Friday, January 30, 2004

I'm currently investigating a small handsome book of WWI poems by Paul Vaillant-Couturier, illustrated with lithographs by Jean d'Espouy. Villant-Couturier was, from what I've learned tonight, a Pacifist and editor of l'Humanitie.

A small street in Paris' XIVth is named after him, and he is buried in Pere Lachaise. Pere Lachaise has become a regular spot for me to visit whenever I'm in Paris, less for famous corpse spotting than as a place for meditation and communing with history. The mixture of solemnity and grand dilapidation fascinates me endlessly. Near sunset, tiny panes of stained glass, many shattered from attempted theft and vandalism, leave bursts of color on the chilly stones. A handy online guide to Pere Lachaise and other Paris cimetieres can be found at

I've had much less luck finding information on the illustrator of the small volume, Jean d'Espouy, although I'm tempted to assume he was related to the famous explorer of the Pyranees, Raymond d'Espouy.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Samantha's current culinary school preoccupation is ice cream in all its forms: gelato, sorbet, and granita, as well as the good old-fashioned type. This leads me to examine the external nature of this process, namely the machinery of ice cream making. One informative source is They have a very large assortment of machines from the simplest and least expensive home gadgets, to the big restaurant grade behemoths, described with jargon like, "countertop, 3 head, single phase 208-240 volt, air cooled, gravity fill, model #CS2-237". Sounds good to me. Crank it up!

But this stuff is expensive, so I too a look at eBay to see what they might have. As always, the answer is lots. They had good deals on all sizes of machines, including a very neat White Mountain maker powered by John Deere. It's a bit big for our apartment, but I can definitely see having something like this in Maine.

Finally got the comment section to work, at least partially.

Found an interesting site today, gnod, or global network of dreams. If i understand it correctly, it uses reader feedback to situate authors in proximity to each other conceptually, and then maps the proximities visually. As it is dependent upon reader's casual listings of favorite authors, and assumes that reader tastes imply closeness of ideas, it can result in some very odd juxtapositions such as Rabelais and Philip Johnson.

Still, the visual representation affords some interesting links and encourages some adventurous exploratory reading. I highly recommend spending a few minutes with gnod.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The dreaded snow storm predicted to bury New York has failed to materialize, but Samantha and I have done our best to pretend we have a snowday. I'm working my way through cataloguing the books purchased last weekend at the book fair and elsewhere, and should be ready to issue another list soon. Just as well, as lists are about the only opportunity for selling these days, with interest in book fairs dwindling and the internet sales sites becoming a lowest-common-denominator flea market. The gallery too has suffered from the changing nature of the book marketplace, with destination oriented customers just not making the trip any longer. Here's an image if you haven't seen it:

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Ah... a good day, and I owe it all to... lunch! This is Restaurant Week in NYC, which means that restaurants typically beyond the reach of those of us with modest wallet open their doors and drop their prices. Samantha and I had a marvelous lunch at Danny Meyer's 11 Madison Park. My meal consisted of a seafood borscht, delicate with an amazing broth, followed by beef stroganoff, and topped off with a mint chip ice cream cake. Mmmmm. Samantha's main course was brook trout in a grapefruit based sauce with endive, and she finished with a pineapple upside down almond-flour cake, topped with creme fraiche ice cream. All accompanied by a Gigondas and a Muscadet. The food was very fine, delicate, but with strong flavors.

We have a few more lunches sheduled this week, including Montrachet and Bolo, so I can count on being in a very good mood most of the time.

Under the influence of lunch, a bit of browsing at the Strand proved fruitful as well. I turned up a copy of Hermann Struck's Amerika (1/100 with all plates signed), a pair of Bonnard livres, and some French deco periodicals from the 1920's. It was a very good day.

I've taken a long hiatius from this barely begun work, but inspired by Samantha's diligent posting, I will restart. It's been a disappointing week, with a museum turning down an archive they had been hot for for several months, and yet another book fair debacle.

The Books at the Armory Show fair was this past weekend, held annually at the site of the original Armory Show featuring Marcel Duchamp, which at the time shocked the cultural world. The energy has clearly gone out of it though, with fewer visitors again this year, continuing the downward trend. However, the conviviality was pleasant and there were a few good books to buy. I found a nice copy of the second edition of Claude Levi-Strauss's Triste Tropiques, inscribed by the great Structuralist, and with a letter laid-in. Also found a nice cloth first of John Cage's Notations, another personal favorite of mine, as well as some fine issues of Dance Index magazine with the covers designed by Joseph Cornell. The next few days will be spent cataloguing these and the 15 or so other titles I picked up.

The low point of the fair came for me when a woman approached me about the copy of Robert Frank's Les Americains I had displayed. She asked about a first of the American edition, an unusual case in that a later publication is more valuable than the true first. Personally, I prefer the French edition, with its collection of America-critical quotes juxtaposed against the photographs. I explained this to the woman at the fair, accompanied by the bookseller's litany of condition being the paramount factor when dealing with rare books. She looked at me with a staight face and told me an "expert" had informed her that authentic firsts have loose pages because of a poor binding. I said yes, the first was perfect bound, which frequently leads to loose pages, but that just means that there are fewer copies in fine condition with the pages still intact, as they should be. She would have none of it, insisting that the book is not a first edition, unless the pages are falling out. She huffed off, realizing I would have none of it. Yet another delusional book owner, convinced their book is the only one truly worth anything.