This bookstore was a lucky find thanks to a last-minute tip from a friend. With four floors of mostly used books, Moe’s Books is a Berkeley legend.
The first owner Moe Moskowitz (a character known to smoke a fat cigar behind the desk) opened the shop in 1959. The store looked to circulate new and used books with inviting selling and trading policies.This promoted an ever-updating collection that grew rapidly.
In addition to new and used books, Moe’s has an impressive collection of antiques, out-of-print and rare books on the fourth floor.
Just down the road from Berkeley’s campus on Telegraph Road, Moe’s is located in a hip section of town that screams California. It’s hard to say just what is so pleasing about Moe’s, the library-like sections, the many vintage Modern Library editions, the breath of the collection (from Business and Economics to Western Americana), or the very reasonable prices. Whatever it is, Moe’s now claims a sizable piece of my heart, and my paycheck.
It’s 110 degrees in the shade here in Las Vegas. The desert has me seeing things. Yesterday I must have hallucinated a sign advertising a museum, of fine art. Truly this was a mirage (not to be confused with the hotel thus named) because all the signs on the strip sell sex and shows. Whether it’s the last tour of the Pet Comedy routine or girls who want to talk to you, yes you, on the phone at any hour, or Donny and Marie like you’ve never seen them before, there is something for everyone. Well, that’s the idea anyway.
But I do think the mirage in the desert idea is the appropriate way of thinking about Las Vegas. It’s hard to believe your eyes most of the time and sometimes you wish that if you blinked hard enough certain things would go away. When your feet start to feel hot through your shoes because the sidewalk is 130 degrees, things can get confusing and then sweat rolls in your eyes.
Smoke gets in there too, from the cigar-smoking pot-bellied men playing craps to the endless disappearing acts of “world-class” magicians. James and I have been generously gifted the Vegas experience and have really tried to make and see the most of this town. Depictions I’ve seen including Fear and Loathing and The Hangover feel mostly accurate (you can’t make this stuff up!) The following photos are from Olives restaurant, Doña Maria Tamales, the Arts District, Gold and Silver Pawn from TV show “Pawn Stars” fame, and of course, the strip.
The President and I have a shared summer reading book. I have not written about this one, but I do recommend The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell for some sizzling southern crime fiction.
Here’s what the article’s author X had to say about the book:
Daniel Woodrell’s bayou, meanwhile, is a world apart—from princes or sun-drenched, charming bookstores. One of the characters in “Muscle for the Wing,” the second book in Woodrell’s trilogy, describes his own ideal vacation:
“Aw,” Shade said, “listen, up there it’s another world. That’s what I want on my vacation. I don’t want a beach version of St. Bruno. I want another world for five days. The river up there, it’s not the color of shoe leather like this one here. Huh-uh. It’s cleaner’n baby piss and cooler’n Duke Ellington. You drop in a six-pack and in ten minutes you got the perfect beer.” He emptied his own mug of brew. “I got a pup tent, too, you know. For comfort.”
Pup tents, six-packs, baby-piss metaphors—it all sounds nothing like the public image of the President (and in fact, sounds a bit like a caricature of his emerging opponent, Rick Perry.) But that’s what fiction offers, quick and reliable transport to another world, places that can feel immediate but that are unreachable even by Air Force One, Marine One, and a motorcade to the beach.
And if you still want more, a cool site with Obama’s tenure reading list: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/08/14/obama-s-book-club.html
I suddenly feel so close, yet so far, from Martha’s Vineyard.
Enjoy some rest, Mr. President.
Writer and friend Matthew Clair quotes James Baldwin in his blog’s About page:
“Once I was able to accept my role – as distinguished, I must say, from my ‘place’ – in the extraordinary drama which is America, I was released from the illusion that I hated America.”
This is a great new Baldwin quote for me. I feel that in his distinction between role and place he refers to himself as someone who challenged his audiences and readers, made many people squirm, and all while teaching America an even harder civil rights lesson about diversity. I doubt that he ever accepted what would have been his “place” in America, as an out gay black man in the 1950′s and 60′s. For he- as that- was ignored, or despised by many people. Others chose to pretend he didn’t exist at all. It must have a been a lonely painful place.
Matt’s own experiment and experience with American drama examines (mostly in photograph) what is beautiful and difficult in his America today. I love this blog for its variety: a quick snapshot of an old book-plate of a “moor” with much to speak of in arms, sunny scenes of alien animal graffiti and many, many shoes, to boot.
Filed under: Music | Tags: accordion, cambridge, cumbia, forro, gumbo diablo, music, the DAP, zydeco
Hello Readers! Please check out my first article on The Diverse Arts Project blog. DAP is a really exciting new site that I’ve been asked to join up with. I will be a regular editor and contributor, bringing you soon the lovely lesser-known sights and sounds of Paris. Paris Meconnu, if you will. But for now, I hope to feature a few more local Boston, Cambridge and Somerville artists. Keep checking it out and be sure to read about Gumbo Diablo!
Filed under: Books | Tags: blues, books, charlotte perkins gilman, gender, herland, scales, zora neale hurston
Oh, comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man.
Oh, comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man.”
Zora Neale Hurston captured the old blues song. Charlotte Perkins Gilpin wrote the novel. But most recently it has been discovered that a certain species of mites has been doing it without men, though not without some incest…
Check out this National Geographic headline: “Cloned Fathers Mate with Insect Daughters–From Inside: The self-fertilizing females may eventually make males obsolete, model suggests”
As the image might not suggest, sometimes, when female cottony cushion scales “develop in fertilized eggs, excess sperm grows into tissue within the daughters. … This parasitic tissue, genetically identical to the female’s father, lives inside the female and fertilizes her eggs internally—rendering the female a hermaphrodite and making her father both the grandfather and father of her offspring, genetically speaking.”
