With my afternoons free of gainful employment these days, I’ve been spending more time wandering about, which is wonderful and yet a bit scary as I’m so unused to it. I feel as if I should be doing something boring and, well, blatantly gainful, as opposed to something that is interesting yet somewhat more subtly gainful. It’s like a steering wheel has been suddenly thrust in my hands, and my response thus far has been less “I will guide this vehicle to the best route!” and more like “Ooh, let’s see where this road goes…this is a road, isn’t it? Or path?”
In recent days the weather has sometimes been a bit uninspiring, and those afternoons I’ve been spending at the Artland bookshop on Renai Road, in the basement of a formerly ritzy residence across from the former Air Force HQ. Eslite has some nice photographic books, but most bookshops here tend to focus on “How to Get the Most Out of Your Panasonic FX-3810-B’s Autofocus Algorithms (with Codes for Free Customization Profiles!)” rather than actual photography. And what Eslite does have I’ve seen a million times already, so Artland was a refreshing change. So far I’ve sat on a sofa whiling away many afternoons devouring such interesting work as Uncommon Places, Road Trip, Minutes to Midnight, the Photographers Sketchbook, etc. I haven’t found Eggleston’s Chromes there, alas, though I did get a look at them at the Pompidou in Paris. The light at Artland is nice and there is a speaker just over the sofa so that the music is just distracting enough that I don’t feel the need to keep glancing surreptitiously at the cashier, who can’t but have helped notice that I haven’t bought anything yet and must be tired of the little gasping sounds I make when I come across a particularly lovely print. I am thinking about buying something, though, possibly one of Webb’s books.
It was drizzling out when I emerged back onto the street after a long stint on the sofa this afternoon, and I noticed that most of Taipei has replaced its streetlights with bright white LEDs instead of the ugly yellow lights they used to have. I walked back up Renai and through the knotted maze of a neighborhood in the general direction of Dongmen Station, passing one of the most impressive trees I’ve seen in the city, and a great deal of cats. I love this town.