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The end of Clovis Press - Black Box Miasma [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma

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The end of Clovis Press [May. 2nd, 2006|03:35 am]
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
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Sunday started rough.

[Clovis Press is a wonderful bookstore in Williamsburg that has been a large part of my life for the last several years.]

My friend called and said, "Dude, they're taking all of the shelves out of Clovis. Is it finally closing?"
"What!? I dunno. I'll be right over."

I got dressed and called Aaron. "My friend just called and said they're pulling shelves out of Clovis. Do you know what's up? Is Clovis finally closing?"
"Uh... Yeah. I should've called."
"No shit you should've called! What's up?"
"The other day the landlord came in when a bunch of legal papers and told us that the store had 48 hours to get out."
"Yeah. So are they selling everything for $1?"
"No. And the owner is there." [The owner dislikes me, and I dislike her.]
"Figures. Even at the end, she can't get it right."

I dunno what I felt. Slight shock. Disappointment. But mainly anger.

Anger at the owner, NOT anger at the landlord. When Aaron, Angela and I worked at Clovis Books, things were great. Great for the store, which we ran well. Great for us, because we ran a store we loved (even though we didn't make any money). Great for the owner, who watched her profits increase, and got three managers for the price of three peons.

The owner was never around; the only thing she did was occassionally bring a bunch of random junk to sell outside (typewriters, pots, lamps, any junk that caught her eye when she was upstate). We hated the junk, thought it was bad for business, and eventually convinced her to stop selling it.

The three of us ran the store together. The owner came by once a month to pick up the money and to sign the checks. Angela handled the finances, wrote the checks, and made sure the (financial) books were in order. Angela wasn't as big of a book person as Aaron and me, but she knew what books sold, what the neighborhood kids would be interested in, and she was a hell of a saleswoman. Aaron completely knew zines and the alternative press, and had a firm command of history texts and non-canonical literature (specifically, revolutionary writers and non-Western writers from the islands, Africa and India). Aaron also brought the store 'street cred' because of his writings and punk recordings. I knew books; I knew how to sell; and I knew what sold. We added shelves; reorganized the store, and turned it into a quirky place for political writings, zines, expensive graffiti books, and all things fringe (before us, the owner's boyfriend turned the store around; he started it on the path we followed). It worked.


I got into a massive fight with the owner and she fired me (I had a friend work at the store when a fill-in didn't fill-in for my shift). Because of that, Aaron left, and shortly after, Angela moved to San Francisco.

The store went to shit.

About a year or so later, Angela moved back to NYC. "I hope you're not mad," she told me, "but I'm going to run the book store."
"No, that's great! I never go in there anymore, and the store looks like shit since we left."
"Yeah, I saw. And it's also not making any money."
"And I'm talking about buying it from the owner."
"Wow! Well you better bring Aaron and I on-board."
"Definitely. But the owner still hates the two of you, so it will take awhile."

And it did. But eventually Aaron started working again. We found out that the owner hadn't paid any of the distributors. She didn't pay them when we were working there and when we were making decent money, and she definitely wasn't paying them now. While we were gone, the store's daily profits dropped by over 60%. The store could no longer get ANY new books and most of the distributors were threatening to sue. The owner hadn't even paid off the Zapitistas (we carried their coffee, which helped them raise funds). Think about that... The Zapitistas! The owner owed the Zapitistas tons of money. She owed the small press down the street tons of money. The small press that was partially ran by Aaron and the owner's former boyfriend who helped build her store and who was still supposedly her friend.

The more I knew, the angrier I got. But I wanted the store to stay. I loved that store. Aaron and Angela however, were losing faith. They also loved the store, but had doubts that the owner would ever come through and give up control. And they were worried about the legal problems of sorting out the debt and re-establishing a good connection with all of the publishers and distributors who wanted their money and who were starting to sue.

Our plan of taking over the store, and running it as we used to, was falling apart. I had some money, but not enough, and couldn't do it by myself; also, the owner hated me and there was no way I could deal with her directly. My only hope was convincing Aaron and Angela to convince the owner to sell. But they changed their minds and thought that the store was a sinking ship.

It was.

It has.

I miss it, and it's only been two days.

As you can see, the store before was called "Downer's Pharmacy." When I first moved here, it was a boarded up shell.

Damn, that's a sad sight for me. Clovis was named after the owner's dog, who was one of the coolest dogs I've ever known.

Clovis, of course, was named after the French quasi-mystical king.

I'll miss you Clovis Press.
You'll always have a special place in my heart.

But the story isn't over. I was standing with two friends glaring at the owner, who was moving things out of the store into her car. Cartoon daggers were flying out of my eyes when my friend says, "Hey, isn't that ___?"
I looked around and noticed she was directly in my line of sight; the owner was right behind her. "Yeah."
"Are you still not talking?"
"She hates me, dude."

___'s roommate was standing next to me. "It's true," he said.
"Well can I talk to her? I mean, I'm going to talk to her; I hope you don't mind."
"No, talk to her! She's a great person; she just hates me."
"For that comic thing?"
"What did you write? Crazy stories you had with her?"
"I fell in love with her. She was my best friend and I fell in love with her. I wrote about that."
"Damn. Ok. Yeah, that makes more sense. So you really fucked things up?"
"Ok... well, I'm going to talk to her. She'll talk to you with me around."
"No. No she won't."

And she didn't. I was talking to her roommate and she didn't even say hi to him because he was talkign to me.


I felt like shit.

She walked away.

Two important and large chunks of my recent life that were lost, lost, lost.

Aaron's new book helped me out. It's about stasis and loss, but it's also about the change that happens even in the most stagnant situations. It's a book about the impotence of young middle age. The age where the possibility of fresh starts is quickly dwindling away, and were individual quirks and problems start to solidify into unchangable patterns. But even then there is change. The change may be illusory and may obviously being leading to nowhere in particular, but the point is that change still happens and that nothing is stagnant.

One of Aaron's gifts is 'getting it.' He's been in your emotional state and probably experienced the shit you're going through right now. He doesn't give any answers, but it's nice to know that someone has been there, and that, hey, it may not solve itself, and it may come to no good resolution, but there are still beautiful things that happen after.

The day started horribly. (I also read a deeply disturbing post from Momus that I hated, but which got me thinking about identity politics, the role of art, and the validity of violence, but that's a post for a latter day.) However, the day ended well.

Good friends; art; good music. By the end of the day, I barely thought of Clovis or ___.

I'll continue this post tomorrow.

[User Picture]From: dorothy_parka
2006-05-02 02:00 pm (UTC)
that sucks about clovis. it's a shame when a place that can really serve a purpose in a community gets mis-managed like that.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm still mad. What the hell did the owner do?
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From: mybillee
2006-05-02 02:45 pm (UTC)
Sorry about cloves and _____.

At least a beautiful day got your mind off of it all. For a minute at least.

She didn't pay the Zapitistas for their coffee? What? I'm sorry, but this person is f u c k e d up. That right there say's all ANYONE needs to know about what type of clueless idiot she may be. Sorry, but she f u c king is.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 03:31 pm (UTC)
NO reason to be sorry; I agree.

And the last two days were great lazy days. I still thought about Clovis and ___, but not much.
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[User Picture]From: notkoan
2006-05-02 03:15 pm (UTC)
what did you find particularly infuriating about the momus post? its generalizations are no more overextended and tenuous than usual.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 03:30 pm (UTC)
True, but it was directed toward people I know.

Generalizations, in general, piss me off, but Momus' generalizations remind me of grad school and identity theory, and remind me how enthralled I was, and how, at the same time, I was completely repulsed. I thought a lot of the basic tenants were pathetic, and was never sure if my lower class background simply colored my world-view to dislike anything that struck me as bourgeoisie. Anyway, his screed made me re-visit all my old problems with thinkers like Dworkin and McKinnon.

I dunno. It's worse when it's directed to individual people you know. By all accounts, Ian is a hothead, but I agree with his sentiment, and totally disagree with Momus' statements about violence and American youth music.
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[User Picture]From: notkoan
2006-05-02 03:45 pm (UTC)
yeah, i think following down the path of identity politics was a big mistake from the left. since identity politics was concerned mostly with representation, it's not all that surprising when the right emptied the rhetorics of identity and filled them with their own agenda. like the way "fair representation" has come to mean fox news and teaching creationism in science classes.

momus's conflation of american music with violence is a bit ironic, considering in japan the noise scene is so intricately tied into BDSM culture...
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 04:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with all of this.

As I told him, Scandinavia and Japan are making the most extreme music in the world, yet no one conflates those musics with the larger culture. Momus even constantly talks about how wonderful Japan is. I just think if you're going to make sweeping generalizations, then they must be true for all.
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[User Picture]From: notkoan
2006-05-02 04:57 pm (UTC)
he mentioned violent onsen geisha one post before the japanther post. hehehe.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 07:08 pm (UTC)
Nice catch!
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From: ex_hotlavamo352
2006-05-02 03:30 pm (UTC)
Haha, truuuuuuuue.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 03:32 pm (UTC)
Where are those hands from???
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From: ex_hotlavamo352
2006-05-02 04:26 pm (UTC)
I dunno. I picked them up in some icons community. Probs hellisforicons.
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[User Picture]From: ghastlymess
2006-05-02 03:44 pm (UTC)
Fuck fuck fuck fuck.


Fuck a goddamn duck, fuck. I know you have issues with the owner, but it was still the best in the neighborhood, as you state there...damn.

I am not going to Spoonbill Sugartown to get my damn books, the wrong place closed.

Damnation. I'd like to link to this, that ok?
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-02 04:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I was fucking pissed. I knew it was coming and was hoping that there was a way to prevent it. The owner fucked a good thing up.

And, yeah, of course you can link to it.

And I no longer have your number. Was going to call about drinks, since I'm avoid being online when I'm not at work.
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[User Picture]From: purldrop
2006-05-02 07:47 pm (UTC)
that totally stinks about clovis. does Angela know the landlord? she should try and negotiate for the space and you guys can start a new bookshop with a clean slate.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-03 01:42 am (UTC)
She just doesn't seem interested. Neither does Aaron.

It sucks.
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-05 10:17 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. The workers were trying to get ahold of everyone who had books there... Sorry about that.
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From: shockshockins
2006-05-08 05:07 am (UTC)
ahhh just stay away from the shop I saw it tonight for the first time, since she was out. I don't know what to say I don't know what to do. Ahh
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From: shockshockins
2006-05-08 05:08 am (UTC)
the cosmic love it had is gone and filled with bad voodoo black magic hate
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[User Picture]From: uberdionysus
2006-05-09 05:27 am (UTC)

I'm soooo mad.

Soooo mad.
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[User Picture]From: lenskeeper
2006-05-29 11:20 pm (UTC)
Hey I know who this is. Give em shit girlfriend.
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