Books

A Modern tragedy

Important progressive bookstore and gathering place facing closure

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news@sfbg.com

After more than 40 years in San Francisco, the progressive independent bookstore Modern Times may have to close its doors in the near future, but not before issuing one final appeal for help from the community.

In the 1990s, Modern Times managed to survive chain retailers' predatory business strategies and cheap prices. More recently, it was able to withstand changes in the industry due to the increasing popularity of e-books and online retailers. More than half of the independent bookstores in the country shut down between 1990 and 2011.Read more »

Stealing secret records about government spying used to be way more complicated

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In 1971, a group of radicals broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole a bunch of documents about J. Edgar Hoover’s surveillance program targeting dissidents and antiwar activists.

Thanks to their criminal act, which they followed up by anonymously sending copies of the files to major media outlets, awareness of FBI spying under Cointelpro penetrated mainstream consciousness.Read more »

Craft empire

Little Paper Planes is just another Valencia gift shop. Or is it?

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caitlin@sfbg.com

STREET SEEN Located on a strip of Valencia that lacks not for the twee and handcrafted, the opening of Little Paper Planes might strike city dwellers as a bit of anti-news. Of course there's a new place to shop for necklaces in the Mission. Obviously, the shop floor emphasizes artists who use locally-sourced materials. Oh, its gorgeous inside and former Design*Sponge senior editor Kate Pruitt designed the sweetly geometric shelves and displays? DUH. Next gift shop please.Read more »

Next chapter: Adobe Books hopes to transition into co-op

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Adobe Books lives on… we hope. The Mission’s beloved 23-year-old bookshop – which reported it would be going out of business multiple times last year – now has plans to stay open as a collective.

Adobe owner Andrew McKinley first reported his shop would be closing in spring of 2012, and then again late summer. His reason: an excessive rent increase for his storefront, in a building at 16th and Valencia Streets. Unless someone was planning to swoop down to be the store’s financial superhero, the proposed rent was too high and McKinley was sure he could no longer afford to keep the shop afloat.

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Free the free

San Francisco icon Xara Thustra looks back at 15 years of underground art

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VISUAL ART It starts with the streets. Walls, the texture of walls, rough and colored in swirls of graffiti letters. Walls you feel you could reach out and touch their cold and grit. Establishing shots — the streets of San Francisco in the dot-com era. The photos are of their times: an unattended shopping cart in the streets appears as early as page three. Soon follows the spray-painted legend, "Don't let the good times fool you."Read more »

Who needs candy? Get your Halloween fix with creepy crafts!

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Crafters! Ghouls! Two adorable books appeared in the mail recently: Chris Marks' Horrorgami: 25 Creepy Creatures, Ghastly Ghouls, and Other Fiendish Paper Projects (Running Press, 128 pp., $13) and Hannah Simpson's Knitmare on Elm Street: 20 Projects That Go Bump in the Night (Running Press, 127 pp., $17).

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Letters from Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson

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As the guitarist for Hole, Eric Erlandson was at the center of the alternative rock explosion of the early 1990s, a member of one of the most popular and controversial bands of the time, and a friend and confidant to one of the scene’s most influential players, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Read more »

Tumblr king: An interview with the co-author of 'All My Friends Are Dead'

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Perhaps it's indicative of our societal aversion to life's end that Jory John just finished an email interview with the Guardian. How else would one explain the meteoric success of his tiny book, lightly filled with illustrations of dinos, Yetis, and ponies bemoaning their dead friends in deadpan one-liners? Seriously, they he and co-author Avery Monsen hold Tumblr records, and Ellen DeGeneres once tweeted about them, and their book is now available in Catalan. Surely, in All My Friends Are Dead they have crafted the most Internet-ready nugget known to humankind. 

Small surprise then, that All My Friends Are Still Dead (Chronicle Books, 108 pages, $9.95) is now tromping about, introducing us to the rolling 'bot of eternal isolation, a Godzilla with daddy issues, and a real bitchy toothbrush-toothpaste duo. We hollered at John to find out how life has changed since he became a ruler of the Internet. Read more »

A really dumb article about bookstores

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You never know what you're going to get on Slate, which tends toward the neo-liberal and sometimes libertarian, but I just read a particularly awful piece by technology writer Farhad Manjoo, who thinks that local bookstores are economically inefficient and should just go away:Read more »

Lit shorts: Cocker, on paper

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Mother, Brother, Lover
By Jarvis Cocker
Faber and Faber
208 pp., hardcover, $17

 
Books of lyrics — words uprooted from the music and set down naked on the page — are traditionally published with either self-congratulation or doubts by songwriters. Jarvis Cocker has some doubts.

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