SARK in Big Sur!

When I was younger, I wrote quite a lot.  I attended a writing workshop for teenagers.  In the end, that was pretty much one of the most decisive events in my high school years, despite the fact that I don’t really bear much resemblance now to who I became in those three short weeks – who bears any resemblance to their 16 year old self?!  Oh, how glad I am that I don’t, though I was pretty cool, just so you know.  Pretty cool indeed with my angsty teenage poetry and Fiona Apple positively BLARING on my headphones.  These have transformed into singing Van Morrison with friends and writing blog posts about the book I’ve been reading or that time I had my cat neutered.  But the fact remains, that were it not for those three weeks spent with like-minded peers, throwing ourselves headfirst with reckless abandon into that craft we had all decided, at our then-tender ages, was important to us.  We all wrote, we all wrote differently, we all had very different perspectives and inspirations and experiences, but we came together, to form six small classes and wrote, read, and talked for hours and hours and hours in a structured workshop for three weeks.  When we weren’t in class, we were talking with our new friends about the work we had brought with us, or the ideas we had created while there.  It was simply mind-blowing to my slightly provincial (small town rural snowwy mountains seemed so far away from the idea of a city I carried with my as a child, and a city was where the real thinkers were.  Since growing older and finding peace in Big Sur, I now know the opposite might be true, but like I said, I was 16) mind that there could exist a community of writers and thinkers, even if just living in dorms for 3 weeks before we all headed back to the places where we were from, and in full 16 year old glory, naturally resented the HELL out of.  I met friends who I thought for a while I must have imagined.  That is a product of my wild imagination (it would not be unlike me to have created the perfect friend, though I was never the kind of kid to talk to them or indicate that they “exist”), as well as the simple beauty to be found in strangers gathering around a goal such as writing and thinking.

SARK-headshot-2007

This magical time in my life has been food for my thoughts much more lately because I’m looking at the workshop that the Henry Miller Library will be hosting in January.  SARK, who was particularly important to me as my ideas of myself as a writer were forming, is going to join us in Big Sur from January 22-24th to host a workshop based around her new-ish book Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper.  We had planned on offering this workshop around the same time last year, but the winter storms staring us in the face scared us into postponing the workshop.  This year we are more confident that our increasingly less fragile surroundings can withstand what the winter will throw our way (we have already weathered a particularly gnarly storm, and while it brought a sizable redwood crashing down against our debris-net in the canyon, we’re fine and so is everyone else in our community, bring it on, El Nino! – just bring it on nicely, alright?).  And so we will host SARK at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Lodge and enjoy a workshop which will pull us all from our web of procrastination and perfectionism, and we will all write with joy, passion, and creativity.

trust me, you want to stay here

trust me, you want to stay here

I pulled Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper from our shelf here at the library, where you can get your own copy to prepare for the workshop, and am immediately drawn to SARK’s signature colorful handwriting, water color painting and doodles that adorn the pages and drive home important points.  The chapter lists are as follows:

Chapter one: being a writer

Chapter two: time and energy to write & create

Chapter three: games, stories, and ways to get your juicy pen moving like crazy

Chapter four: difficulties, challenges, and ways to transform these

Chapter five: the power of stories

Chapter six: stories and portraits of other inspiring writers in addition to you

Chapter seven: publishing, style, process

Chapter eight: excellent writing resources just for you

To get you thinking, and maybe even writing in preparation for this workshop, let me give you a prompt from the list that SARK has on page 85 of this book:

take this sentence and write a story!

