"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wWednesday, August 13, 2003

PARADISE TOSSED: My column this week is another downer, I'm afraid. On Friday, I found out that the best bookstore in the whole wide world is no more. My tear filled, ink stained tribute:

Located for years in northeast Portland, on the intersection of 33rd and Killingsworth, [Fritzler's Books] was never easy on the eyes or the olfactory sense. The dust mingled with the must of old books to send people with allergies away in coughing and sneezing fits. It was in a rough enough part of town (near my home from years one to six) that most literate Portlanders gave it a pass.

But the books! Granted, there were the normal shelves of literature and sci fi and such, just as in any other bookstore. The aisles, the back room, and the hallways were also packed with new shipments that arrived throughout the week. Owner Ken Fritzler would heap more and more boxes, attempt to process them on the weekends, and usually fail.

So: Customers were always awash in a sea of books. This discouraged many but inspired an odd cast, including yours truly, to wade right in. Occasionally, from the recesses of the store, someone would unleash a tidal wave of print and we would all stop digging until we heard the usual yell: "I'm OK!" When our arms tired of treading, we would stop to smoke or bicker about local goings on or tell stories or argue about whatever came to mind.

Fritzler would often get a phone call and take off for half an hour, with the final words "nobody take anything," and, the hell of it is, while I was in the shop nobody ever did. It's conceivable that somebody snuck out with a book under his shirt, but if the shoplifter had been obvious about it, he would not have made it out the door on two legs. The regulars would have tackled and hogtied him, and called the cops. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:09 AM