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The Journey Down 50 Main Street

It has been an exciting couple of weeks around here. In the midst of frantically prepping for BEA, we received advanced copies of our much-anticipated title, 50 Main Street: The Face of America by Piero Ribelli. From the second we heard about Piero and this project we knew it was a perfect fit for C+Co. Piero moved to the US when he was twenty-seven to start a new life as a professional photographer. He made it his mission to visit all 50 states before he was 50. Along the way he photographed the address of 50 Main Street in every state. The outcome is breathtaking…

“…Each picture rests in the belly of the soul of generosity, in doing so they give one a view of America which has been diminished and needs to be revisited. Piero is a visualist of profound moral worth; his pictures allow one to hope and smile…” – Larry Fink, Fine Art Photographer

This has been such a long and rich journey for Piero, so we invited him to blog about it this week. Enjoy!

I can’t believe it’s finally here.

Last week I received the advance copy of 50 Main Street, eight years after shooting David, my first subject in Washingtonville, NY. He’s the guy on the cover, by the way.

I have been printing mock-ups for the last seven years so I was very familiar with the images and the layout of the book, but when I opened the box Chris sent me from the printers, I couldn’t find words to express my joy.

Except for WOW!

Eight years of my life flashed through my mind. 16,000 miles of driving, from the initial explorations of New York state in search of the first subject to the straight highways of the Mid West, from the desert roads of New Mexico and Arizona to the snow storms I had to survive going across the Rocky Mountains. 31,000 miles of flights, taking me to exotic locations such as Hawaii and Alaska but also to more mundane places like Florida and Ohio. All of this with the excitement of a child, discovering new places and looking forward to encountering new people. The subjects that became the soul of 50 Main Street are now my new friends and not one day goes by without something reminding me of them.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to think of the days before 50 Main Street. It has taken so much of my energy and it has literally changed my life. My view of the nation has evolved and so did my personality. The lecture that my friend Peter imparted on me back in 1985 has become more and more clear as I met more people on my journey throughout the 50 states.“America is made as much of the desert of Arizona as of the forests of Vermont, as much of the cowboys of Wyoming as the Wall Street brokers in New York. The BBQ in Texas, the jambalaya in New Orleans, and the mojitos in Miami. America is all these things; that’s why America is so great!” (from the book introduction)

The mythology of Main Street has for generations fed the social, economical, moral, and political discourse in this country. It has been both praised and vilified; made into a sensible majority, a moderate voice, an impersonal mass of like-thinkers, vice and virtue of the country, yet, it has rarely been individualized.  I truly believe that in this book, even as limited to 50 people, Main Street has finally been given a face.

I would like to mention a few of the people who make the book special. And I would like to do it in their own words.

“Annie,” Helene explains, “lets you buy on credit, and will happily order something you want, if it’s not in stock. You just don’t find places like that anymore. I can sum it up in one single word: hospitality! Everybody knows everyone and most of them are related…”
Helene Barnes, Clayhatchee, AL

“To me it’s a real charge, to hold a book that is seven or eight hundred years old and think of all the people that might have held it. It’s like holding something sacred. I own about four thousand books at the moment…”
Jack Ellwood, Mesa, AZ

“I get kids in my gym that, sometimes, are from the probation department and they are in trouble. With time I see them get back into school, bring their grades up, and make themselves better people. To me that’s great success!”
George Sylva, Ventura, CA

“That’s the only time I really like to do stuff—riding and cutting the grass. I can get my mind off of everything else, and I can think about what I want. It just makes me feel good. It’s one of those stress relievers, I guess like smoking cigarettes. That’s how I feel when I ride the four-wheeler. I feel free.”
Donald Hahn Jr., Franklin, LA

Please feel free to comment with your own Main Street experiences, and let’s take it to the attention of the nation. In these days of  “Too Big To Fail,” “Wall Street Bailouts,” and “Occupy Movements” let’s tell the world that Main Street still counts!

Happy Belated Birthday

We were remiss in blogging last Friday. Our staff (a.k.a. our family) was taken out by the stomach flu and in turn quarantined for the long weekend. Not fun. Luckily, the weather wasn’t great so we didn’t mind watching four movies in one day. I may or may not have watched Never Say Never, the Justin Bieber Story.

In between free movies on Netflix, we watched up to the minute coverage of the birthday festivities for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. She turned 75 over the weekend, but doesn’t look a day over 29. We toasted her with ginger ale and had a coloring contest with the kids. Yes, we do crafts with our children, even while throwing up. (You really should stop reading this blog and go play with your kids…)

In a world of newer and faster, it is refreshing to see something built 75 years ago still so highly revered. She is lovely in the fog, in the rain or on that rare clear day. It has been called the most photographed structure in the world, but it is our humble opinion that this shot tops them all.

Happy Belated Birthday to the Golden Gate from your loyal friends at Cameron + Company!

Book Promotion in Boonville By Ken Weaver (The Northern California Craft Beer Guide)

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Today’s guest blog is from Ken Weaver and Anneliese Schmidt, the dynamic author/photographer duo of our upcoming release, The Northern California Craft Beer Guide, due out in early July. We hosted a “booth” up at The Legendary Boonville Beer Festival last weekend to promote the book, and I asked Ken to blog about the event. Enjoy!

Chris

Book Promotion in Boonville

By Ken Weaver, Photos by Anneliese Schmidt (www.aschmidtphotography.com)

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First book. First book tour. First book-tour event. … Zero actual books.

My wife (Anneliese Schmidt) and I headed up to Boonville, CA this past weekend for one of the most magical beer events of Northern California, The 16th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival. Held at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, the festival is more of a weekend commitment than a typical beer event: four hours of unlimited pouring, 60+ breweries from Northern California and beyond, camping afterwards pretty much standard. It’s hard to find a better spot to begin promotion of something called The Northern California Craft Beer Guide, and we knew it made sense to go up there to have a presence and hand things out, even if it didn’t align perfectly with our book-launch schedule.

Of course, when you haven’t done this sort of thing before (and you haven’t yet received the first shipment of physical copies, and you’re sitting in 90+-degree weather with a, let’s call it, less-than ideal booth location), you have to will yourself to get unstuck and slightly creative.

Also: Our tarp and tabletop display kept trying to blow away.

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Though the Guide won’t officially be released for another month or so, Anneliese (Ali) and I have been working on the book for upwards of a year at this point. First came contracts and background research into preceding guidebooks (plus, ruminations regarding what we could do to push the envelope on all fronts: in terms of photography, format, and really capturing the internal ticking of Northern California’s foundational beer culture). Second came the six months of research: long weekends, leveraged vacation days, designated driving, camping to conserve resources, camping by choice, hundreds of brews scrutinized and reviewed, 62,000 words written, hundreds of photos taken, 200+ places visited… Third was working with our talented team of editors and designers, dotting i’s and crossing t’s—then triple-checking that everything was dotted and crossed and perfectly so—while keeping all the listings updated.

Fourth was the waiting, which was indeed the hardest part.

Most recent was Boonville, and with it: posters, coasters, photograph prints, a mockup Guide with blank pages, email signup sheets, and a battery-powered personal fan with built-in spray bottle (which, given the temperature, was possibly the best ten dollars I have ever spent).

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But still, zero books.

We handed out coasters. We took down email addresses for sending book-release and event notifications. We talked about the book, and the photographs, and how these different parts came together. We let folks thumb through printed-out pages of the Guide.

I also (reluctantly and without the comforting presence of the spray-bottle fan) headed from booth to booth, asking breweries that we highlighted in the book for permission to tape our coaster in front of their tap handles—bringing some of the book’s content and usefulness to life. It gave us an extra talking point back at our booth: Look for our bright-orange squares, as these are the breweries we can recommend if you aren’t sure what to try. Folks mentioned they’d seen our coasters elsewhere, because you couldn’t get a beer without passing by one.

