Last Day of BEA, Hookers in Chelsea

May 31, 2009

Another good day which started off with a ten mile run.  Well, a successful show so far, and it’s going to be really successful if I score some cool stuff over in the Graphic Novel/Sci Fi Fantasy aisle for my teens.  I mean having Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal come by the press would have been the big success for most people… and it is… but scoring comic books is vital to the stability of the American family.

The American family is intact.  I got some great graphic novels.  I can’t wait to distribute them to my 26 year old with teen tastes and my actual teens.  Great times here in New York, but I’m ready to go back to Los Angeles. 

The show closed down at 3 pm and Mark and I wandered down to Telephone Bar for a drink, then we found some place near KGB where we got oysters and drinks.  I had absinthe which is really wretched to drink, but you think about Hemingway and that’s some consolation.  Then off through St. Mark’s Place, finally jumped on the train at Houston’s to go back to Chelsea.  That’s where it got funny.  We went to this restaurant, which I am not going to name, for obvious reasons.  We’re at the bar and this attractive blond comes in.  She greets the owner, the hostess, the bartender, the waiters.  Everyone knows her.  She asks the hostess if anyone has called the police.  I am frankly confused which is sadly naive.  Mark explains the situation to me.  She sits down at the bar and the bartender gives her water and a bowl of soup.  Very nice.  On a white napkin.  The guy lays the napkin on the bar, soup on top.  Miss Hottie disappears.  Mr. Moneybags with bad acne scars shows up.  Sits tight until Miss Hottie reappears. Buys her a drink.  She has a winning little way of chatting him up.  She has a filmy pink blouse and a come hither look.  I wonder what she is doing right now.  Sexy times.  We are watching The Fugitive, a really great movie, Harrison Ford is crazy cool in this.  That one armed man must be brought to justice.  I bet Miss Hottie would agree with me.  Frisky times lead to more frisky times.

Published in: on May 31, 2009 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Why Books are Better than Kindle and Women are Better than Blow-Up Dolls

May 30, 2009

BEA is going well except our author Brendan Constantine’s books got stolen.  What the heck is that?  That boy is getting too popular.  I wonder if he sent spies to NY to swoop in and take Letters to Guns.  BEA is considerably smaller this year.  No FSG, Greywolf or Copper Canyon.  No St. Martins.  But there is still a lot of excitement and the place seems packed and overwhelming.  There is no real presence for Kindle here.  Kindle doesn’t work for people who like books, just like blow up dolls don’t work for men who like women and robots don’t work for men who like men.  If a Kindle could replace a book, then couldn’t a vibrator replace a man?  I mean really, we women don’t need men to help us make money.  We can do that ourselves.  But some of us like them.  They’re funny.  At least mine is.  So back to books. 

Books are the real thing, an interchange between the self and the world of ideas.  You ask me why Kindle couldn’t work?  Well, the book is an artifact that carries weight in the world of ideas.  Kindle is a plastic thingamajig that holds its little plastic words tightly.  No flow.  If you could give up drinking beer out of a bottle and plug your finger into a little beer node and feel a little buzz afterward, would you? 

I’m drinking a beer right now.  Out of a bottle.  And thinking.  What about you?

Kindle… Here’s the basic problem.  You’re thinking, Oh Kate, you’re the editor of a publishing company, that’s why you think this Kindle thing is garbage.  Here’s the deal.  Music has been around for many years, only you had to know someone who made music or know how to make it yourself.  Then 100 years or so, we get recorded music.  Recorded music allowed more people to hear the same music.  In your little New Hampshire shack you could hear… voila, Louis Armstrong play jazz.  It wouldn’t be the same as hearing him in person, but still, for millions of people, listening to music was pretty damn good.  The means of delivery for recorded has had three locations ever since you could play it on a person transistor radio.  1.  You have the personal private experience.  2.  You had the private experience of listening to it in  your home.  3.  You could play music publicly and have the collective experience of listening to it with others. 

The IPOD of course allows for all three.  You can run through Battery Park listening to music no one else can hear.  You can play it at home and you can play it in public at a wedding.  The delivery of the music isn’t as important as the music itself.  We survived vinyls, 8 tracks, tapes, CD’s and now we’re all enjoying our IPODS. 

