Stalking the Wild Animus!
LIKE big game hunting? Sure, there, Frank Buck, we all do.
Here’s a fun hunting game that you can play when you and your pals are in a thrift store – any thrift store – in the greater Los Angeles area, and the best part is, you won’t actually be killing anything, so those morons at PeTA will have no reason to throw red paint on you. Unless you’re wearing fur or eating KFC.
What you do, see, is you head over to the book section and have a race to see who can find this book first:
It’s a quick game – it will only take a moment or so before you (or your pal) will find it.
Why? I don’t know. What I do know is that I have come across this book in literally every single thrift store in LA County (and often, beyond) for the last six years. And brother, I been to plenty! Hoo boy, I been to palennnty!
Back at the beginning, you’d see this invasive species in large flocks – twenty, thirty books together, often occupying an entire shelf, leaving precious little room for the graceful and majestic Tuesdays with Morries, the peaceful Bridges of Madison Countys, those gentle giants of the lower shelves, The DaVinci Codes, and, perhaps most tragically, the once abundant but now endangered I’m OK – You’re OKs and The Cracker Factorys. I can go on.
Then, as the months and years went by, the numbers of this once prolific creature had dwindled to smaller packs – five or six copies per store. Today it’s definitely still out there, but the herd has been thinned to just a single copy or two in each thrift shop. Nature has a way of adapting, and perhaps realizing its days in thrifts were numbered, Wild Animuses (or Animii) have recently been spotted migrating into used book stores and remainder outlets where they’ll peacefully live out the rest of their lives, unmolested and unsold.
You think I’m lying about this whole Wild Phenomenus of course – you’ve never trusted me, which is one of our problems we’re still working on when you even bother coming to therapy – but I know plenty of folks who will back me up on this: shifty secondhand book dealers, filthy thrift store regulars, and people who just need a place to sit down for a few hours so they grabbed a random stack of books to leaf through at Salvation Army while occupying a broken Barcalounger in the furniture department.
Now, what’s most fascinating is that at least two distinct subspecies of this book have been sighted – possibly more. There’s the version above – which actually has been the (slightly) rarer one in my experience, and then another with a dark, primitive-looking aboriginal-type image, which I used to see everywhere.
A little online research reveals that the book is the product of a vanity press founded by its very author, Rich Shapero. He wrote it, and he published it. Kind of like I did in the late 1980s with my Ann Jillian zine, though apparently Shapero had a bigger budget and didn’t have to make copies at Kinko’s at three a.m. and sneak out without paying.
Oh, great. This is just freaking wonderful – further online research uncovers the aggravating fact that I’m far from the first person to cover the ubiquity of this book.
So the hell with this, I’m done wasting my time for you people. Oh, sure – clearly I should have somehow magically foreseen that blogging was going to be the next big “thing” and started this website and wrote about “Wild Animus” way back in 2007 before anyone ever heard of “blogs” much less the Information Superhighway.
…Okay, so this isn’t a total waste, let’s start over.
Like big game hunting? Sure, there, Bror von Blixen-Finecke, we all do.
Here’s a fun hunting game that you can play when you and your pals are in a thrift store – any thrift store anywhere.
Head over to the LPs and look for Herb Alpert albums.