Friday, August 16, 2013

Though we no longer operate a brick and mortar shop, you may still browse our online inventory on Amazon by following this link:  spineandcrown

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

As many of you already know, come the end of July, Spine and Crown will be calling it quits. This is sad news in many respects. I don’t think there’s another shop in Seattle that fills our precise niche, so that’s some kind of loss. I DO sift through a lot of crap so you won’t have to... but there will soon be an app that chooses books 78.93% as well as I do, so there’s that to look forward to.

Snark aside, I feel privileged to have promoted pretty much what I alone thought was good for nearly 8 years - and to have found enough customers to support (very modestly) my doing so. Most people don't do what they do because they want to - they do it for money. I have been lucky enough to earn a living that rare other way, and I owe thanks to everyone who made it possible. My poor memory (and my desire to remain concise) won't allow a list, but I would like to single out the Wall of Sound crew (Michael Ohlenroth and Jeffery Taylor) for extra thanks. If they hadn't taken me in a couple of years ago, I would have been writing this in 2011. The last two years have been more fun than the previous six combined.

Why not soldier on? Our building is being torn down. That's part of it. Not much money was another part. Hard to save for the kid's college fund if you're only breaking even every month. Kindle? Sure. College kids downloading books as PDFs? Yep, it's starting to make a dent.

Mostly, it just seemed like time for a change (and maybe a little bit like the universe was pushing me out the door). So I applied to MFA programs all last fall and was admitted to Syracuse - a storied and honored program (with great funding, to boot). Soon, I'll be teaching and writing full-time, not selling the writings of others. I'm pretty good with that.

A small shop, though, when it's run right, will build a little community. It would not be going too far to call it a family. I will certainly miss the family I leave behind. I'm astonished at the ebb and flow of it, how some people join and stick and how others leave, sometimes to come back, sometimes not. A key strategy in business today is to figure out how to force these kinds of organic processes to happen - in essence, to fake sincerity. I never tried to force anything... I was always happy to just be astonished.

This approach to business is probably why I haven't been much of a financial success. Luckily, my replacements - the property developers (with their 50 year max-lifespan plywood crapboxes), the Subway sandwich shop owners (with their tried-and-true meat to lettuce ratio), and the inevitable Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks - will not suffer from my impediments. We will all be safe in the hands of their market strategists, who, I am assured, have our best interests at heart.

With regard to the shop, what happens next? Well, if you have trade credit or a gift certificate, you should use it soon. Anyone with books on consignment is welcome to retrieve them at any point and settle accounts.

Also, I still have some events planned. The most important one is a fundraiser for my move across the country. There will be a magician, poetry, accordion interludes, a live band, a sword-swallower, and a fire-breathing dragon. Still in negotiations with the dragon and sword-swallower, who knows, could all fall through, don't count your chickens, etc., etc. The fundraiser should happen mid-June. Maybe the 14th, maybe the 21st. I'll keep you posted.

Until then, buy some damn books! If you dig what we've got, our selection has never been better. There WILL be an inevitable fire-sale for all the vultures, but don't count on the discounts going too deep - we're still going to sell online - and Powell's offers a hell of a deal for trade credit - so most leftover stock will be going out thataway.

 I never intended to run a shop for everyone. There’s enough retail in the world trying pathetically to be everything to everyone. I wanted a little treasure box that would delight those prepared to be delighted. I didn’t know if you’d find it, but you did.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Wave Poetry Festival

I'll be discussing Rilke translations and reading some of my own at this year's Wave Poetry Festival, Friday, Nov. 4th, 11:30am.

As promised over on our Facebook page, I include here a couple of the translations I've been working on. They're from Das Buch der Bilder - The Book of Images.

Hope to see you at the festival!


Evening slowly changes its garments,
held for it by a border of ancient trees;
you watch: the lands separate from you,
one traveling skyward, and one that falls;

and leave you, belonging fully to neither,
not quite so dark as the house in silence
not so securely invoking the eternal
as that which will rise a star each night-

and leave to you (unspeakably to untangle)
your life, fearful and gigantic and ripening,
so that, now cramped and now comprehending,
it alternates in you between stone and star.


The Song of the Idiot

They don't hinder me. They let me pass.
They say nothing could happen.
How good.
Nothing could happen. Everything springs from
and circles round the Holy Ghost,
round that specific Ghost (you know) -,
how good.

