David Kipen, known to many in the field of California Studies, has returned to Los Angeles from heading the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read”, and what he’s done is open a new bookstore/lending library in Boyle Heights called “Libros Schmibros.” The Los Angeles Times had a “Column One” article about it Nov. 9. From the article:
In its few weeks of existence, Libros Schmibros has become a humming salon of activity and a fixture of Boyle Heights’ blossoming 1st Street arts district. The corridor, whose development was partially spurred by the opening of the Gold Line rail extension, includes the Casa 0101 Theater and Corazón del Pueblo, an arts, education and social-action collective across the street from Kipen.
Casa 0101’s owner, the playwright and screenwriter Josefina Lopez, teaches a weekly screenwriting workshop at Libros Schmibros. A speakers’ series featuring local authors has approached Kipen about using his premises to host an after-lecture party.
Kipen likes to joke that he was “the first Jew in decades” to move back into Boyle Heights. The store’s name — “libros” is Spanish for books, “schmibros” is a kind of neo-Yiddish-ism — is both an inside joke and a sly reference to Kipen’s belief that today’s Latino residents of Boyle Heights are the natural successors to the Eastern European Jewish immigrants who helped revitalize U.S. culture a century ago.
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The store, at 2000 E. 1st St., is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., and by appointment “or rapping on the glass.” Its owner usually can be found decked out in shorts, running shoes and a Hawaiian shirt, asking customers what they like to read or commiserating with the neighborhood State Farm agent about the lousy condition of the Dodgers. However, Kipen’s faith in Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, like his faith in literature, remains unshakeable.
” Thomas Pynchon taught me to write and Vin Scully taught me to listen,” he said.