Bookstores We Love: Episode 1

September 10, 2010

Hey, Welcome to Bookstores We Love. We’ll be doing this on a ‘whenever the mood strikes’ basis, but we have a lot of love for indie bookstores, so expect to see a lot of posts like this in the future. We wanted to call attention to the bookstores that inspired us as we gear up for the launch of our own little shop, The Paper Cave.

During last year’s Dollar Store Summer Tour I had the enviable job of booking 7 readers in 11 cities across the country. Some towns we knew we wanted to hit. Home towns, fun towns. Austin, Texas where featherproof author Amelia Gray lives, and I used to. Atlanta, where Blake Butler is from. New Orleans, because New Orleans is awesome. But then there were the towns in-between. One of the big question marks was Houston. Nothing against Houston, I know a lot of nice folks from there, but we weren’t sure what kind of literary scene might be happening there. I started the usual round of calls to indie bookstores, looking for a spot, and eventually someone said “You sound like Domy people.”

I called up Russell at Domy, and he was good people indeed. The store’s site looked great, and they made a nice little write up for our event. When we got there, things were even better. I was honestly blown away at the awesomeness of Domy. They have a really great, eclectic collection of books on art, design, graffiti, counter-culture, crazy culture, and everything in-between. There are artist books and robot toys. The entire store is white, which gives it a gallery feel, and I have to say: the collection is very well curated. As well as the art! They have regular art shows with all sorts of awesome art-makers, and reading events.

Our reading was a lot of fun. We had a good crowd, and read to them out on the patio which was a great place for a reading. We caught a few people hanging out, reading and enjoying snacks from the cafe next door, and added our own group, there to see the reading. We had a big wooden porch, which we turned into a stage for a night. Domy offered us a reading discount, and we emptied our pockets. They bought a lot of our books to sell in the shop after we had gone as well. All around, a great place to have a reading, and a great discovery in Houston!

This past summer, during my annual pilgrimage to Austin, I had the chance to visit Domy Houston’s new sister store, Domy Austin, which has been open for just a year or two. Already it looks and feels amazing, with another creative mix of local and international printed matter. Austin definitely has its own vibe, with less toys and more DVDs, but the same Domy awesomeness is definitely to be found. Russell, who moved to Austin to open the Domy store, was kind enough to show Ally and I around, and we browsed and took photos and talked shopped until we had to run to the airport.

Two great bookstores deep in the heart of Texas! Recommended for all who live there, and any who visit.

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A Daily Constitutional

June 5, 2009

posted by caroline picard

Daily Constitutional : A Publication for the

Artist’s Voice

I came across this fantastic publication about a year ago and keep meaning to make a blog post of it. At long last. The Daily Constitutional is a handsome publication made by artists with submissions dealing with the meta-conversation of being an artist. Their mission is as follows: The mission of this publication is to provide an outlet and forum for the individual Artist’s voice, rather than the cacophony that is the art world at large (galleries, critics, curators, museums, patrons and finally the artists themselves). To provide a place to express, exchange and discuss, without interpretation, the artist’s opinions, ideas and discoveries within one’s practice. This publication can only be made possible, through a collaboration of individual Artists.

One of my favorite entries features (which I, sadly, can’t find at the moment) features a submission letter from an American artist to a European gallery (I want to say Finland?). At any rate, the artist went to the trouble to translate his/her submission into aforementioned esoteric European language; the gallery in the meantime replied in English, with a translation of the artist’s query, thereby revealing all of the humorous typos contained in the original correspondence. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always beautiful (handsome images accompany the text), I am regularly struck by the obvious hard work contained in each issue.

I have included one submission (this I could find) from issue no. 2, summer 2006.

THE CHELSEA MANIFESTO

by Christopher Lee

1. Dada to prada.

2. Lifestyle as content.

3. I used to be a black artist.

4. The here and now permeated with a sense of dread and unease.

5. Matthew Marxism, Inc.

6. The conscientious consumer.

7. Money changes everything.

8. The power of pastels to convey radical social critique.

9. Paintings meant to persuade free market liberal democracies to become social utopias.

10. Poetry und sodomie.

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

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“Hold the map close to your face. Breathe into it and you will hear a river start.”

 

The Organizational History of The Jejune Institute, as posted on their website. Visit for much, much more information.

 

The origins of the Jejune Institute are in the San Francisco Bay Area, where in 1962 a small academic society first gathered around a common interest in the advancement of socio-re-engineering methods. A cross-disciplinary approach was quickly embraced as students and professors from diverse areas of studies began to associate and compare knowledge: Sociologists, Political Scientists, Biologists, and Psychologists all figured prominently among members of other disciplines. Prominent department faculty were present early on from top campuses including Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the University of San Francisco. Regular bi-weekly meetings soon developed into a monthly lecture series, periodic experimental seminars and an annual conference.

 

Among the broad ranging scope of discussion, a few central topics emerged to the top. Primarily; the problems of expanding interpersonal trust among fellow human subjects, how to increase general spontaneity & creativity across large populations, and how to induce mutation in the geopolitical realm. As eccentric as these topics sound, they were not based upon the bohemian movements popularized in the area at the time. They were firmly based upon solid scientific research and empirical evidence.

