Thursday, February 19, 2004

Dense day; decent balance of production, edification, and distraction. I will concentrate on the latter two.

1) Sara Jaffe filling in for Kenny G on WFMU. Back-announcing something by the ancient Ron Johnson band A Witness: "More goofy politics and scratchy guitars." (She's in Erase Errata.) Also fitting: Sir Douglas Band's "San Francisco FM Blues." Something amazing I'd never heard: Early Sandy Denny, w/ The Sprouts.

2) Launch for M. Dib's LA Trip, as plugged yesterday, in recently opened hipster bar (Mountain) across from the venerable Hop Louie. (Insert digression on takeover of Chinatown by recent Pasadena Art Center MFAs.) More respectably attended than many LA lit events (though largely by Paul Vangelisti's students at Otis): Beatrice Mousli read a brief biographical intro to Dib (who was exiled from Algeria in 1959 and resided in France until his death), Douglas Messerli read from letters between Paul and Dib, who had met on Dib's one visit here, in 1974, which visit was the inspiration for the present book, written in '99-2000 and sent to Paul to translate, w/ the express intention that the initial publication to be bilingual. (This didn't happen in France.) These letters were quite moving: Paul's work is often about a sense of exile at home, hence the easy bond between the two; the final letter was from Dib's son, reporting his father's death, not long before a planned return visit to Los Angeles. (In lieu of payment for a previous appearance in a Sun & Moon anthology, Dib had requested a Thomas Guide.) Finally, Paul and Guy Bennett read from the English and French versions of the work, respectively. I just purchased the book, and my one vodka gimlet (Paul claimed to be drinking one because he had just taught The Long Goodbye, so I followed suit) was hitting me pretty hard, so I won't try to say anything about the contents tonight.

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