playing for keeps

the blog of g.a. matiasz

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  • END TIME reprinted


    Downloads of END TIME can be purchased from SMASHWORDS.
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Profane Existence & Cyberpsychos AOD

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 7, 2016

pe-dove-for-records-2
“While dealing with future events that may not be, enough of the action takes place in a believable world to call this a 90’s version of M. Gilliland’s classic The Free . Over-all, well-written, near future science fiction novel brimming with believable characters in an all-too-familiar setting. Pick this one up and you probably won’t be able to put it down “til it’s over!”

DanProfane Existence

CPAOD10-Cover

“Do ya like subversion? How about nuclear terrorism? Good good, glad to see your priorities are set straight. £od Time Is packed full of goodies like this & much more. … A highly entertaining & interesting read, with chapters that may soon be headlines.”

Bruce YoungCyber-Psycho’s AOD

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

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Small Press Review & Left Bank Distro

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 6, 2016

spr_head
“Ackerman showed up, and Bennett – and some guy named G.A. Matiasz whose SF/Oakland-based early 21st-century thriller called End Time I’m currently in the middle of and finding not only highly professional but intelligent, a rare combination in fiction. It’s fun reading, too!”

Bob GrummanSmall Press Review

logobig

“Although supposedly set in 2007, this intense new novel from a Maximum Rock’n’Roll columnist reads frighteningly real today.”

Left Bank Distribution

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

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Popular Reality & Pirate Writings

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 5, 2016

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“This is, at the very least, the novel of the year. The characters really take you along with them. So realistic, it ought to give all sorts of saboteurs inspiration on possibilities for what can be done.”

Irreverend David Crowbar, Editor, Popular Reality

pirate_writings_1994fal_n5

End Time is an engaging, thoroughly realistic novel that might very well frighten you into studying the political agenda of our leaders a bit more closely come November.”

Pirate Writings

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

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JG Eccarius and Lumpen Times

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 4, 2016

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“End Time … is scarily realistic, fast paced, and detailed in vision. … I don’t know of any future fiction this chillingly real published since the debut of Gibson’s Neuromancer …. If Gibson preceded Matiasz, it must be admitted that Matiasz has topped him.”

J.G. EccariusThe Stake

lumpen126cover.jpg

“Matiasz constructs a fascinating and believable technoBaroque California in End Time …. (He) has woven a zeitgeistish thread into the web of futurology…. It’s a compelling read once you get started. AK Press couldn’t have sent a better book at the right time.”

EdMar, the Lumpen Times

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

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Factsheet Five and Maximum Rocknroll

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 3, 2016

FactsheetFiveCover
“G.A. Matiasz has created a charged, political, and very readable novel in End Time, jump-cutting P.O.V. from character to character, pulling the reader into the plot as each character, quick as a Polaroid, develops into a fascinating persona.”

Factsheet Five

MRR

“This is not a happy vision of ourselves and the world we maintain. But it is an honest and compelling one. End Time. Notes On The Apocalypse is excellent speculative fiction. Full of heart and horror. Get it. Read it.”

Pickles McGurckMaximum Rock’n’Roll

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

Posted in End Time, life, Maximum Rocknroll | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Eluki bes Shahar and Hakim Bey

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 2, 2016

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“End Time is a kick-ass thriller of the near-future political edge; fast-paced and always surprising. This hardball trip to Looking Glass Land is reminiscent of the books of Neil Shulman and Shea/Wilson, and should find an enthusiastic audience.”

eluki bes shahar, author of the Hellflower trilogy

bey-site

“A compulsively readable thriller combined with a very smart meditation on the near-future of anarchism. End Time proves once again that Sci-Fi is our only literature of ideas.”

Hakim Bey, author of T.A.Z.

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

Posted in End Time, life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

END TIME reprint

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 1, 2016

2nd printing cover of END TIME built by JOHN YATES at STEALWORKS.

2nd printing cover of END TIME built by JOHN YATES at STEALWORKS.


I am reprinting my prescient, near-future thriller END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE through my publishing business 62 MILE PRESS. Written in a slashing, evocative style, END TIME received rave reviews in underground and small press circles in 1994.

END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE

Greg Kovinski, the novel’s protagonist, lives in interesting times. War and civil war rage across the former Soviet Union and much of the globe. The United States is fighting a sophisticated high tech counterinsurgency war in southern Mexico, against a popular revolution claiming the tradition of Zapata, in order to preserve the North American free trade zone. In Alabaster, a small town north of San Francisco, a draft-aged Greg, and a group of anti-war college students, gain possession of enough bomb grade riemanium to build a nuclear weapon several times more powerful than the one detonated over Nagasaki. As Greg struggles to “do the right thing” with his deadly power, friends turn out to be thieves, civil unrest rages, and the City of Oakland rises in revolution to become the 21st century’s Paris Commune.

George facebook pic
Born in 1952, I was a late hippie and an early punk. I began self-publishing at 17 with a high school underground newspaper, and burned my draft card at age 18. Essays from my publication Point-Blank/San Diego’s Daily Impulse have been reprinted in Semiotext[e] USA, the Utne Reader, and War Resisters’ League’s short-lived youth publication SPEW! I have also published essays in Against The Wall, the New Indicator, Draft NOtices, and the San Diego Newsline. My first science fiction novel END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE was published in January, 1994 by AK Press when I lived in Oakland, California, with a second edition printed in September, 1996. End Time sold around 4,000 copies and was reprinted in Portuguese by a Brazilian publisher. Presently, I live in San Francisco, where I write a regular monthly column of news analysis and political commentary for Maximum Rocknroll under the name “Lefty” Hooligan. I am currently self-publishing my second novel, 1% FREE, through my business 62 MILE PRESS.

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download from Smashwords.

Posted in anarchism, anarchists, bookstores, life, Oakland, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Near-Future Past

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on April 30, 2016

Black Bloc
California, 2007.

The storm black Hooligans took Van Ness, but never made the jog off to the park, Instead, they massed, some one hundred thousand strong, up to the hastily formed police blockade on Van Ness and Grove, then east back around on Market. They stopped in fact. March peace monitors, realizing what was happening, evaporated from around the autonomous columns to beat hasty retreats up Grove, Fell, Oak and Page with the march’s stragglers. People pulled on masks, bandanas, ski masks and balaklavas. Sunglasses hid eyes. Adrenaline once more raced through Greg, somewhere in the middle of that black mass, as he pulled up his own ‘kerchief. He watched a gauntly beautiful girl, a rare, anti-war Null, put her large black scarf over her gold electroplated cheek plates, before putting on shades in synch with hers…

Noble Eagle
It’s not just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!

