Shortly before I moved to Tucson, Arizona from Lawrence, Kansas, a small bookstore opened its doors on 7th Street, just off Massachusetts Avenue. It was called Raven, the year was 1987, and it all started with friends from college, Mary Lou Wright and Pat Kehde, who loved mystery novels. Lawrence, Kansas’ downtown has always been a thriving retail scene, even to this day. When large malls were all the rage, one had to drive to a Kansas City suburb for that kind of action. LFK managed to keep them away.
So it’s no huge surprise that Raven was, and is, successful. Downtown Lawrence is where the population goes to shop, goes to drink, goes to eat. Raven changed hands in 2007 when Heidi Raak bought the store, and she sold it to employee and current owner Danny Caine in 2017.
To survive the pandemic times, Caine starting shipping books across the country. According to an article by KCUR/NPR, “Before the pandemic, only 1% of the Raven’s sales took place online. Now, it’s closer to 30%. They also offer local delivery and curbside pickup, in addition to in-store browsing.”
They also moved to a larger location right on the main drag, Massachusetts Street. It allows them to have a backroom for just the managing online sales along with a newer and larger retail section facing the street. Caine says, “You can't compete with Amazon in terms of selection or speed, but one thing you can have that they don't is a point of view that people really celebrate. And you have your curation."
Goddang, this should be good. Brings a nostalgic tear to my eye. I bought my first Beatles record at Flynn’s Sundries in Riley, Kansas, 1964, and it was most likely Please Please Me. That sound grabbed my little 4th grade crotch, as it did millions of others, and eventually played my first bar four years later in the 8th grade. Pay was slightly higher then…
I first became aware of Nick Offerman playing the character of Ron Swanson on the hilarious Parks & Recreation show several years ago. A brilliant ensemble cast, that. Besides acting, he is also known as a producer, writer, and professional carpenter. His new book, “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play,” was inspired in part by his conversation with the agrarian poet-philosopher Wendell Berry, and a hiking trip he took with the writer George Saunders and the musician Jeff Tweedy.
A podcast titled “There Are Better Riches Than Commerce and Other Lessons From Nick Offerman” is funny, irreverent, and uplifting, and it’s on the Ezra Klein show which you can hear here.
And, you can order his book from Raven by clicking here!
Perpetual Grace, LTD. One of the best TeeVee shows ever. The Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson meet at David Lynch’s New Mexico home. It got a lot of haters on IMDB in the review section, so there’s that. Most writing on the tube is insanely predictable and maybe it’s for a reason–that’s what the general public wants. Wrap every plot up with a tidy bow. This show doesn’t do that. Boohoo.
The cast is perfect. Jimi Simpson is the lead character along with Damon Herriman, who I’ll watch hawking local appliances after his portrayal of Dewey Crowe in Justified. In addition you have Ben Kingsley, Jackie Weaver, Terry O’Quinn, and Luis Guzmán…damn. O’Quinn plays a Texas Ranger named Wesley Walker and whenever somebody says Walker, Texas Ranger to him, he goes “yes?”
We stumbled onto it when we subscribed to Epix to watch Godfather of Harlem. If you have Amazon Prime Video, you can subscribe from there for 2.99/month. We’ve been hopping around subscribing for short periods of time to various platforms to watch specific shows. We had HBO Max for two months and our Netflix and Hulu accounts are currently on pause. We also try to patronize local ‘video’ store Casa Video and Film Bar as much as possible.
The New York Times reported that “Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that her agency will formally begin the process of identifying federal waters to lease to wind developers by 2025.” Of course, big oil and gas will get their panties in a bunch as well as the fishing industry. And, hell will freeze over before this proposal moves forward if Republicans take back political power in 2024. Brrr.
Tito Romero and Jacob Robles, friends since childhood now in their early 30s, spent about five years planting gardens and installing rainwater harvesting systems in people’s backyards before they and other members of the collective began leasing a 4-acre portion of their closed former elementary school to grow crops and build a sense of community right here in Tucson, Arizona.
They have since started The Midtown Farm in the Barrio Centro neighborhood, a closed former elementary school space that’s about four acres in size. Romero says the farm is a way of restoring some of the lost community space adding that the goal is to someday buy more or all of the 9.5-acre campus to accommodate growth.
Although urban agriculture has a long history, Barrio Centro is part of a more recent movement to increase food security in underserved, largely ethnic communities while retaining or reclaiming cultural traditions and values that people can share and express through those spaces.
This project, among others, is part of the Flowers and Bullets Collective, who seek to reclaim and amplify our cultural roots through sustainability, art, and rebellion–to liberate, heal and empower our community.
Read more about the project here.
And to cap today’s post, the odds were with Ruth earlier this week.