Dangerous Angels Book Club: Missing Angel Juan

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So my fall semester of grad school started this past Wednesday, about two- three weeks earlier than I expected. When I looked it up a week before, I kind of freaked out and lost track of everything. So I fell behind on reading and making and blogging and writing. I’m still trying to get back into the rhythm of things.

Missing Angel Juan is my favorite story in the Dangerous Angels books. I love the sadness and the longing, I love the ghost story and the photographs and the wandering around NYC. I love the findings and the letting go.

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In the story, Angel Juan leaves Witch Baby to find herself. He goes to NYC and she only hears from him through one postcard but she spends the rest of the story in NYC looking for him. She stays at her late almost grandpa Charlie Bat’s apartment and spends the days with his ghost. She writes post cards she cannot send and buys one from a vendor that turns out to be a postcard from Angel Juan that never made it to Witch Baby. The use of postcards and indent letters inspired me to use this format to share some bits about Missing Angel Juan.

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Dangerous Angels Book Club: Witch Baby



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This is a few days late, but no worries! Don’t forget to start on Cherokee Bat and the Goat Girls for the book club that’s set to come out next Friday August 9th.

This post was written by Ashley Lorelle, a girl I’ve known through our mutual love for Francesca Lia Block and the magic of life. She writes at Magick Culture
There is a Witch Baby in All of Us
Witch Baby was originally published in 1991 as a follow up to Francesca Lia Block’s critically acclaimed novella Weetzie Bat. By 1997, Witch Baby had one the School Library Journal Best Book and was an ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Witch Baby fascinated the minds and captured the hearts of many of Francesca Lia Block’s fans because she is so relatable. While the character of Weetzie Bat has been idolized by many of FLB’s readers, Witch Baby is a kindred spirit. Her desire to belong within her family, despite feeling like she is a stranger and her consistent quest to find her identity is a spirit journey that many young women have gone through.

Those of who know that magick is real also understand that our beliefs can make us different from those who love us the most. Sometimes I feel like my family will never understand me and that there will always be a large part of my life that they will not be a part of because I am a black sheep. Witch Baby feels like a black sheep too, because she always recognizes pain and darkness while the other members of her family constantly revel in love and light. One of the most important things that Witch Baby discovers is that though we may be different from the ones we love, it is our differences that can bring us closer together. Our differences are all separate pieces of an entire family unit. As Weetzie Bat explains to Witch Baby at the end of the book, darkness and light need one another.

detail-shot-face
Cast of Characters
The characters in Witch Baby are the same as in Weetzie Bat except for a few very important additions:
Angel Juan—A young Mexican boy that Witch Baby meets on the set of her father, My Secret Agent Lover Man’s, movie set. He becomes Witch Baby’s best friend and the boy she falls in love with. She is heartbroken when his family is deported to Mexico.

Vixanne Wigg—Vixanne is Witch Baby’s mother. She is a member of a cult to Jayne Mansfield and practices witch craft. She left Witch Baby on My Secret Agent Lover Man’s doorstep when she was just a baby.

 
Darlene Drake—Duck’s mother. She is initially upset when she learns that Duck is gay but has a change of heart and learns to accept her son.
Witch_Baby_by_glait
Favorite Quotes

“My mother says that pain is hidden in everyone you see. She says try to imagine it like big bunches of flowers that everyone is carrying around with them. Think of your pain like a big bunch of red roses, a beautiful thorn necklace. Everyone has one.”

“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars, of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”

“She knew how he looked–the angel in her dream–but she didn’t know how to find him. Should she roller-skate through the streets in the evenings when the streetlights flicker on? Should she stow away to Jamaica on a cruise ship and search for him in the rain forests and along the beaches? Would he come to her? Was he waiting, dreaming of her in the same way she waited and dreamed?”

Music

Not as much music is featured in Witch Baby, not like it was in Weetzie Bat, but I put together a playlist of songs that remind me of the story here.
Discuss
How do you relate to Witch Baby?
In what ways did you once feel different from your family?
What was your most memorable moment from the story?
If you’re just tuning in, you can read the Weetzie Bat Book club right here, or read what the book club is all about here.

Don’t forget! August 9th we’ll be recapping Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys!

Dangerous Angels Book Club: Weetzie Bat

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I’m sorry this is a couple days late, but life calls, my friends! And here we are! I made a few sets on Polyvore inspired my Weetzie Bat but because of the way Polyvore works, I had to post them as separate pages.

