Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vision of the Future

"Why, Sal, do you realize the shelves they build these days crack under the weight of knickknacks after six months?....Same with houses, same with clothes. These bastards have invented plastics by which they could make houses that last forever. And tires. Americans are killing themselves by the millions every year with defective rubber tires that get hot on the road and blow up. Same with tooth powder. There's a certain gum they've invented and they won't show it to anybody that if you chew as a kid you'll never get another cavity for the rest of your born days. Same with clothes. They can make clothes that last forever.

"They prefer making cheap goods so's everybody'll have to go on working and punching timeclocks and organizing themselves in sullen unions and floundering around while the big grab goes on in Washington and Moscow."

On the Road, written by Jack Kerouac in 1951 "to amuse his wife, or at least the wife he had then".

Friday, January 14, 2011

Body Count

"I was once told by a man in a subway station that I should be turned into a vending machine. That way people could put in their money and get out a small piece of me whenever they wanted. This book is as close as I'll ever come to fulfilling that man's fantasy.

"I'm twenty-seven and I still feel as innocent as when the body count started. I stopped counting long ago, but I still believe the next one will really love me.

"Every man I ever loved got something different from me. Push this button for wifely allegiance, that one for exotic whore, that one for a pal. I've been a little of each I suppose. Body Count is whole raw truth, so it's unlikely that any two people will have the same reaction to it.

"A lot of men will say "That chick sure picks bastards. I'm nothing like them."

"All I ask is that you not understand it too quickly."

Body Count, by Francie Schwartz, 1972, Stated First Printing. Offered for sale by Chewybooks as of 1-14-2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A History of Exploration

From the Earliest Times To the Present Day...

By Brigadier-General Sir Percy Sykes....Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical and Royal Empire Societies

Originally published in London, England, in 1935...but this particular copy was purchased in a second-hand book shop, by an American serviceman in 1944 and sent home to his young nephew...

"Bought at W.H. Smith & Sons Ltd, Strand House Portugal St, London, England. Sent to me by my uncle Bill Corbin. Mailed in England March 29, 1944 and received by me on May 8, 1944... William A. Burkhardt

And pasted inside the front cover is the original shipping label...

Addressed to Master William Burkhardt...

Complete with vintage British stamps...

May 3, 1944 ...this book arrives in New York Customs and is stamped with the official date.

The book itself is a treasure for any explorer...color frontiespiece, black and white photographic plates, and thirty-five fold-out detailed maps.

Maps of the Itineraries of Marco Polo...

With detailed listings of towns like Kasariya and Odessa, and exotic countries like Turkey and Syria.

For a frame of reference: on the day this book cleared New York Customs and began it's journey to Master William Burkhardt in Long Island, New York...... Anne Frank was still safely hidden in an attic in Amsterdam.

On May 3rd, 1944, she wrote in her diary that she thought "all people are guilty for a war like this, not just the big politicians and war-mongers. " She thinks "wars will continue until the average people no longer have an inner desire to kill".

A History of Exploration
by Sir Percy Sykes (published 1935), offered for sale by Chewybooks on Amazon as of December 14, 2010.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The shop was full of bays formed by bookshelves protruding at right angles from the walls. The first bay was well-lighted and tidy; but the others, as they receded into the gloomy backward of the shop, were darker and darker, and untidier and untidier.

The effect was of mysterious and vast populations of books imprisoned forever in everlasting shade, chained, deprived of air and sun and movement, hopeless, resigned and martyrised.

At the back of the rather spacious and sombre shop came a small room, with a doorway, but no door, into the shop. This was the proprietor's den. Seated at his desk therein he could see through a sort of irregular lane of books to the bright oblong of the main entrance, which was seldom closed.

There were more books to the cubic foot in the private room even than in the shop. They rose in tiers to the ceiling and they lay in mounds on the floor; they also covered most of the flat desk and all the window-sill; some were perched on the silent grandfather's clock, the sole piece of furniture except the desk, a safe, and two chairs, and a stepladder for reaching the higher shelves.

Riceyman Steps, by Arnold Bennett, Grosset and Dunlap 1923

Top photo of Shakespeare & Company, the bookstore-to-end-all-bookstores, located in the Left Bank, Paris, France

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Wild Howling

Jonathan Harker's Journal, May 3rd.

"As the evening fell it began to get very cold, and the growing twilight seemed to merge into one dark mistiness the gloom of the trees, oak, beech and pine, though in the valleys which ran deep between the spurs of the hills, as we ascended through the Pass, the dark firs stood out here and there against the background of late-lying snow.

"Sometimes, as the road was cut through the pine woods that seemed in the darkness to be closing down upon us, great masses of greyness which here and there bestrewed the trees, produced a peculiarly weird and solemn effect, which carried on the thoughts and grim fancies engendered easlier in the evening, when the ailing sunset threw into strange relief the ghost-like clouds which amongst the Carpathians seem to wind endlessly through the valleys.

"Sometimes the hills were so steep that, despite our driver's haste, the horses could only go slowly. I wished to get down and walk up them, as we do at home, but the driver would not
hear of it. "No, no," he said. "You must not walk here. the dogs are too fierce." And then he added, with what he evidently meant for grim pleasantry - for he looked round to catch the approving smile of the rest - "And you may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep."

"Then amongst a chorus of screams from the peasants and a universal crossing of themselves, a caleche, with four horses, drove up behind us, overtook us, and drew up beside the coach. I could see from the flash of our lamps as the rays fell on them, that the horses were coal-black and splendid animals. They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us.

"As I looked back I saw the steam from the horses of the coach by the light of the lamps...Then the driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept...As they sank into the darkness I felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over me...Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road, a long agonized wailing,as if from fear....the sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another till borne on the wind...a wild howling began, which seemed to come from all over the country, as far as the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night."

Dracula, Bram Stoker (1897)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Under the Sway of Some Witching Power

Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie.

They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air.

The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole nine fold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region,and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head.

It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk, hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind.

His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance.

Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving, published 1820, one of the earliest examples of American fiction, but written by the author while he was living in England.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Things That Go Bump In the Night

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

~Scottish Saying

Some of the basic Scottish ghoulies, ghosties and long-leggedy beasties....

Black Donald - the devil

Brownie - good-natured, invisible brown elves or household goblins.

Clootie - another Scottish name for the Devil. The name comes from cloot, meaning one division of a cleft hoof.

Ghillie Dhu - a solitary Scottish elf.
Kelpie - a water devil.

Monster of Loch Ness - First seen by St Columba in 565 a.d., still seen today

Scotia - a goddess but frequently portrayed as an old hag

Selkie - a marine creature in the shape of a seal.

Shellycoat - a Scottish bogeyman who haunts the rivers and streams. He is covered with shells, which rattle when he moves.

Sidhe- the Gaelic name for Fae (fairies) in both Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland