Oakland's Most Defiant Book Vendor
The story of Scott Nanos, the nomadic rare bookseller behind the new Lighthouse Books.
By Sarah Burke @sarahlubyburke
Lately, Scott Nanos spends most of his time tucked away in what resembles a fisherman's shack alongside a marina near the Oakland estuary. The shack is actually a sturdy, little house styled to look like a seaside abode — one of a handful of such tiny buildings in "Embarcadero Cove Marina," a kitschy offshoot of an otherwise spare stretch of Embarcadero. Inside one of those shack-like structures is the office of attorney Mahal Montoya, and inside the tiny lobby to Montoya's two-room office is Lighthouse Books (1951 Embarcadero) — where Nanos often sits, surrounded by leather-bound tomes.
East Bay residents might recognize Nanos from the time he spent selling books on the street in Oakland last year. He's spritely yet scruffy, with liberated, long black hair, charming round glasses, and dimples. His preference is to offer books to his community, and most things — including convention and practicality — come second to that. Lighthouse Books is just the latest illustration of the anarchic lengths he'll go to keep peddling literature.
Nanos, who's originally from the East Coast, came to the Bay Area on tour with his former band nearly four years ago. Once they made it across the country, they split up. With nowhere to go, Nanos found refuge in a bookstore in Piedmont and eventually ended up working there for a while. To make extra money, he consigned books that he collected in dollar bins and garage sales — rare books, radical books, books by authors of color — to other bookstores under the moniker Bibliodrone. But, around October of last year, Nanos' hours got cut, and his consignment income wasn't reliable.
That's when Charlie Hallowell, the local restaurateur, called him up. Hallowell had been buying Nanos' books, and offered to let him vend outside of his popular restaurant, Pizzaiolo. That same day, Nanos gathered all of his stock and set up outside the Temescal Italian eatery with a few crates and a blanket. And he did the same thing for twelve hours a day, nearly every day, for the next few weeks, storing his stock at Omni Commons overnight. It was grueling, he said, but he was selling more than he ever had before. Eventually, the property manager caught on and told Nanos to beat it. So, he tried Hallowell's other restaurants, Boot and Shoe Service and Penrose in the Grand Lake district, but the hustle was never quite as good.
Finally, Nanos called his friend Gabriela Laz, who was running Rise Above Print Shop on 48th Street and Telegraph Avenue at the time. Laz had been evicted because the Nautilus development group bought the building (see feature "Radically Sharing Temescal," 1/21). She was in the gradual process of moving out when Nanos asked her if he could vend outside. Laz agreed, and eventually let Nanos move inside when rain started impeding his sales. Then, one day in November of last year, a local illustrator involved with Rise Above suggested that Nanos turn the space into a temporary bookstore. In a fit of rebellious excitement, Nanos' artistic friend began spray-painting signage all over the windows and walls in playful script. Meanwhile, Nanos lugged every book he owned over to the space and began setting up shop.
Remarkably, for nearly ten months, Nanos happily claimed the space for free. He posted up as Books for Days, and welcomed in whoever wandered by. But by early September, luck had run out. The Nautilus project manager finally demanded that he leave.
Still, Nanos found luck elsewhere. Montoya, who had been a client of Nanos, offered him space in her office at an affordable price. And John Windle, an antique bookseller and acquaintance of Nanos', decided to clear out his storage, leaving all his extra stock in Nanos' hands. That's how he found himself in his new lighthouse, with shelves of leather-bound, antique books alongside his usual collection of writing on metaphysics, radical politics, feminism, and liberational theology.
Lighthouse Books isn't Nanos' ideal new space, because there is virtually no foot traffic and no means of public transportation to get there, but he still sees it as the most recent in a series of charitable blessings that have graced him over the past year. That list includes all the donations he's received through his recent GoFundMe campaign (GoFundMe.com/Bibliodrone) asking for financial help to support his move. But when he's not at the new shop, he'll be back out on the street peddling books in busier areas — back to where he was this time last year.
