Books are not magic

Books are Magic
Smith Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

May 11, 2017


Let’s start with this: BOOKS ARE NOT MAGIC.


The dumbest name for a bookstore ever.  Sounds like it’s coming from the condescending idiot who works in a bookstore/library/own head that thinks that reading/writing books makes a person somehow better than…who the fuck knows what.


First of all, books are not magic. Magic is fucking magic. Turning straw into gold (Rumpelstiltskin, Bros. Grimm) is magic, like arriving in a shower of gold to rape Danae (Mythology, Hamilton,) or walking through fire with baby dragons (Game of Thrones, Martin), or even giving birth to the son of god while being a virgin (New Testament, Some Old White Jewish Men,) are also magic, and yes found in books, but MAGIC is not real. That’s why it’s fucking magic, and big deal on things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (see: Amy and her life as a rat.) and when David Blane stands up on a pillar in front of Central Park (see early Aughts, New York Times), but not books.


Books are words (and images) on paper.

Nothing fucking magic about that at all.


Ideas can do things to minds and inspire and incite all sorts of things. See the above mentioned “New Testament” and think all the disasters “magic” it has done for the world. (See: president trump, the Crusades, ISIS (the terrorist group, not the Egyptian goddess), and Notre Dame (Paris, France.)


But just saying “books are magic” is imbecilic.


That aside, I know some of my fury at that bookstore comes entirely from it not being BookCourt. And my anger at them just closing BookCourt, which was the best bookstore in New York city and maybe the best bookstore on this coast, (in CA Bookstore Santa Cruz probably wins, though Elliot Bay is a pretty good ducking bookstore.) instead of selling it to someone or something. Who knows what happened. I wasn’t privy to it, just collateral damage.  Perhaps Emma Straub (writer of the book the Vacationeers, which I found on the street and still haven’t read, blame it on the cutesy cover, the first page seemed like it was good, and whatever that one is about living in Ditmas, which might be that one and the one I found on the street might be a different one, which I checked out from the library and seems like it’s good, too.) knew beforehand that BookCourt was closing (probably, no one would have bothered to try to compete with that bookstore,) and htat’s why she opened up, and it does look like if she didn’t buy BookCourt’s shelves, she certainly had the same carpenter build hers, to fill the void. But stop it with the condescending name.


Don’t know when they opened, maybe a few weeks? The shelves are not full, and the shelves are curated only with “literary” fiction, which means Brooklyn writers, even if they’re dumb, but not mass market even if it’s good, and apparently they’ve gotten all the Brooklyn writers (read: half of all fiction writers in America) to come by and sign some of their books, but then they had to brand all the books by putting tacky stickers that say “Signed book at Books Are Magic.” Ug.


I was still going to buy a book because I wanted to be a supporter, even though Straub (who was in the store and much taller than expected and apparently not a fan of classic rock and made the cute young girl manning the register nervous by pointing it out.  BTW, it was Joe Walsh singing about his Maserati, which might be overplayed, but is still a great song, (Eagles haters can stfu because I’ll never believe that was your own opinion and you didn’t get it from the Dude.) talked to a group of four year olds like they were idiots and not just little, but the husband, showing off for the aforementioned shop clerk, told a story about some writer having signed a book and some customer being impressed that he knew the writer. He said this to show of to shopgirl (his voice had bad actor in it) and maybe to whomever else was in the store. But come on. We live in New York City. Every other person here is famous, and the ones who aren’t are fuckign recreating sustainable farming or programming the backbones of major software development.


Don’t be condescending.


  1. I think maybe I’m being a bitch and maybe they’re just book nerds who are uncomfortable with people.
    But still.
    Don’t be condescending.


BPL: New Utrecht Branch 5/8/17

New Utrecht Branch 5/8/17

1743 86th St. at Bay 17th St.

Brooklyn, NY 11214

Get Directions


Well, this isn’t the Red Hook branch, but there are still fucking teenagers and brats with Tinkerbelle dolls watching iphones with the sound on. The world is over.

