Inaugural Rantings and Ravings   Leave a comment

Basically I started this blog, my first ever, after some initial reluctance, and specifically at the urging

of my old friend Sam Gafford, whose stonking new blog on the weird fiction author

William Hope Hodgson can be seen here:  http://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/

and is well worth your time if you’re into any of the following authors: H. P. Lovecraft,

Hodgson, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Clark Ashton Smith, M. R. James,

J. Sheridan LeFanu, et al.  My own intention for my own new blog is to establish

a place to rant and complain, but hopefully encourage positive developments in

the weird fiction and book-collecting field and especially as it relates to

collecting rare and antiquarian and ltd. signed editions of classic authors in the

horror/fantasy and SF fields, but mainly to register my quite considerable displeasure

at disturbing developments in the field, and specifically, the rapidly increasing

disappearance throughout the USA and also Europe and other parts of the world

of actual brick and mortar bookstores, record stores, etc., and what I’m starting

to view as the destruction of an entire culture, piece by piece, and what’s replacing

it is A. bankrupt and B. worthless from the point of view of the serious book

collector/antiquarian, and particularly in the horror/fantasy/SF areas.

I hope to hear from others who are similarly outraged, disgusted,

and depressed about these developments.  I’m also not happy about

the absurd, inflationary prices I see for many rare books in the field from

various still-extant shops and dealers around the world, but particularly

it seems, the USA.  where dealers like the always exorbitantly expensive

L. W. Curry, for one egregious example, continue to highball prices

for most titles beyond what most normal people can even possibly

afford.  Also, lately, I’ve managed to reconnect with such dealers

as Paul Dobish/Other Worlds Books in Providence, RI, only to find

they haven’t had a brick and mortar retail shop for many years,

in his case since 1998, but at least in Paul’s case he still charges

fair prices for his books, and doesn’t cheat buyers in our field

and has always been fair and knowledgeable and that hasn’t

changed, thank goodness.  But even Paul does all of his

book business online and doesn’t even bother to sell at

conventions anymore mainly, as he told me it simply

isn’t really worth the expense or hassle to do so

any longer.

Meanwhile, Sam Gafford, an old friend of mine/author/

publisher/weird fiction expert and comics expert from way back

in the early 1980s when I was first getting into the field, Lovecraft,

and made my first and crucial excursions up to the fabled Providence

for Lovecraftian reasons specifically, and

even more specifically becoming a serious acolyte/reader/fan and aspiring

small press writer in the H. P. Lovecraft world of close-knit

fans, friends, and scholarship and publishing which I got more

and more seriously into as the 1980s and early 1990s progressed,

tells me that even in Providence, RI, but even the likes of

Boston, Mass., have seen the disappearance over the past

several years of key and important book, music and comics

shops and dealers to the point that we’re seeing, basically,

the systematic destruction of an entire culture and way of life,

presumably due to the economy, the Internet, e-commerce,

and the advent of digital media including the dreaded e-books

which thus far I have little use for and certainly no use for

in terms of being a serious book collector/antiquarian for

many years.  But when Sam Gafford e-mails me and tell me

there are hardly any indie bookstores left in Boston or even

Providence, I feel alternately angry, sad, depressed,

sickened, disgusted, and worried among other things.

I happen to be based on Long Island, N.Y., where

the only decent independent bookstore is The Book Revue

(good for basic stuff and remainders but not as

good as it once was for ltd. editions or rare books)

in Huntington, L.I., in Suffolk County, and admittedly

we never, even in the 1970s or 1980s to early 1990s,

had a great plethora of indie bookstores that sold

rare, used, signed, or ltd. edition books of any kind

let alone horror/Fantasy or SF, but there was, at least,

in those days, the outlet of NYC and Brooklyn and certain

shops, such as the Passaic/Montclair Book Center to

sate the serious book fiend’s desires, and I always had

access to The Strand, Forbidden Planet, The Science

Fiction Shop, and Fantasy Archives a fast train ride

away to fill most of my book needs, but nowadays

all we have left is The Strand, not as good as it once

was, and Forbidden Planet turned into a crappy,

glorified comics shop many years ago, so it ceased

being vital, for me and many others, at least by

the early 1990s if not earlier.   I also bought a lot

of books years ago at various fantasy and horror

literary conventions such as NECON and

World Fantasy Convention, where one could

amass key pieces from reputable dealers in the field

quite easily if not always cheaply.  These days,

one goes to some conventions such as the HWA

Horror Writers Assoc. Bram Stoker Weekend

last year in Long Island (of all places) and find

almost no dealer’s room/huckster room at all.

And then there’s the still going but bit of a rip-off

Long Island Antiquarian Book Dealer’s Assoc.

rare book show held every year, even now,

and this past year at Hofstra University,

but now featuring a shrinking roster of

book dealers and, generally, absurdly inflated

an over the top prices that would choke

a Shoggoth.   One rather misguided dealer

at this show last November was asking

an outrageous $750 for a non-signed 1st .

edition of Frank Herbert’s first novel

The Dragon in the Sea, which can be

gotten online for well under $100

if one searches enough.   All told,

the whole situation is disheartening,

maddening, and depressing.

I’ll have a lot more to say in

coming weeks and months on this

and other topics, but I figured I’d

get the whole thing started off

in style today.  I also recently took

an actual old-fashioned bookhunting

expedition to Niantic, Connecticut,,

at the behest of Sam Gafford who

heartily recommended The Book Barn

there a shop with none other than

three locations in the same town,

and I found some wonderfully

affordable pieces but nothing

fabulous in terms of signed, limited,

or particularly rare books in the field

or even out of it, a bit of a disappointment.,

Although, at least The Book Barn

is a real bookstore with multiple indie

locations in a gorgeous town with other

things to recommend it, unlike the

woeful state of things here on Long Island,

minus the possibly not long for this world

Book Revue in Huntington.   But I have

a sneaking fear, considering current

and recent trends, that the days of The

Book Barn, with its 3 locations,

cheap used and remainder deals,

and sprawling actual barns with

actual cute cats roaming around

the property, may sadly be

numbered.

Otherwise, I’m hoping to attract

readers and fans with similar

tastes and interests to this blog,

and I’m also seeking folks who

are seriously fanatic about

the following: Horror, SF, and

Fantasy fiction, H. P. Lovecraft,

Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood,

Clark Ashton Smith, Stephen King (esp. the early classic King),

Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell,

Dennis Etchison, Thomas Ligotti,

and Weird Fiction both Classic

and Modern, Rock And Roll

and particularly 80s, Gothic,

punk, new wave, blues,

heavy metal, folk and trad.,

modern classical music,

and also indie and cult

film of all kinds as well

as classic and European cinema,

and of course, collecting books,

music, and films of all kinds.

I’m also a guitarist and big into

guitars, amps, effects, and

computer-based multitrack

recording, audiophile stuff,

turntables, etc.  gearhead type

stuff but particularly guitars.

With music I’ll post some lists

of likes and dislikes later,

but mainly I’m big into the

following: The Clash, the pistols and

PiL, The Damned, Suicide,

Blondie, Blondie, Patti Smith, Television,

Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones,

Tom Petty, The Sisters of Mercy,

Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Winter Hours,

Bauhaus/Peter Murphy et al.,

Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Church,

The Replacements, Killing Joke,

The Buzzcocks, Pink Floyd,

Roger Waters, David Gilmour,

Motorhead, Mott The Hoople,

Ian Hunter, Elliott Murphy,

Sandy Denny and Fairport

Convention, Nick Drake,

Tim Buckley, John Wesley

Harding, Ministry, The Golden

Palominos,

The Jam and Paul Weller,

The Who, The Rolling Stones,

and all classic blues and

rock folks including Chuck

Berry, Roy Orbison,

Bob Dylan, B. B. King,

Buddy Guy, Lightnin’

Hopkins, Stevie Ray

Vaughan, Albert King,

you name it I’m probably

into it.  I’m not big into

most heavy metal or

“prog. rock” though

I like some of it,

and with metal i dig

Motorhead, Iron Maiden,

Black Sabbath, AC/DC,

Judas Priest, etc. classic

rock and metal for me.

Most new pop music

leaves me ill since most

of it’s so spectacularly

vacuous and hideous

I cannot even believe it.

I see value in bands like

The Black Keys, Wilco,

and a handful of others

but very little in such

horrid pop refuse as

Katy Perry, Lady Ga Ga,

and most others of the

current crop of

bubblegum b.s.

More soon, Scott!

I’m just getting warmed

up here, folks.

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