Bucks on the Bookshelf Resumes Broadcast Saturday

WBFI Radio Show on Books and Bookselling Resumes Saturday

Saturdays Pacific Time is 10am to Noon. Steve Eisenstein is the host of this great show for all book people.

Steve says

MY GUEST TODAY IS NO ORDINARY “JOE” His name is Joe Corso. His awards are of olympic proportions. He has written 31 books which resulted in 32 awards. Which translates to a 4 time top 100 best selling author. Want to pick his brain I do, so join us for a great interview Saturday November 25th. For some early details Corsobooks.com

We also will be answering several questions we have received while we were off air the past two weeks. PRIZES WILL BE POSSIBLE TODAY. WE HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US FOR AN
AFTERNOON OF BOOK TALK. got a question or comment give us a call 1 727 498 0459. It is really nice to be back live Saturday’s were not the same without you.
In the second photo we prove our theory. THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH SPACE FOR BOOKS!!

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Call in Number:   1 727 498 0459. 

Go To www.WDBFRadio.com

 

The Barnes and Noble Censorship Two-Step Dance To Oblivion Starring Milo Yiannopoulos

The Big Book Chain’s Self-Defeating Censorship Throws Huge Chunks of Cash to Their Dreaded Enemy amazon.com

by Paul Hunt

Sometimes you just have to shake your head in disbelief and wonder just how stupid some of the executives at big corporations can be?.  How did these morons ever rise to their positions?  Why do executive boards continue to pick guys to run a book company who have no experience in the book business?  More importantly, why hire a CEO who has no understanding of the field the company is in?

Barnes and Noble has had a series of mis-steps in the last couple of years.  The previous CEO decided that what was needed was for the bookseller to open up restaurants and bars inside their stores. They thought it would be nice to have folks sipping wine and browsing through the stacks.  A bad idea if there ever was one.  The stores are big on children’s books and young adult books, the last thing they need is a bunch of drunks or tipsy fobs populating the aisles.  They have opened several “test” locations but I think that idea will be a wash out.  The executives behind that bold move were canned and a new crowd brought in.  Things have gotten worse.

The flamboyant Milo Yiannopoulos has a new book out, called Dangerous.  Say what you want about this ever fascinating, outrageous self-promoting and offensive author, but he is a popular guy in some quarters. He was so controversial that a big gang of thugs did major damage to U.C. Berkeley do keep him from speaking.  The home of the Free Speech Movement.  Yeah, right.  No more “free speech” in that neighborhood. Enter the big bookseller Barnes and Noble.  Not to be outdone by the Berkeley street gangs, they have refused to stock Milo’s new book “Dangerous”.  This move of censorship opens a big area of discussion, and disgust with B & N.

How many times have we been down this road?  How many Henry Millers have caused crushing censorship?  How many displays in public libraries across the land to make controversial material available?  How many headline-grabbing legal battles?  How many years has the American Bookseller’s Association put on their famous “Banned Book Week” promo?  Booksellers know why.  It’s in our basic bookselling genes to have available the many different ideas of our culture and in fact all political and cultural ideas put out in books.  So B & N won’t stock the book “Dangerous”  They will “order” it for you, but not actually have it on their shelves. This is the big achievement of the new regime at B & N, censorship by refusing to stock a controversial book, in this case, a book called “Dangerous”.

The word in Wall Street circles is that B & N may be up for sale.  Maybe one of the reasons is that they don’t have anyone leading the company who knows a damned thing about selling books, or the ethics of bookselling, or why booksellers and libraries should have books that are not necessarily “popular”.  So who is reaping the benefits of this lunacy?  Amazon, of course.  “Dangerous” has sold over 100,000 copies online, and is a best seller in many parts of the book world.  The cash is flowing into amazon.com coffers.  Does B & N somehow think that people are going to flood into their stores because they are NOT stocking “Dangerous” ?

Meanwhile, that wild and crazy guy Milo, is putting on one of the best promo campaigns you will ever see.  TV appearances, street guerrilla theater in front of the other sad sack in this case, Simon And Schuster publishers, who pulled out of the book deal with Milo and is now being sued, has lost face, and has lost a small fortune.  Simon and Schuster, now owned by CBS, which also owns Pocket Books, Scribner’s Sons and Athenium, seems to have caught the censorship disease first, even before B & N. The drama goes on every day, with Milo on Facebook, Milo in the News, Milo taking shots at B & N for not stocking the book, Milo dancing in the streets of New York with his followers. Sales of his book get better and bigger.

All of a sudden, the financial analysts and bean counters are trying to figure out if B & N stock is worth more than eight bucks a share.  And oh, BTW, amazon.com is selling for over $1,000 per share. Looks like another brick and mortar headed for boot hill, in this case helped along by their own insane doings.

Conspiracy Dudes, Scary Scientology Green Thetans and Murder Above The Bookstore

Verification Failed -Time Has Expired

by Paul Hunt

Kenn Thomas

This latest mini-adventure started with a Facebook posting by Kenn Thomas, an author of various books on my favorite subject, (after Gnosticism}, which would be conspiracy theories and conspiracy facts. For many years I ran a bookshop called Atlantis Books, which specialized in books on various conspiracies throughout history. We also had a huge video library of tapes covering UFOs, Deep State Politics, Ancient Mysteries, Alternative Medicine, and Alt Politics of all kinds. I had sold a lot of Kenn’s books, so when I ran across his FB postings, I decided to follow him.

Jim Keith

In June, he posted something about Jim Keith, one of the great writers of conspiracy titles. I disagree with some of his conclusions but his books are always fascinating, he was an excellent researcher, going to small town newspaper archives across America and really digging into his subjects. Nowdays, with the internet, so-called researchers never crack open a book or look through newspaper archives. If it’s not on the internet, it doesn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of great information on the net, much of it now being monetized by information companies, but it has made many of the “researchers” lazy beyond belief. Most of the so-called “content creation” that is done for websites is just rehashed from other web sources. Most of the big newspapers and media are also into this, and they have a new twist, called “content curation”, meaning they get someone else’s info and “curate” it by adding a few things and then using it as fill on their own news sites and TV. Hey, it saves a lot of money: fire all the reporters and hire some fast typists who are paid by the job. Get the L.A Times (or fill in the blank) into the profit. Who needs a bunch of rowdy reporters jamming up the news room, turning in expense sheets, and causing law suits and controversy. This detracts from the yellow brick road to profit.

Jim Keith would be disgusted with this kind of behavior. If he were alive, that is. He fell off a stage at Burning Man in 1999, and died in the hospital from a knee injury. There’s a lot of information about his strange death, a healthy guy who spent a lot of time blasting the CIA and the Deep State. Check it out on the internet, it’s too long for this discussion, but there was never a proper investigation into his death that satisfied those who watch the murderious activities of the CIA and the Deep State, those wonderful fellows who run torture prisons around the world and “render” (kidnap) their enemies from anywhere in the world and dump them into hidden prisons in Poland.

So when Kenn Thomas posted something about Jim Keith on Facebook back in June this year, it triggered a memory of an interesting story about Keith. I wrote Thomas and said I would write it up and email it to him. He said OK, but never got it, probably went into his spam folder along with the offers of millions of dollars from the former Treasurer of Nigeria. Here’s the story that I sent to Kenn, who is also a fan of Jim Keith. It is not very flattering, but hey, we were all young once, and the late 60s were drugs and rock and roll, right?

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The Magic Door Bookshop, Pomona

One night, a few years ago, around 9 or 10 pm, I stumbled across an amazing book store in Downtown Pomona. I was with a friend and we immediately parked and went into the place, called The Magic Door. I believe it is still up and running, and has a Facebook page.

Dwain Kaiser

I rummaged around and found a couple of Jim Keith books. The owner, Dwain Kaiser, quizzed me about them, and after some chatter he told me that he had known Jim Keith, and had roomed with him when they were in college. He said a bunch of guys rented a big house and shared it to save money while in college.

Jim Keith was assigned to sleep in an upstairs room. At this time (I’m guessing late 60s) Jim was deep into Scientology, and avidly reading all of Hubbard’s work. During one winter, his upstairs room was really cold, there wasn’t any heat in it. Jim started telling everyone that he was having problems sleeping, and that Hubbard had talked and written about an entity, a big blue – green demon Thetan which was visiting Jim almost every night. He was so distrought that he couldn’t sleep in the room anymore.

He convinced the rest of the tenants to let him sleep downstairs, so he carved out a spot where he slept right next to the warm floor heater. All was well until one day Jim raced off to school, leaving his blankets on the heater. They caught fire filling the house with dense smoke. The Fire Department arrived and put out the fire before it consumed the whole house. While there, they also noticed a lot of pot and other drugs laying around, which they relayed to the police.

A short time later, the Narcs raided the house and arrested everyone for drug possession, except for Jim Keith who was gone on a trip. The guys had to hire lawyers and fought the case but ended up being fined, although I don’t remember if Dwain said any of them had to serve any time in jail. Jim Keith kept a low profile and slipped out of the fracas, which he had totally caused by seeing L.Ron Hubbard’s blue – green Thetan demon and moving downstairs to sleep next to the heater.

You could probably get hold of Dwain to verify this, I hope I got it right, just from memory, I didn’t take any notes. Jim Keith’s blue-green demon may have been caused by drug use, or Scientology mind control, or just an excuse to get downstairs to get warm. We’ll never know, although if caused by drug use it would be nice to know exactly which drug, so as to avoid use under any circumstances. Scientology was vehemently against drug use, so I vote for the warm heater scenario. Knowing that Jim loved Burning Man, I submit that into evidence, also.

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Checking back on my email, I sent Kenn the story at 11:31 a.m. on July 2nd. I told him that he could check with Dwain Kaiser at The Magic Door to verify it and maybe embellish it. Little did I realize that gave Kenn Thomas only about 14 hours to contact Dwain. Since Thomas said he never got the email, the point is moot. Dwain Kaiser was brutally shot to death just after midnight on July 3, 2017.

Dwain Kaiser was a really cool guy. I greatly enjoyed my conversation with him. His store was full of good books, and his wife JoAnne was working with him the night I was there. What a damned shame that he was murdered, evidently by a teen-ager who was living with the Kaisers in the apartment above the Bookstore. If the book store closes it will leave a huge hole in the cultural center of Pomona.

It also left me with a weird feeling. Why did all that pop into my mind just before he was killed? If one of us had called him, would it have changed anything? Change the time-track? Prevent the murder? Dwain Kaiser was big into Science Fiction. He would understand what I’m saying.

So Dwain Kaiser has now gone through another Magic Door, the Door of Mystery and entrance into the Spirit World, where he joins his friends, Jim Keith and Jerry Smith, another former Scientologist and Conspiracy writer.   Maybe the three of them will be able to solve the greatest Mystery to face all humans. Please dudes, if you reach a conclusion, let us know.

Jerry Smith, friend of Jim Keith and Conspiracy Writer

I’m posting some important links below, to Dwain’s website (the store is still open for a while), Jerry Smith’s website and other relevant stuff.  May  all your Thetans be pink and fluffy.

Magic Door Facebook Page:  Click Here

Jerry E. Smith Webpage:  Click Here

Kenn Thomas, Steamshovel Press Click Here

Kenn’s book Trumpocalypse Now!: The Triumph of the Conspiracy Spectacle Paperback is available at amazon.com.

Feral House Publisher: Click Here

Feral House still has Jim Keith’s “Octopus” conspiracy book, as well as some Kenn Thomas titles and many other wild and crazy pop culture, alt culture and conspiracy titles.

