Saturday, November 01, 2014

I Couldn't Help Rooting for the Giants

I wanted to root for Kansas City, because I know my grandpa, a onetime manager of the Kansas Wheat League, would have loved to see Kansas City win.  My oldest son is also for KC, having gone to college in Missouri.  But the Giants kept pulling me toward them. Being of a (sometimes unfortunately) analytical mind, I had to figure out why.
In 2010 I traveled to San Francisco to attend Bouchercon, which is the be-all, end-all of mystery conferences.  I didn't have a book out and didn't  ask to be on a panel or ask a bookseller to flog my old novel, but I was hoping to have fun and meet some folks, network  and eat, breathe and sleep  crime fiction for a few days.
We didn't stay at the conference hotel, but parked ourselves across town at the Seal Rock Inn, a funky place where Hunter Thompson wrote one of his books.  The rooms are big, the parking is free,  the restaurant serves a mean  breakfast and down the hill sits the historic Cliff House for drinking and dining. 
  I went to a great pre-conference workshop and I'm still digging out Elizabeth Lyons' advice whenever I  begin to write something.   Next came the Noir Evening somewhere in North Beach with the Ramshackle Romeos providing the music. Famous and near-famous writers read noir passages, and it was so cool except for my excruciating jet lag that had me dozing off at nine p.m.
A first-ever trip to City Lights Bookstore, long a dream of mine came to pass.  We ate at The Stinking Rose, a garlic lover's paradise.
But the confernece?  Disappointing and kind of blah.  I would see someone I knew across the huge room, wave, and never see that person again.  I met no one.  Hardly talked to anyone.  All the so-called mid-list writers were courting the  a-list writers, and  well, I  suppose I was a no-list writer, or a low-list writer.  Low, as in lower than whale shit.  The same conference in Chicago had been friendly and fun.  This was neither.  And there was the one-hour bus ride across town every morning.  Was the ghost of Hunter Thompson traveling along making snide remarks about my writing?  Chastising me for wanting to be part of things?  That's how it felt. Alienation was my constant companion.  Sometimes one just has to suck it up.

The Spanish Civil War Lincoln Brigade Monument in the neighborhood of the conference hotel was unexpected.  And moving.  Only in San Francisco. The city itself was splendid. No complaints about SF. 

Then, like the surf crashing into the Seal Rocks, a huge feeling of relief washed over me when Bouchercon was over.  We spent a day or so sightseeing, and ended up in the late afternoon in the bar of the Cliff House, watching the Giants play.  Everyone was friendly, just what I had been missing. We focused on the game.  The food rocked, the drinks rolled and for the first time all week I was enjoying myself.  Loved every minute.  Go Giants!   And they did win everything including their first world series since moving to the West Coast in 1958. 
Bouchercon is in California again, but I'm not going.  Been there.  Done that. But I rooted for the Giants again this year, recalling the happy confines of the Cliff House bar and the excitement and camaraderie and cheering.  Sometimes a trip takes an unexpected turn.  And sometimes you have to face the fact that you are a minnow in a big lake and that the muskies and the catfish and the pike will swim on by.  Observing the feeding frenzy is not always a bad thing.                                  

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