John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And we're off again

The A MOMENT IN THE SUN tour over, we were home for a week-or about 10 minutes. I had a swell weekend with the ladies on Fisher's Island
We had such a good time and toasted all you absent friends-often.
Then a quick trip up to Williamstown to check on Ma and Pa Renzi. All fine, and then to Hoboken to say goodbye to Maritina Romulo and then off to LA.
Where we saw friends, I returned to Natura Spa, and the only photos I took were of Emily Laskin's roses.

How many times and how many different ways over the past 3 years have we flown to the Philippines?
This time we flew from LAX to Inchon via Asiana Air. I recommend the Korean menu.
Tammy the amazing President of Origin8 came to the airport to get us with Dayno her heroic husband. What's the secret to independent distribution? Tireless work.
Sunday is the best day in Manila because the streets are almost empty. Late sleep at our home away from home, Stone House Quezon City, and my favorite breakfast of arroz caldo (garlicky rice porridge-try it before you knock it) and then a taxi in the pouring rain to Nuat Thai. I try the Aromatherapy package. It starts with an excellent foot massage and then a full body massage. With oil, which is not my favorite. I like a little more traction. Still, the hot compresses feel good and I know massage is the best way to beat travel weariness. Shabu-shabu (hotpot) for lunch helps too.

IT'S JOEL TORRE'S 50TH BIRTHDAY. (Jose Rizal's 150th, but we're not invited).
 Here is the birthday boy with his loving and patient wife Cristy looking on.
 AMIGO cast and crew were well represented. Fun to see Tita Cecille Baun our makeup/sfx/hair, and Pete Lacaba who translated John's script to Tagalog.
Here are the newlyweds Cheska and Bobby. We are looking forward to hosting their wedding in Clinton Corners. October?
Joel with Renaissance man Dwight (Props for AMIGO). So many friends and I failed to get pictures of many of them:Margie Templo (engaged to James Parks!), Kokoy Jimenez almost unrecognizable with a new haircut, Spanky and Raul Manikan, Pen Medina partying, Tita Ermie looking as good as ever...
see you at the premiere June 28, Trinoma 6pm. Exhibit of Gino's costumes just before.
It's great to be back in Manila.

Thanks for the opportunity

One photo, many thanks.

Here are the players.
Anthony Arnove, social activist and John’s tireless literary agent. For two years he carted A MOMENT IN THE SUN- in two gym bags, John says- from publisher to publisher to publisher until finally he landed the big book at McSweeney’s.
Dave Eggers, author and editor, founder of McSweeney’s. He was the one who chose  MOMENT and liked it just the way it was.
Jordan Bass is the editor who made the book better, with John’s cooperation, which surprised all who know him. Jordan helped restructure the big book and even asked John to write a few new chapters to help the reader get oriented.
Juliet Litman was the publicist for the book and the book tour. Planning the tour with her was only fun.
Alan Horkey designed the cover of the book, whose beauty was remarked upon wherever we went. I liked it when the bookstores remembered to pile them up by the podium where they shined in the light. You can see where the design comes from by going to
Russell Quinn designed the website and continued to fill it up, and fulfill all the promised made to John, especially to include the photos he used in his research. If you are reading the book, be sure to used the website as a companion guide. You can find it at
I can’t find the name of the printer of the book, though I know it is an American company. They kindly made a special edition which Jordan gave to John. Here it is with abundant thanks to you all from John and me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last Stop, Schenectady

It's fitting that we end the A MOMENT IN THE SUN tour in John Sayles' home town.
After so many days and nights away, we were happy to spend the night of June 6 at home in our own bed. It was an easy and beautiful drive from Dutchess Co. to Schenectady.

We crossed the mighty Hudson, our own river.
And the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
We have spent so much time in the open landscape of this big country that the city comes as a bit of a shock.

Schenectady's downtown has seen great improvements over the last several years, thanks to John's brother Doug Sayles, among many others.
New businesses are coming into this city once known as "the city that lights and hauls the world", from its heyday as the home of General Electric and American Locomotive. Now it's also the home to Sweet Temptations.