A wing of fighter jets, low over Nimitz Field, shrieked toward Oakland. Toward Jack London Square and the dual battle laser positions on Oakland’s inner harbor. People were running around the tower then, running away from the Harbor as fast as was humanly possible. A second roar, and surface-to-air missile batteries leapt into action to lay up a defensive curtain of heat seeking rockets. The jets broke into evasive action. Battle laser auroras danced up ultraviolet into the descending sun as the weapons primed. Two jets looped back tightly and managed to let loose their own rockets before having to dodge again. The harbor erupted under the jet strike, counterpointed quickly by one jet taking a direct hit and another spinning off, minus one wing. The battle laser fired. The precise x-ray beam could not be seen. But it produced a sharp fold in the air as it pierced across the bay and stripped the top off San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid…

laser-weapons-soldiers-670x333
Armageddon’s been in effect!

For a brief moment Marcus witnessed a phantasm, bathed in the smoky light of its own making. The creature was humanoid, dressed in a form fitting, single-piece, eel-gray body suit. The hands were gloved, with thick seams running up the arms and shoulders. And the head was entirely, strangely helmeted. It was a type of skull-tight ski mask, fitted with shear goggles and headphones, and crested with a soft, gun-metal colored apparatus. The goggles pulsed with that on-edge-of-sight light Marcus had observed seconds before, from under the door.

“Freeze,” Joe yelled, crouched and aimed.

An invisible light, apprehendable by a sense more visceral than sight and tailored minutely to Joe’s shape,streaked with precision from the refractive goggles, cookie cutting Joe perfectly. Joe exploded backwards…

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download starting May 1, 2016 from Smashwords.

Posted in black bloc, California, class war, direct action, life, Oakland, police, punk, San Francisco, US military | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

DRAFT: END TIME reprinted by 62 MILE PRESS

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 24, 2016

1st printing cover of END TIME drawn by TIM GONZALES

1st printing cover of END TIME drawn by TIM GONZALES

2nd printing cover of END TIME built by JOHN YATES at STEALWORKS.

2nd printing cover of END TIME built by JOHN YATES at STEALWORKS.

FOR FACEBOOK PAGES:

I am reprinting my prescient, near-future thriller END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE through my publishing business 62 MILE PRESS. Written in a slashing, evocative style, END TIME received rave reviews in underground and small press circles in 1994. (for facebook writer page)

62 MILE PRESS is reprinting the prescient, near-future thriller END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE by G.A. MATIASZ. Written in a slashing, evocative style, END TIME received rave reviews in underground and small press circles in 1994. (for facebook business page)

Reprint Date: May 5, 2016

California, 2007.

“The storm black Hooligans took Van Ness, but never made the jog off to the park, Instead, they massed, some one hundred thousand strong, up to the hastily formed police blockade on Van Ness and Grove, then east back around on Market. They stopped in fact. March peace monitors, realizing what was happening, evaporated from around the autonomous columns to beat hasty retreats up Grove, Fell, Oak and Page with the march’s stragglers. People pulled on masks, bandanas, ski masks and balaklavas. Sunglasses hid eyes. Adrenaline once more raced through Greg, somewhere in the middle of that black mass, as he pulled up his own ‘kerchief. He watched a gauntly beautiful girl, a rare, anti-war Null, put her large black scarf over her gold electroplated cheek plates, before putting on shades in synch with hers…”

It’s not just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!

“A wing of fighter jets, low over Nimitz Field, shrieked toward Oakland. Toward Jack London Square and the dual battle laser positions on Oakland’s inner harbor. People were running around the tower then, running away from the Harbor as fast as was humanly possible. A second roar, and surface-to-air missile batteries leapt into action to lay up a defensive curtain of heat seeking rockets. The jets broke into evasive action. Battle laser auroras danced up ultraviolet into the descending sun as the weapons primed. Two jets looped back tightly and managed to let loose their own rockets before having to dodge again. The harbor erupted under the jet strike, counterpointed quickly by one jet taking a direct hit and another spinning off, minus one wing. The battle laser fired. The precise x-ray beam could not be seen. But it produced a sharp fold in the air as it pierced across the bay and stripped the top off San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid…”

Armageddon’s been in effect!

“For a brief moment Marcus witnessed a phantasm, bathed in the smoky light of its own making. The creature was humanoid, dressed in a form fitting, single-piece, eel-gray body suit. The hands were gloved, with thick seams running up the arms and shoulders. And the head was entirely, strangely helmeted. It was a type of skull-tight ski mask, fitted with shear goggles and headphones, and crested with a soft, gun-metal colored apparatus. The goggles pulsed with that on-edge-of-sight light Marcus had observed seconds before, from under the door.

“‘Freeze,’ Joe yelled, crouched and aimed.

“An invisible light, apprehendable by a sense more visceral than sight and tailored minutely to Joe’s shape,streaked with precision from the refractive goggles, cookie cutting Joe perfectly. Joe exploded backwards…”

END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE:

Greg Kovinski, the novel’s protagonist, lives in interesting times. War and civil war rage across the former Soviet Union and much of the globe. The United States is fighting a sophisticated high tech counterinsurgency war in southern Mexico, against a popular revolution claiming the tradition of Zapata, in order to preserve the North American free trade zone. In Alabaster, a small town north of San Francisco, a draft-aged Greg, and a group of anti-war college students, gain possession of enough bomb grade riemanium to build a nuclear weapon several times more powerful than the one detonated over Nagasaki. As Greg struggles to “do the right thing” with his deadly power, friends turn out to be thieves, civil unrest rages, and the City of Oakland rises in revolution to become the 21st century’s Paris Commune.

FOR WEBSITES/BLOGS:

I am reprinting my prescient, near-future thriller END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE through my publishing business 62 MILE PRESS. Written in a slashing, evocative style, END TIME received rave reviews in underground and small press circles in 1994. (for personal blog and author website)

62 MILE PRESS is reprinting the prescient, near-future thriller END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE by G.A. MATIASZ. Written in a slashing, evocative style, END TIME received rave reviews in underground and small press circles in 1994. (for publishing website)

Reprint Date: May 5, 2016

California, 2007.

The storm black Hooligans took Van Ness, but never made the jog off to the park, Instead, they massed, some one hundred thousand strong, up to the hastily formed police blockade on Van Ness and Grove, then east back around on Market. They stopped in fact. March peace monitors, realizing what was happening, evaporated from around the autonomous columns to beat hasty retreats up Grove, Fell, Oak and Page with the march’s stragglers. People pulled on masks, bandanas, ski masks and balaklavas. Sunglasses hid eyes. Adrenaline once more raced through Greg, somewhere in the middle of that black mass, as he pulled up his own ‘kerchief. He watched a gauntly beautiful girl, a rare, anti-war Null, put her large black scarf over her gold electroplated cheek plates, before putting on shades in synch with hers…

It’s not just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!