Back at the Brewer’s Campground later that afternoon, Ali and I walked from brewery site to brewery site, passing out coasters, talking about the book, meeting many of the folks that we hadn’t managed to formally meet during our frantic effort to get the actual book work done. We had a mega-campsite of our own (with our friends at RateBeer.com, Bison Brewing, Ace Cider, etc.) and handed out coasters to folks stopping by to sample our campsite’s beverage surplus. We did our book-promotion dance until the sun went down and dinner was ready.

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We didn’t sell a book all weekend, at least not directly.

But next time… We’ll have books. We’ll have better booth position (hopefully). We’ll likely have weather that feels less like the surface of the sun. And we’ll do things even better.

A Mother’s Days

Today we welcome one of our favorite people as a guest blogger. We first met Amy Novesky when we were working on the children’s adaptation of Above San Francisco. We were in dire need of a solid editor, and she was more than we could have hoped for. Since then she has been an integral part of our children’s division. We are thrilled to be publishing her next picture book this fall. Enjoy…

One of my favorite quotes is, “The good mother is a great artist, ever creating beauty out of chaos.” —Alice Randall, author

I’m a mother. I’m an author. I am blessed to share my life with a beautiful boy and to write meaningful books for a living. It’s hard work to do both well, and to be truly present for those brilliant moments—mornings in bed before it’s time to move, the light on the water late afternoon, my son’s loose tooth. A mother’s days are too long and too short; they are messy and mundane, loud, lonesome, lovely, full and furious; they are extraordinary and exhausting; they are heartbreaking, sweet, sublime…

My new picture book, due this fall, is about Imogen Cunningham. I have always loved her images of magnolias, modern dancers and her famous “Unmade Bed.” But it was the book Mother’s Days, which features photographs of Imogen’s family, her three freckled boys, that most inspired my own book. I am fascinated by artists who are mothers, who make art with kids in the background and foreground, as Imogen did. Affectionately called “the mother of modernism and three boys,” Imogen was one of the finest photographers of the 20th century.

At the turn of the last century, there weren’t many professional women photographers. Women were expected to focus on children and the home. But Imogen always knew she wanted to be a photographer. When she declared her artistic intent, her father didn’t understand why she’d choose such a messy profession, but he built her a darkroom lit by a candle in a red box. Imogen went on to study photography and was the first from her family to graduate from a university. And then she opened up her very own portrait studio in the city. She and her artistic friends and new husband, Roi Partridge, spent hours in the wilderness, wearing costumes or nothing at all, and staging gorgeous, ethereal photographs.

Soon Imogen was a mother. She and Roi had a baby boy named Gryffyd, and nearly two years later, two more—the twins, Rondal and Padraic. Suddenly Imogen had her hands full taking care of her sons. There was barely enough money for film after food was bought, and three hungry boys to cook for at dawn and dusk, when the light was just right.

Self Portrait with My Children, 1920s, © Imogen Cunningham Trust 2012

So Imogen focused on her children and her home—she photographed them! She turned the backyard into a wonderland for her boys and a workshop for herself. While the boys played, she photographed the plants and flowers she cultivated in her garden.

CLICK. The twins picking foxglove buds. Her older son’s wonder at a handful of nasturtiums.

CLICK. One boy holding a mouse, another a bird. A snake in a bucket. They didn’t have an ordinary pet.

CLICK. Freckled ears and feathered headdresses. Glowing birthday cakes. Her three growing boys.

Imogen found a little beauty in everything.

And for one precious hour every afternoon, while the boys napped, Imogen focused on her photography. When one mischievous twin interrupted, Imogen would set him up on an apple box and pluck prints out of the chemical baths when they were done. (Rondal would grow up to be a renowned photographer himself). Then, under the soft glow of a red bulb, her five-year-old beside her, Imogen would watch as the images she’d captured—her boys, her blossoms—slowly emerged on paper.

Working from home allowed Imogen to be with her family, and photographing them led Imogen to photograph plants and flowers—most notably her signature magnolia blossoms for which she is best known.

I’m sure it wasn’t easy balancing family and photography. But she did it.

I look at Imogen’s “Unmade Bed” a little differently now. While it was created decades after her children were young, I can’t help but see it as the intimately tousled bed of a mother who couldn’t be bothered to make it; isn’t an unmade bed more beautiful anyway? I imagine Imogen climbing gratefully into it at the end of each day.

To all mothers who make beauty out of chaos, Happy Mother’s Day.

Amy Novesky is a mother and the author of Elephant Prince, the award-winning Me, Frida, the recently released Georgia In Hawaii, and the forthcoming Mister and Lady Day. Imogen: Mother of Modernism and Three Boys, illustrated by Lisa Congdon, will be published this fall by Cameron + Company.

The Reprint Has Arrived

It is a little known fact that the most successful title here at Cameron + Company is a tiny little book called The Drinking Man’s Diet. Since its original publication in 1964 it has sold upwards of two and a half million copies. We recently went back to print on this cult classic. The hard part was…we didn’t have a digital copy of it. Which meant it had to be re-typed and formatted. The challenge of replicating the retro, Mad Men-esq aesthetic of it was daunting to say the least. It had to be perfect. When the box arrived with the advanced copies this morning, Chris held his breath as he opened it. The contents were…

PERFECT. Exhale – It even feels like the original. In celebration, here’s an excerpt from the Publisher’s Preface which was added in 2004. It tells the story of this funny little book that told the world they could have their cake and drink it too. In moderation of course.

Publisher’s Preface

The year was 1962. If you had stopped any pedestrian on any street, in any city, and asked him or her to define “carbohydrate” I dare say not one in a thousand could have done it. Today, 40 years later, any person would answer yes and tell you all about “carbs.”

Well, my publishing house, run by my son Todd and myself, takes credit for launching the “anti-carbo craze” by our publishing The Drinking Man’s Diet in 1964. That year and the two years following produced sales of the little book that reached 2,400,000 in 13 languages.

Here’s how it all began. A lovely lady named Jeff Corner handed me a typewritten sheet of paper containing the carbohydrate gram count of about 100 different foods and drinks. She said, “You’ve been wanting to lose weight. Try this.” I did, and went from 205 to 187 pounds in two months, and was never hungry and never missed a martini. I knew I needed to put this diet into book form and share the secret.

I consulted my attorney to see what could go wrong. He sent me to Agnes Fay Morgan, Professor Emeritus and former Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley. When I phoned her, I asked her how I would find her on campus. She said just to ask the gate-keeper to direct me to the “Agnes Fay Morgan Hall.”

When I told her my story, this slender, well-groomed little lady leaned back in her chair and said, “Mr. Cameron, I’ve been on The Drinking Man’s Diet for 50 years.” Naturally my pulse began to pound, hoping to use her phrase but she said no. “The title is too frivolous for my department.” She explained to me why the diet works. “It’s pretty simple really,” she said. “Carbos store fat. If you cut back on them, you’re going to cut back on fat. However, this is very important. You must have 60 grams of carbohydrates daily to stay healthy.” She was adamant about this; lack of the proper amount of carbohydrates will bring you to the unpleasant symptoms of the condition called ketosis.

The first printing was 2,500 copies. My friend Herb Caen got behind it in his column and, to use the hackneyed phrase, “The rest is history.”

At the height of the carbo excitement on the ratio, in printed media and television, I was interviewed by Walter Cronkite and many others. Both Time and Newsweek devoted considerable coverage to this new method of losing weight. Another example of the craze: on the front page of the Chicago Daily News there was a picture of two contestants who were in a contest called The Drinking Man’s Diet vs. The Thinking Man’s Diet. Guess who won?

