Friday, December 04, 2009

Central Booking

The 2009 Pratt Book Sale

Literary Hunters & Gatherers at Pratt Central

(Baltimore, December 4, 2009) - The Enoch Pratt Library Book Sale, that annual "Black Friday for Book Lovers," started at 10 a.m. this morning when the doors of the Central Library opened to usher in the teeming masses of greedy book sellers and sharp-elbowed, thrift-conscious consumers in full booklust mode - by Sunday (when you could fill a box with anything for a measly buck!) it was a feeding frenzy madhouse, like a pack of rabid dogs all making a dash for the same piece of raw meat.

Since I not only work at Pratt, but also live in close proximity to the delightfully discounted Daedalus Books & Music store at Belvedere Square, I tried to behave and limit my selections - I have so many books now that adding to them seems like bringing sand to the beach - unlike my "quirky" (i.e., mentally unbalanced) co-worker Ross, who almost suffered a hernia toting away his haul of over 80 books. Still, I couldn't resist the following Thrift Scores for home, family and friends alike.

My Thrift Scores: First Strike

On Friday I scored these titles:

The Peters World Atlas: The Earth in Its True Proportion
by Arno Peters (Hammond, 2002)

Condition: New hardback
List price: $16.53
Book sale price: 50 cents

I love maps and atlases, so spying Arno Peters' ground-breaking atlas, new and unused, made my day! "This book changes the world," said The Daily Mail, adding, "The Peters Atlas is the greatest single advance in map-making in 400 years." According to the publisher, "This atlas corrects our misconceptions of the geography of the planet," giving less attention to the developed Euro-centric "First World" and more to the auxillary players. Based on the revolutionary Peters Projection, each double-page spread shows one sixtieth of the Earth's surface presenting an astronaut's eye view. The use of colour and relief intensifies the green jungles, the brown deserts and the brown mountains and the 246 thematic maps cover subjects such as: global rainfall, birth control, marriage, weather, the status of women, employment, military strength, and languages of the world. Of the latter, I was shocked to see that Hindi is spoken not just in India - but also South of the Border in Guyana, South America! I hope the GPS I asked Santa for Christmas references the Peters Atlas.

MW by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical, 2007)

Condition: New hardback, 582 pages
List price: $24.95
Book sale price: 50 cents

Last year I scored Osamu Tezuka's Ode To Kirihito (Vertical, 2006) at the book sale. This year I stumbled upon this 2007 collection by Japan's "Father of Manga" that tells the story of Japanese priest Father Garai and his connection to criminal mastermind Michio Yuki and a mysterious chemical weapon developed by American Occupying Forces in post-war Japan. It's supposed to be notable as being Tezuka's response to Japan's gekiga artists, who were producing gritty, adult-oriented comics in the late '60s and early '70s. Supposedly MW does this by unapologetically depicting explicit homosexual relationships - a rarity in Japanese manga.

Balls, Boots and Haircuts
by Hunter Davies (Cassell, 2003)

Condition: New Paperback, UK import
List price: Out-of-print (used copies about $20 USD)

This bores the f**k out of my friends, but delights me to no end. From the author of what many consider the best authorized Beatles biography comes this history of football - everything from the ball itself to football haircuts, football crowds, football players, football merchandising, football souvenirs, football reporting, football books, football abroad, football and art, foreign footballers, black footballers, women in football. OK, enough now...I'm sure you get the point!

Carnal Knowledge: Baxter's Concise Encyclopedia of Modern Sex
by John Baxter (Harper Collins, 2009)

Condition: New paperback, 382 pages
List price: $15.99
Book sale price: 25 cents

Amazon Product description: "Averitable smorgasbord of sin, John Baxter's Carnal Knowledge is a delightfully unabashed education in sex and erotic culture. Would you ever consent to a knee-trembler at a love hotel? Would you enjoy a hot lunch while watching kinbaku? Would you consider wearing a French tickler, a merkin, a strap-on, or pasties . . . or would you rather just go commando at the Mine Shaft? From Deep Throat to Debbie Does Dallas, from the mile-high club to the Emperor's Club, John Baxter explains it all to you in this decadently definitive work on the many ins and outs of s-e-x, guaranteed to tantalize, edify, and titillate whether you're a novice or an expert in the arts of eros."

All fine and dandy, but this UK import was worth it alone for the excellent array of rare and picture-worth-a-1,000-words photo stills (like one of Ron Jeremy when the hirsute "Hedgehog" wasn't fat or the giant breast from Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex) that made me think of Amos Vogel's Film As a Subversive Art because, like Vogel's definitive guide to outre cinema, the wonderfully iconic pix make you want to see or read more about what the author is talking about.