A wing of fighter jets, low over Nimitz Field, shrieked toward Oakland. Toward Jack London Square and the dual battle laser positions on Oakland’s inner harbor. People were running around the tower then, running away from the Harbor as fast as was humanly possible. A second roar, and surface-to-air missile batteries leapt into action to lay up a defensive curtain of heat seeking rockets. The jets broke into evasive action. Battle laser auroras danced up ultraviolet into the descending sun as the weapons primed. Two jets looped back tightly and managed to let loose their own rockets before having to dodge again. The harbor erupted under the jet strike, counterpointed quickly by one jet taking a direct hit and another spinning off, minus one wing. The battle laser fired. The precise x-ray beam could not be seen. But it produced a sharp fold in the air as it pierced across the bay and stripped the top off San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid…

Armageddon’s been in effect!

For a brief moment Marcus witnessed a phantasm, bathed in the smoky light of its own making. The creature was humanoid, dressed in a form fitting, single-piece, eel-gray body suit. The hands were gloved, with thick seams running up the arms and shoulders. And the head was entirely, strangely helmeted. It was a type of skull-tight ski mask, fitted with shear goggles and headphones, and crested with a soft, gun-metal colored apparatus. The goggles pulsed with that on-edge-of-sight light Marcus had observed seconds before, from under the door.

“Freeze,” Joe yelled, crouched and aimed.

An invisible light, apprehendable by a sense more visceral than sight and tailored minutely to Joe’s shape,streaked with precision from the refractive goggles, cookie cutting Joe perfectly. Joe exploded backwards…

END TIME: NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE:

Greg Kovinski, the novel’s protagonist, lives in interesting times. War and civil war rage across the former Soviet Union and much of the globe. The United States is fighting a sophisticated high tech counterinsurgency war in southern Mexico, against a popular revolution claiming the tradition of Zapata, in order to preserve the North American free trade zone. In Alabaster, a small town north of San Francisco, a draft-aged Greg, and a group of anti-war college students, gain possession of enough bomb grade riemanium to build a nuclear weapon several times more powerful than the one detonated over Nagasaki. As Greg struggles to “do the right thing” with his deadly power, friends turn out to be thieves, civil unrest rages, and the City of Oakland rises in revolution to become the 21st century’s Paris Commune.

Posted in life, writing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

NASA Space Travel Posters

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 21, 2016

NASA is offering something very cool, 14 mint space travel posters for the solar system and near Milky Way galaxy.GrandTour I converted the original, extremely large TIFFs into equally large JPEGs and set them up for display on this page so as not to slow down the main page’s loading to a crawl.

This “tour” begins with Earth and travels out to Venus, Mars, Ceres, a grand tour of the gas giants, Jupiter, Europa, Titan, Enceladus, various newly discovered exoplanets, HD40307g, PSOJ318.5-22, Kepler 16b, and Kepler 186f. Enjoy this trippy (in more ways than one) poster art.

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Neighborhood hangout

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 13, 2016

NeighborsCorner#6
In New York City, its a bodega on every corner. In LA, its corner liquor stores. Here in San Francisco, its the corner grocery store which, unfortunately, is being threatened by rampant gentrification.

NeighborsCorner#5
We live in an already upscale part of the City, between Noe and Eureka Valleys. Two blocks down from our house, an old funky grocery store (no fresh fruits or vegetables, just canned or packaged food items, often with expired dates, plus the usual alcohol) gave up the ghost several years ago. This allowed four local entrepreneurs to take over the empty space and do a soft-story earthquake retrofit in addition to overall improvements.

NeighborsCorner#2
The resulting business is part coffee shop/ice cream bar/prepared food store/event and class location/commercial popup/neighborhood hangout. And its been successful from the start. They’ve scheduled a class on the “Art & Science of Saving Bees, Birds & Trees,” and host boutique flower arranging by the FloraCultural Society on weekends.

NeighborsCorner#4
Ryan and Laurel can often be found preparing gourmet coffees and teas or serving Laurel’s sweet and savory pastries. And people do what they usually do in San Francisco coffee shops, set up their laptops for long sessions of work and play online. Neighbor’s Corner is bright and airy, with a modern bathroom to boot.

NeighborsCorner#3
The previous store owner left quite mysteriously and was unable to pass on the location’s liquor licenses to the new owners. Now the new owners are working through the lengthy city permit process to allow for regular coffee shop occupancy and patronage during business hours. Given the enthusiastic response from the residents, Neighbor’s Corner looks like it’s here to stay.

UPDATED 2-14-16:
NC#1
NC#2
NC#3
NC#4
NC#5
NC#6
NC#7
NC#8
NC#9

Posted in Eureka Valley, gentrification, life, Noe Valley, Paris of the West, San Francisco, San Francisco neighborhoods | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fuck the Super Bowl!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 5, 2016

Huffpost Impact article:

Protestors Want San Francisco To ‘Tackle Homelessness’ Before Super Bowl
“You can spend $5 million on a big half time party. You can spend $5 million on a big show. But you can’t feed homeless people?”

Krithika Varagur
Associate Editor, What’s Working, The Huffington Post

A woman holds up a pair of signs as police look on during a protest to demand city officials do more to help homeless people outside Super Bowl City, a pro-football's weeklong theme park near the famed Ferry Building in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Dozens protested what they say is San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's plan to push homeless people out of the scenic bay-front Embarcadero, where Super Bowl festivities are being held. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A woman holds up a pair of signs as police look on during a protest to demand city officials do more to help homeless people outside Super Bowl City, a pro-football’s weeklong theme park near the famed Ferry Building in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Dozens protested what they say is San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s plan to push homeless people out of the scenic bay-front Embarcadero, where Super Bowl festivities are being held. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

As the host of this weekend’s Super Bowl, San Francisco has spared no expense, erecting a huge “Super Bowl City” compound for the event.

This perceived excess angered homeless advocates in the Bay Area, a few hundred of whom protested at the compound on Wednesday afternoon, according to KTVU. They asked the city to spend more money on its thousands of homeless residents.

“You can spend $5 million on a big half time party. You can spend $5 million on a big show. But you can’t feed homeless people?” asked a protestor named Joshua Shrader, according to Time.

The protesters set up a “tent city” outside the Super Bowl City compound and were fairly orderly. The organizers, led by the Coalition on Homelessness, met with police to set its parameters beforehand, according to SF Gate. They called for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to invest $5 million, the approximate cost of the Super Bowl, in housing and social services for homeless people.

Lee has become unpopular among homeless advocates for saying, with regards to homeless people during the Super Bowl, “They are going to have to leave.”

