"City Lights Bookstore II, SF"

pastel 14" x 11" 2004

When my Romeo & Juliette in Paris appeared on the East Bay Monthly cover, I learned a lot more about the rich history of the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore, which it depicts. It shows a small sign saying City Lights Books in the window. Why? (See below). Located on the busy corner of Columbus and Broadway, where Chinatown meets North Beach, its sidekick is the venerable bar, Vesuvio. The four banner poem starts with Tyranny cuts off the singer's head, and is quoted below. As in my first City Lights Bookstore, I enjoyed finding real SF types to draw, including the Chinese man flagging down the MUNI bus, and a motorcyclist. I also liked the abstract reflection in the antique glass window.

After getting his doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris and frequenting the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore, Lawrence Ferlinghetti moved to San Francisco and opened City Lights Bookstore over 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.) He continues to visit his good friend George's shop in Paris. I sent a print to him, and he was pleased. It will go into the archives and reside in the Bancroft Library. More are available at my studio and website.

Banners read:
Tyranny cuts / off the / singer's head
But the voice / from the bottom / of the well
Returns to the / secret springs / of the earth
And rises / out of /Nowhere