Struck by lightning

artwork by Michael Capozzola

I'm reading tonight as part of Quiet Lightning, a literary reading series started by Evan Karp and Rajshree Chauhan in January 2010. This will be my fifth reading with them in the past year. See the April 2010 reading here , May 2010 here, September 2010 here, and special LitQuake edition (October 2010) here. Quiet Lightning publishes a magazine, sPARKLE n' bLINK, and has forged a real sense of literary community in the Bay Area. I know that it has pushed me to explore short works, and also challenged me to see what happens when I read aloud. I can't help it; I always get nervous. More than anything I am inspired by how generative the act of reading becomes. How by knowing there's a monthly deadline, and that somewhere out there people will show up to hear a few words spilled across a page, there's a reason to sit down and write.

Quiet Lightning, which has been linked to KQED's To Do List, FunCheapSF, San Francisco Magazine, SF Weekly, SFist, The Rumpus, and, the New York Times, is on its way to becoming a nonprofit organization. For more information on how to support QL, visit the website.

The True Nature of Surfing the Web

This was at Quiet Lighting V at Mina Dresden Gallery here in San Francisco. Fun.

I was a little startled, however, to see it pop up on some random Julia Roberts blog this week. I'm wondering what this group is, who Frances Kelley in Grand Rapids, Michigan might be, and what possible relevance it has for a group of Julia Roberts fans. Maybe this is a meme for anyone with the first name Julia?

The internet does funny things to our lives.

This morning, while trolling internet news sites for possible Forum show ideas, I came across a photo of a performer at the SF Weird Street Faire that looked oddly familiar. There was something about that pink hair...And she was identified as the one and only Trixxie Carr, a performer, playwright, musician and faux drag queen here in San Francisco, who also happens to be my cousin.

Trixxie was the girl at my family reunions who was always completely unafraid to be herself, and as the only granddaughter on both sides of my family, I always wished I could be so unabashedly my own person. She is, as I've soon learned, an accomplished performer who has toured as far as China. I hadn't seen her in some time, and suddenly we had exchanged contact information and I realized that maybe creativity is a force as powerful as family, one that makes us circle the same overlapping Venn diagrams time and time again, until we hit all the matrices that seem interesting.

Small, lovely, funny world, thanks to the internet. And perhaps the people out there doing the things they love, and then putting them on the internet.

Cool Stuff You Should Know

There are a lot of them--things, that is. But I feel the need to dash off a list of some of the coolest nouns in my life these days. People, places, events, programs.

The Best New Literary Series in San Francisco

would have to be Quiet Lightning, a monthly reading series curated by Evan Karp and Rajshree Chauhan. I was first turned on to this by my classmate (and Managing Editor of SF State's kickass graduate literary magazine, Fourteen Hills) D.W. Lichtenberg, who has been actively reading work from his first published collection of poetry, The Ancient Book of Hip. Karp and Chauhan take submissions of 5 minute pieces early in the month and then arrange them in specific reading order for the event, which has hopped from bar to gallery and back again. Writers are invited to submit poetry, flash fiction, excerpts and really it seems anything that can be performed in about five minutes. Not only is the event itself a fun gathering of writers and friends, but Karp and Chauhan have managed to bridge that gap between open mic and literary journal by publishing all the work in sPARKLE & bLINK, and by video-recording all of the readers and posting them online.

Best New Radio Shows

New to me, that is. Just yesterday I got turned on to Snap Judgment, an NPR program that explains itself as an "audio rollercoaster." Glynn Washington hosts these hourlong programs, which are sensationally produced with music, sound effects, and dramatic moments of pause in between personal narratives.

is a New York-based personal storytelling program in the tradition of The Moth, except it allows its readers to offer long, entertaining and practiced personal anecdotes. Kevin Allison (most famously known for his work in the comedy troupe the State) hosts, and sometimes has celebrity guests such as Janeane Garafalo or Elna Baker -- two ladies whose writing I definitely admire.

Best Local Music Show

Golden Beat, from Berkeley's KALX, is my go-to when I've got a few hours to write an assignment and crave some indie, funky, country, bluesy, eclectic beats.

Best Impersonal Email Message

VSL, or Very Short List, has mastered the art of anonymous culture-busting. I got turned on to this by following Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and another one of my literary heroes, who helped found the website in 2006. Basically, their concept is to summarize "one must-see gem" a day, and it's usually an underground book, film, band, or even political movement that might not otherwise see the light of day.

I'm not usually one for the mass email, but this one I read every day.

And, finally, last but not least:

Best Way to Respond to a Bad Pick-Up Line

A short, accidental moment of true, unblemished impoliteness. Every now and then someone will see the little machine on my hip and use it as a way to chat me up. 99% of the time it's a perfectly harmless exchange, but every now and then I find that it acts as an excellent screen. One example:

After the reading Monday night, I was talking with my cousin and my friend Max, and a young guy approached me and interjected rather loudly, "WOAH you must be a doctor or something because I haven't seen a PAGER like that in a long time!"

To which I responded, "I'm diabetic." In my head, I modulated the tone as a kind of "I'm happy to talk to you about it if you ask," but it actually came out in a much more of a "fuck off, you ignoramus" way. I didn't realize that until I saw the startled look on his face, and I turned back to my friends just as he did a full about-face and walked away.

So yeah. I think this stuff is cool. You don't have to agree with me, but if you ask me about my pager, I might accidentally shut you down.

I found this poem

I had a legitimate moment of literary amnesia just now, when cherrypicking old work for potential submissions. I found these words and I know they held special meaning at the time, but the idea of titling something like this a "Bloodletting for Scarlet O'Hara" -- the Julia who wrote this poem is someone I no longer resemble.

Blood Letting for Scarlet O’Hara

You laughed when I said,
It’s been far too long since I’ve had a good scab.
It was true;
My body was tired of stories
Knee high fence posts
And narrow doorways.
We were at Whiskeytown lake
And it felt appropriate to be somewhere
Named after alcohol
Because my legs got drunk around you
Skidding down the boat ramp
It was 104 degrees
And the dirt was scarlet

O’Hara would’ve never done that
In a black bikini
Run down moss while you were still in the car
By the time you had your trunks on
My knees were the color of the dirt
Even lines of oxygen trailing into whiskey

Town lake and when you put me on your shoulders
I’d never been happier
To acquire a scab


I wonder at what point creative work simply overrides memory.


A brief follow-up to the Monday night Quiet Lightning event: Evan Karp, the San Francisco Literary Culture Examiner, wrote up a great summary of the reading at Gestalt.