Really, little fucker, turn that off.


Apparently 60th and 16th street is a Jewish neighborhood. Most of the people on this block are women in dark shaggy banged-wigs wearing unfashionably long skirts with sensible shoes and nude hose, leading around children in matching outfits. Few of them seem to frequent the library. Instead the major section next to the periodicals on the first floor is an area the size of all the books at the Red Hook Branch of Chinese language books. This area has as many people in it browsing as the entire RH branch on a good day, which means this is a well used branch, and the library knows who uses it and what books the neighborhood wants.


On the other half of the L shaped room, past the librarians desk is a room with desks and student needs, the regular selection of SAT and AP books, a small wall of Manga and graphic novels, and a large wall of YA fiction. Next to that is a wide DVD library, including a bunch of Chinese language movies. I didn’t check them out.



Feature story on Michael Douglass, “Michael Douglass: On Love, Second Chances, and a Life Well-Lived,” from March of 2016. Not that great of an article, but due to a recent History/Cinematography piece I wrote about the history of the fictional portrayals of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, I have a new found interest in Kirk Douglass, who is about to turn 100, and is the father of Michael Douglass. Mikey as he’s called by his pals, (I know this not due to our long friendship, but from reading this article and a quote from “his good friend, the founder of Rolling Stone Magazine.”) acting has always been smarmy, we think, because of Fatal Attraction, War of the Roses, Wall Street, and even Romancing the Stone, and I refused to see The Wonder Boys for ages because I disliked him , but now that I’m older, I think he really plays a man how a man is: interested in himself and adventure and money and sport and women-as-sport, but women-as-love or women-as-human-equals-to-man only exists for someone to mother them with love and fresh laundry while of taking care of the rest of that adventuring.

new utrech books



YA with what looks like a flying dog and a kid who looks like Harry Potter. (I wrote more about this but stupid MacBookAir deleted it, piece of shit that apple products are.)

Rachel Cohn, “Very LeFreak.”

Looks like YA pretending to be about college but is really a Go Ask Alice cautionary tale about catfishing online and not living a real life. Front cover has a Blake Lively beauty but with surf-freckles for extra Manic Pixie Dream girl


Nick Lake, There Will BE Lies.

“I am going to be hit by a car in about four hours, but I don’t know that yet.”

Yellow cover. 2013 graphics, but good, with some car lines and Monument Valley in the back ground.

Adi Alsaid, Never Always Sometimes.

“*this is a great one.—Kirkus Reviews.”

It’s set in Morro Bay were Dave and Melissa used to live in the most beautiful house ever. Then they moved to Portland, like everyone else. This is about two best friends, like a whole bunch of other teen novels.

Cassandra Clare, The Clockwork Angel. The Infernal Devices, book One

When I was a kid, I thought fraternal twins were “Infernal twins.”

I don’t know where I learned it, the word infernal or that there were fraternal twins. Everything I knew as I kid I got from a library book; we didn’t watch a lot of tv and other than Kleckner, I didn’t have a lot of kid friends. Don’t know why.

During a hung-over afternoon sometime in the last four years, I flipped channels into whatever movie they made out of part of this teen series. It was terrible, but I could tell somewhere there was a good story. I’ll probably never read this, but as long as I’m library book hoarding, I checked out this new first in a series.

Are there grownup books here? (which are not written in Chinese.) if so I can’t find them.

(When looking for a bathroom I heard there was an upstairs. Also,that it was closed.)



Rollercoasting Brooklyn

  1. 25THUNDERBOLTweb1-master675
    The Thunderbolt
    Coney Island, April 10, 2017. Built 2014
    Fuck yeah.



