It's going to be next year all year. And yet some folks feel that they just can't get it started without a shiny new calendar, bought on the very first day. The annual New Year's Day three-for-$10 calendar sale at the Pegasus and Pendragon bookstores is a thirty-year tradition that finds hundreds of customers lined up for hours, sometimes in the rain, waiting for the three stores (1855 Solano Avenue, 2349 Shattuck Avenue, and 5560 College Avenue) to open at 10 a.m. on a day when virtually every other business in America is closed. All day, the lines to the cash registers snake up and down the aisles, around the stores. With 60,000 calendars in play — comprising 787 different titles from dozens of different publishers, this time around — the sale reflects changing tastes, says Pegasus buyer Stan Spenger: "Some years, the Dalai Lama and the Buddha were very popular." These days, oversize Italian art calendars on textured paper are having a heyday.
But a massive calendar sale, occurring on a red-letter day that is wreathed in ritualistic fresh-start significance, is also one of those rare confluences of commodity and identity: The calendar that one chooses on this day of all days is meant to remain on display, like a personal banner, all year. "It's such a philosophical thing," says Spenger, who is also the founder of Subterranean Shakespeare and a key figure in Actors Ensemble of Berkeley. "I usually get about seven. I love the French Impressionist Raoul Dufy, and for four years now I've had a Dufy calendar in my bathroom and a Warhol calendar in my living room. This year I'm thinking: Should I just go minimal and get only one? But which one?" He muses about using one calendar until June, then switching to another. Sounds like an identity crisis in the making. PegasusBookstore.com
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