Reading The Streets


To get there I traveled far. I missed on-ramps. I got on freeways. I passed over passes laden with homeless encampments. I crept past a man in a cowboy hat and boa dancing wildly on an island. I crawled over downtown. I slithered under Universal Studios. I ended at a region of the world yet unexplored, by me.

What awaited me was a literary choose-your-own-adventure fantasy. Young ladies performed poetry in a way that tinged one’s soul. There were strange ideas uttered; talk of “genre fiction awareness” and “literary atlas.” There were book-mobiles, book talks, book readings. They took place in restaurants, buses, cafes, and in the streets. It was as magical and urgent as Halloween – a mad dash – I must imbibe all the reading I can before the night is over.

The first stop on my magical mystery literary tour was Creepy Crawlies presented by Shades & Shadows and taking place at Blastoff Comics. Robert Payne Cabeen, Tiffany Tang, Derek Kim, Thomas Voorhies, and Nicole D. Sconiers read from their macabre but methodical pieces.

Next I walked as fast as my legs could carry me to Choose Your Own Los Angeles with Heyday Publishing happening at Tamashii Ramen House. John Bwarie, Jen Hofer, Rosten Woo, and Jeremy Rosenberg talked about LAtitudes and Under Spring. LAtitudes was not new to me, I had been to the Archives Bazaar and was already intrigued by this idea of LA maps speaking volumes about LA people. Under Spring is an animal all its own, imagine one single space in Los Angeles – in this case a bridge- where so much of LA’s diversity meets and meshes, changes and remains. Under Spring is a collection of oral histories about one bridge from various walks of life – everyone is allowed to say their piece in this piece.

My last stop was The Federal Bar to drink in From The Mouths of Musicians from the empire of fun. Music writers filled the dark back room speakeasy with music, stories, and beat poetry.

Venue to venue, author to author – all of it new and all of it up and down the street. The readings and talks were so small and candid. The energy was so great. I was so enthralled with then unknown-to-me Nicole D. Sconiers that I hastily bought Escape From Beckyville and then ran half a block to catch up with her and request that she sign it for me. The next time I was at the library I placed a hold on Quarantine which was read by half of the writing duo Lex Thomas, Thomas Voorhies. I now have Under Spring in my book collection. I’m planning to ask for LAtitudes for Christmas.

On the drive home I was elated. I was buzzed off of books.

I suggest you imbibe:

Lit Crawl LA

Heyday Publishing / Under Spring

Shades and Shadows – Literature but with Monsters


Gimme All Your Ephemera!

.-3 -5: -6

I started my Bazaar day with the Researching LA 101 panel. First was the lingo lecture: primary, secondary, ephemera. Next was the thinking aspect: who created the record and why? Then there was the major reminders: look for multiple perspectives, even death certificates can be inaccurate, keep notes on where you’ve been and what you’ve found. And lastly was the hard truth: if you want to dabble in the archive arts you’re going to eventually be in a reading room. It’s estimated that only 5% of archives are digitized, and only some of those digitized are online. The reading room will be cold, and you will be asked to use pencil and special colored paper. When the panel was over, I felt ready for the main exhibit hall.

I can’t cover all that I learned or what organizations were represented that day. The room was packed with tables of black and white photos, memories, and stories; tables of different regions, cultures, and businesses. Tables that were surrounded by us – those that feed off of the mana that is history. I made the best haste I could; I had to see it all before the tour of TBD LA started – it was by the grace of the Almighty that I covered a good portion of one of the floors before the tour started.

The TBD LA tour was led by one of its creators, Geoff Manaugh. To hear the explanation through him brought the concept into focus. This exhibit was a pensive look at the multiple possible futures of Los Angeles and how the city has a strange energy that pulls people to it. It’s a city of cults, traffic, and movements both social and geological. The reality of the Los Angles earthquake was poignantly described as a sleeping monster, one we generally choose to avoid thinking about. We always know this monster will awaken but we do not know when. After this dreamy look into the futures of Los Angeles I had to – in true Angeleno fashion – rush to the next big thing: The Pecha Kucha.

The Pecha Kucha was accurately described as archives speed dating. The audience briefly learned about advances in the histories of the Lanternmean House, the Filipino American library, the Metro, LACMA, CSU Dominguez Hills, and the newly budding Punk Rock archives of USC.

