Friday, March 19, 2010
Left Coast Crime in Los Angeles
March 11-14 marked another LCC, and since it nearly coincided with the official release date of my second book (order THE TOYMAN RIDES AGAIN on Amazon), I decided to go. I also thought it would be a good chance to see some old and new friends who live down there.
The Good: I enjoyed the convention for the most part. I attended quite a few panels and they were mostly interesting. The one on Chandler's LA contained a few misstatements of fact, but nothing too glaring. I was able to correct one during the Q&A. The book bags were nice, with zippered tops, and the books inside were okay. I kept about half. The staff was friendly and tried to be helpful--not that I needed any help, but I felt they were there if I did. The hotel was very good, with most of the amenities. I'm still not sure why people need a phone next to the toilet, but for them that do, it was there. It was generous of Michael Connelly to provide a free bag lunch on Saturday, but the food was forgettable except for the cookie. But it was free. I saw half a dozen people there I knew from either Dapa-Em or MDM, and a few writers of my acquaintance. Had a nice chat with Parnell Hall, name dropper that I am. I also saw some LA landmarks while being driven around: The Coliseum, USC, train station, Parker Center, LA Times, and the Bradbury Building. I went inside the Bradbury building, which was two streets down from the hotel (Omni Int'l), but couldn't go upstairs because it was closed. Still, I had a good look at the famous grill work, brass, and architecture. From the outside it isn't as eye-catching, and the lower floors house a Sub-Way sandwich shop, a cutlery store, and a cell phone store. The rest of the street is all Mexican shops. Walking along, I felt like I was in Ensenada. On Saturday evening I met my old pal Jan Strand and his wife Julie for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Good food, good conversation, and I learned that one can have margaritas on the rocks. I can't abide crushed ice in my beverages and this was a wonderful revelation. The next day, after I'd left the hotel for a Holiday Inn, Jan and Julie took me to the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage. It took a while to drive the last half mile because the approach is the same road as the LA Zoo, but we had a swell time seeing all the cowboy/Old West exhibits and the Hollywood versions of the Old West. I mean, when you can see John Wayne's shirt, Clint Eastwood's hat, and George Armstrong Custer's pistol in the same building, something's going right.
The Bad: The hospitality suite was a joke. Little or no food and not much of a variety in beverages. All I saw to eat were some apples and a couple of bags of chips. And the room was tiny. The name badges didn't identify the status of the attendee. Writer, Editor, Agent, Fan, Bookseller, etc. Maybe this isn't done anymore, but it should be. Worst of all, some s.o.b. stole my denim jacket from my suitcase at LAX on the return flight. I paid $25 to have that bag sent, and this is how they treat it. Maybe even worse is the fact that I'd planned to spend the week after the con with my cousin when a job opportunity popped up for him. We managed to visit for one day. Now, I learn that the job was canceled. I haven't been in LA for 25 years and the one week I'm there this happens. I could just scream.
The Ugly: Photos of me. Notice that earlier I said there were some people I knew in attendance? That translated to one book sale. Since I wasn't on any panels, I didn't expect a stranger to buy one (at a generous discount), but this...
The next Left Coast Crime convention will be on the tropical seaport city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Do be there.