I particularly enjoyed the entry about Mary Millington, the Brit porn actress (Come Play With Me) who took her life in 1979 and inspired the Disco Zombies' titular single "Mary Millington" that same year. Though well known across the pond, she remains a "Marie Provost" lost soul stateside. Oh, and the entry for Milton Berle! Locker room legend has it that Uncle Miltie had a penis (and casting couch) of enormous proportions, matched only by his indefatigable sexual appetite (he bedded everyone from Theda Bara to Marilyn Monroe). Mr. Television's "longevity" was later referenced in DC filmmaker Jeff Krulik's The Legend of Forest Tucker short, in which associates recalled how the two "big" stars once went, um, toe-to-toe, to see how they measured up with one another. Legend has it that Milty only unfurled enough pipe cleaner to win.

I only spotted one error - Paul Thomas (real name: Philip Toubus) is erroneously identified as John Holmes in one photo. I know my '70s porn stars well, especially Mr. Thomas who - besides performing in hundreds of adult films and winning countless AVN awards as a director - crossed over into mainstream cinema when he portrayed Peter (how apt!) in Norman Jewison's Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). The porn star who denied Christ is also one of director Atom Egoyan's favorite actors, inspiring Egoyan's "Dr. Gonad" homage in Granta magazine.

The Return of a Mad Look at Old Movies (Signet, 1970)

Condition: Used paperback
List price: Out-of-print (used copies are $1-10 dollars)
Book sale price: 25 cents

How can anyone resist a Mad paperback illustrated by Comic Book Hall of Famer Jack Davis and penned by Dick de Bartolo? Whoever you are, you're made of stronger stuff than me!

Box Lunch: See What a Little Brown Can Do For You

On Sunday I went back down to Central and filled a box with the following items for a buck, cash on the barrelhead!

Jerry Lewis In Person
by Jerry Lewis with Herb Gluck (Pinnacle, 1985)

Condition: New hardback, signed by Jerry Lewis (!)
List Price: Out-of-print (new copies go for over $80 plus shipping)

E-frigging-essential. Jerry Lewis continues to fascinate me, whether it's re-watching The Nutty Professor for the umpteenth time or seeing his puffy chipmunk face accepting awards on the telly of late. Like rubbernecking roadside carnage, it's hard to look away from anything to do with The King of Comedy's life or career. I mean, c'mon - The Day the Clown Cried, anyone? Pure genius. Even if only Harry Shearer and his girlfriend have ever seen it!

The Day the Clown Died

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
by David Hajdu (Picador, 2009)

Condition: New Hardback
List price: $16

I got a copy of this essential read (featuring a nice cover by Charles Burns!) last year and re-gifted it to my comics-obsessed pal Big Dave Cawley. He told me if I ever saw another copy to do myself a favor and grab it. I did!

The Unabridged Edgar Allan Poe
by Edgar Allan Poe (Sweetwater, 1997)

Condition: New hardback
List price: Out-of-print edition (new goes for $124, 7 used from $23.60)

You can't have enough Poe! Well, unless you have everything, in one volume, like this.

Cruel Shoes
by Steve Martin (G.P. Putnam, 1979)

Condition: Used hardback
List price: Out-of-print
(used copies from a 1 cent to $18, new for $48)

I already have a copy, but picked this up to share the jollity of this wild and crazy guy with others. I love Steve Martin. All of Me was on TV the other night and I almost peed myself during the Men's Room scene when he asked Lily Tomlin to "pull the little fireman out"!

Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened
edited by Jason Rodriguez (Villard, 2007)

Condition: New paperback
List price: Out-of-print (used from 62 cents to $7.92)

Editor Rodriguez bought a batch of vintage picture postcards and commissioned 16 cartoonists, including Harvey Pekar, to write and illustrate stories from the messages written on each card. Looked interesting.

From Cambridge To Kazakhstan: The Unauthorized Biography of Sasha Baron Cohen
by Kathleen Tracey (St. Martin's Griffin, 2007)

Condition: New paperback
List price: $13.95

I'll never read this, but it'll do for re-gifting purposes.

The World of Lucha Libre
by Heather Levi(Duke University Press, 2008)

Condition: New paperback
List price: $22.95

Looks scholarly but with that cool-ass cover, I just had to pick it up. After all, you can never have enough info about El Santo or Mils Mascaras. I wonder if it mentions Nash Vegas rockers Los Straitjackets?