No, one really must not believe
there is any danger in it.
There is of course the blood.
The blood is the worst. The blood is tough.
Sometimes I think I can't go on -.
(How good.)

Oh what a lovely ball that is;
red and round like an everywhere.
Good, that you made it.
Perhaps it comes when one calls?

How strangely everything behaves,
pushed together, swimming apart:
friendly, a little indistinct.
How good.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sale upon a sea of bargains, matey!!!

In preparation for our big move (one whole block for a man, one giant decrease in shelf space), we're ditching our non-internet stock at 50% off! Don't wait for deeper discounts, sahib! We'll just buy a crowbar and wedge the unsold stuff into our storage unit and trot it out at an unspecified future date for 0% off!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Free at last!

Wow. It's actually happening. Are we freaked out and overjoyed simultaneously? Yes. Yes, we are. And emotionally vulnerable. Please don't attack us or attempt seduction.

Why is this so? The piper came for his payment, we paid, and thank god almighty, we are free at last! We'll be leaving our digs at 413 E. Pine St. as of mid-February. In truth, our last day open for business will be the 11th.

Then we pick up just where we left off- come March 1st - sharing space with Wall of Sound, one block down the street at 315 E. Pine! It's a win-win for all you culture-lovers!

Shall we dance?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spine and Crown is continuing a vigorous virtual life over on Facebook. This is of no assistance to those without Facebook accounts, so we will try to have something new here occasionally... but you might wish to try the Facebook thing. It doesn't bite. Often.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

December 4th, people. It's a Friday. From 6pm to 9pm, you may partake of mulled wine and snacks. The quality of both will improve the more the wine flows. Fourth anniversary party. We'll be happy to see you there.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

August is INSANE!

It seems like everyone is flipping out all around us! All that heat must have baked some brain pans, judging by the ample evidence! Wailing! Gnashing of teeth! Sweat! Hominy and fatback! Some people are leaving, some are moving across town, and some have just slipped beneath the waves! Old Nicodemus will be pleased about that!

There must be something in the water. Other than traces of antibiotics and prescription anti-depressants (are there any other kind?) Or maybe that would do it? Anyone got a degree in forensic toxicology? Vincent Gallo, chin model and auteur, once wrote, "If you're feeling froggy... jump!" But which direction, Vinnie? Which direction?

Oh, for an ounce of stability! Nobody's even sure of what they want anymore! We know a guy who until recently would never settle for anything less than a hardcover first edition of every book he bought. Now he's lucky to afford a handful of loose pages from a tenth edition wrapped in limp biscuit dough! Does he even want that? Who knows? But there he goes with his biscuit dough! Find an oven, buddy!

What prospect for love in such a climate? What prospect for respect? And what respect for prospects? Most importantly, what prospect for profits? Our triple-A rating was recently downgraded by the Brazilian government! The indignity!

You know that thing that surfers do? When they race along a wave that's crashing over them? They call that "shooting the hoop," or "draping the barrel," or something like that. Well, it's a perfect moment when it happens and can make up for an entire day of shitty surfing. So, for all you S&C-lovers out there who are surfing like shit, we're wishing you a perfect moment. It's not much, but it's not like we can live your lives FOR you! So, shoot your hoop already! Drape that barrel! Wax your thigh! Cartwheels! Cartwheels! Cartwheels!

Hurry up, September!


This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


Écrits: A Selection, Jacques Lacan
(Hardcover, first edition in English)

Another French giant:

"Lacan was an active intellectual of the inter-war period; he associated with André Breton and Georges Bataille, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. He attended the mouvement Psyché founded by Maryse Choisy. He published in the Surrealist journal Minotaure and attended the first, public reading of Ulysses."

He also made a baby with Bataille's wife when old Georges wasn't looking. Naughty Jacques!



A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600, Michelle P. Brown

People have been writing funny for millions of years. It didn't start with this newsletter, though you'd be forgiven for thinking so!

You're curious. What kind of funny writings happened before you were born? Well, curiosity is natural. What's unnatural is to ignore that curiosity and deny yourself the ownership of a fine and funny book.

Oh, and the doctor called. Says you're going to need surgery on that palimpsest. Don't worry. It's outpatient.

