Indie bookstore isn’t dead after all

I was upset to see that a former haunt of mine, Bookworks in Aptos, California, seemed to be kaput. I used to spend hours in the store, guzzling coffee, reading the magazines and buying just enough inventory to upgrade myself from “loiterer” to “frequent customer.” Stopping in to browse through this charming store, I saw some ugly brown wrapping on the windows last week, along with a notice saying that the space was being turned into, of all things, a bike store. (I love bikes, but this area has bicycle outlets the way Haight-Ashbury has creperies and stinky bong emporiums.) Fortunately, the store has merely moved, although it’s smaller than before.

Street poet bids farewell to Cactuseaters in SF (edited version. I wrote this in a hurry.)

Before relocating, I chatted with Lynn Gentry, the famed street poet of Haight-Ashbury, about leaving town. Among other things, I explained to him the staggering amounts of lead in my Victorian apartment (up to 45 times the permissible levels of lead according to the SF Health Department.)He sat down at his typewriter and came up with this nice farewell verse: “Calls come suddenly and time is too lateto dawn upon minds that wished for so much more butbeauty sits so fragile; who could have known yesterdaythe mystery that calls us to protect oursevlesFrom the dreams of ourselves where questions sit in mind but little girls sit in viewabout to turn twoand we turn our back on fantasies to realize paradise.” Good one, Lynn Gentry.

David Howard’s Lost Rights and Daniel Okrent’s Last Call

I’ve been hearing from readers asking for more information about the Lost Rights nonfiction book and David Howard’s Lost Rights book tour. Here is all the info you need. Also, make sure to get your hands on Daniel Okrent’s highly entertaining portrait of Prohibition, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, another book that has been making the rounds this month. Amy and I did a bit of research work on Last Call, and it was very exciting to see it arrive in bookstores.

Lost Rights — David Howard charts the strange journey of a stolen American relic

Who stole the Bill of Rights? I’m not speaking metaphorically here. One of General Sherman’s infantrymen pilfered one of the fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights in the North Carolina statehouse. The stolen relic (a real-life National Treasure) changed hands again and again as it made its way across America. The longtime journalist and author David Howard received a rave from Publishers Weekly for this highly anticipated book, which hits stores this summer. I had the privilege of reading this one in an early form, and I can tell you that it’s a jaw dropping combination of investigative reporting and narrative, with memorable characters and so-strange-it-could-only-be-true situations. PW gave it a starred review and named it as the nonfiction pick of the week.