Bankruptcy Reprieve?/Normal Life Resumes
I’ve spent the last 3 weeks talking about, reading and writing about, and worrying about the bankruptcy proceedings affecting us and a hundred or so other independent publishers whose books are distributed by Publishers Group West. As of Monday, 1/22, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. The Perseus Book Group is proposing to take over distribution for PGW’s publishers and pay publishers 70% of the money owed them for the last 4 months of 2006. For us it would be a hit, but nothing like it will be if the worst transpires. There are all kinds of legal maneuvers going on now, so we’ll see. If you want to see the tons of stuff written about it, do a search in Google for +AMS +PGW +Perseus. News flash: The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ilana De Bare, wrote the best summary of the bankruptcy mess in today’s (Jan 27) edition: https://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/27/MNG9DNQ8TM1.DTL
In any event I’ve stopped obsessing over it, and decided to get back to work, to things that are positive and creative. Hey, making books is what publishing is about!
1. Builders of the Pacific Coast. I’ve finished the rough layouts for the California builders and am now starting on the Canadian guys. A book at this formative stage is still defining itself. It’s not as if I’m following an outline or have a definitive plan. I put it together a 2-page spread at a time and the material dictates the form. At a certain stage, things start falling into place.
2. The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook For Green Building is in the final stages of translation from the Portuguese and Spanish versions. This book, by Dutch architect Johan van Lengen, is about design and construction with natural materials such as adobe, bamboo, wood, thatch, straw, and cob. It’s not the usual 4-color fancy building book, but rather a straight-forward, easy-to-follow handbook with many hundreds of clear step-by-step drawings and seasoned advice. The Spanish version has sold 200,000 copies.
3. Aother book under translation is Micro Architecture by Kesaharu Imai of Tokyo’s World Photo Press, for which we will be co-publishers. This is a unique 480 page color compendium, with over 3000 photos, of small buildings AND barns, sheds, shacks, treehouses, birdhouses, tents, tipis, boathouses, drawings. all with witty layout. The design of the pages in this book was a big influence in our design of Home Work.
I tell you, it’s so great to be accentuating the positive once again. The last 3 weeks have been grim. My definition of purgatory is to spend my waking hours (and sleepless nights) contemplating legal complexities.
“Illegitimi Non Carborundum.”
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”
-General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell’s motto during World War II.
4. I’m going to be one of the featured speakers at the annual Timber Framers Guild conference at Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey Calif. in mid-April. My main talk will be on carpenters of the Pacific Coast and I’ll also give an earlier presentation titled The Countercultural Revolution and Evolution of Natural Building in North America, tracing the roles of the Whole Earth Catalog, Shelter, and the counterculture in helping inspire today’s huge interest in building with sustainable materials.
5. In June I’m giving a talk to the Big Sur Historical Society on the house and homestead I built there (at Burns Creek, 2 miles north of Esalen) in the mid-’60s. I guess if you stick around long enough, you become historical!
Miscelany: a week ago I was driving along Highway One and two women were out flagging traffic to a stop outside a ranch. “What is it,” I asked one of them, “cows?” “No,” she said, “horses.” At that moment about a dozen horses (Morgans) came practically flying across the highway, manes flowing, at full gallop and disappeared as suddenly as they’d appeared. A powerful sight.
I’m up to running about 3 miles. recovering from a knee operation. When I was injured I thought I could get by without running, but it wasn’t true. As Jeff Galloway says, it’s an addiction. Being able to move through the woods and on the beach again gets my motor and mojo working. Circulación!
Also back to riding my skateboard, more conservatively in the downhill runs, trying to avoid the impact of high-speed bailouts (by which I mean jumping off before getting out of control), doing of which creates mucho knee stress.
And on the subject, if you’ve got knee or shoulder problems, I recommend checking out the Stone Clinic in San Francisco (https://www.stoneclinic.com/) Dr. Kevin Stone has been successful at “tissue regeneration,” using stem cell technology. He does “biological joint replacement,” which means for example, rebuilding a new knee without any metal or plastic. There’s a huge emphasis in the clinic on rehab, with 5 highly skilled physical therapists and a small gym. If you don’t live in the SF area, and you’ve got knee or shoulder problems, it would be worth searching for other doctors in the country who utilize this approach.
A training device the clinic turned me on to is the Bosu Balance Trainer, a wonderful training device for balance, “core strength,” and quads of steel. (You can do stuff on it while watching TV.) A great exercise is to turn it over, pneumatic side down, then do squats or leg movements while balancing; it works yr. leg muscles from all angles. Costs $125. If you go to a gym, see if they have one to try out.
The egret that has graced our garden over the past few weeks, continues to appear.
There was an interview with David Milch, the creator of HBO’s Deadwood, on one of the the series’ DVDs. He talked about creating on the spot, letting the actors’ strengths direct much of what he wrote, changing things at the last minute, winging it. He also talked about his interest in all things in life. He said, “I’ve never been on any road that I didn’t find interesting – you just have to know how to look.”