Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Blank is Beautiful

We just got in a shipment of more Ex Libris blank books.

They're recycled children books(Nancy Drew!), text books, old library books made into journals, most include a few pages of the originals along with acid free blank pages.

Due to the one of a kind nature of these journals we've never put them up on the site. But they're here in the store and if you're ordering you can always ask what kinds we have on hand.

Monday, August 30, 2004


Ok, you know that something is addictive when you've had a long day, staring at a computer screen for most of it, and you still stay up late working on making a doll version of yourself:

The orignial Korean Candybar site is even crazier! Makes me wish I had paid more attention to my Korean classes as a kid.

Man, I need sleep. And professional help.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Crumb!

Hey, it's Crumb's 61st birthday today!

Thursday, August 26, 2004


We have movie passes today for Hero.

I love that Maggie Chueng.

Also, you can enter a drawing for a movie poster signed by Jet Li, a box set of his DVDs and the Hero graphic novel.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Thank you, Mystery Condom Person

I should start thinking more like a blogger.

Yesterday, I noticed a condom wrapper on our steps as I came in to open the store. "Weird," I thought. "I can't believe someone in this neighborhood actually used a condomn."

Then as I started to open the door, I found the condomn. It was on our door handle. Unused. Of course.

See, if I were thinking like a blogger, I would have taken a picture of it. Hell, I would have blogged this yesterday.

This is in no way an invitation for you good people to put used condomns on our door. If you do, I will NOT take a picture of it.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Whew, it's hot today in Baltimore! It's like Summer or something.

I'm spending the day daydreaming about Fall. Lovely, brisk, refreshing weather. And Hampdenfest.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

One Last Nest

Aw, only one more Nest!

Baltimore native, Joseph Holtzman, says it's over.

But Mr. Stadler could not imagine Nest under corporate control. "It was a zine," he said, "in the sense that it represented the interests of a very small group of people."

Mr. Holtzman would not have been an easy fit either. "I have a problem with corporate America," he said.

Use Bug Me Not to get by the registration (though I've been having trouble with it today).

Waters, Waters, Everywhere

The latest issue of Baltimore Magazine, not yet on newstands, has a fun interview with John Waters by the director of Saved!, Brian Dannelly (UMBC grad, btw).

Besides Waters' new movie, A Dirty Shame, which opens next month, they talk about an upcoming Biography on Waters:

JW: I took them to my favorite corner in Hampden. It's a ritual that I always go there for inspiration when I'm about to start a movie. And during the interview, this guy came out of his house in leopard pajamas and he was playing with himself the whole time. They couldn't believe it. They thought I had set it up. They thought he was a plant. It was so amazing. You can come to Baltimore and realize that all my films are really true. They're part documentary of how I see Baltimore."

Waters was in town recently, so if you've sent him mail in the past couple of months he just picked it up!

Updated Move On Info

Updated info on the Moveon.org Benefit at Bengies here. Tickets available at Atomic Books! You can call to buy tickets over the phone (and they'll be up to buy online soon).

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

City That Reads

THAT used to be Baltimore's motto. For real.

Oddly, Baltimore is number 25 in the nation's most literate cities! For real? Um...ok. I wonder if they're still counting all the independent bookstores that have closed in the past 3 years? Or do they count the nearby counties?

Baltimore City actually has quite a few used bookstores:
Salamander Books
The 19th Century Shop
Tibor Bookshop
Royal Books
Drusilla's Books

I think there's still a Book Rendevous left, Black Planet has moved but hasn't reopened as Red Emma yet...and there are tons of antique and thrift stores that carry used books. As well as other gift shops that are starting to carry quite a selection of books. I hear that's the big thing. Lifestyle shops. Buy your books in the same place where you buy a fancy contact lens case!

And then there's The Book Thing. A crazy place that just gives away books. That madman used to sing some great showtunes when he bartended at Dougherty's. Yes, he was trying to make us leave...but it was riveting.

Of new bookstores, other than B&N downtown, there's us, Mystery Loves Company, The Children's Bookstore...and a bunch of Christian bookstores, some dealers that are only online or only mail order...or exist only in their own minds.

It's an interesting list to keep track of. If anyone knows of a glaring omission let me know. I've been thinking about making a Baltimore Book Map.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Lazy & Tardy

There's nothing more useless than a blog that doesn't get updated for days. My biggest pet peeve. Nothing more infuritating than checking a site and seeing nothing new. For days.

Next, comes the apologetic post consisting of only an excuse of why there haven't been posts. Puh-leeze, like anyone gives a shit about how busy you are, how you were just mugged or that your great aunt passed away. Don't let your life get in the way of your blog. Just admit that you're fucking lazy.

When I was a kid, the comment that came up the most in my report cards: "Rachel is an intelligent and talented student but is not working up to her potential."

