Impressions of the USA

Impressions of the USA
By Cong Tran Note: Cong Tran, or Tran Quoc Cong in Vietnamese naming convention, paid his first visit to the United States in 2007, an invited guest at the memorial service for author and Pulitzer Prize winning Vietnam War correspondent David Halberstam. Mr. Tran had guided and ultimately befriended the journalist during a return visit to Vietnam by the author some years before his death. Mr. Tran was so moved by his invitation to the memorial from Mr. Halberstam's widow, and so honored to be among the literati in attendance, he saved the printed program (see below). Recently, Mr. Tran shared the messages he sent home from his 2007 visit and gave us permission to share them with our readers, which we are delighted to do. His observations of U.S. culture in...

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents
Conney D. Williams and special guest Natalie Patterson Celebrating National Poetry Month  

Date: Tuesday, April 11, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

Conney D. Williams, a poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, is a favorite at Writers Read. He's with us this month to share new works and celebrate the power of the written word.

Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His collection Blues Red Soul Falsetto was published in December 2012, and he has released two new poetry CDs, Unsettled...

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents
David Putnam on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 reading and discussing The Vanquished, a Bruno Johnson novel  

Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, March 14, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

The Vanquished (Oceanview Publishing, February 2017) is David Putnam's fourth novel in his Bruno Johnson series. The best-selling author has put a 31-year law enforcement career to good use in his bad boy cop hero, and this latest installment is as thrilling as the previous three, The Disposables, The Replacements and The Squandered.

Putnam will read from his latest book and discuss his writing life. His novels will be available for sale and signing.

Learn more about Putnam and the Bruno Johnson series here.

 

For more information, contact Kit-Bacon Gressitt at kbgressitt@gmail.com or 760-522-1064.

Book review: Goosestep by Harold Jaffe

Book review: Goosestep by Harold Jaffe
By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

While a tide of new political activists is frothing across the nation, one seasoned revolutionary is quietly practicing his decades-long resistance in Mission Hills. Harold Jaffe, author and SDSU professor, continues his quest to challenge popular perception in his 24th book, Goosestep: Fictions and Docufictions (Journal of Experimental Fiction Books, November 2016).

Jaffe has taught at SDSU for about 30 years, and traveled the world longer. He lives and writes in “what remains of nature” along a Mission Hills canyon.

“There are fewer birds now,” he said. “I think global warming is the prime suspect there. Wilderness being real-estated; land being contaminated; the weather being completely out of sorts; birds, when they migrate here in the winter, find the weather...

On the Front Lines

On the Front Lines
By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

You look in the bedroom mirror, small enough to deny self-adoration, and pull your brownish hair into a ponytail. Tight, like Mother used to do it, just the right way. You turn to the bed. Your clothes are laid out on sheets held taut by perfect hospital corners. You dress in practical layers, to accommodate the variable temperatures of the daylong vigil you perform every Thursday. First, your underthings, then flesh-tone tights and a plain white t-shirt. Next, the pleated blouse Mother used to wear, when you held the vigils together, and ski pants, a modest one size too large. Finally, a nice worsted wool skirt you found at Goodwill for a dollar. It’s a bit matronly, but...

Writers Read Presents Rocco Versaci

Writers Read Presents Rocco Versaci
Join Writers Read at Fallbrook Library on February 14 Featuring Rocco Versaci reading and discussing his memoir That Hidden Road Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

 

Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

Rocco Versaci's That Hidden Road is a funny, bittersweet and sometimes aching story of loss and recovery. It recounts the author's bout with cancer, fractured family, and cross country cycling quest in search of self—illustrated with Versaci's comics.

Versaci grew up in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove and is the product of an Italian-American family, too much TV, and countless books. He currently lives in San Diego, where he is an English professor at Palomar College.

In addition to teaching composition, creative writing and literature (including comics), he is the...

