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Friday Night in SF…

So Friday night I went down to enjoy the second day of ‘litquake’ at The Make Out Room. It’s part of a 4-day festival celebrating local-ish authors. There were 4 presenters and I really enjoyed all of their presentations (a breakdown follows) and saw the famoun Craig Newmark.

I hadn’t been planning on coming, but my father changed his flight from Friday night to Saturday morning.

So there I was, plowing my way through the tail end of happy hour, $3 Gin and T’s with cheap Anchor Steam, fun.

So here’s a workdown of the literary reading.

Three of the authors had a ‘queer’ angle to their work. I have thoughts on this in the read more section.

After the show I saw a sad scene near the BART station. I put that down in the read more section as well.

So the readers at the literary gathering were:

Justin Chin: He was wery funny, but very dark as well. I believe he may have a terminal illness because a lot of his work was framed within the lens of a fairly immanent death. He talked about the loneliness that one goes through when facing something like that. He also related it within the context of having grown up very traditionally Chinese.

Daphne Gottlieb: All a fury of small narrow braids and a Goth-Fetish (laytex, pvc?) dress (I say Goth because of the heavy cross motif). She did three mini-pieces and the one that was my favorite centered about her helping her mother get dressed. The work had a twist in it that when it hit I heard the breath go out of the room.

I remember thinking that Daphne’s work really seemed to justify my belief, verbalized in After Virtue that humans simply must have a narrative to their lives.

Tim’m T. West: Tim’m was definitely working a Joycian angle here. His works usuall incorporated the words (i’m lazy so here’s a Perl idiom for you) qw{ postmodern discourse dialect} etc. with an emphasis on the ‘read-aloud’ aspect, trying to run the sounds together to create something from the words. I thought that was OK, but his best piece was about the real (double whammy) burden of being both black and gay. He talked about how everyone (including the black community NB) was prepared to see him hit his lover, to fill him up with bulletholes, to call him names that invoke images of slavery, but no one could tolerate the thought of that preferred fist-to-face contact of rage transmuting to something kind and gentle - any physical affectation of love.

There was a break and I chatted with a girl leaning on the same pole. She was into psychology.

Alan Black: Bartender at the Edinburgh Castle in the Tenderloin then read a hilarious piece narrated by someone who he imagines watches the Christian Broadcasting Network 24/7. It was a good parody of the white man’s burden , be thankful for all we provide mentality that such programming promulgates. Like all good satire you are very aware of the black river of the author’s disagreement running through the entire thing.

Beth Lisick: Her entry was about how she decided that she was actually, totally straight. It chronicled her movement from suburban bliss in The Valley of Heart’s delight, to a politically and socially enlightened (ha ha, say all of us that attended liberal colleges) view that of course she was bi. This while bit of intelectualization ran very much agaist the fact that her biology was not particularly excited about the idea. She was very humorous

Regina Louise: Regina narrated the very difficult story of her having grown up in a foster home and being taken away from ‘white-momma’ - the only thing like a mother that she had known. She, in the mindset of her 11-year-old self, can only see that the social worker, a black woman, was taking her away from the only place where she was accepted without condition. She then relates how this break ultimately drove her to “act out” and misbehave. It also formed a healthy, I believe, basis for self-hatred that she, as a black woman, must have integrated into her self image. Not a pretty situation.

So obviously my piddly little summations cover in no way, shape, or form, the achievement that each of these writes has made for themselves. I’m hoping that all I could do is encourage you to get out and help your local writers continue to provide you differing mirrors for seeing your own life.

I was surprised (well, sorta, it is San Francisco) to see that so much of the work focused on being gay.

I don’t really care for gay lit. It’s usually so (at least what I’ve read) self absorbed (appropriate to a livejournal.com page) and (generally) has this terrible quality of either being bad erotica or whining .

I was pleasantly surprised that the ‘queer authors’ actually managed to produce interesting content where the characters happened to be gay.

Same thing I generally feel about race-literature. I mean, does everything have to center on being (some race)? I mean, aren’t (some race) families families first, who then have to deal with the added burden / opportunity presented by being (some race)?


After the show I headed on up to 16th street to hit the big ass taqueria on 16th between mission and valencia on the South side of the street. I don’t remember it’s name but it is big and has a lot of flourescent lighting.

I was eating my burrito near the Bart station entrance and there was this girl and apparently the guy on the other end of the line was breaking up with her.

She kept saying “Nah, it’s cool.” over and over, as if that were going to fend off what inevitably followed: those slow fat silent tears running down her Hispanic face.

She was dressed in an anonymous form-obscuring gray track suit. The gray loose sweatpants-ish pants swayed in the Twin-Peaks gathered, Mission street accelerated wind and she kept trying to stem the flow of her tears so that her mascara wouldn’t get messed up. She kept putting her long fingernails underneath her eyeball, using the curvature as a glove, as if to catch each one.

She had a long ponytail in a braid that narrowed at the end into a very small collection of hairs. I don’t know if this hairstyle of hers had any meaning. I think it might. In any case, I’ll never understand it.

Schopenhauer and MacIntyre are right, literature provides us our metaphors for understanding the stories we live and for providing us the lines we need when we face thos situations literature teaches us. I kept seeing her reach for things like “Well you have my number and know what you mean” and “Well if this is the way you want it to be..” and it’s dialect counterpart (“So you want it to go out like this?”).

I left the scene and turned back to see her sitting on the steps continuing the ritual.