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Beautiful old books

The above:
1. Printed 1767!
2. Price: 29,500 Euros ($40,000)!

Lovejoy is a character in a series of English mysteries who is a "divvy" of antiques. He can divine authenticity. Sometimes an old object will almost knock him out. I felt something similar with some of these very old, very beautiful books yesterday, almost a ringing in the ears. Another book of drawings of chameleons was 12,000 Euros. There was a 1901 first printing of Eadweard Muybridge's The Human Figure in Motion for 1700 Euros. And in the more reasonable zone for 60 Euros, America by Walker Evans, black and white photos from the depression, a powerful book. (I just ordered a used copy online for $33.00.)
I didn't realize it was the inspiration (totally) for Robert Frank's photo book The Americans from the 1950s. Evans is the photographer who teamed up with writer James Agee to do the classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in 1941, a book I idolized in the '60s when I was starting to shoot photos.
When I left the room of rare books, a lady guard asked to look inside my backpack. SOP. Understood. Totally.

Great sketches from American in Deutschland


This just in:
Owl has left a new comment on (the below) post…::

Hope you don't mind Lloyd, I thought I would put a link on here from an American sketch artist who is living and working in Germany, I enjoy his work and he captures the buildings beautifully. Hope you like it.

More old buildings in Bad Homburg


 Check out the slate shingled eyebrows of 2 windows above.

Incredible first day at Book Fair

Kind of a miracle: I really fucked up my shoulder yesterday, couldn't sleep because of pain, was stressing over having 3 full days and 19 appointments, how am I even gonna get thru the first day, etc. No ice, so applied cold bottle of soda, took advil, tried to breathe into the injury,thought about my Mom and her Christian Science (lived to 103, never had a doctor) and how she healed herself and us again and again "…by holding the right thought" and lo and behold dawn broke and I was OK and I went off and had an exciting and wonderful day in the world of books, within which The Frankfurt Buchmesse is the Super Bowl, World Cup and Big Kahuna.

People loved the Tiny Homes book. Just loved it. People that had time went thru the entire book, every page. It feels like we've connected here. Today: meetings with publishers, editors or distributors from Canada, Poland, UK, Germany, South Africa, Australia. There's a buzz. Same reaction. (I'm so proud of the people in this book!) Everyone gets it. Haven't had this feeling since 1973 when we were putting together Shelter and hit the wave of counterculture building. This time it's a wave of doing for oneself (once again), and scaling back.

Lots to tell, including some stunning antique books I saw today (one was 38,000 Euros!), will try to catch up on the weekend.

Model car in store window

It's 55 Euros, about $75.00

Carpenters' dream

The Gastatte Schreinerei Pfeiffer is a restaurant here in Bad Homburg with hundreds and hundreds of carpenter's tools on its walls, with candlelight and draft beer served from wooden taps and gem├╝tlikcheit up the kazoocheit. The bartender told me that 27 years ago, the Pfeiffer cabinet shop was bought by a restaurateur and he decorated the place with the tools. And kept on adding more. Tables are workbenches and the tools have been heavily used and the vibes are incredible. I fantasized having a party there for my many carpenter friends and what a great time we would have. Beer is great of course and food is simple, hearty, good and there's lots of it and the workers are happy and friendly. That little bow saw in the center of the above photo gives me the chills, like it's something from a past life. I've looked at it longingly the 6 or so times I've been there. In below pic, those are all molding planes on the shelf and they look homemade.

Allotment gardens

All along train tracks in Germany and England (and probably other countries in Europe) are these "allotment gardens," I believe started during WWII, so people from cities could take trains out to the country and spend weekends growing fruit and vegetables. Still going strong, another instance of European moxie. There isn't as good an example as many others, with cute little weekend shacks, but they are hard to shoot from a speeding train.

Duck decoy exhibit at SFO airport


They always have wonderful exhibits in the international terminal

Half-timbered old buildings in Bad Homburg


Dumbass America, QR codes, & Dumbass Lloyd

The dumdassedness of America the formerly bountiful In a comment to my last post (below), John X wrote: "…I wish everyone could see Europe and get a picture in their heads of what a civilized society looks like. It all may tumble down when / if the Euro implodes or the EU breaks up or whatever, but for a few short years there was a place on this planet where the good of the people came before the good of the military-industrial complex and the goddamned billionaires." So true. Hadn't thought of it that way. In Europe, everything is more efficient, more people-centric. Cars, railroads, clean energy ---to mention a few. Think of what the USA could have accomplished if $$ that went into the military had been used constructively. What if funds for our 2 present wars had gone into clean energy projects and health care and public works projects. Be still, my beating heart. I am so embarrassed, so mortified by the greed and short-sightedness and stupidity of our "leaders." Shooting ourselves in the foot so many times there's hardly any foot left. The religious right and Tea Party morons try to steer things ever further into the abyss of intolerance and cruelty. The Rapture. Yeah, right.

