Well-Lighted Place for Books
I arrived in San Francisco by way of Highway 280, along the eastern foothills of the coastal range--a gracefully curving drive on a clear, cold day, with whisps of fog drifting over the mountains. Over the many times I have visited and lived in this city, I have never entered this way before, into Noe Valley from the south.
The hilltop bed and breakfast at which
I am lodged for two nights overlooks the Bay,
View to the east from the back yard
Fog rolls over Twin Peaks to the west
I unpacked the car and repacked it for the evening's event, changed clothes, ran through my songs, got back behind the wheel, and found my way through the familiar old streets of San Francisco. What a great town. One huge live-in antique, sprawled over all these steep hills. I love the electric trolleys from the 'thirties and older, these functional antiques that transport people without gasoline. I love the sound of their yawns as they turn corners and the ring of their metal bells when they come to a stop. The streetlights are Victorian; the street names sound old, too.
On the east side of Opera Plaza, the mall that surrounds the San Francisco Opera Theater, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books lives up to its name. News of in-store and out-of-store author events fills one window and also an elegantly printed brochure offered at the cash register.
It is, in fact, very clean and well-lighted,
as well as well-stocked
Julia, the store's coordinator for the
event, went out of her way to be helpful.
As usual, I spent about an hour telling stories about how I came to create the two editions and what happened afterward, punctuated by original songs relevant to the stories that preceded them, then opened the floor to questions, comments, and discussion. This group focussed on the contribution of 60's hippie culture to the evolution of mass consciousness in the present time. Who hippies were or are became hard to define, since hippies have shared areas of great interest with non-hippies, including Eastern religions and other spiritual systems, left wing politics, health regimens, especially dietary, environmentalism, shamanism and ethnobotany, humanistic psychology, alternative education, homesteading, homebirthing, experimental music, art and literature. Costume and coiffure are communications about who we are, but there is always more than meets the eye.
Among those attending were Kathleen,
who had the original book