The Power of Art and Things to Come

The Power of Art and Things to Come
A profile of artist Patrick Brown By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Artist Patrick Brown is a fairly quiet man—perhaps a bit shy—with a cute laugh, a slight Southern accent, and a gentle sadness that sometimes shades his eyes. It’s a companionable sorrow, though. It reaches into his paintings and says, “It might hurt, but it’s OK to look; you know me.” And while there’s no recognized treatment for his particular sorrow, it is treatment of another sort that brought Patrick to California almost four years ago, from Nashville, Tennessee.

Before he left, he had been seriously ill, Patrick explains over a late breakfast at Swami’s in Escondido. He’d had to sell his home to pay medical bills, and the...

Writers Read Presents "An American Genocide"

Writers Read Presents "An American Genocide"
Author Benjamin Madley will read from and discuss An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe  

Date: Tuesday, January 10, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

UCLA Professor Benjamin Madley is an historian of Native America, the United States, and genocide in world history. His first book, An American Genocide, was published by Yale University Press.

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Madley’s deep research of California Indians under United States rule has produced the first full account of their government-sanctioned genocide. This history provides important context to recent successes in protecting Native sacred and culturally significant sites, such as the Gregory Canyon Landfill. The prospect of more such battles looms, and it...

The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi
By O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to...

Writers Read Launches its 2017 Author Series with

Writers Read Launches its 2017 Author Series with
An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley

Little Red Riding Hood and Mr. Wolf

Little Red Riding Hood and Mr. Wolf
A Trumped-up Tale By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

Once upon a time, a girl child who appeared older than her years in her eponymous red and hooded cloak sashayed into the autumn forest to bring cake and wine to her Crooked Granny. And it was the granny’s bad liberal judgment that had put Little Red Riding Hood on the road alone, with a basket of booze.

Skipping along the trail, Little Red noticed Mr. Wolf expounding his many virtues and heaping promise upon promise onto a gathering of lowly forest dwellers. Although she couldn’t put her finger on it, he had a certain je ne sais quoi. Maybe it was his commoditized tan, the classy platinum and diamond cufflinks, his audacious howl imparting words she’d...

Writers Read Presents Susan Carol McCarthy

Writers Read Presents Susan Carol McCarthy
Reading and discussing her Cold War-era novel A Place We Knew Well Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, December 13, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

Susan Carol McCarthy is the award-winning author of three works of literary fiction, Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands, True Fires, and A Place We Knew Well, plus the non-fiction Boomers 101: The Definitive Collection.

In A Place We Knew Well, McCarthy digs into the sociological affects of the Cuban Missile Crisis on Americans.

On October 19, 1962, The United States and the Soviet Union are at a stand-still and so is the Avery Family. The town of College Park, Florida is buzzing with gossip about the traffic at McCoy...

We went to the polls on November 8

We went to the polls on November 8
And then it was the day after By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Election Day

7 a.m.

I’m working the public library polling place in my little Republican-majority town, nestled amid the gray-green groves of North San Diego County. Our poll inspector, la jefa, stands in the doorway and declares to the waiting line, “Here ye, here ye, the polls are now open!”

I offer ballots in three languages to those who rush in, eager to vote and get to their jobs, to save the nation from the other party. Some voters bellyache that ballots are available in anything other than English. I try to quiet their amplified xenophobia by noting the beauty of Tagalog, its Spanish influence, by making mitigating quips they don’t care to hear. I also lead...

Trump Wins, Liberty Weeps

Trump Wins, Liberty Weeps
 

Trump wins, and Liberty weeps—for Mexicans, for women, for LGBTQ folks, for peace, for those who are differently abled, for people of color, for health, for people of other religions, for people living in poverty, for immigrants, for civility, for the republic, for liberty and equality and justice for all.

Veterans' Writing Group

Veterans' Writing Group
November 15, 2016, Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents   Veterans' Writing Group of San Diego County reading from Away for the Holidays Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, November 15, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

Please note special date, due to the General Election on the 8th.

