I spent a wonderful day in San Francisco last weekend, primarily going to various places in the Mission. I stopped by Owl Cave Books. They’re located on a block set aside for “Art, Hobby & Business,” as the modern metallic sign above the row of shops says. While I browsed Owl Cave’s assortment of international small press publications, my significant other spied on the cats in a cat inn next door. Diversions for all! And as always, I dropped off some flyers for the Sequoia House Chapbook Prize at Owl Cave, evangelized them on the project, learned more about their history and their rather ambitious work.
From there, we explored the area further, looking for a print shop Brian at Owl Cave had directed us to, the Aesthetic Union. He said it was near Heath Ceramics, which I blanked out on at the time but should have remembered since my uncle has some of their stuff and I read a feature on them years ago in the Chronicle. In either case, they’ve been making austere, beautiful ceramics since 1946. They have a showroom and a factory in the district and are a temple to art in their own right. Worth checking out. Heath Ceramics and Aesthetic Union (which, unfortunately, was closed), as well as an odoriferous bread factory, Pan-O-Rama, and Tartine Manufactory, the swollen child of Bar Tartine, all share the same resplendent block. In exchange for tagging along with me, my partner forced me to have dinner at Tartine.
Finally, we also swung by Dog Eared Books, which was quite busy that night, too busy for me to talk to anyone about the Chapbook Prize. I did, however, peruse all their chapbooks and pick up the two pictured below, Warden, by Rebecca Wolff, and Metamorphosis, by Lena Hofman and Dino Kužnik. Prior to that, at Owl Cave, I had picked up, Sur, the inaugural issue of a bilingual journal based out of Mexico. The issue is full of heady reflections on music, in particular the music of Conlon Nancarrow. What can I say other than that it satisfies a swollen child like me.
I—a swollen child—I sing forth
All through the oppressive night;
Though my song may sound not mirthful,
Still it frees me from my plight.
-Heinrich Heine, “In mein gar zu dunkles Leben”
(The first photo in this post is taken from owlcavebooks.com and the second from Google Street View.)