The city has been accused of moving homeless people out of sight to keep up appearances before the Super Bowl. In response, city officials say they are only trying to help the homeless during severe El Niño rains.

“Our only goal is to help people in out of the rain, and it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl,” Trent Rhorer, head of the city’s Human Services Agency, told SF Gate.

But Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told Time that homeless people are being illegally searched, cleared from encampments, and ticketed for arbitrary offenses like “sitting or lying.”

By the protest’s end, many homeless people left to find places to sleep for the night, according to SF Gate. One 61-year-old homeless woman, Cynthia Lee, told the news outlet, “I think if San Francisco has money to throw at the Super Bowl — even if it brings in tax money — they should give us places to live.”

INDEPTH SUPER BOWL ARTICLE
from 48Hills by Tim Redmond

Posted in Bay Area, homeless, life, poverty, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, SFGate | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aroma Tea Shop, San Francisco

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 3, 2016

Aroma Tea 6th Ave

I can’t imagine how I missed this place until now.

Aroma Tea Shop inside

Aroma Tea is a quirky—inside and out—tea shop on 6th Avenue in the Inner Richmond. The owners are eccentric yet extremely knowledgeable, traveling often to China to select and buy the teas they sell.

Colorful Teas Multiple Varieties

It’s “all tea all the time” here, with the varieties of tea in wildly packaged tins. The selection is outstanding; black/red, oolong, jasmine, green, white, pu-erh, even herbal. They have daily tea tasting during business hours where you can sample the teas you wish to buy, which also means looking over and smelling the leaves.

Aroma Tea owner

They have two locations:

302 6th Ave @ Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.668.3788
Everyday 11am—7pm

845 Washington St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
415.362.6588
Everyday 10:30am—6pm

Tea Tasting

The first time I visited yesterday I purchased 2 ounces of premium white tea. I’ll be back for more.

Posted in Bay Area, life, Paris of the West, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to live longer

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 2, 2016

Appropriated from lollydaskal.com.

Appropriated from lollydaskal.com.


Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk fame did a bit where they bemoaned having to exercise regularly. If exercising a half hour every day adds up to a year of exercise in your life, one or the other of the Magliozzi brothers quipped, you’ll live just one year extra plus a day before you “buy the farm.”

So what if I said you could live longer with or without exercising more, without actually doing anything different than you’re doing now?

I drank alcohol regularly for 30 odd years prior to stopping completely on January 1, 2010. I wasn’t a fall down drunk, nor did I actually get wasted drunk, but I was a daily maintenance drinker. I drank until I got my buzz on. For that 30 years, when I wasn’t forced to go to work, I woke routinely around 9, 10 in the morning. After I stopped drinking I was depressed for another 9 months and so I continued to rise late in the morning, even though I retired and no longer had to work. That means I was sleeping 9 to 10 hours a night.

When I finally got on top of my depression, I resolved to curtail my sleep to a more normal 7-8 hours a night, meaning that I now wake at 7 or earlier most mornings. That’s 1 to 2 hours extra of wakefulness a day on average, which adds up to 15 to 30 more days of being awake each year.

No one knows the time of one’s death. Waking earlier doesn’t actually extend the date of one’s dying, but it does give one more time to be awake, and hence consciously alive. Plus, I wake up at a calmer, more peaceful time of my day. I feel like a get more done these days as well. That’s something.

Besides, I get to catch a sunrise now and then on my new schedule.

Posted in alcoholism, life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An extremely brief history of the universe

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 6, 2015

A time map by Martin Vargic, covering the 13.8 billion years of the universe’s existence through the death of Earth and the demise of the sun 8 billion years in the future:
TimeLine

Posted in life | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

What Joann Sfar drew: Charlie Hebdo cartoonist in translation

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 14, 2015

France is an old country where lovers embrace freely.

France is an old country where lovers embrace freely.


Paris is our capital. We love music, drunkenness, joy.

Paris is our capital. We love music, drunkenness, joy.


For centuries lovers of death have tried to make us lose life's flavour.

For centuries lovers of death have tried to make us lose life’s flavour.


They never succeed.

They never succeed.


Those who love. Those who love life. In the end, they're always the ones who are rewarded.

Those who love. Those who love life. In the end, they’re always the ones who are rewarded.


The motto of Paris is beautiful.

The motto of Paris is beautiful.


It is beaten by the waves but does not sink'

‘It is beaten by the waves but does not sink’


8
Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating 'we are at war' without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere. Our enemies are those that love death. In various guises, they have always existed. History forgets quickly.

Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating ‘we are at war’ without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere. Our enemies are those that love death. In various guises, they have always existed. History forgets quickly.


The people who died tonight were out living, drinking, singing. They didn't know they had declared war.

The people who died tonight were out living, drinking, singing. They didn’t know they had declared war.


Instead of dividing, we should remember what is precious: our way of life.

Instead of dividing, we should remember what is precious: our way of life.


Lovers of death, if God exists, he hated you. And you have already lost, both on earth and in heaven.

Lovers of death, if God exists, he hated you. And you have already lost, both on earth and in heaven.


It means, 'Fuck death.'

It means, ‘Fuck death.’


The cartoon, in translation, available here

Posted in Paris, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2016 Presidential Elections—in a nutshell

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 18, 2015

This is self-explanatory. And funny!
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Unfortunately, it’s not accurate.

Posted in life, politics, presidential election | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hey Kids! Here’s Presidential Candidate and Old Jewish Man Bernie Sanders’ 1987 Folk Album!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 3, 2015

Heeb Magazine broke this story, and it’s reprinted here:

Hey Kids! Here’s Presidential Candidate and Old Jewish Man Bernie Sanders’ 1987 Folk Album!
Yo Semite August 30, 2015

Bernie Sanders is having a pretty great summer. The crotchety senator from Vermont is not only riding a wave of popularity unmatched by anything in his career thusfar, but according to recent polls, his presidential campaign is, amazingly, improbably, starting to close within striking distance of Democratic dauphin, Hilary Clinton, herself. While some might attribute Sanders’ newfound political relevance to his thoughtful, nuanced, policy positions, or his grassroots efforts to appeal to a wide, untapped liberal base. I have another theory.

America loves a folk musician.

Oh, you didn’t know? Bernie Sanders once released a full album of American folk standards. Yup. The (admittedly, unlikely) next president of the United States is a bona fide folker.

Sanders’ album, “We Shall Overcome” was release in 1987, while Bernie was still mayor of Burlington, VT. According to Seven Days, a Vermont-based independent news site:

Todd Lockwood, a Burlington-based author/photographer/musician, remembers sipping coffee at Leunig’s Bistro one morning in 1987 when he came up with the idea of recording then-mayor Sanders at his White Crow Audio studios. (Phish recorded early albums there.)

