The East Village is not dead (just different)

Book Club  is a new bookstore and wine bar in the infamous Alphabet City neighborhood of Lower Manhattan’s East Village. While I will grant that the East Village is not the bizzaro-crazy place of my feckless youth, its demise is exaggerated. The funky shops, bars, and hangouts of the gritty glory days are mostly gone, but cozy local bookstores like the Book Club take the sting out of the loss.

The bookshop stocks a general-interest inventory of some 3,000 titles, from children’s and YA to fiction, history and sci-fi and fantasy. There is also a locally focused section featuring books about New York and the East Village, as well as a variety of gifts and non-book items such as greeting cards, games and candles.

Like most denizens of the area, proprietors Erin Neary and Nat Esten  are relative newcomers to the Village, but they are committed to making the Book Club a community hub at 197 East 3rd Street.

Posted in Books, Bookstore Tourism, USA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Strap-on your skates

Winter Landscape with Skaters  or Winterlandschap met Ijsvermaak is a c.1608 oil on oak painting by the Dutch artist Hendrick Avercamp in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.The painting shows ice skaters of all sorts enjoying a day on a frozen river. People dressed up stand among villagers going about their daily chores. A dog chews on a dead carcass in the lower left corner. A boat sails away on a sled in the background as a group of fishermen make efforts to free a frozen sailboat in the foreground. A bird trap is seen to the left among other farm implements and the whole scene is overshadowed by a church to the left.

Winter Landscape with Skaters is considered one of Avercamp’s earliest works, and is painted in a style strongly reminiscent of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1565 painting Winter Landscape with Ice skaters and Bird trap. Some aspects of this picture are taken directly from Bruegel’s works, such as the “bird trap” which also appears in other works by Avercamp. He was influenced in his subject by the Little Ice Age, particularly the cold winter of 1607–08, and was the first of the Dutch painters to specialize in snow scenes.

French artist Francine Leclercq has given the 17th century work a 21st century update with gif animation.


Posted in Animation, Art, Europe, Museums, Tech | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Find Refuge In Coffee

Regular visitors to TBTP are likely aware of my slight obsession with coffee. When I travel, the first thing that I look for anywhere are good coffee spots. My preference is always in-house roasters, but I will settle for someplace with a connection with a specialty coffee roastery. In recent years, I’ve started roasting my own coffee with a small machine that will do batches of 250 grams at a time, but when I’m away from home I’m all about sourcing local coffee.

TBTP habitués may also be aware that one of the many places that I have lived over the decades is the state of Georgia. Although I didn’t live in Atlanta, I did spend lots of quality time there. So when I’m in the Peach State finding coffee destinations is a priority. The newest, and most interesting, coffeehouse in Atlanta is Refuge Coffee in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood near downtown.

The nonprofit specialty coffee company promotes the organization’s goal of providing a friendly, safe and agenda-free space where the refugee community can find jobs, training and opportunities, and where consumers find solid specialty coffees and light bites.

Opened on Monday, Feb. 3, the Refuge cafe fills a neighborhood coffee void left by the December closure of a Condesa Coffee. Coincidentally, one hundred years ago the old building housed one of the city’s best coffeehouse

The Refuge training program, which ideally runs for one full year, continues to be a full-time commitment for participants, who also earn a living wage during training. They have already employed refugees from 12 countries.

If you’re in Atlanta, be sure to check them out.


Posted in Restaurants, Tourism, USA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sip and Savor


Posted in Animation, Art, Books | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday George

Happy birthday, George Washington! To celebrate  the actual anniversary, check out this Atlas created in 1932 by the United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission. It is a collection of 85 maps that are associated with Washington including many maps he personally drew (he was a land surveyor throughout his life) or annotated. Also included in the atlas are maps that show Washington’s travels and legacy.


Posted in Books, History, Maps, USA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mail Them Packages of Rats


Thomas Lux

hate the people of this village
and would nail our hats
to our heads for refusing in their presence to remove them
or staple our hands to our foreheads
for refusing to salute them
if we did not hurt them first: mail them packages of rats,
mix their flour at night with broken glass.
We do this, they do that.
They peel the larynx from one of our brothers’ throats.
We devein one of their sisters.
The quicksand pits they built were good.
Our amputation teams were better.
We trained some birds to steal their wheat.
They sent to us exploding ambassadors of peace.
They do this, we do that.
We canceled our sheep imports.
They no longer bought our blankets.
We mocked their greatest poet
and when that had no effect
we parodied the way they dance
which did cause pain, so they, in turn, said our God
was leprous, hairless.
We do this, they do that.
Ten thousand (10,000) years, ten thousand

(10,000) brutal, beautiful years.

Posted in Books, USA, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ode to Oodi

Helsinki’s Oodi Central Library has reinvented the idea of the traditional municipal library to create a new kind of community space. With the range of resources and specialist equipment available at Oodi Central Library, Helsinki residents and visitors can learn handy skills, see a film, edit video, create music, or access a 3D printer at the local library. Opened in 2018, Oodi offers more than your average public library creating a community meeting place with regular events and workshops, music rehearsal and performance spaces, play areas, a cinema, and even a sauna.

