A March 2007 trip
to San Francisco by Little Ayun
Quote: This was a patented business-plus-a-few-days-extra trip, and my umpteenth visit to San Francisco. Has it gotten dull yet? Not a chance.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 11, 2007
501 Geary Street
San Francisco, California 94102
I'm the sort of traveler who always looks for local independent booksellers in every city I visit, so it's something of a wonder that I'd never gone to City Lights before this trip. I think it has something to do with the fact that every photo I've seen makes it look like a closet. But photos lie! City Lights has three levels, tons of beat-up leather chairs for lounging (and many signs encouraging you to sit and read for a while), and enough old posters and memorabilia on the walls and shelf-ends to make the Beat Museum across the street just a tiny bit superfluous. Make sure to read the walls - framed letterpress editions of seminal short poems line the staircases. Jazz on the stereo, natch, and staff that wants to chat with you about your purchases, which is always fun.The organization and section naming is exactly what you'd expect from a venerable indie bookstore in a famously lefty city: "Muckraking," "Class Warfare" and "Anarchism" greet you at the foot of the steps down to the basement-level nonfiction shelves, and "Commodity Aesthetics" is just around the corner. My favorite section, "Evidence," is the place to grab all your favorite UFO, Conspiracy Theory, and UFO Conspiracy Theory titles. Up on the top level is the largest poetry collection I've ever seen (and I live within walking distance of a bookstore that sells nothing but poetry!) as well as the entire Beat canon. You don't have to walk all the way up there to grab a copy of Howl, though - stacks of the tiny paperback are tucked into niches all over the store. I left with a book of poems by Chicago Slam Poetry champion Lisa Buscani and a postcard advertising an anarchist book fair to be held later in the month.A little trivia for you:
Their list is small, but City Lights is a publisher as well as a bookseller, and boasts some titles that will surely never go out of print, including Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems.The bookstore has been a registered landmark in the city of San Francisco since 2001.The mural on the Jack Kerouac Alley side of the building is a recreation of a Chiapas mural celebrating the Zapatista movement, and destroyed by the Mexican Army in 1998.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 12, 2007
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, California 94133
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 15, 2007
Ferry Building Marketplace
1 Sausalito, San Francisco Ferry Building
San Francisco, California 94111
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 19, 2007
1855 Haight St.
San Francisco, California 94117
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 26, 2007