SELLING MY LIMITED EDITION - BRAND NEW LAST ONE! Dita Von Teese - XXXTIAN Silk Robe £900
Dita Von Teese is a muse for Christian Louboutin as he has designed this French toile print for her. It depicts Dita performing her Bird of Paradise act. The XXXtian gown with the risqué design printed on Italian silk features padded shoulders and full sleeves. Adorned with Swarovski crystals and a heavy red tassel tie at the waist.
No better reason to dig a littler bit more into our Boroughs Tour than this glorious of days: Independent Bookstore Day. It may be new to the calendar, but long overdue is nationwide appreciation of independent bookstores and booksellers, whose engagement with our reading lives makes the experience of indie book culture singular in our imaginations. I’ve admittedly waited some time to feature Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, mostly out of hope to be as accommodating in approach as their booksellers are on the floor. Perhaps none more so than Jarrod Annis: bookseller, poet, and small press provocateur (my word). Along with tireless work at Greenlight, he’s also involved with our friends over at Ugly Duckling Presse, and this made me that much more curious about someone whose book world spans all the way from the manuscript to the shelf. Our conversation was one of the first of these I’ve had with New York booksellers, and I’m indebted to him for the vocabulary of small press enthusiasm he brings to his work and, in turn, months worth of my interviews. We spent hours riffing on our respective book lives, the poetics of space, the blues of isolated hometowns, the trauma of reading Bukowski in early teenhood, and on and on and on. What I glimpsed underneath his attentive and gentle spirit and his investment in all things literary was someone’s personal history wrapped up in the experience of community, sharing with and nurturing those around you with curiosity as the only prerequisite—in a sense, a humanity that developed from coming of age with small press culture as one guidepost along the way. Under the circumstances, he was representing Greenlight—a wonderful store whose values are reflected by having someone so talented and magnanimous in their ranks—though one gets the sense interacting with him that you’re a part of his community beyond those handsomely shelved walls..
Wave: I keep asking everyone just what it is about New York bookstores and booksellers that seems to feel like such a personal experience, so involved with whatever store or area you’re in, yet makes it such an interconnected place.
J: It’s totally fascinating to me—as someone who, when I was growing up and becoming an engaged reader, would read all these things about people who knew each other across the community—I developed this fantasy that it was this close-knit thing. You get out there and you find yourself involved in whatever you’re involved in, and it becomes a much wider net. It’s a network that being in a huge city would seem unlikely, but it fosters.
Do you feel that, as a Northeasterner, that literary network is a New York network? or that it’s at least an intimate, East Coast one?
J: It’s been interesting for me, because mine is definitely East-centric. I’ve done stuff out West—know some West Coast people by proxy. Where I’m from originally there’s nothing, and there’s so much going on here it’s easy to be entirely New York-based. Always has been. Looking at whomever—the Beats, the New York School—there was always the contingent here, and a dualism that resulted from such conviction in one coast or the other. For me, the more you can cross-pollinate the better.
With cross-pollinating as a metaphor in mind, is there a feeling you have for the online literary community, or how it’s changing a sense of community and people experiencing moving around geographically?
J: Well now we’re getting into some heady stuff. I think it’s cool, with this new level of access and, sort of, breaking down the structure of it all. But then the argument might become, what happens to things coming up organically in the location? I don’t even know if that’s possible anymore with technology where it’s at—or it becomes incorporated in the experience regardless. For the better in many ways. I mean, are you talking about a physical space fostering a sort of thought?
Yeah, I mean, there are probably different questions I’m asking all at once. When you flatten it out, most people think a bookstore is a bookstore. I’m not arguing that it’s strictly philosophical—that it should only be thought of as a home for the New York Times bestseller list ora place where public consciousness is nuanced or a community organizing space. But that all those seem to be important signifiers that the space itself, where ideas and people are maneuvering around each other, is vital to coherence and accessibility? That’s not really a question—more a way to sound ridiculous.
J: (laughing) That’s one way.. No, I mean, there’s something important and political there. And that’s one of the reasons Greenlight happened in the first place. The owners knew each and wanted to start a bookstore, but they didn’t have a space. The people in this community wanted that. There was a need that complemented that desire. We try to have as close a relationship with our neighborhood as possible. That was such an important thing for me growing up in a relatively isolated place. Going to a bookstore or, for me, like a record store, and you could talk to people. Oh no, you gotta hear this ..you gotta read this. That’s such a crucial level of sharing.
