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The Holidays, Allan Milkerit’s Books, and The Abandoned Planet.

Abandoned Planet book store San Francisco
I just learned Scott Harrison’s bookstore — Abandoned Planet — will close on at the end of year. According to the flier posted on his door, the landlords are “Communists”, and they’re not renewing his lease; it’s going to be their new meeting place. He’s been there 16 years. I’m not sure if he’s going to open a store somewhere else. The sad thing, of course, will be the demise of the Jack Micheline Room — unless the Commies keep it, which, I suppose, is highly doubtful. I don’t know if I’ve ever really talked about Jack’s room, but he painted Scott’s back room, with poetry and pictures, and it’s really a site to see. One of my very favorite memories was spending a day with Jack in his room; he taught me how to read poetry there. We spent a few hours that afternoon, then walked over and had lunch. Jack Micheline lived across the street at The Curtis Hotel — Room #22. He died on BART not long after that day we spent in his room, reading poetry. I’m gonna try and make a trip up the coast mid-December and take some pictures before those filthy Reds seize the joint.

Allan Milkerit and I would walk around that very neighborhood during lunch break from Tall Stories. Tall Stories was the book co-op we both worked; a woman named Donna rented shelf space to anyone who wanted to sell their stock. It was a great atmosphere, and I learned a lot from Allen..but I’ve written about that already. My friend Joe, who joined Tall Stories right before its demise (and then started Valhalla Books with Allan) just sent me this David Streitfeld’s blog about Allan’s books. It’s a blog selling Allan’s books (well, not all of them) as well as describing Allan — both as a person and a bookseller. Which is probably a redundant way to describe it all. It’s a great read, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m home for the holidays, and I didn’t stray too far. I shoulda spent some time with my pal Mike from Big Dog Press, or Dale Dauten, or a few of my high school buddies; instead I stayed at my folks and spent time with them…and my little brother and his family, and my sister with hers. Although I did go to see my old friend Michele; she’s a long-time friend and a fellow reader and an ex-jock and now she legislates. We spent an hour or so wandering around Changing Hands, pointing out books to one another, and talking about what we have read, should have read, will someday read, or will never read. We both came to the same conclusion: if it doesn’t hold our attention out of the blocks, it gets shelved.

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In Memorium: Steve Richmond

Steve Richmond
3 AM just posted that — according to Ben Pleasants — Steve Richmond has died.

I met Steve once, and wrote to him a couple times. He lived in a small house right on the beach at Holister Street in Santa Monica. I was in Los Angeles to hear Ginsberg read at McCabes; it was the 30th of March, 1991, and I know that because I showed up at Richmond’s house — unannounced — right before I went to the reading. Later that night, Ginsberg was nice enough to inscribe a copy of Photographs to me and date it.

Steve’s house was the closest to the beach. He’d been living there since the mid-60’s (that I know of) right after dropping out of law school to become a poet.

Imagine telling your folks you’re dropping out of law school to be a poet.

And showing up at a poet’s door to say hello and ask for some books to be signed is something I’d never do today, but I was a young, overzealous book nut, and I liked Steve’s work enough to do such a silly thing. He barely opened the door…and it was just enough to lean into it and tell me to leave.

I can’t blame him, really.

I don’t blame him.

The picture above, from left to right: Ben Pleasants, Charles Bukowski, and Steve Richmond.

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The Holy Glow that is Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Pin a gold medal on my chest for being the worst blogger west of Bakersfield. If you don’t believe me, just look at the recent posts: the last over a month ago; then, some cheap ones in July and May (videos posted here take me, like, 4 seconds to do); you have to go back to my Paris trip last March to read anything of substance…and that substance — like most of my blogs — is questionable at best.

And I’m not even gonna make any sort of claims that things are gonna get any better, either.

I caught Dylan at the Palladium on the first night of this three-night run. He was good. Not great. Not terrible. The highlight of my evening was my date (a beautiful red-head girl I’m crushing on as of late) and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.

