And the books will burn.


I noticed this young couple reading. I made the block and parked across the street, walked up and shot their photo. It didn’t occur to me until later that I noticed nothing in their pockets: no phones, no media, no headphones. They weren’t waiting for anything. They were outside reading because it was good outside, and they read in silence bracing each other, absorbing the sentences, and it filled me with a kind of warmth I hadn’t sensed in years, in many years. I was just thinking earlier about the feeling of holding a paperback, the old and good feel of it, and while once in awhile across the city, I see someone reading a book, this scene was too perfect for me not to capture. Going by my own career, and seeing how big ebooks out-sell paperbacks, the rise and domination of that: paper is dying. Downtown a few days ago, I drove up First and waited at a light. Looking around, every fucking face was buried down into a phone. Bus stops, smoke breaks, walkers, drinkers: faces down, smart phones. I said to myself, “And the books will burn.”

Seeing these two made the drinks taste better tonight, and the thought of smoldering punk burning up into a flame of orange and blue and silver crossed my mind the same way coffee crosses blood. Back home behind the machine, blasting vintage metal and waiting for summer.

About Jeff Stewart

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