“I’m not sure where it came from,” Lockwood said of his brainstorm. “I thought, ‘You know, there’s an idea.’”

On a whim, he called the mayor’s office — he didn’t know Sanders — and left a message with a secretary. Before long, he got a call back — Sanders wanted a meeting.

“I was surprised he said, ‘Yes,’” Lockwood said. “When I first went to his office he said, ‘I have to admit to you this appeals to my ego.’’’

Sanders gave Lockwood a list of songs, mostly from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, he would be willing to record.

How does it sound? Judge for yourself:

Originally, Sanders had planned to sing each song himself, but that went right out the window after he actually, well, started to sing. Mel Torme, he ain’t. Instead, his singing voice allegedly ended up sounding exactly as you’d probably expect coming from a crotchety Jewish member of the Vermont Progressive Party – Not, uh…not so great.

Still, if you’re interested/brave enough, the full album is available for purchase on amazon.

Posted in Democratic Party, democratic socialism, life, music, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ed Lee urges homeless to self-deport

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 1, 2015

A brilliant little op-ed piece, written by San Francisco Chronicle’s columnist Jon Carroll:

Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle Mayor Ed Lee stopped to talk with residents of the Raman Hotel on Howard Street where he made the announcement Wednesday May 13, 2015. Mayor Ed Lee and members of the Board of Supervisors announced $28.9 million in new funding over the next two years to support the homeless in San Francisco, Calif. including the addition of more than 500 supportive housing units for chronically homeless seniors, expand medical care and continue the new Navigation Center.

Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle
Mayor Ed Lee stopped to talk with residents of the Raman Hotel on Howard Street where he made the announcement Wednesday May 13, 2015. Mayor Ed Lee and members of the Board of Supervisors announced $28.9 million in new funding over the next two years to support the homeless in San Francisco, Calif. including the addition of more than 500 supportive housing units for chronically homeless seniors, expand medical care and continue the new Navigation Center.

Ed Lee urges homeless to self-deport
By Jon Carroll
August 31, 2015 Updated: August 31, 2015 7:11pm

So this happened: Ed Lee told homeless people on the Embarcadero that they will “have to leave the street” before the weeklong waterfront-spanning Super Bowl carnival of cross-promotional opportunities that will precede the 2016 game.

“OK,” said the homeless people, “we’ll go to our second homes in Tahoe.”

So many questions! The first, I would think, is “Why is Ed Lee pimping for the NFL?” The NFL is a gigantic corporate entity, zealously guarding its brand while doing everything possible to degrade it. The league came very late to the notion that beating up women was a bad idea, and is now in an utterly dumb and maddening fight with one of its star quarterbacks over deflated footballs.

It’s just like when Lee tried to pimp for the Olympics, a known money loser that leaves behind a lot of infrastructure and no money to pay for its upkeep. Residents of the Bay Area were all “Can we think about this?” while Lee was going, “It’ll be great!” Lee lost that fight, so he transferred his allegiance to another rapacious entertainment cartel.

So the idea was: Get out, you filthy people, because we need a postcard-ready city for media executives to stroll around in.

Then there’s the larger pesky problem of what to do about the homeless. Many words have been expended recently on the deepening problem of San Francisco residents forced to encounter urination and defecation in public places. I hold no brief for those activities, although I do point out that they are a predictable consequence of being alive.

It should be mentioned that a fair number of the urinators and defecators are, to use the clinical term, crazy. We don’t believe in mental hospitals anymore (because they are too costly, unlike homelessness, which is, wait, even more costly), so the crazy people walk among us and, guess what, act like crazy people.

And there’s no street-level policy that can deal with that. Either kill ’em or move ’em out or deal with ’em. San Francisco has made a morally courageous decision to deal with the problem. That decision has to be made again and again, because the problem is intractable.

That decision comes with consequences, one of the least of which is bad smells and disgusting sights. Caring enough about human misery to risk discomfort is a virtue; caring together is a civic virtue.

A large subset of the crazy people are also addicts of various kinds. They’ve been offered the programs; they didn’t want them. Or they couldn’t stay with them. Or whatever. Addiction kills people by convincing them they don’t need help.

Most homeless people are not crazy addicts. They would experience great shame and humiliation if they were forced to do their business in the streets. Like any experienced urban resident, they have a very good idea where the publicly available bathrooms are. If that alternative were somehow not feasible, they would do their best to go deep into the most secret corners of the landscape.

Homeless people are not animals; they are very poor people, is all. Poverty is not an infectious disease; you can’t get it even by brushing past a homeless person on your way to the Nike Gatorade Punt Like an All-Star Celebrity Game.

Homeless people are sort of like me and you. They have mothers and fathers. They’ve known love and heartbreak. Maybe they never had a chance; maybe they had a chance and then stuff went wrong.

How far are you away from homelessness? How many multiple bad things have to go wrong before you run out of your last couch to surf on? Suppose financial reversals plus death of a partner plus debilitating costly disease — how’s your cushion? Maybe all that would be so depressing you’d seek escape in a bottle. And then you’re at a bus station and you’ve got $2.30 in your pocket. And, hey, how about a civil war? You a refugee yet?

It could happen. It could even happen to Ed Lee. Everything is mutable; status comes and goes. We’re all human. Which is sort of the point. We treat other people the way we would want to be treated ourselves. I think that’s some kind of Rule.

So maybe there’s something better than urine-shaming as a social philosophy. Maybe there’s trying to be useful. The problem will be with us as long as there are people, so the only approach that makes some kind of sense involves finding your place in the social fabric. There are dozens of useful volunteer groups; find one.

You may find homeless people offensive. It may also be that some of them find you offensive, you resource-hogging, water-swilling, ocean-warming, sweatshop-clothes-wearing, vacation-in-Bali-taking human placeholder. It’s all a matter of perspective.

“And the moral of that is — ‘Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves.’” “How fond she is of finding morals” in jcarroll@sfchronicle.com.

Posted in capitalism, homeless, life, San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Why the Rich Love Burning Man

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 30, 2015

This was originally printed in Jacobin Magazine:

Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

Trey Ratcliff / Flickr


Why the Rich Love Burning Man
Burning Man became a festival that rich libertarians love because it never had a radical critique at its core.
by Keith A. Spencer

In principle the annual Burning Man festival sounds a bit like a socialist utopia: bring thousands of people to an empty desert to create an alternative society. Ban money and advertisements and make it a gift economy. Encourage members to bring the necessary ingredients of this new world with them, according to their ability.

Introduce “radical inclusion,” “radical self-expression,” and “decommodification” as tenets, and designate the alternative society as a free space, where sex and gender boundaries are fluid and meant to be transgressed.

