"City Lights Bookstore, SF"

pastel 20" x 13" 2004

When my Romeo & Juliette in Paris appeared on the Monthly cover, I learned a lot more about the rich history of the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore,which it depicted. It shows a small sign saying City Lights Books in the window. Why? After getting his doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris and frequenting this shop, Lawrence Ferlinghetti moved to San Francisco and opened City Lights bookstore fifty years ago. It would also become a mecca for writers, artists and intellectuals. It helped publish Ginsberg's Howl, and was at the center of the subsequent obscenity trial. It has continued to nurture writers who challenge American political, cultural and sexual values. We thank you, Lawrence. I gave a print to him and he liked it. It is going in the City Lights bookstore archives, and will reside in the Bancroft Library. On the busy corner of Columbus and Broadway in North Beach, its sidekick is the venerable bar, Vesuvio. Since it's all about words, I put lots of them in the image. (R. Crumb, grasshopper, martini, 3 floors of books, paz, we love books, etc.) The banner says Tyranny cuts off the singer's head.I enjoyed finding real SF types to draw, including the bookseller inside.I also liked the prayer flags underneath the American flag and the abstract reflections in the antique glass windows.