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[whitespace] Briefly Noted

Our highly subjective list of the new and locally written

By Gretchen Giles

'Point Reyes Visions Guidebook' by Kathleen Goodwin and Richard Blair (Color and Light; $21.95)

Following up their drop-dead gorgeous 2002 self-published collaboration Point Reyes Visions, West Marin couple Kathleen Goodwin and Richard Blair now publish a pocket-sized companion, replete with excellent map, that reads like the personal notes of a very good friend.

Rich with Blair's sharp black-and-white photography and Goodwin's commonsensical prose, the Guidebook is intended to be dropped into a knapsack before taking off for a day exploring the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. It answers such on-the-spot questions as where to picnic, where the best overlooks are for sunset watching, where to catch sight of the area's tule elk and how to get from the Bolinas ridge to Mt. Tam and back again (hint: take two cars and walk only one way).

Goodwin explains where you can park for free and still bike into Samuel P. Taylor park, named, she lets us know, after the industrialist who turned San Franciscans' castoff cotton clothing into paper and who left massive piles of ancient unwanted buttons in the creek bed to prove it. While fearing the wrath of the holiday gods in this last stretch before the commerce commencement of Halloween, we nonetheless pronounce Point Reyes Visions Guidebook a perfect stocking stuffer for that favorite outdoor lover.

'Images of America: Santa Rosa' by Simone Wilson (Arcadia; $19.99)

In serial to her two other books under the Images of America banner--focusing on Petaluma and the Russian River, respectively--West County writer Simone Wilson has mined the wealth of archival photos to create a visual history of a small town once so perfectly American that Alfred Hitchcock naturally saw its malingering shadow.

Beginning with images of the Pomo peoples indigenous to the Santa Rosa plain, Wilson slowly takes the reader--or looker, as the photos are intensely interesting--through Santa Rosa's growing pains from native lands to Mexican rancho to bustling county seat to picture-perfect city of just 17,000 souls by the late 1940s.

To those of us with short memories and shorter lives, it's of particular interest to come to greater intimacy with the founding fathers (and mothers) of the city. There's developer Hugh Codding in the mid-'50s, looking like a beatnik, rakishly holding a martini at a dress shop's opening. In addition to Coddingtown, the developer also built Montgomery Village, named in honor of young Billy Montgomery, a native son killed at Pearl Harbor. There's longtime radio vet Jim Grady, in sideburns and Wayfarers, interviewing a local man at a football game, circa 1972. Charlie Traverso's store didn't look that much different in 1934 than his grandkids' does today, and he used to own it with the Arrigoni brothers. Ernest J. Finley not only founded and edited the Press Democrat, he also owned KSRO. And Exchange Bank founder Frank Doyle cut the chain on the opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge.

While there's a creamy glamour to the black-and-white shots collected here, the book leaves us far from the end of the 20th century, just a page or two past that time in 1976 when the freeway came through town and ended Santa Rosa's cohesive charm.

'Pearl Necklace: Gritty but Pretty,' Vol. 1, Issue 1. $5. www.pearlnecklacezine.com

Not a book but certainly worthy of note, Pearl Necklace is the brainchild of smart Napa women Caetlynn J. Booth, Amy Gallaher, Cheryl Laube, Manda Moon Prendergast and Ann Trinca. Deciding to name their zine in honor of "the power of femininity, the purity of the creative process and the symbiotic nature of the art world," they also move to reclaim a sexual euphemism in order to "play with it in a positive light." The result is a thoughtful piece of brilliance that features washable tattoos, an "easy" Japanese cookbook, an ode to necks complete with a rather horrifying do-it-yourself choker, a giddy rave about cutie-boy-group the Bionic Band, paintings and stories and a riff on the cool freak of menstrual art--all hand-bound with string and a rubber band. "She has cut me out of rough fabric," reads a graffiti scrap on Pearl Necklace's back cover--and that turns out to be excellent news.

'Swami for Precedent: A Seven-Step Plan to Heal the Body Politic and Cure Electile Dysfunction' by Swami Beyondananda (WakeUpLaughing; $14.95)

A master punster, Santa Rosa author Steve Bhaerman has made a syndicated career for himself as a self-styled medicine man whose main medicine is laughter. A product of the spirituality movement of the '70s who has taken the tenets of Eastern religions and recodified them for smart-thinking, politically motivated people everywhere, Bhaerman is on to something. Perhaps a bit too much to take in large doses ("Are we ready to drive a new karma and trade in that old Dodge for an Evolvo?" is merely one of thousands of similar sentences), Swami reads like a bathroom book, in short illustrated tidbits. As such, it should be required reading for everyone who suffers irony deficiency and truth decay.

Bhaerman appears on Tuesday, Oct. 26, in a pre-election event that should bring some levity to the proceedings at the Harmony Community Room, 400 Morris St., Sebastopol. Neal "the Kernel" Rogin accompanies. $15. 707.861.2035.

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From the October 20-26, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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