Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bikes, books y typewriters.

The mind is a magical labyrinth with a few hidden layers and a myriad of corners which trigger one's memory.

I walked into a book store like a fish would go straight into a florescent bait. LP's and books are florescent to me. The Beatles, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the window at this shop has beautifully arranged and it rotates displays every few weeks, I'd estimate. Today, the last day in May, this window was freshly finished.
taken with mi mobile.

Due to my extreme curiosity, I've found out that the 33 ⅓ book series have accepted proposals for 2013/14 new releases.
33⅓ is a series of books written about music albums, featuring one author per album. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, the series is edited by David Barker. The series title refers to the speed of an LP album. -wiki
They have also posted their complete list of series (from 2003 to May 2012) on their blog: A complete list

Once I walked inside the bookstore, two books I have read placed next to each other said hello to me. Patti Smith's Just Kids + Keith Richard's Life. The latter being the thickest hard cover book I can remember reading in the last few years. That old pirate has plenty to say and share. Both good reads, will make you listen a little closer to some of their early works and I found them both somewhat parallel, I recommend them.

I found these images awhile ago wanted to share them for quite some time now. This is the right time and right post for them.
I'm not sure nor do I care if they've made the internet rounds previously.
All these findings and thoughts often come together like poetry, the gap we don't mind gets closer between New York and London along with the sound of some heavy riffs in the background.
Here are Smith +Richards on their bikes:

Patti and her bicycle. Meatpacking District, New York, NY. 1999.
Patti +her bicycle. Meatpacking District, New York, NY. 1999. Credit: Steven Sebring via flickr

The tricycle shot is included in his book. Both Keith Richards photos found via Google.

I don't particularly find the bookstore's clerks friendly, but that is not a problem. Moving on.
Speaking of its displays, earlier in April they had my favorite window display arrangement (so far).
It was pleasant to walk past it whenever I found myself in transfer mode between the buses 1California +the 22 Fillmore, which is also at the intersection of this bookstore, next to a coffee shop – how convenient!
cherry red everest
cherry red everest. taken with Hisptamatic - April 11, 2012

The coffee shop adjacent to it is Peet's. Also, yesterday while I was on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street, I heard this man say "I'm waiting for you here outside the Starbucks, the brown one" and I thought that was particularly cute. Not because of who is who in the big corporate coffee business and their proximity with their beginnings blah blah blah. But because the man was well into his late 80's, had a smartphone with him, spotless worn shoes, a dandy hat and he was able to express quite clearly where he was without being specific. That was perhaps the way he describes this particular spot to his partner, his kids. Who knows.

Back to the typewriter +old charming men, if you have bought a poster from me, you may have seen a note or your address written on my typewriter included with your purchase.

I'm only the 2nd owner of a beautiful Royal Quiet typewriter that I believe is from the early 60's, possibly the 50's, which was handed over to me by a very special Italian man who is no longer with us. He was into his mid 90's and was one of the first business men to settle in Cow Hollow (we are talking about almost 70 years ago) and got his start as a baker in North Beach. Awhile back in 2008 he asked me if I knew any shop that would repair the typewriter's ink reel. At the time I was working in Berkeley so I said sure, there are a couple of places I could think of, and the machina was once again running like new. He still sent letters to his relatives in Italy.

There is a strong link of love and gratitude and I consider Rico family. Every time I visited him, he always offered me coffee and a tiny glass of Campari. Warm the belly, and warm the soul.
He always smiled and asked about my job and family. And if I was still riding that bici (in Italian the sound is bee-chee). He was an amazing baker, and I feel very special to have received several years his infamous cookie baggies with Italian cookie treats during the Holiday season, with my name on it.

Rico +son. San Francisco circa late 60's
It is also the right time for me to express and share with you this special bond. I miss hearing his loud classic music on the flat upstairs on the weekends.

I use the typewriter almost everyday since Rico's passing last year and before returning to blogging (which I had considered done with) I wrote many letters and notes, many of them sent, many of them not – to slowly begin to think and give my mind a small break and a somewhat creative therapy outside the web. He passed a few days after my brother did. 2011 was monster. A monumental beast.

The typewriter continues to be a pivoting tool for me to communicate and send letters via snail mail. I feel tremendously special to be able to continue this tradition and pounding on it constantly and that his machine has not been abandoned with no one using it. I think Rico would be pretty happy to know that, he wanted absolutely nothing to go to waste and he was an inspiration for me to learn about his work ethic and background as an immigrant hard worker. Anything is possible if you work hard at it, and be good at math.

the royal deluxe

By walking past the bookstore yesterday with coffee in hand, it triggered multiple layers of thoughts, feelings and words, songs and an aftertaste of Jack Daniel's roughness mixed with the multiplicity of Campari – as I type these lines to share with you.

The universe talks to us, it is easy to be too busy and miss its quiet whispers.


  1. Replies
    1. Miss you Meli! So glad you are back at it! I was sad when u left!

    2. many thanks kesha, that is so sweet of you. do stay in touch

  2. Haven't had the chance to welcome you back to blogging yet, so welcome back. You were missed here too.

    I have always looked forward to your posts. I must say I am enjoying your current posts even more - they seem to have a slightly different voice to them.

    Thanks for sharing your notes, photos and spirit.

    Peace from Oaktown.

    1. dear oaktowner, many thanks for the warm words +welcome

  3. Beautiful post Meli. The story about Rico and his typewriter in particular. Un bacione xxx

    1. grazie mile carina, he was from turin :)

  4. Outstanding post.

    Thank you for sharing.

    I have two typewriters (one from each "side" of my family!) in my basement that I can not bear to throw away / free-cycle.

    I shall unpack them and fire them up tonight.

    Thank you.

    1. you are very welcome Tim, thanks as always for reading +your support
      do keep me posted if you do that, I bet some inspiration will be sparked

  5. qué bonito Meli!

  6. Hey Meli, that's a really beautiful story about your friend and the typewriter. That Royal is a good one, for sure. Lord, typing was definitely the most valuable thing I learned in high-school. I still can't spell or use proper grammar or punctuation, but that's not the point... When I got drafted into the Army back in the late 1960's they eventually found out I could type, so I spent my days in a comfortable office typing up a storm, instead of being assigned to demeaning tasks such as KP or guard duty.
    --And thanks for reminding me of the Keith Richards book... I just got through ordering it, used, on Amazon. A whopping $4.50 + 3.99 shipping.

    1. I am always fascinated by all the tasks, classes and activities that continue to adjust as the times+technology so rapidly changes. My mom took secretary courses when I was in daycare and the sound of 35+ typewriters going at full speed is a very fond memory I'm surprised I am able to recall so well, along with the smokey-smell of the building.
      thanks for your thoughts as always and for serving our country. let me know what you think of the KR's ramblings :) xxom

  7. People these days make fun of typewriters but somehow, receiving notes that are handwritten or typewritten the old-fashioned way seems more personal to me. It certainly makes me feel nostalgic.

    1. it is so easy to be wired+connected 24/7 that I like the snail mail form very much.
      tactile paper, smell and the handwritten form are beautiful.
      thanks for stopping by anonymous

  8. I put one of my old typewriters in my daughter's room, on a bookshelf. One day she took it down, and started using it. Whenever I walk past her door and hear her tapping on those keys, rather than texting or other online activity, I smile a little. People still appreciate that rare thing, an actual, personal letter via snail mail, and I believe that your friends who receive them from you consider themselves most fortunate. xo

    1. that is a great story, thanks for sharing JRA. I'm sure she will find a new appreciation for things that are considered almost obsolete but with a fond, slow and personal meaning for each note and letter that is written :)
      thx as always for your comments xxo

  9. Meligrosa, Thanks for a brilliant post.

    Old Dude

    1. you are very welcome old dude. gracias for stopping by <3

  10. I would luv to receive a letter from you! Continue to heal my sweet Meli <3


    1. thx for the kind words beautiful <3
      send me your mail addy: bikesandthecity /at gmail

      +this goes to anyone wanting to receive snail mail

  11. Love your stories, Meli. And what a beautiful typewriter!

  12. many thanks brad, glad you enjoyed it as much as i do sharing it xxo

  13. What a beautiful story about Rico. Sometimes having memories and feelings triggered unexpectedly, while out in the world, is hard, but I like the idea of being open to what the universe is saying.

    Taking time to sort out thoughts by writing on a typewriter is an alluring thought. I seem unable to organize my thoughts when writing by hand, but often the computer feels too much like work, not personal enough. When I was a girl my dad gave me his old Army typewriter and I very seriously pecked away on it in my bedroom, imagining that I was already the author I assumed I would one day be. :) That typewriter was lost sometime among a series of moves, but now I'm going to keep my eyes open a thrift stores for a new old one.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I love hearing your perspective on the world.

    P.S. Patti Smith on a bike = awesome!

    P.P.S. "the Starbucks, the brown one..." :)

    1. that is charming memory dottie, thanks for sharing. I had no idea you grew up as an army brat until recently reading your new blog, very fascinating. it would be great if you build new memories with a similar typewriter, I can't imagine what these older machines have seen, typed.

      +yes, isn't that Patti Smith's image just as rad +poetic as she is, I am absolutely in love with it.
      and listening to old people's very unique fashion of describing things, makes life okay for the moment being. I am an avid listener to that language.

      and thank you for your words, as always. xxom

  14. Well, you know it's going to be a good post when it starts with a sentence like that!

    I also have a strong attraction to physical objects, especially ones like books and records which not only are interesting objects, but contain so much humanity. I still buy a fair amount of new music on vinyl (most recently, Sigur Ros' new album), and I will generally refuse to read electronic books unless I can't find a real one. Not out of any kind of ethical snobbery or feeling that eBooks are evil or anything - it's just that for me, the touching, feeling, smelling, visual textures, typography - it's all part of the experience for me, and reading an eBook, all of that is totally gone. It would be somewhat analogous to "eating" via a flavorless pill, or caressing a smooth, glass version of your lover.

    It's amazing how a single moment's impression can trigger a reflection over an entire lifetime. How our brain stores so many intricate connections between things - people, experiences, smells, sounds, colors... it's a crazy indexing system, and it sure causes a lot of surprises. Glad this one brought Rico out for all of us to meet. I wish I could have tried his cookies!

    I suppose I may be out of luck, as I hate math. But maybe I can still accomplish some moderate success :)

    I think typing on a typewriter, in a way, is kind of like shooting film photography - you have to be more deliberate, thoughtful - because you can't just send what you just did to never-never land with the push of a button. Once you click the shutter, or press they key, it's done. It's permanent. Of course, you can throw away the photo, or rip up the paper, but it just somehow feels more indelible, more definite. You've just brought something physical into the world, and it's not so easy to remove it.

    Thanks for the post - it's always nice to come upon a blog entry that takes a little time and thought to digest before feeling capable of commenting. I like that.

    1. Dave, this is well put, quite beautiful.

      it is now so easy to rapidly share things that we often forget what tactile, senses and time we put into just ordinary life minus all the gadgets+technology and this extremely fast pace for some of us.
      I'm entirely with you on the senses, most of my friends have made good fun of me for 'always smelling things' - well yes I am just extremely curious in may aspects of life.
      I don't think extremely genius math, just basic logic in the subject, if that makes sense ;) which to me often doesn't until it is a bit too late. One thing I am very proud of is investing in my education. anyways.

      Film, paper, music and communicating via this internet, I look forward continuing doing so with you and everyone that can relate, read, digest slowly and take a few moments to absorb this strange+beautiful life.
      thank you. xxom

  15. ^^^
    THIS is a fanTAStic comment.

    Very well-put, Dave.

    My head hurts from nodding as I read it!

    *fist bump*



with coffee in hand, sincere thanks for your readership ×