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Karen Zuercher

Culture, Books Get Cracking

Get Cracking

Maybe it's the time of the year, or maybe it's my age or stage of life, but an existential fear of not mattering has taken hold of my insides. It's not a pleasant sensation, and apparently I'm not the only…
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Culture, Books Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life

I heard about the sperm book from an artist friend, and I had to see it. "It's at Moe's," he told me, referring to the used bookstore in Berkeley with the amazing collection of rare volumes. He was talking about…
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News, Sucka Free City Game Play

Game Play

If you don't play a lot of videogames — that is, if you have a life — it's hard to understand why anyone would wait in line for days to buy a new console. And despite the media frenzy surrounding…
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News, Sucka Free City

Family Values

Though some gluttons for punishment might have spent this past Saturday studying their 300-lb. voter information guide, about 250 parents instead dragged their kids to Pipsqueak-A-Go-Go, a dance party for families held at the Rickshaw Stop. If this event sounds…
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Culture, Books Win Some, Lose Some

Win Some, Lose Some

It's never clearer how movies and books exist in alternate universes than during the fall awards season. In the cinematic world, the last few months of the year bring on the Academy Award hyperbole, as the phrases "Oscar-worthy" and "red…
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Culture, Books

Stand Up, Comics

I'm glad to be female when I say that comic books have never been part of my reading list. Because if I were a guy, I'd pretty much have to admit that I read Spider-Man and Archie as a kid,…
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Culture, Books X and Why

X and Why

When Mary Austin's boyfriend proposed to her, he letterpress-printed his question on a papyrus card. She didn't answer him right away; in fact, her immediate response was, "Thank you." Austin, co-founder of the San Francisco Center for the Book, had…
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News, Sucka Free City

Hopelessly Devoted

We all have dirty little secrets. Here's one of mine: I know every word to every song on Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John. You might think it wouldn't be easy being an Olivia fan in San Francisco, where retro is only…
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Culture, Books Where To?

Where To?

Let's play a game. Close your eyes and picture the house you lived in when you were 5. In your mind, walk through the rooms, paying special attention to the forms of entertainment. What do you see — a television?…
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News, Sucka Free City


During my vast stretches of free time — between working full time, raising a 1-year-old, keeping my family in clean clothes, and remaining married — I like to catch up on my reading. For me, that means books, but I…
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Culture, Books Picture This

Picture This

You may have heard of Pablo Picasso. He was a painter and sculptor, I understand, and the co-founder of cubism. He was also, many people don't realize, a prolific book illustrator. He contributed drawings and etchings (Wikipedia says 34,000 of…
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News, Sucka Free City

Sistah Kamala

Have you ever been so embarrassed for somebody that you felt it in your gut? I felt that way last Wednesday night as I watched our high-profile District Attorney, Kamala Harris, participate in an Urban Slam "spoken word face-off" at…
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Culture, Books Bookstore Love

Bookstore Love

My first instinct when I read the news about A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books going up for sale — followed closely by the news that Cody's Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley closes in July during its 50th year…
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News, Sucka Free City

Not-So-Fun Run

Bay to Breakers is always crazy, and what do you expect from a huge crowd of people getting drunk, taking off their clothes (or most of them, in any case), and pretending to jog across the city? It's less like…
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Culture, Books The Condescension Club

The Condescension Club

My sister was the first one to identify me as a book snob. I've always read a lot of contemporary fiction — whatever's new in paperback, mostly, because I took a lot of public transportation (back when I had time…
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Culture, Books Secret Fiction

Secret Fiction

It didn't start off promising, but by evening's end it was worth the trip. On my way in to dinner, the rain was pissing down (doesn't it ever just fall softly?), and I had trouble finding parking near the Thai…
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Culture, Books Speechless


We start our lives looking at books with no words. Before we can read, at just a few months old, we like the feel of a book in our hands (or our mouths), enjoy flipping the pages and watching the…
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Culture, Books Political Affairs

Political Affairs

The bar was packed on a Monday night for the reading in support of a Texas Congressional candidate. How many words in the previous sentence can you identify as odd? First off, the bar: The Make-Out Room, a wonderful Mission…
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Culture, Books In the Stacks

In the Stacks

Let's talk about the future. But first, this year: Google started scanning the pages of library books to allow them to be searched from any computer, and both the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers sued to stop…
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Culture, Books Cover Up

Cover Up

The other night on Stacked (oh please, you know you're curious) the bookstore employee played by Pamela Anderson traded insults in Yiddish with a formerly ugly old friend played by Jenny McCarthy. This was after the two characters felt each…
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