My writers group has taken on the wonderful “All But True” reading series and is now curating and hosting it at Mighty Writers West, 3861 Lancaster Ave in Philadelphia (corner of Lancaster and 39th).
Our first evening is this Friday at 7:00 p.m. and features two wonderful writers, Stephanie Feldman and Tom Mendicino. Below is a link to more info. Come on down!
Back in the early 1970s I moved to San Francisco from L.A. as a naïve teenager enthralled by the energy and beauty of that city by the bay. That was post-Haight Ashbury meltdown and pre-AIDS devastation, and San Francisco was a magical wonderland that felt like its magic could last forever. I lived just over the hill from the Castro district and, although unambiguously heterosexual, I loved the energy of the Castro community and its outrageous pride parades.
By the time I moved to Boston in the early 1980s I had started to lose friends to some dark and mysterious epidemic sweeping through the gay community. But 1970s San Francisco was still, at least for me, a time and place of exuberance, safety, and joy.
There was one particular occasion I remember from that time in San Francisco when my younger brother came to visit me and I took him out on the town. We ended up late at night at a place called the I-Beam, a gay dance club in the Haight. It was a loud and lively sanctuary where we could dance together, two straight brothers, without drawing any attention to ourselves.
What brings all this to mind, of course, is the horror of the recent Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub – a vicious violation of what should have been a safe harbor. And then today, in this morning’s New York Times, I read several wonderful short essays by contributors who offered their personal reflections on “My First Gay Bar.”
So this is my own modest offering to those reflective waters.
The wonderful Cleaver Magazine has just come out with a new issue, and what do you know? I’m in it! Take a look, it has an excerpt from Busara Road (jiggered a bit to stand alone), and I’m especially pleased to share the magazine’s pages with Mark Lyons, whose story collection Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines is a total gem, and with photographer Julianna Foster, whose work is transporting. Kudos to the whole editorial team at Cleaver.
You’ve likely heard that Amtrak has created a writers residency on the rails, and it is reviewing applications through the end of March. Way back in 1994, though, I created an Amtrak writing residency of my own, traveling in a sleeper car more than half-way around the country while writing day and night. Starting in Philadelphia, I swung through New York, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Paul, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, and San Francisco, before ending up in L.A., where I flew back to Philly. Unofficial, perhaps, but still a grand time. An official Amtrak residency is a cool idea, and if you want to apply, here’s a link:
Sam Nigro is a very engaging artist working in a most challenging and unusual medium. Check out his current Kickstarter campaign for an ambitious project in India:
Bumbo Friends Church, Kenya, Christmas Day 2011
For a piece on my Kenya trip last year that just appeared in Friends Journal, click HERE.