Chatter's blog

In Our Neighborhood: Grimm's Fairy Tales at Cella Gallery


I live in an area that is in the midst of an artistic transformation, yet for some reason I rarely take advantage of what my community has to offer. One Saturday night, not so long ago, I saw a post for an open gallery night where the galleries on one street were joining forces and welcoming all to explore what they had to offer. Rather than spend another night in my pajamas, I decided to see what was going on. 

When I arrived, people were milling about, drifting from one exhibit to another. Vintage pin-up girl posters with live music, indie horror flicks, and hip-hop dance lessons were some of the first things I encountered. At the end of the street was the Cella gallery,, where a themed group show, inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales, was on display. The room was crowded--it was by far the most popular exhibit on the street. There were approximately 30 works ranging from pencil sketches to acrylic on canvas, but perhaps the most interesting were the mixed media pieces using books as the foundation. Hardcover boards became the canvases, a long braid hung from the spine of "Rapunzel", while "Hansel and Gretel" sprung to life from the opened pages. The most clever was called "Grimm Future" by W.B Fontenot. A vintage hardcover that was opened enough so you could see the computer jacks to plug in the book while all the words were blacked out. Very grim indeed. (I was told that if you did plug it in, it was loaded with a computer virus....nice touch!) 
The curator, Shannon Currie Holmes, plans on making this an annual exhibit with the hope of having 100 artists participate. Sign me up...this sounds like a great idea!

Visit the exhibit online at 

--Cheryl Diesel, Brentwood




Annie Leibovitz comes to Oakland


On Monday, November 21st, Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland welcomes legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz to the store to sign her new book of photographs, Pilgrimage. The photographs in Pilgrimage took Leibovitz to places that she could explore with no agenda. Starting with Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachussetts, she worked outward, traveling from Niagara Falls, to Yosemite, to the English countryside and even further afield. Filled with images of incredible beauty, Pilgrimage is a deeply personal collection from one of the world's foremost photographers.


Leibovitz's large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time. She began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970, while still a student, and by  the time she left the magazine ten years later she had shot 142 covers and published photo-essays on scores of subjects. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. She has received numerous awards and honors, was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She lives in New York with her three children.


This event is free and open to the public, but we'll save you a spot!  Pilgrimage will be published on November 8th. If you purchase your copy at Diesel, we'll reserve your place in the signing line on the day of the event. 


PLEASE NOTE: While we will have copies of Ms. Leibovitz's other titles for sale, she will only be signing copies of Pilgrimage. Please contact our Oakland store at 510-653-9965 with any questions, or to purchase a copy of the book.


Three Good Things: Video Edition!


1. This week (Sept. 24- Oct. 1) is Banned Books Week! Join the Virtual Read-out, the centerpiece of this year's Banned Books celebration. Record a video of yourself reading from your favorite banned or challenged book and upload it to the Banned Books Week channel.


2. Not sure what to read? Take your time, slowly sift through your collection until you find the perfect passage...
3. And once you've got that influential text, just read from the heart. And don't forget to upload your video to the Banned Books Week channel!

Books Are Beautiful

In my eyes, books have always been beautiful. To walk up to the bookshelf, inhale the aroma, gaze upon the selection, and pull that one special book that speaks to you. Something magical happens at that moment. You open the pages and are transported into another world. A world that could be anything: high adventure that has you eagerly turning the page, romance that conjures fond memories or longings, or poetry and art so beautiful it inspires you to create your own. 

In this age of electronics, we have the ease to select books almost instantaneously. Via a good review or word of mouth, one can download a book in a matter of seconds. I appreciate the enthusiasm and understand the convenience but remain a proponent for the tangible. Licking your finger, placing it behind the page, ready to turn as soon as the last word on the previous has been read. It's that excitement that can't be reproduced. Curling the pages back as you curl up in a chair....being one with the book, that's for me. You know what I'm talking about.

It seems that publishers are creating more books that appeal to the senses; albeit a textural cover or an interactive interior. It's these features that can't be mimicked on an electronic device. Pages that literally unfold and spill out or pop to life at the turn of a page. Close your eyes and run your fingers over the raised cover and imagine what lies inside. This, is the magic I speak of. Let your imagination run wild. So, let loose, adorn your bookshelf with beautiful, mental sustenance that can be passed down through the generations--it is within your grasp.





Three Good Things: Trees, Festivals, Skippyjon Jones


1. Seeing Trees.

It isn’t very often that you see a good book trailer (by nature they seem counter-intuitive), but this trailer for Seeing Trees is actually visually arresting and informative. Out today, Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Ordinary Trees is “a gorgeous journey into the life cycle of trees.” If you like trees, come in and check out the book. 


