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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Art Wall Party

Here at Pistil Books, we not only promote literature and reading, but we are proponents of the visual arts as well.  We had our almost-annual Art Wall Party last Friday.  The Art Wall, a.k.a. Gallerie d'Alley is the outside of our neighbor's dilapidated garage.  One of the gallery walls faces the small parking lot of his apartment building, while the other gallery hangs over the dumpsters and faces the alley.

The beginnings of the Art Wall are controversial:  different people claim to have installed the first painting over a dozen years ago.  In my hazy memory, this was a scene of cowboys gathered around a campfire, put up by Pistil staff person Tim.  Another early work was the vase of three flowers and their shadows against a bright yellow background that Sean and I found put out with the trash at the other end of the alley - and which still hangs today.

Somewhere along the line, rules for submission of artwork to the Gallerie developed, and the hangings took place at a rowdy (fistfights have almost broken out; paintings have been burned; others have been tossed onto the roof of the garage; artwork has been stolen) barbecue potluck:

Submission Guidelines for the Gallerie d'Alley:
  • Artwork must be original
  • Artwork must not have cost more than $3
  • Artists' statements optional 
Old paintings and other artwork that have weathered sufficiently are removed - and sometimes moved to local telephone poles - by the democratic vote of the crowd, or by the autocratic decision of the wielder of the screw gun, Sean.  Thus room is made for the new crop of masterpieces.

Please take a virtual tour of the Gallerie d'Alley:

Photos of the 2011 art wall by Prima Seadiva

Photos of our guests, themselves works of art

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Goes Where

A sample of some books that sold recently and where they were shipped:

  • Here Come the Regulars:  How to Run a Record Label;  O'Fallon, IL
  • Rock Candy [graphic novel];  San Diego, CA
  • Lenin's Final Fight:  Speeches and Writings;  St. Paul, MN
  • Maritime Northwest Garden Guide;  Oak Harbor, WA
  • The Complete Book of Knots;  San Diego, CA
  • Informal Lectures on Formal Semantics;  Roseville, MN
  • Stellas & Stratocasters:  An Anthology;  Lily Dale, NY
  • Children and Television;  Austin, TX
  • Vancouver, Howe Sound, and the Sunshine Coast;  Wenatchee, WA
  • Slave Hunter: One Man's Global Quest to Free Victims of Human Trafficking;  Austin, TX
  • Boundaries of Jewish Identity;  Hyattsville, MD
  • Open Wounds:  A Native American Heritage;  Corvallis, OR
  • Zarathustra's Secret:  The Interior Life of Friedrich Nietzsche;  Rockville,MD
  • Friend of My Youth [by Alice Munro];  Alta, CA
  • The Heart of Yoga;  Ashburn, VA
  • Deities and Dolphins:  The Story of the Nabataeans;  Fayetteville, AR
  • Advanced Karate;  San Juan, Argentina
  • A River Lost:  The Life and Death of the Columbia;  Bainbridge Island, WA
  • Black Marxism:  The Making of the Black Radical Tradition;  Brooklyn, NY
  • Ravenna;  Tybee Island, GA
  • Income and Wealth Inequality in the Netherlands;  Lisboa, Portugal
  • Corrosion Fatigue:  Chemistry, Mechanics and Microstructure;  Toledo, OH
  • The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad; Old Granny Fox; Mother West Wind's Animal Friends [three books];  Stevens, PA
  • The Culture of Make Believe;  Owings Mills, MD
  • Modern Yucatecan Maya Pottery Making;  Whitefish, MT
  • Pindar's Olympian One:  A Commentary;  London, England 
  • A Taste of Turkish Cuisine;  Pacific, WA

It's nice to see that we had four customers from our own state.  Three books went to Maryland, and two to Austin, Texas.  Only three books went out of the country, fewer than usual.  Normally we have quite a few Canadian orders.

Reading Notes:

After seeing notices on bookselling forums that the known book thief John Gilkey was currently on the loose, I read The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett.  Although this was in trade paperback format, it read more like a long article.  Gilkey didn't seem like a particularly "interesting" book thief to me:  he stole books (using Modern Library's list of the one hundred best English-language novels of the twentieth century as his guide) by using credit card numbers gleaned from customers at Saks Fifth Avenue where he worked as a clerk.  Luckily, since we don't deal in very rare or expensive books, credit card fraud has not been a problem for Pistil Books Online.  When we were a retail store,  Pistil Books & News, however, both shoplifting and people trying to sell stolen books were a constant problem in our shop.  We still have our "do not buy" manila folder filled with polaroids of shady characters--sometimes smiling, sometimes giving the finger-- and descriptions of known book thieves that were distributed amongst the local bookstores.  Ah, an aspect of running a bookstore I certainly do not miss.

I also read a pretty forgettable novel called The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy.  It was a family drama about a teenage girl who goes on a backpacking trip with her estranged father and things go wrong. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Successful Book Sale

Our annual outdoor book sale, held Saturday, went very well.  The weather was sunny and gorgeous - maybe a given for other parts of the country at the end of July, but rain is always possible in Seattle. We had a steady stream of customers the entire time.  Michael, a friend from the local thrift store, commented that never had he seen so many "sale" signs on the neighborhood telephone poles.  Armed with a staple gun, Sean, Troy, and I were a match for the local band poster installers, putting up 200 photocopied signs ("free lemonade, beer, panties!"), as well as a couple dozen hand-lettered signs and re-purposed real estate condo sandwich boards (those sign boards are actually illegal in Seattle, but the law is unenforced).
Sean's father, Bert, who was in town to celebrate his 86th birthday was our trusty cashier.

We visited with neighbors, friends, old customers from our brick-and-mortar, former employees, local artists and writers, and many people who were new to Pistil.  By the end of the day, we had made a dent in the more than a thousand books put out for the sale, there was more room on our shelves for new stock, and Sean and I were off  to the beach.

Thanks to Tim, Michele, Troy, and Bert!