Street 415:Literary treasures hidden near campus

By Greg Zeman
The Guardsman

No, they do not

Recently a reader approached me and asked if The Guardsman pays for my expenses — for instance, a mediocre $13 martini in a crummy, depressing hotel bar. To this I could only reply bitterly: no, The Guardsman does not pay for any of my expenses, alcohol-related or otherwise.

The newsroom does have two utterly unhygienic coffee pots which I avail myself to in emergency-only situations. For example, the morning after my research for the first installment about the Tonga Room. There’s also a bottle of Excedrin, so thanks, I guess.

Excluding the one time my editor covered my brunch ticket – thank you Jen – I have paid for all my frivolities using my own ill-gotten gains.

Because you’re reading right now…

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you can both read and understand what you are reading, and have learned to do so at least partially from some teacher along the way. So, thank a teacher when you get a chance.

In the meantime, allow me to recommend a form of entertainment not dissimilar to the one you are currently using: books.

Those of you who hate books and only want to read about booze can just skip down to the next subhead; I promise we won’t make fun of you while you’re gone.

Books are great because once you learn to enjoy them you can pretty much do so anywhere — unlike other delightful and socially unsavory things that are, sadly, still limited to certain spaces.

Having a book, and being able to enjoy it, is the ultimate form of empowerment in the face of boredom –  even the DMV can’t keep you down if you have two books.

So why have I gone all “Reading Rainbow” on you? Because tucked away behind an unassuming storefront near the corner of Faxon and Ocean Avenues, there is a treasure chest of literary obscurities waiting to be explored.

Ocean Avenue Books is not a well-organized bookstore in the traditional sense. This is not where you go to find a specific title or even something from a particular author or genre. Honestly, some areas of the store resemble a hoarder’s home library.

But if you love books and discovering new titles, this place is calling your name. It’s an excellent place to kill a few hours, learn about things you never knew existed and maybe take home books about those things for as little as $3 each.

I went to Ocean Avenue Books looking for a Jefferson Bible, and left four hours later with a copy of “The 100th Monkey.”

Those of you conditioned by iPhones for instant gratification will hate this place; you will complain that you couldn’t find the installment of the “Twilight” series you were looking for and that there was no coffee lounge in which to be seen typing your screenplay on your laptop.

Those who understand that good bookstores are supposed to be cramped, confusing, dimly-lit hallways overfilled with obscure and ancient titles you can look through for hours at a time without recognizing anything, will freaking love this place, the way I love this place.

Now, back to stuff that only requires the use of our lizard-brains to enjoy.

Hey buddy, sorry to keep you waiting

Pissed Off Pete’s, baby! Yeah!

They’ve got a pool table, Olympia in the can for $1.50, Jim Beam Rye in the bottle and Journey on the jukebox; I would take my Strong Island uncles here anytime.


Ocean Avenue Books: 4/5

Pissed Off Pete’s: 6.5/5

Brass Tacks:

Ocean Avenue Books
Where: 1735 Ocean Ave between Dorado Ter. and Faxon Ave.

Pissed Off Pete’s
Where: Mission St. between Noron St. and Excelsior Ave.
Cost: Cash only

The Guardsman