Shadow Boxing The Brockengespenst
If a person happens to look up the word “brockengespenst” (a German word with dots over the o) followed by “francophone” and “teratogenic” in close succession, the Googlebot.motivator knows within a few degrees of accuracy that you are most likely reading David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” a hallmark of a certain modern ethos and accepted barn staple of the lonely collegiate esthetic… a.k.a. proof that you know big words and stuff… and/or, you have time to read.
‘Time to read’ in a 50-hour work-week society is becoming the new icon of success. Mercedes, Lamborghini and 50-inch rims have finally been overtaken & replaced in full by books (information), a subtle victory for human kind. Time is the new symbol of affluence. And rushing around in uncomfortable clothes with a chirping phone and a vibrating smart-watch, pulse-monitor, location-beacon to contend with are beginning to lose favor (style-wise) exposing a slow overdue rotation in the appearances game.
At first, it’s a compliment (this stuff I’m saying) to all involved… to the readers.
On a second look, we find the discerning reader started buying, absorbing, taking in, downloading their coffee, biscotti, batteries, news, and books (in bulk) online, in the privacy and relative security/obscurity of home a long while ago, leaving the freshly literate to fend for themselves…alone, in the physical book store.
BRICKS, MORTAR and YOU
Ten-dollar words, twenty-five dollar books, and four-dollar coffee is living a hand-to-mouth existence in a feeble clump at the sharper edge of town in realtime, today…right now.
The Corporate structure is legally obliged to repeat ANY last quarter successes, electro-prodding the repeat customer mindset to life on the cold steel ‘information age’ gurney. And while fresh flesh coming through the front door is surely a factor in the modern book store profit model, the book store seems to be locked into an unhealthy relationship with 14-year-olds. An ugly, dysfunctional, company picnic family portrait with “junior” hogging center stage develops on autopilot like the fresh grey blue and yellow fog of a Polaroid picture materializing, becoming a big mysterious box of books producing one allowable question…
Satin or Glossy?
The children’s books and restrooms are in the back, they take up 47% of the store, while CD’s DVD’s, wallets, dinosaur puzzles, stuffed animals, Legos, glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, key-chains, and blank goddamned journal books take up everything right of the equator … & we all know where the coffee is.
What’s left for the adults? (besides the coffee)
You can thank the Lord for “Literary Fiction,” but try to define it and you’ll wind up in the SELF-HELP aisle rubbing shoulders with that salmon-colored sweater guy wearing the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” hat.
There are three feet of “CLASSICS” & three meters of SCIENCE being threatened continually by the nine yards of SPORTS ‘tween the Great Wall of COOKBOOKS and the Leaning Tower of TRAVEL GUIDES.
The MAGAZINES (on angular display) up in the front of the store are the flat dead prisons of yesteryear, the slick volumes of unclickable martyrdom lay unblinking shoulder-to-shoulder with the sad clearance rack being swarmed by paupers like a renaissance musician’s apartment postmortem.
Somewhere in there… in the very center… is a book worth reading. Hunter S. Thompson parties alone in this thinly carpeted travesty, passed over for teen vampire love triangles and 6-week abdominal videos.
I love books, and I love book stores, but this has become something else, a long-awaited sequel to your favorite movie that starts up with thunder and lightning before you realize the timing is off, the dialog is Disney-approved, the supporting actors have all been replaced, the music’s too loud, and the director’s name is unpronounceable. The organized nightmare rings complete when you realize (popcorn in hand/ass in seat)…
A picture is NOT worth a thousand words.