California happenings

by | Jan 2, 2016 | Book, Type-in | 8 comments

It certainly was a whirlwind trip to the West Coast for me, with ten days to spend the holidays with family in Northern and Southern California and two book events.

On December 22, Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative in the Mission district of San Francisco hosted a reading/type-in.

Stefano Corazza, whose typewriter installation “Time Love Memory” is featured in my book, read some of the sayings that were typed on the installation at Burning Man a few years ago. About a dozen other people were there, and I was asked to read about typewriter history and letter writing. I sold six copies of my book and donated the profits to Adobe. Doug Nichol was there to shoot a scene for his documentary (I can’t wait). And a couple of other old and new friends brought typewriters to show off, including Cindy of The Cynthia Project.

All in all, it was a pleasant event, though small, as I had expected on this drizzly day shortly before Christmas.

The happening at Los Angeles’ The Last Bookstore on December 28 was considerably bigger, though I’m not sure how many people planned to be there and how many simply found themselves in the store when our event was set up in the middle of it.

The store occupies a grand old building in downtown L.A. I was interested to explore the neighborhood, though also a bit shocked by nearby Skid Row, with its thousands of desperate-looking homeless people wandering the streets. The Last Bookstore features new and used books, an art gallery, and creative book-themed installations.

Thanks to collector and L.A. police commissioner Steve Soboroff, Orson Welles’ Underwood and Ray Bradbury’s Royal were there to enchant the crowd, flanked by gorgeous prints by artist L.A. Marler inspired by these machines.

I was glad to see typospherians Michael (A Typewriter a Day Keeps the Doctor Away) and Anna (A Machine for the End of the World), who introduced me to fusion poké for dinner after the event. Filmmaker Christopher Lockett, of The Typewriter (In the 21st Century), also came; he’s now working on a project about land mines. I also got to meet two master typewriter repairmen, Helmut Schulze of Star Typewriters in L.A. and Mitchell Vassiliou of Abbott’s in San Diego.

I enjoyed spending time with Bobby Gordon of Melrose Poetry Bureau, a typewriter poetry group that appears in my book. He tried out my Kolibri by composing a poem on the theme I suggested: “a rainy day in L.A.”

At the event, the four poets from the Bureau set up their machines and invited people to suggest themes. They got a steady stream of visitors. Nearest to the camera is Ary Katz, with his Olympia that has made a 15,000-mile trip around the U.S. with him, typing poems.

People lined up to use the variety of interesting typewriters that were available to try (on the left is a near-mint red Corona from a Corona specialist). Very often, they also took pictures of their typing with their smartphones.

The “burlesque” Royal being stripteased above is going to be featured in MPB’s upcoming “cabaret.” Behind it you can see the equally gorgeous Olivetti MP1 brought by Michael.

In addition to all this, of course I read from my book. The only hitch was that, due to a weather delay, the bookstore didn’t get copies of my book in time! I had four with me, at least, and many attendees already had bought their copies. Some others, I believe, ordered books at the cashier. So I don’t think this was a disaster.

Here are a few views of corners in The Last Bookstore:

A pic from the Melrose Poetry Bureau on Instagram:

From The Last Bookstore on Instagram:

All in all, it was a trip to remember.

Next I’m off to Washington, D.C. for a meeting of the American Philosophical Association. (Can you imagine thousands of philosophy professors and graduate students packed into a Marriott, discussing exciting papers such as “Partial Relations Are Not Transitive”?) While I’m in the area, I’m looking forward to meeting some fellow typewriter lovers and to a book reading / type-in at a suburban bookstore:

If you’re in the D.C. area, I hope you can come. Word to the wise: you may want to get a copy of my book beforehand (Amazon is one option), because again, thanks to logistical issues and the holidays, I’m not sure that books will be available to buy at the event. If they aren’t, though, I can take orders for signed copies that I’ll mail promptly upon my return to Cincinnati.

Here’s wishing everyone a great 2016.


  1. michaeliany

    Great event in LA. Had a lot of fun. I'll do my write up soon as well. I've got a couple decent pics. Well done, Richard!

  2. Bill M

    Thanks for sharing your trip.
    The Last Bookstore looks like my kind of place. I did not know about it when I was in L.A. I have an Underwood just like the one in the poster. (I wish) Mine is not quite so pristine.

    Great everything worked out for you.

    Have a great time in D.C.

  3. Don Lampert

    What a fun time!
    Happy New Years Richard, and all typospherians!

  4. Joe V

    A great tour indeed. Congrats again on the success of your book.

  5. Ted

    Yet another great stop on your tour! Be sure to get some sleep of you'll end up talking to yourself and starting fights in basements..

  6. Unknown

    Wish I could have been there, but thank you for signing my book, which Mitch brought with him.

  7. Richard P

    I hope we'll have another chance soon.

  8. Rob Bowker

    Great to see the coveted (by me at least) Kolibri getting a workout in LA.


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