06 April 2007


I talk an enormous amount of crap about this town, this strange and oddly diffused conglomerated mess of asphalt and plastic, the unlikely capital of the state of California. And rightly so, in my rather hidebound opinion. However, even in the midst of the latest excoriating screed about the abominable nature of the generality of knuckleheads here, a small gem manages to shine through. In the April 5th issue of the Sacramento News & Review -- a weekly alternative to the McClatchy (yes, that McClatchy) flagship dishrag Sacramento Bee -- there’s a well-written piece about the surprisingly lively condition of the area’s independent bookstore scene, by someone called Ralph Brave. What stood out was a quote by Jim Naify, the owner of Beer’s Books, the oldest continually operated book shop in Sacramento (opened in 1936). How many bookstore owners out there actually have Doctorates in Philosophy? That’s pretty flippin’ cool. Anyhow, he says:

“I think that this is a kind of critical time for ideas to be preserved and aired in as wide a range as possible. Some people today are opening your e-mails, looking at your bank account, checking your postal records and your credit card. I recommend to everybody that you e-mail yourself a copy of the US Constitution in hopes that somebody will open it and read it.

“One of the reasons for keeping the store going is making sure that a variety of ideas is out there and accessible to people, that there are books other than those chosen by corporate culture. There is an important literature out there that’s in danger of dying as collateral damage in the corporate wars. Keeping our bookstore going, for me, is something of a mission, that ideas appear and are available to people. We don’t need corporate economic censorship of our ideas. We need a whole range of ideas that engage people.”

Hmm. A thinking person who sells books ... right here in the pinhead, claptrap epicenter of the entire western United States. I never would’ve thought it was possible.

Blog note: I’ll be returning to the usual nasty and appalling brain-spew as soon as possible. I just needed a breather.

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