The Veterans' Writing Group will be represented by six members, who will read from the group's new collection, Away For The Holidays.

Garry Garretson, USN, Vietnam

Bud Parson, USN, corpsman Vietnam

Ron Pickett, USN aviator, Vietnam, 26 years of service

Dante Puccetti, Army Artillery Surveyor, Vietnam  

Terry Severhill, USMC, Vietnam

Stacey Thompson, USMC, 1999

The reading will be followed by a panel discussion with the authors, and Away for the Holidays will be available for sale and signing.

For more information, contact...

Take that patronizing pat and stuff it

Take that patronizing pat and stuff it
While I yell from the rooftops: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

I annoyed a man at dinner recently. It’s happened before. I’m pretty good at it. But this time I didn’t do that female thing, that doubt-y obsequious internal questioning thing—Oh gosh, was I being mean? It's that thing we do because men’s egos are purportedly more fragile than ours, and it’s woman’s job to shore up man. Just sit there and engage in some clever repartee, not too flirty. Look pretty. Be nice. And for the great-white-heterosexual-male god’s sake, don’t challenge him!

Kind of like Donald Trump’s female entourage, although I certainly hope...

The Donald Trump Apology, Annotated by Donald Trump

The Donald Trump Apology, Annotated by Donald Trump
Because he does it better than anyone By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

My campaign advisors said I gotta apologize for my pussy comments in that leaked Access Hollywood video, and for trying to boink a married woman—loser turned me down, even after I took her shopping. So, yeah. I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not.

I was just showing Billy Bush what it means to be a man in America—and married pussy, safest there is. But it was years ago. Doesn’t matter what I said. Doesn’t matter if I said it yesterday. The people love me. I can get away with anything. But, yeah.

I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one...

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents Ruth Nolan

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents Ruth Nolan
Ruth Nolan, chronicler of the California desert, will read and discuss her writings, October 11, 2016 Ruby Mountain and No Place for a Puritan: the Literature of California's Deserts Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, October 11, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

 

Ruth Nolan writes about the California desert. Her poetry collection Ruby Mountain was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. Her short story, “Palimpsest,” published in LA Fiction: Southland Writing by Southland Writers (Red Hen Press, 2016), was selected as a finalist in the Sequestrum 2016 Editor’s Reprint contest, and her flash nonfiction essay collection, California Drive, won the Mojave River Press 2015 flash creative nonfiction contest. Ruth is also the editor of the critically-acclaimed anthology No Place for a Puritan:...

History Today? “The White Race and the Negroes”

History Today? “The White Race and the Negroes”
White supremacy isn't just for anti-government loonies By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

Political polling suggests the worst could come to pass in the November presidential election; another gunman goes on a mall rampage; refugees and rapes, police shootings and racism; horror dominates the news.

Lt. Gen. John Brown Gordon

Weenie that I am, I escape to my womb of an office to read old newspapers, mostly local weeklies. They’re filled with mid-nineteenth century sarcasm and benign gossip—who planted crops too soon or too late, who paid whom a visit the weekend last, whose chickens got loose, who had one too many pints at the tavern. Like much of today’s so-called newscasts, these papers offered more opinion than fact, but the distance of time renders them...

Did she deserve it?

Did she deserve it?
And when, if ever, is misogyny funny? By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

Disclaimer 1: I know it is not wise to watch videos posted on social media. More often than not, their contents suggest that weird folks create them to get their jollies from the number of viewers who choose to watch weird stuff.

Disclaimer 2: I don’t always act on my hard-earned wisdom.

So, a few days ago, I watched a video on Facebook, because I love the artist who posted it (Ladislao Loera) and because the female subject of the video’s comedy was a public figure I previously enjoyed critiquing.

I was swiftly sorry I clicked the play button. The video was rampant with overt misogyny and crudely objectifying jokes targeting the woman, who was...