You are browsing the archive for Books.

Swap Your Borders Rewards Plus Card for a Vroman’s Gift Card

February 16, 2011 in Books, LA

How’s this for a role reversal: instead of begging you to support the indepenent bookstore, Vroman’s in Pasadena is going out of its way to support you. The Pasadena independent bookstore will give you a $20 gift certificate to the store in exchange for your Borders Rewards Plus Card.  You know, that red card you bought for $20 because you thought it meant you would receive a discount on things, but now, in light of the Borders bankruptcy, is just another mini-card making your keychain look like a prison guard’s keychain, if the prison guard worked at a prison with cardkeys for keys (how fancy!).  Note that the offer is limited to the first 200 Borders Rewards Plus Card-carrying people, so go on, swap card for card, and maybe pick up a book with your new treasure.  Maybe this one?

Photo by Clinton Steeds and used under a Creative Commons license.

Sweet Charity: Blogging LA’s Guide to Giving – The Library Foundation of Los Angeles

December 21, 2010 in Books, LA, Social issues

“I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
- Isaac Asimov, in his book, “I. Asimov: A Memoir”

Sometimes when I get really angry at people for being whatever negative adjective they are being at the time, generally, I remember the library.  The library, to me, is the epitome of human goodness – there’s just so much trust required in order to make the whole system work.  I check out a book, and you trust me to return it in a timely(ish) manner so that you can read it later, too.   I trust you to not tear out pages from old issues of Real Simple (because you can check out the back issues of magazines at the Los Angeles Public Library, something I just discovered, to my amazement) so that I too can learn all about repurposing dental floss into a cheese slicer.  You trust me not to spill (too much) oil or flour on Baking: From My Home to Yours, a gorgeous book by Dorie Greenspan (CIRC 641.71 G8147-1) while I decide whether I would reference this enough to justify its purchase.  I do appreciate your marginal notes, though.  I trust you to not mark up Louise Erdrich’s fantastic Shadow Tag (FIC ERD), because she writes, extremely well, about the critical importance of space and privacy even within the confines of an intimate relationship, thoughts that more than one person I know, myself included, wanted to highlight and send to our ex’es.

And then there is the trust we have in our local governments to use our tax dollars and funding to support this resource.  One of the funniest/saddest things that happened all year happened during the horrific heat wave that saw downtown roasting at somewhere between 105 and 115 degrees.  The city’s Emergency Management Department urged the public to seek out cooling centers to be safe.  The city also suggested that they seek refuge at one of the LA Public Library’s branches. It was a very good suggestion, except for one thing: on the day the suggestion was made – a Monday that saw downtown LA registering a record-shattering 113 degrees, the hottest day in September since 1877 - all of the city’s libraries were closed.  The Central Library and its 72 branches were closed pursuant to the City Council’s decision earlier in the year to close the library on Sundays and Mondays.  To save money.  Or something. Currently, the library’s homepage is very, very excited to announce that its branches, including the Central Library, will be open on two Mondays this month.  That is sad.

Cutting city investment in an institution that does all it can to invest, educate, and empower its citizens is one of the meanest and most counter-intuitive things you can do.  Take your we-are-in-a-recession argument and shove it back where it came from: the recession is exactly the reason why cities in general should commit tenaciously to their libraries, schools, and other sources of public education.  Tellingly, for all the cuts made this year with surgical imprecision, the police department’s budget was not similarly manhandled.  I suppose this makes sense: if people aren’t going to the library, surely they’re committing crimes on the streets.  On the bright side, we haven’t privatized our libraryyet.

’Tis the season, then, to give a little to our library system.  There are a few ways to give: there are, for example, a number of Friends of the Library groups that support specific branch libraries.  The Library Foundation of Los Angeles (LFLA) is the umbrella non-profit support organization for the LAPL.  Donations to LFLA benefit the Central Library and its 72 branches; they also support the library’s amazing ALOUD series – the same series that delivered Jonathan Gold to the foodies, John Waters to the quirkies, and Natalie Merchant to the children of the ’90s.  Your donations also fund amazing exhibits like “Forty Years of Sesame Street Illustration.”

So, this is me, trusting you, again.  Thanks for returning that book.   And thanks for investing in the library.

Beautiful photo of a wedding reception at the Central Library courtesy bhampton1963 via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

This post is part of our Sweet Charity: Blogging LA’s Guide to Giving series, just in time for the holidays.