The Drinking Man’s Diet obviously took for granted that most everyone has a drink now and then. Some of these drinkers are overweight or consider themselves to be over-weight. They read with interest the fact that according to the Home and Garden Bulletin #72, Consumer and Food Economics Research Division, Agricultural Research Service, and the United States Department of Agriculture, alcoholic beverages such as gin, whisky and vodka do not contain carbohydrates. Therefore it allowed them to lose weight without sacrificing a daily cocktail.

Nine years later Dr. Atkins had named his book The Diet Revolution. Revolution? My foot! The carbo diet revolution happened nine years earlier when The Drinking Man’s Diet burst onto a world of overweight people, all 2,400,000 of them.

Robert Cameron – March 2004

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Above Chicago – Twenty Years Later

It was 1992 when my grandfather, Robert Cameron, first published Above Chicago. I am in the process of adapting it for children as the third adventure of little “Cam“. By the time my grandfather dangled over Chicago, he had a dozen Above books under his belt. In a sense, he was coming back to his roots. Having been born and raised in Des Moines, Chicago was THE big city during his formative years. I can remember him telling stories of Chicago in the 1930’s…”Earl Hines was at the Grand Terrace. Roy Eldridge was at the Three Deuces. Benny Goodman was at the Congress introducing swing to Chicago…and Louis Armstrong was everywhere.” (-Above Chicago introduction) It is safe to say, Robert Cameron and Chicago had history.

However, when I sat down to start the children’s version, I realized how little I knew of this incredibly distinguished city. A few emails, a rapid rewards ticket, and a rock star husband happy to stay home with the kids and I found myself jetting off to the Windy City for two days.

My mission: be a tourist. Two of my dearest friends agreed to meet me there, which if you know me, MADE the trip. I hate to be alone. After a long flight, I took the train into the city – because I am savvy and urban, and there is not technically a budget for research and development on this book. It was a little rough, I put my ticket in upside down close to five times before the man in the plexiglass booth started yelling at me and eventually came out and did it for me, then I found myself sitting next to a very drunk man singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the top of his lungs. By the time I dragged my suitcase up the fourth set of urine soaked stairs and met my friends at a cozy little wine bar in the Gold Coast I was feeling not quite as urban as I thought I was. The waiter immediately brought me some sort of white sangria – “on the house for the weary traveler.” I was shocked. Hospitality in a big city? Everyone was so incredibly nice. I’m starting to think they call themselves the Second City because they are too polite to go first. We relaxed and ate delicious pizza (thin crust – sorry, I just don’t get excited about the deep dish bready stuff). By the time we made it back to our oh-so-trendy accommodations I fell into bed. Side note: Apparently hot showers are out.

For the next day and a half, we pounded the pavement…and the lake, and the river, and the sky (via the ferris wheel at Navy Pier). I found myself thinking like little Cam and am excited to jump on board for this next flight. The city has changed so much since the original version of Above Chicago was published. Donald Trump arrived on scene in his typical ostentatious manner…towering over the elegant little Wrigley Building, which is now home to Groupon. Obama put Grant Park on the map on that historic night in 2008 when he gave his acceptance speech there. The Sears tower is no longer called the Sears tower (?!) and Millenium Park shines as the newest jewel (or bean, rather) in Chicago’s crown. I found myself feeling a little sad as I took in all the changes, wondering if our images were even relevant anymore. But as I floated down the river on a water taxi I realized that so much of the city’s history is written in the older buildings. We will most likely need to license a few newer images for this book to fill in the gaps. Which is fine, we would be remiss to ignore these last two decades of achievement. Before I left, I snapped this picture of the base of Trump Tower…reflecting the Wrigley Building, and I smiled thinking that my grandfather would have liked the perspective. Chicago knows where it’s going, but it still reflects where it came from.

Robert Cameron would have been 101 tomorrow. As we continue to build our list here at Cameron + Company, we hope to always reflect the legacy of one classy man. Happy Birthday Grok.