Incredible Book Find of Rare Thomas Paine Pamphlets

Felix O’Neill Finds Amazing Treasure at Irish Book Auction.  He Will Be Interviewed on Steve Eisenstein’s Radio Show

Owen Felix O’Neill
Irish Rare Book Dealer

Here’s the original email post from Felix to Steve about this amazing find of rare material:

Hi Steve…I hope all is well with you and family ….all is very well here in Ireland…I thought I would share this with you…I attended a Book Auction in a very rural part of Ireland last weekend, and they were selling 35, 0000 volumes of Books…It was to me Book Heaven…miles and miles of books most of the people who came to see them had no idea about the books…and guess what…I struck gold, there was this single book, very well trashed from the late 18th. century missing its covers and with no spine, I saw it before the auction and I all but had a heart attack, the book was in reality a series of 9 Pamphlets gather together into this book, probably in the late 18th. Century, I pick the book up and looked at the front title page, and I smiled, the first Pamphlet was by Thomas Paine and his signature was to the last page, I looked through the book and counted the Pamphlets, I put the book down, I was very excited, I knew what I saw and had. My notes on the Paine Pamphlets below…of the 9 Pamphlets 2 were by Thomas Paine, another 2 were by Wilberforce, on Slavery in 1790 , 1. on The Laws on British Parliament 1788, and 1 on Arts, Sciences, Agriculture, 1790, 2 more were Poets, Alexander Pope, 1780s and the last was on the Birmingham Riots of 1791..what a find I thought to myself, most of the books about 99% were rubbish, 1 % were interesting, my problem was to look for gold among the muck, and this I did, all my years of accumulation of my book knowledge paid off…I bough a few other books, including 1768 Samuel Johnson’s 8 Volume stunning set of Shakespeare Plays. With no internet bids I only spend one thousand dollars for about 50 books, what a steal….Tell you more when we next speak…enjoy the Summer, say hello to all including you lovely wife….Felix
PS. My details Note below on the two Thomas Paine Pamphlets.
1. Letter to the Addressers, on the late Proclamation, by Thomas Paine
 No Publisher’s name on the Title- Page, but the name of  H.D. Symonds to the last page of ads. So it could also be the elusive Publisher J. S. Jordan, (Jeremiah Samuel Jordan), Jeremiah Samuel Jordan published all his Pamphlet on light blue paper, If so, this is the very  rare and non existence,1st. Edition of “Letter to the Addressers, on the late Proclamation”, by Thomas Paine which has forty pages and was published in London by the Publisher J. S. Jordan of No.166, Fleet-street. also in 1792; however, to the best of my knowledge that 1st. Edition does not exist, but I do think, (more research) this Pamphlet of 42 pages including title-page and the last ad page, bring this Pamphlet to 42 pages is by, Jeremiah Samuel Jordan, he was the Publisher of most of Thomas Paine’s works at the time, as was  H.D. Symonds in Paternoster Row also of London, H.D. Symonds ads would appear on the back page of the Pamphlets by J. S. Jordan, that was normal, they were both friends.
The Printing of Letter to the Addressers, on the late Proclamation, by Thomas Paine, was untaken by both the Publishers Jeremiah Samuel Jordan and H.D. Symonds of London, which would have been the norm at the time, because it would require the printing in excess of 25,000 Pamphlets, a huge job at he time, it also would be one of many other Pamphlets and Books that were printed by both of them. Both printers done other printing for Thomas Paine, both were friends.
Anyway Published in London, in 1792 on very light blue paper by either J. S. Jordan or H.D. Symonds. 1st. Edition thus, original Pamphlet form of 42 pages, very light blue original wrappers within dark green and gold marbled paper wraps as covers. Untrimmed papers which is normal for any Pamphlet or Tract published at the time. Rear very light blue original wrapper with publisher’s advertisements for “Rights of Man” part I and part II,  and other cheap editions of the above works, including the prices by the Publisher’s, H.D. Symonds, in Paternoster Row.
This Pamphlet is Thomas Paine’s reply to the controversy stirred up against both parts of his “Rights of Man” by the “Proclamations and Addresses” in “Corporations and rotten Boroughs” This Pamphlet, in which Paine discusses the reception of the two parts of his Rights of Man and continues his attack on the evils of the English Government, particularly as embodied in the writings and speeches of Mr. Edmund Burke, is essentially a third part of the Rights of Man itself. The late proclamation” refers satirically to the royal proclamation against seditious writings, issued May 21, 1792, and directed particularly against the second part of Paine’s Rights of man. Also this Pamphlet contains the final leaf of advertisements, which is often missing. Thomas Paine corrected the proofs while in Paris and sent them to London for publication to both J. S. Jordan  and H.D. Symonds,  both the Publishers, J. S. Jordan, and H.D. Symonds were prosecuted for publishing this work. “Paine here makes a brazen call for a revolution in England and outlines a plan for calling together a convention for the purpose of reviewing the whole mass of English laws and retaining all worthy ones, while letting the rest drop”