The door cannot be seen from the outside…

The workshop here in Big Sur is complete with wonderful lodging with our friends and the hosts-with the most(s?) at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Lodge, and delicious meals from their impeccable kitchen.  You will be here in Big Sur during one of the most magical times, a time during which I believe it to be impossible not to be inspired by the migrating whales in front of the razor sharp horizons to the west, the crisp air and that all-important-human-necessity of the feeling of being warmed by the sun.  Also, not as many people know the magic of Big Sur in January, and it’s entirely possible that the “turnout phenomenon” as we here call it won’t happen to you (the “turnout phenomenon” is that funny thing that happens as one is headed to the pullouts south of the Henry Miller Library to catch a glimpse of the ocean and – this is the important part – to have a quick and deep s0litary moment, despite being on the highway.  There are dozens of beautiful places to stop, and one may pull over at any, and one probably choses a pullout with no other cars at it to get the aforementioned solitude and peace.  This is when it starts, the “turnout phenomenon,” because as soon as you pull out onto a turnout with no other cars, all passing motorists from Kansas or New Jersey or Germany automatically pull over, as if driven by some frightening magnetic charge.  The fact that you’ve pulled over for some peace and quiet indicates to all other tourists that you are seeing something that THEY NEED TO SEE, TOO, and so your moment of peace is zapped into an iPhone photo taken backwards at arms length.)  But as I’ve said, lucky for SARK workshop participants, the liklihood of the ‘turnout phenomenon” happening to you reduces exponentially in January.  So come one, come all and have some peace and quiet!  But also, spend all the time you’d like in the bliss that I’ve described at the begining of this blog post – surrounded by like minded people, working toward a unified cause – spreading joy through writing and creativity.  Let SARK guide you!

And to leave you, a quote from Borges, by way of Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper.

“Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.” – Jorge Luis Borges

adventurepeople

For more information about workshop specifics, pricing alternatives, or registration, please visit our website for the event.  You can also call (831) 667 2574, or zip me an email at keely@henrymiller.org

End of summer push at the Henry Miller

Your comments keep me honest.  They don’t immediately spur me into action, but they keep me here, that’s for sure.  Thank you all for coming back and reading, checking up on me, and calling me out on being too busy!

Big Sur in September is both one of my favorite times of year and also one of the hardest for us.  As you can tell, it’s been a busy summer, filled with events, visitors, beautiful weather, and general non-stop action.  This is the primary reason for September being both so wonderful and so tiring.  The tourist population in Big Sur takes a definite nose-dive in September, as kids are back in school, people wrap up their vacation plans and travel back home for the fall.  This causes a false sense of calm at the Henry Miller Library, which is entirely because we are incapable of not scheduling wonderful events.  If someone comes to us with a good idea, we will find a way to make it happen, and it will be a screaming success if for no other reason than Eric, Magnus and I had a wonderful time, learned something, or met a cool new person.  We are just always hungry for more when we’re scheduling events throughout the spring and summer.  However, when it comes down to the final days of September, the three of us are run ragged; just as hungry for new wonderful experiences to be sure, but tired.  And so: September is so wonderful because it’s entirely possible that if I go for a walk before work I will be the only person at the beach, or perhaps my wait for coffee at the Big Sur Bakery in the morning is not quite as long.  But it is also hard because we have been working upwards of 60 hours a week for about five months straight.  Don’t let me even BEGIN to make you think that I’m complaining, or that the quality of our events suffers in the end of the season.  Quite the opposite, in fact:  We spend the entire summer hitting our stride, perfecting our well-oiled machine, setting up the movies or the concerts or the book signings in less and less time, with more attention to detail.  But, I would like to suggest that if you come by the Henry Miller Library, you might give us a hug, a pat on the back, or encourage us to drink one more cup of coffee with you. Either that, or take us out for a beer when we’re done with the day.

Food, Inc. a benefit for Don Case presented by The Big Sur Bakery at the Henry Miller Library with Eric Schlosser and Robert Kenner

Food, Inc. a benefit for Don Case presented by The Big Sur Bakery at the Henry Miller Library with Eric Schlosser and Robert Kenner

Tomorrow we have an event that will undoubtedly be a wonderful evening.  Eric Schlosser and Robert Kenner, the producer and director respectively of Food, Inc.  The critically acclaimed documentary about the mechanized food system.  Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while understand that there could be no one more excited about this particular event because of my strong feelings about food reads.  In this film, Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, reviewed earlier in this blog, is interviewed, and I can’t wait to see the film and hear what he has to say.  It is making me want to get a copy of Fast Food Nation, which I’ve never read.  The movie also follows Polyface farm, which Pollan visits and discusses in the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I am excited to get a visual on this farm about which I’ve read and since then thought a lot about.  Aside from the fact that the film will be wonderful, and we will share the evening with our friends from the Big Sur Bakery, it is a benefit for our neighbor in Big Sur, Don Case who lost his home last year in the Basin Complex Fire.  All proceeds will go directly to the Don Case Rebuild fund.  Please consider coming by tomorrow, or making a donation to this cause.  You can do either (or both!) by visiting our website.

