Excited to attend the London Literature Festival next week

London is like an old friend. This weekend, I’m grabbing a Virgin Atlantic flight from SFO to Heathrow to attend the London Literature Festival — now in its 12th year — and visit some of my favorite places.

“This year we invite you on a journey across centuries and borders to celebrate the power of literature to reflect on the world in which we live,” according to the Festival guide. “Our journey takes in everything from a celebration of Homer’s Odyssey to an examination of contemporary America in the lead-up to the midterm elections.”

On Tuesday night, I secured tickets to hear author Salman Rushdie speak in a program titled “From Midnight’s Children to Trump’s America.” Rushdie’s latest novel is The Golden House, “a satirical and incisive anatomy of contemporary American politics.”

Rushdie’s publication of Satanic Verses in September 1988 caused immediate controversy in the Islamic world because some saw it as irreverent. A year later, a fatwā ordering Rushdie’s execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini.

I’m also booked tickets to see  Agatha Christie’s”Mousetrap” in the West End Theater District, along with Hollywood film composer and conductor Bryan Tyler directing the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

I look forward to reading London’s broadsheet newspapers, a walk in St. James Park, a ride on the London Eye, Indian food at Gymkhana, Dover sole at Wilton’s (see video) and breakfast at The Wolseley — all favorite spots. My wife and son will hold down the fort at home until I return next weekend. I’ll file a report or two while on the road.

(Photo: VisitLondon.com)

“Typewriter Revolution” at Auburn’s State Theater on October 27

“What’s old is new again.” “What goes around, comes around.” Both well-worn adages will be proven true once again when “The Typewriter Revolution,” a celebration of vintage machines, rolls into Auburn’s State Theater on October 27.

This five-hour event will kick off with an exhibition of more than 50 manual and electric typewriters at 4 p.m., followed by an on-stage interview at 6 p.m. with Richard Polt, author of “The Typewriter Revolution,” moderated by KCRA’s Edie Lambert and organizer, Gary Moffat of Auburn. The evening will conclude with the 7 p.m. screening of the documentary film, “California Typewriter,” featuring Tom Hanks, David McCullough, Sam Shepard and John Mayer.

The 340-seat State Theater, carefully restored to its 1937 condition—including a period-correct neon marquee—is located at 985 Lincoln Way in Auburn. Tickets for the event are $25 (including theater fee) and are available online at www.livefromauburn.com (scroll down to event).

“Like fax machines, rotary phones, pagers and adding machines, manual typewriters have long been consigned to the trash heap of analog devices that have become obsolete in a digital world,” said Gary Moffat. “Remarkably, however, there is a quiet, global phenomenon of writers and enthusiasts who have rediscovered the sheer pleasure and security of incorporating mechanical typewriters into their work and lives.”

There are many reasons for this resurgence of interest in old-school, vintage machines: many people who are simply overwhelmed with digital intrusions in their lives have come to embrace disconnecting from the Internet. Writers are especially keen to free themselves from the constant distraction of email alerts and news breaks.

And then there is the issue of security—typewriter users have no concerns about hacking or losing their data because everything is on paper—which offers the added benefit of having a record of successive drafts and the evolution of a piece. And, retro typewriters don’t rely on electricity.​

The exhibition, curated by Ole Kehlet, owner of the last typewriter shop in Sacramento, will feature machines manufactured in the late 19 th century through the early 1970s, and it will include U.S. brands such as Royal, Smith Corona and Underwood, as well as international makes: Hermes from Switzerland; Olivetti from Italy; Adler, Triumph and Tornado from Germany; and many more.

There will also be three IBM electric machines on display: a 1933 model, the first year of production; a 1971 IBM Selectric, the first model year of production; and a 1985 IBM Selectric, commemorating 50 years of production and originally only available to IBM employees.

“At its summit, there were hundreds of typewriter manufacturers around the world, and collectors are not only intrigued by the incredible array of styles but also by the evolution of the mechanics, enhanced portability and longevity,” Moffat said. “I have a 1914 Underwood No. 5 in pristine condition that operates flawlessly.”

At 6 p.m., Lambert and Moffat will moderate a discussion with Richard Polt, a true Renaissance man. In addition to writing “The Typewriter Revolution,” he is recognized as a leading authority on vintage typewriters; he owns a typewriter repair business in Cincinnati; he edits a quarterly enthusiast magazine, ETCetera; he is chair of the philosophy department of Xavier University in Cincinnati; and he has a leading role in the “California Typewriter” documentary.

“We’ll discuss the unusual ways people are using typewriters that Richard presents in his book,” Moffat said. “And he’ll explain the thinking behind his concept of “The Typewriter Insurgency, Manifesto for a Movement,” his notion that “We choose the real over the representation, the physical over the digital, the durable over the unsustainable, the self-sufficient over the efficient.” That’s radical thinking in the digital era!

“California Typewriter,” screening immediately following the Polt interview, is a documentary portrait of artists, writers, musicians and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as a tool and muse.

It also tells the story of the struggles of Berkeley-based California Typewriter, one of the last remaining shops in the Bay Area, and it introduces oddities connected to machines. . .an all-typewriter band, an artist who creates beautiful sculptures ​ from salvaged typewriter parts and a poet who composes in public on a vintage machine. View a trailer of the film at www.californiatypewritermovie.com.

