Untitled by Anonymous!

Weird things happen in any business sometimes. Here's my favorite of late, a "sell sheet" from a major publisher giving us the opportunity to buy what may be a hot book this fall. Or what might be a total dud.

How many should we order? Who do you think this book is about? Madoff? DSK? Oprah? Biden?!

Battlin' Banh Mi

There's a little smackdown going on in the lunch scene on Clement Street. Little Vietnam Cafe has been my go to lunch spot for a couple of years now. With a fine selection of those afforadble little Vietnamese sandwiches, along with grab and go cold rolls, it is a great place to nab a tasty lunch for under $5. They were even named Best Banh Mi by SFWeekly a few weeks ago, a category with no small amount of competition here in San Francisco. Here is what the Weekly had to say:

All the banh mi ... excel in the basic competencies: A warm, airy French roll so crisp that crumbs fly off its surface when you press down. A faint coating of sweetened mayonnaise. Enough cilantro to perfume each bite, and enough jalapeños to keep you pausing after every few mouthfuls.

But now there's a new kid on the block, and they got game. Cafe Bunn Mi opened a couple of weeks ago in the space left vacant when Java closed down. Aside from the more upscale interior, they've got a broader selection of banh mi, from crispy duck to smokey vegetable. Toss in possible sides like sweet potato fries and dungeness crab puffs, and game on.

I'm going to split my lunch dollar between the two of them, as I do love those cold rolls at Little Vietnam as a quick lunch option, but I do hear that crispy duck calling....

Fictional felines

Clark's got a smart dog doing the cooking and household chores (when old Rascal's not contemplating the meaning of life or commenting on his owner's foibles, that is), but lemme tell ya, I've got a cat that's just as smart, if not as doting as any Canis lupus familiaris. As is clearly visible in the photo above, Tigger has a preference for tidily made beds and stacks of books. We're a lot alike in that way, the two of us.

And also like me, Tigger prefers fiction to hefty philosophical tomes weighing in on the essence of Catness or ethical treatises on the morality of mouse-catching. We both love a good yarn (get it?!) and since your ever-dutiful Green Apple staff refuses to take side in the age old cat-dog debate, we've added as thoughtful a feline fiction section as the dog shelf Clark previously mentioned.

Currently featuring:

- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- I am a Cat by Natsume Soseki
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr by E.T.A. Hoffmann
- The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
- Tails of Wonder and Imagination edited by Ellen Datlow

Deep Dogs

Ever since my dog started reading books and smoking cigarettes and cooking and stuff, lemme tell ya' things have been a little different around the ol' log cabin. I'm not sure what's gotten in to him, but with the sudden change in mind I've been forced to adopt a brand new set of eyes to bring to work with me. Yes ma'am, I've got my peepers peeled for dog books nowadays. I'm not talking My Dog Tulip or the writing of Cesar Millan. Invaluable as the acclaimed dog whisperer's work may be and as much as Tulip had to teach us, what I've been sniffing out is not for the paws of men.

Rascal (my dog, above) has developed a taste for dog-fiction. That is to say, novels prominently and thoughtfully featuring a canine whose personal decisions advance or twist the plot, for better or for worse. Always excited to accommodate a blossoming market, my coworkers have aided me in hand picking the contents for our brand new deep dog-fiction shelf. If you've got a reading dog at home (or merely an interest in reading of dogs), please, take a trip down to Green Apple Books main store at 506 Clement St. After applying our keen attention to detail to the matter, I'm confident that we boast the finest and most expertly curated deep dog-fiction selection in The Bay Area, perhaps even the West Coast. I'm certain that if my dog could talk he would finally thank me, and that's nothing to woof at.

Currently featuring:
-The Art of Racing in the Rain
-Call of the Wild
-White Fang
-King: A Street Story
-Travels With Charley
-White Dog

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

And if it's not too redundant, "THANK YOU!"

Yes, the annual San Francisco Bay Guardian's "Best of the Bay" issue for 2011 has hit the streets, and topping the Reader's Poll list in the 'shopping' category for Best Overall Bookstore / Best Used Bookstore is. . . (drum-roll). . . your beloved Green Apple Books and Music!!

So again, thank you again for all of your support! It's always an honor and one that we never take lightly!

Read on!

