Booking the Future

When Libraries Are Destroyed,
Bad Memories Drive the Protest

When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, last Tuesday, destroying its free makeshift library, it unwittingly joined a sad and brutal roll call of fanatics that stretches back many centuries.
The NYPD became just the newest member of an infamous club that includes the Taliban, German Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Imperial Japanese forces, The British Empire, the Catholic Church, and an assortment of despots and bloody occupation armies across time, religions, cultures and ideologies.
All at one time or another, have been singled out by history for being responsible of the destruction of millions of books. The volumes will never be recovered or even identified, and those who did away with them exist now mainly under the general banner of scourge. But what has been lost to mankind certainly goes way beyond their horrific Continue reading

Hallowed Ground

Houdini’s New Grave
& Poe’s Bronx Cottage

Perhaps no other two public figures are more intrinsically connected with Halloween than Harry Houdini and Edgar Alan Poe. Fittingly, there seems to be always fresh new stories about them too.
Houdini, who died 85 years ago tomorrow, famously promised to give us a sign, proving there’s life after death. We’re still waiting.
And Poe, who preceded him to the great beyond by 77 years, will be forever attached to tales of the macabre, even though his claim to literary immortality comes from his detective stories.
Hungarian-born Houdini, escape-artist extraordinaire with a Freudian relationship with his mother, was skeptic about the supernatural, but inspired a generation of then-called occultists.
Poe, who was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore and died on Oct. 7, 1849 without ever regaining consciousness, was a true believer in the afterlife, but his name’s often mentioned along that most rigorously of law-enforcement sciences: forensics.
Lastly, both will be forever connected to New York, by the way of Continue reading

Potter’s Field

Tomb of Harry Potter Is
Magnet for Tourists in Israel

Now, that’s enough to inspire J.K. Rowling to go back to her old, beaten typewriter and come up with yet another installment of her officially concluded book saga franchise. One of Israel’s most sought after touristic attractions, right up there with the Western Wall, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the town of Nazareth, is the grave site of Private Harry Potter, an English soldier who died age 19 in 1939.
It’s an odd and far away location from the fictional life of such Continue reading

QWERTY

A Day for Typewriters & the
Typists Who (Still) Love Them

It was when computers finally conquered desktops at newsrooms of the world, in the early 1980s, that the takeover of the publishing business started. With the blueish glare of their screens, they sent typewriters packing to warehouses, and their users to retraining classes.
Legendary war correspondents, ace reporters, wizards of the print information, all resented the silencing of the roaring clack-clack of Remingtons, Underwoods and Olivettis. It’d been Continue reading