Old Friends, New Communities
Next week I will tell you more about the new Writ Large Press space, a vault upstairs inside The Last Bookstore that we are turning into a shop/performance/gallery/lab. It will be called dtLAb by Writ Large Press.
But this week, I want to talk about two new exciting partnerships for us. And both are (once again) new territory for us.
DIRTY LAUNDRY LIT
I first saw Natashia Deón at The Hotel Cafe a couple of years ago. It was a special reading at the long running event called Tongue & Groove, hosted and curated by our old friend Conrad Romo. The reading featured that year’s PEN USA Emerging Voices fellows and Natashia was one of them. She read a powerful piece about ghosts and slaves and history and memory, which has now become a finished novel and has recently been sent out by her agent.
I heard her again at Literary Death Match. And a couple of months after that, she happened to see me when it was my turn to perform at LDM. And that was the beginning of a mutual admiration society.
When she invited me to read at an event she’d started called Dirty Laundry Lit, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. DLL is held at The Virgil in Hollywood, sponsored by PEN USA, and draws a full house.
My favorite part about the reading, other than Natashia who has become more than a writer I admire and become someone I think of as a dear friend, is that she makes sure the readers featured at each installment is as diverse as possible.
This is why it’s such a pleasure and honor for myself and for Writ Large Press to be a co-sponsor of the event starting with the next one, on August 3rd. This DLL will be called Clothing Optional. Huzzah. It is the perfect timing too because one of our authors, the incredible poet Billy Burgos, will be one of the writers on stage that night. Joseph Lapin, who is not only one of the best writers on LA Weekly but a poet and champion of local literature, will also be reading.
We will be lending our hands in setting up and running errands during the event. We will also bring our mobile bookstore and books to give away to first time attendees of a literary event. Most importantly, we will help promote to event to what we hope will be an entirely new audience to join the already large Dirty Laundry Lit fanbase. Natashia and I have talked often about things we can do to make literary events around the city more diverse and while inviting controlling the make-up of the readers has been rather simple, trying to have a say in audience diversity has been slightly more challenging. We hope this partnership will be a fruitful journey in that regard.
Anyway, Natashia is awesome. I love her. And just being able to work with her in any capacity is fantastic.
KING EDDY SALOON
I don’t know of any other local publisher, indie or otherwise, doing anything like we will be doing with the legendary King Eddy Saloon.
As long time Los Angeles residents, we understand the history of this bar in DTLA. And when it changed ownership, we feared the worst, that this was going to be another casualty of the gentrification of downtown. But the owners, especially Jonny Valenti, have really been careful to upgrade the place without losing its flavor, without shutting out the locals who have been frequenting the bar for decades.
We also see that a year from now when the downstairs speakeasy is open, this bar will become a destination spot in the neighborhood. We wanted to make sure we got in and put on events before then and establish a presence.
So starting in early August, we will be producing a weekly Tuesday night DJ night, where Peter will be bringing in local DJs to play funky beautiful music that they may not get to play in a typical club on a Friday night. In addition, we will be producing a monthly podcast/radio show. The show will be recorded inside the dart room. A musical guest who will do an acoustic set, talk about his life and career and music, perhaps interviewed by a local author.
These aren’t typical literary events. Hell. They’re not literary events at all.
But so what? It is art. It is community. It is fun.
And it’s at the one and only King Eddy Saloon.