Totally. I grew up under very similar conditions, and you never know how important that is until—after only knowing the big box mentality—that one little used bookstore or record shop pops up. I shed a single tear for the record store that closed in my hometown—my only refuge and really the place I engaged with most as a teenager. It was pivotal to share stories and ideas.
J: The exchange between people was really what I got most of when I was younger. And our generation really straddled that technological fence—a little right eye, left eye of accessibility.
We’re talking a lot about a sort of niche in the small business world. One that has its audience and caters to them—brings in a particular person and maybe doesn’t attract a wide swath of others. I wonder if you can say anything about Greenlight, as a general interest bookstore, and what the experience is like casting a wider net?
J: Greenlight, because it caters to the community that it’s in, tends to have the current, the new, the reviewed, what have you. Then on top of that, there are knowledgeable booksellers, with areas of interest, who fill in the selection with some x-factors. That’s nice too, since it changes every time someone new becomes part of the store. At its heart, it has been and will continue to be general interest. As a New York bookstore, it also reflects the incredible variety of experience that being a New Yorker comes with. You always have the opportunity to hook the curious reader. That’s what I love.
This feeds very well into one of the only real prompts I’m coming to the table with, and that’s how you feel being involved in small press and independent bookstore culture puts you at an intersection to really engage people with both of those worlds. To be coming from a place where that much extra effort goes into getting work out into people’s hands, do you see or guide people to think a little more about what they’re reading, where it comes from, and how it came to be?
J: That’s a very prescient thought, especially in the midst of the Amazon battle. Or thinking about what’s happening with food—the organic and slow food thing—that mentality eventually slips into the world of goods and services. Small press could be thought of as craft beer. Some folks are really into it. If you put up a sign that says craft beer someone will say oh I want that, and the awareness slowly begins to shift across the board. I started reading Ugly Duckling books and didn’t realize for a while that they were just down the road, and more people are getting turned on to that. The feeling of discovering something is really powerful for people. If it resonates, then the floodgates are open. I don’t want to simplify the experience with the craft beer analogy—to have your world shattered by an incredible book is a special experience—and to bring this awareness of risk-taking small presses to a wider audience, and to then see people respond to it, is really cool.
So what does it mean to usher people, as it were, to that kind of reading experience?
J: From my own experiences, living here or living in Boston, and coming into contact with small press that’s just there—not highlighted, but just waiting for you to stumble upon it—it’s become important for me to keep the whole history in mind. I try to keep my definition of small press broad. Wave is small press, Ugly Duckling, Song Cave, Belladonna, and alongside those you still take Melville House, New Directions, City Lights. They might have a little more legacy and they’ve been doing it longer, but it seems important to include everyone in something with such a history. If someone picks up a Kenneth Patchen title from New Directions, you can lead them to something like Alfred Starr Hamilton’s Song Cave collection. Things become more visible that way.
And you get to see things—working from both the production side and the distribution side—that feel rewarding in that way.
J: Coolest thing I ever saw was tabling a book festival sort of event, and a woman approached who was clearly blind. She was picking up all the books, feeling the letterpress and the papers and really interacting with it. Enjoying the production of the object itself. It’s one of those things that we appreciate—the look and the beauty of these lovingly-produced objects—but it really struck me to realize just how much and how deeply we engage with that world inside and out.
Shepard Fairey recently spoke with Hi-Fructose in an exclusive interview about his latest project, “Art Alliance: The Provocateurs,” a huge group show and mural series he curated at Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival. See more on Hi-Fructose.
Last night I had dinner with my sd at the Russian Tea House. It was fucking fabulous. Nothing more I love then getting drunk off of champagne and eating close to $1000 in caviar. He got me a gift, the Helen of Troy figurine from galleria by Florence studio.
I tried to take a decent picture of myself but the lightening was horrible. I was wearing
-Agent provocateur Theodora dress
-Red Valentino Oversized Snow White clutch
-Asos black sandals and I personally added the fluff
Another one of Shepard Fairey’s murals as part of ‘The Provocateurs’ project in The Loop. I have another of his murals posted here and I have another one located but need roof access to get capture the image I want of it.