  2. Girls Season 5
    April 8-10. Originally aired on HBO in 2014

    I stopped watching GIRLS during season 2. Season 1 had entertained me, but when I watched it again, the only thing that held up was Jemima Kirke. Season 2 features way to much Hannah, the least tolerable and least interesting of the characters; I couldn’t stand to watch her, and abandoned the show. Sarisky posted something about Adam Driver on Facebook, which made me think of how much I enjoyed him as Kylo Ren. It took Adam Driver to make Star Wars sexy, but he did it. Even Han Solo and Princess Leia’s scoundrel flirtation never had a lot of sexual tension, unlike the interaction between Rey and Kylo Ren.

    So there I am in Kensington, dogsitting a puddle of pugs, and decided to try out GIRLS again, going back as far as their TV did: season 5.  I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but the beautiful one, Marni, is getting married to some psycho singer-songwriter type and all the girls are wearing horrible Nadia Tarr dresses at their worst. Too perfect.  But Adam Driver? I know the show is about girls. But does Lena Dunham hate girls? Because a lot of what is best of this show goes to Adam Driver.  I don’t think sexy things are sexy almost ever. I don’t think a single scene of Game of Thrones is sexy; I think the whole thing feels like vomitus rape scenes, except for Igret, “you know nothing Jon Snow” and Jon Snow, and it’s a load of bullshit, too. Why would he live if not to love her?  Anyway Jemima Kirk always provided the only watchable moments of Girls. She doesn’t fail in season Five.  And Adam Scott. Just the right amount of psycho and sexy and loving and good at talking. Are there those guys? I’ve known them. I have.

    Oh and the fucking Michael Penn soundtrack? White girl dance music for days. can not stop listening to the spotify playlist.  So great.


(photo credits: NYTimes and HBO.)

Lady Gaga, Daryl Hannah, “Rocks”

  1. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
    purchased 5/5/17, released 2009
    special picture disc edition
    Side A

    Listening to records again in my new apartment—that I’ve had since 2012—changed my relationship with music more than Spotify did. For years music had been albums, first on vinyl, then on cassette, then on CD, then on itunes.  For me it was always albums. Sometimes I purchased a single or even off of itunes a single song. Being practical it never made sense to buy only the song if the whole album only cost a few dollars more, even if, after listening it turned out every other song was terrible.Then came itunes to ruin the record industry.  Not because people found napster and other methods of getting music for free, but because every time I updated my itunes software, (which itunes FORCES me to do. I HAAAAATE every update that has ever happened to itunes. I mean there has to be some sort of advertising deal that FORCES me to look at the album cover instead of just viewing the artist name. WHAT THE FUCK? Let me make that decision. Do not force me to look at it. It’s MUSIC. And the album cover might be art, but that’s not the art I’m purchasing. If I want to look at the cover art I will. don’t waste space on my devices for artwork I’m not interested in.  I just want to listen to it. So shitty and marketing.) itunes deletes all my music, can’t find the path to it anymore, AND more importantly deletes all of the content of the playlists.  I have about 60 playlists with no songs in them. Really Apple? You can invent a device that can tell traffic all around the world and you can’t write a recovery program for songs in playlists? Come on.
    Now there is Spotify, where we hear music. If it’s not on Spotify, we don’t. Lemonade?  What’s that?
    So now I never bother to purchase music except in album form. I sit home read or write and stack up a bunch of records on my old stacking record player, sometimes all Bach, or all Elvis Costello, and sometimes a whole bunch of stuff mixed up.
    I have never considered purchasing a Lady Gaga record; picking up this one at Bene’s surprised me. Did I fall for the picture disc? I AM a sucker for packaging. Hintron told me I didn’t have to pay for it if it didn’t play on my oldie machine.
    But it does.
    And it’s GREEEEEEAT.
    long live pop music and fabulous women

  2. Daryl Hannah, R.I.P.
    1998 Ford Ranger Splash Edition, December 12, 2012- April 6, 2017
    dh on truck

I bought Daryl Hannah in a fever. In the two months since the hurricane and the death of Red Car, I’d been vehicleless, while being homeless and then moving onto Coffey street apartment. At night, I’d sit on my cold air mattress and bid on Ford Rangers on ebay. Most of them were going for $8000 or more so the $3400 I paid for DH didn’t seem like much until Dogsill and I drove up there to pick her up. Rusted, broken, smelling like a 1980s crack den of cigarettes, and already showing her electrical problem, she’d been hard used and not cared for at all.
The purple bubble lettered “SPLASH” on her side would go tomorrow, I said right then. Instead, by the time I arrived at Chuck’s birthday party I already knew to call her Daryl Hannah and it was going to work.