Chavez: The Revolution Will Not be Televised.

Chavez: The Revolution Will Not be Televised.

On Wednesday, September 30th, at 7:30 pm we will be showing the film Chavez: The Revoltion Will Not Be Televised, presented by producer Rod Stoneman.  His new book by the same title delves into the issues of objectivity in media and film, and he will be here to discuss these topics before and after a screening of the film.  He stopped by the Library a while back and talked with Magnus, who is avidly interested in the events surrounding Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and the two have kept up a correspondence about the film, the book, and the issues each deals with.  As a result of what I’m sure were a series of interesting and interested emails back and forth, Magnus has arranged for this event to take place on Wednesday.  It promises to be insightful, intimate, and has the potential to delve into this topic in depth.  It is, as most of our films are, free with donations appreciated.

Marianne Faithfull on October 9

Marianne Faithfull on October 9

And finally, on October 9, Marianne Faithfull will be here for the Henry Miller Library benefit of 2009.  Each year since 2004, Jesse Goodman has brought to Big Sur avant-garde artists who support the library to do a one night only special performance.  The series has included: Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Henry Rollins, Matmos and Zeena, DJ Spooky, and last year Philip Glass and Wendy Sutter.  Each performance is special, unique, and truly humbling to me.  That the likes of Laurie Anderson would dedicate even an evening of her life to the work that we do here at the Library is amazing to me.  Each year I feel touched, blessed, and grateful for all of the wonderful people that come together to make those, “I was there” kind of evenings happen at the library.  Don’t miss this one.

As a side note: I have discovered my favorite likeness of an American president.  Check out this picture of John Tyler, just look at his eyes.

John Tyler

John Tyler

I will check in with all of you as these events unfold!  Wish Eric, Magnus, and I good luck and good health – may none of us get H1N1 in the midst of our final end-of-summer-push! (knock on wood!)

A new leaf, a new begining

It’s been too long. I have turned over a new leaf in my thinking about our blog experience here together – I will absolutely update you more on what’s going on at the library, but I’ll also make a better attempt to go beyond what’s happening within the gates of the library – I will write more, I will write better things, and I will keep you all in the loop more

To begin the new beginning, I should tell you about my new intern, Katharine. She’s a gem, really. I first met Katharine at the Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series a while ago (I can’t remember if it was last year or the year before). I am fairly certain that my good friend Lorissa ran into her at a bar and told her to come down to the library and discuss with me my job and the internship program because of her background in library and information science. Prepare your congratulations, because Katharine just the day before flying to Big Sur from her home in Georgia, finished her coursework for her masters degree in library science! This is just a tiny sliver of the reason that Katharine is the ideal intern here at the library. For instance, you couple her experience with the Georgia Historical Society, her experience in publishing, and the years she spent as a barista with her winning smile, sunny disposition and apparent ability to join in and love any task given to her, and you come to see that she fit right in from the moment I picked her up at the airport; greeting me with a massive hug and a series of tales of her ill-fated journey west. Katharine has come into our lives here at the library at the perfect moment, after the departure of our other summer intern, Joey. At the beginning of the summer, when I was hunting for interns, I received an email from Katharine with a cover letter and resume that jumped off the computer screen and into my heart, and I immediately offered her the position. She had funding lined up, she was set to come out here and we were excited and ready. Sadly, I received a call a few days before I prepared to receive Katharine and she said that the economy had bitten back, the

Katharine!

Katharine!

funding had fallen through, and she would not make it. Saddened, we persevered, put Joey to good work, and buckled through the work anyway. When Joey left, I emailed Katharine wondering if it was at all possible she had found a way around her earlier summer road blocks, and almost immediately heard back from her that she was about to write to me and tell me her funding had finally come through properly. Shortly thereafter, we talked on the phone, she asked me questions I didn’t know how to answer, and I knew it was going to be a match made in heaven. She’s here now, plugging away in the back room and listening to the radio.

Since she has been here, she has mastered the art of coffee at the Henry Miller Library, cleaned more than I think she thought was going to be required of her, tended bar, charmed Black Francis backstage at his own show as she protected the gate from excited concert-goers, been all over the Big Sur valley on foot. She has awarded each Magnus, Eric, and I an astral name to accompany the live reading of a sci-fi comedy that played here last night. She seems to have hit her stride in the tent-life. She has come up with several impressive ways to streamline the coffee and tea situation at the library (see also: barista experience). She has fought with the raccoons, and in fact is still fighting with them, but coming up with brilliant solutions, which involve ammonia and hot sauce.

Life at the library has been made instantly more bright with Katharine in our lives, and we are already planning the extension of her stay with us (she does not know this yet. We are going to sneak up on her when she’s completely in love with us.) We are on a roll with events, which I would like for you to browse on our events page. We’re announcing our newest events, and more are being added every day.

In other news around Big Sur, we’re all more or less anticipating the winter, both because August is a long month filled with all work and no play and also because this year is an El Nino year, and we’re all more or less terrified of tropical storms hitting this fire-ravaged portion of the coast. The impending doom of landslides did not happen this winter, and redwood-willing won’t hit us this year. Think about us, those of you who don’t live here.

The summer always comes in a blast, leaves too quickly, and most importantly, sucks all of the time that I have to read right into the late nights that we spend here throwing concerts, movies nights, sci-fi comedy readings, and weddings. I wish I could tell you about this wonderful book that I just finished, and all the ways that it affected me, but unfortunately, I must just tell you that I am a small part of the way into Middlesex by Jefferey Eugenides. I did not know when I picked this book up that it was structured in one of my favorite fashions – an epic, multi-generational masterpiece. The narrator is an intersexed person, living his life as a man despite being raised as a girl. The book begins, however, by describing the emigration of the narrator’s grandparents from their home country of Greece. In my relationship with the novel, these grandparents have just arrived in Detroit, where they will be living.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The thing which is so compelling about this book, yet remains one of the questions I have the most about it is (though it is apparent that my questions will be resolved in the end), is the relationship between the narrator and I. I am being spoken to by the narrator; that is clear, and the narrator is also interjecting anecdotal information interspersed with comments with insights I’m sure are to come in the novel. I wonder, when I get to know the narrator more – when the plot catches up with the life of the narrator as opposed to his ancestors – if I will be grateful for these editorials, or if he will neglect to bring them back around.

I will let you know when I get another chance to read – in October…

Until then, and as I promised earlier in this post, I will keep you more posted on life in Big Sur, here at the library, and between the covers of the books we’re all reading.

So many things happening!

Hello Intrepid blog readers!

There are tons of events rolling on through here at the Henry Miller Library.  I’ll start with a brief update on a few past events:

Kyp Malone was here on Sunday and treated us to a spectacular performance of his solo project Rain Machine.  With rhythmic guitar and vocals, he used looping and live performance to wow us all afternoon.  I’m sorry for those who missed out!

Last night, Erin Gafill, one of our favorite neighbors-to-the-north, as well as breathtaking painter and writer was here doing a reading from her new book, “Drinking From A Cold Spring” which I promise to tell you more about when I can finish reading it!  I can already tell you that the reading was beautiful, Erin’s paintings were displayed on the deck and delicious refreshments were enjoyed by all.  You can buy a copy of Erin’s book by calling us at (831) 667 – 2574 or by visiting us.  Definitely worth it!

Now on to upcoming events:

tonight, as always on Thursday nights, we will show you four short films!  Tonight’s bill includes the following films:

Appassionata
Director: Mirko Echghi-Ghamsari
Germany

Synopsis: Based on a World War II legend: A German soldier awaiting his doom in the pocket of Stalingrad spots an undamaged piano in the no-man’s land between the lines. The urge to play one more time becomes irresistible….

Love Story
Director: Amit Gupta

Love Story

Love Story

UK
Synopsis: A young girl asks her father, ‘Why do you love Mummy?’ As the man considers this question, his memories of the first sighting of his future wife reveal the depth and complexity of his love for her.

Paseo
Director: Arturo Ruiz Serrano
Spain
Synopsis: Gabino has never declared his love to a woman.

Chief
Director: Brett Wagner
USA

Synopsis: The lush landscape of Hawaii is the backdrop for a suspenseful tale of escape. A Samoan chief tries to run away from his painful past, but a natural disaster forces him to resume his rightful place in the world.

Brett Wagner, director of Chief, who will be joining us in present his film this evening!