Here is the staff with Joe DiPascuale. We were among their customers on opening day.Joe and John had an appointment next door at Proctor's to talk about "Christ in Concrete". They met online!
Here we are with our Schenectady posse, from left my cousin Tony Hynes with his friend Shannon, Doug Sayles next to John, and Doug's partner Susan Dupras.
The sponsoring bookstore in Schenectady is Open Door Books. I know the proprietors were honored to be included in the list of distinguished independent bookstores already known to McSweeney's. We have Doug Sayles to thank for arranging Open Door's participation and for including the Schenectady Light Opera as the venue. Singers and dancers from the John Sayles School of Fine Arts entertained the audience of nearly 100 people. No air conditioning! John Sayles soldiered on and read "Yellow Kid", the chapter about the newsboys.
Lots of friends and family including John's father Don Sayles and Uncle Everett and cousin Christine.

This was not a great night for your Blog Photographer. Here is John with Mont Pleasant High School friend Al Aldi. And I hope William will forgive me for this terrible picture.
I was so impressed to meet a kid who had written a paper comparing Eliot Asinof's book EIGHT MENT OUT with the Johns Sayles movie of the same name, that I must have jinxed the photo. Eliot would be so proud.
Last stop on the tour, we have to celebrate with a drink at Aperitivo. With those you have met before,
Mark Young and Lori Selden, owners of Mexican Radio in Hudson and NYC. It's a friendly finish to a wonderful trip, and then we drive HOME.
Thanks for following the trip. We had the time of our lives.

View John Sayles Moment Book Tour in a larger map

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We Can Smell the Barn

We wake up by the river in Pittsburgh.
Neville Island where our Fairmont Hotel is located is industrial and less attractive than you might imagine from this photo. Very nice Maura at the desk helps me with an internet problem and after yesterday's sunset tour, we have nothing but good to say about Pittsburgh.
Leaving Pittsburgh takes awhile, across bridges
 and more bridges
 and more bridges
till you reach farmland all across Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the first superhighway in the US, if I remember the plaque correctly.
Wind power here too.

 We have had such a good time on this trip. So many days together, our time our own. We are both a little sorry it's ending.

All of a sudden, we can see the skyline of Newark and New York City.

 And then we're back in Hoboken.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

John Sayles Runs Across the U.S.A

While I was in some hotel room wrestling with the internet, John was running. Here are his reflections on running across the country:

The only way to drive across the country and back without your body falling into complete atrophy is regular exercise.  On the Moment in the Sun tour this mostly meant running 3 miles 1st thing in the morning every  other day-  from wherever we had landed the preceding evening.  My favorites include-

 Hoboken, NJ-  once before leaving and once on the last day of the tour, from our 13th St. office to the train station at the other end of town, along the mighty Hudson river with the Manhattan skyline as backdrop.  All hard surfaces, so you try not to pound, but the river has really been reclaimed since we moved here 30-some years ago.

Washington, D.C.-  we stayed with friends in Takoma Park, so I got to run along the Sligo Creeek Parkway-  trees, water, and lots of springy wooden footbridges to cross.

 Nashville, Tenn.- Vanderbilt U. had just had commencement services and I got to run through the enormous, tree-shaded campus while the tents were still up but the people all gone.  Got a bit lost it was so big.

 Oxford, Miss.- U. Miss. had also just graduated a horde.  Got to run from our B&B-like hotel (constant chocolate chip cookies appearing in lobby) near William Faulkner’s house to the campus and back.  Again, great old southern trees with their roots muscling the sidewalks out of shape.

 Lake Arthur, La.-  near where we shot Passion Fish.  Cypress, Spanish moss, then big flat rice fields that are also home to future po-boy dwelling crawfish.  Seriously humid even at 7am.

 El Paso, Texas- ran into the old downtown which is featured in a chapter of A Moment in the Sun.  Ran around ‘Alligator’ (San Jacinto) Plaza, the alligators only statues now.  Nobody else moving on the streets on a Sunday morning.

 Playa Vista, Cal.-  this is that bit off to the east of Lincoln Blvd. just before you climb the hill to the Los Angeles Int’l Airtport.  New community, feels very Truman Show still.  Ran across the big road to a point where you could see the ocean.  Also played basketball at the very nice park right by Lincoln- surprising number of people out doing jock things so early.