I'm sitting at a table in a silent and clean electric-powered train, having just left Frankfurt, crossed the Rhein, going about 80-90 mph, heading for Mainz to visit a young American expatriate living in a small trailer she put together for about 1000 Euros. It's my one free day before the book fair starts.

QR bar codes
We just discovered these. They are about to become ubiquitous. You install a (free) app (I use Qrafter) on your smartphone, then use the camera to scan it (off of paper or on-screen). It then will give the choice of going to whichever URL you have designated, emailing it, or posting on Twitter or Facebook. We have just put these in our Tiny Homes book, our tiny Tiny Homes book, and on my biz card.

The dumbassedness of moi and the kindness of strangers Well, wouldn't you know it, I overshot Mainz by an hour. Having so much fun on my computer, watching the countryside flash by, with my espresso and sugared doughnut, ahem, ahem. A lady on the train told me to get off at the next major station to catch a train back to Mainz and then a lady at the semi-deserted train station -- after deciding the guy with the long white hair wasn't going to rob her, let me use her phone to tell Nikki I'd be about 3 hours late. I do seem to stumble my way through a lot of life, but there are serendipitous discoveries along the path of unexpectedness.
Shot from train window in rocky wine-growing region today

Blogger's blues

The good thing is that a few weeks ago, we got our 2-year-project book finally off to the printers. The bad thing is that just a few days after this momentous event, I stepped off a ladder wrongly, found myself in air fast approaching ground zero, shot arm out to take weight and save face from hitting ground AND weight of fall transferred from outstretched arm to shoulder and tore muscles. Not been fun. So many body parts have to work when you think about it, and malfunction or injury of any of dozens of joints, muscles, tendons or ligaments can fuck up your life plenty. Even worse I went for an MRI and got acute claustrophobia when they started sliding me headfirst into the scanning chamber, where I was going to be for 55 minutes. No way Jose. A bunch of people have told me yes you can do this whereas I explain I am never going to do that no way nohow. Any more than I could go into the Viet Cong tunnels. I need air and space. So I'm roaming in Deutschland this week with an injured wing and will pursue fixing it (hopefully without surgery) when I get home. And things were going so good...

And second in the bummers-of-late department (and then I can get on to the good stuff, which just started happening this afternoon in Bad Homburg {25 miles north of Frankfurt}): The major US airlines are just fucking inhuman. They are pushing people to extremes. Bad air, bad food, crowding, all to the point of inhumanity. Like TV commercials, they're just shoving it down our throats. (Thank god for JetBlue and Virgin, but their routes are limited.)

Got out of the airport, caught train (smooth, electric, on time) to Bad Homburg, showered, cannabinoided, ahh!, started walking around shooting pics of old half-timbered buildings, store window displays, leaves and 200-year-old trees in the spectacular park, bought some homeopathic (12x) pills for tissue repair in an apothecary that dates back to 1901, and started feeling better and righter with the world. I was just roaming around for 2-3 hours, it's a kind of (photographer's) freedom I don't exercise at home, where I don't dawdle. Out on the road, I am a camera. Now I just have to get the time t post them…

I'm off for Frankfurt


I'm leaving today for the Frankfurt Book Festival, which I attend every October. I meet with agents and publishers from other countries about translations of our books into other languages. Stretching has been translated into 23 languages. In recent years our building books have been translated into French, Korean, Japanese, and now Chinese.

This will be my busiest year ever, due to the Tiny Homes book, which is likely to have appeal worldwide. I have 19 appointments lined up and am taking along a complete set of color proofs, as well as samples of our tiny tiny (1-7/8" by 2-5/8" -- 64 pp.) book, which may just be our best promotional idea ever.

The day before the fair, I'm catching a train to Mainz to meet with Nicolette Stewart, whose little renovated trailer in a "…community of tiny caravan dwellings" is in the Tiny Homes book.

After that, if there's time, I'll visit the Gutenberg Museum (a 3rd time) to see the Gutenberg Press (circa 1450) and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. I'll be posting from Germany next week.