Saturday, March 5, 2011

How San Francisco was almost called Don Gaspar

From Chapter XVII, How the Leather-Jackets rode north:

During all those decades of the wars, the Spanish rule in Mexico had sunk further into languor, but at last the King sent a man to stir life up. This was Jose de Galvez, Andalusian-born of the fiery south, with full shares of Spanish pride and Spanish cruelty, and a triple share of restless energy. Wherever the tight-lipped Galvez went, the land seemed to break into a sweat of energy. No careful man wished to arouse the cold glitter of his eyes, and sometimes he crossed the line of sanity, imagining himself King of Sweden or of Prussia, or even God Almighty.

Most of his energy he loosed upon the western coast. He looked at what charts and reports were available, and saw the notations of harbors with the names Viscaino had given them--San Diego and Monterey. There was also a vaguely known bay, not mentioned by Visaino, called San Francisco.

It had come by its name in 1595. A certain Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, commanding the galleon from Manila, made a landfall far along the California coast, and sailing southward, entered a good harbor. On November 7, he landed and took possession. The time of year was well past the day of St. Francis, but there was with the ship a Franciscan father, whose own name was also Francisco. This father "baptized" the land, doubtless by pouring water upon it symbolically as in baptizing a child, and the bay was thus named San Francisco. The galleon itself was wrecked, but Cermeno and his men got back to Mexico in a longboat.

Seven years later Viscaino reached the same bay, but as usual, displacing the names of others, he called it Don Gaspar, for the Viceroy. Nevertheless the name San Francisco remained, somewhat dubiously.

* * *

I'm enjoying mentally substituting Don Gaspar for San Francisco: the Don Gaspar Giants, "I left my heart in Don Gaspar," Rice-a-roni would be a Don Gaspar treat, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Don Gaspar"... You get the point.

Also, we've just received Stewart's delightfully entertaining book, in which he uses expressions like the abovementioned "the land seemed to break into a sweat of energy," in remainder, which we're selling for $7.98.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An eUpdate from the eWorld of eBooks

If you're at all a regular reader of this blog (and we know you're out there. Right? Hello?) it can't possibly have escaped your notice that we now carry Google eBooks through our website.

Our transition into this market has been deliberately gradual -- we wanted to make sure the staff was fully trained to help you with any questions you may have before renting the 20 foot banner advertising our new product (for example), and, just as importantly, we've been slowly building an ebook shopping experience for you that almost sort of comes close to approximating the things you love about Green Apple, minus the creaky floors.

This has been getting a little bit easier, as more of the major publishing houses adopt the agency model of eBook sales, which allows us to sell our ebooks at the same price as a (wealthier) entity such as Google. This is great news for us, and for you, as it allows you to still support real live independent bookstores while filling your e-library. And as more ebook options open up and we're able to offer them at competitive prices, we're doing our best to suggest titles to you that are the same ones we recommend
in our store.

For example, if you check out the old (new) Green Apple eBooks Staff Picks section, you'll see an ever-growing list of titles that represent Green Apple's real book taste in ebook form. Click on any of the cover art in this here post for a Green Appler's review (all of which are also available as "real" books with "real" shelf-talkers written by "real" employees of our "real" store.)

I must mention, however, as the person who has spent hours plugging our favorite books into the search bar, that this task has proved to be both occasionally frustrating and a source of pride in Green Apple at the same time. While we're happy to offer bestsellers, local favorites, and books with rightful mass appeal, we are also proud champions of small presses, translated literature, and, frankly, some pretty arcane stuff -- what's more, so are our customers. Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, many of these great and important works are not available as ebooks. As the ebook market is becoming an inevitability and a necessity in the publishing world, many small presses will likely start to offer their titles in this form as well. But to ensure that they're around long enough to adapt to this changing market, we hope you'll continue to check out our recommendations in the store itself, so that you don't miss out on things like this and this and this.

(P.S -- thanks to our ebook customers who've given us feedback on the purchasing process, many of whom suggested some website layout changes. We hear ya. Stay tuned.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

James Baldwin 1963

Take This Hammer from Brendan Nee on Vimeo.

I found this video on the SF BayView's website, a short documentary on James Baldwin's 1963 visit to San Francisco, in which he explores the Fillmore/Western Addition and Hunter's Point neighborhoods.

“There is no moral distance … between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.”
-James Baldwin, 1963

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author in the Grave

Victor Martinez, not quite 57, passed away about two weeks ago. I learned this today from a customer, a Mission District resident who was Martinez's neighbor. He had come to Green Apple to pick up Parrot in the Oven, his neighbor's sole (published) novel, the winner of The National Book Award in 1996, a required text in many US high schools, and a banned book in several others. I sold him a used mass market edition for three dollars and tax.

Martinez's life was characterized by struggles not unlike those faced by many immigrant families in California. He was the fourth of twelve children, guided in his earlier days toward a life of manual labor but veered off of that course due to an interest in the arts and a display of proficiency for writing. He became a poet, but of course neither quickly nor with ease, contending to discover his audience until his early forties.

And so, Victor Martinez, Green Apple offers a tip of the hat and a solemn nod of the head. Our local authors are always, always sorely mourned. Especially when the loss is of one who confronted a steep incline in the face of a strange class system to achieve position. Rest in peace.


and NBC11 tonight

KNTV stopped by Green Apple this morning to discuss the implications of the recent and coming closures of Borders and Barnes and Noble in San Francisco and beyond.

Watch at 6pm tonight to see what kind of mumbling know-it-all helps run Green Apple.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

KFOG in the AM

Hey there Cats and Kittens. . .

Tune your radio dial to the KFOG Morning Show(104.5fm (or 97.7fm in the South Bay)) tomorrow (Wed) at 8:15am and catch another riveting visit from Green Apple's Book Guy (me). Or you can stream it live here.

Good stuff will be discussed (grab yourself a peek), you can bet on that.

Catch you on the flipside!


Monday, February 28, 2011

a visit with Jonathan Evison

(photo poached from the
very classy Tattered Cover blog)

We were lucky enough to sit down last week with Jonathan Evison, author of our February 2011 Book of the Month West of Here. Here's a short summary of our conversation.

Green Apple (GA): What are you reading right now?
Jonathan Evison (JE): I'm just finishing Let the Great World Spin. I also just read and loved The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt (due out in May from Ecco Press). It reminded me of Charles Portis. Also loved Zazen by Vanessa Vesilka, another Portland, OR, writer I admire.

GA: What are you working on now?
JE: Well, my next novel to be published is called The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving--it's a coming-of-middle-age-in-crisis story. But I'm working on the next one now, though this book tour has thrown me off my writing habits. I usually awaken at 5am to write for a few hours before anyone else is up, even though I'm nocturnal. With that routine gone during the tour, I have only beer to ground me.

GA: Really, you can usually drink a bunch of beer at night and still write in the morning?
JE: Yeah. I'm kind of like a knuckle-baller. The knuckle-ball pitcher uses the awkward release of a weak arm to throw the hitter's timing off. That's why they pitch tired. And I'm just really focused after partying.

GA: Thanks for coming by; I wish I took better notes. Our blog readers aren't going to realize how fun and smart you are. Want a beer for your drive to Danville?
JE: No, thanks. It's only 11am. And I have two cans of Guiness in the car. How long a drive is it?

If you need a reminder of why we loved West of Here, it's here.