In the last five years I’ve driven her to Minneapolis twice, to Buffalo countless times. She’s been to DC and to West Virginia, and to Chicago. She’s driven through rivers and through snow.  Her flatbed has been my campsite many an night. I will miss sleeping there.
Perhaps you will be an organ doner; maybe just your tires.
RIP old truck.

3.  Rock Climbing at Brooklyn Boulders
April 5, 2017 Brooklyn Boulders on Degraw Street

What the fuck is going on in between 3rd and 4th Ave in Gawanus? There is a Crossfit, and something that looks exactly like a Crossfit but who knows what it is called. A giant fencing place, a yoga place and then the Brooklyn boulders, where nerds go to climb.
It’s pretty fun. If you’re into that kind of indoors that you pay for thrills.  Better than say a rollercoaster or something, because you have to climb up yourself, and it’s scary and when you do it you feel kinda proud but not tough and definitely not tuff.
The problem with places like this—and the shuffleboard place and all the rest of the adorable easy indoor sports for new York city is that they are for people who aren’t interesting enough to be entertained by their own minds.
I don’t hate this. It’s probably better than yoga and the rest of the bullshit one has to do to stay fit if you live in a city, but so darn uncool. And unpretty. Probably one could do the clothes so they weren’t all pink and neon, our instructor, Stacy wore tasteful gray, but colors indicate the difficulty of the rock climb.
I haven’t grokked this yet; it’s a puzzle, not a sport. That’s the first thing to understand. Or maybe a game. Like a crossword, bowling, or golf. Not about essential athleticism, but about learning the challenge—unlike real rock climbing where it’s man against nature—figuring out how to climb a manmade structure.
So this gets a yes, but I only went because Glo won a gift certificate, you know, because climbing is for nerds. There was a kid who worked at the wine store who went every night, but he’d just moved to New York and had no friends. There are a lot of people climbing, and it’s definitely the kind of place where one would make friends, so it’s social.
If I do stop drinking maybe I become a climbing nerd, though staying home and reading sounds more fun.

