Tag Archives: reading

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.

Cheese-a-Topia: Reading

I had no other options, but it was kinda crazy to schedule a reading after a day of judging cheese. I imagine that in any forum where one needs to use their voice, one is never given the advice to taste cheese for 8 hours beforehand. It does not exactly limber up the larynx.

But Tuesday night before the cheese conference was really the only time I could do a book event and not be in competition with the officially sanctioned parties. Though I would miss a lot of the conference goers, I figured it would be a good event mixed with Seattle-locals and cheese travelers. And I love The Calf and Kid. Sheri runs a really fabulous shop. (Plus she gave me a CD of her hubby’s punk band!)

One thing I hadn’t realized was how loud it was going to be there. I had only been there once before and not all the businesses had opened yet. My addled, cheese-soaked voice had to compete with the restaurant next door. I decided I could only read short pieces. I could barely hear myself. I made everyone gather in close too.

calf kid set up
(Sheana Davis, the mastermind behind Delice de la Vallee and the Epicurean Connection organized all the cheese for the event. Pt. Reyes Toma, Nicasio Valley Cheese, Valley Ford Cheese, and Carr Valley Cheese amused the attendees when I cut my reading short-ish.)

It’s always great to do a reading with a lot of cheese folks because they really get into it. When I talk about oozy, nasty Taleggio, they’ve lived it themselves. Many came up to trade stories afterwards, and many are worse than the ones I tell. It was also handy because other folks jumped in to answer questions.

Despite my voice woes, it was a wonderful event. I can’t list everyone who was there but it was awesome to have cheese mentors like Judy and Charlie Creighton in the same room with some of my favorite cheese-friends, old friends, the cheese-curious, and even my agent!

Thanks everyone!

*Along with all my old friends and cheese friends, I also got to meet Kurt Reighley whose book United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, and Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement comes out this week! I haven’t had a chance to crack it yet – too much cheese! – but I promise a review when I do.

**There is also an account of the reading in Jeanne Carpenter’s Cheese Underground Blog