For our second post inspired by Ajax Penumbra’s San Francisco, we first thought we’d put up some photographs of City Lights Bookstore from 1969 . . . but, well, it looks exactly the same. Then, digging a little deeper into the relevant passage of Ajax Penumbra 1969, we realized we had skipped over the real paydirt:
The visitor canvasses Chinatown, learns to say bookstore in Cantonese: shu dian? He braves the haze of Haight Street, speaks to an anarchist selling books on a blanket in Golden Gate Park. He crosses the bay to Cody’s and Cal, ventures south to Kepler’s and Stanford. He inquires at City Lights, but the man behind the register, whose name is Shig, shakes his head. “Never heard of him, man. Never heard of him.” He sells the visitor a copy of Howl instead.
Shig. Shig Murao.
In honor of the publication of Robin Sloan’s Ajax Penumbra 1969, his digital original prequel to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore that chronicles Mr. Penumbra’s first visit to the City by the Bay in the year 1969 A.D., we are inaugurating a series of posts to help show what the city looked like way back then - when the city was perhaps no longer the full-blown Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test of the Summer of Love (1967) but also wasn’t quite yet the gritty streets patrolled by Dirty Harry or even Karl Malden and a fluffy-haired Michael Douglas in The Streets of San Francisco.
In Ajax Penumbra 1969, young, intrepid Mr. P. “passes a construction site where a wide ziggurat reaches for the sky and a placard promises THE FUTURE SITE OF THE TRANSAMERICA PYRAMID above a fine-lined rendering of a shining spear.” It’s a sign of a city leaning forward into the future. And while we’d all recognize that lovely “pyramid” now - well, we all had to start somewhere:
Cassie sings and plays the guitar for Vivian Girls, has a side project called The Babies, and is an overall badass, as you can tell from this “I Heard You Say” video. NB creepy motel fire circa 1:34.
We are long-time fans and supporters of Jesse Thorn’s various enterprises—from all the way back when he justifiably had “Young” in the title of his radio show (and look at him now!)—but it felt particularly good to do our small part to help kickstart his latest cause, 1000 Cones. Because if a New York City summer teaches you anything, it’s that the chance to deliver someone a free ice cream cone is not to be passed up. And Jesse continues to inspire, risking life and limb (really, watch the video) to make it happen, as usual.
You’ve seen Argo, right? Joshuah Bearman, whose 2007 Wired article became the basis for the Oscar-winning film, has teamed up with Joshua Davis—another prolific magazine writer—to create Epic, “a kind of online literary platform that will commission and publish big, nonfiction narratives that might also make good movies.” Read the whole New York Times piece here.