Adventures in the Book Trade: Convening Consciousness

MY PIECE about Eso Won Books in Leimert Park is now up at KCET Departures.
Great long afternoon spending time with Tom Hamilton and James Fugate talking about the changing landscape of book selling both here and across the country and why brick-and-mortar stores and the relationships they foster still very much matter.

To read the piece up at KCET Departures please click here.

(image by Alvaro Parra for KCET Departures)


Missing: James Gadson’s Drums

YESTERDAY, a post by Susan Sisko Carter went live on Huffington Post and I had to slow myself down to read it carefully.

Someone’s made off with some of drummer James Gadson’s gear — drums and mics and such . Stolen out of his home studio here in Los Angeles.

You may not know the name right off, but you know the records he’s been on and why his beats have worked their way into your memory … from Carter’s post:

Are you the thief? Probably not. But, maybe, you know a guy who knows a guy who took James Gadson’s drums. Or, maybe, you bought the drums…unaware that they were stolen — stolen from a legend.

“They took all the punch out of me. I didn’t feel like playing,” James says.

Not the words I expect from the musician who created, propelled and sustained the rhythm for a dazzling array of artists: Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Bill Withers, Aretha, Smokey, Beck, Paul McCartney — so many names. So many hits. Give a legend his due. I mean, the man played on “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb, and “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor! His drumming is the heartbeat beneath the words: “As long as I know how to live, I know I’ll stay alive.” The heartbeat you’ve danced to! Yet, I doubt there is a more humble legend than James Gadson.”

Gadson was featured in a deeply engaging documentary about Soul/R&B and funk drummers Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl directed by Brian Cross (B+) I wrote about another one of his related projects here in the L.A. Times Brasilintime: Batucada com Discos.

Here’s a little bit of it here :

Thanks Susan Sisko Carter for alerting us. We’re all getting the word out, quite literally, on the drum.

The rest of her HuffPost piece is here:

Gadson here with Bill Withers

(top image via

In the Stacks



I still possess the old bookseller’s habit of walking through a bookstore and “facing out” books — to show off a cover; or “spining” them — to save precious shelf room. All of this depends on how deep/shallow the stock is, what needs to be highlighted or might make a customer’s eye linger on a title.

I also re-alphabetize and move titles back to the section they belong in. In my rounds, I can also tell the difference between when a customer left in a rush without time to re-shelve and when someone was “hiding” a title for safe-keeping until perhaps a check came in.

These are the old habits that linger. At this late date, decades down the road, I imagine that they will now always be with me, like a tic I can’t control.

Wandering around a local used shop recently, I found myself, without thinking, settling into those busy tasks. But, as what happens with most really great bookstores, one title, cover image, author, genre, leads to another — and that hole I fell down, well it felt bottomless. “Ten minutes” turned into an hour, maybe more. But the pleasure, really, was as it always has been — priceless.

Just a few of the great treasures I came upon during this visit — and yes, I tucked a couple away for my return as well.





(and to my surprise, my own book slipped on a shelf)