Wednesday, July 18, 2007


WRITING STUFF: LAST NIGHT IN L.A. - INDEPENDENCE IN LOS FELIZ


INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES

Last night I was on a book panel at the Los Feliz Public Library, just down the road from the Griffith Park Observatory and just up the street from Skylight Books, site of the former literary institution, Chatterton's, a raucous, beat, hip and oh-so-charming bookstore now long gone. But Skylight, now celebrating four years, is a wonderful bookstore, with many of the things that made the old Chatterton's attractive to me in my long-gone youth. Beloved independent bookstores, how I seek you out and spend as much time (not to mention money) as I can in your comfy nooks. Skylight hosted a book signing a couple of years ago in which I was a participant. It's one of my new Hillhurst landmarks. I won't miss Chatterton's anymore: I have Skylight.

INDEPENDENT LIBRARIANS

Cheers for PEARL YONEZAWA, the Library Manager of the Los Feliz Public Library. In an eclectic Los Angeles neighborhood which is also home to the local Public Television Station (KCET) and a myriad of fab little ethnic eateries, this library has expanded from a one-room building across the street to two rooms and finally the magnificent modern structure that it is today, serving a diverse and literate community.

Pearl booked us in for an evening of chat about LANDMARKED FOR MURDER and how to write short stories and where do we get ideas and how do we do research. All writerly stuff, and so much fun! Up in front were mystery writers Michael Mallory (who also moderated), Gayle Bartos-Pool, Jinx Beers, Darrell James, Pamela Samuels-Young, A. H. Ream and Susan Kosar Beery. And me, too.

And there was icy cold water and fruit salad (!) for everyone. Even though there was a heated local political thingy going on at the same time elsewhere (groups for and against the serving of liquor at the new restaurant at the Griffith Observatory) which took a few of our expected participants away, we still had nearly a full room. It was fun and lively and Pearl did things like reserve parking spaces for the participants.

INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS

The magnificent SARNO'S was once just around the corner on Vermont, a knock-your-socks-off Italian restaurant and bakery. Opened in 1946 by Umberto Sarno of Naples,.. Alberto, brother of Umberto, joined them in 1964, after years of voice studies in Italy, stood up one day to sing to the customers, and the coffee shop was turned into Sarno's Caffè dell'Opera. Alberto "served up Puccini nightly with the pasta, drawing a clientele that included Sophia Loren, Jimmy Durante, Gina Lollobrigida, Tony Bennett, Mario Lanza and—when he was in town—Alberto's friend, Luciano Pavarotti."* The pastry chef in 1960 was Antonio Neiviller - who in 1987 opened Il Capriccio on Vermont, just down the block. Sarno's closed in 2000 and is now the Vermont Restaurant. I will miss SARNO'S.

*quote from "In Los Feliz, Life Will Be a Little Less Sweet," by Beverly Beyette, Los Angeles Times Southern California Living; Part-E, Aug 1, 2000, pg. 1

INDEPENDENT PARTICIPANTS

Okay, there's always one in every crowd. Once last year at a similar book talk in a library auditorium in Burbank- a large one - it was raining and a lot of the people sitting before us had just dashed in for shelter. One guy sitting up front looked homeless: unkempt, scraggly beard, old Army jacket, plastic bags at his feet.

He asked a lot of interesting questions, though - and he turned out to be a famous screenwriter.

But last night the guy in the old Army jacket with the plastic bags at his feet turned out to be a Scientologist with a persistent interest in Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf. Sigh.

Aside from him there was a great assortment of interesting people who nodded and smiled when we up on the stage mentioned our favorite authors.

Let's hear for the odd ones out - even if they don't want to talk about the stuff you want to hear. Even if they need a bath, a new focus or a new plastic bag for their notebooks, they're the ones I remember, the ones who will make a repeat appearance in a story someday.


THREE BEAUTIFUL THINGS

RICK'S BURRITOS
in Pasadena. It's the home of the best taco burgers on the planet, but they're going to close down and move. Maybe they'll re-open. I have been reveling in their food for more than 30 years. They have been in business for 40 years. I had my last Rick's Taco Burger last night - hope it'll hold me until they get back up and running.



Rick's burrito - the famous "Spuderito"

ALL LIBRARIANS. How can they not be beautiful? They keep the world of books and information flowing, giving access to the world to everyone. Let's hear it for them all, and particularly Nancy Hoskins and Joan Schipper (two of my favorite private firm librarians) and for Pearl Yonezawa of the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Feliz Branch.


Loz Feliz Branch Library

APPLE PIE. It's what's for breakfast sometimes. There are three tiny apples on the Fuji tree this year. We transplanted it at the wrong time of year, but had no choice as the concrete went in and it had to be moved to its new permanent home. Not enough for pie this year, but next year should be glorious!



8 comments:

Sandie said...

Hi Kate,

Member me, Sandie? I L O V E your awsome web sight!! I think of you often and want to reconnect a bit.

I posted here once before but could not find it agaom. Maybe it did not go through!

I would love to chat in a few emails to catch up! I want to know & tell you the real stuff. The real gardening dirt! LOL!

Must say, you have a much more interesting life than me!!! Many nice places you've been! I would love to travel more! I'm a good (non complaining) companion if you ever want one!!!

Love your house, especially the "windows"!!

Take Care! ... Email me soon!

Sonnjea B said...

My sister just visited the Seattle Public Library for the first time - her vacation postcards were of the magnificent steel and glass archictural marvel. I love how libraries are becoming art themselves; in much the same way museums (like the Getty and the Guggenheim, to name just a couple) suggest the grandeur of the art they hold, libraries are beginning to hint at the great art held within their walls. And in such a digital world, it takes creative librarians to keep people engaged with these wonderful local resources.

annulla said...

Fascinating, informative post and the panel sounds great but ... but ... what's a taco burger?

Blather From Brooklyn

Kate Thornton said...

Sandie - I'll email you soon - it's nice to see you again!

Sonnjea b - it's so true about art and architechture - the Cerritos Public Library is a marvel of modern architecture and truly a work of art. And my own Pomona Public Library was designed by Weldon Beckett and is a wonderful mid century modern marvel. Back when it was first opened, the place was full of Bertoia chairs and Saarinen tables...

annulla, a taco burger is fabulous - here's the way Rick's does it:

steamed burger bun, mustard, pickles, a generous helping of seasoned ground beef of the sort used in tacos, lettuce, tomatoes, onion (for me!) and heavy on the hot sauce! Mmmmm - instant gastric distress, but so good!

Bernita said...

Food and books are soul twins, I think.

Jo said...

Surely not ALL librarians! The one at my univeristy is horribly grumpy but not to the people using their mobile phones, more to the people who are coming up to the desk with queries and problems.

And 2 independent bookstores near me has just closed down...it's such a shame :(

Kate Thornton said...

Bernita - ain't it the truth!

Jo - I've known a few who were less than helpful! And a lot who were just ... strange. So sad about the indie bookstores.

aloxo said...

, there's always one in every crowd. Once last year at a similar book talk in a library auditorium in Burbank- a large one - it was raining and a lot of the people sitting before us had just dashed in for shelter. One guy sitting up front looked homeless: unkempt, scraggly beard, old Army jacket, plastic bags at his feet.

He asked a lot of interesting questions, though - and he turned out to be a famous screenwriter.

But last night the guy in the old Army jacket with the plastic bags at his feet turned out to be a Scientologist with a persistent interest in Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf.groupon south africaelectric bicycle conversion kit