I Left My Heart in the East Bay Area

Quote of the Day: “Just don’t ever change / cause I’m so into you…” — Tony! Toni! Tone!, “Feels Good”

So I just got back to NYC, after the HUNG tour took me on a dope trip west to the East bay area of Cali. And I gotta say, as much as I didn’t expect to…I was crazy into it. My boy is telling me I liked it cause it was an adventure, one of those little life treasures you encounter along the way. I don’t think so. Me, Scott P-B, the NYCer who loved NYC, the kat from the burbs who couldn’t wait to be stomping the streets of The City (as you call Manhattan when you’re a kat from the burbs), the kat who lives for Miami like a good Cuban sandwich with a side of good Cubano coffee, the kat who hates LA (but deals with it cause that’s where the work and some good friends are), fell in love with Oakland and Berkeley. Yeh, maybe it’s because my girl Ajuan is there teaching at Mills. Or because my girl Pam is there, doing her film thing. Or because my boy Adam M. is there with his beautiful girlfriend Victoria, both of them writing and chilling in the hills. Or because my old pal Ben is there, with his incredibly adorable little girl, being daddy and looking happier than anybody I’ve seen in NYC lately. Or maybe it’s cause Mark Brilliant is still the great guy he was back at Brown, doing his civil rights thing at UC Berkeley. Or maybe it’s cause I went to Luka’s and had a good burger and Radio where the DJ spun old Motown 45s–everything from “My Mistake” by Marvin & Diana to Rebirth Brass Band to (one of the best records of ALL TIME) Stevie’s “That Girl”–while we got our drags on. Or maybe it’s because all the peeps in thebookstores were nice and chill. Or maybe it’s because at the party I went to at Savannah’s, the mix of the crowd felt organic and real. Or maybe because, like Tecquin told me, even the str8 boys in the bay got a little queer in them, that chill kinda laid-back, do-yo-shit energy (at least the ones I met). Or maybe it’s because I got to chill with Daniel Alarcon, my new favorite writer and my new BFF, talking soccer and females and literature and naughty Peruvian words for, among other things, fag. (Long story, and no reflection on Mr. Alarcon…I just like to know perjorative words in other languages—just a little perversion of mine–you never know who you might haveta curse out…)

Didn’t make it into that version of The City (San Francisco)—and that’s OK. I had some good times in the East Bay. I felt relaxed there, more than I have in a hella long time. Didn’t even feel like I was on a book tour while I was there. Maybe because the Claremont Hotel felt like the way I need ta be living? Maybe because Telegraph Ave made me feel like I was back in Providence, chilling like a college boy again? Maybe because KPFA treated me so cool? Maybe because I got to exchange some words with DawnElissa Fischer at Cody’s, like old-scholl hiphop ciphering?

Anyway…I’ll be back, to quote the state gov who got all his shit shot down in the election while I was out there. Oh yeh, if you’re ever in the area, go to Marcus Books, where the sweetest peeps treat writers like stars, where you can talk books and life and feel like you’re home. Give Blanche a hug and say what up, that SPB sent you…Oh yeh, this too: If you stop by a restaurant named Pearl and this beautiful little brown sista steps to you with a hot mix of NYC homegirl, South Beach sophisticate and Bay Area princess-in-chill mode, that’s my babygurl Ipe. She’ll take care of you lovely. Cause she’s dope like that…


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