Thursday, February 28, 2008


Photo by Howard Junker

What national literary landmark appears in the motion picture Annie Hall? Hint: it’s not in New York, but rather Venice, California. When Alvy (Woody) follows Annie (Dianne Keaton, who won an Oscar for her role) out to California, he finds her stepping away from Beyond Baroque, Los Angeles’ major literary destination even back in 1977. As a literary bookstore, archive & site for readings, Beyond Baroque has been Los Angeles’ primary poetry institution now for just under 40 years, longevity that rivals St. Marks, and in those terms surpasses anything in San Francisco or Philly or DC or San Diego.¹ It frankly should be a National Historic Landmark devoted to this purpose.

Now Beyond Baroque’s lease is up – March 1st – and an anti-literacy city attorney is opposing its renewal. These hallowed grounds are in serious jeopardy. Anyone who remembers what a disaster it was when Intersection in San Francisco lost its lease & was forced to relocate to the Mission will understand immediately what is at stake.

Click on the Beyond Baroque website to see how you can help save this institution. It’s certainly worth a phone call – especially long distance. Let’em know that the whole world is watching.


¹ San Francisco State’s Poetry Center is older than Beyond Baroque, but it’s reading series has moved around considerably over the years. My favorite locale was the Gallery Lounge, a small art center just west of the current student union. City Lights, which is a National Historic Landmark, is different kind of animal altogether. Until it opened up the poetry room above its main new book section, the store kept verse in a little alcove in the basement and survived for decades off of tourists who came (and still come) seeking whatever fumes remain of the Beats.

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