Weetzie Bat 1

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Love is a Dangerous Angel

 

Weetzie Bat is a tiny book published in 1989 by Francesca Lia Block (Facebook, Twitter, Blog) about a girl with bleach blond hair who makes dresses out of cartoon character sheets and lives in a Los Angeles that is suspended in time and place. Weetzie is struggling to fit in, finding her way and moving through early parts of her adult life in this novella. It’s the story of finding love during a scary time, when AIDs and HIV are just becoming rampant, disease spread my acts of love. It’s a story of magic and wishing from genies in lamps, how nothing is what it seems and one might do unthinkable acts to create babies, intentional or not. It’s about loss and grief but it’s also about love and life and how beautiful everything can be.

Weetzie Bat the novel is about the character with its namesake but it’s also about the other characters in Weetzie’s family, even those without blood ties.

Characters
Weetzie
Dirk
My Secret Agent Lover Man
Skinkster Dog
Grandma Fifi
Brandy-Lynn
Charlie Bat
Duck
Witch Baby
Cherokee Bat
Ping Chong
Valentine Jahlove
Raphael Chong Jahlove
Vixanne Wig

It’s been at least twelve years since I first discovered Weetzie Bat on the shelf of my local library. The language and voice in Weetzie Bat really stands out in contemporary writing, it drew me in because it felt like me. The words and sounds, the people in this world and the way that Los Angeles is practically its own character made me feel like someone else got it. Whatever it is. This is it. Block paints a portrait of LA that only exists in her worlds.  Someday I’ll venture back to LA and visit all of these places, it’s a goal I’ve been wanting to do since I first read her books.

 

How did you feel about Weetzie Bat as whole?
Is Weetzie Bat different from the fiction you normally read?
Do you have any favorite characters or descriptions or quotes?

Quotes and phrases

honey-honey
slinkster cool
lanky lizards
Love is a Dangerous Angel

“He kissed her. A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven’t eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.”

“What sexual preference do you hope she has?” “Happiness.” Isnt that cool?”

“Under the pink Harlequin sunglasses strawberry dangling charms, and sugar-frosted eyeshadow she was really almost beautiful.”

“She knew they were all afraid. But love and disease are both like electricity, Weetzie thought. They are always there — you can’t see or smell or hear, touch or taste them, but you know they are there like a current in the air. We can choose, Weetzie thought, we can choose to plug into the love current instead.”

 

Style

Shoe polish black Mohawk
Bleach blonde flat top
Pink harlequin sunglasses
Strawberry lip gloss
Levi’s with white suede fringe seen down the legs
Fifties taffeta dresses “covered in poetry and glitter”
Dresses made of sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters
Moccasins
Grandma FIFi – two canaries she sings to, music box with monkey on top, white hair with pink or blue tints

Movies/ Celebrities

Jim Morrison
Houdini
Marilyn Monroe
James Dean
Jayne Mansfield
Girl Can’t Help It
Lost Horizon
Casablanca

Mixtape





 

Places to go
Graumanns
Oki dogs (cheese and bean and hotdog pastrami burritos)
Tick Tock Tea Room
New York City
The Tet
Chinatown museum
Empire State Building
San Francisco
Haight st
Polk st
Hamburger Mary’s
Bar called the Stud
Venice Boardwalk

Food
Plantains and black beans
Wonton soup and fortune cookies
Red stripe Jamaican beer
Cheese and avocado on whole wheat

 

Don’t forget to read Witch Baby, the next book in the Dangerous Angels Book Club. Ashley Lorelle is going to tell us the story of Witch Baby on Friday Jul 26th and we hope you’ll join us!

Bonus reads:
Why Weetzie Bat Became Our Idol
Living the Weetzie Way
A Beautiful Party: Weetzie Bat

Watch the Weetzie Bat screen play reading in Los Angeles

Part 2
Part 3

 

Dangerous Angels Book Club – Introduction

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In high school I spent a significant amount of time wandering through the shelves at my local library, taking home books and seeking out something. I wasn’t quite sure what. When I first tried to read Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block, I was attracted to the cover, but I didn’t get very far into it. Something about it turned me off. I gave it another shot, though, starting with Baby Be-Bop and I fell in love.

With California.

With words and poetry.

With ideas and thoughts.