Everyone’s a Critic

  1. David Howe’s “Everyone’s a Critic” Class at Pioneerworks
    April 4, 2017’m a fan of David Howe as a person; he’s always provides some insightful commentary when I run into him around the neighborhood, more bombastic in the late night at the Ice and more erudite during lunchtime at the Fort, though I’m not sure the content might be interchangeable if not the tone, so taking his class at Pioneerworks—the first class I’ve wanted to take there—seemed like it would be a good way to get me thinking and writing more critically about art. (And by critically I don’t necessarily mean negatively—although I often hate, I love just as often—I mean by using strong words to express thoughtful ideas, not just childish nos.) I think that I’m pretty good at this, expressing why I feel what I do, but sometimes I think it can come out as just—as the cokehead/lawyer says “being a hater.”
    I don’t know anything about contemporary art. Each month ArtForum arrives and I look through about half of it and then get overwhelmed by the pile of magazines. If I wanted to know more I could, I think, so why don’t I? A lot of it is free. Just go see it. Perhaps I will commit because of this class.
    I don’t know what I expected, but I have found several times that taking a class like this, involving students choosing to take a class for personal interest instead of necessity, that the breadth of the students impresses me more than any at Columbia. I don’t know why this surprises me; It’s New York Fucking City after all. Smart people in this class. Effective insight.
    I think it’s going to be good.
  2. S-Town Podcast by Brian Reed and This American Life
    April 4, 2017 (released March 28.) Episodes 1, 2, and half of 3, I’m into it.
    So this isn’t going to be anything but one or two observations so far, because it’s going somewhere, right? It’s telling enough of a story that we know is not the story that we’re drawn in, but why?
    Reed introduces S-town by saying a guy, John, contacted him with several newsy horror items from his hometown in Alabama and thinks someone should come investigate this. Reed blows it off, but does look into the stories, one that a police officer has been arresting women and then sexually assaulting them, either on the side of the road or in jail, the other that a rich kid killed another person in a bar fight and got away with it. When he confirms that the first story is true, he is intrigued, not because it’s totally fucked up that women are getting systematically raped and/or assaulted like its fucking Santa Maria from fucking 2666 (read: Juarez, Mexico) but because it might mean the crank writing the letters could know about a real murder.
    Now, I’m coming from watching 2 straight weeks of Buffy  so I’m pretty numb to “fictional” death, so maybe I don’t think one white trash guy beating another white trash guy to death in a bar fight is as big of a deal as A SERIES OF WOMEN BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY ONE POLICE OFFICER AND MANY PEOPLE KNOWING ABOUT IT AND IT NOT BEING STOPPED.
    Fuck you and your casual misogyny. The story barely even registers with Reed. It’s like he’s been told that there was a teenager stealing condoms from the Duane Reade who is getting away with it no big deal.
    The world really thinks it’s more outrageous that two inbred idiots beat each other and one of them perhaps died–even if it sounds like both of them earned death–than that a person with a gun systematically raping innocent women?
    The “murder” interests Reed, not the other story, although we can tell from episode one that the podcast is not about a murder—or that murder, I am only on episode 3—it’s about John.  About John and the wacky ways of the white trash in Alabama?  Is that what I’m hearing? Because I think I might be watching daytime TV, just told with an NPR voice.  And we know what I think of NPR.  I’m not sure yet.
    Like I said, I’m only on episode 3.
  3. Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
    Book and audiobook. Read April 5, 2017, listened to the beginning last week

    My sister checked this out of the library in Santa Cruz a couple of weeks ago and texted me how good it was, so I ordered it to the Red Hook library; (I’m getting good at using the BPL for fun books, not just history books.) Anyway, the day I picked it up, I ran into StJ and showed him what I am reading, him being a Jersey boy and all, and he said: Great Idea, but I think I’ll listen o the audiobooks so I can listen to the Boss read it.

    They’re different experiences and I wasn’t sure how I wanted my Born to Run experience to go, especially because I meant to share it with Molly, who had read it.
    I do feel glad I listened to Bossypants, and Springsteen’s career is about his voice.
    So I got the audiobook, too.

    Kinda wish I hadn’t.

    Because, in the first three sentences he says he grew up “literally in the bosom of the catholic church.”
    Except that the church was two blocks away.
    I know he’s a rockstar, not a grammarian. But come on.
    I KNOW the literally issue is a boring old issue for word nerds, I know one of the dictionaries, I hope it’s just Webster’s and not the OEC, put literally in to mean, i don’t know, whatever the fuck lazy people want it to mean, but it still means literally and not “kinda.”

    Because if words don’t mean anything then they mean nothing.
    I know it’s a conceit that we have agreed that this symbol: “3” means the number three (and can get more metaphysical than that.).  But if literally means anything it means exactly that one thing.  The Catholic Church doesn’t have a “literal” bosom. Women can’t even be fucking priests. And we won’t even get into the idiocy that the only woman Catholics consider good was the one who never had sex and somehow got herself knocked up anyway. I don’t know why anyone is even considering this malarkey.  But,  I would let him have it, “literally the bosom of the Catholic Church” if he were raised by nuns or something. Which he wasn’t.