These ideas — the essence of Burning Man — are certainly appealing.

Yet capitalists also unironically love Burning Man, and to anyone who has followed the recent history of Burning Man, the idea that it is at all anticapitalist seems absurd: last year, a venture capitalist billionaire threw a $16,500-per-head party at the festival, his camp a hyper-exclusive affair replete with wristbands and models flown in to keep the guests company.

Burning Man is earning a reputation as a “networking event” among Silicon Valley techies, and tech magazines now send reporters to cover it. CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Alphabet are foaming fans, along with conservative anti-tax icon Grover Norquist and many writers of the libertarian (and Koch-funded) Reason magazine. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even went so far as to claim that Burning Man “is Silicon Valley.”

Radical Self-Expression

The weeklong Burning Man festival takes place once a year over Labor Day weekend in a remote alkali flat in northwestern Nevada. Two hours north of Reno, the inhospitable Black Rock Desert seems a poor place to create a temporary sixty-thousand-person city — and yet that’s entirely the point. On the desert playa, an alien world is created and then dismantled within the span of a month. The festival culminates with the deliberate burning of a symbolic effigy, the titular “man,” a wooden sculpture around a hundred feet tall.

Burning Man grew from unpretentious origins: a group of artists and hippies came together to burn an effigy at Baker Beach in San Francisco, and in 1990 set out to have the same festival in a place where the cops wouldn’t hassle them about unlicensed pyrotechnics. The search led them to the Black Rock Desert.

Burning Man is very much a descendent of the counterculture San Francisco of yesteryear, and possesses the same sort of libertine, nudity-positive spirit. Some of the early organizers of the festival professed particular admiration for the Situationists, the group of French leftists whose manifestos and graffitied slogans like “Never Work” became icons of the May 1968 upsurge in France.

Though the Situationists were always a bit ideologically opaque, one of their core beliefs was that cities had become oppressive slabs of consumption and labor, and needed to be reimagined as places of play and revolt. Hence, much of their art involved cutting up and reassembling maps, and consuming intoxicants while wandering about in Paris.

You can feel traces of the Situationists when walking through Black Rock City, Burning Man’s ephemeral village. Though Black Rock City resembles a city in some sense, with a circular dirt street grid oriented around the “man” sculpture, in another sense it is completely surreal: people walk half-naked in furs and glitter, art cars shaped like ships or dragons pump house music as they purr down the street.

Like a real city, Burning Man has bars, restaurants, clubs, and theaters, but they are all brought by participants because everyone is required to “bring something”:

The people who attend Burning Man are no mere “attendees,” but rather active participants in every sense of the word: they create the city, the interaction, the art, the performance and ultimately the “experience.” Participation is at the very core of Burning Man.

Participation sounds egalitarian, but it leads to some interesting contradictions. The most elaborate camps and spectacles tend to be brought by the rich because they have the time, the money, or both, to do so. Wealthier attendees often pay laborers to build and plan their own massive (and often exclusive) camps. If you scan San Francisco’s Craigslist in the month of August, you’ll start to see ads for part-time service labor gigs to plump the metaphorical pillows of wealthy Burners.

The rich also hire sherpas to guide them around the festival and wait on them at the camp. Some burners derogatorily refer to these rich person camps as “turnkey camps.”

Silicon Valley’s adoration of Burning Man goes back a long way, and tech workers have always been fans of the festival. But it hasn’t always been the provenance of billionaires — in the early days, it was a free festival with a cluster of pitched tents, weird art, and explosives; but as the years went on, more exclusive, turnkey camps appeared and increased in step with the ticket price — which went from $35 in 1994 to $390 in 2015 (about sixteen times the rate of inflation).

Black Rock City has had its own FAA-licensed airport since 2000, and it’s been getting much busier. These days you can even get from San Carlos in Silicon Valley to the festival for $1500. In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg flew into Burning Man on a private helicopter, staying for just one day, to eat and serve artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches. From the New York Times:

“We used to have R.V.s and precooked meals,” said a man who attends Burning Man with a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. (He asked not to be named so as not to jeopardize those relationships.) “Now, we have the craziest chefs in the world and people who build yurts for us that have beds and air-conditioning.” He added with a sense of amazement, “Yes, air-conditioning in the middle of the desert!”

The growing presence of the elite in Burning Man is not just noticed by outsiders — long-time attendees grumble that Burning Man has become “gentrified.” Commenting on the New York Times piece, burners express dismay at attendees who do no work. “Paying people to come and take care of you and build for you . . . and clean up after you . . . those people missed the point.”

Many Burners seethed after reading one woman’s first-person account of how she was exploited while working at the $17,000-per-head camp of venture capitalist Jim Tananbaum. In her account, she documented the many ways in which Tananbaum violated the principles of the festival, maintaining “VIP status” by making events and art cars private and flipping out on one of his hired artists.

Tananbaum’s workers were paid a flat $180 a day with no overtime, but the anonymous whistleblower attests that she and others worked fifteen- to twenty-hour days during the festival.

The emergent class divides of Burning Man attendees is borne out by data: the Burning Man census (yes, they have a census, just like a real nation-state) showed that from 2010 to 2014, the number of attendees who make more than $300,000 a year doubled from 1.4% to 2.7%. This number is especially significant given the outsize presence 1 percenters command at Burning Man.

In a just, democratic society, everyone has equal voice. At Burning Man everyone is invited to participate, but the people who have the most money decide what kind of society Burning Man will be — they commission artists of their choice and build to their own whims. They also determine how generous they are feeling, and whether to withhold money.

It might seem silly to quibble over the lack of democracy in the “governance” of Black Rock City. After all, why should we care whether Jeff Bezos has commissioned a giant metal unicorn or a giant metal pirate ship, or whether Tananbaum wants to spend $2 million on an air-conditioned camp? But the principles of these tech scions — that societies are created through charity, and that the true “world-builders” are the rich and privileged — don’t just play out in the Burning Man fantasy world. They carry over into the real world, often with less-than-positive results.

Remember when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to help “fix” Newark’s public schools? In 2010, Zuckerberg — perhaps hoping to improve his image after his callous depiction in biopic The Social Network — donated $100 million to Newark’s education system to overhaul Newark schools.

The money was directed as a part of then–Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s plan to remake the city into the “charter school capital of the nation,” bypassing public oversight through partnership with private philanthropists.

Traditionally, public education has been interwoven with the democratic process: in a given school district, the community elects the school board every few years. School boards then make public decisions and deliberations. Zuckerberg’s donation, and the project it was attached to, directly undermined this democratic process by promoting an agenda to privatize public schools, destroy local unions, disempower teachers, and put the reins of public education into the hands of technocrats and profiteers.

