HarperStudio signs Ken Layne to write book about CaliforniaBy Steffen • Jul 2nd, 2009 • Category: 26th Story, Books
Here’s a little Q&A I did with Ken Layne. I am truly stoked to have acquired his book.
1) For those who don’t you: Who is Ken Layne?
I run a political comedy website called Wonkette, where I’ve worked since 2006, and write for various publications, and also used to operate the websites Tabloid.net, Sploid and the L.A. Examiner.
2) What is your book about?
Here, we’ve got this nice blurb, the one you made me write: “Ken Layne’s THE LEFT COAST is a history of California’s culture, environment and politics framed by his bravely idiotic solo hike up the entire 1,000-mile coastline of America’s weirdest, most populous state.”
2.2) Why now? I mean, you’ve been approached before about writing a book.
Before this was a book idea, it was just something I planned to do after the completely exhausting 2008 campaign and election. And then I started thinking about how nice it would be to collect strange tales and stories at such a leisurely walking pace, in this fantastic setting with the pounding Pacific and the beach towns, the enclaves of the ultra-wealthy and camps of the homeless, the stretches of wilderness and military bases and railroad track, Mexican drug shipments rolling ashore on lifeboats, toxic harbors and sewage lagoons, and a million-dollar ocean sunset every day.
That’s a hell of a lot more fun than any other book project I’ve proposed or had suggested to me in the past.
3) Do you think your book will be written up in an article about the blog to book phenom? (That’s a joke, kind of.)
My timing is never good with these online fads, so probably not. Here is a true fact: I was the first historical human to cover the presidential nominating conventions, in Philadelphia and Los Angeles in the summer of 2000, as a damned Blogger. But nobody knew what blogging was, at the time, so I completely missed the historical 2004 election first covered by Bloggers.
Anyway, THE LEFT COAST isn’t a spinoff of a blog. I have, however, considered writing a fictional (or is he?) sidekick LOLcat character — constantly sending twee confessional postcards to himself (via Twitter), and just eating so much lasagna, and this is why he’s fat.
4) Tell me about David Geffen and his coastline.
I should not speak for David Geffen, because he has a clone army of lawyers, but published reports suggest that he would prefer California’s magnificent public oceanfront, which is supposed to be available to one and all, to be his coastline. For decades, Geffen fought access along a narrow corridor alongside his Malibu house — even though he accepted that corridor as part of a deal to expand the seaside mansion back in 1983.
In 2005, Geffen finally lost and the gates were unlocked. He’s not unique for wanting privacy at his beachfront house. His wealthy neighbors – including my old boss, former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan — just want to keep the unwashed hordes and TMZ paparazzi off their beach.
Unfortunately for them, it’s not their beach at all. The socialist republic of California is not like Martha’s Vineyard or Jamaica, where the best beaches are private. We have coastal access laws here, and the entire shore is public property, up to the high tide mark at minimum.
Anyway, as my path runs from Mexico to Oregon, roadside access through a wall of Malibu mansions isn’t an issue. But it’s a regular conflict here because the rich and powerful and famous love to make their homes by the ocean, and the other 37 million Californians are mostly packed against that same beloved coast.
HarperStudio will publish Layne’s book in 2010.