Word Up- a Video, a Petition, and a Story

So, if you’ve been wondering about Word Up, the new community bookstore I posted about awhile back, here are some things to take the edge off of your curiosity.

First, a really cool video made by volunteer DJ Boy, so you can see what the place actually looks like!  (Though the layout changes all the time…)


I love the song he used.  It seems really perfect for the space.  I also love the wall art with the guy with the big book bling.  The part with the kids talking comes from a presentation they had pretty early on in the life of the bookstore, which was this play/presentation called Dig It, written, created, and performed by Northern Manhattan kids as part of a workshop based on Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States.  I recommend all of the things that went into this performance… collective theater-making, Howard Zinn, Northern Manhattan kids… all pretty great! 🙂

Next, we’re now trying to figure out a way to stay permanently in the space or at least in the neighborhood, so here’s a petition about that.


You can sign it even if you aren’t from Northern Manhattan, so if you like the idea of the bookstore, don’t hesitate!

I’ve been enjoying my time volunteering there (aside from the fact that I seem to be facing a small curse related to turning the lights on and off).  A fascinating mix of people comes through the store in the course of a night or afternoon, and so many are so excited about the bookstore.

Today a man named Eddie Spaghetti came in and bought photography books from the bargain section.  One had pictures of European castles.  He showed me one, saying it was Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.  I don’t know if he meant a castle that was used in the movie (he was a fan of the one from the 1930s) or the actual castle of Vlad the Impaler, or what.  In any case, he told me that the castle had been on sale for… I think it was a hundred million dollars, at a time when the New York Lottery was three hundred million.  (Does the lottery even go up to three hundred million?  Shows how much I know about this..)  So his plan was to buy a lottery ticket, and if he won, buy the castle.

“I’d still have 200 million left,” he told me, laughing, “Use it to buy blood for the man.”

His favorite artist is Escher, and he rhapsodized for awhile about this Escher painting called Metamorphosis.  He gestured around the room, showing me how large it is.

“It goes all the way around, all the way from here…. all the way around the whole room.”  He described how one thing transformed into another, and then back into what it had been.  I liked the idea of this.  He told me that the painting is in Rhode Island, if I remember right, and that he wanted to go and see it himself. I thought of the paintings I have seen myself.  How beautiful they are up close.

He told me, too, about a boy who had cancer, and then his father snuck cannabis in the kid’s IV, and the boy got better and was hungry.  While the procedure sounds highly suspect, the detail about the hunger held my attention.

“There’s all this stuff we don’t know, about bark and plants and stuff,” he said.  And I agreed.

I thought about Dracula and transformation.  We talked about prison, about people in prison for drugs, about the books that people bring to the store.  He talked about how much a simple book can be worth, in money, if it’s a first edition, has a dust jacket.

After awhile he left.

Here’s a picture I found when I looked up “metamorphosis by Escher.”


So there’s my Word Up story for today.  If you’re in the neighborhood, don’t forget to stop by!


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