A Pamphlet or Tract is a small booklet or leaflet containing information or arguments about a single subject. A Pamphlet or Tract is also an unbound sheet of paper without a hard-cover or binding It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths, called aleaflet, or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddled stabled (staples into the spine ) at the crease to make a simple booklet. The pamphlet form of literature has been used for centuries as an economical vehicle for the broad distribution of information. Also due to their low cost and ease of production, Pamphlets have often been used to popularise political or religious ideas. Ephemeral (Pamphlets or Tracts) and to wide array of political or religious perspectives given voice by the format’s ease of production, Pamphlets are prized by many Book Collectors, Research Libraries, Private Institutions such as Universities. Substantial accumulations have been amassed and transferred to ownership of academic Research Libraries around the world. Also Pamphlets or Tracts were printed on scarce paper at the time, so when finished were more often then not used as toilet paper, (toilet paper at the time was non existent,) or also used to start a home fire, so paper Pamphlets or Tracts rarely survived, hence there greater value.
Contemporaneous  notes  hand-written notes to the last blank page, before the final page of ads for other Thomas Paine Books is this, I copied exactly as written….
Line 1.    At Chelmsford Sessions one
Line 2.   Christopher Payne of Saffron Walden
Line 3.    Bookseller was tried for selling
Line 4.    Paine’s Letter to the Addressers
Line 5.    an error in the indictment proved
Line 6.    fatal to the Prosecution and honest
Line 7.    Valiant was acquitted…..
2. Mr Paine’s letter to Mr. Secretary Dundas by Thomas Paine, 1792
This 1st. Edition, 16 page Pamphlet  was Printed and distributed gratis by the Society for Constitutional Information. The Society for Constitutional Information, which was a British activist group founded in 1780 by Major John Cartwright, to promote parliamentary reform. The Society flourished until 1783, but thereafter made little headway. The organisation actively promoted  Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” and other radical publications, After the British Government repression and the 1794 Treason Trials in October, in which the leaders were acquitted, the society ceased to meet. The Title-Page has no date but the page after the Title -Page has a printed note
“ At a Meeting of the Society for Constitutional Information, held at the Crown and Anchor, Friday June 15th. 1792. ——Resolve, That Twelve Thousand Copies of Mr. Paine’s letter to Mr. Secretary Dundas, be printed, for the purpose of being distributed to our Correspondents throughout Great Britain”This very rare Pamphlet has a few Contemporaneous notes hand-written names to the Title -Page, plus Thomas Paine’s name inked in, almost like a signature to the last page, page16, bottom right. The Contemporary hand-written name of John Jones, three times written, as a signature of one,  John Jones, and two dates 1792 and 1799. (maybe Captain John Paul Jones) 1792? and his Son 1799?? A few slight tears but no damage to the text, page 9 and page 10 top centre of the pages.
The 2nd Edition of Mr. Paine’s letter to Mr. Secretary Dundas by Thomas Paine was published by J. Parsons, London 1792
Major John Cartwright wrote The English Constitution, which outlined his ideas including Government by the people and legal equality which he considered could only be achieved by universal suffrage, the secret ballot and equal electoral districts. He became the main patron of the Radical publisher Thomas Jonathan Wooler, best known for his satirical journal The Black Dwarf, who actively supported Cartwright’s campaigning. Major John Cartwright had sent a copy of The English Constitution to former President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote back to Cartwright in July: “Your age of eighty-four, and mine of eighty-one years, ensure us a speedy meeting. We may then commune at leisure, and more fully, on the good and evil, which in the course of our long lives, we have both witnessed; and in the mean time, I pray you to accept assurances of my high veneration and esteem for your person and character”.
Check out Steve Eisenstein’s “Bucks on the Bookshelf” Radio Show on WDBF Radio:  Click Here for Radio Show
 Saturday 9am-11am Pacific Time
Website of Felix O’Neill, Click Here