The Chairs are Where the People Go

I'll admit to initially being skeptical of--or at least not that interested in--The Chairs are Where the People Go, a book in which a novelist I knew only by name (Sheila Heti) recorded a series of monologues by a man I've never heard of (Misha Glouberman) with the idea that Glouberman would reveal to Heti just about everything he knows by expounding on some of his favorite topics, including:
  • Is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking?
  • Is monogamy a trick?
  • Why does a computer last only three years?
  • How often should you see your parents?
  • How should we behave at parties?
At first glance, the book struck me as something of a vanity project, more suitably distributed to friends as a PDF (a joke Heti and Glouberman made at the reading) than for publication by the illustrious Faber & Faber. But when an enthusiastic co-worker asked if I'd be interested in attending a launch for the book at the JCC, I put my skepticism aside and pencilled in an evening of "Culture" on my calendar.

Knowing nothing of Glouberman aside from his role in authoring (in a sense) this book did not stop me from forming a very specific mental image: given the folksy, anecdotal nature of the book and its light-hearted cover art, I imagined Glouberman as an elderly man, an exuberant and charismatic proprietor of a delicatessen on the Lower East Side, with tufts of hair sprouting from his ears and a proclivity to dispense witticisms and to "tell it like it is." A man who feeds pigeons and who has a penchant for conspiratorial stage whispering.

While I didn't get to interact with Misha thoroughly or at close enough proximity to comment on his ear hair or ask whether he feeds pigeons, I can certainly tell you that he is not an old Jewish man from New York. Charismatic, yes; exuberant, sure; but not old. And rather than being a New Yorker, he's Canadian, educated at Harvard, and founder of the Misha Glouberman School of Learning.

Glouberman and Heti appear to enjoy each others' company

Along with Heti, Glouberman is also an organizer of a barroom lecture series called Trampoline Hall in Toronto. The idea behind the lecture series is as simple and as "Why didn't I think of that?" as most great ideas: invite someone to give a lecture on a topic he or she is not an expert in. Examples of past topics include "Being an Asshole" (let's hope the lecturer on this topic was indeed a non-expert), "Whales," "Tumbleweed," and "How to perform surgery if you have gangreen." A full history of the series by lecture topic is available on the Trampoline Hall website.

Glouberman's introductory comments allayed any fears I had upon discovering that he was not the old thick-skinned Lower East Sider I imagined. It turns out that I was wrong, in this instance at least, to presume that someone who has a friend so enamored and devoted to one's opinions to write a "How To" book based on those opinions probably has an inflated sense of self-importance. In fact, Glouberman is funny and, in a particular way, wise, as this excerpt on "The Gym" attests.

And even with Glouberman proving the cynic in me wrong with his wit and good humor, it was still a pleasant surprise that the book launch combined Misha's musings with Trampoline Hall-style lectures by a couple of locals: the first, by longtime (and soon to be former) Believer editor Andrew Leland, on "What experimental music is for" and the second, by artist Clare Rojas, illustrator of Heti's new childrens' book We Need a Horse, published by McSweeney's, on "The Gym."

The evening's program will soon be available as a podcast on The Hub of the JCCSF's website.

The book biz and Green Apple's future

A few month's ago, when Borders first announced the closing of a third of its stores, we wrote this. Now, with Borders completely liquidating, we are prompted to re-think (yet again) the future of bookselling and Green Apple Books.

In short, we feel the same way now as we did a few months ago. In fact, we may be more bullish. Here's why:
  1. Our Google eBooks are starting to catch on. Readers really are buying eBooks for all devices (except the proprietary Kindle) from Green Apple, and returning to buy more. We'll continue to promote this new service, as we aim to put good books and readers together, no matter the format.
  2. The Borders in the Stonestown mall is closing, so we have an opportunity to win some new customers. While their going-out-of-business sale may hurt us in the short term, being the lone big bookstore west of Stanyan Street can only help Green Apple.
  3. Amazon will soon have to collect sales tax in California, and other states are following suit. It may take a few months, or a few lawsuits, but it'll happen. It's about time the playing field was levelled, and Amazon is being excoriated in the media for their tax-dodging ways. See this and this and this and this and so on.
  4. Green Apple has a small expansion in the works. Nothing big, but we planto better maximize our return on the busiest used book buy counter in theBay Area.
  5. Many behind-the-scenes improvements are shoring up Green Apple's finances, like:
  • Dodd-Frank act should lower our debit fees;
  • Our annual company-wide health plan renewal increase was in the single digits;
  • Successful GroupOn and ScoutMob offers brought in new customers; and
  • We're reducing operational costs, like phone & Internet service.
There's still and always much more to do: revamp our website to better reflect the store, get our used books inventoried for easier shopping and better buying control, and so on.

