I met Frances over 20 years ago in London when we were working on our Masters degrees in Asian art at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studied (SOAS). Her main field of interest was Chinese art and mine was Japanese, so we didn’t take many classes together – only a course in Chinese ceramics, which was highlight of my Masters program. We didn’t know each other terribly well, but I believe we respected each other’s knowledge and work ethic. After I graduated I ended up moving West to California, and Frances moved East to Hong Kong, working as an editor for an illustrious Asian art magazine, an impressive position in a profession with sadly few employment opportunities.
Today I sent a slightly silly gift to my super-smart and super-talented writer-editor-artist-curator friend Patricia up in Oakland. I met her about five years ago when she was working at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. I was proposing to curate an exhibition there, and we instantly hit it off. She was bright, creative and very funny, and I was sure we’d be great friends and enjoy working together, but alas, she left the museum and went on to other projects, which ultimately led her away from Los Angeles and back up to Northern California, from whence she came. Before she disappeared, though, I did manage to write an article featuring her beautiful woodblock prints (http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/gr2-gallery-chinese-year-of-the-snake.html), art works that reveal her artistry and her finely tuned sense of asobi, the Japanese word for play or playfulness. Today, I was poking around on Facebook and noticed a comment of hers saying how much she loved the Muppets and had enjoyed a Muppet movie with her brother recently. My son Theo had won a Muppets Most Wanted movie watch at a school event last year that was way too big for his tiny wrist, so I had relegated it to my Giveaway corner as a potential gift. Not wanting to surprise Patricia with such an unusual gift, I messaged her with the idea. Her response was both positive and playful. It was also very generous in spirit. She told me she was happy to be part of my Giveaway circle, as she has been following my blog for weeks now.
The fact that she is reading my work is flattering to me, since Patricia is a very accomplished writer (http://wasabipress.blogspot.com) and editor. But it’s particularly flattering this week, as she is celebrating the launch of a new book that she has spent the last couple of years editing for Heyday Books, the Northern California-based publishing company she has worked for on and off for the last 17 years. The book, LAtitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas, is getting some serious attention here in Los Angeles, and was featured in the Los Angeles Times just yesterday (http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-latitudes-20150510-story.html). The other morning, I actually pulled over for a few minutes before an appointment to hear Patricia talking eloquently on a local NPR station about the book. The Atlas is a really edgy cultural portrait of the city comprising a diverse range of essays by 20 writers and cleverly created “maps” that illustrate some of cultural phenomena that the writers propose makes this city so unique and fascinating. I haven’t seen a copy of the book yet, but Patricia showed me some proofs last time I met up with her, and it looks intriguing. I couldn’t be more thrilled that she’s having such a dazzling moment in the LA sun. When she’s next in town, I hope she brings plenty of sunscreen and carves out some time for us to continue talking about prints and publishers, maps and muppets.