Saturday, July 30, 2011

Found In Our Free Bin

In our free bins in the front of Atomic Books, we frequently distribute all kinds of items people send us - from zines and mini comics to newspapers, books, CDs, cassette tapes, t-shirts and more.

Sometimes, things find their way into the bin, and we don't know where they came from. That's just part of the magic and fun of the free bin.

Such is the case of an unopened padded envelope with cancelled postage and a crossed out shipping address that we could tell was full of publications. So opened the envelope and inside we found an array of awesome publications from Mud Luscious Press.

I started thumbing through a magical novella called I Am A Very Productive Entrepreneur by Mathias Svalina.

It's a series of stories that all start with the line "I started this business once...".

My favorite section is:
I started this business once that retrofit memories to include pilot lights.
Thereafter the memories stay lit, even when you are away on vacation. Even when you are sleeping on the cold, dry marble. Even when your loved one has been dead for so long that the junk mail in his name has stopped arriving in the mailbox.
Thanks, Mud Luscious Press! However your publications found their way into our free bin, they made our night!

Best Writers Of Baltimore

Baltimore Magazine's Top 5 Best Writers of Baltimore - John Waters, Laura Lippman, Madison Smartt Bell, Michael Kimball and Stephen Dixon. We've been lucky enough to have 4 out of these 5 at Atomic in the past year for their awesome books.

Laura, you're invited to join us any time!

Otakon 2011

IMG_2183, originally uploaded by Baltimore Lauren.

It's that time again.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Banning Books In 2011

Yes, they still ban books.

As the result of a campaign launched by Wesley Scroggins, a business professor at Missouri State University, the Republic, Missouri school board recently voted unanimously to ban both Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer. This means these books are not allowed in school curriculum and copies must be removed from school libraries.

Unsurprisingly, only one school board member had actually read one of the books in question.

"Professor" Scroggin's rationale for banning the books? Slaughterhouse-Five has too much cussin'. And in Ockler's book "drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex."

It is all too easy for us to believe that book banning is a thing of the past or something that only takes place in countries under totalitarian regimes. But it still very much happens here in the United States.

In 2000, Slaughterhouse-Five was removed from sophomore reading lists at a Coventry, RI school after a parent complained about the language. It was challenged in Arlington Heights, IL in 2006. And in 2007, the book was brought to court in Howell, MI to see if it violated laws against "distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors".

In fact, not only is Vonnegut's classic the 18th greatest English-language novel of the 20th century (according to the Modern Library) and called by Time Magazine one of the "100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century", it is also one of the most frequently challenged books of the past few decades (according to the American Library Association).

So yes, they still ban books.

Author Sarah Ockler's response.

Read more.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Do We Kill? Book Event

Tomorrow night, Thursday, July 28th, former Baltimore Homicide Detective, Kelvin Sewell, and investigative journalist, Stephen Janis, discuss Baltimore crime and their new book, Why Do We Kill?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jacket & Sleeves Art Show

Isn't it interesting that art tied to records are forever, no matter how many printings there are, it's always the same cover. Yes, sometimes there are anniversary printings with maybe some added graphics, etc, but essentially, mostly, these images are iconic and intertwined with the music and the band's image for a good long time.

Book jackets, on the other hand, change with the seasons. Hardcover to paperback, special editions, new editions, new printings may all have their own completely new art. Now some do stay the same and are tied with the book for decades, but most, do not. Can you think of any iconic book jackets? There are a few. Maybe childhood favorites. Images that have stayed with you all this time because it was the first one you saw for that book.

Now that most of us download our music or have started to download books, images and covers aren't as associated with a concrete object. What does this mean? What does this mean for artists? It's just something fun or depressing to think about, but since these jackets and sleeves have meant so much to us, we decided it would be fascinating to see the results of asking some artist friends about their favorite books and records and how they would redo or "cover" their favorites. Thus the Jackets and Sleeves Art Show.

We made a Facebook Group if you're interested in joining us, but space is limited. Opening is October 7th! And it's a one night show! Many more details to come.

ETA: The group is now closed! Sorry, it filled up fast. But we'll have a waiting list, and who knows, maybe this could turn in to an annual event..

Saturday, July 16, 2011


SVK, originally uploaded by sugarfreak.
We don't normally blog about things we don't sell, but this collaboration between Warren Ellis and Matt "D'Israeli" Brooker is pretty cool. Forward by William Gibson (who's Zero History is out in paperback next month)!

Only available directly from Berg and already sold out. We like tangible products in the real world.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our New Stincker Machine

 We are now serving stickers, old school style. With no human interaction needed.

Well, technically they are Stinckers - high-quality, screen-printed, handmade decals sold via a vending machine at select stores across the country - select stores like Atomic Books.

These stickers are sold in limited editions. Once they are sold out, they are gone and will be replaced by a different set of Stinckers by a different artist.

Contributors to the Stinckers series include Dan Clowes, Johnny Ryan, Benjamin Marra, Mats!?, Steve Weissman, and more.

Our new machine is currently serving stickers by Mats!?, Pacolli, Ben Marra and Craoman.