Critical Race Feminism, Second Edition: A Reader -
Adrien Katherine Wing 2003
The following University of Iowa research assistants made valuable contributions to this project: Jayal Amin, Malik Cupid, Thushentha Devan, Anel Dominguez, Kenneth Edmundson, Jeremy Goldkind, Scott Hofer, Wendy Howza, Alexander Ip , Mark Johnson, Mahal Montoya, Austin Moore, Aracely Munoz Contreras, Monica Nigh, Justin Page, Robert Ratton, Kati Starrett, Kevin Stokes, and Sarah Weiss.
CHP freeway signs warn against driving under the influence of cannabis
By Haaziq Madyun Published: December 27, 2017, 5:28 pm
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — With marijuana set to become legal in just a few days, there is a new campaign from California law enforcement about driving under the influence of cannabis.
“You should never drive high,” said Rhonda Craft, the director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “The message today DUI doesn’t just mean booze.”
“That is absolutely correct,” said attorney Mahal Montoya with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “I always say alcohol and cannabis is a lethal combination.”
The deadly effects of which allegedly led to the death of California Highway Patrol officer Andrew Camilleri.
In the wake of his death, the California Office of Traffic Safety is launching a new public awareness campaign focused on not driving under the influence of drugs like marijuana.
Montoya says the legal cannabis community should publically echo the DUI doesn’t just mean booze messages,
“Publically admit it. Share it. Educate it. Put it on the packaging. Put it on the billboard. Medicate responsibly. Consume Responsibly. Use responsibly. Don’t wait for years and years of litigation to say what we already know,” Montoya said.
“What is particularly troubling and likely due to the public’s lack of awareness is the combination of alcohol with marijuana or alcohol with other impairing medications is even more dangerous when used alone,” Craft said.
Billboards are being used to help raise public awareness about the dangers of driving after mixing marijuana with alcohol.
“They had to make alcohol companies say drink responsibly,” said Montoya. “They had to go through tremendous amount years of litigation just to get them to admit that. Why should we wait with cannabis? We already know consume responsibly.”
This is coming from a staunch legal cannabis advocate.
“I believe in my heart that cannabis is a safe drug when used responsibly,” Montoya said.
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COUNSELOR AND ATTORNEY AT LAW
California reminds drivers DUI doesn’t mean just booze
December 28, 2017 Newsroom Staff
Alcohol and marijuana don’t mix. That’s the message behind California’s new traffic safety campaign. It’s the latest in an effort to push safety once marijuana is legal for recreational use in California.
Warning labels on marijuana products are what national organization of the reform of marijuana member Mahal Montoya said should come with every purchase of cannabis when it becomes legal in California in 2018.
She s ays it’s about public safety. “Well absolutely. Definitely warning labels should be included on all packaging. ‘Don’t operate machinery.’ ‘This is hazardous.’”
If you’re driving in Siskiyou County, or any other part of California next year, you’ll likely notice CHP’s new safety campaign…
Driving under the influence doesn’t just mean booze. “It is particularly troubling. amd due to the public’s lack of awareness… The combination of alcohol and marijuana or alcohol and other medications is even more dangerous than when used alone.”
Montoya said she is among the advocates in the legal marijuana community who wants to help raise awareness about cannabis consumer safety.
“Unfortunately there is an underground market here and people are not testing their products,” Montoya explained. “So you could put whatever you want on a package and you can imply that it will have this effect, but until someone consumes that, you don’t know what you have. You’re in effect opening Pandora’s Box. You are self-medicating with products that are not regulated. You don’t know what you’re going to get. You combine a product like that with alcohol which already has known effects. So I always say alcohol and cannabis is a lethal combination.”
Pot use is the focus of a new law taking effect in California. In the New Year beginning January first, it will be explicitly illegal to smoke or ingest pot while driving or riding in a car.
The California Office of Traffic Safety said they’re seeing more instances of driving under the influence of drugs, what they call “DUID.” That’s promting them to reiterate the message that “DUI Doesn’t Mean Just Booze.”