Small Business Saturday

November 26, 2010 in Books, Holidays, Seasonal, Shopping, Social issues

You may have heard that today is something called [checks notes] “Black Friday.” I quote Wikipedia here:

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season…On this day, many retailers open very early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season.

To me, it sounds like a nightmare, but hey — to each his own.

Why not support your local small businesses by shopping with them tomorrow on the brand new tradition of Small Business Saturday? You know there are many business in your neighborhood that you love and want to keep around.

One of my personal favorites is The Traveler’s Bookcase. They are tiny but carry  so many amazing books — cookbooks, art books, travel guidebooks, travel writing and many awesome accessories for all your travel wants and needs. They may not be able to offer steep discounts, but they will offer personal service and a lovely inviting atmosphere. (Their couch is a comfy place to fantasize about your next adventure.)

Why should you support small businesses? Here are some interesting facts* that I just learned:

• For every $100 spent at local small business, $68 returns to the community.
• Small businesses employ half of all private sector employees.
• Small businesses represent 99.7% of all employer firms.

In these wacky economic times, keeping small businesses in business is more important than ever. If you can, please consider supporting your favorite small businesses this holiday season!

*I learned this on the Small Business Saturday website and you can learn more about the effort there too.

A Pair of Paragons: Jonathan Gold and Bret Easton Ellis at the Hammer

November 15, 2010 in Books, Food & Drink, People

When I conjure the list of people I believe epitomize L.A. in some sense, Jonathan Gold and Bret Easton Ellis are both on that list, but together? Talking?  I admit I hadn’t really considered that. When I saw that the Hammer has them in conversation this Tuesday (tomorrow), I just had to pass it along to you all. I myself am busy or I’d go just because I love L.A., and Gold and Ellis are utterly paradigmatic of the city, each in his own way.

Can you imagine the conversation?

JG: You know, that story about kids snorting coke all night and prostituting themselves reminds me of this amazing coq au vin I had at this little French place on the Westside last month.

BEE: Speaking of cock, let me tell you about the novel I’m working on now…

Seriously, it’s bound to be a great night. (It’s like the sequel to Hank Moody’s stolen novel; this one’s called Fucking and Lunching.) 

Plus, the Hammer events are free, and there’s cheap parking ($3) right underneath the building. If only the gelato place up the street, Piccomolo, hadn’t closed it would be like a perfect evening. Have fun b.la-ers. Let me know how it is.

London Calling

October 20, 2010 in Books, FEATURED

Rodger Jacobs is a friend of mine. Up until several years ago he lived in Los Angeles blogging at 8763 Wonderland and commenting pretty regularly here at Blogging.la. Then he moved up to San Francisco. After that, Vegas baby where his bloggings can now be found at Bat Country.

It’s been a trip — and mostly not a pleasant one to understate things. A couple months ago he climbed into the Las Vegas Sun and showed everyone how bad things had gotten, and in having that remarkable courage to do so inadvertently proved beyond a troll-stuffed shadow of a doubt that Tennessee Williams’ Blanche Dubois was full of shit. Kindness of strangers, my ass. Fuck ‘em — especially those who commented so vindictively and judgmentally. Line every single self-important hating motherfucking one of ‘em up with me wearing the latest in the Gorton’s Fisherman Fall Line of slickers and a baseball bat. Sa-wing batta!

But I both digress and now can never run for public office without that psycho quote coming back to haunt me. Ohgeedarn.

Behaving far more proactively and nonfeloniously, I did what I could to help keep him in cigarettes for a few days. Beyond that I’ve been sending a shitload of positive-affirming vibes in the direction of Sin City.

So what? Well, bear with me. I prefaced this post with all that because in the midst of all the crap he’s endured and enduring, there’s an incredible new book out that Rodger wrote the preface to called Jack London — San Francisco Stories, edited by Matthew Asprey from Sydney Samizdat Press. Since Rodger gets a little sumpin’ sumpin’ with every copy sold, I bought two. And since I don’t read in stereo I’m giving my spare copy away. I thought about auctioning it off on eBay with the proceeds going to Rodger, or just donating it to my local library branch and encouraging you good people to buy a copy, but in the end I went in between those two options and added it to my Neighborgoods inventory. So if one of you good people want it, be the first to request it. We can either arrange a hand-off or I’ll put it in the mail to you. Simple dimple.

