So I’m in LA on someone elses dime and getting tired of the piano player in the lounge of the hotel who is straying too close to “Midnight at the Oasis” for my liking so I head out to walk on the beach near sunset. The ULTRA said bring me back a shell. But the seagulls have been here before me “Pulling Mussles from a…”, so they are all broken.
At this point Venice gets a little feral and Australian, too many louts for me, so I head over to Main St. to look at the shops. It is 7pm, and everything is closed. There is however one store open, and fate has it that it is a used bookstore and art gallery, so I go in.
A man with beachblown hair who I surmise is the proprietor is seated at the back behind a computer hitting the keys hard every now and again, and so I wordless browse the shelves- there are a couple of Sheila Metzner TwinPalms Press editions of “Color” and I check the price and the inside as I always do to see who sold their autographed copy so I can report back- “So who is Bernard and why did he sell your book?” but these are unsigned in mint condition.
Still no word from the owner and I look at the fiction first edition on the other wall and all of the covers are beautifully illustrated or have amazing graphic design, so I say “wow these covers have amazing graphic design” or something equally vapid and the owner looks up…
Well that is where the story begins because for the next 45 minutes variously:
I get the whole story, he store used to be on Abbott Kenney but when the rent went to 6000$/ month he had to bail out sadly after many years-
A man comes in looking to be in his 60′s but very California-preserved and he had randomly walked in one day and ended up befriending the owner Michael and becoming a major patron, just a guy from Iowa with money-
I mention I am reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith and turns out Michaels’ wife is a big fan and wrote about her I think and I say I got to meet her at the National Book Awards and do I have photo- of her, it’s his wife’s birthday- so I will dig one up Michael- its on its way.
I get smitten by 1. Brassai, Paris at Night, with beautiful reproductions in mint condition and at a reasonable price- 2. I get more smitten by a TwinPalms press copy of Lost Hollywood first edition sheet fed gravure, who also published Sheila’s book, and I remember my old Ellen von Unwerth Snaps that I “had” and then “didn’t” which according to the owner is now going for 5 times what I paid-ouch!
Edit: Elizabeth Avedon has a great article about Jack Woody up recently here.
And there is more but I do want to be able to pay rent when I get home so I decide this is it, and in walks another man who looks vaguely familiar and complains of his trials trying on pants but not being able to feel his legs because he is on too much cough syrup (I’m getting parts of this wrong but essentially this is what it is) so he goes to the bathroom and I say to Michael, “he looks suspiciously like…” and Michael says yes, the guy on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Nick Brendon, so Nick now comes out of the bathroom and Michael says, so Robert here thinks you look suspiciously like” and I am outed as just another Hollywood lookey-lou (did I mention I also saw Dennis Leary and Ray Liota in the hotel!) but I guess the cough syrup thing is making everyone copacetic and he is going to Toronto for a comic-con thing and I am from Toronto sort of so its all a nice coincidental evening.
If you are in Venice, on cough syrup or not, visit Deyermond- their motto is “A book can change your life” and Michael is a true believer, a little crazy, very nice, and he has great books and you should go there and buy one or three.
These are the shells I brought the ULTRA. They suit her perfectly.
cover of Lost Hollywood by Jack Woody, TwinPalms press