And we're still very concerned about the health of the bigger industry: without healthy publishers, Green Apple can't thrive.

As we said in February, it's ultimately up to our customers. If they want Green Apple to survive, they have to buy books (or eBooks, CDs, DVDs, LPs, greeting cards, journals) here. So far, they do. So we'll keep adapting, reading, buying, shelving, shelf-talkering, and
making goofy videos.

Thanks for reading.
a Robin Allen photo, adapted

Delicious Disguise

San Francisco's epileptic summer weather be damned, I gotta tell ya I'm a year-round popsicle man. Henceforth I strongly recommend Fany Gerson's new book on Mexican ice pops, shaved ice and aguas frescas (aptly titled), PALETAS. Thanks to Ms. Fany I've been maintaining a functional sugar high/drunken bender off sour cream, cherry and tequila popsicles for about three days now, and being that you don't have to brown bag icy treats the cops can't touch me till I pass out on the block. YUM!

Desert Island Poets

Portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Robert Hancock

Co-worker #1: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what poet would you want to be stranded with?

Co-worker #2: A hot one.

Co-worker #1: Like Sylvia Plath.

Co-worker #2: Is that an oven joke? Too soon.

Co-worker #3 (rolling her eyes): Poets are completely impractical. They'd be terrible company on a deserted island.

Co-worker #2: That's true. Imagine being stuck with Emily Dickinson.

Co-worker #3: She'd pray a lot and would not like being outside.

Co-worker #1: Seriously, though... I'd pick Bukowski. He'd be a good time, at least.

Co-worker #2: I feel like he'd try to make some moves.

Co-worker #3: If it's just the two of you on that island there's bound to be some moves.

Co-worker #2: I'd go with Coleridge. Impractical, yes. But the opium!

Co-worker #3: Maybe I'd want to be stranded with William Carlos Williams. He was a doctor.

Co-worker #2: Gary Snyder also wouldn't be a bad choice. He's got backcountry experience. And we could meditate together.

Co-worker #1: I'm sticking with Bukowski. Or Han-shan, for practical reasons.

Sweet Fantasy Baby

I'm not gonna lie. We've got a whole mess of Hajime Sorayama books in our used fantasy art section. Of course this includes a number of titles showcasing his internationally famous Gynoids. I highly recommend that you come by and pick up a few copies of these classic masterworks. With technology so rapidly advancing you'll just be staring them (flesh) face to (polished steel) face a few years from now anyway and it's always best to be prepared. In fact, prepping for the Gynoids is only step one. After the Gynoids THIS is lurking somewhere along that dark wormhole called life, and we all know where that tunnel leads... (here)

Left Bank Bohemia: Le bon mot!

The most exciting event of the July is almost upon us, and I have a special bonus for the friends of Green Apple Books and Litquake, so read on!

On Thursday, July 14th Litquake will present Cabaret Bastille at CellSpace Gallery from 8pm - midnight, and you can bet your bottom euro that it's going to be fantastic!

BONUS ALERT: enter the word 'friends' when you purchase advance tickets through Brown Paper Tickets and you will receive advance tickets for only $10.00! CLICK HERE for tickets.

Cabaret Bastille July 14

Litquake celebrates Left Bank Bohemia with authors channeling authors, French wine, tricolor cocktails, absinthe fountain, blue films from the ’20s, exotic dancing, and at least one accordion—flappers and dandies welcome!

Step into the enchanted word of 1920s Paris as your favorite authors read excerpts from their works:

Matt Stewart as Ford Maddox Ford
Alia Volz as Anais Nin
Mac Barnett as F. Scott Fitzgerald
Alan Black as James Joyce
Andrew Dugas as Ernest Hemingway
Sarah Fran Wisby as Djuna Barnes
Joshua Mohr as Henry Miller
Daphne Gottlieb as H.D.

Hosted by Tara Jepsen channeling Gertrude Stein


  • Angus Martin on the accordion, accompanied by the lovely chanteuse Gabrielle Ekedal
  • Enchantress Yvonne Michelle Cordoba weaving her sinuous dance
  • Exquisite corpse, candy ciggies, costume box, make-your-own-Matisse
  • and much, much more….

