On local bookstores

From Rebecca Mead at (again!) The New Yorker:

When books can be bought so cheaply online, or at one of the dwindling number of discount retailers, paying more to shop at a local bookstore feels virtuous, like buying locally sourced organic vegetables, or checking to see if a T-shirt is made in the U.S.A. It can be gratifying to the point of smugness to feel that one is being pluralistic, liberal, and humane; shopping at an independent bookstore may be one of the diminishing opportunities to experience that feeling in first-class New York City. Still, when I consider the vanished bookstores of Manhattan, I mourn not just their passing but the loss of a certain kind of book-buying innocence—a time when where one bought a book did not constitute a political statement, and reading it did not feel like participating in a requiem.

Referencing: Literary City, Bookstore Desert

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comm...

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet

There’s a lovely piece by John Lahr in this week’s New Yorker on director/choreographer Susan Stroman, whose husband Mike Ockrent died of leukemia while they were planning The Producers:

“I didn't feel like working, and Mel came over, kind of stormed in. And he said, ‘Look, I really want you to direct and choreograph this.’ And he said, ‘You'll cry in the morning, and you’ll cry at night. But when you're with me during the day you will laugh. And that will save you.’ It did.” After Ockrent’s death, Stroman bought a bench in Central Park, on Literary Walk, near the statue of Robert Burns, whose birthday they had celebrated every year. In commemoration of their New Year’s wedding, the bench’s plaque refers to Burns’s most famous song: “Dear Mike, ‘We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne.’ Love, Stro.”

+ see also: Stroman tapping with Astaire

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/03...

NYC half

Cold damn day for a race. Still! I would like to run this one next year: they do a partial loop of the park, head down Seventh Avenue to 42nd Street, then take a right to the West Side Highway, hook around Battery Park and up to the FDR and end at the South Street Seaport, all before lunchtime.

Reign: dirty laundry

Speaking of Anne of Green Gables, here she is as Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, offering daughter-in-law Mary Stuart a few dubious-sounding fertility potions on this stupid (and awesome) show REIGN:

It's no secret that I've never been able to watch Megan Follows in anything other than AoGG, since her performance in that miniseries decades ago is stamped so deeply into my mindgrapes. Obviously as a grownup I understand the separation of church and state, yet on some adolescent level I shall always believe, fervently, that she's off chasing a bunch of carrot-headed children through a muddy cow pasture on Prince Edward Island with Gilbert Blythe. Swoon, as you know. Gilbert Blythe. To thine own heart be true.

However! Since I am also a sucker for a good bad queen, I recently broke my own rule, and to my delight she is so amazingly arch and sly and wicked on this stupid show REIGN that it makes me angry the show is so stupid. Rise to the level of Megan Follows, quasi-historical teen angst soap opera! Every week I exclaim and every week they decline; she gets better and the show gets stupider. More stupid? It doesn't matter. It is also awesome.

To wit: last night the king's latest random sexual partner fell out his bedroom window whilst engaging with him in some high-risk sexual congress, and then he and the queen tried to scrub this poor lady's bloody remains off the ground right before they wrapped her body up in a bedspread and lugged it through the castle, Mr. Pamuk-style, so they could chuck it out another window in order to make it look like suicide. So as to not incite a war with Bohemia. As one does. Now how could you possibly make that not sound stupid? (And also, let's face it, awesome.) And I haven't even mentioned the priest who was stabbed in the heart with his own crucifix by a half-crazed blonde wood nymph being held under heavy sedation by—who else—Nostradamus. So so stupid! (And awesome.)

So, on behalf of logic, reason, and sense, I would like to apologize to anyone who's even read this far, simply for making you suffer through it, and then I'm going to need one of you to please please please for the love of god start watching this show so you can talk to me about it. Because it's so stupid! AND AWESOME.

Literary madness

Finally, my kind of gambling! (“Who wrote the better version of Venice?” “Does a freckled Canadian underdog have the chutzpah to take home a trophy?” Important questions all.) I stacked my bracket in favor of books by chicks, because A) there's no downside (because who cares), and B) chicks rule. Long story short: in my world Little Women beat everything, although indeed Anne of Green Gables was right there nipping at their rag-bag heels.

See also: the annual Morning News Tournament of Books. Louisa May Alcott is not in competition over there, but it's sure to be a barn-burner. Go Goldfinch! FTW.

Source: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GGItGuoqV...

Bag it, danno

I'm waiting at home for my accountant to call back with bad news, so why not do some imaginary bag shopping online? Here are some recent favorites, all of which are large enough to haul multiple books and/or sacks of lost kittens and will soon no longer be imaginary. Hence the impending bad news from my accountant. </lazy fiscal humor>

Baggu Duck Bag in Goldenrod

Baggu Duck Bag in Goldenrod

Herschel Ottawa Tote in Woodland Camo

Herschel Ottawa Tote in Woodland Camo

Everlane Petra Magazine Tote

Everlane Petra Magazine Tote

+ see also the utterly delightful Troy Patterson on man bags:

 The 50-something fellow shouldering a blocky Dell laptop in a blockier black synthetic bag is carrying the contemporary equivalent of Willy Loman’s sample case, one fears — and so is that fellow’s younger, more fashionable colleague, the one with a Mac in the twill Ghurka tote that goes so well with his A.P.C. barn jacket. The strap on a laptop bag is also a kind of yoke, for the liberating laptop has its flip side. The person carrying a computer used for business is wearing a reminder of business obligations, and is also mixing his business and personal lives in a way that must, on at least some vague level, change his sense of pleasure. Is there something galumphing and inherently inelegant in this relationship with technology? In having a mobile command center mingling with your own stuff? Or is this the way of all personal things in the time of the personal brand?

Coulda shoulda woulda

I sense a theme! From an interview with Teju Cole in this week's NYT Book Review:

Q: What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

A: I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.

You should definitely read his book Open City, though; it's exquisite and a little hypnotic.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/books/re...