Off at 5 AM, bound for the Rare Book & Manuscript Librarian’s Conference in Baton Rouge, LA. No traffic at that hour.
“Cheap” gas in NJ.
Lunch at Cranberry Bookworm, one of the last open shops on this ancient trading route. Barely made my lunch money. The route is possibly too ancient.
Then down to Bartleby’s Books in Georgetown, DC, the best general used and rare book store in the east, bar none. Their landlord refused to renew their lease (the jerk is putting in a restaurant at 3x the rent) and proprietors John Thomson and Karen Griffin will be closing their doors at the end of this month.It’s the end of an era, and a great loss to the immediate geographical community, as well as the community of book lovers at large. The last thing G’town needs is another yuppie restaurant. But so it will be.
Down the beautiful highway toward Baton Rouge, the Red Stick. Anybody know how it got that name? First stop in Knoxville, Central Street Books, formerly known as the Book Eddy, now relocated in the bar at which Cormac McCarthy used to drink – the bar still in place in the store, and very nicely designed in terms of ergonomics, I must say. Though there was nothing to do while slouching there but read a book. Owners John and Molly tell me Japanese literary tourists make pilgrimages to the place.
Next day a stop for lunch in Tuscaloosa at Dreamland,fifty years in business serving some of the best ribs I’ve ever et. But good food is not what saved it during the recent spate of killer tornadoes that tore through this area. The restaurant building happens to be snuggled up against a Baptist church, with three others nearby, and it is a well known fact that God loves ribs. He even took one of Adam’s.
Surprisingly pleasant rib-fueled drive from Tuscaloosa to Baton Rouge, a place I’d never visited before. The city proper turned out to be not much of a city - more a riverine industrial area, with six blocks of hotels and restaurants in the middle surrounded by a sprawl in which white people drive SUVs to malls. All backed up, of course, by the mighty Mississippi.
Took a jog this morning at 7:30. Temperature was 85 and climbing.
By noon it was 95, and fellow book dealers John Thomson, Lin Respess, Garrett Scott, and I repaired to the Big Easy for lunch. Which took place at a terrific place called Cochon, which my betters told me was French for pig, which we all ate like… The jackrabbit livers with pepper jelly were to die for, as was the melon soup, followed closely by the ‘gator. If I don’t sell a book this trip, or meet a new librarian, the journey will still have been worth it for that lunch. Cochon.
A quick stop at Joe Phillips’ Crescent City Books, then back to Baton Rouge to set up our stands for tomorrow’s ten hour long meet-and greet with the 250 librarians attending the conference. The alleged purpose behind all this eating.
I’ll be headed home after that, so I’m posting this abbreviated blog entry now, in order to not get too far off schedule.
Sorry I don’t have any product to shill. I’ll try to make up for it in next week’s entry, which will also contain some SURPRISING NEWS, and a proposal for a potentially entertaining run of future entries.
Till then, let the good times roll!