According to the article, this parasitic male is like “an epidemic” that will eventually render all male scales obsolete. The female cottony cushion scales will rule and create an unprecedented all-girl world, if on a minuscule…scale.
However, this world is not a new conception. It was imagined in early-twentieth century American fiction with the 1915 novel, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilpin. (CPG is most famous for her wonderfully creepy short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” –read it!)
Herland is about these male explorers who discover the isolated all-female world of Herland. After losing all of their community’s men in a volcanic eruption and slave rebellion and finding themselves geographically isolated by a mountain range, the women of Herland decided to continue life until they died out. Until one day a funny thing happened.
One of the women realized that she was with child even though she had not been with a man. Essentially, this sort of immaculate or hermaphroditic conception becomes a genetic trait of the clan– and thus Herland grows.
These women live off the land and are proud of their independence from men. Over time, many generations cannot remember men or have never seen any– until the society is penetrated by the sociologist explorers. The tale is interestingly narrated by a man, the student Van.
Gilpin’s utopian story reflects on societal constructions of gender and marriage, what it means to be a man or woman, husband or wife. It ends with uncertainty as one of the women leaves with Van. What her fate will be in American society is uncertain at best.
Returning back to the old blues lyrics that Zora Neale Hurston recorded in 1930′s for the Federal Writers’ Project, it is clear that this sort of post-male world has long been imagined if not pined over and feared by Americans.
“Comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man.
Oh, comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man.
Oh, comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man.”
The ominous tone of these lyrics suggests that the time is coming when a woman won’t need a man. It is upon us, the singer says. In this blues line, the repetition of the exact same phrase means that the alteration in tone can only be found in the melody or the inflection of the singer. Instead of a blues riff that said something like, “Comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man. Oh, comes at a time when a woman won’t need no man. Oh, comes at a time that we can’t understand,” this riff is consistant. To me, this adds to the ominousness– we cannot imagine what this “time” will mean for society, we can only repeat the prophecy over and over.
Gilpin took a stab at imagining this world, but did not come to a firm conclusion. The blues laments and warns of this unknown society. I Guess all we can do is keep watching the scales.
83 years, $2.25 a ride, and old-time music available only in Hull, Mass. There’s something eerily pleasant about carousels. The lights, nausea and crying children are somehow irresistible to me. I can’t help paying up every time I’m in Hull. Now their ride fares go towards preservation and restoration.
photos by me
Meet the Friends of the Paragon Carousel
Street Etiquette is one of the most beautiful blogs I have seen this year. It combines excellent photography with an important mission: providing young black american men (and everyone else) with alternative styles to consider, with an emphasis on individuality, and the important history behind these looks.
You must check this out and the recent nytimes piece on the the blog.
Some of you may remember my earlier discussion comparing Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty with Polenta…
And yet I can’t stop thinking about Tim Pawlenty. This man:
He seems nice enough from this picture. And I figured as the former governor of Minnesota he’s probably smart enough too. Until I saw the video in which he thought Bill O’Reilly’s calling him “vanilla” (re: plain) meant that O’Reilly was playing the race card. Or the video of the Republican presidential debate, after his “ObamneyCare” comment was brought up, in which he back-stepped and sucked-up so hard to Mitt Romney I thought he was just going to abandon his podium to go door-to-door for the former governor of Massachusetts.
Geez, this guy seems lame, and confusingly so. Maybe comparing him with the food that always brings him to mind will stir some clarity into this melting pot.
-Polenta -vs- Pawlenty
-Bland unless well-seasoned -vs- Bland and politically unseasoned
-congeals over hot fire -vs- breaks down under fire
-sticks to your ribs -vs- sticks it to Mitt
-can be molded into a loaf -vs- easily molded and aloof
I refresh your memory today to make a bold claim about the man. Tim Pawlenty wants to be Vice President. He always has. As mentioned above, TP was early afraid to stand up to Mitt Romney and refused to confront him in person. In this past week’s Republican Presidential debate, TP was given the opportunity to actually confront Romney on his state health care plan and defend his creation of the term “Obamneycare.”
In that clip TP is evasive as ever and while he does stand behind his creation of the term, he mostly focuses on how he better contrasts with President Obama than Mr. Romney.
But it gets better. After the moderator asks many of the candidates about certain absent figures (Rick Perry and Sarah Palin), TP takes the opportunity on an unrelated question to name drop and highlight a time he got to hang out with Rick Perry. Watch the clip for yourself, but all I heard him say was “pick me rick! pick me!”
Sunday Pawlenty officially dropped out of the race for Republican Presidential nominee. He came in third in the Iowa straw poll. A day earlier, Rick Perry announced that he would run for president (here we go again, texas). Seems that TP probably ticked Mitt Romeny off one too many times, but lucky for Tim, he has not yet gotten on Rick’s bad-side. He practically gave him a shout out and a thumbs up at this weekend’s debate.
As I said before, like polenta, Pawlenty can be easily molded into any desired shape. So I would not be surprised if we soon saw him take the form of a Mockingbird, Texas’ state bird, and perch himself on the roof of Rick Perry’s camp, mimicking any cry that political campaign makes.