This might seem like an unrelated tangent — after all, Burning Man is supposed to be a fun, liberating world all its own. But it isn’t. The top-down, do what you want, radically express yourself and fuck everyone else worldview is precisely why Burning Man is so appealing to the Silicon Valley technocratic scions.

To these young tech workers — mostly white, mostly men — who flock to the festival, Burning Man reinforces and fosters the idea that they can remake the world without anyone else’s input. It’s a rabid libertarian fantasy. It fluffs their egos and tells them that they have the power and right to make society for all of us, to determine how things should be.

This is the dark heart of Burning Man, the reason that high-powered capitalists — and especially capitalist libertarians — love Burning Man so much. It heralds their ideal world: one where vague notions of participation replace real democracy, and the only form of taxation is self-imposed charity. Recall Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s op-ed, in the wake of the Obamacare announcement, in which he proposed a healthcare system reliant on “voluntary, tax-deductible donations.”

This is the dream of libertarians and the 1 percent, and it reifies itself at Burning Man — the lower caste of Burners who want to partake in the festival are dependent on the whims and fantasies of the wealthy to create Black Rock City.

Burning Man foreshadows a future social model that is particularly appealing to the wealthy: a libertarian oligarchy, where people of all classes and identities coexist, yet social welfare and the commons exist solely on a charitable basis.

Of course, the wealthy can afford more, both in lodging and in what they “bring” to the table: so at Burning Man, those with more money, who can bring more in terms of participation, labor and charity, are celebrated more.

It is a society that we find ourselves moving closer towards the other 358 (non–Burning Man) days of the year: with a decaying social welfare state, more and more public amenities exist only as the result of the hyper-wealthy donating them. But when the commons are donated by the wealthy, rather than guaranteed by membership in society, the democratic component of civic society is vastly diminished and placed in the hands of the elite few who gained their wealth by using their influence to cut taxes and gut the social welfare state in the first place.

It’s much like how in my former home of Pittsburgh, the library system is named for Andrew Carnegie, who donated a portion of the initial funds. But the donated money was not earned by Carnegie; it trickled up from his workers’ backs, many of them suffering from overwork and illness caused by his steel factories’ pollution. The real social cost of charitable giving is the forgotten labor that builds it and the destructive effects that flow from it.

At Burning Man the 1 percenters — who have earned their money in the same way that Carnegie did so long ago — show up with an army of service laborers, yet they take the credit for what they’ve “brought.”

Burning Man’s tagline and central principle is radical self-expression:

Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

The root of Burning Man’s degeneration may lie in the concept itself. Indeed, the idea of radical self-expression is, at least under the constraints of capitalism, a right-wing, Randian ideal, and could easily be the core motto of any of the large social media companies in Silicon Valley, who profit from people investing unpaid labor into cultivating their digital representations.

It is in their interest that we are as self-interested as possible, since the more we obsess over our digital identity, the more personal information of ours they can mine and sell. Little wonder that the founders of these companies have found their home on the playa.

It doesn’t seem like Burning Man can ever be salvaged, or taken back from the rich power-brokers who’ve come to adore it and now populate its board of directors. It became a festival that rich libertarians love because it never had a radical critique at its core; and, without any semblance of democracy, it could easily be controlled by those with influence, power, and wealth.

Burning Man will be remembered more as the model for Google CEO Larry Page’s dream of a libertarian state, than as the revolutionary Situationist space that it could have been.

As such, it is a cautionary tale for radicals and utopianists. When “freedom” and “inclusion” are disconnected from democracy, they often lead to elitism and reinforcement of the status quo.

8.25.15

Posted in anarchism, capitalism, class war, corporations, counterculture, libertarians, life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bill Maher on the “Sharing” Economy

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 22, 2015

Again, my sentiments exactly:

Posted in capitalism, life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two bookstores with Bay Area roots help literary life thrive in Paris

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 31, 2015

Reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berkeley Books of Paris, 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, Paris.

Berkeley Books of Paris, 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, Paris.


By John McMurtrie
July 27, 2015
Updated: July 30, 2015 9:04pm

No visit to Paris, for any book lover, is complete without a pilgrimage to Shakespeare and Co., the creaky, cozy bookshop on the banks of the Seine that has been a home away from home for so many writers, among them James Baldwin, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Robert Stone and many others.

But stroll 10 minutes to the south, in the Latin Quarter, and you’ll find two other, lesser-known but invaluable English-language bookstores — both of which have deep ties to the Bay Area. In fact, their very names say it all: They are San Francisco Book Co. and Berkeley Books of Paris.

As it happens, these two Left Bank stores are only a block apart from each other. Not surprisingly, given their names, they have common roots. And they’re competitors.

San Francisco Book Co., 17 rue Monsieur le Prince, Paris.

San Francisco Book Co., 17 rue Monsieur le Prince, Paris.


San Francisco Book Co. is the older of the stores. It was co-founded in 1997 by Americans Jim Carroll and Phil Wood. Carroll, a former San Francisco bookseller who once owned Carroll’s Books in Noe Valley (it closed in 2004), eventually bought out Wood’s share of the business. Wood went down the street, opening Berkeley Books in 2006 with Richard Toney and Phyllis Cohen, who used to work at San Francisco Book Co. Wood then sold the store to Cohen.

“We’re not bosom buddies by any means,” Carroll wrote in an e-mail, “but healthy competition is good, and the more the merrier.”

Jim Carroll, owner of San Francisco Book Co.

Jim Carroll, owner of San Francisco Book Co.


Vanishing bookstores

The more the merrier is right, especially given that Paris, like other cities around the world, has lost some of its treasured bookstores to rent increases and the rise in online book sales. Just last month, La Hune, a famous Left Bank bookstore frequented by the French intelligentsia, shut down after more than 60 years in business. Also gone are the English-language bookstores Village Voice, the Red Wheelbarrow, and Tea and Tattered Pages.

There is no doubt that the Latin Quarter, the student district centered on the venerable University of Paris (founded in the 12th century), has lost much of its bohemian allure as real estate prices have risen. But as the accompanying interactive map of the Left Bank shows, there is still a thriving literary culture in the city’s 5th and 6th arrondissements. San Francisco Book Co. and Berkeley Books of Paris fit nicely into that tradition, keeping alive the rich history of Americans and other foreigners contributing to the literary life of Paris.

“Paris is a great city for books, and I really enjoy life as a book dealer here,” Carroll wrote. “My shop is just a block from the original Shakespeare and Co., where ‘Ulysses’ was published. This area of Paris, close to the Sorbonne, has always been a prime location for bookshops, publishing houses, agencies, authors, critics, printers, binders and anyone else drawn to the world of books.”

