Thanks to everyone who made it to Tosca Cafe last week, on very short notice, to witness the verbal hurricane that is Bobby Keys - a truly special night was had by all! Imagine, if you weren't among the lucky dozens in attendance, of kicking-back in a red naugahyde booth and gently sipping a famous 'House Cappuccino', while the Rolling Stones' sax man (that's right The Rolling Stones) regaled you with tales from more than 50 years on the road. . . Amazing!
You better believe that Bobby Keys (a native Texan) has the gift of gab; tales poured forth all evening, some hysterical, others touching: Keith Moon chasing his butler around the yard with a hovercraft, secret recording sessions with Gram Parsons and Keith Richards in the latter's basement studio, and tender remembrances of Levon Helm, John Lennon and sadly, many others.
Bobby's booming voice comes through perfectly in his recent memoir from Counterpoint Press, Every Night's a Saturday Night, which was what brought us all to Tosca last Tuesday in the first place. Well, that, and to hopefully witness a television thrown through a window. . .
If you missed it, you still have a chance to get to get your hands on a SIGNED COPY, which isn't exactly the same thing as downing White Russians with the man, but I do what I can. And by all means, check-in with our event calendar, or follow us on Facebook, just don't miss the next one!
Each year, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association honors the best books written or illustrated by Northern California authors and artists. With input from booksellers representing 200 stores in the region, here are the 2012 awards.
- FICTION: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
- NON-FICTION: A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres
- FOOD WRITING: Mourad: New Moroccan by the Richmond District's own Mourad Lahlou
- POETRY: Of Indigo and Saffron by Michael McClure
- REGIONAL: The Left Coast by Philip and Alex Fradkin
- CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK: The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon and Jake Parker
- MIDDLE GRADE: One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin
- TEEN LIT: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
I've been a bookseller long enough to know that this book is going to be a tough sell. As memorable and heartbreaking a novel as any I've read in recent memory, New Finnish Grammar is saddled with both a dry title and unassuming packaging. It's unlikely that either of these things are going to grab a hold of you the way the extraordinary story hidden inside of this book will; you'd be forgiven for passing the book by, as I did for months. (Finland? Grammar? I'll stick with Fifty Shades of Gray, thanks.) But, when I finally gave in to the nagging voice that insists I read a certain book, I found myself caught up in a heartbreaking story about a man with no memory, no language and no homeland. Narrated in an earnest, straightforward voice, New Finnish Grammar manages nonetheless to speak to profound questions of identity and meaning, all while remaining as compelling as The English Patient.
I can't post my usual light musings because I just read Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, reporter Blaine Harden's story of a young man's torture in, and escape from, a North Korean prison labor camp.
There’s no lyrical levity to lighten up this insider account. It’s a graphic and straightforward reporting of Shin Dong-Hyuk’s starvation, torture by sadistic guards, watching family members executed, a classmate beaten to death, and Shin’s mental anguish after his escape.
There’s some competition, I realize, for what nation’s citizens live the most harrowing lives of deprivation and degradation. But, it seems little media light has been shed on the horrifying inhumanity occurring within North Korea’s grey fields visible on satellite imagery.
The US intelligence community is aware of North Korea’s estimated 200,000 prison camp slavery victims. I appeal to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (if he’s reading this) to hold the Kim regime accountable for its atrocities.
Though I know this sentiment will contradict our official snarky vantage in this progressive urban vacuum, but reading Shin’s experience made me grateful to be American (despite our country’s own inequities, including with criminal justice and incarceration).
I urge Panetta and anyone not conversant in the reality above the DMZ, outside the Stalinist sound stage of Pyongyang, to read Escape from Camp 14.
We more than welcome new customers, of course, and it's natural that those who frequent the store are more aware--even if only vaguely--of Green Apple's layout, as shifting and possibly inscrutable as that may be (sometimes even for those of us who work here). Which is to say that the frequency of this question seems to be a good sign for us; the day no one asks where, for instance, poetry is will surely be a sign of impending doom.
The forest that awes and fascinates us the mostis this bookstore...Nobody, not even the 89-year old third-generationshopkeeper, Mr. L.,Nobody knows the bookstore's true dimensions--not even the literature Professor T., who lastyear in pursuit of someremaindered book,was submerged forever in the quicksand of letters,or the critic who, after many years, came dashing out of amuralor the new breed of bats biting his neck...Really, even in the closely guarded stacks east of SectionB--in the shrubbery, mainly of biographies and fables--we will occasionally run into theskeletons of the lost...
Here’s some of the locally crafted luxurious goods found here:
- Anderson’s own necklaces with chandelier crystals and old-fashioned keys ($30-$75), thin, multi-pocket wallets with heavy-duty snaps redeemed from vintage pleather tennis racket covers ($20-$40), pencil and cosmetic pouches made from soft leather Venezuelan Pampero rum-bottle bags ($36), that Anderson, (granddaughter of seamstress Concetta Longo) sews herself in the shop/studio on an industrial Juki sewing machine, under the brand “mittenmaker.”
- Sturdy Job + Boss clutches and bucket totes by Oakland’s Brook Lane and Kirby McKenzie using the hand-dipped Shibori dye-bath technique ($130 to $310).
- Plush “Lay Swing” pillows by Grass Valley partners Carabeth Rowley and Tahiti Pehrson, with intricate papercut stencil work, hand silkscreened on vintage seersucker.
- Portland’s Little Otsu greeting cards ($3)
- Berkeley’s Juniper Ridge room sprays ($20) like “Steep Ravine” and “Cascade Glacier” from sustainably wildcrafted aromatics like spicy laurel, woodsy cedar, sweet desert piñon, citrusy Douglas Fir, and pungent sage. Ten percent of their profits go to defending western Wilderness causes such as Desert Survivors and the California Wilderness Coalition.
- Bernal Heights-dweller, and CCA Wattis Institute Curator Jana Blankenship’s “Captain Blankenship” brand “Russalka” palmarosa bath salts ($20) and perfumes ($20) like “meteor” with ylang ylang.
- 26th and Balboa Jonathan Anzalone and Joseph Ferriso's Anzfer Farms Driftwood Bud vases ($15) and lamps ($75).
- Portland, Oregon Matt Pierce’s water-repellant, canvas Wood & Faulk bags ($170-$250).
Foggy Notion (inspired by the song from Velvet Underground’s 1969 “VU” album, and the Avenues’ familiar vapor, of course), is throwing an Earth Day party April 22, featuring Dogpatch dweller, sculptor and jewelry designer Robyn Miller’s vintage fashions and accessories, and used records from Andy Cabic of neo-folk band, Vetiver (whose thoughtful new Richmond District-inspired LP, “Errant Charm,” (Sub Pop, $22), by Cabic and Thom Monahan, is on sale.
Treasure Island Woodworker Drew Bennett used reclaimed Douglas Fir and Redwood to construct the store’s handsome counter.
Store owner Anderson, a Wakefield Memorial High School (Buffy Sainte Marie, class of 1958) and Smith College grad, is also a former Vetiver cellist.
275 6th Avenue 415-683-5654