 

As the movement grew, a leader emerged. Octavio Coleman, Esquire was a young Professor at Stanford’s Department of Molecular Physiology, recently moved to California from the Netherlands, where he was a head of research at the University of Leiden. He was quickly elected as the acting chair person of the society, and became was renowned for leading engaging and humorous discussions that encouraged participation from every member of the often expansive audience. To many Coleman Esquire was considered the living embodiment of the humanitarian ideals professed by the society.

 

During the 1970’s, under the visionary leadership of Coleman Esquire, the academic society evolved into The Jejune Institute; an international not for profit organization with the funds to support it’s own research facilities and independent programs. Through these programs the Jejune Method was crystalized, and the Institute soon gained the global influence for which it is currently known.

 

During this transitional era, luminaries such as Werner Erhard, Stuart Emory, and L. Ron Hubbard were prominent participants at the Institute. Through working closely with Coleman they eventually went on to spearhead the growing movement of “personal growth” and “self-help”. Though largely uncredited, The Jejune Institute was an integral part of the philosophical breeding grounds of EST, Esalon, and Dianetics, which collectively spawning a thousand like-minded schools or pop psychology.

 

A cultural shift in the organization occurred in the 80’s as the Institute began to develop a series of innovative products aligned with it’s ultimate goal of maximizing human potential. Chief advisors recognized the mission would sooner be accomplished through a corporate entity with a for-profit motive, compared to the former 501c3 structure. Hence, the current incarnation of the organization was established; The Jejune Institute L.L.C.

 

Now in the 21st Century, many of Coleman’s earliest foresights and predictions have materialized. His often outlandish prognosis have all seemed to gain scientific credibility, and it is at this moment that his theories feel most relevant. It is no coincidence then that millions of participants around the world are rigorous disciples of the Jejune Method, and our induction centers now span over all seven continents. To learn more about how these principles relate to you, sign up for a free orientation session at one of our many global induction centers.

Dandyism

May 27, 2009

posted by caroline picard

Ben_ok2_sharp

i had a dream about you last night. i was in an upstairs library where m. was doing research on ben franklin. there was a book there that i picked up, it was bound in a red leather folder and inside there were loose pages all about the various forefathers’ lives. there was also a sheet of newsprint that had all of their signatures, except the handwriting was childish (like a handwriting class from the fourth grade) and written in pencil. upon closer examination of the book moshe and i discovered that franklin was decidedly a dandy. i remarked upon the binding. i then went outside on the porch and started talking to you and you were like “no fucking shit Franklin was a fucking dandy,” providing additional evidence to the point. i wish i could remember the stories you told me, but they felt very intimate.

posted by Caroline Picardyasusada02a

I came across this interview with Kent Johnson and John Bradley, where they discuss poet Araki Yasusada. I’ve included the introduction to the interview below, though I think the interview itself is really fantastic. I’ve also included one of Yasusada’s works, of particular interest in the context of this blog, since I recently posted some of Jack Spicer’s After Lorca.)

From the interview:

Araki Yasusada, according to the biographical information in Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada (published in 1997 by Roof Books), was born in 1907 in Kyoto and lived there until 1921, when he moved to Hiroshima. There he “survived” (if anyone can be said to truly “survive” such an event) the atomic bombing of that city, though his wife and one of his daughters perished in the blast. In 1972, Yasusada died of cancer. Eight years after his death, Yasusada’s son found some notebooks of his father’s containing poems, letters, essays for an English class, shopping lists, etc. These writings, in “translated” form, have been published over the last few years in such journals as Stand and Poetry Review in England, First Intensity, Conjunctions, Grand Street, and The American Poetry Review. In fact, it was after a special supplement of Yasusada material appeared in 1996 in APR, and a subsequent quarter-page editor’s note denounced the Yasusada writing as a “hoax,” that questions regarding the authenticity of the documents erupted. Harper’s Magazine, London Magazine in England, Wesleyan University Press, and the seminal anthology Poems for the Millennium (U. of California Press), all of which intended publication of Yasusada’s writing, dropped their plans like hot potatoes.

Since these complications regarding Yasusada’s identity have come to light, some editors and readers have claimed that they feel betrayed—they thought they were reading the work of a hibakusha, that is, a Japanese survivor of an atomic bombing, whose writing allowed us to see a life lived in the shadow of Hiroshima. To find out that this was not the case, some argued, spoiled the work for them. In fact, some readers felt that the “real” author/authors used the atomic bombing to generate sympathy for the alleged victim and thus exploited this emotion to ensure publication, and perhaps to expose a bias toward experiential as opposed to imaginative writing. Still others welcomed the controversy and the discussions it has generated.

Captivated as I’ve been by the issues raised through the Yasusada writing, I proposed interviewing Kent Johnson, with whom I have kept in close contact since our days at Bowling Green. He graciously agreed. We conducted the interview during May and June of 1999, over e-mail and at Sullivan’s Bar and Health Spa, in DeKalb, Illinois.

go here to read the complete introduction &  interview.


