Friday Flashback #017 …

I love Leeds. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, and I apologize for repeating myself. It has this rusty English charm to it, both old and new at the same time. A river runs through it … okay, a canal, and I am fascinated by this little water taxi that winds around, taking people to and fro. I’m going back again this fall, and plan to spend time in neighboring York, which I’ve never been to before. I follow some Brits on Instagram and the I love the photos I see. There’s something about these cities, so ancient and history-filled, that makes California (even with the palm trees and Pacific Ocean) pale in comparison. Leeds, London … I’m adding York, Hay-on-Wye (which I desperately want to call on Ham-on-Rye), and Brighton to my England folio this year. I can’t hardly wait.

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Friday Flashback #016 …

There’s nothing like an old, weathered sign. The Admiral Hotel is located in a … let’s say “less desirable” part of San Francisco, one I walk through occasionally to get to a bookstore over on Van Ness Avenue. It’s kind of a shortcut from where I normally stay. I’m pretty sure that this sign could tell some amazing stories, but as it stands–minus the comparatively shiny and new Coca-Cola sign–it looks like a seamy hotel that Sam Spade might live in, like all those film and fictional private dicks do. San Francisco is such a noirish city, even more so than New York, I think. The fog, the hilly streets, the Bay, with “The Rock” sitting forlorn and menacing in its center, the blemished but unchanged signs, like this one, all contribute to an overall feeling of damp, lurking danger. That dame walking towards you might have a gat in her garter; that lug leaning on the bar front across the street looks like trouble. Be careful. It’s dark and dangerous in this neighborhood.

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Friday Flashback #015 …

They call it Tuna Harbor, because that’s what it was years ago, the site of a thriving tuna boat fishing industry here in San Diego. Now? Not so much, although tuna boats still dock here and drop off their catch (there’s some kind of processing building there, I believe). Here it is on a cool day in the beginning of summer last year, right at twilight, after a rain storm. The water is placid and reflective, and it almost looks like brush-strokes. I used to walk through this area (which is north of Seaport Village) all the time. It was my go-to place for walking, especially on the weekends when I wanted to walk a quick two miles or so. I miss my downtown walks (I moved in August 2017). I don’t necessarily miss downtown, but that’s another story.

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Friday Flashback #014 …

Give me a bookstore to explore and I am the happiest man in the world. Well, that’s probably not true; those that know me know that I’m not the happiest of anything at any given time, but I digress … or wallow. You pick.

This is Daunt Books on Marylebone in London. London is such a great bookstore town. I think if I lived there I could do one bookstore a week and go for months without duplicating myself. This is an old-school one, in a lovely area. It reminds me a little of the old Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th St. in New York City: deep, dark, rich wood shelves, impeccable layout, very high-end and stately. Some of my other favorites in London are Foyles (of course) on Charing Cross Road, and Waterstones’ flagship store off Piccadilly Circus, which is huge.

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Friday Flashback #013 …

Coronado has been my home for going on half a year now, and I am still constantly taken aback by its incredible beauty. The shot above is walking along San Diego Bay, in an area known as Tidelands Park, with the Coronado Bridge in the background. Following this path takes you under the bridge and next to the Coronado Municipal Golf Course, and eventually–with a left turn onto Glorietta Blvd.–to the Hotel del Coronado. I can’t begin to tell you (and I probably already have) how happy I am to live here. I feel set for life.

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Friday Flashback #012 …

I have yet to visit the Cinerama Theater in Seattle, WA, but I love walking by it. Located in the Belltown neighborhood, adjacent to downtown, its amazing wraparound mural by Invisible Creature (the photo above shows only the front) is always a joy to behold. It remains a single-screen theater, so it has only 3 or 4 screenings per day and advance ticketing is always recommended. Someday, someday, for me. In the meantime, you can take a 360-degree tour of the auditorium by clicking here.

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February 2018 Books …

I’ve been remiss in writing about my reading! Here’s the recap of my four books from February (March coming sooner).


Intro

I’m trying to read a book each week in 2018, and you can follow along at home! Expect a mix of fiction, historical non-fiction, comics and graphic novels, and movies-related books over the next 52 weeks!


Week of February 4th

This week’s book is Cinegeek by artist Pluttark. Originally published in Europe, this looks like a kids’ picture book, but it is decidedly not. Each page is a single strip on some geeky movie topic, such as “Actors Who Were Smart to Take On a Screen Name,” or “Actors Who Might’ve Played James Bond, But … No.” The art is charming and the writing humorous, but the book is best taken in small doses of a few pages at a time. Part graphic novel, part humor book, part movie trivia tome, this is a cute time-waster if you love movies, and a bargain at $14.99.


Week of February 11th

This week’s book is a ringer, something I’ve read in the past. I’m in the middle of another book right now and not ready to write about it, so I turned to my bookshelves and pulled out a definite “desert island” book, at least for me. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe is the definitive history of the company, from the launch of Fantastic Four #1 through the 2010s. It’s all here, warts and all. Since I firmly believe the greatest era of Marvel Comics was from FF 1 through what I term “the split” era (when Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, and Strange Tales broke up into Iron Man, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Nick Fury, and Doctor Strange in their own titles), this book is my “bible,” the true, unvarnished history of the Marvel Age of Comics and beyond: the cosmic ‘70s, the rise of the X-Men, the Jim Shooter era, the fall into almost-ruin and bankruptcy, and the controversial era of Bill James and Joe Quesada. I could pick up this book right now and start re-reading it and enjoy every word. It’s probably the best comics history I’ve ever read.


Week of February 18th

This week’s book is Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates. It’s a thriller about three middle school kids who share a life-changing experience in the 1980s and reconnect in 2008. I have to admit, this one was slow-going for me and a bit tedious. The book veers back and forth in time and reflects three different voices (Matthew, Patrick, and Hannah). When I read fiction, I know I’m going to let an author manipulate me, take me down the path (or in this case, roads) that tell the story, but hearing the same story from three different points of view in three different voices is a bit much. I’m not sure this is a book I can recommend, to be honest. It has an additional secondary character who is entirely superfluous and could have easily been eliminated from the book, thus focusing more on the reasons why things happened to the leads, and making a shorter, punchier read.


Week of February 25th

This week’s book is Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins. I’ve been fascinated by the Village of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, just across the border from England, since I first discovered it here on Instagram. It is literally a town of bookstores and, as such, it’s like the proverbial heaven to me (there’s either 32 or 40 stores, some owned by the same owners, so I’m uncertain how many actual stores there are). I’m planning a trip there this fall, but Collins beat me to it, moving his family over to Hay in the early 2000s. It’s a fascinating book, where Collins writes not only about his experiences living in Hay, but also some of the weird, wonderful, and incredibly obscure books he comes across (not to mention some of the weird, wonderful, and incredibly obscure people in Hay). I look forward to my long weekend in Hay and hope I can find my way there via train and hired car later this year.


I post a new book every Monday on Instagram. Follow me at gg92101 there for the latest!