Telegraph Ave.: ‘F— U, Pay Me’

Good news, bad news: There are still two bookstores on Telegraph Ave. But the shopping district is far more depressing than it used to be, with more vacant stores and fewer colorful vendors than visits gone by.

Even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

A few hours after our arrival, music-powered proselytizing had given way to an aggressive fellow striding the thoroughfare with a hand-written placard declaring “Fuck You/Pay Me” around his neck. Vendors were packing up before the sun went down; stores closed at 6 instead of 7 or 8.

Thankfully, Moe’s Books was not one of them. Surviving and apparently still thriving six years after neighboring Cody’s closed shop, the store stands out like a beacon in this faded tie-dyed milieu.

With four floors of books and an uncluttered layout, Moe’s evokes an earlier — and happier — era for independent bookselling.

Sure, Shakespeare & Co. is across the street, not far from Rasputin’s and Amoeba.

But Moe’s gave me the most hope for an indie retail future.

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