Look for the Above Chicago children’s book this fall!

The intern says goodbye

Bonjour Cameron + Co. blog readers,

This post is coming to you from Elisabeth – I’ve been the Editorial Assistant (a.k.a. intern) here for almost 3 months now. Chris and Nina generously offered me the chance to peek into the inner workings of their fabulous little publishing house for the summer, and it’s been such a wonderful opportunity for me to shatter all my idealized dreams of the publishing industry!

Just kidding – in reality, I’ve been able to watch (and help a little) behind the scenes of some exciting book projects begin to take form, and I’ve gotten practical publishing experience that I never would have had access to at any larger company. Independent and local are always the way to go!

This summer, I’ve done everything from processing invoices and filing, picking images for next year’s calendars, strolling over to the post office to mail books, copyediting some upcoming projects, and so much in between. Now, however, it’s time for me to head back to Tacoma, Washington, where I’ll be entering my sophomore year as an English Lit and French Lit double major at University of Puget Sound. And after working at Cameron + Co. for these few short months, I can say with certainty that my goals of becoming a book editor have been strengthened by this experience.

A night of oysters and books

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The Marshall Store was the place to be on Wednesday night! Guests of this latest Oyster Culture event enjoyed as many free oysters as they could consume, thanks to the dedicated platter refills by Shannon and Heidi Gregory and their oyster team. The little store was filled to overflowing with people, all eager to taste the renowned oyster recipes on hand and have author Gwen Meyer sign their copy of Oyster Culture. Guests also took advantage of the expert wine pouring by Eric Sussman and Davida Ebner of Radio Coteau Winery, sampling their La Neblina Pinot Noir and their County Line Rose, both of which are featured in the book.

Among the guests were aquaculturist Luc Chamberland, of Pickleweed Point Community Oyster Farm (featured in the book!), and author and photographer Douglas Gayeton.

Douglas Gayeton, author Gwen Meyer, and publisher Chris Gruener

All in all, the night was a memorable whirl of oysters, wine, books, and the lovely sea air drifting in from the bay.

Oysters at SF Chefs After Party Tonight

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Yes, it’s another post about another oyster event…but this one’s slightly spontaneous and totally exclusive, so we needed to get the word out about it.

This week, foodies and wine lovers have come from all over to congregate in San Francisco for the annual SF Chefs, advertised as “San Francisco’s premier food, wine & spirits week.” The week-long string of events, centered in Union Square, features a Grand Tasting Tent overflowing with local and well-known winemakers, restaurants, bars, and more. Classes, individual restaurant events, and speakers continue until August 7, but tonight is the Friday Night After Party: Late Night Affair at The City Club of San Francisco. This would be a fascinating night to rub elbows with the city’s culinary elite any year, but this time our very own Tomales Bay Oyster Girls will be there, featuring Oyster Culture, of course!

Tickets for the not-yet-sold-out event are $65, but the price guarantees an array of wines, seafood, chocolate, coffee, and more, along with such local culinary celebrities as Leena Hung, Josh Birch, and Michael Munez…and chef/DJ Hubert Keller manning the turn tables. If you’re even marginally interested in food, wine, dancing, and San Francisco, this is not an event to miss out on!

Oyster Culture (and Gwen Meyer) at Point Reyes Farmer’s Market

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If you’re in the Marin/Sonoma area this weekend, you have the fantastic opportunity to not only spend a great day at an excellent local farmer’s market, but you could easily make tomorrow the best day in a long time by going to Oyster Culture‘s next event!

On Saturday, July 23, Oyster Culture author Gwen Meyer will be at the Point Reyes Farmer’s Market with copies of the book. At 10 am, Gwen will be in “the Barn” along with Shannon Gregory from Tomales Bay Oyster Company who will, of course, bring oysters. The event is put on by Point Reyes Books, rounding out the wonderful list of people and companies involved in this exciting, free, totally-worth-it event.

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