Bring quarters! But if you don't that's cool. We can make change.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Baltozine Roundup

Keeping track of new magazines (etc.) that we get in which talk about Baltimore stuff. For more on, by, or about Baltimore-area artists, check out the following issues below.

from Ghettoblaster #28 
Wye Oak - Civilian
Rating: Turned Up (basically 3 out of 5 stars)

"Wye Oak's latest release of ethereal, folk inspired indie-pop improves on the group's signature sound of quiet, measured instrumentals overlaid with Jess [sic - that's Jenn, dude] Wasner's smoky alto vocals and it's a winning combination, to be sure. ..." - Andrew Coulon

There's also a pretty entertaining review of Ponytail's Do What You Want All The Time which unfortunately says more about the reviewer's insecurities than it does about the music.

"The shift of the hipster uniform is an ugly thing to see. ... You're being annoying on purpose. I can tell you know how to play. ..." -Jason Schueppert

from Decibel #82
There is a nice series of reviews of bands who played Maryland Deathfest IX. The tagline of the article is "Because Virginia is for lovers Maryland is for cum-guzzlers." Witty.

"You could move Maryland Deathfest from its annual Memorial Day weekend dates to early February, and I'm sure Charm City would still string together four consecutive days of oppressive mid-90s temperatures. It was fucking hot. Again. And even though the annual strain of Maryland Deathflu circulating in that giant underground metal Petri dish is still attacking every white blood cell in our body today, we're already planning next year's excursion (note: pack more hand sanitizer). Until then, here's this year's recap of our favorite sets from America's preeminent festival." -Albert Mudrian

from Under The Radar #36
Ponytail - Do What You Want All The Time
Rating: 7 out of 10

"... The rambunctious spazz-rockers gloriously build off and dismantle ... enthusiastic pop... Critics would be remiss to discard this as the treacly graffiti of a bunch of Peter Pans. Sometimes you just get tired of all the mopes and misanthropes populating the scene." -Kyle Lemmon

Zomes - Earth Grid
Rating: 6 out of 10

"More minimal, retro-futuristic meanderings from Lungfish alum, Asa Osborne, again with that dude-in-his-bedroom kinda vibe." -J. Pace

Adventure - Lesser Known
Rating: 5 out of 10

"A reappropriation of classic '80s synths conveniently packaged into house beats, it is brash, loud and instantly danceable. ..." -Laura Studarus

from The Big Take-Over #68 
Impossible Hair - Toast A Dozen On The Side
"... Impossible Hair's brand of astute, buoyant pop is illustrative of the quality control demonstrated by such akin forebears as Sloan and more recently Rogue Wave. We're talking mad skills here folks, and the Hair possess a moxie well beyond their years. ..." -Neal Agneta

The Seldon Plan - Coalizione Del Volere
"... The Seldon Plan dispense song after deftly honed song of smart, buoyant pop..." - Neal Agneta

Thank You - Golden Worry
"... Golden is a wildly haphazard, jarringly inscrutable roller coaster ride of an album best ingested as a whole." -Marcel Feldmar

Wye Oak - Civilian
"... Another stunner - the third in a row from the Baltimore duo that's only been releasing music since 2008." - David Obenour

Arbouretum - The Gathering
"An amazing record, Arbouretum's dark and jammy tone is close to Thin White Rope desert territory, only without the strained punk vocals. ... bubbling cauldrons of dark music, wherein mythical but slightly out of focus stories and mystical melodies bring to mind The Moody Blues mixed with metal doom and filled out with trance instrumental sections. ..." -Tucker Petertil

And finally, The Believer #82 is The 2011 Music Issue. It comes with a mixed music CD and it includes "Surprise Believer", a new track by Dan Deacon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cassie J. Sneider & Blag Dahlia This Wednesday

This Wednesday, July 13, funnylady cartoonist Cassie J. Sneider stops by Atomic Books to read from and discuss her autobiographical rock & roll graphic novel, Fine Fine Music.

Accompanying her will be Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves and author of the book Nina.

Need more persuading? Here's a list from Cassie.
1. You can tell all of your friends you ‘attended a reading’, which makes you sound really smart and superior and better than them, which you undoubtedly already are.

2. It’s like Hulu-ing Hoarders, but WITH YOUR IMAGINATION.

3. Free comics for everyone!

4. I’ll let you pet my hair and pretend I’m not creeped out by it.

5. I’m, like, a really good reader.

6. Did I mention free comics?

7. I will pet YOUR hair and you can tell your friends you went on a date with me. 
We'll also be serving adult beverages.

And be sure to see The Dwarves play at the Ottobar later that night.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Talking Summer Reading 011 Edition

I'll be on WYPR's (88.1FM) The Signal this evening at 7PM (and again Saturday at 1PM) to talk Summer reading suggestions.

You can only talk about so many books on the radio, so be sure to stop by the store - there have been a lot of really great books to come out this summer.

Listen live online.

Check out the mp3/podcast.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson - July Book Pick

This month's Reading Club pick is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

See you July 27th for the discussion - 7:30 at Atomic Books! New members are welcome at any time, and you get 15% off all the books for this year's Club titles. Join the Facebook Group for more discussion and updates.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

With Banksy

We had no idea this is what Julia Kim Smith was planning when she got this Labbit from us! Her latest project, With Banksy, is how I imagine Banksy would spend this holiday weekend. If he were American.

Friday, July 01, 2011

July 4th Weekend Hours

Tonight is First Friday in Hampden, so a lot of shops are open late with special events. Bmore Local is hosting mayoral candidate Otis Rolley at Atomic Books, from 7-9pm. He'll talk a bit about his vision for Baltimore and you can ask him questions! We can even register you to vote.

Weekend Hours:
Sat July 2nd - 11am - 5pm
Sun July 3rd - 11am - 5pm
Mon July 4th - 11am - 3pm