It’s silly to say that book changed my life. But there are so many aspects of my life right now that I know wouldn’t exist without it.

And I’m still in love with California and pretty words and the dark and light balanced in the books. I’m in love with the magic and the characters and the uniqueness in Block’s writing that I’ve never seen in any other book before.

So I often miss the days in high school and college when I would string beads into words around my wrist and write on myself with glitter and express myself by the way of making my own t-shirts and doing things that are more like characters in books. I longed to make a cookbook from dishes mentioned in novels and at one point I did put together a mix CD as a soundtrack to Dangerous Angels. Maybe I’m more aware of myself now, or just a little more grown up, but I always want to dress up like Witch Baby for Halloween but I don’t because I know no one will get it. And that fact makes me sad.

I recently re-read the most recent book with the Dangerous Angels cast, Pink Smog. It’s a prequel to the whole series, a becoming of Weetzie Bat if you will. I had the idea to do a series on Weetzie and her loved ones. I plan on dissecting what stands out most to me in these books – quotes, food, magic and pop culture.

I think it would be really fun to do a little book club, going through all of the Dangerous Angels books one at a time and picking out style and songs, etc. for you guys. They’re quick reads and I think two weeks between each one would be great. You can purchase the books at your local bookstore, on Amazon or find them at your library. Dangerous Angels consists of five books: Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan and Baby Be-Bop, or you can find them separately. The two books after that are Necklace of Kisses and Pink Smog. So we’ll be reading in that order, starting first with the cult novella that started it all WEETZIE BAT.

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We will reconvene here in two weeks on Friday, June 12th.
I hope you’ll join me!

xoxo. Melanie

To Francesca and her Faerie Cottage

Guys, my favorite author and amazing teacher Francesca Lia Block is having some issues with Bank of America regarding re-financing her mortgage. I would love it if you could take the time to sign her petition to help save her faerie cottage. And if you’re interested in reading more details, you can go here.

To Francesca and her Faerie Cottage

for decades (!!)
you have inspired girls who never quite belonged
because your stories helped us fit somewhere
between the layers of high school, girl fights,
first loves, manuscripts, late nights,
early sunrises, best friends, and that never ending post-college haze
we’ve turned into poets, librarians, actresses, photographers, lovers and fighters
your words have always been a source of light
the kind that is like
a mixture of honey drenched over the world
and rose tinted contact lenses,
and jacaranda blossoms
and trays of pink sushi rolls, jasmine rice and green coconut tea
the faerie cottage has been a character in our dreams
that place we always assumed you lived and danced and loved
and wrote the magic we see on pages between hard covers
you won’t lose it because it was part of you
even before and certainly during
this present moment
 

Internet Wandering

Some good reads you should check out while I spend my weekend creating experiences to write about and hiding out with my netbook pondering life and ignoring carpal tunnel (What are your weekend plans?).

I’ve been so anxious lately. General, obscure anxiety. So this post came at a perfect time for me. Judgment does not come from a high place looking down. It comes from a scared place projecting out. Like a frightened animal baring it’s teeth.

Being a twenty-something is hard work. It’s not what it used to be so the adults (because I don’t consider myself an adult? I’m not sure. Older adults?) don’t quite understand why we’re here doing what we’re doing living in our childhood homes or not quite settling down. Or working our “dream” jobs or even know what our dream jobs are. 10 Things Nobody Warned Me About My Twenties

A Manifesto on Calorie Counting that I only partially agree with (I think calorie counting can be helpful for figuring out how much of the right foods someone should be eating. When you’re still starving all day, calorie counting helps you figure out if you’re really hungry or if your mind is going in different ways). But it’s a good read either way.

I want to chalk my hair.

25 Clever Ideas to make Life Easier. Rubbing a walnut over scratched furniture to disguise dings and scrapes? -rubs walnuts all over my bedroom floor-

How Avoiding Refined Sugar Changed A Woman’s Life. I keep on meaning to cut out sugar. I keep on trying to for like, a moment in time and the thought fades. But really, I need to. Posts like these convince me more and more that I should cut down.

Printable Love Notes

On Sunday I went to a reading at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. Here’s a review of the reading, and here’s a video of the last piece — the girls read from Francesca Lia Block’s story The Real Housewives of Mount Olympus.

 

Are any of you guys on Pintrest? You can find me there

Moments Like Movies: My Francesca Lia Block Weekend.

