Annotations (no. 3)

“She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”

(Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955, originally Olympia Press)

Notes from the Library Under the Stairs

Many avid readers and prospective book donors have asked what manner of texts line the Bluebird shelves. The best way to find out, of course, is to get on the bus. But when not traveling, our books are stored in an overflowing library beneath a curving staircase. Tonight we pulled a few selections for those who have not yet caught the tour and need a taste. We hereby offer brief notes on some (but not all) of the genres and titles that represent our style.
This beautiful catalog from an exhibition of Dada Art and Anti-Art at the Goethe Institut (Munich) includes a fold-out cover and fine-art print insert.
One protean figure explores the mind of another in this interesting biography. The two grand icons of machismo, Picasso and Mailer, are well matched.

Taking Flight

Wow. Just … wow. The opening day of our Kickstarter Tour was a great success, with an excellent turnout at both Sherry’s Yesterdaze and Cafe Hey. Many thanks to our community of supporters for welcoming Bluebird with such warmth.

In a rare moment of speechlessness, we tell the story in images (courtesy of Ubernothing Art Review and Literary Magazine, Wayne S. Williams and others):

Bird in the News

Spreading the word, making some friends, shaking a tail feather. Fall is an avian season. Things are getting downright frisky.

In October, we got our first press in Megan Voeller’s lovely Creative Loafing article. And by chance, it was seen by a visitor who brought the news back to Vouched in Indianapolis, IN, a very cool project that promotes small press literature via guerrilla book stores, reading series, and online publishing. So pleased to make their acquaintance! And indeed the feeling was mutual, as founder Christopher Newgent quickly revealed his desire to start up a similar Vouched Bus project. Perfect timing. Let’s fly seeds across the land.

What’s next? Tomorrow evening, a rendezvous with Stephanie Hayes of the St. Petersburg Times. And the Kickstarter campaign, ever-so-slightly delayed (it takes time to make a good video and such) is expected to go live the week of Nov. 14.

That will be just in time for our first stop on the kick-off tour, at Sherry’s Yesterdaze Parking Lot Sale, Saturday, Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Watch for more exciting programs that same evening, when the Ubernothing Big Machine Event takes over at Franklin Street’s Cafe Hey.

Oh, we’ve come a quite a long way. Remember when the bus was yellow? And six hours of scraping turned arms into useless jelly?  Those were good times.

Annotations (no. 2)

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

Jean Louise (Scout) Finch
(To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960)

Special Thanks (no. 2)

October always marks a season of change. This time around proves no exception, and we welcome it openly: the new, the unusual, the unexpected.

We recently contacted artist Josh Pearson about showcasing his book, Alphabhetto, a beautifully-illustrated tome featuring a colorful alphabet of creatures and objects. In the process, we discovered Josh’s manifold talents extend into design, fabrication and installation as Creative Director of Creative Arts Unlimited Inc.

A book-maker who also builds traveling exhibits? The synchronicity was almost too perfect.

One look at the bus, and Josh was bursting with great ideas for fixtures and displays. He took us in a surprising direction, recommending autopoles for the interior — a sort of vertical tension rod system that supports a variety of presentation pieces.

A few weeks later, Josh and brother Mike Pearson (Creative Arts’ Installation Captain) laid in the first set of Bluebird shelves.

How did we become so lucky in our friends? These two join a long list of supporters who have donated time, effort and expertise to the Bluebird Books project. Their thorough attention to detail made for a stable and attractive installation. Our gratitude is nigh-inexpressible.

Get your first peek at the shelves (and what’s stocked on them) when we go on the road in mid-November to support our upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Follow us on Twitter for breaking news on where Bluebird will soon be perched.

Stay tuned for further news, as the wheels keep turning.

Annotations (no. 1)

“Camus wrote like a man who had just finished a large dinner of steak and french fries, salad, and had topped it with a bottle of good French wine. Humanity may have been suffering but not him. A wise man, perhaps, but Henry preferred somebody who screamed when they burned.”

(Charles Bukowski, Hot Water Music, 1983 Black Sparrow Press)

Hot Stacks

It was a fruitful evening at my secret new book-hunting spot. There wasn’t much time to shop, but something drew me in for a quickie, an irresistible magnetic pull toward a 15-minute grab-and-go with the headphones on. Not surprisingly, most of the fruit landing in my heavy-handed basket turned out to be of a plump and juicy variety. Tonight’s reading list follows the photograph.

