Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

Archive for December, 2010

December 31st, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Galleries versus Bookstores


I spent the morning strolling through the sun drenched streets of Charleston, South Carolina. During this   .

perambulation I couldn’t help but notice that at virtually every street corner there stood an art




Art Galleries,






everywhere, and not one genuine antiquarian bookstore to be found. How terribly strange…an enormous appetite for one form of imaginative expression, the painted canvas, and yet none – at least here in this sunny Southern city, for another, the finely printed word.

December 28th, 2010 • Posted in On Politics

WikiRebels: Swedish TV Doc on WikiLeaks

Transparency versus confidentiality / means versus ends / justice versus injustice. Well worth watching the whole thing here (it’s about an hour long):

December 28th, 2010 • Posted in Bookstores

Winter storms and North Carolinian bookstores

After a series of cancelled flight and lost luggage incidents courtesy of Delta Airlines and ‘global warming,’ we made it into Greensboro, North Carolina Sunday afternoon. Here’s a look at how the weather affected the used book business:




Happily both Pages Past and Empire Books are doing well, despite the snowflakes. The same cannot, sadly, be said for The Book Trader which met its demise at least a year ago they tell me, the store’s corpse still propped up on main street,


with broken skeleton bookshelves, faded magazines and battered volumes strewn on the floor. Painful to see what evidently used to be a very interesting bookstore just sitting there uncared for, abandoned.

December 27th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

WikiLeaks just as important as New York Times

In an editorial posted on Christmas Day, the New York Times reminds us that Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have all in the past few weeks announced that they will not process any transactions intended for WikiLeaks; that earlier this month the Bank of America decided to follow suit, arguing that WikiLeaks may be doing things that are “inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments; ” and that governments allow banks, because they control the payment system, to shun businesses on ‘risk management’ grounds – something no other public utility-type organizations get to do.

The Bank of America decision came after WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What would happen, exclaims The Times, if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to [ horror of horrors]  – a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision, the paper concludes, "should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks."

Absolutely right to raise this concern. A bit naive not to realize that WikiLeaks is just as important now as any media outlet in the world, including newspapers named The New York Times.

December 25th, 2010 • Posted in On Politics

David Frost Interviews Julian Assange

December 22, 2010 on Al Jazeera

December 22nd, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

McGahern’s Monster Moving Sale

Patrick McGahern Books, a longtime institution on Bank street in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood is moving to the Byward market where they’ll be focusing on higher-end fare, selling books priced mostly at $50 and up. In the meantime they’re selling off the lower-end at great prices. Here are the deets:

We’re Moving, Not Closing Sale!

After 39 Years on Bank Street in Glebe we will be moving to new quarters in the beginning of February 2011.

ALL BOOKS $50.00 or less will be 60% off!
ALL BOOKS $51.00 or more will be 25% off!

Patrick McGahern Books, Inc
Established 1969, Member of ABAC and ILAB
783 Bank Street (between Second and Third Avenue)
Ottawa, ON K1S 3V5  613 230 2275 

December 20th, 2010 • Posted in On Politics

Is Assange in fact a dork?


Okay…that was funny. It makes Assange look pretty cool. But is he? Maybe, contrary to the suggestion several posts ago, the CIA wasn’t involved in an Assange slap down. Maybe this sex business wasn’t a Honey Trap. Maybe it’s just a case of Assange being a dork. In fact, not agreeing to get tested for HIV AIDS…while engaging in and pushing unprotected sex on a string of star struck groupies is more than just dorkish behavior, it’s recklessly irresponsible; and indeed, if he is positive, and knows it, then I’d say it’s criminal. Are there parallels to be drawn between in and out-side the bedroom behavior here? Perhaps. Boils down to truth I think. Speaking truth to power is very important. So is speaking truth to sex partners.

December 17th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Attacks on Assange part of war for control over Internet?

 "Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from Internet … their funds have been frozen … media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and to be labeled a terrorist organization. What is really going on here is a war over control of the Internet, and whether or not the Internet can actually serve its ultimate purpose—which is to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions."

Glenn Greenwald, constitutional attorney and blogger at, via Democracy Now.

December 16th, 2010 • Posted in On Politics

Time for Assange to hack the Attackers

After a lengthy airing of Julian Assange’s six year-old laundry – a series of insistent ‘e-pistles’ aimed at bedding a 19 year-old Australian girl – Gawker’s Adrian Chen leaves us with this:

"For the record, Elizabeth (not her real name)  says she never felt threatened by Assange’s behavior; she viewed it as misguided attempts at courtship by a socially awkward nerd.  "I don’t think he’s a bad person," she said. "He’s just a funny bugger."


I suppose one should be grateful for this cleansing tid-bit at the end of the stain left by this piece, but really, what is the intent here: to infer that this past unpolitic, inappropriate behavior is proof that the current Swedish contention that Assange is a criminal rapist, is true?

And how does this relate to Wikileaks? Discredit Assange’s personal behavior, and you discredit and put into question the legal/moral legitimacy of his journalistic/professional practices?

This smacks of the smear job that Clinton had to deal with.  One needs to separate the bedroom from the boardroom or the Oval Office. I just hope Assange does a better job of handling his attackers – and their shit disturbing media brethren than Clinton did – and by this I mean, wouldn’t it be great if he could ‘out’ the perpetrators.

What happens in ‘private’ – assuming it harms no one (and we’ll assume here too that Assange is innocent until proven guilty) – is nobody else’s fucking business

December 15th, 2010 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Smashing new Faber series to collect

Further to my recent conversation with Toby Faber on the history of his family’s imprint, and what from its list might be ‘collectible’, check out the lovely covers on this new hardback series of poetry collections from Faber, for which six British print makers were selected (by Senior Designer Miriam Rosenbloom) to produce images:

Dart by Alice Oswald. Cover by Jonathan Gibbs.
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope. Cover by Ed Kluz.
Ariel by Sylvia Plath. Cover by Sarah Young.
The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin. Cover by Michael Kirkman.
Kid by Simon Armitage. Cover by Peter Clayton.
Nil, Nil by Don Paterson. Cover by Charles Shearer.