Brett Wagner, director of Chief, who will be joining us in present his film this evening!

So come on down for the films, and a filmmaker this evening at 8!

Tomorrow and Saturday, we will be hosting the first annual Hipnic, a weekend-long musical extravaganza featuring the Mother Hips, These United States, Everest, The Moondoggies, Little Wings, Citay, and so many more.  The party starts at 3pm tomorrow and at 1pm on Saturday.  Tickets are still available for 25 dollars a day (plus vendor fees) or 45 for a two day pass.  Please don’t be daunted by the fact that most of the campgrounds are booked up already – there are first come, first served sites available at Andrew Molera State Park, Botchers Gap, Kirk Creek Campground, and Plaskett Creek.  There will be food and drink available, and the weather promises to be absolutely perfect for days and nights of musical reverie!

hipnicTOO

What better way to spend the fourth?!  There is none.  Show your patriotism by supporting musicians.

Also upcoming is the annual Northern California ACLU picnic on Sunday.

Archives Update!

I have not posted on the blog in far too long, and for that I am very sorry. Life has bee busy, busy, busy here at the library. See our new deck?

The new deck during the Animal Collective show!

The new deck during the Animal Collective show!

Another deck shot at the Animal Collective Show

Another deck shot at the Animal Collective Show

New deck in the daytime

New deck in the daytime

You should come down and have a cup of coffee on it, if you’re in the area, or plan on coming to one of our events if you’re too far away for a casual cup of joe. Either way, the deck is a fantastic addition to the library.

My purpose in talking with you now is different than the public events that we have at the library, however. I come to you as the archivist of the library to give you the news of the work we’re doing in the back office with the old papers and the curly handwriting and the Parisian Air Mail envelopes. The work of the archives in this summer season is to have the entire Schnellock Collection accessioned within our system to the point that the rest of the holdings currently are: in an electronic database with an accession number, title, date, and to be properly stored in acid free boxes and interleaved with acid free paper. This is particularly exciting because the Schnellock Collection is the most valuable of the things that the archives owns, holding rare manuscripts, essays, and letters between Emil Schnellock and Henry Miller. These papers, dating back to Miller’s time in Paris are the most exciting and rewarding portion of the archives to sort through for all of us. Currently, our new intern Joey is doing some preservation work on an essay that Miller wrote about D.H. Lawrence prior to the publication of Tropic of Cancer when he was encouraged to write something respectable.

Joey is our new intern! He arrived at the beginning of the week and spent the first few days getting settled in Big Sur and how is sinking his teeth full force into the Emil Schnellock Collection, interleaving, giving titles, and reading insights into Henry Miller’s early writing life. He comments occasionally in the office about Henry Miller’s feelings about James Joyce based on the essay he’s working on right now. The last quotation he read was, “Joyce has nothing whatsoever to say.” I think he’s enjoying his work. I will tell you more about Joey as the summer unfolds. For now, I will only tell you that he has spent the last 18 months in Mongolia, and that is something I can’t wait to hear more about. Perhaps I’ll give him some homework to write us a blog post about an aspect of his time there.

Garen is another intern who has already accomplished a great deal, and is working remotely from San Francisco. Garen is a computer-techie to the max, with a computer science degree and an expressed interest in working with us to be as efficient with the tasks we do on the computer so as to limit our time staring at our little laptops and more time staring at the redwoods, old and fun papers, and each others smiling faces. I completely agree with this goal. So far he has taken the Shifreen and Jackson bibliography (updated constantly by William Ashley), which is the most comprehensive source for all printings of Miller titles, and turned the word file into a keyword searchable database with each book as its own record. Now, this is work that if I had sat down to cut/copy/and paste all of the pieces of information into their respective fields, would have taken me months. MONTHS of computer time was broken down into a week of Garen writing a computer program that would automate the entire process and tell the computer to pull out bits of information and call each piece a title, a date, or so on based only on where it falls in relation to the rest of the information. He explained it to me so well and I am butchering the relaying of that information to you, but I hope you can understand what an amazing feat this has been. Before the summer is over he will also be implementing a Henry Miller Library Archives website (which I will design, and he will code) AND will show me how to make updates with, as he describes, little to no coding experience. Which is more or less where I sit.