Treasures laid carefully in a crate, I flew off to meet a lady. In dim light we pulled off these waxy, paper leaves. They fluttered to the floor like careless-shed clothes. Tape peeled up slowly to reveal a smooth blue skin beneath. She asked if she could touch it.

Yes, of course.

Joyce Carol Oates (2001, The Ecco Press)
The prolific author-poet spins tales of transgression with her usual chilling understatement and precision.

Couplings and Groupings
Megan Terry (1972, Pantheon Books)
These interviews conducted in the early 1970s delve into the changing nature of modern relationships, monogamy and sex roles.

Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes
John Pierson (1995, Hyperion)
A revealing look at a decade of independent cinema (mid-1980s to ’90s) penned by a risk-taking insider.

C’est comme ca
Jean-Paul Valette and Rebecca M. Valette (1978, D.C. Heath and Company)
It’s a French textbook with pop illustrations. French is the hottest of the romance languages. Hands down.

The Book of Aphrodesiacs
Dr. Raymond Stark (1980, Stein and Day)
Potency, enhancement, contraception, fertility … Dr. Stark explores sex from the herbalist perspective in this concise encyclopedic-style index. Incidentally, the good doctor also penned The Psychedelic’s Handbook.

perv, a love story
Jerry Stahl (1999, William Morrow and Company)
The Permanent Midnight author follows his gritty memoir with this nakedly wicked young outsider story, getting props on the dust jacket from Mark Mothersbaugh, Lydia Lunch, and Hubert Selby, Jr. If a book makes Selby laugh, you know it’s twisted.

Required Reading (no. 4)

Good things are happening. Weird things are happening.
Things are happening.

Last Friday, we attended Book As Art: Beyond The Limits, an exhibition at MOSI advancing the book as a contemporary art form, sponsored by the inspirational USF-SOLIS (Student Organization of Library Information Science) under guidance of Cleo Moore. Attendance felt mandatory after reading this compelling sentence on their press release:

“If you are inspired in any way by the physical presence of the book, as a vehicle for transmitting information, as a personal object or as a multiplicity of ideas, you will no doubt be moved by the visual power of word and image presented.”

Vehicle, you say?

The show presented book illustrations, text collage, poetry and various paper works, fabric arts and deconstructed / reconstructed books. Plus a book sale (extreme restraint was exercised), banned book readings (cool) and adorable craft table. After careful observation, we can report that alphabet stamps do consistently appear to cause smiles.

In the gallery area, we were instantly lured in by Claudia Ryan’s haunting, circular litany “I am a secret,” a prose poem printed on simple white wall panels. But Sabrina Hughes’ “Stories in Black and White” revealed a surprise with multifaceted charm.

Each cross-stitched square, meticulously executed and pinned to the wall, was wrought into a QR code — those blotchy, smart-phone-scan-able barcodes you see cropping up everywhere. Scan these tiny wall tapestries, and your digital device registers a simple line of text: the first line from a famous book. The resulting clever blend of media — tediously handmade object providing instant delivery of information — seemed an appropriate statement in the conversation about the future of words in a digital world.

We look forward to talking with the SOLIS folks again soon.
And also cannot stop looking at this art, captured on a quiet night in Ybor City. The owls are not what they seem:

It Takes a Village

This story tastes of grit and blood and sweat. It is crusted with dust-coated candy and hairballs, faded gaming cards and valentines. All things unearthed in the removal of bus seats. Including the inevitable fossilized chewing gum.

Of course, there is a happy ending. We have been so lucky in our friends. A humbling, steady rally of support keeps this project going, with painters, electricians, fabricators, teachers, videographers and accountants each lending expertise to the pool.

Today we are especially grateful for Scott Avoy and Shanna Gillette. Scott brought in the serious power tools and showed us how to use them, embracing some real mechanic up-to-the-elbows, face-in-the-undercarriage dirty time.

Shanna caught these stylish shots of the work in progress. Now the once-crowded bus interior is stripped down to a blank page, where we can draw shelves and lights to make a cozy reading room.

This village keeps growing. Two electricians, an architect, and a library designer have offered to contribute to the fixtures plan, and on Friday our best-read friend will sit down to help draft reading lists after we scout local poetry chapbooks from Yellow Jacket Press.

Recurring reference to Confederacy of Dunces lately, perhaps a reminder of the good turns from Fortuna. Wheels turning all together. Last weekend a blue jay feather landed in our path, and cerulean cyanotypes appeared in the mailbox.

Everything in this story is true.