Sunday, October 21, 2007

Firestorm 2007

That lovely pink glow in the West Hollywood afternoon sky isn't the sunset, that's Malibu. The fluffy greyness above it is smoke. We are being told that if we have to go out, try not to breathe.

But I am lucky, I have a home to go to.

The LA Times has a fund started where they, KTLA and the McCormick Tribune Foundation will match donations (.50 on the dollar) at least up to $500,000 for relief. According to the Publisher, all funds will go to people left homeless by the fires- they are paying the administrative costs so every dime goes to the victims of this tragedy. If you have a few spare dollars, please donate. Contrary to opinion pieces in some of the gamier portions of the media, not every victim in this is Barbra Streisand.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Armistead Maupin is a god

I am reading the latest of his books, a return to form in a way called Michael Tolliver Lives. Michael is of course "Mouse", one of the characters from his first six novels, the Tales of the City series. For the sad few of you who had missed this delightful, maddening and ultimately sad series of novels, there is a bit of an explanation in order. Started as a series in the San Francisco Chronicle before moving to the Examiner, the first three novels are wonderful little gumballs of San Francisco on the 70's: wonderfully improbably coincidences, wild plots and wacky characters, all grounded by Maupins masterful prose making fully rounded people out of what in the hand off lesser writers could have been cartoons. The three later novels are truthful to the times, the dear, dim, dead 80's, the decade of disaffection, greed, and AIDS. Those are harder to read, since you've spent three novels getting to know and love these people (at least I did as a kid; if I had known anyone in San Francisco, like Mary Ann I would have thrown caution to the wind and moved happily to The City), watching them grow up, grow older, grow apart and sometimes die is tough, but worth it. Maupin is nothing if not a masterful storyteller.

His mastery is in evident in Michael Tolliver Lives. For the first time, he uses first-person narrative: this novel is told only from Mouse's perspective. We visit, or at least learn the fate of people whom we have grown to love in the past novels; without giving too much away, some are here, some are not. There is a dominant theme of facing death: Mouse is in his mid-fifties and HIV-positive, living with his devoted 26 year old husband and facing the death of his fundamentalist mother, as well as the advancing age of his adopted mother/muse, Anna Madrigal. I'm not halfway through it, but I am sure there will be kleenex involved soon.

I highly recommend these books; I was about 10-15 years too young to be a part of that time of the first three, but I hope they are a perfect fairy-tale snapshot of that particular decade. I can personally vow for the accuracy of the last three, with the pain of loss from AIDS and the general ennui of the 80's. I hope that I can muster the grace of Mouse in the midst of my own mid-fifties.

Which will happen 30 years fom now.