If You Say So!

We’ll Take Your Word for It

As I took this picture some twelve years ago, I have no idea what this picture is all about. In those days, I used to take a lot of beach walks as a form of exercise. What really motivated me, however, is that there was usually a book store either on the way or serving as the final destination. Now that most of the bookstores in the area have been shut down to satisfy the itching of palms of greedy landlords. The only two that remain—Sam: Johnson in Mar Vista and Small World Books on the Venice Boardwalk—have survived only because the bookstore either owns the building, or a family member of the owner runs the bookstore.

I need to do more walking, though I feel some apprehension as the hot season begins raise beads of sweat on my forehead. No matter. I could wake up early on Sunday and time my walk to get to Small World Books as it opens at 10 am. The things I have to do! Apparently the walk is not sufficient motivation on its own.

As I continue to stare at the picture above, I realize what the photo is about. I strongly suspect that it refers to some benefit conferred by Falun Gong, the Chinese spiritual practice currently outlawed by the Communist Party in Beijing. How did I figure it out? After I wrote the second paragraph above, I looked up Falun Gong on Wikipedia and noticed that the first character in Chinese on the banner is the first character in the name of Falun Gong. Check it out for yourself here.

 

The Raisin in the Oatmeal

Sam: Johnson’s Bookstore in Culver City

Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop in Culver City

My doctor prescribed that I take long walks four days a week. Now that I am working only two days a week, it is much easier to comply. This morning, for example, I walked from Pico and Pacific down to where Windward meets the ocean—along two miles of “boardwalk” including parts of Santa Monica and Venice. My destination was Small World Books, one of the few remaining independent bookstores in West Los Angeles.

When I walk south, I go along Bundy to Venice Boulevard, where (not coincidentally) Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop is located. It is easily the best used bookshop for miles around.

Do I head west? Then my turnaround point is the three-story Barnes & Noble on the Promenade in Santa Monica.

Small World Books on the Venice Boardwalk

Small World Books on the Venice Boardwalk

Even with bookstores disappearing at an alarming rate, I have this book-buying habit that I have to somehow keep within reasonable limits. On my long walks, bookstores are like the raisin in the oatmeal. They give me a tangible reward for all that exercise.

When the temperature begins to heat up, I may have to join an air-conditioned health club that has treadmills and exercise bicycles. Hot weather is a powerful disincentive to outdoor exercise.