April 26, 2004

The Cuckoo

I didn't imagine I'd be seeing Val Esway again so soon after last week's show at Bazaar Cafe. I also imagined the Hotel Utah was closed for good. However, on Wednesday Aimee received word that Carmaig de Forest was opening for Ramona the Pest that night at a freshly reopened Utah, and we rejoiced mightily. Carmaig was in town for Uke-Fest West and tested out his 15-minute garage-rock ukulele set out on us as well as other classics, like "George Bush Lies" freshly updated for 2004. Backing band DeathGrooveLoveParty featured Dan on guitar, and it was really great to see him kick ass on electric after seeing him play so much acoustic the past few years. Ramona the Pest (with Jon on bass!) followed Carmaig and offered up some fine fine San Francisco rock 'n' roll, and yes my love for Val was ever more firmly cemented. There appears to be nothing that woman cannot do. And what a voice!

I measure my life in Ani concerts and A.S. Byatt readings, two talented women whose words have carried me through some very tough stretches. Thursday night it was time for a visit with Byatt at Cody's Fourth Street, in honor of her just-released Little Black Book of Stories. She teased us with excerpts from two of the stories, and it struck me how in her shorter pieces her mastery of language is front and center. She places each word just so, really makes it count. I envy that. I could think of nothing to ask during the question-and-answer session, and I could think of nothing to say to her while she signed my copy of the new book. I just thanked her warmly, and she smiled right back. I left the store with a clear head but melancholy spirit, dwelling a little too firmly in times past.

In truth I rarely buy books anymore (Byatt and Bruce Sterling are notable exceptions), mostly because I love using the library so much. But if the San Francisco Public Library throws a book sale where everything is $1 or under, what better way to add to the stacks of unread material sitting around my house? Thus I found myself at Fort Mason on Saturday morning browsing table after table of cast-offs, marvelling at how many unwanted copies of The English Patient seem to exist in this world. I ended up with a stack of Granta back issues to keep me occupied on my upcoming New Mexico business trip as well as a few other odds and ends. And afterward I treated myself to a picnic lunch from Greens, eaten on the pier.

From the Bay I headed inland to the San Francisco Ballet practice space to watch Company C Contemporary Ballet's rehearsal, open and free to the public as part of the Bay Area celebration of National Dance Week. Artistic director Charles Anderson was there to welcome us guests and introduce the pieces. Company C is a small group of about 10 women and 2 men who perform some classical ballet as well as more modern work. I was particularly entranced by a short section from a piece called "Appalachia Waltz", where the movements of the three women on the floor perfectly captured for me the longing and sadness in the music. I've voiced my reservations about ballet in the past, but it all falls out of my head when I'm sitting a foot from a pair dancing a deceptively effortless pas de deux. Apparently my four-year-old godchild isn't the only one with ballerina fantasies.

Finally, a very warm welcome please for Tai Hayden Jokela, my new upstairs neighbor. Laura and Mikko did good.


Cody's Books
A.S. Byatt
SFPL Events
Bay Area Celebrates National Dance Week
National Dance Week

Posted by nightfall at April 26, 2004 10:36 PM