Alcohol sponsored by Blue Angel Vodka and Black StarBeer. No-host bar.

July 14th, 8pm-midnight
At CELLspace 2050 Bryant, San Francisco, CA 94114
Tickets: $13 advance/ $15 at the door

A coincidental desert

About a month ago, a friend and I watched "Nostalgia for the Light," a documentary on Chile's Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth and, in this film, a poignant metaphor for the ways in which we locate ourselves in the universe.

Director Patrizio Guzman uses the spare facts of the Atacama--it is home to a group of observatories that collectively make up the Very Large Telescope and to a handful of abandoned mining towns that were converted into concentration camps during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet--to create a heart-wrenching portrait of longing and the varying ways we locate ourselves in the universe.

The film has two poles: one terrestrial, in which Guzman chronicles the attempts of a handful of widows, sisters and mothers as they sweep the desert for the remains of their loved ones executed (now almost 30 years ago) as dissidents and political prisoners; the other astronomical, as we follow the discoveries of scientists taking advantage of the lack of humidity in the desert to chart depths of space heretofore undiscovered. The juxtaposition evokes an almost unbearable pathos, but is beautiful on both the human and the universal scale.

The Horsehead Nebula

Coincidentally, a few days after seeing the film and learning of the history of the Atacama I received a call at the store from Bruce McPherson, founder of McPherson & Company, who wanted to inform me of the latest book he's published, Carlos Franz's The Absent Sea.

Franz, a Chilean whose novel arrives draped in praise by Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa and the great Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, focuses his plot on one of Pinochet's concentration camps in that desert and traces the repercussions felt twenty years later in the lives of a newly returned exile and her daughter. One early reviewer compared The Absent Sea favorably to wunderkind Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife and another at Words Without Borders concludes her review by writing that The Absent Sea "is about human nature in its most vast, arid, and uncharted reaches."

Meet the Author(s)

Proudly introducing an opportunity to meet your favorite Green Apple blog author, me! One time only, the 27th of this July 2011 I'll be at Pegasus books in Berkeley! To be fair though, taking all of your questions, concerns and complaints will come secondary to my primary reason for being there- to observe author, illustrator and artist, Anders Nilsen presenting his soon-to-be released (August 4th) book Big Questions.

A decade long endeavor, I've personally been waiting for the Big Questions series to be collected for quite a few years myself, and although I'm not quite sure how a visual presentation of a graphic novel is structured (read a word balloon, pass the book around so everyone can see the picture?) Nilsen's long resume of accomplishments leaves me assured that any attending will be in for a unique event. Big Questions itself is a drifting, philosophical journey hazily reminiscent of Aesop's fables (talking animals) or a Greek epic filtered through a bizarre lens lent by modern trappings. His installation art has never been short of visually stunning, and furthermore the dude is a pretty good skater.

A link to more information via Peagasus Books can be found HERE.

Below (and I guess above too) I've included only the tiniest taste of Mr. Nilsen's work, if not to get you to go to the event itself, then at least enough to prompt you to start exploring a bit on your own.

The cover to the upcoming Big Questions collection.

An installation by Anders Nilsen composed of buttons, each with individual illustrations or photographs on them.

Anders Nilsen's depiction of Richard Brautigan

Think TYPE...Think TASCHEN...

Welcome to the world of TYPE...care of TASCHEN!

Everything you could ever want to know about printing letters and numbers! Looking back as far as man's first efforts to communicate with visual signs and drawings, Letter Fountain is a completely unique typeface handbook: in addition to examining the form and anatomy of every letter in the alphabet (as well as punctuation marks and special characters), the book cross-references type designs with important works of art and art movements from Gutenberg's times until today. Further attention is given to the esthetics of the digital age and typographical recommendations such as the choice of the right typeface for a job. Rounding out the guide are an in-depth comparison between sans-serif and serif typefaces, an essay about measuring systems and indications, advice about typographic rules, plus a manual for developing digital

TYPE Volumes 1 and 2 - Between the two volumes you have overview of type history from 1628-1938. Both volumes come with a keycard, allowing you access to jpegs of the images.

