First Year’s Snow

To say that I was a gleeful and spellbound little monkey this morning upon seeing the first year’s snow in New York City would be an understatement. My first impulse upon catching a glance of familiar landscape transmuted overnight into a wintry wonderland was to race outside and jump up and down and feel the steady crunch and glorious slippage of sneakers hitting as yet unsalted sidewalks. I improvised a bipedal method of sledding down a Central Park slope and cheered on kids who had the foresight to haul out sledding equipment for use upon this beautiful white stretching scape. The snow made strangers in the distance more pronounced and the white expanse was a natural bounce card to highlight the glorious brick and urban beauty. In short, I was happily six years old, if only because I was making up for three decades of mostly snowless California weather. Yes, later in the afternoon, there was the slush and the pungent marshmallow smell of decay that penetrated even my clogged nostrils. But this was snow! Magnificent snow! As wondrous a meterological ingredient as San Francisco’s fog!

For East Coasters, this is no doubt all old hat. I am indeed a wild-eyed rube when it comes to this sort of weather. But the New York population had been bifurcated into those who embraced the snow with great ardor and those who wished to hole themselves up until the snow had passed. I wondered about these shadowy figures bunkered in apartments. When did snow lose its appeal for them? When did the first drop of winter become something to be dreaded? Yes, it’s all new to this California native. But surely even new joys can be discovered within the familiar.

I am also saddened to report that A Public Space was beaten by the New York Review of Books this afternoon in a game of literary trivia. A cadre of litbloggers — including the effusive and good-natured proprietor of Wet Asphalt, who I was fortunate to meet today for the first time — was assembled to cheer on APS, but ended up heckling and applauding both teams, while also conspiring together to determine the answers. I am happy to report that Tim Brown adeptly got in touch with his inner Alex Trebek, providing very funny and very deadpan emcee work. Apparently, we were so unintentionally vociferous that not only did the three A Public Space members run away from us when it was all over, but the trio suggested that we come up there to replace them (“Sure!” we replied). At one point, I even observed Brigid Hughes, sitting a row in front of us, covering her head with her hands.

Further, I was shocked to see APS not taking the opportunity to plug its recent subscription offer. I was so distressed by this that, at one point, I loudly mumbled, “*cough* Helvetica **cough**,” and thankfully the balance was rectified. (And if you think that’s bad, the NYRoB team couldn’t even get its URL right.)

I came away with respect for both teams, who played well under pressure and displayed a hearty sense of humor.

Nevertheless, the NYRoB‘s victory did not stop us from laying down the gauntlet. We approached the NYRoB trio, boldly declaring that the Litblogging Army would challenge them anytime, anywhere for any contest of wills. Let it be literary trivia or let it be Twister or mini golfing or bowling. I handed Edwin Frank my card, figuring that our common first name might prove beneficial in arranging a future matchup. Whether Mr. Frank will take it upon himself to deploy his able team against ours, I cannot say.

I’ll have more to report on the 2007 Indie & Small Press Book Fair quite soon, including a lengthy report on the Ian MacKaye presentation. For now, I have a few modest deadlines to beat.

[UPDATE: Eric has a report, including some pictures of Brown and the litbloggers in action.]

To My East Coast Pals

I’m not the only Californian who has experienced a certain level of discomfort when speaking to folks on the East Coast. The problem, of course, is that we’re having spectacular weather out here in February (even here in San Francisco) while you East Coasters are stuck in a terrible blizzard.

Yes, this is unfair. But please know that I am not to blame for this. I empathize completely, even though I’ve never been stuck in a blizzard in my life. But in the past two days, there have been many phone calls and email volleys from folks expressing understandable resentment

I’m not responsible! There were no snow dances on this end, I assure you! There were no secret government projects bankrolled by this scheming millionaire. I didn’t do it! Look, I can’t help it if the weather is making me feel happier and more relaxed. Can you blame me? We had three months of almost continuous rain here. The time has come to leap with joy and to run in the park! You’ll have this moment too, I’m sure. You know, it’s just possible that the tables will turn in a month and California might be hit with another terrible El NiƱo storm while you East Coasters will get fair weather again. And that’s when you East Coasters get to laugh. Because as anyone who has met a Californian knows, we’re wusses when it comes to the weather.

Please wait it out and let your enmity for West Coasters settle. Justice will be served in a trice — the minute it dips below 45 degrees again and we whimper like cowards and turn our central heating units up as if the digits on a Kelvin thermometer suddenly shifted to Celsius. And then both sides know who the real heroes are.