 Okay, so right now, 1 % of the book business is electronic.  That’s not exactly a large part of the market.  That’s like asking how many kids want to have a picture their parents at a nudist colony for Christmas.  Sure, there’s a small percentage, but it’s an odd little percentage, pretty much what you might call the fruitcake percentage.  I’m not saying you’re a fruitcake or that you want to see your parents naked if you own a Kindle.  I know it sounds like that, but that’s not my real point here.  My real point is that the tiny percentage of Kindle users are pretty much earning their freak points. 

 Okay, you’re wondering what to do if you are in the Kindle business or own some Kindle stock.  Sell ‘em, dump ‘em, walk away.  Now, here’s why.  A book is the personal IPOD experience.  You get to hold the artifact and have the experience of choosing what you’re going to read and then you interact in an engaged fashion with an artifact and you participate in the exchange of ideas and the imagination.  Now, Kate, you say, that same experience is possible with the Kindle.  Isn’t it?  No.  Again… back to my beer example.  Pretend you’re in Brazil.  You don’t have to actually eat food, drink whiskey or beer, or have sex.  You can just plug your finger into a hole and get the beer feeling or the whiskey feeling, (for whiskey you press 2), and if you’re hungry you can hit number 3 or 4 for turkey or steak sandwich, and you get the full feeling.  You’re saying, Oh, Kate, get over yourself.  You do read a Kindle.  No, a Kindle isn’t a book.  It’s a Vibrator.  End of story. 

 P.S. Ok Kate, you’re saying, have you ever tried a Vibrator?  Yes.  Once.  Then I threw it away.  And reached for a person.  A boy or a girl.  I can’t remember.  It was a while ago.

Off to the CLMP party at Housing Works.  Should be fun.  Fun party with a lot of people.  Got very noisy and we split.  Had a drink with Nancy and Naseem.  They have to be up at 4:30 am to fly home so we split and wandered.  I see that there are people in NY crazy about PinkBerry too.  Why?  It must feel like a party in their mouth, like fun on the tongue.  Ah sleep, so underrated.

Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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BEA and Nancy Boutin

May 29, 2009



The great thing about NY is the people.  I walk most of the way to the BEA passing an older couple with their adopted Chinese girl who is just adorable.  I see lots of Jamaican women or other Islanders with expensively dressed white babies who they are strolling about.  In Los Angeles, these would be Latinas with the babies.  Dog walkers, homeless people, people selling hotdogs and gyros.  I like the energy.  Here at BEA, there’s a lot of action.  My man John Irving was here reading.  Lots of applause for him.  Also Cornel West was reading.  Crazy applause for him.  I called Jared just to show off that I was looking at Cornel.  Jared was suitably impressed.


I hope we sell some books here.  Or something.  Make some connections?  Have some fun?  Go to some cool parties…. It’s all good.   A lot of reviewers come by the booth:  Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly.  I’m thinking having a booth at BEA is a good thing.


BEA was busy and fun, then off to dinner with Naseem Rakha and our fabulous board member Nancy Boutin at Pepolinio.  Such great Italian food.  We never go out for great Italian food in Los Angeles except once a year when we can afford Angelina Osteria.  This was divine.  I had the fennel salad and the calamari, so yummy.  Nancy is crazy cool and we were also with Laurie one of the Los Angeles Review poetry editors and her husband Doug.  Good times.  Good wine.  Great crème brulee.   We toasted poetry and life.

Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 7:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Judy Grahn, Red Hen Press author, wins Lambda Award

May 28, 2009

Lambda Awards in New York City.  Judy Grahn wins the Lambda Award for Love Belongs to Those that Do the Feeling, presented by Alice Quinn.  Other nominees included Liz Bradfield, of Arktoi imprint/Red Hen Press for her fabulous book, Interprative Work.  Judy Grahn got a standing ovation and she deserved it.  It was a long day, I ran ten miles down to the Statue of Liberty from Chelsea, then off to meetings.  Mark set up our booth.  We were starving as we hadn’t eaten all day, so we wandered to the Venus in Chelsea to get something.  I like the Venus, huge menu, always chill.  Lots of gay couples, but I’ve never seen any lesbians.  Well, it is Chelsea.  When I was running, I passed three teenage boys down by the river getting stoned, that pungent smell floating out over the gardens and me.  God, I miss my son.  And there was the Statue of Liberty, kind of giving me a high five.  All good.