Daddy-O Score-O's

For my sports-loving Dad I threw enough baseball and football books into the box to get him through the off-season.

Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas
by Tom Callahan (Crown, 2006)

Condition: New hardback
List price: $13.95

I hate football but I love Johnny U. Ravens be damned, the Colts were cool! Artie "Fatso" Donovan catered my wedding and I can still remember the night some drunk plowed into my Maverick, parked on the street, and our next-door neighbor at the time, linebacker Barry Krause, came out and chased the car down the street where he made an unassistd tackle on the soused offender's vehicle. Despite the cad hitting my stationary car and proceeding to urinate in the middle of the Bellona and Gittings intersection, the Baltimore County Police officers on the scene did not believe the rummy had been drinking! But Barry knew a penalty offense when he saw one!

Jimmie Fox: The Pride of Sudlerville
by Mark R. Milligan (Scarecrow Press, 2005)

Condition: New paperback, signed by author
List price: $17.95

Picked this up for my baseball-loving Dad. The Beast, Jimmie "Double X" was a local boy made legend, hailing from Sudlerville in Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Ogden Nash once penned the poem "Lineup For Yesterday" about Foxx for Sport magazine: "X is the first/Of two x's in Foxx/Who was right behind Ruth/With his powerful soxx."

Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era
by Charles Alexander (Columbia University Press, 2004)

Condition: New paperback
List price: $25

Another one for Daddy-O. New York Times: "Needless to say, attendance was down, players’ salaries were cut, and even the New York Yankees lost money a couple of years during the Depression. Historians and economists are looking back to that era to see how today’s teams might fare. And, while times were tough, no major league teams folded and in their need to attract fans, the 30s brought on a period of innovation, including night games, an expansion of the minor leagues, and the increase of radio broadcasts."

Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Hero
by Peter Morris (Ivan R. Dee, 2009)

Condition: New hardback
List price: $27.95

Liberal lovers of America's national pastime, listen up to MSNBC snarky pundit Keith Olbermann, who says "Nobody writing about baseball - its present or its past - does a better job of tapping into the game's collective unconscious than Peter Morris. Where the rest of us see tradition and inevitability, he sees an opportunity to find out how, why, and since when. Such it is again in Catcher, in which he finds yet another compelling, complex route to the present-day expression of the backstop's job, and tells it with the skill of a mystery writer."

Hail Brittania!

And, rounding it off, I scored this whole little mini-Angophile collection:

Up North: Travels Beyond the Watford Gap
by Charles Jennings (Abacus, 1995)

Condition: New paperback, UK import
List price: $12 USD

The Brits have the same bitter North-South rivalry as the US of A, whether it be Oasis vs. Blur or Man U. vs. any of the Big London Clubs in football. As Moz sang, "We hate it when our friends are successful - and if they're Northern that makes it worse and..." Product description: "The North. Where does it begin? Where does it end? And is it all whippets, black pudding and queer folk going rounds saying "There's nowt so queer as folk"? Fresh from the PJ O'Rourke School of Diplomatic Journalism, southern jessie Charles Jennings finds himself in need of Answers. With something approaching trepidation, Jennings packs his big girl's blouse in a suitcase full of prejudice and ventures fearfully into the great melting-pot that is the North of England - undergoing in the process a series of life changing experiences such as being mistaken for an exhibit at the Wigan Pier: Where History Comes Alive! Museum and voluntarily attending a concert featuring Roy Walker. Scandalous, astonishingly rude, scabrously funny, Up North presents the quintissential northern experience."

Notes From a Small Island
by Bill Bryson (Harper, 1997)

Condition: New paperback
List price: $14.99

"There are certain idiosyncratic notions that you quietly come to accept when you live for a long time in Britain..."

Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire
by Simon Winchester (Harper, 2004)

Condition: New paperback
List price: $13.95

Music Maestro, Please!

I topped the box off with a smattering of music CDs.

No Line On the Horizon by U2 (new!)
Essential Springsteen (3 CDs) by Bruce Springsteen (new!)
Stranger Than Fiction by Stranger Than Fiction (local boys!)
John Barleycorn Must Die by Traffic
Greatest Hits by Supertramp
Mellow Gold by Beck
Pablo Honey by Radiohead
Soul Mining by The The
Anthology of The Them & Van Morrison (2 CDs)
Hilary Hahn Plays Bach by Hilary Hahn
Resevoir Dogs Soundtrack
Painted From Memory by Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach
Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode
In Utero by Nirvana



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