Excerpt from Double Flowering

The following letter, undated and handwritten n English was found folded within a copy of Kodaya Daikokuya’s Dreams About Russia, present amongst Yasusada’s belongings. In its original form the letter is heavily rewritten and corrected, but the arrows and marginal notes indicating rearrangement of the passages are relatively clear.

Dear Spicer:

This is the last letter. All day I have been pacing back and forth, trying to think about what this has all meant, wondering how I might say goodbye to you. I’ve been thinking of you writing to Lorca in a trance, of Lorca bemused by it all, sending poems to you for the sheer joy of it from the grave. Here and there, phrases from the passerby rise from the deep shade of the gingkos. Because I have lost some weight, my Father’s ceremonial kimono fits me just fine. It is a very expensive one which my aunt from Kobe kept in a glass case, surrounded by tiny Shinto votives. I wish so much you could see how the cranes move deeper into the golden reeds when I bow. I watch this happen in the mirror for both of us, and the effect is rather startling. The gesture has something to do with language, but I’m not quite sure how.

It may be that that’s what I heard the the passerby say beneath the gingkos, and so I wrote it down.

What does it mean to write letters to a dead man, knowing that I am writing to myself? I want you to exist, I might shout into the wind. I want you to speak back to me. It may happen, at any moment, that bossoms will blow in through the open screen and be pinned for a few moments to the kimono’s trees. In this transcient world, who’s to tell?

What you’ve taught me, Spicer, is that the real washes up like a dream from the unreal. Thus, when I say that on a beach against a cliff there is a boat older than Galilee, it is in the spirit of shellacking words to a page like objects to canvass. A lemon peel, a piece of the moon, two little girls playing and calling to their Father on the beach. The boat that is older than Galilee comes into the real, dragging a whole cargo of ghost-history with it. What you’ve taught me, Spicer, is that the unreal washes up from the real [sic, eds.]. Doesn’t the sound of the burned one drinking from the ocean make your hair stand on end?

Now here’s the thing I’ve been waiting until the end of our correspondence to say: You say you would like the moon in your poems to be a real moon, one that could be covered by clouds, a moon independent of images. And you say you would like to point to the moon, and that the only sound in the poem be the pointing. At first I was confused, thinking that you wanted it both ways. But now I know you mean that the pointing and the moon are one. Like these letters, for instance, which have at their heart an urn, made real by the facing gaze of two identical ghosts. An urn wrought by the moon itself and the sorrowful pointing at it. Why look any further for the real?

St. Augustine didn’t, and I think that after you read this passage from his Soliloquia you will see reflected there an image of what your own poems desire to do. And you will see that I am in here too, gazing back at you.

On the stage Roscius was a false Hecuba by choice, a true man by nature; but by that choice also a true tragic actor because he fulfilled his purpose, yet a false Priam because he imitated Priam but was not he. And now from this comes something amazing, which however no one doubts…that all these things are true in some respects…and that only the fact that they are false in one sense helps them toward their truth. Hence they cannot in any way arrive where they would be or should be if they shrink from being false. For how could the actor I mentioned be a true tragic actor if he were not willing to be a false Hector, a false Andromache, a false Hercules….? Or how could a picture of a horse be a true picture unless it were a false horse? Or an image of a man in a mirror be a true images unless it were a false man? So if the fact that they are false in one respect helps certain things to be true in another respect, why do we fear falseness so much and seek truth as such a great good?…Will we not admit that these things make up truth itself, that truth is so to speak put together from them?

I know that you know there’s no map for this, no destination, in our facing one another, to seek. What remains is the love in the words we move within. My daughters call, pointing to me, impatiently, on the moon-covered beach. The wind blows the blossoms in through the screen, all over the water and the trees and the cranes. Reading you, my lips move, and the urn turns, like a whole world, between us. This is where my communion with you ends and where it begins.

Now reah through, and place you hand on the papery flesh of this false face. And I shall put into my branching voice the ashy sky of your gaze.

Love,

Yasusada

Backseat Driver

May 20, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

This is a rock song/poem I wrote while at NEXT. I was imagining it played like a mid-eighties soft-metal song.

chorus: Cuz I’m a backseat driver

You better run for cover

The pressure’s movin’ right

We’ll drive on through the night

Just call me your MacGuyver

*

And when the sun go down

Just like the sun come up

Don’t matter either way babe

This truck’ll fill ‘er up

*

We got the mess on lockdown

We gave them folks the smack down

Calling the rebel yell

‘Fore the cops’d even crack down

*

bridge: It’s a whole new kinda law

the kind that I got goin on

You bettter stick with me man

‘Fore you get the hard con

Anonymous Dad

May 19, 2009

posted by Kaitlyn Miller

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Anonymity and the internet seem to be moving further apart as the internet ages, which is why it’s so frustrating that I can’t find out who the genius behind Lunch Bag Art is. Lunch Bag Art is a blog hosted by an anonymous dad who, every day, creates a new piece of art on his kids’ lunch bags.

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Many of his designs appear to be rooted strictly in pop culture, but at times he does branch off into original material. From Pokemon characters to Loverboy heart tattoos, Lunch Bag Art’s throwaway art spans generations and makes me wish I was back in elementary school.

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