly Shapiro, and Shawn Vandor; Graywolf editor Ethan Nosowsky; and private investigator David Sullivan—who really is a private investigator ...Read the rest of Lorin’s write-up here.