Here’s the explanation, straight from Eric (oh, and feel free to write a letter on his behalf to the City once you’ve read it.)
Just back from City Hall!
We’re turning 16, and getting our license to bop!
Don’t need a driver’s license for Bird & Beckett, ’cause we took the wheels off this chassis a long-time ago and settled in Glen Park for good. But the City told us a few weeks ago, “You’re doing wonderful things in your bookshop, Mr. Whittington, but we do think you need an entertainment license…” Well, ok, we copped to that. Got ourselves down to City Hall Wednesday and turned in the application and our $416 check (reasonable, we think), and came back and posted “The Notice!”
Folks now have 30 days to weigh in before our June 16 (Bloomsday!) hearing. Pro or con! You can read how on that big ol’ Notice. Then duck into the doorway next to where we have it posted. That’ll get you into the vestibule where you can read about what’s coming up on our bulletin board, and then right there is the door into the shop, or jazz club, or poetry den, or however you want to think of it.
In an era when many fear that bookshops and jazz joints are doomed or already gone, or think poets no longer walk this earth, we’re here to tell you it just isn’t so. Withness the 150+ concerts we present in the bookshop every year, now that we’ve got music every single Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Witness the readings, sometimes three in a week. Witness the deliveries of 6 or 7 boxes of new books twice a week that we have to order to keep our shelves full.
You wonderful folks DO buy books in real bookshops, and you folks DO turn out to hear musicians and poets ply their trade here, and you folks DO put up your hard earned dough in many ways to feed the enterprise. DON’T ever think we don’t notice and appreciate your contribution. We’re maybe guilty of being so busy keeping it rolling that we don’t say thank you enough, but we’re here to say Thank You!
Hey, want to mail us an old-fashioned letter of endorsement that we can carry to the hearing? If you live close to the store, where you might hear music emanating from within or witness poets dreamily leaving one of our readings, or jazz musicians hanging in front of the store, or a gaggle of giddy patrons spilling out with a headful of culture, it will carry particular weight. And, really, I, the proprietor, the guy seen taping up The Notice in the photo above, Eric Whittington, so named thereon, will listen to any complaints and see if there’s a good practical and creative way to eliminate any annoyances we might cause.
‘Cause we DO want to keep boppin’. Now and for another 16 years!
Celebrating 16 years of words and music
Help us celebrate! Come down and browse for a book. Or stop in for some jazz this weekend. Or catch one of three poetry readings scheduled for next Wednesday, Sunday a week and the Monday after. Or just peer in the store window and gives us a little wave!
And mark your calendar for a special jazz celebration scheduled for Friday, May 22nd reuniting the quartet that’s at the core of today’s Bird & Beckett jazz programming — we’ll call them the “Founders Quartet” – Chuck Peterson, Scott Foster, Don Prell and Jimmy Ryan on reeds, guitar, bass and drums, respectively, with special guests Dorothy Lefkovits, Rick Elmore and Howie Dudune.
In May 1999 we opened up, transforming a nice little bookstore called “Glen Park Books” into the phantasmagoria that has become Bird & Beckett. Not long after opening day, we listened as the late David Hallstrom stood before our counter reciting one of his lovely poems (you can hear some of them here next Monday). Soon after that, bassist John Clark (brother of a writer we had long admired) browsed our bins of jazz records and agreed to bring in a little jazz trio to entertain our patrons (with Vince Lateano on drums and Lee Bloom on piano). Blanche Bebb filled our heads with her bountiful literary enthusiasms, for Ben Hecht, for Pushkin, for Hrabal, Skvorecky and Capek of Czechoslovakia, and for Kafka, of course, as well as Maurice Baring and Ray Bradbury and so many others. Excited by the jazz orientation of the store, Mary Goode, a crazy saintly birdlike marvel, told us of her late husband, the drummer Johnny Markham, who hit the downbeat behind Frank Sinatra and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra that kicked off JFK’s inaugural party in 1960. She introduced us to a close associate of John’s, a jazz musician living right around the corner, Chuck Peterson – the very same Chuck Peterson who plays tonight in the shop at 5:30 with his current quintet and next week with the founding quartet. Mary Cabot brought food and drink, and Chuck, to the Fridays. Marlyse Hansemann got our website up and kept it running, with live streaming, no less. She and precocious little Renee kept a beautiful slide show going across the top of the page.
Linda Hmelo became one of our first “Goddess” donors, and brought kittens freshly weaned, and later found my dear departed mother her little dog Pablo. Carlota del Portillo and Maryanne Bulen seemed to compete in buying huge stacks of books, to make sure cash was flowing in at the register. Hong Sing sold me countless potstickers to keep body and soul together. Steve Fama introduced me to Bruce and Jean Conner, who vouched for me & the store to so many avid followers of the arts. Karen Ande introduced us to Diane di Prima. Justin Desmangles came to browse and always to buy, stayed to work, introduced us to Jerry Ferraz and to David Meltzer, as well as to Ted Joans and RaMu and the art of Wilfredo Lam. Walker Brents came to browse and buy and stayed to give brilliant, wide ranging talks that continue to this day. Keith Felton and Barbara Taormina and Jim Hays and Veronica Oliva and Kimberly Paul and Zadik Shapiro and so many others stood by the store and helped in a thousand ways. They’re still doing it.
Those were good days on Diamond Street. These are good days on Chenery. Thanks to all who’ve made it happen – to Michele who made it happen in the first place, to Felicia who sustained it on both sides of the big move, to the proprietor’s sons who contributed so much talent and productivity (the journal, the gallery, the graphics, the procedures that the unruly proprietor tries so hard to follow), the Melrose gang coming in to shop on lazy weekend days, the gang that convened with Madame Blanche to do the Eminent Authors Birthday Readings, the hardy little crew that constituted the Bird & Beckett Players, the Beckettians Scott Baker and Val Fachman. Will Segen presiding over the pancake grill on the sidewalk, Deb Lunsford who dreamed up the very idea of our pancake breakfasts, Joe Schuver who made the batter. All those who loaded and unloaded the pickup trucks that ferried the stock up from the old store to the new store one drizzly afternoon eight years ago…
We had jazz in the bookshop down there one Friday and jazz in the bookshop up here the next Friday. We’ve never dropped the beat. Thanks to you as patrons, and to the writers, the musicians, the artists — the Eulipions, journey agents — who fill this place with so much soul.