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>A Day in San Francisco


We enjoyed our stay at The Orchard Hotel on Bush Street. How many little hotels are there in San Francisco? Our room was pretty big, we could hear the clang of the Powell St cable car, and we had a Terra Cotta and Nob Hill view.

It’s a beautiful city and today we have a mission that will take us all around it. John is signing “stock” at three bookstores and then more at McSweeny’s at the end of the day. First, a nice downhill walk through the shuttered (it’s Sunday) financial district, down to the Ferry Landing. First, breakfast in the former Ferry Terminal, now eating and shopping. It’s a handsome transformation, obviously very popular, and so American: we love to turn history into shopping. I have Acme bread and Blue Bottle cappucino. John has Ciao Bello gelato. Each to his own.

That would be the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Book Passage is our first signing stop. Ron is very efficient. Sorry the exposure isn’t better. Blame the view.

This store is doing well, a branch of the mother store in Marin. Here are Ron’s colleagues.

It’s such an easy thing to do, to stop by this good bookstore on a pretty Sunday morning. Everybody’s happy. And Ron sends us to Yank Sing for dim-sum. Thank you so much, Ron! Best dim-sum I’ve ever had, and there was room for us at the bar.

Back up the hill to The Orchard Hotel to pick up our car and then off to Books, Inc. I think they were surprised to see us.

Then a drive to a neighborhood we had never heard of, West Portal, and the West Portal Bookstore. Happy, busy place. It’s definitely time to revise your ideas if you thought the independent bookstore was dead. The West Portal Bookshop.

The boss.

The workers.

The neighborhood. Then we drive and park so we can explore the Mission. There is funky Mission.

Yep, those are prescription pill bottles, made into a chandelier.

And here’s a truck selling fresh coconut, hacked with a machete and stuck with a straw. Fresh buko, Mexican style. And over on Mission Street itself, it IS Mexico, and all of Central America. It’s like 5th St in Los Angeles.

And lost history.

It’s kind of chilly by now, so we stop for a beer and a bite at Radish. Fancy southern bar food, frogs, cats and puppies, all fried.

Yum. Then we visit the Pirate Store which is the storefront that legitimizes the real work that is done by 826 which is Eggers non-profit tutoring and publishing organization. Check it out at It’s the real thing. And so is McSweeny’s. We stop by the HQ to sign and meet the other guys.

A cool bunch and John get’s to be one of them. Chris (in the mint green) is the editor of Lucky Peach, the new food quarterly McSweeny’s is delivering to the publisher tomorrow. None of these guys will get much sleep tonight. Then there’s the reading. This day is made up of many parts! We drive with Jordan Bass to North Beach. Green Apple Books is the sponsoring store. Here is the owner Kevin (2nd from right) with Russell on his left,McSweeney’s newly recruited digital media guy, all the way from England.Tom Barbash next to Jordan Bass on the left.

I think John was brave to read “Obstetrics”. It is not cool and manly but beautifully humane. In it a father delivers his daughter’s baby. I would say the audience loved it. And then they were blown away when, in answer to the question, “Have you ever attended a birth”, John told them,yes, once when he was hitchhiking. He’s quiet a guy, my old man. I was so pleased to see Abe Ignacio back again, with some friends. More converts to the AMIGO release!

I heard one fan say he had come all the way from Ukiah. Our pal Bennett Smith came down from Santa Rosa with her daughter Hallie. They are joined by our friend Chris Coplans who happened to be in town from the UK. Too much!

And I was really excited finally to meet my Kitchen Sister heroine Davia Nelson. If you don’t know their wonderful audio work check out Listen and Donate.

The reading was at Tosca Cafe. Davia calls it a “sacred place” because of all the writers who have worked and drunk and even slept there.

Our evening ended back in the Mission at some cool new Chinese restaurant owned by Chris’s friend. We ate really well. I forget the name of the restaurant and WORSE I finally got to meet Dave Eggers and the only picture I took of him is so bad I won’t post it. McSweeny’s publishing John’s book is the nicest thing that has happened to us in a long time. Thanks, Dave.

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