Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ghosts of Rizzoli

We lament the closing of bookstores. To quote The New Yorker:
Many of the things that Rizzoli offered its customers (and its staff) are now easily obtainable online: international periodicals, European popular music, and books in foreign languages. But there is nothing online that will replace the ambiance of the place. With its vaulted atrium, marble flooring, and wood-panelled shelving units, Rizzoli looked like the private library of a Medici prince, the sort of place where an Umberto Eco character would hunt down an ancient secret. At times, I felt like I was working for the Medicis, too. Frequented by celebrities, top-name designers, wealthy New Yorkers, and foreign businessmen, the customers were, to say the least, demanding. The proximity to prominence—Hey, isn’t that Uma Thurman over there? Look out, Lagerfeld just walked in—and the baroque décor helped to compensate for the poor pay, the short lunch breaks, and the occasional verbal abuse from those we served. During my years there, Madonna, Michael Jackson, the Queen of Thailand, and Elton John all dropped in. Oriana Fallaci had an office on the sixth floor and would storm in and out as if war had just been declared. We learned to affect nonchalance in the presence of such glamour. When David Bowie came up to the register one afternoon, my colleague Lara Tomlin (now an illustrator whose work has appeared in The New Yorker) looked at the name on his credit card—David Jones—and quipped, “Hey, weren’t you in the Monkees?” (For the record, Bowie was a good sport. He laughed.) (Read more.)


The North Coast said...

This is so sad to read. How often does it happen that over-gentrification kills the very elements in a neighborhood or city that attracted the gentrifiers to begin with, leaving just another sterile neighborhood of cookie cutter glass towers, or overpriced, ticky-tacky townhouses? I have watched this process play out in a dozen neighborhoods in 3 cities, and it leaves a city poorer, not richer, especially when the boom that drove the process becomes a bust, or the trendy people move on to "gentrify" yet another "happening" neighborhood and turn it into another sterile dead zone of glass towers.

elena maria vidal said...

I so agree! It is tragic!

tubbs said...

I can attest to that. I have seen it here in my gentrified Philadelphia neighborhood. It has lost so much of its charm, while its property values keep going up.

julygirl said...

Even the big book stores that gobbled up the small ones are suffering. I knew a book lover whose father gave him a gift certificate for an online book store. He complained that his father did not understand the joy he got from being in a real bookstore, browsing, leafing through books and wandering around to different book sections, as well as the CD record department.