This cat has been coming in to San Francisco Book Co. to escape the heat. Asked about the cat’s name, bookseller Richard Aldersley said, “Here’s one, off the cuff: Penelope.”

This cat has been coming in to San Francisco Book Co. to escape the heat. Asked about the cat’s name, bookseller Richard Aldersley said, “Here’s one, off the cuff: Penelope.”


‘A bit messy’

San Francisco Book Co. is a small store, with roughly 12,000 to 15,000 mostly used titles (and about 8,500 online), but Carroll said the shop has good walk-in business. San Francisco visitors frequently pop in, lured by the store’s exterior, painted in international orange, the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s also a bit messy inside,” wrote bookseller Richard Aldersley, “with books stacked on the floor and on spare counters for lack of shelf space, and we like it that way because people go through the books and handle them, and everything is much more approachable and comfortable and unsterile.”

The store even has its own cat. “It’s been coming in during the recent heat wave to lay on the cool tiles under the fan,” Aldersley wrote. Asked about the cat’s name, he added, “Here’s one, off the cuff: Penelope.”

Berkeley Books of Paris also gets its fair share of visitors from Northern California. “The Bay Area people always seem chuffed with the bookshop,” Cohen wrote. “We named the shop in honor of the great bookshops of Berkeley. I tell them stories about Moe’s and Cody’s, and show them my wall of homage, covered with bookmarks.”

1024x1024-3
The store also hosts art exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings and lectures, and Cohen said a lot of its patrons are professors, students, artists, writers and musicians.

“Many bookshops have gone under for reasons of real estate — those famous spikes in rent,” Cohen wrote. But, she added, “This is not specific to bookshops. People are still reading, and as far as I can tell, many of them actively miss bookshops that are long gone. Some have closed because Amazon and all that entails, but these shops mainly sold only new books” — unlike Berkeley Books, which sells only used books.

“Good old hand-selling and book swapping,” Cohen wrote. “There are quite a few loyal customers who frequent the place, and who have known me as their bookseller since 1999. Some of them are so attached to the bookshop that they’ve made me promise to stay open forever. Which is sweet, don’t you think?”

John McMurtrie is the book editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. Twitter: @McMurtrieSF

Posted in bookstores, life, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My sentiments exactly

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 16, 2015

I haven’t been a fan of SF supervisor Scott Wiener, until this happened. Scott was ambushed by Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor outside his office in City Hall where they demanded a comment from him regarding the recent tragic murder of Kate Steinle. His response was priceless:
scott-wiener-fox-news-2

Posted in life, San Francisco, San Francisco Board of Supervisors | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Don’t mind our dust

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 10, 2015

under-construction-yellow-tinysymbolI’ve been doing a bit of construction on this webpage and on my other blog recently. Nothing drastic as both this theme and the other have been retired. I’m just improving navigation, adding links and graphics, and generally making things easier on the eyes and the keyboard. Enjoy!

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Oi!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 7, 2015

This is funny and painful at the same time, something the writer, Deborah Coughlin, gets in spades.

One of a new range of credit cards featuring the Sex Pistols, with the group’s name and record sleeve artwork appearing on the cards from Virgin Money. Photograph: Virgin Money/PA

One of a new range of credit cards featuring the Sex Pistols, with the group’s name and record sleeve artwork appearing on the cards from Virgin Money. Photograph: Virgin Money/PA


There is no such thing as a punk credit card
Deborah Coughlin
Tuesday 9 June 2015
The Guardian

Loads of big businesses like to think of themselves as being a little bit edgy. They’ll plunder and pillage pop culture to find inspiration then try to sell it back to us – whether it’s some kind of generic revolutionary spirit, feminism or, most often, punk.

Yet like a perfectly nice dad having a midlife crisis, most of the time this punk edge is as flimsy as a Marks & Spencer leather jacket. It ends up coming across a bit “Danger would be my middle name, if my real middle name wasn’t Derek”. Not cool capitalism, not cool.

Of course this wouldn’t be possible if punks stuck to their anti-establishment, nonconformist guns. But punk really has become a big business bitch, coz, ya know, we’ve all got mortgages to pay.
This can be the only explanation behind Virgin proclaiming on Twitter: “Introduce a little anarchy to your wallet with our new Sex Pistols credit card.”

First off, there is no such thing as a punk credit card. It’s impossible to be in the midst of an anarchic frenzy while committing to 18.9% APR. Second, for Virgin to suggest that their customers should treat this new product of theirs in anyway nihilistically seems to be a huge commercial risk. “It’s a big bit of our history”, pleaded Virgin, as Twitter went WTF? True, but that was before you became a bank. This is, as one of the card designs states, bollocks.

Here’s a rundown of four other ways in which punk has never been so unpunk.

Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. ‘This is often cited as the moment punk died.’ Photograph: Country Life/PA Wire

Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. ‘This is often cited as the moment punk died.’ Photograph: Country Life/PA Wire

1. John Lydon’s Country Life butter advert
“It is important to realise that in all the years I have been in the music industry the only people that treated me with any real respect was a butter manufacturer,” said Lydon in 2009. This is often cited as the moment punk died – and it was way before the artist formerly known as Johnny Rotten signed up to those credit cards. I’d actually suggest that it’s last spit dried up a few years earlier, when in 2004 Lydon joined the cast of I’m a Celebrity, the series best known for Katie Price and Peter Andre getting it on. Forget punk, the only music that inspired was Andre’s “classic” single Insania.

2. Iggy Pop sells Swift insurance
I’m not sure how Iggy got away with slightly less ridicule than Lydon. Maybe he’s more likeable. Maybe internet-based insurance is a less firebrand issue than butter. Or maybe it’s because this advert came two years after Lydon’s and by this point we’d all resigned ourselves to a future where middle-aged musicians will end up selling us crap. The advert was later banned for being misleading, as the insurance didn’t cover musicians.

3. Vivienne Westward going to the 1997 Cool Britannia party at No 10 and accepting her damehood
Westwood now says that not only would she never have darkened Blair’s doorstep if she’d known what he was going to do in government, but also claims she thought she was going to the party of Tony Banks. It is very punk not knowing whose house you’re going to and not really caring. However, when she turned up at Buckingham Palace I’m guessing she knew who she was going to curtsy to – albeit knickerless.

4. PIL and Ramones merch in Primark
How was Primark going to get more rebellious, edgy teens through its doors? By flogging Ramones cushions and Public Image Ltd T-shirts, that’s how. Assuming a high level of punk ignorance in their target customer base, Primark make a handy factsheet including things like the “key looks” for being a Ramone: “Leather jackets and lots (and lots) of hair!” Plus historical background: “Fun fact: This lot are often noted as the first punk rock group. Ever.”

Capitalism bred punk; today it well and truly buried it.

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