The Trad in his infinite knowledge of interesting things points us to one of the most entertaining reads the Sunday Book Review has ever offered up. The gem of an essay is on Minnesota native and epic hook and bullet purveyor George Herter. The titles of Herter’s books alone make me love the guy. The archive includes: “How to Get Out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month,” the popular “Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices” and my personal favorite “How to Live With a Bitch.”
My friend Rob in LA recently sent me a cool gift set of classic books in the shape of cigarette packs. The cleverly designed reading materials were produced by Tank Magazine and are aptly dubbed Tank Books. The set will make a great gift and won’t even cause cancer, unless you read them in front of the microwave that is.
The New York Times City Room blog (and the omnipresent Sewell Chan) have a nice feature and interview with artist / photographer Paul Lacy about his new photography book of independent Brooklyn storefronts. New York is fortunate to have so many independent shops and restaurants. It is something that makes me love living here. The chains have gained a lot of ground, but the independent, family owned merchants are the inspiring and unique places that make New York special. Anyone that has been to B&H can attest. My own little collection of storefronts can be seen here.
Below: images from Lacy’s book.
I posses a natural tendency to be a very curious person. I want to know what makes the world work. My curiosities extend to include the root causes of historical events and social movements. Out of the many topics that I am interested in, there are a few random subjects that for some reason I am completely infatuated with. Some of the most random subjects are things like commercial aviation, Richard Nixon, the 1960s, hydraulic equipment, world war two and strangely enough, the inner-city crack epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. Recently the book Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh piqued my interest. The author recounts his fascinating past as a University of Chicago graduate student doing research at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes during the crack-fueled days of the 1990s. Over the seven years Venkatesh spent with the people of the housing project, he managed to earn the trust of a mid-level gang leader that ran the crack trade in and around Robert Taylor. This unprecedented access to the inner-workings of one of the largest housing developments in the country gave Venkatesh admission to a hidden world of crime, poverty and government corruption. The author goes to great length to painstakingly detail the economics of the crack game and the black-market hustle that takes place all over inner-city America. Sudhir Venkatesh first gained recognition for his contributions to Stephen Dubner’s book Freakonomics.
“Sudhir Venkatesh was born with two abnormalities,” says Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner, “an overdeveloped curiosity and an underdeveloped sense of fear. A lot of writing about the poor tends to reduce living, breathing, joking, struggling, sensual, moral human beings to dupes who are shoved about by invisible forces. This book … shows, day by day and dollar by dollar, how the crack dealers, tenant leaders … cops, and Venkatesh himself tried to construct a good life out of substandard materials.”
When I was young I loved to purge – not my lunch – but my toys and other belongings. I would stockpile everything in a closet and then on a Saturday it would hit me and I would have to get rid of all the non-essentials. Everyone has that friend that obsesses over recreating the nostalgia of their childhood – assembling every toy and trinket. I’m not one of those people. Every time I find a GI Joe or whatever from when I was a kid they just aren’t as good or as fun as I remember. The one exception are Boy Scout guide books. I have been buying the old volumes from the 60′s and 70′s on eBay and they take me back to the days of freezing my ass-off in the Klondike Derby in the middle of an Ohio winter.
Enter the newly published The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn & Hal Iggulden. The manual contains everything a boy (read: a grown man) needs to know about everything that is good. It is a must own for anyone trying to connect with their discarded devious childhood.