On Monday, February 1st, I read from and signed copies of my book, “Forbidden City: the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs,” to the best audience I have ever had. The group is called Odd Mondays because they meet on (duh) odd Mondays, at the Noe Valley Ministry, on Sanchez street in San Francisco’s (duh again) adorable Noe Valley. I know the Noe Valley Ministry because they feature great entertainment, and I have gone there to see the likes of Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Cyril Pahinui, and the Holy Modal Rounders– so now you know the kind of music I like.
But back to Odd Mondays: what a nice bunch of people! Everybody’s friendly and smart, which is what you’d expect from a neighborhood like Noe Valley, and — of utmost import to writers — they actually are interested in and like books! Some of the group meet before the authors’ talks at a local pizza place, Haystack Pizza, and I guarantee, even if you’ve never been there before, you’ll find the Odd Mondays group at the restaurant and instantly feel welcome.
Odd Mondays is led by Ramon Sender, a venerable old Hippie and proud of it, and his wife Judith, whom I met one day on the 24 Divisadero bus and struck up a conversation with — and my Monday reading was the result. Reasons to ride public transportation: alone in your car, you can’t get into interesting conversations with total strangers.
Next up: this Thursday, at 6 p.m., at the Old Mint on 4th and Mission Streets, the gala opening of “Swinging Chinatown,” the exhibit of the San Francisco Historical Society celebrating my book. Come for the gala opening and see dancing by the glorious Grant Avenue Follies, lovely ladies who danced in the clubs in the late 1950s through the 1960s and who never stopped dancing. They have great legs, wear fabulous costumes and prove that you’re never too old to rock them in the aisles. Crooner Jimmy Borges, who sang at the Forbidden City, and singer Ellie Chui, who sang and danced at the Kubla Khan in the 1940s, are flying in from Hawaii to sing. Costumes worn by Ellen Chin, Dorothy Toy and Paul Wing, and by Coby Yee will be on exhibit along with Dorothy Toy’s toe shoes, Tony Wing’s white tap shoes, and Ellen Chin’s gold dancing shoes!
Oh yeah, I’ll be there too, selling and signing copies of my book. The opening gala is a fund-raiser for the San Francisco Historical Society so that they can turn the Old Mint into the museum it’s supposed to be, and so the price of admission is a bit steep (for an admirable cause!), but never fear! The exhibit will be open for two weeks at the price of a mere $10. For more information, visit http://www.sfhistory.org.