Cometbus 51 The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah zine cover

Cometbus #51: The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah

by Aaron Cometbus Author

This issue of Cometbus is a history of the East Bay through the lens of independent bookstores and their mercurial management. Aaron has delved into East Bay history to produce this complex set of interweaving stories. He has done a ton of work on this issue, combining information gleaned from over 40 individuals. The stories are as obscure (to most people) as they are engrossing, and a whole secret history of Berkeley's Telegraph Ave. is revealed. Entrepreneurial booksellers and their long-standing feud, street vendors, and the Symbionese Liberation Army all make appearances. There's also back-story on Cody's Books, Shakespeare and Co., and Black Oak Books. And of course Aaron still manages to personalize it, with a pervasive sense of sentimentality and charm. Although the zine's central focus is on Telegraph Avenue, the underlying story is of the complicated relationship we often have with place.... and of course a great character study of people who are passionate about books, a precursor to Aaron's New York City bookselling stories in issue 56.

Comments & Reviews


Cometbus, #51, "The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah" telling that history of Mo's, Codys, Shakespeare bookstores battling or prodding
one another on Telegraph and its diaspora, lives small and large get embedded in there, huge shifts in mores and fashions, codes and values, wow,

this is one of the few things I have read that really captured the nitty gritty of Berkeley life as I knew it from 1967-1976 and endless revisits
back there to tally mostly the losses, the sense of sad entropy, maybe something will survive it all though it does not seem much well, will except for the food and the stories and some lingering ghosts...or in the diaspora of that from Santa Cruz to North Berkeley or Walnut Creek or worse...

It's an awesome work of urban studies and insider ethnography, but alsoso much of the communal longings embedded in what a bookstore/small press work stands for and is, so much getting lost from the materiality of place
and the tensions of history now all going offline or offshore, just some ruined allegories as Benjamin knew and this author get all into so tenderly...Rob Wilson


happy late birthday.