I was going to knock this out during my visit to San Francisco for Litquake, but time got away from me there, or my passions for all kinds of things NorCal got away from me there, and what I accomplished wasn’t a blog post but getting through a really good novel in three days (“Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple; heartily recommended by this reader), drinking and eating great food (that I can still taste past the age of 40, so age isn’t always a sentence, folks), watching baseball in bed, hatching all kinds of new plans longhand, and listening to people talk about books without apology or in clandestine tones. Ok, maybe they don’t talk about books in clandestine tones in San Diego, but I would be hard-pressed to discuss books in San Diego unless I lived in close proximity to Warwicks (which is where I got the Semple book, btw, and at the airport location; San Diego airport knows how to define the city in its airp0rt, delightfully) or the Central branch of the San Diego Library, and I don’t live in close proximity to either of those. There are so many wonderful second-hand bookstores in San Diego, but only one of them seems to have an optimistic proprietor; the rest of them I love more for ambiance than the dialogue I have with the cashier. I wish San Diego was less comic and more literary, but I suppose that wish fulfilled would bring about a copy-cat culture more than distinction, and, roaming about today after a month-long banishment to Carlsbad because of rail construction, I found I missed San Diego almost as much as San Francisco.
The San Francisco trip was a little marred, too, by how continually the tech giants up there continue to polish the turd. Some of us liked our City slightly foul, worn, or bohemian: as Anthony Bordain would say, the hipsters are great about bringing back the dark meat in chicken salads, but the gentrification of neighborhoods might not be worth the trade-off. Whether this was an authentic refuge or not, I sought that refuge in museums. I thought I would find it in the Litquake panels, and, while I have to stress that I love Litquake because there’s a discussion about books, something didn’t sit right in the content. Then I got back home and read Marlon James’s Piece on why he’s done talking about diversity, and when he got to the explanation of cities with the most issues having “festivals” where panels talk about this stuff but local governments do nothing with the panel content, I knew I had reached across to an understanding in my discomfort. Is this going to keep me away from Litquake? No. Will it keep me away from San Francisco and Oakland? Hell, no. But he named what I couldn’t, and I have to seriously consider where my own work goes, and how women’s literature interacts with the mainstream stuff and how it interacts with the literature of other minorities and how we have to make it ALL mainstream, and make these panels, as James says, obsolete.
Enter Steinem. What I’m reading right now, that is; while in San Francisco I bought other books besides the Semple novel; but to save on space in my urban version of Monster (a lovely Timbuk2 duffle that converts to a backpack; yes, I’m enough hipster to get the irony) from the movie/book “Wild” I packed most of the souvenirs into a UPS box on the last day and sent them home, which included all of the books but Semple’s. (Side note: Semple stayed behind in the hotel room on purpose with my monetary tip for housekeeping; seemed appropriate given the reason for the trip.). I figured on two things: I have the New Yorker as a Kindle subscription on my phone and Compass Books is in SFO (more book shopping!). So the Compass Books find was Steinem, a choice I only regret in that the guy I had to sit next to on the plane called her a loon. Vacation’s over, Jo, I thought when he said that, and felt sad. I took a women’s history class at university as a history minor, and I understood that she was considered a radical, but so far everything I’ve read in the memoir “My Life On the Road” is pretty mainstream these days for more of the population than when she was promoting it. And…as I pointed out to the guy on the plane, she might be considered a loon, but…she’s a damn fine writer. At the end of the day that’s what it boils down to for me; this book is less propaganda than lessons in how to listen; learning that she learned most of her approaches to equality from leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. makes me wonder at why she’s still insisted to be a “loon.”
Perhaps this lack of understanding makes me a “loon,” too.🐒
Since I’m a baseball freak you have to know that there would be coda on the World Series on this post. This is probably the best World Series I’ve seen in years, and that’s saying something considering I’m a Giants’ fan. These teams are so evenly matched that when you do mistakes in play you see humanity; I just watch these three- to four-hour games barely breathing. Pitchers are my weakness; when the scores are within hairs of each other I find myself strangely wired and exhausted after the game, wanting more. Pitchers Miller and Chapman are mostly responsible for this reaction, and while it feels like a cross between drunk and high I can’t complain.
Who am I rooting for? The Cubs, a-course. That drought is serious. 🐻⚾️ And, National League, people.