L.A.’s Famous Whimsic Alley To Close

L.A.’s Fantasy Store For Harry Potter and All Things British To Shut Down

30% OFF Everything Sale Commences

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Whimsic Alley, the popular fandom store, party and entertainment facility on L.A.’s Miracle Mile, has announced that it will be closing. Known for its elaborately themed interior, resembling a Dickensian street market and its castle-like Great Hall, the store developed a strong following among fans of Harry Potter.

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Over the years, Whimsic Alley played host to hundreds of birthday parties, weddings, costume balls, themed tea parties, murder mystery dinners, summer camps, adult camps, wizard-rock concerts and filmings. Numerous Hollywood celebrities, including several of the stars of the Harry Potter films, have visited the store, held parties for themselves or their kids, or attended store events.

Long before the appearance of theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood, Potter fans from as far away as Russia, Israel, Australia and Asia reportedly planned their United States vacations with a visit to Whimsic Alley as an essential stop on their trip. Planners for both the global Harry Potter Exhibition and the Orlando, Florida Wizarding World of Harry Potter made frequent trips to Whimsic Alley as part of their preliminary research. One member of the London film production team reported that David Heyman, the producer of all the Harry Potter films, used to tell anyone from the film crew traveling to Los Angeles to be sure to stop in at Whimsic Alley while there.

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Participants in Whimsic Alley’s annual “The Camp that Lived” (a name the campers came up with), developed strong bonds with fellow campers that have lasted years. The camp drew fans from all over the country and even featured the wedding of two of its campers.

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Although Whimsic Alley has, since its inception, celebrated other fandoms as well, Harry Potter was the one that caught on the most. In recent years products and events have focused on fandoms such as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Hunger Games, Outlander, Supernatural and others. Events featuring each of these themes have been held at Whimsic Alley. Recently, Sony Pictures hosted the kick-off of its current season of Outlander in the Great Hall, complete with an appearance by series author Diana Gabaldon.

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According to Whimsic Alley’s owner, Stan Goldin, “New multi-million dollar theme parks and exhibitions are awe-inspiring. But for many years, Whimsic Alley filled a void that no one else seemed interested in filling. Our staff enjoyed serving our clientele as much as they hopefully enjoyed their experiences. As a result, we developed close friendships along the way which we hope will continue for many years to come.”

Whimsic Alley, located at 5464 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, has begun offering all of its merchandise at close-out prices.  310-453-2370

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Delayed Reaction: What Happened 15 Years After My Argument With Larry McMurtry

America’s Great Storyteller Heads To The Bank With 37K and Proof That an Icon is Worth More Than the Best Computer Bill Gates Ever Built

by Paul Hunt

Stumbling around my crib on a recent early Saturday morning, I settled into my command center’s decrepit seat-sagging swivel chair with a cup of coffee, hoping to wake up enough to answer some email.

