Places
Deus Cafe: Best coffee shop for reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Deus Cafe: Best coffee shop for reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.” — Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values Motorcycles, matcha lattes, postmodern style, and philosophy. Combine all four by spending an afternoon at Deus Cafe with a copy of Robert M. Pirsig’s classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’d read this meditative and moving book long, long ago and loved it — then picked up a new-to-me copy a few months ago at a friend’s fashion and book swap party. And when I did, I knew exactly where I’d go to read it. Deus Cafe is part of Deus Ex Machina: The Emporium of Postmodern Activities, a Venice shop best known for its custom built motorcycles. Browsers can also peruse unique surfboards, clothes, artwork, and accessories — before heading to the back. There you can hang out, caffeinate, read, and chat with friends and strangers at the cafe’s communal tables. It’s a lovely spot with both […]

The Window @A.G. Geiger: A new literary series at a Chinatown art bookstore

The Window @A.G. Geiger: A new literary series at a Chinatown art bookstore

Why host just one literary reading series when you can host two? Susan Hayden, the woman behind the Library Girl reading series in Santa Monica, has teamed up with Alexis Rhone Fancher and started a brand new series across town: The Window @A.G. Geiger. Held at A.G.Geiger Fine Art Books in Chinatown one Sunday afternoon a month, The Window has a similar format as Library Girl — a handful of readers, musical performance, wine. The first event happened in February, featuring playwright/essayist Guy Zimmerman, poets Pam Ward and Kelly Grace Thomas, and monologist Jim Turner — plus music by Susan’s son Mason Summit and Sofia Wolfson. A good crowd filled the cozy space — which is a great place to browse through pretty art books post-reading — I hope you’ll come to the next event because I’ll be one of the readers, reading from Cake Time! Titled “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” the afternoon will also feature readings from Adam Leipzig, Tina Yang, and Nathan Birnbaum plus musical guests. It all happens Sunday, April 30 at 4 pm. Admission is $10, and includes wine and other beverages. Hope to see you there! __ The Window @A.G. Geiger. A.G.Geiger Fine Art […]

Top 11 coffee shops for writers in Portland

Top 11 coffee shops for writers in Portland

This post comes with a caveat: I’ve only been to Portland twice, and between both visits, spent like five days in the city. That said, I did a lot of wandering around — and discovered that there’s a cute indie coffee shop or two on pretty much every block. These coffee shops generally come with all the amenities a writer desires — fantastic coffee, pretty latte art, yummy nibbles, kind baristas, open tables, and usually, free wifi. My theory as to why Portland has such a great cafe culture: People need places to duck in to escape the rain, which falls really, really often up there. These are the eleven places that I ducked into — and loved. The Clearing Cafe. If you are in Portland visiting Tin House — and have an hour to write — walk over to this cafe, which was recommended to me by Tin House’s Lance Cleland. Nice lattes, and filling bowls that the other customers raved about. 2772 NW Thurman Street. Coffee Time. While I was at this spacious coffee shop, a woman walked in wearing pink rain boots and holding pink bike basket after tying up her bike on which was perched a […]

Young Literati: Party with book lovers, support libraries

Young Literati: Party with book lovers, support libraries

Shepard Fairey DJs, Andrew Bird whistles and sings and plays the violin, Chelsea Handler mocks Trump by reading a damning excerpt of his book. Before and after those performances, you get to mingle with fellow book lovers over gourmet hors d’oeuvres next to an open bar. If that sounds like a fun night to you, make sure you go to the next Young Literati event! The Young Literati Ninth Annual Toast happened on Saturday at NeueHouse Hollywood — and along with the celebrities mentioned above, featured a handful of short comic readers: Retta (Parks and Recreation) read hilarious questions people have asked librarians, Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat) a bloody story about a girl delivering a calf. Kumail Nanjiani’s (Silicon Valley) reading was my favorite; he took us through a Choose Your Own Adventure book — a philosophical one with thought-provoking and super abrupt multiple endings — Young Literati is basically a membership program for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, benefiting the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. If you join, you get to benefit the Foundation — and to go to cool exclusive literary events like the Toast. The Tenth Annual Toast won’t be happening until next […]

Melrose Station: Best speakeasy hidden behind a bookcase

Melrose Station: Best speakeasy hidden behind a bookcase

If you’ve ever looked at your bookcase on a Friday afternoon — and wished the shelves were lined with booze instead of books — I’ve got a bar for you. Melrose Station, a newish speakeasy in the Fairfax area, is a craft cocktail bar and tapas restaurant hidden behind a bookcase. To get there, you’ll first need to go to Glass Hookah Lounge, where a host will let you in the velvet rope, escort you to the back of the smoky room, then pull open a bookcase and tell you to go through the door at 11 o’clock. That door opens up to Melrose Station, a classy train station-themed place with a glittery bar, telephone booths, and a handful of tables. It’s not a huge space, so I’m guessing the place gets loud and crowded late night, but when I met friends here for happy hour at 7:30 pm, it made for a great place to chat and catch up. The craft cocktails are gorgeous — the garnishes include whole red chiles, berry medleys speared with toothpicks and dusted with powdered sugar, and pretty blue flames. But I focused on the food! My favorite dish was the New Zealand lamb […]

Pasadena Festival of Women Authors to star Yaa Gyasi, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney 4/8

Pasadena Festival of Women Authors to star Yaa Gyasi, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney 4/8

Along with like half the people I follow on Instagram, I recently read Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and enjoyed the expansive sweep and ambition of the novel. Then I logged onto Facebook — to find out Yaa is coming to town! Yaa is one of the headliners of the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors, happening April 8 at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. Joining her will be Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest, an entertaining book I carried around last year — with nails painted to match. Which is to say — The festival sounds like a pretty exciting event. Other keynoters are Amy Stewart (Lady Cop Makes Trouble) and Vendela Vida (The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty). Then three more women authors will give concurrent breakout sessions: Rufi Thorpe (Dear Fang, With Love), Elizabeth McKenzie (The Portable Veblen), and Jung Yun (Shelter). There will be morning coffee and pastries as well as a midday lunch, plus book sales and signings throughout. I’d never heard of this festival before, but apparently it was started back in 2009 by a couple Pasadena residents. Last year, it featured Pasadena’s own Victoria Patterson among its six authors. This year, with seven women, the event’s bigger […]