Neighborhood Treasure

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National Treasure is a 2004 American action-adventure heist film. The film grossed $347 million worldwide (on a budget of $100 million).

I have become a regular at a neighborhood bookstore here in the North Loop, where I pop in every other day or so, when I am in town, before or after a leisurely walk by the Mississippi River, simply to browse – the owner said he has more than 120,000 books – and, more often than not, end up buying something that simply tickles my fancy.

Echoing McKeen’s Joy of Serendipity:

…enriching act of looking through shelves, of pulling down a book because the title interest you, or the binding…Looking for something and being surprised by what you find – even if it’s not what you set out looking for – is one of life’s great pleasures…

My last three purchases from this Neighborhood Treasure:

Mark Twain. Chapters From My Autobiography.

Edwin and Susan Poole. Collecting Movie Posters.

Joan Shelley Rubin. Songs of Ourselves.

I came across a mention of the infamous Whittier Day dinner speech by Mark Twain and so could not resist Googling it.

Mark Twain (in his Autobiography):

That is the history of that episode of twenty-eight years ago, which pretty nearly killed me with shame during that first year or two whenever it forced its way into my mind.

Now then, I take that speech up and examine it. As I said, it arrived this morning, from Boston. I have read it twice, and unless I am an idiot, it hasn’t a single defect in it from the first word to the last. It is just as good as good can be. It is smart; it is saturated with humor. There isn’t a suggestion of coarseness or vulgarity in it anywhere. What could have been the matter with that house? It is amazing, it is incredible, that they didn’t shout with laughter, and those deities the loudest of them all. Could the fault have been with me? Did I lose courage when I saw those great men up there whom I was going to describe in such a strange fashion? If that happened, if I showed doubt, that can account for it, for you can’t be successfully funny if you show that you are afraid of it. Well, I can’t account for it, but if I had those beloved and revered old literary immortals back here now on the platform at Carnegie Hall I would take that same old speech, deliver it, word for word, and melt them till they’d run all over that stage. Oh, the fault must have been with me, it is not in the speech at all.

It did remain — until the day before yesterday; then I gave it a final and vigorous reading — aloud — and dropped straight back to my former admiration of it.

Of course, I agree with Borges:

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.


We decided to custom build one at home!

As I was rummaging through the basement, selecting books and creating piles to shelve together, I happened to rediscover this card from 2009 😳 (recall 2024 Kentucky Derby), a memorable variation of Joy of Serendipity:

Why stop at one custom-designed shelf when you can have two?😉 Here is a snapshot of the work-in-process of filling it:

Is there any logic to how the books are grouped, and how they are placed?

Far Left are Mathematical Books, Far Right are Movie Books.

Middle are Literature Books.

Of course, there are books on Mythology, Poetry, Cars, Cocktails, Music, Songs, Broadway Musicals, Philosophy, Physics, Biography, Autobiography, History, Religion, Essays…and even Fiction.

What about Movie Posters? (For the opposite walls.) Over the years, I have collected a few: James Bond, Quentin Tarantino, Miller’s Crossing, Scarface, Oscars (we used to host an Oscar Party, 1999-2009, in our basement, with 103 inch HD Projection System, Surround Sound and Sub-woofer, and ballots with a decent winner-take-all pot) and of course, WBCN and the American Revolution.

Talking about movies, if you are in the Boston area end of June, here is a Livingston Taylor concert in support of the documentary Broken – I am an Executive Producer, reuniting with Bill Lichtenstein – that you may enjoy:

“Equal parts Mark Twain, college professor, and musical icon”, Livingston delights audiences with charm and a vast repertoire.

Join us for an evening of music with Livingston Taylor in support of the new groundbreaking public television documentary “Broken.

This non-profit film in production follows reporter Brooke Lewitas as she investigates and exposes the fatally-flawed child protection, foster care, and juvenile court systems. The documentary is produced by Peabody Award-winner Bill Lichtenstein and LCMedia Productions.

This benefit concert will take place at the City Winery Boston on Friday evening, June 28, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

1 comment

  1. Oh I saw Livingston Taylor (James’s brother) last century in Boston. The City Winery gig will be great fun. I was invited to Boston then for a (and my) birthday party … on June 28. But I’m flying out on Constantinople on June 29.

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