"All the best writers will be quaking or shaking
So get ready to tremble get ready to shake." - Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Litquake 2000
Litquake is a week-long San Francisco literary festival. It was kicked off Friday by Howl Redux, an evening which also marked the 50th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's original reading of "Howl." Lee and I joined the audience of 1,000 at the Herbst Theatre, where excerpts of works from Bay Area authors such as John Steinbeck, Jack London and Mark Twain were read by other writers. I wasn't expecting it to be quite the huge production it was. Overall, I was impressed and inspired, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming events.
Amy Tan read from Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking. She talked about being personally familiar with Iris and introduced the reading with a story about being invited to dinner at the White House. Apparently, Amy Tan found herself seated next to John Rockefeller. (For some reason, I feel the need to keep referring to her by her full name. Some people just have that kind of name, don't they?) Upon looking at Amy Tan's name card, Mr. Rockefeller turned to her and stated that he was pleased to meet her, that he felt her story was a very important one to share. As he continued on, he made references which made Amy Tan realize that he wasn't talking about The Joy Luck Club. She responded, "Mr. Rockefeller, Iris Chang will be happy to know that you thought so highly of The Rape of Nanking."
The anecdote received a chuckle from the audience. I thought it was an interesting choice to share, but maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive to the whole Asian thing right now because of my recent bad experience. I don't know. I'm realistic enough to know that race will never be a non-issue. And it's like my personal book cover, showing a hint of the stories I hold. It's one of the first things you see about me, and it's part of who I am, so it certainly shouldn't be ignored. I actually don't want it to be ignored, but I'm just tired of others confusing me for another Asian or defining who I am based on my dark hair and "almond" eyes. When Tina and I traveled through Europe, people always asked where we were from. If we answered, "California," we always received puzzled looks, and the question was repeated. "But... hair not yellow..... eyes not blue?" Ugh.
Anyway, I didn't mean to turn this into a rant. I'll admit that I'm still amused by sites like AllLookSame.com, and I realize that one blonde can just as easily be mistaken for another blonde. I'm not that sensitive. I'm just glad I can get this out here. And I'm also glad I finally got my dad to stop using the word "Oriental."
We went to the Download Festival yesterday, but I'll have to post about that tomorrow. I don't know where my camera upload cable is, and I'm too tired to look right now. Time to re-charge for the week. The tour must go on.