My Appearances as an Unknown Sonoma County Author

My month of local appearances (judging the Five Minute Film Festival; speaking on branding one’s byline at the Storyteller’s Conference and Expo, emceeing the North Bay Bohemian’s Best Of 2015 awards gala) concludes this Saturday with an appearance at Sonoma County Local Author Showcase & Symposium.

The sensation of having done all this public chatter is one of being everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. This is, in part, because all the events have or will occur within the same 10 square miles – the proverbial “backyard” of any rural locale (especially in this real estate market). The upshot is I don’t feel like I’ve been anywhere. Let alone that this an area for which it’s notoriously difficult to muster the escape velocity to leave. Why would I? It’s culturally dynamic (see the above itinerary of cultural dynamism ) and it’s natural beauty risks infringing on copyrights held by the Monet estate. And yet… Returning to my hometown, I can’t help but think that coming-full-circle is tantamount to being stuck in an enormous rut.

Mind you, I do get out once in a while. I spent a recuperative long weekend in the Berkeley Hills last week, in a restful trance, watching the floaters in my eyes drift across the ceiling. Though I was as happy to return and start the workweek Monday morning, I couldn’t help but think of it all as rehearsal, like a comic sadly working successive open mic nights.

I’m of two minds: either everything in life is merely rehearsal – i.e., the process of groping toward an unattainable perfection; or everything is the real deal wherein total investment often produces wonky results. Can it be both? A particle and a wave? Faye Dunaway’s sister and daughter?

Thus far the gigs have been successful. The only cause for pause came when I caught a glimpse of myself when tagged on Facebook only to discover that my hair is thinner, my gut is fatter, my beard is whiter and my soul is blacker (versus my bank account, which is redder). My future’s so bright I have to wear bifocals. So, this Saturday at the Sonoma County Local Author Showcase and Symposium, you’ll be able to recognize me by the paperbag on my head. I’m working up a new brand identity – the Unknown Author. Wait… That’s all of us. Nevermind. At least I’ll blend in.

Look for me around noon at the Sonoma County Local Author Showcase & Symposium, Saturday, March 28, in the Forum Room of the Central Santa Rosa Library, 211 E St., Santa Rosa, CA.


Weird Retro Tech in the Vermont Country Store Catalog

Vermont Country Store

Among the joys of living in a new place is receiving all the weird and sundry catalogs intended for the former tenant. Naturally, I’d never abscond with someone else’s mail (I’m more of a starched white collar type when it comes to federal crime) but seeing as I qualify as the addressee known as “…or Current Resident” I figured the Vermont Country Store catalog was fair game.

On it’s cover, No. 9, Volume 69 of the Vermont Country Store catalog reminds that its publishers are “purveyors of the practical and hard to find,” and by “hard to find,” I presume they mean the “antiquated and obsolete.” Or at least that’s what the centerfold suggests – it’s comprised of items specially selected to titillate the average Neo-luddite or retro tech fetishist.

On page 36, for example, is the “easy-to-use cassette recorder” with one-touch “play and recording” – a breakthrough in the early 80s (ditto the personal stereo cassette player/radio a.k.a. the Walkman). But why meddle with magnetic media when there’s an “electronic typewriter” on offer? If you prefer not to have “electronics” messing with your movable type, consider the Vermont Country Store-branded manual typewriter, which scoffs at the modern need for electricity.

You could conceivably get a pass in an Amish-household and write your racy Rumspringa memoir about “dressing English” unfettered by the accelerating pace of technology because “this portable manual typewriter types at a pace that lets you think.” Isn’t this how all typewriters work, or, really, any writing tool – from clay tablets to their digital decedents?

I have never had writing tech outpace my thinking, though frankly, I’d be grateful if it did. Then I could call my agent on one of the catalog’s “classic replica phones” (think: your parents’ wall-mounted kitchen phone circa 1985) and boast how the new novel is “practically writing itself” when I’m actually just reading other people’s mail and trolling the Green Mountain State’s mail order scene.