There will be plenty of hands-on opportunities for participants before 6 p.m.:
•A “type-in” where guests are welcome to use selected machines.
•Guests will be invited to take the Underwood typing test, and the winner will receive a refurbished vintage typewriter.
•Guests will be invited to submit a “10-Word Story,” to be typed on a sheet of paper and displayed during the event. The winner will receive a refurbished typewriter and the top three entries will be published online, edited by Kae Sable, as well as in print in her Folsom-based literary journal.
•A “staff poet” will compose short poems—typed on a manual—from ideas suggested by participants.
•A limited number of typewriters will be available for sale.

All proceeds for the evening will be donated to the renovation of Herschel Young Park in Old Town Auburn. For more information and updates, go to www.facebook.com/typewriterevent.

A promotional video is here:

—Gary Moffat

(Photo credits: “California Typewriter”)

National Geographic features local organic farmer Amigo Bob and his Gold Rush-era orchard

Adam, Jennifer and Amigo Bob (Photo credit: Joy Porter for National Geographic)

From the blog of SierraFoodWineArt magazine:

“Amigo Bob Cantisano, managing partner of the Heaven and Earth Farm on the San Juan Ridge, is one of the most influential figures in California organic agriculture,” as we wrote in the spring 2016 issue of our magazine. We discussed Amigo Bob’s role in working with Smith Vineyards to tend their 10-acre certified organic vineyard near Grass Valley. Our new issue, which begins circulating this weekend, discusses our area’s local heirloom fruit and “Evolution of Organic,” a popular documentary featuring Amigo Bob and other locals.

This week, National Geographic chose Amigo Bob, his agricultural-focused institute, and the Gold Rush-era heirloom fruit orchard that he co-founded in North San Juan for a major feature story for 2018 World Food Day. It is another sign of the national attention that our area is receiving for our “food, wine and art” economy — in this case “what a Gold Rush-era orchard could mean for the future of food.” The long article, which includes stunning photographs, is HERE.

The Felix Gillet Institute was founded in 2003 by Amigo Bob Cantisano to identify, preserve and propagate the best of the varieties still thriving in the mining camps, farms, homesteads and towns of the Sierra, and elsewhere. The staff consists of Castisano, his wife Jenifer Blis and Adam Nuber. Starting in 1866, Felix Gillet of Nevada City imported, bred and introduced most of the plants that comprise the foundation of California and Pacific Northwest perennial fruit, grapes and nuts, as the institute’s website explains.

The National Geographic article notes that “scientists are beginning to study whether rare heirloom plants, revived for their flavor, might be suited to endure a warmer world.” It continues: “On a Nevada County homestead nearly 50 years ago, Cantisano stumbled across a forgotten orchard harboring 100 heirloom trees, which had survived apparently untended for over a century. He’s now their volunteer custodian and also runs Heaven and Earth, an 11-acre organic farm in North San Juan.

“Now heirlooms are beginning to be in demand again—not just at farmers markets, which is where most of us encounter heirloom crops, but in the industries that once disdained them. Plant breeders—and livestock breeders, since livestock underwent a similar hybridization from diverse breeds—are reconsidering their value.”

“‘We know these trees are growing in an environment that may be more like the environment we’ll have in the future: hotter, drier,” says Charles Brummer, director of the Plant Breeding Center at University of California, Davis, where scientists are beginning to study Cantisano’s orchard. “These trees have withstood a lot.”


Editorial: Feinstein holds court in U.S. Senate debate

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein solidified her case for a fifth re-election with a steady, studied presentation in her sole debate with her fellow Democrat, Kevin de León,” The Chronicle Editorial Board is reporting.

“Few major policy differences emerged in the hour-long session at the Public Policy Institute of California in its San Francisco headquarters. The distinctions were more a matter of degree, with veteran state legislator de León positioning himself as more assertively left of Feinstein on issues such as health care, immigration and climate change. He suggested he would be a more forceful advocate for California values and vowed to “move forward with impeachment” of President Trump.

“The conversation, moderated by institute President and CEO Mark Baldassare, covered a wide variety of issues. It was civil, substantive and serious, by the format’s design and Baldassare’s deft direction. The downside was that it sometimes did not allow candidates to directly counter one another. An example was when de León made a reference to ‘our senior senator’s’ vote to invade Iraq — and she was not asked to defend her decision.

“As challenger, de León had the burden of showing he would be a significantly different or more effective senator than an incumbent who was elected in 1992 and serves as the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee — and he fell short on each point.”

The rest of the article is here.

George Boardman worked at the San Mateo Times: Big whoop

Greg Knightbrook, Special Correspondent

Regular readers of George Boardman’s column in The Union newspaper know that his tagline is “correction,” alongside his email address (an ancient-sounding AOL account, no less).  A Google search is here.

George has claimed to work in Bay Area journalism, but his claim to fame was never The Chronicle or even The San Jose Mercury News. It was The San Mateo Times, now defunct. I worked at The Chronicle for 12 years, and his name never came up.

George’s claim to fame also was as a “business writer.” I’m not sure how that translated into stock market acumen, however. The details are here. ROFLOL.

The good news is that George can find a home in his Golden Years with a weekly column in The Union newspaper in the Sierra Foothills.

You go George! And while you’re at it, “get off my lawn.” Ha!