So it’s exciting times here at the Henry Miller Library, especially in the dark back office where we’re all sitting plodding through the stacks of work that pile up while we’re busy making coffee, holding all night music festivals or hanging out with each other and having a barbecue (which the library and Folk Yeah! crew did last night in order to reconvene after a busy week, enjoy each others company, and prepare for a summer filled with concerts, festivals, and rock stars).

Part of the work of this summer for me is a little less fun than treasure hunting through the Schnellock Collection, but essential in order to keep the archives afloat. That task is to find a grant (or a couple of grants) to support the Henry Miller Library Archives. We are currently hoping to find $25,000 for the implementation of a climate control system in the storage facility here at the library. We have been working with libraries in the peninsula (a MASSIVE thanks to CSUMB and their library director Bill Robnett) to protect our holdings this winter but we would like to be able to store our holdings safely here onsite. It is a reachable goal, but we need support, as archiving is not a particularly lucrative business, yet the preservation of literary history is essential. Please consider making a donation of any size to the Henry Miller Library Archives fund.

Additionally, I am looking for a sponsor for a printing of the first installment of a quarterly Archives Newsletter that will be issued in the fall of 2009. If this is a project you would be interested in supporting, please email me at keely@henrymiller.org

Thanks all for reading, and I promise to be more with it with the updates!

And to leave you, this is how I feel right now about the state of California.

Whatever, California...

Whatever, California...

Roundup News for the month of May at the Henry Miller Library

When I write the blurb for the Big Sur Roundup, it’s like a free blog post, so here’s the latest for those of you who don’t get the Big Sur Roundup.  You can also check out our events page.

Big doings at the Henry Miller Library in the month of May!

On Wednesday, May 13th, we will be moving the weekly Open Mic back to the lawn and under the stars here at the Henry Miller Library.  This is the fourth consecutive year of our Open Mic and this summer promises to be full of spontaneous poetry, music, comedy, dance, and more.  The event starts at 8 each week and goes until 11 and as always is a free event for the community with donations appreciated.

On Sunday, May 24th there will be a reading and book signing with author Robert Greenfield. Robert Greenfield is the author of the classic S.T.P.: A Journey through America with the Rolling Stones and Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones, as well as critically acclaimed biographies of rock promoter Bill Graham, Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, and acid guru Timothy Leary, and is a former editor of the London bureau of Rolling Stone magazine.  His newest book called A Day In The Life follows a couple in London in the 1960s through their courtship, marriage, and finally tragic events in their lives.  Thoroughly researched and detailed in account of these two lives and the colorful surroundings of fame, glamour and reckless abandon of their time, this book pieces together the tragic story of how London’s fairytale couple collapsed under the pressure of a society in transformation as the psychedelic 60s gave way to the cold reality of the 70s.  The event starts at 3pm, copies of Greenfield’s books will be available for sale and to be signed, and as always, we will ply you with tea and coffee in the sunshine.

On Thursday May 28th, we will have a night of ambient music.  Now, when I say night, I mean all night.  From 4 in the afternoon on Thursday until am on Friday, a long list of ambient musicians from LA and NY will be wowing us with tonal, ambient electronic music.  Tea will be available, and so will a few heat lamps, but bring some warm clothes and a blanket.  Tickets are available from the Henry Miller Library, on our website, or by calling 667 2574, and cost $25.

And on Saturday, May 30th we will be hosting an event “Where is Big Sur” which has been a long time coming.  Originally scheduled for June 28, 2008, it was put on hold due to a small fire you might have heard of around here.  Almost a full year later, we’ve rescheduled and are due for a wonderful afternoon and evening.  Starting at 4pm, the afternoon will feature organizations in and around Big Sur using table displays, brief presentations, and time to talk to your neighbors about what you’re up to.  If your organization is interested in contributing, please call Magnus at 667-2574. This will also be the perfect time to peruse Don Usner’s photographs, and also for you to have him sign your copy of The Natural History of Big Sur.  There will be food and drink available, and at 8pm there will be a concert with Alisa Fineman and Kimball Hurd, “To Kindness!”  When it’s dark enough, we’ll display Don Usner’s photos on our screen as a visual component to the soundings of Fineman and Hurd.  This is an event that no Big Sur resident should miss, so gather your neighbors and come on down for an evening of community and kindness.  The suggested donation for the event is $10-20.

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!