Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We had a our first confirmed star sighting last night, Mindy Kaling, who plays Kelly on the "The Office." I was devouring "The Bronx" sandwich (pastrami, chopped liver and coleslaw on rye) and Claire was attempting to get through the "Canter's Fairfax" (pastrami, corned beef and coleslaw on rye) when her and her boyfriend (?) sat down across from us. We kind of giggled.

Claire has her second stage at Lucques tonight. Suzanne Goin is amazing chef (she won the James Beard Award in 2006) whose work Claire respects and admires. It would be a dream job for her. My fingers remained crossed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


On Sunday morning I received an E-mail inviting me to a reading that same night. (Maybe this is working). It was in this cool little dark bar, Good Luck, on the Corner of Hollywood and Sunset (the Jim Beams were $7- a pop, ouch). It was the 3rd anniversary of the readings (they're every 2 months). Martha Ronk, David Marriott, Wendy C. Ortiz and Andrea Quaid were the readers. Martha Ronk was my favorite of the bunch. She read from her last two books Vertigo and In a Landscape of Having to Repeat. I had only read her in journals, so hearing 10-15 poems was a nice treat. She had a idea in one of the poems from Vertigo that hasn't been able to escape me, something to the effect of how we go about our day creating these little rituals, therefore mourning our own lives. One of the reasons I'm down here in L.A. is to escape those rituals. Everything in Portland had become so predictable, what time I woke up, where I ate my lunch, where I walked the dog, etc. Even though I've only been here 9 days now, I see myself trying to create new ones. I must fight. Anyway...I had a really nice conversation with Martha and hope to be able to get a poem or two from her for the issue.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


We went to see A.J. Jacobs read from and discuss his new book The Year of Living Biblically yesterday at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. I've yet to read the book, but it's certainly an interesting premise. I really enjoyed The Know-It-All, his previous book, which chronicles the year in which he sets out read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A-Z. After I read it, I e-mailed him hoping (illogically) that he might have something for us. We went back and forth a few times, I sent him the lasted copy, he said some nice things, then said he just didn't have anything and was busy finishing up his novel and maybe ask again in the future.

What impresses me most about Jacobs is his willingness to commit to these projects. For the last year and half I've been working on my next collection of poems, tenatively titled, Dot-to-Dot, Oregon. I've traveled the whole state of Oregon (just about, sorry southeast corner), going to every city and town with a population over 3,000 or so. The goal is to have 50 or so poems that are centered in these places. So far about 20 are done, 25 are various stages of revision and 5 have yet to be written. And while I amassed a few thousand miles of my truck and spent about 3 weeks worth of time on numerous trips, day to day I usually spend about an hour working on the poems. This compared to Jacobs who not only spends the time to write the novel, but spends a year (at least for the last 2 novels) being the novel.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dorianne Laux... last night at USC. Of course it was wonderful. She read from Facts About the Moon and Awake, which was just re-released from Eastern Washington Press. There were also a couple of new poems and a couple I had never heard. The highlight for me being "Bakersfield," a poem (with her typical beauty and sadness) about a teenage affair. Dorianne was raised in San Diego and spent a few years living in L.A. Unfortunately her reading the night before, at Casa Romantica in San Clemente, was canceled because of the fire. She introduced me to a couple of her former students from U of O who have made L.A. their home.

USC is the biggest and busiest campus I've ever seen. Trying to park and find the library where the reading was held was crazy in itself. But the buildings are beautiful (not to mention the students) and the juxtaposition of the school with the surrounding neighborhood is interesting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


This was the view today looking south from Venice Beach. Today was cloudless, what you see in this picture is the eerie smoke from the Santiago Canyon fires blowing out towards the ocean.

On Monday, my sister who lives in Valencia, was evacuated. She had time to pack Jack (my nine month old nephew) in the car, grab some baby stuff and a few pictures. Luckily the fire just missed and she's back at home.

My parents live in Lake Forest, still in the house I grew up in. On their way home from work last night they could see a line of fire above Foothill Ranch, seven or so miles away. Although they and the house were in no immediate danger, they are certainly rattled. Everything outside of the house everything is covered in soot and ash. While talking with my Mom this morning she was continually coughing. Modjeska Canyon is just to the east. I took my wife hiking there a couple weeks ago, reveling in the nostaglia of my youth. As a teenager, the forest there was a well needed escape from suburbia. Plenty of joints and cans of beer consumed on those trails. It's still on fire. Very sad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Getting Settled In

We finally moved into our apartment over the weekend. The DSL will be hooked up later this week, so the frequency of posting should increase dramatically.

Living in the middle of L.A. is staggeringly surreal, we talk about how long it will take for the surroundings to become "normal." Everything is absurd in the most entertaining way imaginable. There is valet parking at the IHOP two block away. The eavesdropping here is without equal--movie deals, t.v. plots, record labels, on and on. While eating lunch yesterday I listened to some guy describing his script of a Steve Perry bio-pic. It seems as if L.A. is not for loners, collaboration is everywhere.

Dorianne Laux reads this Thursday at USC, 4:30. I'll be there, if you're down here, you should be there too.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Call for Submissions

We are now accepting submissions for issue 4.1., our L.A. issue. We need poetry, short fiction, essays and artwork. Work should either be from writers/artists who live in Los Angeles or use imagery from the city. The issue will feature a new interview with the unofficial Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, Wanda Coleman. The deadline for submitting is April 30th, with publication set for July 1. Poets should submit 3-5 poems as a single Word file, fiction and non-fiction writers should submit one piece up 2500 words, artists can send either jpegs or pdfs (B&W only). Please include a short bio with the submission. Submissions should be send to submissions at burnsidereview dot org. Please contact me with any questions or go to our website (link below).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Burnside on Burnside

Well not quite, but one block off (our apartment). Cool little one bedroom on Wilshire and Dunsmuir. We move in next week. Can walk to LACMA, Farmer's Marker and tons of killer restaurants (including Pinks!). Missed the David St. John reading last night. Should have another chance to see him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Amazing Aimee Bender...

...judges this year's fiction chapbook prize. A UCI grad, she's now teaching at USC. Her newest collection, Willful Creatures, helps to create a new set of myths, using simple and poignant storytelling.

This year's winner receives $200- and 25 copies of their chapbook. The contest is in full swing and runs through December 31st.

Last year's winner, Leslie Jamison, will be sitting with us at this year's AWP. She'll be signing copies of The Wintering Barn, on Saturday, February 2nd, from 12-1.