Each story is designed to create a unique atmosphere. The first floor offers an open-plan hall, event spaces, and a cinema. The second floor is home to designated work areas including photography, music and recording studios, games rooms, and meeting rooms.  The third floor combines relaxation, learning, research, and play with a vast book collection, reading areas and a children’s play area. Oodi also has specially designed robots to facilitate the transportation of books in the library, freeing professional staff free to assist visitors.

Oodi reimagines what is expected of libraries by offering a modern and inclusive space that opens up new opportunities for its users. From the citizen’s advice services to access to new hobbies, Oodi is both a cultural hub and a practical space where locals can find accessible resources. It combines the space of the library with a socializing space, event space and leisure center where users can learn and explore in a public space.



Posted in Architecture, Art, Books, ebooks, Europe, Libraries | Leave a comment

Regrets, I’ve had a few

Here at TBTP World Headquarters we spend way too much time reminiscing about books bought, sold, and collected over the years. This inevitably leads to uncomfortable regrets about the items passed over at book sales, sold below the actual value, or not sequestered for the personal library or collection. Occasionally, a book buyer, or in this case a TBTP follower, brings up a sore topic.

So, first a big thanks to reader Sandy R. who remembered my map geek interest in transit maps and shared copies of the very early London transit maps pictured above and below discovered online. However, this is where the regret comes in. Some years ago, I sold my copies of very similar late 19th and early 20th century London maps along with a group of London travel guide books to a UK collector. In retrospect, not only did I under price the maps at the time, but would really like to have them in my own collection now.



Posted in Europe, History, Maps, Public Transport | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrate with Patience and Fortitude

The New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. An elite group of librarians from NYPL have created a list of 125 books from the last 125 years that inspire a lifelong love of reading. Even Patience and Fortitude, the grand pair of lions that grace the main library’s entrance, have been enlisted to promote the project by reading copies of Beloved by Toni Morrison and The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

The list was designed to be diverse with regard to genre and authors’ gender, race, and sexual orientation. To be included, the works had to have been published after May 23, 1895, the date that the New York Public Library was actually incorporated.

Here’s what the NYPL wrote about the project:

The New York Public Library has put together a list of 125 books that they love—the librarians and the people in the library. That’s the criteria. You may not love them, but they do. And that’s exciting. The thing that gets people reading is love. The thing that makes people pick up books they might not otherwise try, is love. It’s personal recommendations, the kind that are truly meant. So here are 125 books that they love. And somewhere on this list you will find books you’ve never read, but have always meant to, or have never even heard of. There are 125 chances here to change your own life, or to change someone else’s, curated by the people from one of the finest libraries in the world. Read with joy. Read with love. Read!

Take a look at the full list below. You may quibble with some selections, but I think you will be impressed by the diversity and breadth of the list.


George Orwell, 1984

Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March

W.H. Auden, The Age of Anxiety

Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

James Patterson, Along Came a Spider

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Mary Oliver, American Primitive

Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Sylvia Plath, Ariel

Ian McEwan, Atonement

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn

Joseph Heller, Catch-22

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Claudia Rankine, Citizen

Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress

Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City

Frank Herbert, Dune

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Alyssa Cole, An Extraordinary Union

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

J.R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

Allen Ginsberg, Howl

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

Beverly Jenkins, Indigo

Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Gore Vidal, Julian

Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Art Spiegelman, Maus

David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

Martin Amis: Money

Michael Lewis: Moneyball

Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend

J.D. Robb, Naked in Death

Richard Wright, Native Son

Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son

Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint

Graham Greene, The Quiet American

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Louise Erdrich, The Round House

Amor Towles, Rules of Civility

Alice Munro, Runaway

John Ashbery, Self-Portrarit in a Convex Mirror

Stephen King, The Shining

Annie Proulx, The Shipping News

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Nalini Singh, Slave to Sensation

Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues

John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Albert Camus, The Stranger

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley

George Saunders, Tenth of December

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Denis Johnson, Train Dreams

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel

Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen

Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Don DeLillo, White Noise

Zadie Smith, White Teeth

Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior


Posted in Books, History, Libraries, USA, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Avoid the Day: Bookstore Tourism

Avoid the Day Bookstore & Cafe began life as an itinerant pop-up about two years ago  around the Rockaway peninsula in the New York City Borough of Queens. Last week, co-owners Jianna and Jason Heurer manifested their shared dream to open a bricks and mortar bookshop with a grand opening of the cozy bookshop/cafe in Rockaway Park. The shop promises to offer a curated selection of 3,000 or so titles and a welcoming hang-out space for locals and tourists alike.

Unless you are from the New York area, or are a surfer, you will be forgiven if you don’t know about “the Rockaways.” The peninsula has one of the longest urban beaches in the U.S. and has been a day-tripper attraction for New Yorkers for more than a century. More recently, the Rockways has become a destination for East Coast small wave surfers.  My family’s roots go back to 1900 in nearby Brooklyn and at one point my parents owned a restaurant at the Rockaway beach boardwalk, but I haven’t spent much time there since childhood.

If you’re wondering about the name Avoid the Day Bookstore, it comes from an auto-corrected text that was supposed to say “have a good day.” I think that it’s a perfect name for a bookshop in a beach town. What booklover wouldn’t want to avoid the day and hang out with some good books and a cup of coffee just a block from the ocean.



Posted in Books, Bookstore Tourism, Restaurants, USA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment