Mar 30, 2014

San Francisco (7) --- Pitch-O-rama (1)

We arrive at San Francisco SFO (San Francisco International Airport, why SFO?) and the international press, the paparazzi ("paps"), the adolescent girls and boys, all of them, there's a riot. A blogger with 390,000 page views comes all the way from Europe and there's a riot. Well, no, sorry, that was Seoul, Korea, the airport, when we got mixed up with a charismatic baseball player.

So we feel un-famous and under-appreciated and seek consolation on the internet and find a page belonging to the San Francisco Writer's Conference. We send them a message about feeling un-famous and under-appreciated and get a prompt reply pointing us to an upcoming pitchfest of the Women's National Book Association San Francisco Chapter on Saturday in the Women's building around the corner from where we reside. It would be an opportunity to "connect." We procrastinate, then sign up via Paypal.

Spoiler alert: a pitchfest is about pitching manuscripts to agents and publishers, and we're in possession of such a manuscript, the Green Eyes, gay romance/erotica, easily the most topical subject when it comes to Women's Lib. We're not, however, in possession of  a printer here in our temporary abode, and the battery of the laptop won't live for longer than a minute when unplugged. So we don't have any material to take to the event, not even a calling card or anything that could get agents and publishers interested in our work. Plus, one of the participating agents, Andy Ross, has a post on his blog about this: he, Andy, would never go to a pitchfest, not as a pitcher at least, since he wouldn't survive the humiliation of being turned down by his colleagues. That decides the case. We will go, but not pitch. Perhaps there's enough in it for another short story. That's what failed writers do, they write about failed writers. Do your research.

We're apprehensive nonetheless, and it starts early, at 8 AM, and it rains, and we overtip the taxi driver out of sheer apprehension. We expect a crowd of young women, multi-faceted, multi-racial, done up in neo-Afro-look, i.e., all looking like Angela Davis waiving Angela-Davis-inspired manuscripts---waiving their manuscripts at us, balding, aging, failed writers of gay porn---think of a wind farm during a hurricane.

Angela Davis

Okay, let's tell an anecdote to out-blot the simile. Most people reading this won't even have heard of Angela Davis, but she was world-famous and world-infamous at the height of the "second feminist wave" during the last century---the organizers of today's pitch-o-rama will possibly know her. We never met Angela Davis (as usual), but we met somebody who knew her well (as usual), i.e., her former boy friend. That was in 1968. Angela Davis was already famous but not yet infamous, and (she was) a striking presence in the Frankfurter circles of Critical Theory, where she studied philosophy with Theodor W. Adorno.

Spoiler alert: few people reading this will have heard of Theodor W. Adorno---bear with us.

Theodor W. Adorno

Adorno was the leading light of Critical Theory ("kritische Theorie") then, a post-neo-marxist approach to philosophy with much aphoristic flair, long sentences, a short nose (Adorno), short stature, and an uncanny ability as a pianist (Hans Werner, the composer from the German Cemetery defined Adorno as the best amateur pianist he had ever met), famous for stealing kisses from women (Adorno), especially from striking blond women taller than himself, preferably of aristocratic heritage (the women).

Hans-Werner Henze

"Yes," we say, because even us, raised in the philosophical diaspora of Berlin, 500 kilometers away from Frankfurt, had heard about the kisses connecting Adorno and his titled female entourage. So we're sitting at Hans Werner's dining table in the village of Marino, south of Rome, it's 1968, Rudi Dutschke has already been shot, he's sitting next to us, Dutschke, re-convalescing in Werner's villa, and Angela Davis's former boyfriend says: "Ho-ho."

Rudi Dutschke

"Not only striking blond aristocratic women taller than the man himself," he says. Because Angela Davis shows up at Adorno's office hour and Adorno sits in the chair opposite to her on the other side of the desk and while the conversation about Davis's philosophical master thesis evolves, Adorno's chair, including the man himself, sidles ever so gently around the desk until the philosopher finds himself right next to the Afro-American world-icon of Women's Lib. Adorno tries to feel her up, but she won't let it happen. I'm not making this up, this is what her former boyfriend told us.

Stay tuned, or go here for the previous San Francisco post, a short story about our trip to the airport in Nice. Or go here for the next post, a clip from the flight deck of our flight.


ana manwaring said...

Michael, so how'd it go at the pitchfest? I want to hear how the Angela Davis (yes, I lived in Marin during that fiasco) women turned out. The rain had flattened my afro,unforunately.

Michael said...

Hi Ana...Angela Davis...looked it up on Wikipedia: she recovered, had an academic career (including a stint at the UC-SF), and retired in 2008 from UC-Santa Cruz (feminist studies). She's still key-noting etc.
Pitch-O-Rama...stay tuned, will post again...


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