September 19, 2019

The Creative Spark: New interview collection coming this fall

Creative people have a certain spark: a brightness in their eyes, an inquisitive way of looking at the world, a desire to make things. But that spark doesn’t reside solely in people seen as creators. It’s in all of us, just waiting to break out.
In this collection of interviews with some of the most creative people of our time — musicians, authors, explorers, and chefs — these makers speak about what drives them, what helps them to see the world in fresh ways, and what inspires them turn their visions into art.
During the past decade, Michael Shapiro has interviewed some of our most creative luminaries. Yet it’s not simply that Shapiro has had access to so many supremely talented people — it’s that he gets them to go deep. These interviews serve as a gateway for each one of us to chart our own creative paths, enrich our lives, and bring our true selves into the world.

Boys of Winter: Playing baseball with my heroes at SF Giants fantasy camp, Lexus magazine

Excerpt: When I see my locker, with the uniform bearing my name in an arc across the back, the feeling is electric. I dress from cap to high socks in professional gear, making sure I don’t miss a belt loop or leave a pocket out, infractions that would get me rung up in Kangaroo Court (more on this baseball tradition later).
I’m dressing across from legendary pitcher Vida Blue, who was almost unhittable in his prime. “Hey Vida, I saw you beat the Cubs in 1986 at Wrigley Field,” I tell the still-fit pitcher, recalling that he only gave up one run on that perfect summer day in Chicago. And he hit a home run – a rarity for a pitcher – in that game. “You remember that homer!” Vida, now in his late 50s, exclaims. “Down the line, baby. Down the line.”
Dozens of my fellow campers and I lace up our turf shoes and head to the batting cages behind the right-field wall for instruction from veteran Giants infielder Joel Youngblood. As bats crack against machine-pitched balls in the cage, he tells us to “hit (swing) horizontal to the ground. You want a straight ball to give fielders the least time to get there. If you hit it correct, you always hit the ball hard. If you try to hit it hard, you won’t always hit it correct.”
Darrell Evans, whose nickname is “Doody” due to his facial resemblence to “Howdy,” strides in front of the batting cages. “I don’t understand a thing he (Youngblood) just said,” jokes the burly third baseman. “You always hear, keep your eye on the ball — the guys who say that, they couldn’t hit either!”
As we circle Evans, now in his early 60s, he takes a poke at the conventional wisdom of hitting up the middle: “Who are the best fielders? The shortstop and center fielder. And where’s the deepest part of the park? Center field,” he says. “So why the hell would you want to hit it up the middle?!” His final targets are TV announcers who say a batter swung too hard. “You never hear them say that when they hit it.” Two guys driving a garbage cart out of the stadium roll by: “Those guys couldn’t hit,” Evans cracks, “and look what they’re doing!”

Man stricken with ALS finds new voice in singing partner; June 12, 2018

She asked him: “Bernie, how are you going to make an album if you can’t speak or sing?”
He replied: “I want you to be my voice,” but initially she didn’t think she could do that.
Dalton kept sending Goldman handwritten lyrics, asking her to help him put music and melody to his words.
“I was working on my own album,” she said, a follow-up to her 2016 release, “Black Wings.”

“But he’s persistent, extremely persistent, and he kept sending me the lyrics in the mail. He said, ‘This can be your next record.’ And there was just something so important and heartfelt about what he was doing.”

Goldman launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $23,000 to pay for producing Dalton’s album.

Members of Goldman’s band joined Goldman and Dalton in a recording studio and knocked out a song a day. Dalton was involved in every aspect of song creation, from the melodies to the horn parts, offering his comments on a dry-erase board or giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the musicians’ suggestions.

They named the band Bernie and the Believers and titled the album, “Connection.” Last February they had an album release party at the San Francisco club Slim’s.

SingleThread restaurant shines in Healdsburg, Spring 2018

Every acclaimed restaurant aspires to achieve a moment that wows diners. At SingleThread, the Sonoma County restaurant that earned two Michelin stars last fall, less than a year after it opened, that moment happens before you take your first bite. On your table when you arrive is an edible work of art, an assemblage of more than a dozen delicacies—in shells, on little wooden planks, and on handmade ceramic plates—garlanded with greens and flowers from SingleThread’s farm, just five miles away. The tablescape is so beautiful that, like a waterfall or Japanese garden, it can take your breath away.

“These are beets, roasted in the hearth with shaved purple cauliflower from our farm,” says our server, explaining that every item is emblematic of the late autumn season (when I ate there). “This is a salad of lotus root with silken tofu made by one of our sous chefs; he’s been working on the recipe for about a year. There’s also some mustard greens from our farm. This is Golden-eye snapper wrapped around braised kombu and sea palm. We have some sesame-dressed young broccoli from the farm with a broccoli blossom. Moving on to the boards: Fort Bragg sea urchin, which is just beginning that season here in Northern California, served raw with some ahi tuna and a little bit of tamari dressing.” And that was just part of the first course.

Esalen: Retreat on Big Sur Coast, Press Democrat, Jan. 2016

After failing to get through the gates to paradise years ago, I finally made it to Esalen. To see the story on The Press Democrat’s site with some pictures, click here.   By MICHAEL SHAPIRO I couldn’t wait to get to Esalen on the Big Sur coast. I love hot springs and though I wasn’t […]

Grateful Dead documentary: North Bay has starring role (May 2015)

“It will come out when it’s ready,” said Kreutzmann, 45, the son of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann. “It would be nice to hit the 50th anniversary, but making a better film is more important.”

Boz Scaggs still smooth after all these years (May 2015)

The classics remain fun because “I never play a song the same way twice,” Scaggs said. “It’s different every night.”

Michael Shapiro among authors featured in Best Travel Writing, appears at Book Passage on March 1, 2015, at 4pm

The key to making a travel story – or just about any kind of story – compelling is a convincing sense of place.

Adriena Daunt Leaving Single Malt Curlers

Singer, tambourine player Adriena Daunt announced she’s leaving the Single Malt Curlers.

Making a living as a freelancer

Editors have always appreciated brevity, but today space is tighter than ever. Try to keep stories under 1,500 words, 2,000 tops. A 750-word story has a much better chance of selling than a 2,500-word piece.