($23) [Sold]


The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
, Yukio Mishima
(Paperback, first paperback edition)

This guy wrote 12 novels by the time he was 33 and stuck a knife in his own guts when he was 45. Twelve years after he had written his twelfth novel. Spooky.

($15) [Sold]


Wallace Berman: Retrospective, Fellows of Contemporary Art
(Paperback, out of print)

A 13th century Kabbalistic work called the Sefer ha-Temunah claims that this world is beset by evils because one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet is imperfect (or perhaps missing altogether). As each age defines the meanings of words anew, the imperfections grow. This really has nothing to do with Wallace Berman, except that he painted Hebrew letters obsessively in his work. Was he trying to fix the universe?

($45) [Sold]


The Heavenly Tree Grows Upward: Selected Works by Harry Smith, Philip Taaffe, and Fred Tomaselli
(Paperback, out of print)

From Kabbalah to alchemy by way of King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me Oh. Harry Smith (b. Portland, OR, 1923 - filmmaker, painter, mystic, nutjob) will probably always be remembered best as an archivist. His Anthology of American Folk Music is a portrait that captures the ridiculous vitality and sheer lunacy of days gone by. If there was a world we could choose to live in, it would be that one. Thank you, Harry!

($50) [Sold]


Find an oven, buddy!


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.

Except this.




# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 196

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 196

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Vita Brevis

All you Latins know what we mean! And that vita just keeps getting more brevis, the longer you go on! In ancient times, a long-lived man was just assumed to be a coward, for surely he had been in the rear with the gear when the battle came. Or maybe back home, diddling the wives of the suckers out fighting some king's war. Either way, that old mo-fo just wasn't someone you wanted hanging around.

That's why the Japanese used to drag their geriatrics up the side of a mountain and abandon them! Well, there might have been other reasons, but if we were in charge of Japan back then, that would have been our reasoning!

Much better to die on the point of a spear, spitting in the eye of your enemy, who you are killing also, but with a mace-like device which delivers such an explosive blow, his face literally explodes like a ball of raw bacon that's exploding, and really, his eye is the only thing left for you to aim spit at. Then you finish dying, your side wins the battle, and your king gets rich.

But now, we're all so CYNICAL, we think we can only find meaning in personal goals. Dying in battle is, like, for people who DON'T have an associates degree!

YOU don't want to submerge your unique personality! Let's face it: Your ring tone is da bizness! YOU want to go to beauty school to learn how to do nails like THAT! YOU want your own garden with healthy organic vegetables to nourish YOUR body! YOU want to ride in that BMW, even if you have to kiss the driver "down there"!

Well, mission ACCOMPLISHED, señor selfish! But what of your impoverished king? You're all going to live to be old, but with no GLORY! Whose head will be your exploding bacon ball?

Think of it like this: One god = one king = one channel on tv.

That's the old days. That's the glory, the ecstasy of St. Teresa, Kilimanjaro rising like a lepress above the Serengeti!

Today we've got a landfill of -isms, 2500 gods (and that's only counting versions of the christian one), and sebenty zentrillion live television streams. And where are we? Living in reality so poorly executed, it might have been designed by an ant colony dosed with devil weed!

Here at Spine and Crown Industries, however, a solution has been devised. Take back your purity of heart! Find your unity of vision! Make us rich!

That's right! Drink OUR kool-aid! We will lead; you will fight! As our army masses, we will search wikipedia, combing through to find weak nations to topple! The South Pacific is looking likely! You know you want it!

One spine to find them!

One crown to bring them and in the darkness bind them!



This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


Tao Te Ching
, Aleister Crowley, trans.
(Paperback, out of print)

Let the Great Beast ride you up one side and tao the other!

Sorry! Couldn't help it!

This is the Aleister "devil-sex-man" Crowley version of the Tao! He didn't know any Chinese, so he just winged it! But he did walk across China in his youth and the lessons he absorbed from the asian soil were transmitted directly into his pen, later to blast through your actual mental cortexes! But only if you buy this book! Beasts gotta eat!

($15) [Sold]


The Incal: The Epic Conspiracy, Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius
(Paperback, out of print)

Ooooh! Is that old "Holy Mountain" Jodorowsky? Writing a comic book? With art by Moebius? Why, it's chocolate and peanut butter all over again!

Jodorowsky became one of our favorite people when we read this interview:

"This is why I like so much the plastic man of the "Fantastic Four" in Marvel Comics. What's his name? He is married to the Invisible Girl. Plastic man and Invisible Woman can be great pornography. Plastic man fucking the girl and then he make his penis very, very, very thin and put inside her vein, and the penis can go, and go, and go from her vein to her heart. He can ejaculate in the center of his woman's heart. Fantastic! Fantastic!"



Loser: The Real Seattle Music Story (2nd edition, updated), Clark Humphrey
(Paperback, out of print)

True story of "The Grunge," a near-mythical dance hall sensation which began right here in Seattle's own saloons and brothels! All those Skid Road types would pour out at closing time, half-poisoned by cheap wood alcohol and Jamaican Ginger Extract, and roll around in the muddy streets, panting and crazed. In 1901, their tortured groans and howls were captured on wax cylinder, which - mistakenly played back at the wrong speed - became the first bona fide hit for Edison "Gold Moulded" Records! Ah! The good old days!



Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Nico: The Last Bohemian, James Young
(Paperback, out of print)

The lemon that Lou Reed made into lemonade - but, oh, she was so much more than that. There was a darkness in her soul, a tragedy writ willowy and blonde. Now that you're gone, we'll never make love, Nico, but I'll always wish that you wished that we had.



The Key and Silence in Court, Patricia Wentworth
(Paperback, out of print)

Known for popularizing the plight of Women in Terror, Wentworth stipulated in her contract that the covers of her books should pull no punches. Some of the women lean left, some lean right. But they are all in terror. Through her efforts, many women were calmed, but the painters of paperback covers were afterward left with fewer and fewer models who could portray the correct emotion. The art has never recovered.

($12, $40 [Sold])


What is the 4th Dimension?


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.


Dog Helps Woman Lick Brain Injury


# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 195

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 195

Sunday, July 19, 2009

That's MISTER Jibber Jabber to YOU!

A lot of great conversations happen here at Spine and Crown.

You may not have been a part of one, but that says more about you than us, because we're usually jabbering like the Chipmunks (all three) at 78 rpm. And it's grand. If it weren't for all the eccentric and fractured mother-lovers on Capitol Hill, this thing wouldn't be worth doing!

Something that distinguishes all the verbal lather around here from a lot of the communication available to the modern hairless ape is that it happens face to face. Certain Eastern traditions maintain a firm "back to back" theory of communication, and there is even the Kazakh custom known as the "buttock communion," but we don't subscribe to such notions. No, we like it up front and personal. We don't hold with this FriendFace or TwitterBook or whatever. We're not even sure why those things exist. Maybe we'd feel differently if we'd ever been "poked." Or, dare we dream, "super-poked!"

And there we've hit upon the crux of the problem. You can super-poke away, all ye so inclined, but the humanzee needs the presence of another humanzee to accomplish anything that's worth a hill of beans in this goddamn crazy world!

Solitude is great for fortresses, but for every Einstein you hand us, we'll hand you back a Rowan and Martin! No? A Horkheimer and Adorno? Never heard of them, eh? Hmmm. This is harder than we thought. A Lee and Kirby! A Gilbert and Sullivan! A Brecht and Weill! A Taylor and Millis!

Take that, isolates! Show us parts, and we'll show you a whole that is greater than their sum! The law of conservation of matter and energy means nothing to us!

But we've digressed.

Hang out in a public place, like say, a book shop, for instance. Listen to those people jibber jabber! They just can't get enough of it. They're making the magic glue that sticks civilization together!

Sure, they can do the same thing into their wireless tricorders, but then it's only jibber, for the jabber is happening on the other end, far out of view. Unless you're near the person on the other end, in which case you have jabber with no jibber.

But those people in the book shop, those lucky ones who look into the face of another and see that their meaning is understood, (without emoticons!)... It is they who receive the invaluable treasure that is validation.

Validation! The only meaningful gift one human can give another! You are valid! You're opinions don't induce immediate barking laughter! And they matter! YOU matter!

(All examples of validation presented above are understood to be purely hypothetical, and not actual reactions to your implausible, half-baked theories or 3/4 cracked personalities. Our lawyers made us say that!)

Blessed, blessed physical proximity! You can't beat it with a stick, and you can't beat anything with a stick without it! All that body language, all those micro-expressions! No validation through TweetFace! No validation via Nokia! Only tepid bath water!

Shit on the modern age! Don your home-tanned leather leggings and bang a drum! Ned Ludd, revive! Captain Swing, do your thing! Cell towers were made for toppling, and you! You were made for getting naked and hooting and hollering en masse in a lusty chorus, nude, out of doors, naked! Throw the bluetooth on the fire! Join the uni-mind of thrashing primate interaction! Let the ages roll!

Then buy a book from us (so we can stay in business), go home, lock the door so no one can bother you, and read it alone.


This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 2, Jack "King" Kirby

Legend has it that Jack Kirby was so besieged by ideas, he resorted to scribbling them on little scraps that ended up covering his work space like snow. He once put his cigar down in the ashtray and lit a pile of ideas on fire. He was inconsolable. Explaining things to his wife Roz, he estimated that he might have reduced upwards of 50 new story concepts to ashes. Roz shrugged and put things in perspective. "So you've lost an afternoon's work. Get over it!" Nowhere is the comic world's most generative imagination harder at work than in these Fourth World volumes. Top notch!

($25) [Sold]


Essays Ancient and Modern, T.S. Eliot
(Hardcover, first edition)

Such a high level of erudition, it ALMOST occludes our memory of Eliot's unsavory death; electrical cord wrapped around neck and genitals, left hanging in a Bangkok hotel wardrobe like a stained tuxedo jacket. Almost, Tom! Almost!



Gnosticism: Beliefs and Practices, John Glyndwr Harris
(Paperback, out of print)

So the archons, see, are like angels. But nasty angels who hate us. Why? Because we were created in god's image, and they weren't. Meanwhile, god turned his back on creation. These days, the archons call the tune and make us dance the lambada of misery.

A world ruled by nasty angels who hate us. Why does Gnosticism seem like a religion for our times?



Mysterium Coniunctionis, C.G. Jung

In the caves under his vast estate at Bollingen, Carl Jung used his view-o-tron to spy on the past. He watched alchemists turn lead into, well, lead. But they had a rip-roaring time doing it! And Jung watched them encode their lore in dark tomes, which, when fed through his decoder ring, became veritable doorways into the unconscious mind! O mighty view-o-tron! Mighty, mighty view-o-tron!

And thank christ he finally took an interest in alchemy! It was a welcome change from his constant watching, rewinding, and masturbating to the moment of his own conception. Dirty old wig-picker!

($15) [Sold]


Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World, P.D. Ouspensky
(Hardcover, third American edition, authorized and revised)

Poo-poo! Wee-wee! Brother-sister incest! Mouse-skin eyebrows! Yah!

Had to get all that out, because we've got to sneak in another serious review. We were prepared to go to town on this guy and his Gurdjieff/Blavatsky/Theosophy hoo-hah! But now, after looking into it a little, we're not sure if we want to sell this book at all. We're sick of being stuck in this three dimensional horse-shit! If we can just get these old brains up to the 4th dimension, maybe we can be disappointed by a whole new dimension's horse-shit. Bring it on, P.D. Ouspensky!

P.S. - We'll still sell it. We're hungry and our belly hurts.

($12) [Sold]


!!!!!This week, we're giving all our love to Goldman Sachs!!!!!


Matt Taibbi's controversial Goldman takedown!

What economy?


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.

Except this.


# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 193

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 193

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Wisdom of Crowds

A common refrain on the internet these days is the importance of crowd-think. That is, that there are patterns to be distilled out of the collective decisions of large groups. And there probably are, if you can be bothered to be enough of a code-stroker to extract those patterns. For our part, crowds seem to have the same amount of wisdom as the average individual, minus about 100%. Or maybe as much as a large pile of sausage casings, we're not sure. Another word for crowd, after all, is mob. Can we get a "Hell yeah!" for the wisdom of mobs?

Despite this, we'd like to do something different this week... We'd like to hijack the wisdom of our own personal mob to solve a problem that's been nibbling at us. No tricks! It's an actual problem, a mental exercise that defeats our feeble think-muscles. Maybe you will conquer it and can crow to us of your victory.

Here it is: This whole thing is like a game show. You've got three curtains. Behind one is a shiny new glittering something or other. Behind the other two is a kick in the pants! You have to pick a curtain and hope for the best.

After you pick your curtain, the host decides to make things interesting. He pulls back one of the curtains to reeveeeaaallll... a kick in the pants!

So now you've got two curtains left. The host offers to let you switch to the other unopened curtain or stick with your original choice. And here's the core of the problem: Do you have a better chance of winning the shiny something by switching or by sticking?

You started with a 1 in 3 chance of being right. Now that one of the wrong choices has been revealed and eliminated, you've got a 1 in 2 chance, right? That's a 50/50 proposition, a coin toss. Why should you switch?

Because, according to the stupid book we got this problem from, switching gives you a 2/3 chance of being right. The authors explain it thusly: "Since by the time it comes to sticking or switching, the big prize must be behind one of the two remaining doors, there must be a 2 in 3 chance that the prize is behind the other door (i.e., a 2 in 3 chance your first guess was wrong)."

Wha? Huh? "There MUST be?" How MUST there be? The authors offer a variation to help illustrate the right choice (switching). Imagine, they say, the same set up with 1000 curtains; 999 of which hide kicks in the pants. The host reveals 998 of them to be booby prizes, and you're left with two curtains.

Switching, they say, gives you a 999/1000 chance of being right - and this is true- and it's pretty certain that you'll win with odds like that. However, this explanation pretends that your original choice doesn't count as a choice. That is, with 998 of 1000 decisions already made, adding one more decision (whether it be your original or a new choice) comes to 999. So you've got a 999/1000 chance of winning, no matter which one you choose. You're stuck with 50/50.

Marilyn vos Savant, smartest person who ever lived, says this is wrong. The the authors of the stupid book say this is wrong. Do YOU say this is wrong? Can you explain it in plain english? We're tempted to offer a prize, like some trade credit, but it all hinges on your being able to explain it, not your ability to understand it yourself, so that makes winning a little hazy. After all, we can just claim absolute ignorance (not much of a stretch), and we're off the hook. But do your best, and we'll work something out.


This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


Aesthetic Theory, Theodor Adorno

More of an absolutist than he would ever have admitted, Adorno's critiques of Enlightenment ideals rendered the entire mass bath water and admitted of no baby. However, having this book on your shelf will certainly make you more attractive to graduate-degree-seeking potential sexual conquests, so it's kind of a trade-off.

($19) [Sold]


Scientific Self-Defence, W.E. Fairbairn
(Paperback, out of print)

Dapper '20s gents knocking the bejeezus out of one another. If the previous book shines a lust-light in the eyes of eurostyle glasses-wearing, ivory-tower-dwelling hotties, then this one will land you all kinds of booty among those who are impressed by a good wrist-fracturing or swift knee-capping. Get out there and make some poor sap yelp like a caned puppy! There's a reason the human body has all those pain-receptors - so you can get lucky!

($18) [Sold]


, Michel Butor
(Hardcover, out of print)

Another of the elite and rigorous French literary giants we keep trotting out. Not well-known to English-speaking audiences, but hey, when you've got tonight's Deadliest Warrior pitting an Apache brave against the entire Taliban, well, it looks like old Butor's gonna have to suck the sour baguette of obscurity a while longer.



Women Pirates and the Politics of the Jolly Roger, Ulrike Klausmann, et al.
(Paperback, out of print)

Just, you know, gettin' on with it - slittin' throats, hoardin' capital, wenchin', groggin', reefin' the bloody topsail and keepin' the scurvy away with a lime a day. But in a girly way.



The Complete Dirty Laundry Comics, Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Sophie Crumb

The book is kind it's own reward, so can we just forget about it for a second and bitch about people who refer to Robert Crumb exclusively as "R. Crumb"? The original title of this book was Bob and Aline's Dirty Laundry, for chrissakes! If one more person comes in and asks for R. Crumb, mistakenly thinking this puts them inside some hazily-defined circle of hipness, we will personally tattoo his full name inside their eyelids with one of Bob's cast-off Grumbacher pens!



Mexican Fireworks!


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.

Except this:


The Wire ate our lunch!


# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 192

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 192

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Beginning June 28th and lasting through July 4th, everything in the shop is 30% off! We're not going out of business (yet!), but we'd like to take a big bite out of all the books people are trying to sell us. At the moment, we're turning away far too many people, so it's time to raise some capital! Come take away our best stock at prices so low, it'll make us weep!


Sweet land of liberty, wherefore art thou?

Wouldn't it be great to be from a country that was so ridiculously awesome and full of win that you woke with fire in your belly every morning, knowing that you were in the best place on Earth, perhaps the most just, honorable, and beautifully varied spot in the entire universe? Not a country in the middle of an epic fail. Not a country that's a thinly veiled oligarchy calling itself a democracy. Not a country that coins 'net slang like, "full of win," and "epic fail."

What would such a country look like? Well, for our part, we'd ask for a big bump in the functional literacy rate. According to an NEA report, nearly 60% of Americans don't read a single book in a year's time. And most of the people who do? They ain't readin' Heidegger.

While we're at it, we might rewrite some laws so corporations have FEWER rights than actual living people instead of more. Just sayin'. Surely, we all have our wish list...

People used to feel good about our country, back in dinosaur times. Well, they felt better about it, anyway. But that was probably mostly thanks to ignorance. Thanks, ignorance! You make us feel better!

Maybe WE'RE the evil ones, trying to promote culture and knowledge and all that pansy-fied nonsense! Ignorance is like a great big sumo-suit keeping reality at a constant safe distance from your tender flesh! It's kevlar for reality-bullets! Persistent, durable, ubiquitous - If we could figure out how to fry it up and eat it, we'd be in business!

Looks like it's hard to know who's evil, or what to do in a situation like this. Are greedy CEOs evil? Or are the share-holders who demand constantly expanding profits from the CEOs the evil ones? Because those share-holders are mostly regular people. Ugh. Complexity make Bizarro's head hurt!

There IS another way to feel better about things, no ignorance required. Be a psychopath. Those are people who exhibit chronic immoral and antisocial behavior. We're used to thinking of psychopathic people as killers or rapists, but as the late, lamented Kurt Vonnegut pointed out, it's a pretty good description of the people running the show these days. There's more than one way to kill or rape, after all.

It also makes sense that such people would end up in positions of power. When facing a choice with heavy moral or ethical implications, their options are limited only by imagination and inclination, whereas a sane person's conscience will narrow his/her choices sharply. You won't pull the trigger, but they will! These crazy fuckers will DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!

There's a perfect July 4th poem by Vonnegut, from a super-rare chapbook of his, The Twelfth of Never. If you had a copy of that, you wouldn't need to be a psychopath to get rich!

Happily, crappily
we roll along.
Happily, crappily
we sing our song.
U-S-A! U-S-A!
Germans to the left of us!
Commies to the right!
Blast 'em all! Blast 'em all!
Blast them!
Good night!
Napalm in the morning
Napalm at night
Napalm from Harvard
Good night!
Good night!
Good night!


This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


The Great Red Dragon, or The Master Key to Popery, Anthony Gavin
(Paperback; facsimile of 1854 edition)

This book is anti-Catholic. Our shop and its ownership are not nor should ever be construed to be anti-Catholic or against popish idolatry in any way. In fact, we here all wish we could place our noses inside the pope's own nose and thus breathe the holiest of holy airs on their way to respirate the holiest lungs chosen by god hisself (and several dudes in crazy purple robes with golden croziers chanting in a dead language.) Amen!



Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show, Suehiro Maruo
(Paperback, out of print)

This is a book for perverts. And by perverts, we mean anyone interested in the dark heart of the human race. And that's all of us, right? So get ready for your dose of puppy-squashing! We'll throw in a little cunnilingus and eyeball-lingus for spice and call it a deal! Finally, we get what all those kiddies dig about them Japanese comix!

($60) [Sold]


Blast 2: War Number, Wyndham Lewis, ed.

This book is printed by Black Sparrow Press. It's cover is made of very nice paper. Ezra Pound is inside, as is T.S. Eliot, and Ford Maddox Ford. Modernism had to be born someplace. This is its steaming placenta.

($10) [Sold]


Martell's Simplified Ju Jutsu Offence and Defense
, Jules Martell
(Stapled pamphlet, 1942)

This book will teach you to kick ass. It has lethal moves and is very violent. It also contains disparaging remarks directed toward Nazis and Japanese people. But it has another side, too. A side not so scarred by early childhood abuse and neglect. This other side of Simplified Ju Jutsu just needs love... and you will give it, or get your ass whupped good!



Yeti Researcher, Vol. 24, No. 8
, Joshuah Bearman, ed.

This book was part of McSweeney's no. 17, and is a clever-clogs send-up of academic journals. Not that academic journals don't merit parody, but we wish this was real.



Flesh-eating robots!


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.

Except this.

It's available at Wall of Sound!


Downhill Sumo!


# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 190

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 190

Saturday, June 20, 2009

He Hit Me

We had started this week's newsletter, wondering aimlessly about the nature of decision-making. Hot stuff, for sure. But it IS intriguing because there's so much mystery surrounding it. No one, not scientist nor mystic, can accurately describe or predict our decisions - least of all, ourselves! But our decisions can be manipulated. Plenty of research shows this. The existence of the advertising industry shows this. And one of the people who has explored this manipulation time and again, with great success, is Adam Curtis.

Curtis is a BBC documentarian, but that gives the wrong impression. Like saying Spine and Crown is a place where capital and commodities are exchanged. There's something very artistic, fascinating, and hypnotic about what he does. He's responsible for The Century of the Self, an examination of how Freudian ideas have, through advertising, made us all into selfish dicks. But he's best known for The Power of Nightmares, which investigated the deeply intertwined development of radical Islam and Neo-conservatism.

He's far more qualified than we are to talk about how outside forces shunt us this way and that- and he's got a new film, It Felt Like a Kiss.

We'll let The Guardian's Charlie Brooker take it from here:

So what's it about? In a roundabout way, it's about you. But it's also about the golden age of pop, when the US rose to supreme power. It encompasses everything from Rock Hudson, Lou Reed, Saddam Hussein, a chimp and Lee Harvey Oswald. It's a heady brew.

"I think it's a fascinating period," says Curtis.

"I wanted to do a film about what it actually felt like to live through that time ... Where you could see the roots of the uncertainties we feel today, the things they did out on the dark fringes of the world that they didn't really notice at the time, which would then come back to haunt us."

It's a common theme in Curtis's work: he's not interested in conspiracy theories, but rather with the unforeseen consequences of ideas throughout history, and their impact on a deeply personal level. "The way power works in the world is: they tell you stories that make sense of the world. That's what America did after the second world war. It told you wonderful dreamlike stories about the world ... And at that same time, you were encouraged to rise up and 'become an individual', which also made the whole idea of America attractive to the rest of the world. But then this very individualism began to corrode it. The uncertainties began in people's minds. Uncertainty about 'what is the point of being an individual?'"

"The politics of our time are deeply embedded in this idea of individualism," he continues, "which is far wider than Westminster, consumerism or anything like that. It's how you feel. People think, 'Oh, if it's within me it must be true.' But it's not the be-all and end-all. It's not an absolute. It's a way of feeling and thinking which is a product of a particular time and power. The notion that you only achieve your true self if your desires, your dreams, are satisfied ... It's a political idea. That's the central dynamic of our life."

Because you're worth it? He nods. "Because you're worth it."

This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


We ran out of time on the descriptions this week and let our unrestrained Id write up these tomes while we slept!


Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863), Arne Svenson and Ron Warren

they eat sock bananas and other sock monkeys. mouths full of stuffing, they nightly cry sock tears and curse their monstrous maker.

($10) [Sold]


Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema, Eddie Muller and Daniel Faris, eds.
(Paperback, out of print)

dirty pictures. dirty moving pictures.

chase them.

catch them.

dirty dirty.

($15) [Sold]


The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, D.M. Mitchell, ed.
(Paperback, out of print)

lesser talents offer tribute to a greater talent. W.S. Burroughs; Alan Moore; Grant Morrison; J.G. Ballard.

($20) [Sold]


Ten Years of Italian Progress, Italian State Tourist Department.
(Stapled pamphlet, 1933)

fascists run the trains on time and produce purty pamphlets. but no one's fooled, mr. mussolini. you are the bad man.



Psychedelic Prayers, Timothy Leary.
(Paperback, out of print)

each page better be soaked in blotter acid, at that price.



Skyspace poetry!


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.

Except this.




# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 189

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 189