Cartographical Fantastication

October 20, 2010 in Books, Entertainment, FEATURED, History

In any of my many urban explorations and travels over my native city I’m that guy: the one who always stops and marvels upon discovery of a broken patch of asphalt that reveals a strata of brick roadway beneath it. The one who sees a bit of exposed trolley car track and sighs. I ride Angel’s Flight with my eyes closed. I stand at Los Angeles Plaza looking across the street and back through time when instead of a parking lot and freeway onramp stood a literal den of inequity and ill repute in the form of an alleyway called Calle de los Negros.

As a reveler in what lies beneath and a craver of historical context, all I had to do was see the cover and read the title of the new book by Glen Creason — the map librarian for the LA Public Library — and my response was Pavlovian. Seriously: one moment last month I was flipping through the current issue of Los Angeles magazine and there it was. Next thing I knew I was on Amazon pre-ordering it. I may or may not have been drooling.

Los Angeles in Maps, published by Rizzoli, arrived yesterday — all glorious 192 maptastic pages of it beginning with what’s believed to be the first published rendering of the area (1853) all the way up to a 2010 LA Times neighborhoods map.

I’ll spare you the OMG as you’ve either already clicked off to go get your own, or such awesomeness is just not as awesome to you as, say, free tix to Mudjunkeez at Spaceland or That Is Not Them That Is Us at Echoplex. But if you’re still here and need more input, allow me to direct you to LA Creek Freak, CicLAvia co-organizer and all-around incredible dude Joe Linton (a contributor to the book), who wrote about it here.

As an aside, the Library Foundation is hosting “Los Angeles in Maps: A Multimedia Journey” at the Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium October 28, featuring Creason and author D.J. Waldie. It’s probably standing room only and they’re not accepting any additional reservations online, but I’ll be damned if that’s going to stop me from trying to get in.

Avatar of frazgo

by frazgo

Weird Hollywood and others at book signing Friday 10/8/10

October 5, 2010 in Books, Entertainment, Events, FEATURED, Hollywood

There are book signing and then there are Weird book signings that make it all the more fun to attend. This Friday night from 8pm to 10pm, writer Joe Oesterle, who has written a number of the book’s subjects, and other special guests will be at the legendary Boardners bar off Hollywood Blvd. to mingle, sign books, and share some of the weirder tales Los Angeles has been host to.  This book signing is also being co-sponsored by our past city captain David Markland and creator of CreepyLA.

It’s definitely going to be a weird event. Hope to see you there.

Special Guests so far include:
- Karie Bible (from Film Radar, and more notoriously rumored to be the Lady In Black)
- Scott Michaels (celebrity death expert, owner/operator of Dearly Departed Tours)
- Count Smokula (horror host, songwriter)
- Dennis Woodruff (yeah, that guy with the cars)
- Richard Carradine (GHOULA founder, author of The Park After Dark: An Unauthorized Guide to the Happiest (Haunted) Place on Earth)
- Rich Kuras, Managing Editor of Mania.com
- Christopher Dennis, aka Superman (George Reeves look-a-like) on Hollywood Blvd.
- Steve Goldstein author of “LA’s Graveside Companion.”
- Donna Lethal, sassy Hollywood aficionado and writer
- David Markland (creator, CreepyLA)

Deets 10/8 8PM-10PM, Boardners Bar 1652 N. Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

What Books Press at the Rumor Mill

September 10, 2010 in Books, culver city

Wednesday night I had the good fortune to hear several What Books Press/Glass Table Collective writers read at the Wanted: Writers! series at the Rumor Mill. I’ve been meaning to send a shout out about the Rumor Mill for a while after meeting Joe Staats, the master of ceremonies in line to get books signed at the Central Library. This was the third time I’ve been to a Wanted: Writers! reading at the Rumor Mill and each time I leave entertained and feeling part of a community of writers and readers.

Last Wednesday’s reading was particularly special since Katherine Haake, Chuck Rosenthal, and Karen Kervorkian are all part of a collective of “poets and fiction writers, essayists, political activists, a painter, a film-maker [who] . . .  have come together to create, promote, and celebrate new books of literary writing and astounding art.”  The work read Wednesday ranged from tales of space aliens, poems constructed from the landscapes of New Mexico and Texas, and a romp of  a story featuring no less a protagonist than Robert Altman Sr.’s chicken (I would say cock, but that might give the wrong idea–it wasn’t *that* kind of reading). Gronk does all of the cover art for the press and has his own book, A Giant Claw.

For $70 you can subscribe for a year to What Books Press and receive new releases signed by the authors. You can expect to hear more from me about WBP and Wanted: Writers! in the future.

