Thanks to my friend Bryan (the same guy who writes Soup Noodles, mentioned in the previous post), I’ve found the ideal base of operations while here in the Bay Area: the Hotel Rex, a block or so off Union Square. The Rex is a classic old San Francisco “small” hotel — sandwiched in the middle of a block on Sutter among other businesses and hotels, with only 90 or so rooms. But it’s perfectly located, well maintained, and has both wireless high-speed internet and (in many rooms) air-conditioning (don’t let them put you in the rooms ending with the number 15…none of them have airconditioning apparently because of the fire-escapes).
The Rex is also located near amenities: the (very surprisingly good) Borders books on Union Square, and the UPS store, which is necessary to ship back all the books I’ve bought so I can still make the “one carry on” rule at the airport. The Rex is also right down the block from the Hidden Vine, an underground wine bar in the 600 block of Post. The bar is very nice and the proprietors committed to a great wine experience. I didn’t find a lot to my taste on the menu, at least this time, but fans of domestic wines undoubtedly will.
Speaking of book stores, what’s up with Cody’s in Berkeley? Normally a staple of my excursions to the Bay Area, Cody’s had almost no books on the shelves. Are they moving? Doing inventory? Hanging up the shingle?
Fortunately, Black Oak Books (up Shattuck by Chez Panisse) has gotten even better. Their new section dedicated to philosophy and the history of ideas is both massive and brilliantly stocked. I managed, in half an hour of looking at every square inch of the section, in piling up some 20 books. Naturally, common sense or guilt or the lack of desire to explain the receipt to my financial advisor got the better of me and I pared the stack down to just “the essentials,” but somehow the essentials still included some Zygmunt Bauman, Robert Brandom, Charles Taylor, Robert Axelrod, Ian Hacking, Quentin Skinner, etc. Previously, I’d snagged some Rorty and some cognitive science at the Cal Berkeley student store (oddly better than both Moe’s and Cody’s right now), so I figured that was a good enough haul for now.
Today I’ve got to pack all these books up and ship ’em to Seattle, where they’ll join their brethren in being tucked away so as to not spoil the staging at my house, to be read soon on the deck of the new house.
UPDATE: Cody’s on Telegraph is indeed closing in early July, after years of losing sales to chain stores and Internet sales, apparently. This is really a sad thing — one of my favorite things about a day in the Bay Area was shopping at Cody’s and then taking my purchases across the street to have a giant tossed salad at Cafe Intermezzo (which is fortunately still going strong). A moment of silence for the passing of a once-great book store….