Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Friday, August 31, 2007

There are some things you just remember.

Let me tell you about one of them.

It was 1985, and I was living in Santa Cruz California. In those days Santa Cruz still had much to recommend it. The cyber-boom had not yet gotten into full swing over the hill in Silicon Valley, so a person could still afford to live there. Things were getting worse by the day, but had not reached the state we find the town in today with people paying $400 a month for the privilege of living in a closet in a house with eight other people.

One of the best things about Santa Cruz in those days were the bookstores and the coffee shops. The town had taken one of the streets on the old central part of the area and turned it into an open air "mall".

The Pacific Garden Mall, looking much as it did twenty two years ago

This was before the 1989 Loma Prieta Quake devastated the downtown area so the landscape was a great deal different than what you will find today. For instance, the Cooper House was still standing.

The Cooper House on Pacific Ave before it was reduced to rubble by a 6.9 quake

On the mall, there were three bookstores of note, Logos Used Books, the second best used bookstore in the world (first place being held by Powell's in Portland, OR), Plaza books, which was pretty mainstream, but holds a very special place for me, and Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of the very best independent bookstores ever.

On the day I am recollecting I was a bit bored, so I headed down town to Bookshop Santa Cruz to see if any books of interest might have arrived.

It was one of those day that make Northern California such a nice place to live. Perfect temperature, not a cloud in the sky, A slight scent of salt water on the air.

I ducked into the bookstore and began to prowl the shelves. After about a half hour I ran across a book by an author I didn't know.


It was called "The Man who Never Missed" by a fellow named Steve Perry.
There was something about the back cover blurb that was attractive, so I bought the book and headed out the back door of the bookstore to grab a cup of coffee at Caffe Pergolesi, one of my very favorite espresso joints, which was, at that time, attached to the back courtyard of the store.

Five hours, and five double cappuccinos later, I finished the book. It was damn good. This Perry fellow was a good writer and an even better storyteller (which are not exactly the same thing).

He made it right then and there onto my list of "Writers who I always look for any time I go into a bookstore).

Over the years I have read everything of his I could get my hands on, even special ordering "Windowpane" when I couldn't find a bookstore anywhere that carried it. I have never been disappointed.

As it happens, we even got to know each other. We share a love of Indonesian Martial arts, and sharp, pointy things.

I have met many writers over the years. A good number of them were rather disappointing, Steve was not. As it turns out, he is a fine fellow, the kind of person who SHOULD be writing the books he does.

I make mention of this because today he officially enters early middle age, so


>>>Happy Birthday Steve!!!<<<

(Yea! Huzzah!!)

My you write as many books as want, and may each be more successful than the last.

(Oh, I forgot to mention one of his sterling qualities, unlike some Silat players, Steve has exelent taste in beer).

9 comments:

Steve Perry said...

Thanks, Mushtaq. I appreciate it.

I must, however, point out, that, old as you and I are, I did not write that book in 1885 ...

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Excellent qualities my ass! Senile ramblings on hoppy pisswater is more like it.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

...However, the 1885 bit, I believe. Weren't you guys teenagers back then? Or am I thinking of the Bronze Age?

Sophia said...

I was just getting ready to say, that you look much too young to have been around in 1885!

Sounds to me like you devour books. I remember when I was like that, before I developed weird reading habits.

Oh, and happy birthday to Steve, too!

Mushtaq Ali said...

Well, I often feel like I was around in 1885.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, me, too. Especially with all these wet-behind-the-ears pups yapping hither and yon ...

Steve Perry said...

So, your birthday too, eh?

Congratulations. You're the only guy I know older than I am. (Like being Louisiana -- bad, but at least there's always Mississippi ...)

Michael B. said...

Great pics Mushtaq....it seems a lot of the cities now prefer ripping out the culture for a mini mall. I do agree with your love of good book stores with MANA!

murid_aisha said...

Guru Mushtaq,

This note is quite late.. but I absolutely think the world of Steve (I still called him Mr.Perry for months after meeting him because he is so admirable it seems as though he needs a title of some sort.) When will you rendezvous with us PDX side?

Thanks,
aisha