Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Left Coast Crime: The Right Crime Conference

A sell-out crowd of crime writers and their fans converged on Monterey, California last weekend.  For me, it was the best such convention I have ever attended: Professional, organized, full of warmth and camaraderie, and replete with talented and enthusiastic people.  I loved it.  Here are a few photos of the festivities:

The panel Murder Across the Pond, which I moderated.
All historical novelists writing about England.

Louise Penny and Cara Black

Lisa Brackman, nominated for Hour of the Rat
and Tim Hallinan, nominated for his
hilarious Junior Bender series.

At the banquet with Jeff Siger, nominated for
Mykonos After Midnight

From Monterey, the gracious and dear Ken Isaacson, whom many of you know from MWA, and his charming and beautiful wife Silvia gave me a lift to SFO Airport, where I caught the BART to Walnut Creek and the home of a long-time and dear friend.

When I first saw the Bart Station in the airport, I was envious.  Why don't we have this in New York, I wondered--sleek, attractive public transportation inside the main terminal.  I asked at information and found that I had to buy a ticket for $10.40 from the machine against the wall.  Piece of cake, I thought.  I buy NYC Metrocards and Metro North tickets from such machines all the time.


The first machine I approached was this one that takes only cash.  I decided to wait for one where I could pay with a credit card.

Bad decision.

The picture on the machine indicated that one put in the credit card face out.  I did.  A message told me that my card could not be read.  I tried again with the same result.  Repeated with two other cards, with the same frustrating result.  I went back to information, where the attendant demonstrated how I should hold the card, exactly mimicking what I had just done six times.  I went back to try again.  Seeing me still struggling, the attendant left her booth to help.  She reversed the card, put it with the strip facing her.  Voila!

The next step was hilarious.  The screen pops up telling you are automatically buying a ticket for $20.  Next to the left-hand buttons are the words:

  • Subtract $1
  • Add $1
  • Subtract 5 cents
  • Add 5 cents
To buy a ticket for $10.40, I had to press the A-button ten times, and then press the D-button eight times, at which point I could buy my ticket for the right amount.  I laughed out loud.  That's California for you.  They get the hard stuff right, like building a great train to the airport, and then when it comes to the small details, they manage to come across as completely loony.

Molly met me at Walnut Creek and took me to her home on the campus of the Athenian School in the foot hills of Mount Diablo, which looks like this:

I am very happily ensconced here until Monday morning.  If I have to buy a Bart ticket on my way home, at least I have successfully completed the training program.

Annamaria Alfieri


  1. So happy for you it was such a wonderful time! tjs

    1. Thank you, tjs. I am still in CA. The denizens of this area are happy to see me. Whenever I come to California, it rains. It did yesterday and is again today. What with their drought, I am going to try to negotiate a fee for my presence.

  2. I'm trying very hard not to be envious. I so wanted to go to LCC this year, but alas, I couldn't work it out. Monterey is so lovely. And I absolutely agree about the BART. It's as if they're saying, "If you don't know how to do this, why should we tell you?"

    1. Sheila, it is so beautiful here. Whenever I come, I wonder why I don't live here. Then, after about 36 hours, I realize that the instincts that allow me to negotiate the mores and customs of NYC just do not apply here. I am having a good time, but I feel DEFINITELY an outsider.