Published in: on May 28, 2009 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Arriving in New York

May 27, 2009

Flight to New York on Jet Blue, then a great reading at Bowery with Amy Lemmon, Erin Batykefer, Sarah Goodyear and Judy Grahn.  They were all so amazing, and I was so happy to have Judy here in New York reading.  Went out afterward with a gang of us for wings and beer, Greg Sanders joined us, we went to Phoebe’s, they were great.  I can’t wait to see if Judy wins the Lambda Awards tomorrow night.

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Life is a blur, preparation for NY

May 26, 2009

Another ten mile run, meetings, and my workshop.  I love my students.  Teresa with her sly wit, Jackie with her crazy lovesick poem for Leonard Cohen, Ellen with her great articles and that fab novel, Sabrina — dark crazy cool novel in progress, Anita so New York smart with her poems about firemen and garlic.  I love them all.  They bring food, they are patient with each other.  Now preparing for NY and wishing for sleep.

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Memorial Day

May 25, 2009

Woke up in Zaca.   Off to see Tracy Tennenhouse who lives in Moorpark with her husband Chris and her father Alex.  And their kids Hannah and Zack, the joy of my life.  Their garden is growing very well.  The cabbages and tomatoes, even blueberries.  Zack fought Mark with his gun and sword collection.  They made us chicken tacos, guacamole.  When we got home, I ran ten miles.  I ran and then came home to see The Reader.  Ah, the power of language and stories.  What it would mean to be inside a story one’s whole life, the story itself flourishing and unfolding like a fan.  The next time I travel I shall try to move into a story.  I wonder if you can be inside a story if you live at home.  I suppose so, but the story might be like a blog, I came, I ran, I saw, I slept.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Swimming the lake

May 24, 2009

Swimming four times across the lake.  Went through all Red Hen’s outstanding manuscripts.  Some you love the plot but the writing is dead.  One the writing was so lovely, but I couldn’t figure out what the story was about.  Then walked the lake and came on a large bear with a lot of brown on him, but still technically a black bear.  He was having a good day, I don’t think he was hungry.  There were so many deer at the lake every day, hanging around the cabin.  The whole day mashed in light, water, tequila.  Spaghetti for dinner, dreams of Alaska.  I wish we had lived our lives differently, not tried to put down roots.  We could have wandered.  There is a plant called a “Wandering Jew,” this plant with very little water can trail around your house.  We had hotdogs last night with mustard.  Tonight spaghetti with no parmesan.  Every time we camp we forget something.  This time it is parmesan.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wine Tasting

May 23, 2009


We decide to get some wine for our dinner.  Babcock is too expensive for our blood.  $15 for a tasting.  A bit much.  But Melville was good wine, just too many people.  That’s the problem with Memorial Day.  Went to Foley which is just fabulous wine, also too many people, some of them loud and chatty.  Their wine was so expensive, I got down on my knees right there at the winery and asked God to have me born into another family, so I could afford it, but God must have been off watching a Dodger game, because I did not hear from her.  We went to Mosby where this old Air Force guy gives us the wine and is really nice.  Foxen is my favorite because there are two old guys there all the time and usually a cat or a dog and the whole place is nice and kick back and reminds me of our back yard.  And the wine is so good.    There’s the Zaca Mesa Winery that we hit last.  We bought most of our wine there.  It was good and not too crowded.  Plus they were nice to us because we are part of their wine club.  I like their whites, their peppery reds, and their whole vibe.  However, at none of the wineries did we ask the really important question:  Will this wine go well with the hotdogs we are having for dinner?  They are turkey hotdogs.  With catsup. Relish.  Dijon mustard.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Zaca Lake

May 22, 2009

In my still very chaotic, messy personal life, I run another ten miles.  Then off to Zaca Lake where we have no Wifi for days and I can think about the chaos and swim.  For dinner Mark makes this amazing roast chicken, corn on the cob, and we can relax in the green space by the lake.  Tree branches crossing the sky, casting shadows, tree branch shadows across the open spaces where we wander down to the lake, carefully  past the poison oak, into the water.  I cannot imagine my life if I could not come back here, hear the ducks on the lake, hear the chirping of the frogs and birds, see the fish, feel the damp underbelly of eternity that throbs there…I am the center of the moon and I feel Zaca like a kite string pulling at me.  Several deer watch us eat dinner, but a raccoon comes right up on the porch, and puts out his little raccoon hands for Mark to hand him some bread.  What a pushy little Zorro.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment