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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's Cool Inside - Yes Indeed

Sure, the summer is upon us and we've got our air-conditioning on!   Our shop is wind and solar powered, and so we can say it's cool inside but we're doing our best to move away from carbon fuels.  

It used to be something special that a place would be air-conditioned.   In fact, one of our most famous area residents, the Late President Roosevelt, had a distrust of air-conditioning.  But he probably would have been a fan of the shop.

The Carousel horse is hand-carved  and in our gift department.   

Beautiful leather bound books (from Franklin Library and Easton Press) along with decorative bindings are set off by our Cavallini Posters - which are perfect for decorating dorm rooms as well as for art projects.  You'll see our use of them throughout the shop.
Located just on the other side of the Hudson River from Roosevelt's Hyde Park Home (Dutchess County).   Ulster County is the home of several bookstores, in fact right across the street from ours is another, and our street is the home to 2 (YES TWO) chocolate shops, a couple of restaurants and right below us, is a great record shop, but fear not, there's another within steps on New Paltz's Main Street.

Cool is, and has been, something else.   The sign at the top of the blog - heralding "IT's COOL INSIDE" is now quite uncommon.   That's everyday stuff, but visitors to our shop comment about the cool books, and really like the space.

If you find us online and haven't made your way to our physical shop, you  don't get the full experience.   So we wanted to the blog to give you a taste of it!

Our rarebook area features Barrister Bookcases.   These are the classics made by Globe Wernicke.   We got them, at the same time as we picked up the carousel horse, from a woman moving to spend time with her daughter who moved to the UK.  She was amazing--in her 80's she picked up and moved the cases into the truck as she did with the horse. 

Pull up a chair and read to your hearts content.   Enjoy checking out the books, or even typing on one of our vintage typewriters -- including:

The Hermes 3000 - which has the reputation of being the Best typewriter every made -- just ask Jack Kerouac (if you could) or Larry McMurty about that machine.

Our duo-tone is beautiful to see and is a piece of functional art from the art-deco age.

Visitors to the shop are greeted by our Zebra - perhaps the only bookshop to have a store zebra.  It's incredible how many kids come into the shop and reach over and give the zebra a hug.  Always patient and steadfast.  

The Zebra has lots of friends - A Rhino, The Horse, A Huge Frog, Cast Iron Pig and check out the register for a collection of teeny tiny critters.

 We feature handmade leather journals and bags.   We've been importing them from India for sometime now and are treasured as gifts - for anyone including yourself.   The Indians who make these journals are not the same of course as the Native American who also greets our customers near the New York section of the shop, which is one of our specialties.  

Barner Books has been around for about 30 years,   Started by Jim Barner who was a writer, traveler and book lover we treasure our traditions.   The bust looks a little like Jim, but if you know who it is, we'd sure like to hear from you (we'd like to even if you don't!!).

If you make it into New Paltz, located in the lower Catskills, be sure to stop on by.   We're one of the Cool places -- and yes, on hot days it's especially true!!!

When in New Paltz (exit 18 on the New York Thruway) you might also enjoy:

  • The Mohonk Preserve located in the Shawangunks Ridge
  • The Mohonk Mountain House
  • Minnewaska State Park
  • The Gunks - Featuring World Class Climbing
  • Miles of Bike Trails - and more coming
  • Incredible views
  • The State University of New York - New Paltz Campus
  • Huegonot Street - New Paltz's founders came here for religious freedom and to start a new life -- the arrived in 1678, making this New Paltz street one of the Oldest in the USA.
  • Walkway over the Hudson is about 5 Miles away and is a State Park pedestrian bridge 250' above the Hudson River!  

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tiny Books - When America Was Great!

Little Tiny Books - Tell a BIG Story

Books take on many forms and sizes.   They even take on multiple purposes.

Today it's a miniature - but one with the only  words being on the cover, but is  a HUGE story of the past, and relevant to our current times.   

The simple Matchbook.

Here's one from the 50's - THE WOODSTOCK GARAGE. A town with a Famous Name (often referred to as the Most Famous Small Town in the USA)  in Upstate New York -- our Ulster County neighbor.


So What's the Story with this sweet matchbook?

The Ford of the 50's.   I remember it well.  HUGE engines, using lots of cheap gas, and constantly serviced by the many small independent garages that abounded, simply because they broke down ALL THE TIME, The mnemonic for FORD - Fix or Repair Daily - (F.O.R.D.) was quite rightly earned.  Ford wasn't unique, because all the brands and models had problems.   The Corvair (a Chevy) that was remarkable in that it could actually flip over when being driven on a straight away, and was immortalized in Ralph Nader's book "Unsafe at Any Speed."  

The Ford of that great time had a lifespan of about 30-40,000 miles.   When shopping for a used car you'd think twice about picking one of those because it was going to spend a lot of time off the road and in the shop.  And when it was on the road, the unspoken truth was that if you were in an accident, you would most likely end up in a hospital, and with some degree of predictability, could end up dead.   The cars were designed to appeal to our taste and image but not to our head.

Incredible advertising, free matchbooks, and an economy that was growing post World War II made Ford a lot of money (as well as the other manufacturers) and they knew that they could keep the money machine going by building cars that were designed to FAIL.  The throw-away generation was at its height.   The parts were made in Coal fired plants, where miners ended up getting cancer from the coal dust and and the carbon and other dirt that spewed from the very high chimneys contributed mightily to the demise of our planet.  The paints and chemicals used were dumped randomly into the ground resulting in damage to water systems and land that will last for generations.  Those effects will last far beyond the lifespan of the Ford.

Upstarts that they were, the Japanese entered the market with a different idea.   Build a car that would spend time on the road and not in the shop.   They weren't instant success stories, because after all we believe, "Aren't We Great," and didn't much like the idea of buying cars from another country, particularly one that pissed us off as much as Japan did.   Americans wanted to buy American goods, but soon realized that those homegrown goods simply weren't as great as they thought and the hype suggested.  

We learned a very simple lesson of the time:   Others made cars better than America.  They were safer, more economical to buy, and far easier to maintain.   When you went to trade it in, they were worth more, because they still had plenty of life left.  70,000 miles, which was junk yard time for the American behemoths, was the Japanese car becoming broken in.   This fact wasn't about American workers being great or not, it was about American Corporate arrogance, and reluctance to change.

It took a long time for our American Made Car Companies to realize that what they had been selling wasn't really what people wanted.   Several manufacturers failed, and ultimately Federal Funds were used to try to keep others afloat and improve.    

During the time that "we were great" there weren't a lot of rules.   Cars were death traps.  They worked really well for the Company that manufactured them, but not so much for the people who bought and drove them.   The cars consumed a huge amount of fuel to operate.  When America was great, the government didn't mess with businesses as the basic rule  adhered to was "Buyer Beware."   When "America Was Great" the consumer was only one part of the business equation -- and actually not a particularly fundamental part.


Inside the book are matches.   They were given out readily to people because most adults smoked.  In this case, when you struck a match to light your cigarette you would also be reminded that it was time to get a new Ford.

In the 50's the Cigarette Manufacturers did everything they could do to provide attractive cigarettes, create and fulfill the huge demand for products.  They developed products to fulfill a quest for varied image.   Were you a Virginia Slim or the Marlboro Man?   Did we identify with Salem Lights, or  Camels?   So many choices to be made!

Santa Claus delivered Cigarettes at Christmas time and our Movie ,TV stars and shows were filled with smoke, gentile, elegant or tough.   Kids were introduced to them by their parents.  Some kids even got to have training cigarettes, the candy that was marketed and sold which looked just like the grown up model.    Cigarettes were advertised everywhere, and right at every checkout counter in the country, including pharmacies.   Smokers were treated with complete equality--they could smoke anywhere and at anytime.  Those who didn't smoke--well they would just have to suck it up.

America was great then.   People could buy what they wanted and companies could do whatever they wanted to do to promote their goods.   

Ultimately we started to pay a little more attention to the fact that hospitals were filled with coughing people, that our lungs couldn't handle the smoke, and that our relatives, friends, loved ones, and even children were becoming sick and dying because of smoking.  America was great then.  Company's could make lots of money by selling and promoting products that would actually kill the customer.

When "America Was Great" our government didn't interfere with our right to be sick and didn't do anything to protect the public from itself.   Our government was reluctant to get involved.   It seemed that the Government believed  the Cigarette manufacturers who stated that all was fine and they best not interfere, and that the worst case scenario, so the Cigarette Company's research showed, was that there MAY be some health risk.


Well, that's a whole other story!!!!


Seems that when someone says "Let's Make America Great Again," that it might pay to read the book.  It doesn't take long to go through it.