Of course, the really sad part is that when I go away for close to a week, nobody really notices much anyway.
Anyway. Just got back from a weekend in San Francisco (covering the Alternative Press Expo), which meant that I got to do a certain amount of reading. While I was waiting to get the flight out of JFK (and for the first hour or so of the flight, I finished Philip Roth's The Human Stain. At dinner last week with a few friends (South African food at Madiba: weird and sort of charming, especially the "Durban bunny chow," a loaf of whole-grain bread hollowed-out and filled with veggie curry, but not a place I'd necessarily go again on my own, but if somebody else wanted to I would, if you see what I mean), someone mentioned that she'd been kind of into The Human Stain until about halfway through, but was about 50 pages from the end and hated it. I've never been too fond of Roth, but heard this praised enthusiastically, and yeah, the first 100-150 pages are absolutely amazing: graceful, merciless, classically tragic. But then Roth starts getting a little too fond of how graceful and merciless it is. And there's one character (Delphine Roux, for anyone who's read it) that he's got it IN for--he stacks the deck against her in every possible way to get across the idea that This Is A Bad Person (sample detail: she wears a ring that her old professor/lover gave her depicting Danae receiving Zeus as a shower of gold)--and it all but ruins the book.
So I flew out in a seat next to a young philosophy major named Zair (I may be misspelling it), who had just flown in from France and was full of news about how everything there is much more sophisticated than it is here, though, she added, "of course, I love my country." She was wearing leather driver's gloves--she's training to be a triathlete, too.
After I dropped off my bags at the hotel in SF, I went to the Belazo Gallery, which is a second-floor walk-up next to a McDonald's in the Mission. I'd read that Dear Nora were going to be playing, and when I called the gallery they said they were playing first, which made me grit my teeth, since I wanted to eat instead. But when I got to the gallery, there was some sort of large grrl-punk function going on, and somebody had prepared a big help-yourself spread of vegan food (white beans, cornbread, coleslaw, cookies, and Dear Nora wasn't on for another half-hour yet. And then Sara Jaffe walked in and did a double-take at me: she'd just been teaching a workshop for grrl-punks to learn how to play guitar. So we talked a bit, though I was still a little jet-lagged, and then Dear Nora played, in their incarnation as one young woman named Katie. Who announced after four songs or so that she really wasn't in the mood to play and would only do one more, but I'm glad I saw what I did.
After the obligatory trip to Green Apple Books, I met up with the charming-as-always Melissa Price for brunch Saturday at Greens, my standby for food when I go to APE. Then spent the day at the convention, which since most of what I was doing was basically just professional stuff I'll wait to write about until I'm getting paid to write about it (shortly). I will say, though, that I was impressed by Kevin Huizenga's original and very fun mini-comic Gloriana and by Jason Shiga's insanely ambitious post-Scott-McCloud formal experiment Meanwhile. Lots of good stuff at formative stages, too. And I picked up a couple of issues of Peko Peko, a 'zine about food that kept me up late reading.
Saturday night, I had dinner with the delightful Dominique Levillain and her also delightful, new-since-I-saw-her-last husband Jim, and then meandered back to the Belazo again, this time for a comics-art show--nice full-wall painting by Ron Rege, and a couple of fun smaller pieces. But it got very very crowded very very quickly, and by the time Monica Youn, Drew Daniel and Wobbly and a friend of theirs whose name I've regrettably forgotten showed up, it was too hoppin' for clear thinkin', so we went out drinking instead (well, I had ginger ale, as usual).
Sunday consisted of more trips to Greens (they have takeout, I want a snack every couple of hours, it all works out), more comics-news hunting, and transportation to (and waiting around at) the SFO airport. I read one of my Green Apple purchases, Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red: a long, prosy poem very loosely inspired by Stesichorus' extant fragments about Geryon--hampered a bit by the fact that her poem seems to want to go someplace very different, but her diction is bracing. Here's her translation of one of the fragments:
Geryon was a monster everything about him
Put his snout out of the covers in the morning it was red
How stiff the red landscape where his cattle scraped against
Their hobbles in the red wind
Burrowed himself down in the red dawn jelly of Geryon's
Geryon's dream began red then slipped out of the vat and ran
Upsail broke silver shot up through his roots like a pup
Secret pup At the front end of another red day
And now I'm home. And how are you?