Lazy. That's right. I still got As...but for some reason I was deemed lazy. They could just tell.

The only thing worse than lazy on your report card are all those "tardy" marks. Tardy, tardy, tardy...because that word is sooooo weird.

But really, the only thing worse than waiting for blogs to post something...is waiting and waiting for these promised publications that are supposed to come out, supposed to be out right NOW, but they never come. Some we've been waiting on for months, even years. We wait by the door, with our noses pressed to the glass...here comes the UPS guy, Fed Ex...nothing.

Here's just a tiny bit of the list that we've been waiting on:

Berlin #11
The Dr. Ikkaku Ochi Collection
Schizo #4
Likewise #3
Chris Ware (by Raeburn)
Creatures Of The Night
Persepolis 2
Horny Biker Sluts, the Collection
Acme Novelty Library 16
The Very Breast of Russ Meyers
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

How does this happen? Oh, a hundred reasons...lazy artists, constipated writers, alcoholism, broke publishers, agoraphobia, an obsession with Soul Calibur II...

All we can do about all this, is wait and hope. And read something else.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Lucky Friday the 13th

We're expecting some precipitation action from Hurricane Charley, but nothing like the area around Tampa is going to get.

Since it's a lucky day, our Florida friends will be ok. Today.

It's busy in the store, so there's no time for a walkabout...but perhaps tonight we'll go by Holy Frijoles. We hear they're still working on the drinks. It IS Friday the 13th. Chance is on our side.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Future

The Future Dictionary of America is finally in. Two very cool things about it, besides the obvious, that I'd like to point out:
  • All the proceeds from this book goes to progressive organizations working on the 2004 election.
  • It's got our own Emily Flake in it!

Yes, it's a little hard to make out in that tiny pic...so buy the book already!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Comix Today

It used to be, back in the day, comics came in a standard size. You could put them all out in standard racks and shelving. Easy peasy.

Today, with comix, you never know what the hell you're going to get.

We order them, and then they freak us out.


This is Merritt.

He's visiting from Naples, Florida. He's been here all day. He says, "This is the only thing to do in this neighborhood."

He's 16 years old.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Communication Breakdown

Last week, Common Ground, a great little independent coffeeshop up the street, received a letter from someone saying that they probably won't be returning to their establishment because the tattooed and dreadlocked young women were blasting music.

The letter goes on to say that music in a coffeeshop should be "unobstrusive", suggesting that they play classical music and save the loud stuff for "bars and student hang outs." What if someone wanted to "have a chat or read," hmmm?

You should go read the letter. They have it hanging on the wall, and there's a pen hung by it so you can respond to the letter. It's signed (no last name) but there was no return address.

A customer at the CG pointed out, "Some people just feel that every place they go to must cater to them." That's what they mean by the customer is always right, right? As a street of mostly independent businesses, all screaming their own personalities, we'd be nowhere if we became as bland as a mall. And yet, so many people really do seem to want sanitized sameness, where nothing and no one out of the ordinary will disturb them from their own little world.

All the responses written around the letter from the CG clientele are great, whether they're crude venting (someone drew a little penis on it) or thoughtful comments. It's like a message board of old. And overwhelmingly for Common Ground to stay the course.

And speaking of individuality in business and a healthy customer service attitude click on Kottke's musings on Shopsin's and their policy on parties of five:

It doesn't matter if one of you
offers to leave or if
you say you could split into
a party of three and a party of two
or if the five of you come back tomorrow
in Richard Nixon masks and try to pretend
that you don't know each other
It won't work: You're a party of five
even if you're a beloved regular
Even if the place is empty
Even if you bring logic to bear
Even if you're a tackle for the Chicago Bears
it won't work
You're a party of five
You will always be a party of five
Ahundred blocks from here
a hundred years from now
you will still be a party of five

Move On Benefit at Bengies

Are you like me? Did you go through a Don Knotts phase? He's a comedy genius. So join us, at a benefit for Moveon.org:

Sun, Sept 12th

We'll have more info and tickets for sale here soon. Check back with our site and check The Mobtown Shank.

Beer, contests, nudie movie trailers, and door prizes!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Zines to Blogs to Art

Thanks to everyone who emailed me the zine article from Friday's Washington Post. I'm not even going to link to the article because the WP won't let you read anything without registering, which is a total pain in the ass.

The zine article is a good one, though, with quotes from our own Davida Gypsy Breier, who does a column about zines for our site. And a nice plug for our store. (Thanks, WP! Wish I could link to you.)

And from Chip Rowe:
Rowe summarizes the movement of zines onto the Web thusly: "Fanzines became paper zines became webzines became blogs. That's where we are now." But he's not just being blithe. He sees in the current blog craze something akin to the paper zine craze of the early '90's. "The same spirit is there," Rowe says. "Everybody feels powerless to one degree or another and is looking to get some kind of reaction. They want people to care about what they think. It's heartening seeing blogs, even if a lot of them will go away as the novelty wears off."

