Alternative Bookstores

I wrote of my favorite bookstore in Los Angeles when I lived there in the ’60s, Papa Bach. I still have a bookmark from the store that I cherish but periodically misplace in some obscure book I never finished, but Papa Bach has not been around for many years. In 1994 a similar local alternative bookstore in the L. A. area was nearing the end and an article in the LA Times reported this in a rather poignant way. At least we still have City Lights and Gotham (although Gotham is much more literary and less avant-garde).

For our historical reference, here is the article about the Chatterton bookstore in its last days:

Don’t Write Chatterton’s Finale Yet : Landmarks: The bookstore may have fallen on hard times, but fans and employees refuse to give up.

At its zenith, it was dubbed many things: City Lights South, Papa Bach East. As alternative bookstores go, a veritable shower of supreme bohemian accolades. But of late, Chatterton’s Bookstore in Los Feliz rests precariously on its hard-earned laurels, cushioned only by its memories. Loyal customers have been polite enough to ignore the empty shelves, the scaled-down staff, the quiet deterioration. Community commentary is often succinct, rhetorical: “Seen Chatterton’s lately?” a waif in granny dress and monkey boots asks her dreadlocked lunch date over a pot of jasmine tea at the neighboring Onyx cafe.

In a neighborhood that in the early- to mid-’80s threatened to metamorphose into a scaled-down, west-of-the-Mississippi version of Greenwich Village–a string of cafes, restaurants, flower shops, a live theater space and movie house–Chatterton’s Bookstore sat at its heart.

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