Mist coming in on the way into Portland Maine last night for a reading with Adam Golaski at Longfellow books — I love Portland, and I love coming over that low, winding bridge with the whole Harbor in front of me. The crowd came for Color Plates (new to the world this week) and it was a pleasure to see Adam’s work getting the attention it’s earned. Before last night, all I knew about Longfellow Books was that they were located in Portland and that their PR guy had been wounded playing extreme frisbee, (ergo, they a little late in formally adding me to the online bill). What I further and pleasurably learned last night is that if Longfellow Books aren’t the good guys, then I haven’t got a clue who is. Chris Bowe, the store’s owner, couldn’t have been warmer in his welcome: he’d read both of or books and provided us with real nice introductions and generous exhortations to read certain passages, he gave us great baked goods (baked, reportedly, but one of the world’s foremost experts in clowns and clown culture). After the audience had gone, Adam and I poked around the bookstore and Chris browsed his own store along with us, talking about this and that book, then flat out gifting us with a couple of his favorites. In the course of about an hour’s total conversation, both Adam and I came away with the serious impression that Longfellow cares concretely about books and their writers and that their money and their mouth exist at the same exact coordinate points. Please pay them a visit when you’re in Portland and treat yourself to a book — these guys are wonderful.
There was a heavy fog in the downtown that night and it made all the shoplights and the headlights dreamy. So we walked in the mist, talking about our lives lately and about mid-Genesis’ “Mama” and we talked-up old books (Adam’s into The Mahabharata lately and I’ve been reading Ciaran Carson’s wiseass translation of The Inferno). Every teenage kid in Maine must have been drinking in the Old Port, and when the bars let out at one there was a strikebreak-sized line of cops waiting for them at the end of Wharf Street; they would have seemed ominous if the light hadn’t made them seem unreal. Toughs aside, I like Portland: the old folks come out to artsy readings and young punks turn out for the John Haberle (not pictured). I like how cranky everyone is and I like the smell of the ocean everywhere, of course.