In Pecha Kucha fashion I’ll briefly share what was of particular interest to me:

-The Ninja Turtles were at the grand opening of the Metro Blue Line

-Some of Los Angeles’ famous Red Cars (the center of the plot of Who Framed Roger Rabbit) were sent to Argentina and Paraguay after their dismantlement

-CSU Dominguez Hills’ location was originally considered as a place to build Dodger Stadium. Meanwhile, the pending college was to be built in Palos Verdes where it would have aspired to be a sort of Harvard of the west coast

-When LACMA first opened all of its pieces were loans and the establishment was surrounded by reflecting pools

When the Pecha Kucha was over I stayed seated, it was time for the LAtitudes panel. LAtitudes is a recently released literary atlas published by the non profit publisher Heyday Books. Imagine; 19 essays written by very different people with accompanying maps illustrating a variety of geological concepts – all of it regarding the one and only Los Angeles. I only heard four of the authors speak about their contributions and the variety and the enthusiasm for this project shone through like a spotlight. I NEED this book.

I wanted to stay for one more panel – Imbibing LA with the historian from the Museum of American Cocktails – but I needed to leave. I was exhausted. My stomach was growling – the only food I imbibed during my Bazaar day was a Clif bar, which I hastily ate on a nearby bench because I did not want to leave the Bazaar to find real food. My right hand was tired from all of my insane scribbling. My phone was dead from all the historical society websites I was book marking and from all the forays into GoodReads I was making. My mind was buzzing with the LA history, with the LA story.

If you like history too, check these out:

CSUDH Commemoration of Watts Rebellion

Metro Archives

Heyday Publishing / LAtitudes

LA as Subject


Sarah Screams

The City of Commerce’s Rosewood Library had a series of horror movie screenings this Halloween season that they aptly named Commerce Screams. This undertaking was truly a community service. One can’t always access quality horror movies. Check Netflix- you’re lucky if you get a part 2 or 3 of something from the 80s, most likely you’ll be besieged with awful remakes. Check Redbox – by the time you get off of work and drive over the machine has probably been picked clean. Check your local video store – oops – wait – you probably can’t find one. Did you think to go to the library?

Yes, the place with all the books has movies too – and magazines – and people.

Libraries are a place where you can find free books, air conditioning, wifi, and magazines. A place where you can disconnect from the mundane and follow what intrigues you. A place where kids and adults can have fun and lose themselves into story and imagination. A place of magazines, movies, events, and book clubs. A place to build community.

I fricking love libraries.

The magic librarians behind Commerce Screams curated a month of true classics: Poltergeist, Carrie, Ju-On (The Grudge), Nightmare on Elm Street, and Ringu (The Ring). They were all hand selected because of their status as unique originals that have since been remade – but – who’s remake is arguably eclipsed by the exquisiteness of the original.

If not for Commerce Screams most of us library patrons in attendance may have lived our whole lives without seeing these films. I wouldn’t spend the money to buy them on amazon sight unseen. These kids may not have given them a second glance at the RedBox or any other place of movie lending or purchasing. These parents would have had them on as background noise while texting, facebooking, folding laundry, or doing that other stuff I imagine parents do.

The movies themselves were shown in a medium sized room with a large-ish tv. The seats were simple straight back chairs placed in evenly spaced rows. There was a light that stayed on the entire time, probably for safety reasons. There was a table with water bottles and popcorn. No recliners, no darkness, no leather seats, and no sound system. This did not take away from my movie-watching experience.

The first movie I partook in was Poltergeist – the original. At first I wasn’t sure what I was doing there, I thought maybe it was a bad idea and that I should go home. The seats in front were filled with noisy kids. Their complacent parents were in the back. Disinterested looking teens were scattered throughout. Most of these people were more enthralled with chatting and eating free popcorn than in watching Poltergeist… at first. As the movie played on the kids were literally on the edge of their seats. More people came in – it soon became floor seating only.

Towards the end when the music changed and one could sense it was about to get real- the kids covered their eyes with their hands. Nothing happened. Their hands fell from their faces – smiles and giggles of relief were heard, “haha I wasn’t scared.” Then – BAM – the clown pops out from under the bed. The front row jumped out of their seats with a shriek and ran to the back of the room – where they stayed for the remainder of the film.

This is what community is about –coming together – being scared – screaming – and covering your eyes with your hands.