on stage at housing works bookstore cafe

After quite a few technical difficulties, a new episode of On Stage at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is finally up! Check it out to hear from Nicole Haroutunian, N.K. Jemisin, Diana Pho, Emily Asher-Perrin, Alena Graedon, Jenn Northington, Cici James, Amanda Hess, and Marguerite Fields. In case you can’t tell, that’s a lot of great women. In one place. It doesn’t get better than this, folks.

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Was bustling from the bookstore office in the back of HWBC to the front to switch out our event-promotional signs at the end of the evening. Three minutes to close.


A nice young-ish Spanish man stopped me and asked, “are you — from here?”. With some pride I said “yes, I am”. It took a few back and forth but eventually it emerged that he wanted a recommendation for a vinyl record to buy.

In a professional capacity I’m an “Events Assistant”. In my personal life pop music is my driving passion. In fact just earlier today I was walking back from lunch and listening to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and thinking, isn’t it amazing that pop music expresses things across times and cultures and allows us to connect with people? I think about that perhaps too often. I’m a bit obsessive and weird about pop music, which in the past I’ve channeled into a show on community radio and a blog about music. But since moving here I’ve had no real outlet for it other than having deep thoughts while crossing Bowery.

At Housing Works Bookstore Cafe all our merchandise is donated, so you really do never know what you’re going to find. This young-ish Spanish man and I flipped through our Rock/Pop section (two small cubbies) and found: Joan Baez’ 1975 live album “From Every Stage” and Joe Jackson’s “Night and Day”. He liked the cover art from Joe and had never heard of Joan Baez but lit up when I said, “she has a very beautiful voice, and her lyrics are poetry”. So he bought those things, two dollars each.

Of all the people bustling through the bookstore in that moment, this man chose me to find him a record — without possibly knowing how much that would delight me, and how seriously I would really take it. It made me very happy. And even happier is the thought that somewhere in New York City tonight that Spanish man could fall in love with “Diamonds and Rust”, just as I have, and maybe you have, and all the other people we’ll never know.

AW