books on the radio

Donate to Help Save Toronto’s This Ain’t the Rosedale Library

Charlie Huisken of This Saint the Rosedale Library. Photo by John Elmslie.

The call has gone out that another friend of books, writers, creativity & independent presses needs our help.

This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, legendary Toronto bookstore and nucleus for the writing community in that city is in danger of closing its doors and adding to the recent litany of closures of great Canadian bookstores.

The community of friends, book lovers and patrons of the store have rallied in support and the owners, Charlie and Jesse Huisken, have worked hard to put themselves in a position to receive donations to keep the doors open while a workable solution is developed to ensure that the store is viable going forward.

I would like to submit to my friends out here in BC and to everyone east and north – and even outside of Canada – that this is not a regional thing. This is not something that we can leave to the community in Toronto and environs.

It is no secret that with the recent closures of Duthie Books and Sophia Books here in Vancouver that there was much gnashing of teeth over the unjust fate of independent bookstores in the modern age.

In those cases there was no second chance, no opportunity for the community to really come together and to put some money behind their words to save a store from oblivion.

We have that chance with This Ain’t.

Please donate what you can to the paypal account set up for the store so that next time you’re in Toronto you can walk through the door of This Ain’t the Rosedale Library and tell Charlie & Jesse how amazing their store is and how happy you were to donate in this crucial moment to keep the store open.

I guarantee that you’ll have made a friend for life.

Here’s how the situation is described on This Ain’t’s website:

Our situation, which could be told as a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities, is really quite a simple one. At our new location in Kensington Market we found a space with lower rent and overheads which thus represented an enticing solution to the difficulty of inflated rents facing many stores of our kind. For a year we worked in this space happily, until the recession hit with full force and we began to fall behind with our rent. Our response to this situation was similar to that of any small retail business. We bought shrewdly, held regular events, did book tables for small press launches, conferences and author appearances, did not invest in advertising, fixtures, signage or renovations, kept only minimal staff (the store has one part-time staff person), and most importantly worked full-time or more with long store hours, while drawing the absolute minimum for our own rent and expenses. In this way we were able, albeit very gradually, to pay our back-rent, and maintain an amicable relationship with out landlord. While the space presented a number of challenges, including our basement flooding whenever there was heavy rain, and though we heard many stories of rent reductions in our own neighborhood we were not offered this option, but continued none-the-less to enjoy working at the store and feel inspired by our customers’ enthusiasm for the books that we were selling. Quite suddenly this changed. Our landlord became impatient with the rate at which we were able to pay her and made demands for large repayments, without providing a precise accounting of what was owing. In light of our workload and the proliferation of other causes in this city, a fundraiser remained only an idea. Instead we responded to these unrealistic demands with an informal proposal which would not have been profitable to us, but to our landlord. We received only further demands which we attempted to meet within our resources until the locks were changed on Friday June 19th. We are once again offering our landlord a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner.

Happy Bloomsday 2010! A Day in the Life of Leopold Bloom.

Celebrate Bloomsday with a few chapters from Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses.

Feels great to be able to celebrate June 16th with an audio edit of James Joyce’s masterpiece novel, Ulysses.

Listen to excerpts of Ulysses by clicking here.

The language in this book is incredible and the 2 readers featured in this episode of BOTR, Donal Donnelly and Miriam Healy-Louie, really evoke the musicality of Joyce’s words.

An early ad for publication.

Ulysses was first serialized in 1918 to 1920 in The Little Review before being published in Paris by Sylvia Beach on February 2, 1922.

Sylvia Beach was the famous owner of the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookstore which still exists to this day and has become a kind of mecca for book lovers from around the world.

Ulysses takes place during a single ordinary day – June 16th, 1904 – and follows Leopold Bloom as he goes about his average Dublin day.

Even though the book was considered to be a masterpiece of Modernist literature when it was published the book was variously banned and persecuted for obscenity in its time.

Of course, lest we think that we live in some kind of enlightened age that has learned the lessons from our puritanical past, Apple only now allowed a new illustrated version of Ulysses to be sold for reading on the iPad.

Apparently even today in enlightened California a cartoon penis can cause us to believe that censorship will protect ours and future generations from the reality of our basic nature.

So cheers to the sound of the English language and to Joyce’s handsome work and to a work of art that still challenges us as a society almost a century after it was written.

The Golden Rules of Filming by Jim Jarmusch
June 13, 2010, 9:54 AM
Filed under: Events | Tags: , , ,

The Golden Rules of Filming by Jim Jarmusch.