9 a.m. Time to punch up Steve Eisenstein’s Saturday morning internet radio show from Florida on WDBFradio.com. I was half listening while trying to get my old HP to fire up. Steve was running some kind of contest, something about “who was the author who just sold his old typewriter for over $37,000?” Hint, he wrote a book called Lonesome Dove. Glugging down some coffee woke me up a bit. Suddenly, my mind replayed an old flashback from some 15 years before.

One of my close friends, a wild and eccentric bookseller named Barry Cullwell, had decided to pull up stakes and move to Nevada. He was mainly a wholesaler and consistently came up with great loads of books. He had spent a year building out a very unusual bookstore very close to the Los Alamitos Race Course, one of his favorite spots. His bookstore included a fancy cigar humidor cabinet, which he had built entirely by hand. For Barry, it was approaching Southern California nirvana: A well-stocked bookstore, a side line of fine antiques, a large cigar humidore, and walking distance to the track, a place that he spent quite a lot of time, which is why it took him a year to build out the store.

He had a grand opening. I went down and bought a pile of books. The next day, Barry closed the store. Like for forever. It was sad, really, a fine shop loaded with good books, and a year’s work, and open only one day. But something had come up and he was moving to Nevada. He put his house up for sale and his girlfriend put her condo on the market. He emptied the book store and moved all his books up to the house and piled them in with all the others. The house, the condo, the garage, all packed tight, and I mean really tight. He called me up and said “I’m moving, find me a buyer for all these books.”

I had heard that Larry McMurtry was trolling around the country buying books. He had bought the town that he had grown up in, sniping off the buildings one by one until he owned them all, and then started filling the empty storefronts with books. It was a grand scheme, but the drawback was that the town was somewhere in Texas in the middle of nowhere. Even if you got to the place, accommodations were slim, so show up in your RV or with a sleeping bag. This was a destination for only the hardiest of book geeks.

After dialing McMurtry’s various book stores around the country, I finally made contact and he said he would love to look at the massive Cullwell load during his next trip out to L.A.   A few weeks later, he arrived, and I met him for lunch.

McMurtry was a Southern gentleman, and we got along just fine, until I asked him what was in the box he was trundling with him. He said it was his typewriter. I asked him if he was going to drop it off at a thrift store. This was the first of my many annoying foux pas of the day. McMurtry patiently explained that he wrote all his books using one prized model of a portable typewriter, a Hermes 3000, and he always carried it with him, with clones of the same exact model stashed around the country in various places that he visited or lived. “I’ve got 9 or 10 of these,” he cheerfully explained, “and keep one in every book shop that I own, plus reserves in various apartments and other places.” He was without a doubt, the Hermes Typewriter Company’s best promoter. Too bad they were out of business.

We got into a low-key but sometimes heated discussion about the virtues of using a computer as the greatest writing instrument ever invented. He didn’t see it that way. He had written all of his novels on the old Hermes. Plus, he had also written over 40 screenplays, all by pounding the portable typewriter. To me, at the time, it was beyond belief that anyone would prefer to do that much writing on some clunky old typewriter. I had grown up with them, and had used them myself, but when I got my first look at a computer, that was it. I never wanted to see or use one of those dreadful machines ever again.

McMurtry could not be convinced by any argument from me, he had of course heard them all before. His mind was made up. In fact, he seemed to be a little superstitious, like a baseball player who has to use the same exact bat, or make the same weird motions to ward off failure. To him, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and others could not be wrong. They all loved the Hermes portables. I got the feeling that he felt that if he used something else then he might write a dud of novel. In reality, that was not going to happen: he is America’s great storyteller. There is no way he’s going to fail because he switches to a computer. But maybe he thinks it would go that way, so why take a chance?

