Cheesemonger in Los Angeles


For the longest time, I couldn’t decide whether to drive or fly to Los Angeles for my reading at Skylight Books. Flying is a little quicker, but I’d need a car down there. Flying would be easier on my body, but my ears are still a little messed up from my last flights. Finally, I decided that since I was bringing cheese, I should just drive so I could bring my whole cheese-party-at-the-bookstore kit, including tiles and my full set of cheese knives. L.A. always appreciates a big show.

Skylight Books is awesome. I’d visited a couple of used bookstores in LA, but never had the opportunity to go to a new one. James Ellroy called it the best bookstore on the West Coast. Really, he told me that last night. But that’s another story. I walked around the store with the happiness one can only find in a well-stocked bookstore that cares about the written word.

Look at all these awesome books that I’m surrounded by*:
skylight books readings

The reading was great. My x-country driving buddy Anna was there. Lots of old friends — who now live in SoCal — were there, lots of Internet folks who I’d never met were there, even my sister and brother-in-law were there! Contrary to the popular image people might have eaten more cheese at this reading than any other I had brought cheese to. Go L.A.!

I had planned to say something about LA while I had the mic. I usually talk about the cities I’m in. In Mendo I talked about my co-worker Anna buying her first book at the bookstore I was doing my reading. In Seattle I talked about the Rainbow Grocery that they used to have. In Portland I talked about how happy I was to be at an institution like Reading Frenzy.

But it’s so fraught when you’re from the Bay Area. You see, we have a rivalry with LA that LA doesn’t know about. I feel like I’ve outgrown it — I really enjoy visiting LA – but it was certainly in the air (or perhaps the water**) growing up and I had to unlearn it. And really, it isn’t that LA doesn’t know about it. It’s that they don’t participate in it and kind of laugh it off… which is of course far worse!

I was gonna do the reverse, I’m-from-Northern-California-and-don’t-hate-LA thing, but in the end I decided it was a no-win thing and left it out. When I told my LA friends afterwards they agreed with tired eyes. “Everyone does that,” they said.

Anyways, the reading was great, the Skylight staff was awesome, and Anna and I eschewed the trendy new restaurants and went to the House of Pies for dinner. I had a club sandwich and a chocolate chip cheesecake. Not very foodie of me, I know…

Then on the way to my sister’s my car broke down and I ended up on the side of a deserted part of Sunset Blvd for about an hour waiting for a tow truck. I’m back in SF and my car is in LA. If I was a real blogger, I would have taken a photo of my car with the hood up, but I didn’t think about it. It would have made a poignant picture.

*Hey, who’s going to see Danbert Nobacon at the Marina Books Inc? 9/28. The most anarchists in the Marina since the “Celebration of Slaughter” back in 1991!
**oops, I couldn’t help myself. I’m a backslider.

One response to “Cheesemonger in Los Angeles

  1. I remember never considering the rivalry until my future step-dad moved to LA from Cloverdale to be with my mom & it was a HUGE deal to him. He was born & raised in San Francisco, went to Berkeley, moved to Cloverdale in his 20s to build a house for his fledgling family, etc. He joked about it with my mom so much that almost 30 years later it’s a very prevalent memory. I never understood it myself.
    He has agreed to live in LA when my parents move back to California & frankly I’m shocked. I think he’s resigned himself to my mother’s will.

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