The night started off at the very tip of Valencia Street at Martuni’s, where about 40 people squeezed into the bar’s dimly lit backroom to listen to “BARtab Presents: Bar Pick-Ups Gone Terribly Wrong (or Right).” Before the first reader stepped up to the mike, the dedicated waiter scurried around the packed audience to get everyone their drink of choice – martinis, mostly.
Welcome to Litcrawl, the enormously popular final event of the nine-day Litquake in which venues large and small across the Mission open their doors for readings. Every year, it seems, is bigger than the last; 2010’s Litcrawl boasted its longest trek ever, 1.6 miles of bookish events. A total of 68 spaces hosted hundreds of literary types, both reading and watching, who filled up Valencia Street sidewalks.
Litquake organizers estimate that over the course of the night, 7,100 people came, with an average of 115 crowding into each reading.
At Martuni’s, author and spoken-word artist Meliza Banales kicked off the night with a story of a Craigslist hook-up ad gone terribly wrong. It all started after a six-month stint of being sober and celibate: “It was the early 2000s and the city was quiet […] there weren’t a lot match.com whatevers yet, I knew you couldn’t order up a person the way you order up a taco, but this was sex!” Banales told the mostly-over-40 audience. Long story short, the ad turned into a Vegas wedding. But before it went terribly wrong, it went terribly right, as this video shows (warning: the clip contains sexual content and graphic language).