Thursday, April 21, 2022

Left Coast Crime: The Personal Touch

 Last week I focused on the panels at this year’s Left Coast Crime. I mentioned I might not get quite as much from them as I used to; after having been to so many, what I go for now are the people, and this year’s event did not disappoint. I apologize in advance to anyone I omitted. There was a lot going on and my ability to hold competing thoughts isn’t what it used to be.


So, in no particular order, thanks to


The LCC committee, notably Lucinda Surber, Stan Ulrich, and Les and Leslie Blatt. (Note the use, and necessity, of the Oxford comma.) They had extraordinary obstacles to overcome, not the least of which was starting things up again in the post-covid world, and they pulled it off masterfully. Kudos to everyone involved.


Our police procedural panel. Jim L’Etoile, T.K. Thorne, and Frank Zafiro constituted as close-knit a group of panelists as I have ever been involved with. We got together for drinks after the first day’s panels and spent time with each other throughout the week. I’m looking forward to getting together with all of them at future events.


Frank Zafiro (again). I mentioned him above, but we spent a lot of time talking apart from other activities. Frank is a walking library of police information, and an excellent teacher besides being an outstanding writer and a good friend.


Colin Conway. I’d met Colin before, but this was the first I got to spend much time with him. Great company, knowledgeable about a wide range of topics, and a good teacher in explaining why some police things are the way they are.


James D.F. Hannah. A fairly reserved weekend by his standard: no arrests. Jimmy takes his craft seriously, despite his reputation as a hellraiser. Talk to him about the works of Robert B. Parker sometime. You’ll learn something. Even if you’re one of Parker’s kids.


The residents of Albuquerque. Nicer people will not be found anywhere.


Lee Goldberg, who spent more time than I could have asked for discussing elements of how books become films.


Holly West. She was Holly West, which is high praise right there. Always a treat to see her.


Lindy’s Diner. On the corner of Fifth Street and Central Avenue. Only open till 3, but worth hustling over for. They even named a sandwich after me in anticipation of my arrival. (The Fat Bastard burger was excellent.) Ask for Dawn, and tell her Dana and Corky sent you. She probably won’t remember us, but I always wanted to tell someone to do that.


Baca Boys. Thanks to Frank for the tip. Outstanding breakfast.


Thicc Pizza. Another Frank recommendation. I’d never had Detroit-style pizza before, but I’ll definitely have it again. Look for it in the 505 Central food court, across the street from Lindy’s.


On the other hand…


Southwest Airlines held our plane at the gate for an hour and a half to load the baggage. Explanations ranged from “We’re shorthanded” to “It’s raining.” This made us late into Austin, but we did not have to change planes. The same was not true coming home; we had to run to make our Austin connection. Alas, our bags were not as quick as we were and took a later flight. It will be a long time before I fly again, and a sight longer before Southwest gets my business.


The Clyde Hotel. Formerly the Hyatt. The management change took place a week before the conference, and the new owners made no evident effort to get ready. No restaurant, the elevators weren’t fully functional until Saturday, and the bar was only open from 4:30 to 9:30. Let me repeat that. At a readers’ and writers’ conference, the bar was only open from 4:30 to 9:30. (They attempted to make up for the short hours by making everything exorbitantly expensive.) That tells you all you need to know about the hotel “experience.”


The good news is that those last two items will not be what anyone remembers from this year’s conference. The good programs, good company, and good cheer will linger, and there was more than enough of those to go around.


Thanks to everyone involved.

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