2. The Customer Knows Best. 

At the Edinburgh International Book Festival, someone had an ingenious idea: don't ask the publishers what they're pushing, ask the readers what they're buying. Click here to watch the video series from the festival and, next time you visit Diesel, let us know what you're reading!


3. A Cat Who Thinks He's A Chihuahua. 

After having great success with the piñata giveaway in our Brentwood store, the Oakland store is hosting a raffle for the Skippyjon Jones piñata that’s been hanging behind the counter, watching over the store. Raffle tickets are free to anyone who purchases a Skippyjon Jones book before September 15th. On The 15th we’ll have a drawing and one lucky winner will take Skippy home, where he or she will treasure him forever and not hit him with any sort of bat or stick for any reason. 




Repeal the Internet Sales Tax?





You know the situation all too well.  You go to a grocery store, a BART station, or any other wide “parking lotted” location, and you are immediately locked into an uncomfortable stare-down with a pseudo-impassioned plain-clothed youth, armed with a clipboard and an intrusiveness that ranks somewhere between an aggressive homeless person and a Macy's employee desperate to meet a quota.  You normally think up some lie, pretend to be on your phone—anything to just get into the store and on with your life. 




But, every once in a while, they shout out a line that lures you in. Something that you are indeed passionate about, something that makes you surrender that look of "okay, tell me more".  Now they've got you. And they hand over that clipboard with a list of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people who have stood right where you’re standing. It's a relatively small commitment.  All you have to do is sign and your show of support is tallied.




It's a high pressure sales situation except nobody is asking for your money.




These days, there is a new beast in front of your grocery store and its mating call is "More Jobs, Not Taxes"—it is trying to sell you on petitioning the internet sales tax.




You may hear this and immediately want to sign, because it sounds appealing to reject any new taxes.  It would be slightly more difficult than asking a room to give a show of hands if they want to pay more or less for something.




What you should know, though, is that "More Jobs, Not Taxes" is a campaign funded entirely by, an online retailer whose refusal to collect sales tax costs California, according to estimates, around $200 million a year. 




It's incredibly important that you know this, because, unlike other petitions, this one is asking for your money, as well as your community.  Amazon's attempt to block this new law prevents them from collecting and remitting taxes that go towards fire departments, police stations, public schools, health programs, etc.  Their refusal to collect sales tax also gives them an unfair advantage over local retailers who do collect and remit taxes for the community.




So, even though your immediate reaction to one of these petitioners may be to sign on, just remember that, by saying "No" to internet sales tax, you're actually saying "No" to fairness, small business, and the wealth of your community.




-Jon Stich, Diesel Bookstore-Oakland


Visit the Green Apple Books blog for another indie bookseller response to the Amazon problem. 


AMIGO, A Giveaway

Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to our winners!


John Sayles' new film Amigo opens August 19th and we're giving away tickets! Comment here or on our facebook page for a chance to win a pair of ticket vouchers to see the film.

The Brentwood winner will win tickets for the Laemmle's Monica 4 in Santa Monica.

The Oakland winner will win tickets for the Cinemark Union Landing 25 in Union City.


About the film:

   AMIGO, the 17th feature film from Academy Award-nominated writer-director John Sayles, stars legendary Filipino actor Joel Torre as Rafael, a village mayor caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American War.

   When U.S. troops occupy his village, Rafael comes under pressure from a tough-as-nails officer (Chris Cooper) to help the Americans in their hunt for Filipino guerilla fighters. But Rafael’s brother (Ronnie Lazaro) is the head of the local 
guerillas, and considers anyone who cooperates with the Americans to be a traitor. Rafael quickly finds himself forced to make the impossible, potentially deadly decisions faced by ordinary civilians in an occupied country.

   A powerful drama of friendship, betrayal, romance and heartbreaking violence, Amigo is a page torn from the untold history of the Philippines, and a mirror of today’s unresolvable conflicts.

   For Trailer & More Info, Please Visit:


Playing at these theaters:

Los Angeles, CA (Santa Monica) – Laemmle’s Monica 4 

Cerritos, CA – Edwards Cerritos Stadium 10 

West Covina, CA – AMC Puente HIlls 20 

San Francisco, CA (Daly City) – UA Stonestown Twin 

Union City, CA – Cinemark Union Landing 25 + XD

Milpitas, CA – Century 20 Great Mall + XD 

Stockton, CA – Regal Stockton City Center Stadium 16 

San Diego, CA – UA Horton Plaza 14