After our sojourn in Napa Valley last weekend, Yeong went to work in Hayward on Monday and I drove up to visit the gleaming Locus HQ office tower on Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland, where I –
Well, no. The Secret of Ridgewood Lane is that there is no Locus office tower, gleaming or otherwise; Locus Magazine is run out of the home of its publisher Charles N. Brown. And it’s not really a secret; any number of distinguished guests, casual visitors, and staffmembers have been to the house over the years, as CNB likes to relate in his magazine editorials.
Despite which, it’s remarkable how frequently we hear of people who do seem to think that Locus is run by a large staff out of some office building. (A little of that is reflected my way; I occasionally get emails directed to the ‘reviews department’ or the ‘advertising department’. The website operation is even smaller than the magazine’s; it’s just me here.)
The real Locus HQ is Charles’ house on Ridgewood Lane, nestled in the hills of Oakland, east of San Francisco Bay, up windy twisty roads that afford spectacular views (especially as one is leaving). The living room is crammed with SF art works and museum facsimiles from Charles’ world travels. The main floor has a master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms, the latter converted to offices. When I stopped by Monday afternoon I dropped in on Tim Pratt and Kirsten Gong-Wong busy on side-by-side PCs in one of the rooms, while Amelia Beamer color-corrected photos on a computer in the second room. Carolyn Cushman appeared briefly from the downstairs basement, home of the Locus library (and winecellar, and spare bedroom, with its ‘Psycho’ Murphy bed), where she spends her days cataloging new books.
Charles had Amelia fetch a bottle of wine and we sat chatting for a couple hours, mostly about the dismal fate of publishing and of Locus in general. (Only slightly kidding.) Later I drove down the hill and down the bay to fetch Yeong as he finished work for the day in Hayward, then we returned to Oakland to meet Charles and Amelia for an excellent dinner at Garibaldi’s.
The next day was graduation at UC Berkeley for Yeong’s elder son from the School of Economics, held outdoors in the campus Greek Theater. It was sunny and almost but not quite too warm, though warm enough to require headgear during the two-hour event. The usual speeches and special awards were followed by the parade across the stage of the 400 or so students receiving mock diplomas as their names were read. I suppose it’s not surprising that easily two thirds of the students were Asian. Then followed a reception on the esplanade by the familiar Berkeley Campanile, and a quick look into the campus bookstore, before I had to head to the airport for my flight home.
It was the first university graduation I think I’ve ever attended, after my own. They all look so young, of course, but also so very smart.