Great Weather West Coast 2016

by David Lawton on November 20, 2016

octopus Great Weather and Friends at Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland CA


One of the perks of my position as an editor at great weather for MEDIA is the opportunity to travel to other cities and meet our anthology contributors in their communities, while also enjoying what those cities have to offer with my friends. This year’s west coast tour gave us a particularly welcome perspective, commencing right after the presidential election. I had been feeling a little guilty about leaving New York in its fresh state of shock. But a friend sent me video of a spirited protest in Oakland, where our first reading would be. So I knew we would be commiserating with like minded people. And sure enough, the day we arrived we had the chance to cheer on a class of San Francisco high school students who walked out of class to protest the election result.

The first reading was across the Bay in Oakland at the Octopus Literary Salon, a very cool and welcoming space. Just before we started we heard the sad news of the great Leonard Cohen’s passing. So we played some Leonard tunes for inspiration. Then founding editor Jane Ormerod got the program started. We heard from an impressive group of Bay Area writers: Cassandra Dallett, Kit Kennedy, Jan Steckel, and SB Stokes. And our old friend Richard Loranger, who accompanied us on all our tour dates, read his wonderful long poem Bootism which helps conclude the current anthology, The Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker. Richard was also kind enough to do some improvised table drumming for me while I performed Bam! Bam!, my tribute to rock and roll drumming in general and the Modern Lovers’ David Robinson specifically. I really wanted to do this poem in Oakland, as my friend of 40 years Maya was in the audience. Maya was in high school band with me in Woburn, Massachusetts along with a couple of drummers mentioned in the piece. After the reading we headed out with some of our friends for a bite and some liquid refreshment.

Apparently orange juice and vodka are not available in England. Apparently orange juice and vodka are not available in England.


The next day, back in San Francisco, we took a constitutional around the harborside, and I introduced Peter Darrell to the American cocktail known as the screwdriver. Then I met my old friend Dalia for lunch in North Beach. The last time I had been in the city, an adventure with Dalia inspired my poem which appeared in the first great weather anthology (before I became an editor). Dalia is a native of San Francisco, and she took me to a wonderful old North Beach bistro called Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store, where they make focaccia sandwiches right at the bar, finished with delicious espresso drinks. After the obligatory browsing at City Lights bookstore, I headed over to the Beat Museum, a reliquary of our mad gone heroes, where we were honored to hold our reading. I handled the hosting for the open mic portion of the program, featuring some of the city’s finest, plus a surprise appearance from our pal Kat Georges, in town for a Dada event. Then Jane introduced our features Mary Mackey, Deborah Steinberg and Maw Shein Win, plus follow-up readings from SB Stokes and Richard Loranger. I finished the evening with my poem dedicated to great weather founding editor Brant Lyon. Then it was out for Chinese and then a pint or two.

with friend of Great Weather and enemy of kale Mary Mackey at the Beat Museum. with friend of Great Weather and enemy of kale Mary Mackey at the Beat Museum. Check out the subliminal message.


The next morning, we flew down to Los Angeles. My nephew Matt, an aspiring screenwriter who I was staying with, picked us up at the airport. He then turned us onto a splendid place for brunch called Simmzy’s.  The reading that night took place at Chevalier’s Books in the Larchmont neighborhood. Classy place. The readers here were Marcia Arrieta, Sara Fetherolf, John J. Trause, Brenda Yates, great weather veteran Christian Georgescu, plus Richard, Jane and I. We also had musical breaks from LA singer-songwriter and fellow BU alum Carrie Wade. Another BU classmate of mine, the actress and playwright Leslie Caveny was in the audience, and came out with us after the show for some gluten free fortification. I recommend Leslie’s show One Woman Gone Wrong, currently playing in LA.

On Sunday, my nephew took me out to lunch for some superior bar-b-q at Bledsoe’s. Then it was over to Venice for our reading at Beyond Baroque, which Richard Loranger wrote about in a previous blog. The readers that day  (Chanel Brenner, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Christian Georgescu, Richard Loranger, John J. Trause, and AJ Urquidi) had to navigate their way around anti-Trump demonstrations, which helped bring me back to reality, as I was leaving the tour at that point. My nephew and I watched our hometown Patriots play the dastardly Seahawks that night, and the next morning we stopped in Manhattan Beach on the way to the airport for some heavenly pancakes at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House.

I feel lucky for the experience to meet so many dedicated artists, and encourage you to support them and the venues sited here. I look forward to my next adventure. In the meantime, it’s back to work, in all ways. Peace and Love!



Submissions The Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker front coverfor great weather for MEDIA’s anthologies are open October 15  to January 15.

The Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker is a fearless and dynamic collection of contemporary poetry and short fiction by established and emerging writers. This is essential reading for everyone looking for the innovative, the reflective, and the fearless.  The anthology also contains an interview with musician Thurston Moore.



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