I got to thinking about it later, and came up with a couple of reasons to use a typewriter. Since erasing something is so damned hard, using white out or one of those tough pencil typewriter erasers with a brush on one end, one might become a little more cautious, think a little more clearly about what’s going to be put on the paper, and in what order. A manual typewriter might actually improve somebody’s writing by making it such a pain in the butt to erase a mistake that you would go out of your way not to make too many of them. Plus, some of the really good machines, like his Hermes, had a nice feel to it when properly tuned up.

I couldn’t convince myself to dump the computer and go back to a manual typewriter. I love my computer, the laptop is the greatest. In its day, the Swiss company that made Hermes (and watches, and music boxes) were the among the finest designers and manufacturers in the world. But by the early 1980s they were gone. Like Barry Cullwell’s bookstore. Like forever.

The Hermes 3000

The Hermes 3000

But Larry McMurtry is a sly one. When he put 2 of his beloved machines up for auction recently, he knew that the typewriter was not just a machine, it had become an icon. The machines that churned out the great novel Lonesome Dove, were beautiful, magical icons. The 2 Hermes brought $37,500 at auction. It is doubtful that any computer he could have used at the time would bring anything near that amount. Larry McMurtry laughed all the way to the bank, which might have actually been a long way if he was holed up in his ghost town in Texas. And, he admitted, he still had about 15 more of them stashed away or still in use! If the rest of his army of Hermes brings about the same money, he could be looking to raking in over $200,000 for them. Hey, that’s why icons are iconic!

Back to the radio show. After the above had flashed through my sleep deprived brain, I called the show with the answer to the question of the day. I won the contest. My prize was a beautiful signed copy of The Penitent, the wonderful story by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

The Prize

The Prize

The two days I spent with McMurtry were certainly the highlights of that long ago year. Endless book chatter with a legendary bookman is not soon forgotten. Another argument I lost with him was in trying to get him to open up a book store in Los Angeles. My sales pitch about the glorious Southland could not sway him to leave his town in Texas. He also ended up not buying the Cullwell collection, so I didn’t collect a commission on that deal either, although it was sold soon after to another bookseller. I don’t feel bad about losing all the arguments to McMurtry – any writer who can get over $37,000 for two old typewriters is a giant in my view. Bill Gates eat your heart out, you lost to a Hermes, but many grateful thanks for the PC, I love it dearly as do billions of other earthlings. Except maybe for one guy in Texas.

Tribute Scheduled For Author George Clayton Johnson

Egyptian Theater Hollywood to Host Tribute Friday, February 26th, 7:30pm

Geprge Clayton Johnson (R) with old friend Brian Kirby. Photo by Paul Hunt

George Clayton Johnson (R) with old friend Brian Kirby. Photo by Paul Hunt

What Up Hollywood, urged on by Bookstore Memories, had to really dig through the archives to find this great old photo of George with former Los Angeles Free Press Editor Brian Kirby.  This was taken at Tom Lesser’s annual Paperback Collector’s Show in Mission Hills many moons ago.

A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON
This program is free to the public – first come, first served – with a suggested donation of $8 to our nonprofit to help cover expenses.

George Clayton Johnson (July 10, 1929 – December 25, 2015) penned some of the most memorable science fiction scripts of the 1960s and ’70s, including the first episode of “Star Trek” and seminal episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” as well as co-writing the novel Logan’s Run. Join us for an evening celebrating Johnson’s life and career, including “Twilight Zone” episodes “Nothing in the Dark”(1962), “A Penny for Your Thoughts” (1961), “A Game of Pool” (1961) and “Kick the Can” (1962), as well as remembrances from colleagues. There will be a panel discussion and a performance by members of Ray Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company.

To rsvp on Eventbrite click here. It is free to rsvp.
Panel discussion follows with biographer Vivien Cooper, LOGAN’S RUN co-writer William F. Nolan, writers Dennis Etchison, Mark Scott Zicree and Wendy All and producers Jason and Sunni Brock, moderated by George’s son Paul Johnson. There will also be a performance by members of Ray Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company. (approx. 150 min.)

Posted by Uncle Paulie