I would like to submit that these rules written by Jim Jarmusch and pasted above/below can apply to any creative pursuit whether it’s writing, painting, graphic design, interactive media, whatever.

We all know that it’s not uncommon for creators and attendant financiers, distribution agencies, assorted middlemen to regard one another with suspicion, mistrust or wariness.

That’s just part of the game and being able to see clearly how these relationships function is essential for creators who want to protect and foster their vision while reaching the popular imagination.

I think that Jarmusch does a nice job of using really clear language to articulate the essence of how an individual creator can stay true to their vision.

Rule #1: There are no rules. There are as many ways to make a film as there are potential filmmakers. It’s an open form. Anyway, I would personally never presume to tell anyone else what to do or how to do anything. To me that’s like telling someone else what their religious beliefs should be. Fuck that. That’s against my personal philosophy—more of a code than a set of “rules.” Therefore, disregard the “rules” you are presently reading, and instead consider them to be merely notes to myself. One should make one’s own “notes” because there is no one way to do anything. If anyone tells you there is only one way, their way, get as far away from them as possible, both physically and philosophically.

Rule #2: Don’t let the fuckers get ya. They can either help you, or not help you, but they can’t stop you. People who finance films, distribute films, promote films and exhibit films are not filmmakers. They are not interested in letting filmmakers define and dictate the way they do their business, so filmmakers should have no interest in allowing them to dictate the way a film is made. Carry a gun if necessary.

Also, avoid sycophants at all costs. There are always people around who only want to be involved in filmmaking to get rich, get famous, or get laid. Generally, they know as much about filmmaking as George W. Bush knows about hand-to-hand combat.

Rule #3: The production is there to serve the film. The film is not there to serve the production. Unfortunately, in the world of filmmaking this is almost universally backwards. The film is not being made to serve the budget, the schedule, or the resumes of those involved. Filmmakers who don’t understand this should be hung from their ankles and asked why the sky appears to be upside down.

Rule #4: Filmmaking is a collaborative process. You get the chance to work with others whose minds and ideas may be stronger than your own. Make sure they remain focused on their own function and not someone else’s job, or you’ll have a big mess. But treat all collaborators as equals and with respect. A production assistant who is holding back traffic so the crew can get a shot is no less important than the actors in the scene, the director of photography, the production designer or the director. Hierarchy is for those whose egos are inflated or out of control, or for people in the military. Those with whom you choose to collaborate, if you make good choices, can elevate the quality and content of your film to a much higher plane than any one mind could imagine on its own. If you don’t want to work with other people, go paint a painting or write a book. (And if you want to be a fucking dictator, I guess these days you just have to go into politics…).

Rule #5: Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”

– –

Jim Jarmusch, in MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004

Cory Doctorow Interview Redux: For the Win

Cory Doctorow's new book is For the Win, published by Tor Teen. Photo by Joi Ito.

I recently had a chance to hook up with Cory Doctorow again via skype for a quick 37 minute interview about all kinds of interesting things.

Click here for the audio edit of our skype interview.

For the Win

He’s on tour for his new book, For the Win, and was in Toronto and environs doing publicity ahead of an event at the Merrill Collection.

In this wide-ranging talk we cover quite a lot of ground.

I start off by asking Cory about his new Print on Demand (POD) project that he’s been documenting for Publisher’s Weekly that’s called With a Little Help.

What I love about this project is that Cory is leading from the front.

He’s seen the opportunity to put some real numbers behind a POD project, has laid his process bare and is experimenting with a number of price points for fans and consumers.

Anyone interested in self-publishing or Print on Demand needs to know more about this project.

From there we discuss his new book, specifically the idea of ‘gold farming’, which, very generally, is the act of gamers in 3rd world countries working their way thru complex gaming levels and amassing treasure, loot or gold which they then sell to 3rd parties who then sell it on to others.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Sounds like something out of a science fiction story, right?

Except that it’s real. A weird new kind of colonialism, or a virtual sweatshop.

This leads us to discuss ‘Benevolent Dictators’, hackable devices, technical vs information challenges before moving on to discuss DRM, digital locks and possible consequences of the proposed new Canadian copyright legislation contained in Bill C32.

The conversation ends with Cory offering some advice to young creators – digital natives – who may be confused by the current discussions of ‘piracy’, DRM, windowing, POD.

Some very interesting insights on creative strategy, partnerships.

What do you think about the ideas that Cory expresses in this interview?

The Laughing Heart: Tom Waits reads Charles Bukowski

This is what poets are supposed to do and this is why Bukowski was a truly great one.

From his classic book, Betting on the Muse.

the laughing heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.