And this zine/underground/hobbyist spotlight continues with an upcoming exhibit at the BMA, in November, called Dark Matter.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Choose Me!

Every once in a while (not as often as you'd think), a mentally ill person will walk in the store and cause a little scene. They're usually harmless. They just need to get something off their chest.

Tonight, it was a white haired older man with a ball cap, with a recent but healing gash on his cheek, who's been in before. He was talking as he was walking in and pointing at books, and as he got closer I could make out, "Today, people are buying these books. This one...and this one...and this orange one..."

It reminded me of that story on This American Life, where a stranger on a subway platform, who's obviously a little off, is pointing at every person and saying whether or not they can stay or go. The narrator of the story talks about how when a stranger talks to you, it's imbued with a special kind of importance. Even if the stranger is crazy. The narrator desperately wanted to be told he could stay.

I wondered if the person in the store would point at me. Are people buying me today?

Friday Walkabout

It's a beautiful day here in Baltimore. It's too beautiful to be inside...so let's have a walkabout. Perhaps this'll become a Friday Feature. Like all my other feature ideas, this is good to last about a week.

Right across the street, is a place that used to be D'amici's.

As you can see, they're still working on the sidewalks but they've moved to the other side of the street now.

In the movie Pecker, by John Waters, D'amici's was where Pecker worked (though called something else in the movie). Most of Pecker took place right on the Avenue here in Hampden.

What happened to D'amici's is somewhat of a mystery. They just closed one day, earlier this year, and never re-opened. So, check it out, people! Prime corner location right across the street from us. Sure it needs some work, but think of the possibilites...here are some suggestions:
  1. Another coffee shop. Yes, we can actually use another.
  2. 24 Hour diner. Be junkie central!
  3. A Knit Cafe. Whatever.
Any aspiring entrepreneurs out there with any ideas? Anyone who wants to spend their life savings on working 24/7 to pay yourself less than you would get working for someone else? Put your life in the hands of the fickle public and our precarious economy! Come on! It's the American Dream! You know you wanna. Hampden needs you.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


The new issue of The Gothic & Lolita Bible has a pattern for a great bag.

Anyone know how to sew? Anyone want to make it for me? Like I need another craft project.

Honestly, all these great crafty/DIY magazines are beginning to give me the guilt.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bring Back the Magic

Ok, this isn't going to be about books, or the store, or life and death...it's going to be about a little magic this Summer has brought us - the margarita, at the new Holy Frijoles Bar.

Now, I've never been a huge margarita fan. I'm not really into fruity drinks. But the margaritas at Frijoles brought me joy, a deeper understanding for the term "refreshment".

Must all good things come to an end? For some inexplicable reason, they've changed the recipe! It's just not the same.

The thing is...I'm torn about the change. It's almost a relief. Their hold over me is broken! Fuck, who needs to hang out at a bar that much?


Goodbye, Mango Margarita. Perhaps we'll meet again.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Gretchen Worden Passes Away

From Irwin Chusid's List:
Gretchen Worden, longtime director of Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, passed away August 2 at the age of 57, after a brief illness.

Quite a gal. Quite a museum. If you know anything about Mutter, try to imagine a director who had a sense of humor about her job -- that was Gretchen. She worked amid "terrifying beauty": corpses with mutant appendages, specimens displaying unthinkable physical aberrations, deformed skeletons, preserved fetuses -- and she was on a first-name basis with them all. But Gretchen was also a consummate professional about the administration of her duties. She came to the museum in 1975, and was named director in 1988. Though she had no medical degree, Gretchen's work on behalf of the museum has contributed much to medical understanding.

Don't know if there'll be much press coverage, tho Gretchen certainly deserves it. If anyone comes across an obit, please FWD. If you work for the media, write one.

Police Log

Everyone knows the Arcata Eye's infamous Police Blotter, right?

Do you know about the book?

It makes me sort of miss the days of living in a small town, where the crime is sort of amusing, and heartbreaking in a different way than here in Baltimore.

June 29, 2000 5:88pm
Imagine the creep-out factor: A resident of the 1600 block of 11th Street went out to her car and found the door opened and the inside rummaged through. What scaly, wraithlike hands had passed over her stuff?

September 22, 2000, 1:08pm
These neighbors aren't getting along, and it's come down to accusations of laundry stealing.

I could read these forever.

Monday, August 02, 2004


Meet Marlena, Store Mannequin:

Before Marlena came to work here at Atomic Books, she was a house mannequin, which was pretty boring. Now she gets to see new people on a daily basis and show off our wares.

Alas, her glasses are not for sale.