Saturday, February 28, 2009


When I was a toddler in Kingston, an older boy led me into a shed in a backyard on Cooper Street. He unfolded some newspapers and spread them across the floor. Then he lit matches and tossed them on the papers. Then we exited deliberatively and walked over to Albert Street. A fire engine soon blared its arrival. The shed was engulfed in flames!

A few days later my family moved to a new house built on Churchill Crescent. A month afterward at a birthday party, the older boy told me a marshal from the fire department came calling. and seemed suspicious of him.

Many years later I heard that this boy had become a long-time resident of the local mental hospital.

At the beginning of the First Ice Age, ancient man, called Homo Erectus, started to move out of Africa. Was that strange timing? How could African apes survive perpetual winter?


Saturday, February 21, 2009


Me: It’s Ash Wednesday, babe. We have to give up sex.

Her: What’s Ash Wednesday?

Me: It’s the beginning of Lent. We must mortify our flesh.

Her: What’s Lent?

Sunday, February 08, 2009


After 73 years, Robin’s Bookstore in downtown Philadelphia has closed.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Border’s and, of course, the Great Economic Downturn forced Larry Robin’s hand. His street-level store is gone and already for rent. However, come February 16, you can mount a flight of stairs next to the old store and reach a new second-hand bookstore and performance space. Whether that will be as welcoming and exuberant as the old place -- remains to be seen.

Robin maintains their website, and you can buy books from him that newfangled way: While I’m at it, let me mention my two favorite newfangled book dealers, Marc Kessler in Boston: ; and Suzanne Ostro in New York: . Whodonut Books in Center City at 1931 Chestnut Street and BookTrader on 2nd Street are two other excellent stores which uses for Internet orders.

Meanwhile the very best bookstore in Philadelphia is now -- Joseph Fox at 1724 Sansom. The bookstore opened in 1951 and maintains a close relationship between authors and readers. They average five book-signings a week. It’s the best place to meet writers and buy signed and perhaps valuable contemporary first editions. Everybody has a website; the Fox site is: Now run by the widow of Joseph Fox and their son Michael Fox, it’s spare and elegant and now essential.

[An earlier version of this Note with a number of comments appeared in the Philly Art Blog on February 5.]