It's an almost too-perfect image to represent the book's contents -- "Defenestration" cheekily channeled the out-the-window frustration of the dawning of the first Internet boom, with its hordes of tech gold-rushers pushing out old San Francisco culture. (And now, in the middle of another tech boom, the artwork itself will be pushed aside to make way for affordable housing -- the term for anything under $2500 per month rent pretty much at this point.) The End of San Francisco takes us on an atmospheric, highly personal through the turbulent period of the '90s and early 2000s, while asking some hard questions about the queer activism, participatory gentrification, and "alternative culture" of the period. Along the way, Mattilda intimately delves into issues like her recovered memories of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of her father; the rampant drug use, mental illness, and hostile attitudes of Mission queer culture; the gynophobia and transphobia of many "underground" scenes, and much, much more.
I asked Mattilda a few questions over email in advance of her appearances here at City Lights (April 30) and the GLBT Historical Society (May 9) to help set her book in the context of what was happening then, and what's still happening now. As always, she pulled no punches.
It is perhaps indicative of my professional scope that I was nervous to talk to Amber Belldene, Bay Area author of a "racy romance" vampire novel (her words.) But be advised, my anxiety was due less to her literary pursuits and more with the fact that she is an ordained Episcopalian priest. Religion, it would seem, is a harder passion to penetrate for me than undead sex scenes.
On her end, Belldene sees no conflict between the two. "Romance novels are really about love, and so is being Christian," the neatly-attired writer, who "fell down a slippery vampire slope" when she was a young thing told me during her visit to my office. The tagline on her website reads "Mystically Sexy Paranormal Romance…because Desire is Divine." [sic] Read more »
It's a symbol of the atrocities suffered by Chinese Americans on this continent: a lumbering machine that stripped thousands of their livelihood and was even named for the epithet used against them, the Iron Chink.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” -- Madeleine L'Engle
She was living proof that not all Christian young adult authors feel the need to concoct elaborate vampire metaphors decrying sexual intimacy. Madeleine L'Engle, in fact, counts as one of the most beloved writers among religious and secular readers of youn adult lit alike (well, some religious people -- others condemned her depictions of crystal balls and treatment of Jesus as a learned man.) Her Wrinkle in Time turns the ripe old age of 50 this year, and the SF Public Library has drummed up a line-up of authors just as devoted to its tesseract-traveling plot as you are to commemorate its golden anniversary Read more »
Have you ever listened to KPFA's “Flashpoints”? A friend described it to me, as we listened to an episode featuring San Francisco's newest poet laureate – our first Latino laureate – Alejandro Murgía, as a “very pointed” radio show. The host, poet Dennis Bernstein, asked a very pointed question about Obama and Romney's reactions to the anti-Muslim video that's causing uproar in the Middle East.
But Murgía changed the subject. What about the racism of the Tucson Unified School District, he asked? Why doesn't its removal of the Mexican American studies program, and with it books like The Tempest and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and other books that “emphasize students’ ethnicity rather than their individuality” get talked about more? The more he talked, the more I became convinced that yes, this was a very big deal.
Luckily, the country has an opportunity to talk about the issue of free speech repression via next week's 30th annual national celebration of Banned Books Week, Sun/30-Oct. 6. Read more »
Perhaps you have run aground of late, or know someone who has. Maybe you've forgotten your alphabet (or know somebody who has.) At any rate, a Bay Area couple would like to help. Rebecca Kovan and Daniel MacIntyre have put together a lovely, illustrated ABCs book perfect for remembering your values. Its name is Alphabet Living, and we challenge you to click through the above slideshow and not dissolve in a puddle of love. Or a stain of irritation, depending at what point in your Folsom Street Fair comedown you are. Read more »
If there is one thing that some feminists like to do, it is tell each other that they are not really feminist -- or, judging from the Internet over the past weeks, that's what newsmedia enjoys paying them to write about. Imagine that two competing “waves” at an NFL game crash into each other and their wavers begin hurling epithets involving biological primacy (“the wave's appeal lies in the rolling motion of the womb experience!”) and unacknowledged privilege (“our wave does not rely on fancy running shoes for buoyancy, or expensive snack bar items for flourish!”)
Naomi Wolf wrote a book called Vagina: A Biography, and is now being torn apart, bit by bit, by representatives of various feminist waves in nearly every vaunted publication in the land. I'm saying: she did write a book called Vagina, though. Read more »
HERBWISE Author Doug Fine's last book, Farewell My Subaru, is about the year he moved to a secluded New Mexico farm and attempted to live without petroleum. He's just as creative about advocating against the War on Drugs as is his against fossil fuel dependency -- for his new book Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution Fine spent a cannabis season living in a Mendocino grow town. Read more »
HERBWISE We have to be careful about how we are documenting marijuana. If we aren't, future generations might be forgiven for thinking that cannabis culture occurred solely in courtrooms and during federal raids. After all, when do you read an account of a really great high, or the everyday reality of scoring from a dealer (and not going to jail for it, natch) off the pages of High Times?Read more »
Adobe Books owner Andrew McKinley didn't have to think long when I asked him the corniest question of our interview, occasioned by the announcement that his store was in serious danger of having to close. Question: if you had to choose one book to describe your situation, what would it be? "It reminds me of The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurty," McKinley gamely responded. "It's about a movie theater in a small Texas town that's dying out."
But! ask Mission District bibliophiles. Can Adobe Books be saved? The answer, according to McKinley, lies in whether you have a buddy with $60,000 to save the future of SF books -- or better yet, $3 million. Read more »