The Red Head seems interested.

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” was done so perfectly (and early in the show) it set a standard I compared the rest of his show to, and maybe that’s why I was let down after it was all said and done.

He did “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower” and a bunch of new stuff I didn’t recognize, and it wasn’t like I expected a Greatest Hits Show; I kinda knew what to expect, and it’s pretty much what I got.

But it’s Dylan …right? How can you not go to a Dylan show these days, especially if it’s right down the street from where you live?

What I didn’t expect were the $14 beers, which, I suppose, is indicative to my night-time habits in Los Angeles. If I went out more I’d know it costs a small fortune to get drunk in Hollywood.

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Lee and Moon and Galaxie 500

Lee Moses
A week ago, my little brother sent me a link to Lee Moses’s time and place. “I’m not big on downloading boots,” I said. He said something like, this record is impossible to find and it’s impossible not to love. He also said the reissue was so limited it’s impossible to find, too, and what’s the point of reissuing anything a limited edition? Isn’t that why you reissue a rare record? So everyone could enjoy it? (apparently 500 copies is what I could come up with.) I agreed with him and grabbed the record and I’m really glad I did. It’s really something special.

It was so hot in LA today I decided to avoid the heat, even if it set me back $14.50…so I caught Moon. Again, kudos to Little Bro, cause he saw it last week and told me to see it ASAP. Imagine Phillip K. Dick slamming headfirst into 2001: A Space Odyssey. Imagine someone much better than I coming up with a better way to talk sensibly about the film — it shouldn’t be too difficult. Anyway, I really liked it. Duncan Jones directed Moon, but I like his birth name much better: Zowie Bowie.

Speaking of reissues, immediately after Moon I walked across the street to Amoeba and picked up Galaxie 500’s Today, On Fire, and This Is Our Music. I’m a big Luna fan, and I really didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Galaxy 500 the first time around. I wish I did.

I also grabbed Dial “S” For Sonny and Mississippi Records’ latest Bishop Perry Tillis. All great stuff.

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Wilco -- the record

Wilco is streaming their new record called Wilco. You can listen to it right now…which I’d highly recommend.

I got hip to Wilco right about the time Being There was released. This was ’97, I think. I was in grad school, living in San Fransisco…and writing a whole bunch. I was living in a tiny room off Taylor Street in the TenderNob — right where the ‘Loin and Nob Hill meet.

I didn’t catch them live until their Sky Blue Sky tour. I went to their show at the Greek in Berkeley. Hours before I scored a nice, clean copy of Bud Powell’s Bud! (Blue Note 1571) from Peter Howard at his store Serendipity. I paid him a sawski for it.

As in 5 clams.

As in My Big Bargain of 2007.

If you hunt around at Peter’s store, go right to the flat files and scour them for broadsides and other weird ephemera. He has all sorts, and it’s really reasonably priced…although you’d never know what it’s priced, cause he doesn’t price most of that stuff. You just have to bring it up to him, and he prices it on the spot. Make sure you catch him in a good mood for the very best price (ie after the Giants win).

Someone set a day aside last month and called it “Record Store Day”. I don’t know who dreamnt it up. Did you hear about this? Indie record stores got all sorts of cool stuff in which you could only buy there — at your local indie shop.

Ashes of American Flags was Wilco’s contribution to Record Day, and it wasn’t even a record. It’s a DVD featuring three different shows with commentary in between some of the songs. It was totally sold out at Amoeba, which is where I shop most of the time for records while I’m in LA. In fact, most of the Record Store Day swag at Amoeba’s was long gone when I showed up the following Monday after Record Store Day. I did manage to find one last weekend when I went home to Phoenix for Mother’s Day. I also scored a great Pavement record, as well as a Dylan 45 of a new song, and a Flaming Lips 45, too.

Ashes of American Flags is most excellent.

I like the new record, too…but don’t ask me anything about Wilco and expect anything other than “it’s great!”, cause — as far as I’m concerned — Tweedy and Crew can do no wrong.