    So maybe if I had read it, and I hadn’t heard his voice say “literally” out loud, I might have not been so put off by the use of literally when he meant nothing. He could have just used the bad metaphor and skipped the adverb.
    …But then…
    What the fuck is up with all the flowery language in this book?  I know he’s the boss, but is he a really bad writer? I’d figure him for some laconic Raymond Chandler or  bad? I’m only to the chapter when he first sees Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, but that’s a bad chapter.
    and Caterwauling? The Boss does not use the word “caterwauling.”
    Unless….unless that was something his mother yelled at him, which isn’t impossible.  His mother was a legal secretary; she probably had a decent vocabulary.
    The jury is out.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But Season 5, so really just WTF why did there have to be Dawn and can’t a Chaos demon just fucking eat her or something?

So here’s a confession: as much as I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I almost only watch season 2 or season 3.  Sometimes it’s on reruns and I’ll watch whatever, and of course I’ll watch, “Once More with Feeling,” any fucking time—like maybe right now instead of writing this—but I have only seen season 7 once. One time.  I’ve seen season 3 so many times that I can say the words along with it like I’m watching Star Wars. So when I was coming home from the fucked up Japanese movie (more about that later) wondering if I should go back to watch the horrendous CBS show (more about that later, too.) and Alex at FD said, she was just going to go home and watch Buffy I envied her, but I also thought, I ALWAYS watch Buffy. I need to watch something new. Jerkpatrick said he was going to rewatch season 5 I thought, WHAT?

Season 5 was originally on in 1999, so when I still lived in San Francisco and maybe videotaped it, but it was so annoying, it’s possible I didn’t even watch the episodes as they were aired because Dawn was so horrible. I don’t even remember when I stopped recording it. I mean, buying DVD seasons didn’t become a thing until the mid aughts.

I mean season Six, when Buffy comes back from the dead is better than season Four “College is so hard” season.

Who watches season Five? Isn’t that when gross little Dawn shows up? YUUUUUck.  Could they have made her more ehlthdh? I don’t know how to express my distain for adding a whiney little annoying thing to Buffy.  Sure, they had Cordelia. But Cordelia never was stupid or a whiner. The character was well written, bratty and intentionally shallow. Meant to represent the person that Buffy would have been had she not be cursed to be the slayer. She wouldn’t have been chilling with the likes of Xander or Willow if she could still have been prom queen or a cheerleader.  But because she was a weirdo who needed some help—which she does always need from Willow, less often from Xander, but also from Angel and Giles, and we are to understand the reason she is so successful as the slayer, more than any other girl before her—she doesn’t die at sixteen like most slayers because of her friends.  But if Dawn had showed up before season 4 NO ONE would have watched this shit. I mean talk about ruining a perfectly good show. Anyway.  This isn’t about Season 4 at all, this is about HOW COME NO ONE LEARNS FROM EVERYONE ELSE’S MISTAKES.  Really? Bringing on a young person worked so fucking well for Family Ties and Growing Pains and every other fucking show that has done it.  And for god’s sake, she’s the same age as they were when the show started, can they stop treating her like she’s four? And can the character stop being written that way?

this morning’s facebook rant about superhero movies stealing superheroes from nerds.

this i just bought-back from the site stealers over at GoDaddy. So here i go again with the rants.

this was a facebook post to my friend Dean Haspiel’s rave review of Logan.

*i do, now, want to see Logan, even though

And there is a thing that has happened with super hero movies that I’m assuming you guys will get because (being presumptuous now because I’m talking to Dean’s collective friends, but I met Dean because I was wearing a comic book t-shirt) you are comic book guys–but essentially comic books and ESPECIALLY super hero comic books were for nerdy wish fulfillment for teenaged boys which allowed for things like the skills of smart kids to actually be useful and cool and funny–I’m thinking Spider-Man and xmen here, because those are the ones I read–but never involved senseless violence and rarely violence against women or non-super characters…and in the last decade super hero MOVIES (and I don’t know about the comics because I no longer read them) have entirely moved away from complex questions of intelligence or inferiority and become basically random violence like the regular shoot-em-up movies appealing to exactly the opposite of the market the comic characters were originally appealing to.