“Writing and reading has always been a huge escape for me. One of the things I want to convey to my reader is that. I want to provide them that same escape.” This is what I tell nine girls and Francesca Lia Block. We are going around a circle talking about either, the one message we’d like to convey through our writing, or why we write. This is why I write.

“I can tell from reading your piece that you got a lot of pleasure out of writing it. You had fun, and you definitely convey that to the reader.” This is coming from Francesca Lia Block herself, the goddess whose writing I’ve worshiped and studied since high school. She is the woman who has taught me the most through her words. Through her I’ve met some of my closest (albeit not physically close) friends. And here she is, commenting on my own working.

Francesca sits on the edge of the chair with her legs crossed. She looks like she’s ready to take flight, yet at the same time she appears comfortable and grounded. It’s the beginning of summer in New England and she wears a black leather jacket indoors. Later she comments that she must be cold blooded since the rest of us are in t-shirts. Her boots are tall, pleather and shiny over black jeans. When she reads the piece I’ve submitted to be work-shopped, she laughs out loud often. I am so pleased by this reaction that I can’t help but grinning.

She says my story is charming. Later a few other girls comment on things that I’ve mentioned in the story. Vegan Love Cakes are appreciated by the vegan girl. The dream my main character has about floating on a cheese danish makes another girl realize that is also her dream. We laugh around a table covered in oreo brownies, lemon meringue cookies, and veggies with hummus.

When I first saw on Facebook that Francesca Lia Block would be making a rare appearance in Boston, I knew I would have to go. I rearranged a few work things and decided that I would be there for everything possible. Then to learn that Francesca was offering a workshop! As a writer, this is more exciting that word can even express. I compared it to meeting Hanson, but if you don’t understand that, then maybe my words aren’t enough. It’s almost better than meeting Hanson. I have feedback about my writing from my favourite author. This is who I am. This is what I want to do.

The day before the workshop, Ari and I took the T into Cambridge. We found the Cambridge Public Library, a library so beautiful I got chills, and went to find the Main Lecture Hall. The guy at the desk teased me when I asked if he could tell me where it was. “Yes, I can.” Was his response. “Will you please tell me?” I smiled. Yes. He would.

We took the elevator in the wrong direction before redirecting ourselves and making it to L2. We ducked inside fifteen minutes late. We missed the actual reading, but Francesca was answering questions. For an hour she told us about her writing process and her upcoming books. She asked who we thought should be cast in the Weetzie Bat movie. She answered questions about writing, gave advice on life.

After she signed books in the hallway. Fifty some-odd girls lined up. I bought Ari a book and we waited in line, getting closer and closer. I snuck a picture. I grinned a lot and was unable to stand still. When it was finally my turn, I excitedly hold her I would be at her workshop. I forgot to introduce myself. She smiled opened the book to see where my name was written (on a post-in someone passed out earlier). I forgot to ask for a picture with her and seconds later it was Ari’s turn. We left with signed books, on our way to meet Shaylin for delicious sandwiches. I saw earrings in a jewelry store that were ladybugs and I had to have them.

Sunday I am on my own all day. My mom worries about me wandering the streets of Jamaica Plain by myself. As if it wasn’t one o’clock in the afternoon. I am excited and nervous. I don’t want to be disappointed. A book signing is one this, but this is different. This is real life weaving its way into my dreams. This is my dream unfolding in ways I never imagined. This is my fiction and my creations blending with the fictional world of Francesca Lia Block.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine people as real people who eat and live and sleep in beds like you do. When you’re little you are unsettled by seeing your teachers outside of the school environment. When you’re sitting ten feet from your favourite author, hearing her talk about something you wrote, it feels like it isn’t happening at all. It feels like those moments in life when you think to yourself, this moment feels like a movie.

After the workshop part we take the time to go over basic elements. Francesca suggests ways to make characters sympathetic. She tries to offer more specific suggestions for our work. She turns to offer to sign something for me but catches herself, “Oh, you had signed something yesterday.” So instead I ask for a picture. I hand off my iPhone wishing I had brought something more professional (also wishing I owned something much more professional that was also digital). The picture is as surreal as the afternoon has been.

When I leave she hugs me and tells me to keep writing. I return to the streets with a refreshed sense of self. My senses seem a little sharper. I am more aware. This feeling is one I want to remember and this moment I want to take with me.