Vietnam Evening At Traveler’s Bookcase On Wednesday 7/14

July 12, 2010 in Books, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Twitter

Always wanted to travel to Vietnam but your budget doesn’t quite allow it right now? Here’s an event to fulfill your appetite, at least for a night.

Traveler’s Bookcase is having an evening dedicated to Vietnamese food and travel this Wednesday evening, July 14. The event surrounds the recently published book by Kim Fay and Julie Fay Ashborn called “Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam.” Following the reading and book signing, there will be a reception with wine, soft drinks and tasty treats prepared from the book. As a bonus, the vegan friendly Mandoline Grill Vietnamese Food Truck will be parked nearby with inexpensive, delicious Vietnamese classics.

Traveler’s Bookcase
8375 West Third Street
323-655-0575

Read more about the book at Kim Fay’s Website.

Love: Still a Battlefield at Border’s, This Friday

June 17, 2010 in Books, Celebrity, Entertainment, Events, Music

I’m not a religious guy. I believe in science and evolution and Einstein. When people ask me what I think about the origin of the universe, I generally tell them the same story every time: That superintelligent otherdimensional aliens used hyperadvanced technologies to create a simulated universe with the goal that that universe would eventually develop a planet whose inhabitants would evolve to create the most pure, most unambiguously perfect example of art, and that that goal was reached in 1987 when The Replacements recorded “Alex Chilton,” and ever since then the universe has outlived its usefulness and we just have to figure out ways to spend our time until the whole cotillion runs low on thermodynamic free energy and collapses.

Though I admit I could be wrong. The answer could actually be Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker.”

I mention this because Benatar herself will be appearing at the Border’s at 1360 Westwood Blvd. this Friday night at 7 PM to promote her new book “Between a Heart and a Rock Place.” As a fan of small and used bookstores I’m generally not too keen on Border’s, but I’m willing to pay them a visit when they either (a) send me a coupon for 40% off any item in the store or (b) host one of the greatest rock musicians of the 1980s.

Visit the Border’s event page for more information.

Taschen Sale This Weekend

June 15, 2010 in Announcements, Art, Books, Hollywood, Shopping

I had the paradigmatic blogger moral struggle about this post: do I do my duty as a Metblogger and let you all know about the Taschen sale or do I keep mum and save all the best buys for myself? In the end, my love for you, my fellow Angelenos, won out. I am letting the cat out of the bargain bag.

This weekend there is a giant sale (50-75% off) on display copies and slightly banged up books at all Taschen stores. Taschen, for those of you who are unfamiliar, publishes lovely, delicious books that are almost as much fun to hold in your hands as they are to read. Recent publications include books on David LaChapelle, big butts, Burton Holmes’ turn of the century travel photos, and Philippe Starck. I have no idea what in particular will be on sale, but it’s hard to go wrong in a Taschen store. Details after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry →

JOHN WATERS!!! and CARRIE FISHER!!! Tuesday!!!

June 4, 2010 in Books, Celebrity, Downtown, Events, Filmmaking/Filmmakers

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

!!!!  John Waters himself will be at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre downtown on Tuesday to sit down and have a little chat with Princess Leia-turned-author (natch) Carrie Fisher about what they are titling “neurotic happiness.”  Really, I haven’t been this excited since the 5 seconds right before I was about to meet Jane Lynch.  The discussion is courtesy ALOUD, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ fantastic, cultural gem of a speakers’ series.  Waters probably will talk about this many role models, as he essays the topic in his new book, Role Models. From Johnny Mathis to Leslie Van Houten (one of the women convicted in the Manson murders (read his fascinating essay on his friendship with Van Houten here)), Waters talks about how he looked up to these individuals, amongst others, as wells of inspiration and fascination.  Did I mention how I’m so, so, oh so very so excited to see him in person discuss all this and more?

Tickets are $25, but before you balk at that, the fee helps support the Los Angeles Public Library, which you all know I heart-with-an-arrow-through-it.  Besides, what else are you going to spend $25 on – some overcrowded concert with expensive PBR and hipsters donning the same bulky Clark Kent glasses without the Superman suit underneath?  Thought so.

John Waters In Conversation With Carrie Fisher is on Tuesday, June 8 at 8pm at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo.  Tickets are  $25 for the general public; $17.50 for Library Associates. Role Models, incidentally, wins for Best Cover Art, Literary or Otherwise, of the Decade.