 Yreka, Cal.-  central California, well north of the Bay area.  Spectacular late-day run in high mountain meadows, yellow stuff and purple stuff (botany gets a very short shrift in my books) growing all over the place.

 Boise, Idaho-  another late-day run after a long day on the road, this one around downtown in a U.S. city I’d never been to before (like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere).  Crossed the Boise River on Americana Blvd.  Mountains surround the town, which looks great as the sun sinks.

 Salt Lake City-  skipped the run and shot very early-morning baskets in a city park.  None of the dozen or so street people sleeping there were wakened by the sound of the ball (before 8am I try to swish so the rim won’t clang)-  SLC could challenge Santa Monica as the Home of the Homeless.

 North Platte, Neb.-  there was a very inviting golf course next door to the motel but they hate joggers.  So I passed it and ran over a bridge across the South Platte River (very close to the North right there) where at least a thousand swallows swirled in the middle-  something like the Bridge of Bats (Puente de los Murcielagos) in Austin.

 Iowa City, Iowa-  got out early in light rain which immediately stopped and was able to run along and over the Iowa River and back, then up the Old Capitol steps with the theme from Rocky in my head (I’ve run up the ones in Philly too- gets crowded some mornings).

 Evanston, Ill.-  Chicago had no rooms so we ended up here near Northwestern U.  Great run along Lake Michigan up to the campus, out on a point where you could see down the coast to the big city skyline.  Very nice park, lots of runners with dogs.

Neville Island, Pa.-  out in the middle of the Ohio River but no good paths alongside it, this was what I usually get on the road-  lots of traffic, funky overpasses, running in place to wait for traffic lights.  Give me a good deserted super mall any time.

Next stop, Manila, Philippines-  where the jeepney noise and air pollution make running any later than 6am near suicidal.   May have to revert to the exercise bike and watching ESPN women’s softball on a very small TV.


Monday, June 6, 2011


It's a long drive from Chicago to Pittsburgh.
 There's Chicago in the distance. We are lucky that it's Sunday morning, with no traffic. Most of our driving has been in the countryside on this trip, and though we love being in Chicago we are looking forward to returning to the greenscape.
Not immediately. A few showers but we can see lighter skies ahead, and on this trip we always leave bad weather behind.
Here's a sign at a Denny's. Who says we're an illiterate country?
There is plenty of tidy farmland as we cross into Indiana, skim Michigan and cross into Ohio, and enter Pennsylvania from the West.
We are deep into a brilliant reading of Faulkner's SANCTUARY, and finally we have to turn it off for awhile as it turns down a Noir alley.
We both admit we're sorry the trip is almost over.
And then we unfold ourselves and enter the chill of our Fairfield Marriott, Neville Island, west of Pittsburgh.
Very attractive room and Maura at the desk has given us a river view. She also dogs an internet reception problem so by the time we return in the evening, I do have internet. Got to keep up with these blogs!
We head out to find Max's Allegheny Tavern, a tip from TripAdvisor, and we ask Madge the GPS to take us on non-highway roads only. We see the backside of industrial Neville Island and the backside of the Ohio River opposite Pittsburgh. Looks like a lot of good pizza in this town.

And then there is Max'sAllegheny Tavern.
An old German restaurant whose standards never slipped. Locally made wurst for both of us and a German pilsner on tap for me. Great service and some of the best food we've had on this long trip.
We enter the address of the Frick House and explore Pittsburgh a bit, as a degestivo.

We start in a neighborhood called the Mexican Wars Streets. ??
Pittsburgh, for those of you who do not know, is a city where three rivers meet. Three Rivers Stadium?
That means a lot of bridges.

 And it's a city of hills which means tunnels.

Squirrel Hill is where Tom Rea grew up. It's a long way from Casper.
Frick lived there too.
The neighborhood has lots of restaurants and shops, and an Art house.
The Princess of Montpensier is directed by John's friend Bertrand Tavernier. It's good. Go see it.
This is our last hotel night. Just one more reading to go.

Good night. See you in Schenectady.