Celebrated printer and type designer Giambattista Bodoni set the standard for printing the alphabet with his Manuale Tipografico (1818). The two-volume set—published posthumously in a limited edition of 250—features 142 sets of roman and italic typefaces, a wide selection of borders, ornaments, symbols, and flowers, as well as Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Phoenician, Armenian, Coptic, and Tibetan alphabets.

Seuss in Translation

How do you think the rhyming scheme sounds in Hebrew? My guess is awesome.

Vintage Modernism

Dribbble bucket

Most design trends come and go quickly, while others can stand long enough to define a movement. And in the midst of the movement, what is going on now becomes modern design. of course, there can be multiple movements going on at the same time and modern design becomes a collection of these movements. And certainly any trend that is strong enough to be a large and important movement has the ability to come back after it has died off. “what is old is new again” applies to art and design with nearly every generation.

I think any current trends in creative arts or culture has an effect on the ones that follow. Often, it will inspire something that is very contrasting. In the late 80s, “grunge” music was inspired very much by the LA hair metal scene. It was a reaction to the status quo of glitzy, glammed-out, girly men. the 60s hippy culture of love and peace a reaction to war. In the early 2000s web 2.0 was the current design standard with its shiny bells and whistles, and now minimalism is very large, which focuses on using only what is necessary and lots of space. There seems to always be a group of people who enjoy doing the opposite of everyone else in order to stand out, and very often, progress the medium forward.

Which brings me to the reaction of minimalism that I call “vintage-modernism”.
Over the last year or two, it has exploded into the mainstream trend. Vintage-modernism is everywhere. You cant go through a single page of dribbble.com and not see it. it draws inspiration mainly from minimalism, grunge, art deco, and mid 20th century graphic design. some designers are also pulling typography inspiration from much older movements, such as medieval blackletter or art nuevo. the basic style is self explanatory by name. taking modern design elements and blending with vintage elements. A very large percentage of these designs feature:

Texture – subtle grunge for a worn or old effect. old paper is popular too, but the main gist here is to rough up the edges to make the design looked used or old.

retro colors - bold, but not highly saturated. remember we're going for a faded aged look here. retro complimentary colors are popular, think 1950s-1970s, but also more contemporary palettes can be found like black, grey, and red.

type - modern and/or vintage. tall Grotesque san-serifs, brush scripts, and slab serifs are the main ones. but, this element is widely varied. sometimes you will see slim modern serif fonts used as well. sometimes blackletter fonts. there is usually a high contrast in the combination of fonts such as a slab serif paired with a brush script. common to find 3 or more fonts in one design. solid drop shadows, strokes, and middle knock outs (lines going through the letters) are very common. this can also be the best part of this style as there are some very interesting type treatments being used.

shape - the circle is by far the most common shape. stars are common and so are shapes that resemble badges or seals. pointy banner shapes will often accompany a logo.

thick lines - outlining type or shape. 2 strokes of color on an element is common.

form - flat shapes, solid color blocks. the large color areas often have texture.

my feelings for this style are mixed because I feel I was ahead of the curve on this movement, developing my style to be this very thing, before I was aware it was even happening. I designed my personal identity in the summer of 2009 and it is based on many of those principals I listed above. I designed a logo summer of 2010 that at the time I thought was totally unique, now is a standard style. Yet, I had no influence on this movement at all. My presence is very small in the design world. If I were not a designer, vintage-modernism still would have happened without me, and now I only appear to be a follower of a trend.

That’s why im conflicted. Ive always been a bit rebellious. Doing the opposite of everyone else. My style was developing in response to what was the norm and now that “my style” is the norm I want to change again and go in another direction! But my designer/artist fantasy is to be a part of an important movement; Living in a city with other great creatives and influencing the world with our own original style. What it must have been like to be in the Renaissance with Leonardo and Raphael, or Paris in the 1920s with Picasso and Dali, or part of Bauhaus, or even in a Seattle band during the 90s grunge era.

So, what do I do? Change again and try to be an influence in the next movement? Forget about having my own style? "dont be original just be good". Or join the gang and continue to master the vintage-modernism style that I love, but will surely die off?

below are some shots of the style mostly pulled from dribbble.com. i like using dribbble examples because its a great barometer of whats going on now.

EDIT: also found this article from Smashingmagazine.com written in Oct. 2008 - click here to read

Another article from Smashing, March 2012 - click here to read

EDIT 2: great article from webdesigntuts on vintage modernism

heres a Pintrest board with lots of examples view here