Still Time Left: Brand Bookshop’s Memorial Day Sale

June 2, 2010 in Books, Shopping

Please accept my apologies, Dear Readers: I had meant to post about this sale over the weekend, but holiday festivities got in the way. But one of the best used bookstores in LA County — if not the best — is having a storewide sale that lasts through today and tomorrow.

Brand Bookshop, at 231 Brand Boulevard in Glendale, is offering a 30 percent discount on every book in the store. What’s more: They won’t charge you any sales tax. The sale ends at 9 PM tomorrow night.

For me, Brand is one of the most important bookstores in the area – not only because of its ridiculously huge speculative-fiction section, but because it’s both an independent bookseller and a seller of used books. Not only are used books cheaper (I paid about a buck-fifty apiece for Philip Jose Farmer’s entire World of Tiers series, complete with the kinds of awesome covers you just don’t see anymore), but they’re more environmentally friendly.

But I think there’s a greater ethic at work here as well. Down the street from Brand (and its counterpart, the wonderfully named Mystery and Imagination Bookshop) is a Border’s Books and Music. The employees at Border’s are uniformly friendly and responsive (I only shop there when Border’s sends me a coupon, and then only when the coupon is for 40 percent off or more, and even then I only buy one book. I’m not made of stone.), but the overall mindset of Border’s seems to be: Here’s your fuckin’ book. Now buy something else or go away. Books are lazily categorized; I’ve seen mystery and fantasy shoved together, and the science fiction section (which consists largely of Star Wars novels and, mysteriously, dozens and dozens of Dresden Files books) is relegated to a space near the bathrooms and the children’s books, as if to tell SF readers exactly how pathetic their literary inclinations are. At the Brand Bookshop, I feel like I’m respected as a reader.

So: Block a couple of hours from your nightly schedule and head to the Brand. And plan on spending a lot of time browsing.

Avatar of Burns!

by Burns!

Win Tix (and more) for David Mamet!

May 5, 2010 in Announcements, Books, Events

Next Thursday, May 13, David Mamet will be appearing at Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles. He will be reading from and signing his new book, Theatre, and chatting with magician/actor Ricky Jay. This will be Mamet’s only appearance of this kind in the U.S., and MetBlogs has your tickets. Read on to find out how to get them.

David Mamet is a brilliant author / playwright / screenwriter / director. While I enjoy Mamet’s books, my favorite works are his movies. A Mamet script is like a symphony of dialogue, with himself as conductor. I’ve heard that when Mamet rehearses scenes he uses a metronome to make certain that the actors get exactly the right cadence with the words; that the phrases overlap in perfect harmony.

Click past the jump to collect your tickets to see David Mamet at Largo… Read the rest of this entry →

This Weekend In LA: Stuff To Do

April 23, 2010 in Books, Classic Eats, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Movies

Ok, so you all know about the Grilled Cheese Invitational this Saturday at Los Angeles Center Studios in the warehouse district of downtown. (Right?) You should probably get your tickets now, because they’ll be more expensive at the door.

Of course there’s also LA Metblogs’ Classic Eats, Saturday evening, visiting Johnny’s Pastrami and the Apple Pan;

[edit--just remembered this one!] There’s also the US Air Guitar Championships at the Troubadour on Saturday;

But there’s also the LA Times Festival Of Books on both Saturday & Sunday at UCLA;

Unique LA’s amazing extravaganza of creativity (read our own Queequeg’s post on it here for more info–both Sat & Sun);

The Vintage Clothing Expo (Sat & Sun) allows ample opportunity for clotheshounds to geek out over vintage hats and 50s sundresses;

The TCM Classic Film Festival actually started yesterday and runs through Sunday at many of Hollywood’s most historic theatres, from the Chinese to the Egyptian, showing everything from A Star Is Born to Casablanca to 2001 and The Day Of the Triffids;

The Nuestra Tierra Conference happens Saturday at Olvera Street, commemorating Olvera St’s 80th anniversary, with environmental workshops, bands, mariachi, Aztec dancing and environmental speakers plus a tasty dessert fundraiser;

If you want lots of free junk, visit Fiesta Broadway downtown on Sunday; there will be lots of performers, but as LA Eastside has discovered, it’s mostly an opportunity for sponsors to give away lots of free samples of their products.

Then on Monday The Foundry On Melrose is hosting a “Happy Hour For Hunger,” a home-run if I ever heard one: from 6-10pm you can get one of Chef Greenspan’s epic gorditas and a handcrafted Latin-inspired cocktail.

Have fun campers!