Monday, August 21, 2006

The San Francisco Literati - Litquake Fundraising Gala

(a.k.a. Name Dropping)

Partly to support the cause and partly to stalk the famous writers and partly just to see what the gala is all about, I paid $75 for a ticket to this annual event.

It was worth it!

Just as we were about to head in through the doors of the Green Room, Bharati Mukherjee walked out and headed towards the door. I saw her at the event many times later in the night but didn’t go up to her to talk – didn’t know what to say.

ZZ Packer was the first author that I met. I simply walked up to her and introduced myself and told her that I'm currently reading her collection of short stories "Having Coffee Elsewhere." I also commented that I'm very impressed with her pedigree of Yale, Iowa Writers Workshop, Johns Hopkins Writing Seminar, and the Stanford Stegner Fellowship... (these are places that I would have loved to have studied at if I had had the courage to become A Writer – but I didn’t tell her that). She said that she was actually embarrassed by that long list because it looked like she was avoiding working.

While I was talking to ZZ Packer, Tobias Wolf interrupted us. I waited to be introduced but since it didn't happen, I introduced myself. ZZ and Tobias were busy talking so my friend R and I walked away...

We spotted Ishmael Reed but he was surrounded by too many people and I’m also unfamiliar with his work. I do know that he writes poetry and I think he’s currently teaching at Berkeley.

Needing to refill my glass of Pinot Grigio, I headed for the bar. While I waited, Peter Coyote queued up behind me to order a drink but he was engaged in a conversation with a woman and I didn’t want to interrupt.

At this point, it was time to take a break from all the stalking of writers so my friend and I headed back to the Silent Auction table. Earlier I had noted that San Francisco Chronicle Columnist Mark Morford was auctioning a lunch-date. Since I enjoy his columns, I signed up for the offer. By the end of the night, my offer had been outbid by many people and raised to $105. I bid again, ten minutes before closing at $115 but my bid was outbid at $135 and I didn’t have a chance to outbid because I was busy outbidding something else.

In between bidding, and eating, and drinking, I also spotted Robert Mailer Anderson.

I followed Amy Tan when she headed for the silent auction to check out her bids. She was alone so I asked her what she was working on. She listed many things but the most memorable was a pilot for a television series. She wouldn’t tell me the topic of the pilot even though I promised not to reveal it to anyone.

An editor for The Examiner dropped food on me. Her friend cleaned it up from my arms and promised that it's good for the skin. The editor said to feel free to get back at her by filling up a glass of wine and tripping in front of her so that that the wine spilled on her and ruined her dress. (I know she was joking but I did consider the offer ;)

I did not see Beth Lisick, Mary Roach, or Michelle Tea.

As I walked towards my car, I felt that I had gotten my $75 the least, I donated to a good cause.