Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Market Street”

Happy Pride Day

June is Gay Pride month and, not surprisingly, San Francisco knows how to celebrate.  All of June down Market Street, flags have been flying in the breeze, adding color to the majestic buildings. Most of the people who walk past and notice the flags are probably straight and the flags serve as the only reminder of Gay Pride Month.

Flags Fly on Market Street

The first time that I went to the Pride Parade was during the height of the Prop 8 battle (not sure ‘height’ works here as the struggle continues). I was worried about just being a gawking onlooker even though I marched with the Jewish community’s float in support of gay marriage. While I am sure that I probably did my share of gawking, I felt every part of the celebration.

so cool!

So I want to give a shout out to those of my friends and colleagues who are celebrating today and highlight four areas.

1. Same Sex Parents – I am honored to have met many friends who are parents of children that my sons are friends with. It would be wrong to suggest that they and their children will not face issues and have discussions that my family unit won’t have to deal with. But there is nothing stronger than a family who base their relationship as a family unit on commitment, cohesiveness and communication.

Proud Parents

2. The San Francisco Giants – I talked in a previous post about our baseball team being the first professional sports team to make a video highlighting the issue of young gay people who face bullying.

3. The SowerKemble Scott. This is a great novel, based in San Francisco, that has a strong gay, ethical theme. Kemble has also written another great novel, SOMA, that also illustrates a certain gay lifestyle.

The Sower and SOMA - Kemble Scott

4. Finally, Fernando and Greg – They host a morning radio show on 99.7FM. My eldest son and I listen and laugh when I drive him to school. We’ve had many conversations because of some of the things you guys said and I really appreciate it.

Fernando & Greg - the perfect wake up without the caffeine or calories

So whatever you are doing today – parading, parenting, watching a game, or reading a book – Happy Pride Day – and maybe this open celebration is something we can all be proud to be a part of.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

An Optimistic Independent Bookstore.

It seems that everything you read about Independent Bookstores is all gloom and doom, and I must share the blame. My friend Rhoda received this email from her favorite bookstore, The Booksmith in the Haight.

Rather than paraphrase and potentially dilute it, I would like to share the whole email. I am, however, allowing myself to insert a few relevant pictures. All I want to add is to wish them all the best. I believe that those bookstores who carve out a niche, who offer good service, and who see themselves as an integral part of the community, can survive. The Booksmith owners sound like they understand that.

A Message from The Booksmith

As you know, the book world is being rocked by a number of radical changes: the growing size and power of Amazon, the advent of eBooks, and just this week, the bankruptcy of Borders which would shut 200 stores across the US, including their San Francisco Union Square & Market Street stores. We’d like to take this opportunity to let you know what’s going on at the Booksmith.

Three and a half years ago, when we assumed stewardship of Booksmith, we knew it was going to be impossible for independent bookstores to survive without reinventing themselves.  We took it as a personal challenge.
PraveenChristin

We have revamped & expanded our literary events program, built and trained a team of passionate and knowledgeable booksellers, added to our book selection, and made significant operational improvements.  In the middle of the recession of 2008-09, we made a significant investment to remodel the Booksmith to improve your browsing experience.  Through our expanded community giving program we have partnered with dozens of local schools and not-for-profit organizations to help them raise money for their causes.  Last fall we became the first bookstore in the country to livestream our author events, and were early adopters of new e-commerce technologies including the addition of Google Editions ebook service to booksmith.com, and this spring we are installing a new computer system to further improve our ability to offer personalized service to our readers.

The results speak for themselves – Booksmith’s popularity is at a new high!   Your favorite independent bookstore has won a number of awards including Best Author Appearances by SF Weekly and the Best Read by 7×7 Magazine.   While some in the publishing world are bemoaning the loss of younger generations of readers to the internet, we are seeing a resurgence of interest from young and old alike who are attracted by our unique programs like the Bookswap, Literary Clown Foolery and Found in Translation.  Local Bay Area authors increasingly consider the Booksmith the best place in San Francisco to host their book talks, and nationally in-demand authors are asking their publishers to send them the Booksmith.  Our long-term customer Karen Crommie recently wrote about the Booksmith in a local newsletter calling it “a vital center of intellectual life.”

Our view of the future is simple.  Nobody knows to what extent printed books will survive the technological future into which we are all headed.  But that’s ok because at the Booskmith our focus has always been on the cultural experience and community which surrounds books.  Whether people choose to read ebooks or print books, people will always need help telling and selling their stories, people will always need help finding great stories to read, and literature lovers will always want to meet other literature lovers.   Author Jonathan Franzen has said that fiction is the most fundamental human art because it’s about storytelling and that our reality arguably consists of the stories we tell about ourselves.   And the most fundamental human art isn’t going away.  In fact it’s going through explosive growth as more and more people become writers, and more and more books are published every year.

So, we go on reinventing ourselves in little ways every day to maintain the diverse, eclectic, smart outpost of culture that you have come to expect from us.  We plan to continue listening to our community, to keep experimenting with new ideas and services, and to continue helping everyone with whom we cross paths.  We plan to keep reading, keep discovering, and keep presenting great books and authors for you that you might not find otherwise in the mass media and we hope you will continue to patronize us against all the competing temptations that come your way.  Our priority is to continue maintaining the Booksmith as a dynamic, engaging, changing and vital component of our neighborhood and our city, and we’re able to do this because of the continuing loyalty and support of our customers.  You have made Booksmith your community bookstore by participating in our adventures by making recommendations about books to carry, attending events and suggesting authors to host. We will continue to be here, good books will be here, and with your support, we plan to be here for many more years to come.

Our sincere thanks,
Christin, Praveen & all the Booksmith Staff

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

 

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