the Henry Miller Whirlwind!

Well, intrepid blog readers: Today was a BUSY day at the Henry Miller Library.  We are preparing for a couple of upcoming things here that you should know about.  First of all, we’ve got our first concert of the season this weekend that it would be a shame, a crying shame, if you miss.

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor

Last year Eric Taylor came and played at the Henry Miller Library and I had read up on him and listened to his CD and I was properly excited (or so I thought) upon reading accolade after accolade from musicians I respect.  His poster alone is full of kind words from Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett.  I knew I was in for a nice afternoon of some killer country storytelling and music.  I did NOT know I was in for one of the nicest concerts I’ve ever seen at the library.  I immediately knew I would like him when he showed up for the sound check.  He’s one guy with a guitar and his sound check went a little like this:  he plugged in his guitar, strummed a few notes, sang a few bars and shot Eric (our most-amazing-sound-guy-ever) a satisfied look, put his guitar down, grabbed his cup of tea and called it a sound check.  This was a sign that this guy knows his shit and trusts our sound capabilities enough to be comfortable knowing his monitors were on, the house speakers were loud, and both of his lines worked.  This is endlessly better, in my opinion, than a nervous person hobbling up and continually asking whether or not we could hear the guitar, or asking for a little more reverb, or any number of (admittedly relevant) questions that do come up during sound check.  It was a sign that he knew he could make wonderful music out of what we offered him.  I respected him immediately.


When he came on the stage for the main event, he introduced each song with an easy going, “boy those were the days” kind of stories.  He shared with us the provenance of some songs, or a quirky story about when he had a gig in some Texas town, the drinking that ensued, and the trials and tribulations of being a traveling singer songwriter.  He was one with the audience, talking to people, asking questions, and getting comfortable.  His set was over way too soon.  I could have listened to his voice telling stories and singing songs all day.


Thankfully, I’ll get to hear him again, as will all of you, on Sunday April 19th at 3pm here on the lawn for the first of many concerts in 2009.  You can get your tickets in advance by calling (831) 667 2574, or by stopping in to the library between now and Sunday.  Not to worry, though, for all you people who like to see where the wind takes you (hey man, it’s Big Sur), tickets will also be available at the door.  Tickets are 15 dollars, and I hope you all feel like you’re stealing when you buy them because the show is going to be THAT GOOD.


Beyond my excitement about our upcoming concert, I’ve also made some solid progress on hiring our interns for the summer.  I’ll introduce you to our interns as soon as I receive confirmation from them that they will join us (honestly, who would turn down an opportunity to work here!?!)


Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series

Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series

We’re also making progress on the Short Film Screening Series, plodding through binder after binder of short film DVDs at home and discussing them while we sweep the porches and prepare the place for the day.  I saw one the other day that I watched two nights in a row because I loved it so much.  It remains to be seen if Eric and Magnus will agree with my quirky new favorite short film, but I bet they’ll see the beauty in the animated short about a zoo, and the zoo-keeper’s wife’s sabotage of the penguin exhibit in order to make room for her beloved peacocks.  The deadline for the submissions to be postmarked was on the 10th of April, and so a few more submissions are trickling in, having been posted from far and wide.  We’ve got a little under a month to watch all the films, and we’re scrambling and watching as many as we possibly can!



And, as I’ve mentioned before, the library is hosting “Second Sundays at the Miller” this year, which is an all day music festival on the second Sunday of each month from June through September.  We’ve received over thirty submissions for that, and will be announcing our lineup for June and July in two short weeks (May 1st).  If you’re interested in more information, check our website.  If you’re a musician and you want to be considered to play in August and September, you can still submit an application (available on our website), but get it in soon, because the deadline for those two months is May 15th (with the lineup announced on June 1st).


And finally with the news updates, Nepenthe, our neighbor-to-the-north has been around for 60 years now, and is celebrating its age with an all day party on the 24th of this month, and we’re pulling out as many stops for them as possible.  You’ll find our presence up at the party in the form of a card I’ve designed on Emil White’s “Folk Dancing at Nepenthe” greeting card with information on Henry Miller’s relationship with Nepenthe.


Miller lived as a house guest of then-resident novelist Lynda Sargent when he first got to Big Sur.  He stayed in the Log House (around which Nepenthe was built when it was bought by the family who currently owns it) for a couple of months before settling into life on Partington Ridge.  He also played many games of ping-pong with Bill Fassett (which you can read about here) and was a regular fixture at the Nepenthe bar.  If you’re in the area, you should show your love for Nepenthe by celebrating their 60th year on April 24th (or any day you’re in Big Sur!)


GOOD GRACIOUS that’s a lot of news to regale you with.  If you think you’re having a hard time keeping it all straight, imagine if you had thoughts of all of these events rattling around your brain 24 hours a day.  I’ll be sitting at the pub, having a pint, talking to my friends when all of a sudden, SHIT!  I’ve got to remember to get this out tomorrow, or OH!  What if we printed up an extra brochure for that!  It’s fun, but it’s hard, and it frankly can kill a game of darts when these realizations strike in mid toss.

Cross, by James Patterson or, That Which I Could Not Put Down

Cross, by James Patterson or, That Which I Could Not Put Down

I do, however, eke out time for some reading.  I was sick last week (there’s this bug going around Big Sur that hits hard and fast, but in my case, didn’t last too long), and was able to catch up on my James Patterson reading.  I LOVE it.  I have always had a soft spot for TV dramas, especially crime dramas.  I can watch Law and Order in any form its ever been offered, for days on end.  And with networks like TNT (or TBS, whichever features Primetime in the Daytime), I literally can watch it for days on end.  Not having TV has cut out this guilty pleasure, but I have figured out that that same need can be met by reading books by the likes of James Patterson.  The stories unfold just like an edge-of-your-seat episode of Law and Order.  Cross is the book I’ve just finished, though any of them would do, I suppose.  The chapters are short.  The action is fast.  There are characters who are absolutely perfect on paper, and because they’re characters in a best-seller crime whodunit, they don’t have to be anything but.  It’s easy, thrilling, fun, and completely soul-eating.  I read the book in several-hour chunks, not being able to stop once I started.  This is just how I read James Patterson books (and boy, do I read James Patterson books).


Liking these books as I do has made me wonder – how did this genre come to be?  How have these books evolved, and how is it that we know from page 50, what will happen in the end and yet we still read the other 300 pages?  How does James Patterson take everything that I “know” about reading and literature and throw it out the window in favor of his fast-action-television-like novels?  Please!  Someone tell me, honestly!


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