Farewell, My Friend

 

Borders is going out of business. I went to my hometown Borders for the last time when I was visiting a few weeks ago.

Borders in Henrietta, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The manager had left a goodbye note of sorts at the front door. In it, he mentioned that the store had opened in November 1990. I was 15 years old. I honestly can’t think of any specific books that I bought at the store; I just recall many an afternoon and evening sitting at the café with Daisy and Marge et al., philosophizing about life and perusing books and magazines.

The last book I bought there: Strangely enough, in the bargain section, I found a hardcover copy of A Lion Called Christian, my recent obsession. Kind of spooky…

I am sure I will be making visits to the Boston Borders up until the bitter end. But yesterday was my first visit.

Borders in Boston, MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is still quite a bit of inventory. I bought a travel memoir that I had just read about in a magazine, A Walk Across America. It’s the story of a young man who walked across America in the 1970s. One of my dreams is to drive cross country someday. I hope it comes true.

I will miss Borders. I fear for the future of bookstores, I truly do.

I Change by Not Changing at All

I saw Eddie Vedder perform solo a few days ago. I was 16 rows away from Eddie Vedder. It was nothing short of amazing. I’ve seen Pearl Jam before, but it’s been at big venues in which I couldn’t even see the stage.

Eddie has picked up the uke and recently released an album of Ukulele Songs. So he opened the show with a bunch of those songs. He can really tear it up on the ukulele. He then moved on to a bunch of different guitars and other solo and Pearl Jam songs. He was chatty between songs, and seemed to have interesting things to say. Unfortunately, I don’t know what those things were, because there were so many drunken buffoons in the audience. Every time he would start talking, buffoons would start yelling out nonsense! So rude! I was librarian shushing the nimrods.

He played one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs: “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.” I listened to this song ad nauseam one year in college; I believe it was sophomore year, 1994. There was one lyric in particular that I loved: I change by not changing at all. I have a thing for paradoxes. My 19-year-old self could almost understand what he was getting at…I was on the outside, looking in at the elderly woman.

Well. As I listened to that lyric two nights ago, it chilled me. I have become that lyric. For months I have been struggling with the fact that my life is no different than it was 12 years ago when I moved to Boston. This stagnancy is changing me, and not in a good way.

This is getting too heavy for a Friday night. Back to Eddie. Even though I don’t follow Pearl Jam as closely as I used to, I will see Eddie again if he tours solo. I was impressed and thought he put on a great show. And he kept a sense of humor re: the Bruins insanity (the show was the same night as Game 7 of the Cup finals). Is Boston the only city in the United States that insists on doing sports chants during rock concerts?

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

When I bought a ticket to a Weezer show at an outdoor venue a few months back, I thought to myself: May 19. It will be a nice spring evening at one of my favorite concert venues (Bank of American Pavilion).

Sadly, I was mistaken. As I listened to the opening act last night, looking at my breath as I exhaled and feeling a mist of rain gently shower me from a sideways angle, I knew it was going to be a long night.

Which it was, but it still rocked my world. I think it’s partly due to the midlife crisis I’ve been stuck in for the past 10 years or so. Weezer’s debut album (and its most popular, I think) came out in 1994. So when you’re at a Weezer concert, and you hear the opening chords of the “Sweater Song,” you and the hundreds of other audience members are turning back the clocks to ’94 in their minds. I was a freshman/sophomore in college without a care in the world! (I realize now.)

Rivers was very endearing, which made the weather more bearable. He flailed around like Kermit the Frog at times. He also engaged with the crowd a lot…and sang “Pork and Beans” with his sweater over his head kind of like a burka.

At one point, someone threw him a towel that he used and then showed the crowd. It was a Bruins playoff towel. The crowd went ballistic. If I ever leave Boston, I will secretly miss the crazy sports fans.

I saw Weezer a few months ago, as well (maybe Rivers has a soft spot for Boston since he went to Harvard), and ever since then, one particular song sometimes gets stuck in my head. It’s a f’in good song.

“The World Has Turned and Left Me Here”

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

I just made love with your sweet memory
One thousand times in my head
You said you loved it more than ever, you said
You remain, turned away
Turning further everyday

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

I talked for hours to your wallet photograph
And you just listened
You laughed enchanted by my intellect
Or maybe you didn’t

You remain, turned away
Turning further everyday

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

You remain, turned away
Turning further everyday

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

The world has turned and left me here (Do you believe what I sing now?)
Just where I was before you appeared (Do you believe what I sing now?)
And in your place an empty space (Do you believe…)
Has filled the void behind my face

Do you believe what I sing now?
Do you believe what I sing now?
Do you believe…?

Season 4

Back from a whirlwind tour of western NY. Skinny Atlas was a nice little town. Not much going on there. As my mom and I discovered, you can’t really drive around the lake like you can at other Finger Lakes. We did drive around it, but half the time couldn’t see the water. And the other half was spent trying not to veer into the water, we were so close to it.

Checked out the Jello Museum; it was fun. There are a lot of cool Jello artifacts in the gallery: old advertisements, packaging, and historical tidbits, of course. There is an homage to its famous spokespeople, Jack Benny and Bill Cosby. I was reminded of the goodness that was Jello Pudding Pops; remember those? I loved those damn things.

I had fun reading through the book of stories that patrons were invited to write down. Lots of fond Jello memories out there. Here’s one that made me laugh:

I was SO busy during this visit that I only went to Wegmans once. And that was at 5:30 am on the way to the airport before heading back to Boston.

I now have to get working on the birthday list…it will be May before I know it. But first, I am going to watch Season 4 of Mad Men. It has finally arrived on Netflix. I never thought the day would come!

RIP, Borders on Boylston

 

I have been following the cringe-worthy demise of Borders over the past year or so. I have always preferred Borders over Barnes & Noble. The preference stems from the fact that the local Borders was one of my high school hangouts. Who knows how many times I went to Borders to browse and sit in the café with Daisy and Marge. Countless times! It was probably my third home. Well, tied for third. (Second = Wegmans. Third = a tie between Borders and the mall.)

Fast forward to 2006. When I saw that a new Borders was opening across the street from my office, I was psyched. Since I was working in publishing, I naturally needed a part-time job to supplement my income. Bookselling seemed perfect.

I think my whole Borders experience was so unique because I happened to work at a brand-new store. My coworkers and I (the majority of which were exuberant college kids, with a sprinkling of professionals such as myself [hi, Melissa!]) literally put the books on the shelves before the store opened. It felt like “our” store.

I spent approximately two years’ worth of Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Borders on Boylston Street. Some nights of boredom (being stranded in Paperchase)…some nights of excitement (thieves stealing DVDs, homeless people doing weird things in the bathrooms)…most nights, I enjoyed helping people find books and enjoyed talking about books and being silly with my coworkers.

Things gradually started to change. The college-age kids graduated, or found other jobs. My fellow professionals got burned out and quit. The original dream team was no more. I eventually quit because the pay wasn’t worth the late nights anymore.

Fast forward to yesterday. In the morning, I read that Borders had filed for bankruptcy. Within a few hours, it was announced that 200 stores would be closing, 6 in Massachusetts. I looked at the list. There was Borders on Boylston.

I always feel sad when a bookstore closes. I don’t really care if it’s part of a big corporate chain, or the neighborhood bookstore. It’s still one fewer place for people to browse for and buy books. The higher-ups at Borders have screwed the pooch and the store closings must happen. Borders owes millions of dollars to publishers. I do hope that the company can rescue itself and get back on track someday.

And RIP, Borders on Boylston.