Metaphors can be a tool for building strong visual connections and entertain. I’ve thought often about this gem of a store that I found hidden in the most unlikely place. What follows is my attempt to bring to life the emotional links to a place worth visiting if you’re ever in downtown Burbank, CA.
There was once a bright shiny kingdom where the homes and castle were pristine from the care by the townspeople. The farms resided along a river that sparkled at night and provided crisp cold water for crops and an abundance of fish to feed everyone. But one day an ogre ventured into the area. It devoured the crops, drained the river with it’s insatiable thirst, and gathered all the fish for it’s personal store. The townspeople pleaded for help, and the King’s son, a brave and well loved protector, rode from the castle on a great stead, and an army at his beck. At the ogre’s cave, half hidden by a garden of flowers and thick trees, the prince shouted,
“Monster, I challenge you to single–”
The ogre, stung by being called a monster, roared, “Combat!”
“No.” The prince was no fool. Fighting this gigantic monster would likely mean his own death. “I challenge you to a drinking contest. Winner gains all that you have stolen.” At the sweep of his arms, soldiers rolled forth two large casks.
The Ogre laughed. “I’ll not be tricked into drinking poisoned ale.” It thundered forward, swinging a mammoth club carved from some of the hardest oak.
“Ah monster, you wound my honor. I shall drink from both casks to prove that both are the same.” The prince quickly poured a cup from each, and with a flourish, drained both mugs.
The Ogre paused. It’d been long since he’d had such fare, and the victory was assured given his greater mass. “I accept, and after I’ve won I will grind your bones into my fish soup!”
The Ogre ripped a hole into one cask and drained it before the prince could finish his next cup. “I win.” The Ogre roared, before draining the other cask.
“As do I. You shall sleep deeply for a thousand years,” The prince said.
“But you drank it too.” The Ogre thumped to it’s knees.
“Aye. And I took the antidote before coming here. Now sleep without dreams,” the prince commanded. The Ogre fell forward, deeply asleep.
On exploring the cave, amidst the piles of bones from fish and beasts, the prince and his soldiers recovered the crops and found many hidden treasures that helped the kingdom recover.
. . .
Downtown Burbank is a trendy area with a mix of stores and restaurants ranging from trendy to local hangouts. Less than a 30-minute drive to downtown LA—depending on time of day and traffic—it reminds me of being the little sister to downtown Berkley where the museum quality space of Book, Inc. resides. Great weather for walks through a nice area. It’s a couple of blocks away from a mini-outdoor mall that is anchored by a Barnes and Noble (BN). BN maintains a standard spacious two story storefront with pristine shelves filled with the current titles across many genres, and the sound of the blender draws you to its café where you can get a drink and a snack, while reading from your literary selection. The real adventure is found several blocks away.
Almost hidden in plain sight is a dark space between two stores. From a distance it looks like a store that’s been closed, yet is cluttered with movie posters from an era of beta and vhs cassettes. A sign reads Movie World. Tables piled with books sit outside of the store like guardians of a dark cave that—in such a trendy neighborhood—draws one’s eyes away from the store like a magical protection ward that transmits the psychic message, “Pass this place by. There is nothing of interest for you.”
I ignored the warning and peered deeper into the shadows to find an open door where more books lay. Curiosity pulled me inside to find a world, vastly different from the outside. The ogre’s cave had tall bookshelves that carved narrow labyrinths to the back of the store space. Like piles of bones left by the ogre, books are stacked on the floor and crammed into shelves, thus creating narrow paths to explore. All genres are present and grouped accordingly. The books are in good condition, despite the untidy piles and tightly packed shelves.
It’s best to be like an archeologist who explores a past civilization than a treasure hunter. If you know what author or title you seek, you have a better chance of making great finds than to scan and hope to stumble on something special. There is simply too many books in a system that appears composed of random piles of books grouped by genres.
The smell of paper and bindings is strong, like the breath of the ogre—but lacks discomfort. Hunters of books in their earlier printings will make interesting discoveries, such as a boxed set of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia next to a stack of John Norman books from his Gor series, or many movie posters from movies that you may not have heard of before.
There is much to find in Book Castle’s Movie World. If you can get past the Ogre’s magical ward, you’ll find treasures well worth the experience. But beware, the labyrinth of books and artifacts can suck you in for many hours, in which time, the Ogre could awaken.