“I would like to know if you think maybe you are a racist too. You seem to be. “

Photo on 2011-05-08 at 11.22

“I would like to know if you think maybe you are a racist too. You seem to be. Perhaps not everyone is interested in black culture as you are. In addition, how many white bookstore owners have black people come in and buy because the book are about or written by white people? Do you […]

Nina Mae, the Birthday Princess’s Uptown Saturday Night

Saturday evening, March 15th, a full winter moon over West 162nd Street & Jumel Terrace, and some enchanted one it was. It might have been the most Uptown New York cocktail party I’ve been to since the 1980s. There were black & white movie people, attractive people, very well dressed, the gentlemen in tailored vintage, […]

The Book Problem, Pt. 2

Washington Heights NYPL Branch

03.18.14 Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Hall, New York, NY 10007 To: Mayor Bill De Blasio.  cc:  Scott Stringer, Jimmy Van Bramer, Anthony Marx, Vianella Rivas. Dear Mayor De Blasio, As you’re undoubtedly aware, the first plaque bearing your name on the city’s landscape is on the Washington Heights branch of the New York Public […]

To whom it may concern: A Letter on Dempsey Hawkins to the New York State Parole Board.


I have written as an advocate for parole to the board on Dempsey Hawkins’ behalf before.  Since 2006, he and I have been corresponding on many but predominately literary matters.  He responded to an article in The Amsterdam News about my bookshop in Harlem, as did several other prisoners around the country.  My bookshop on […]

From a work-in-progress: A Libertine’s Library


Comely attractions.


The Private Library and the House of Execution are collaborating on a boudoir library, fit for Catherine the Great, of  libertine literature from the 18th century through the ’60′s and ’70′s and featuring the Time Square erotica collections of Kurt Thometz and Michael O’Donoghue. See: Catherine the Great’s erotic cabinet October 16, 2013 by Ivgheny […]

In Memorium: Steven Grant Kramer, 1953-2013.


“How do you do, Missus Willlley?”  It is Ernest T. Bass’s doo-wop in Steven’s voice come from ethernity to wish me Happy New Year, and in my mind’s car I’m on my way to that mythical place, our Mayberry, a Coconino County outside Raleigh, just past Mt. Pilot, second star to the right, where everyone […]

Kurt Thometz’s Little Black Bookstore by Orestis Tsonopoulos

Kurt Thometz, a private librarian to the ultra-rich and a rare book collector with an affinity for African literature, surrounds himself with more than 15,000 obsessively organized books in an 1891 brownstone on West 160th Street in Upper Manhattan. Part-bookstore, part-bed and breakfast and private library, Thometz’s home is situated in a neighborhood steeped in African […]

Harlem, a Poetry Lesson.

Featuring Jumel Terrace Books and The Private Library.  Bruce Weber’s been supportive of the shop for several years now.  Asked about his favorite haunts for the book My City, My New York he talked about our walks around Harlem.  Last January, a shoot he did on location here appeared in German Vogue called All That […]

10 books on Art


      There is nothing wrong with lists of 10 so long as they are disassociated with being the BEST of anything.  I may get more requests than most for 10 Best Books, with admonitions NOT to think about it, from the inquiring minds of the internets, where a Zen-like preoccupation with the doctrine […]