Thursday, November 19, 2009

Neither mom nor pop nor monopoly

I just realized I should acknowledge that there is another type of small bookstore that I do feel more protective of and would feel sorry if it disappeared. This is, for one, the collectively run left-politically oriented bookshop that's as much a community center as a business. There are hardly any still around. Maybe Bluestockings on the Lower East Side here in New York? I'm not sure if it's a collective though I have the sense it is, that its aims are other than profit, that it's owned and staffed by the same people. I've been to many movement events as well as readings there. It's a genuine community resource. There are also the small bookshops run by and for the oppressed nationalities--like the Hue-Man in Harlem, the Latino bookstore I visited a couple years ago in Palm Springs, and others scattered around the country. These are something more than stores; they are not just small businesses; they are cultural outposts, part of their communities' struggles for self-determination against the racist system. They deserve support and their loss would be a blow to the communities they serve.

Just to prove that my heart is in the right place in this regard, I dug this up this photo. Me in 1976 at the Ann Arbor women's bookstore, where I was a member of the collective.

I also like this picture for how it's an artifact of a different technological age. Check out the big old adding machine, the rolodex, the percolator. Feel free to also admire my Earth shoes and overalls if you're so inclined.