Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Butt Crack Binding

This weekend as I traded in some books at a used bookstore in my neighborhood* I saw the distinctive binding of Diller + Scofidio's Flesh. If you're not familiar with the book, the front cover is a right butt cheek (Diller's?) and the back cover is a left butt cheek (Scofidio's?), making the binding, yep, the butt crack.

Missing image - flesh.jpg
Cover sans crack binding

Seeing this crack peering at me at the very back of the store, it reminded me of a time when I worked in a bookstore in college. Although I worked there less than a year, I was entrusted with some money every month to stock the store with architecture books, something apparently still going strong. At the time I dug (and still do) D+S, so it was an easy choice to order Flesh: Architectural Probes (its full title). Well, the owner saw the binding and stubbornly refused to put it on the shelf, instead keeping it out of sight behind the counter and making it rather difficult to sell.

A few weeks later or so it was sold by my astute friend Eric who had been working at the store longer than me, perhaps gleaning more tricks of the trade than I. He told me that one day a girl came into the store and was buying an architecture book or two, so - remembering about the dirty book behind the counter - with shifty eyes he quietly said to her, "hey...ya wanna buy a raunchy architecture book?" Actually, whatever he said exactly I don't remember, but I do know she walked out with the book.

As I glanced at the butt crack sitting in a dark corner of the store (perhaps unintentionally) this weekend, I couldn't help but think of this story.

*Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the new (to me) bookstore, though it's located on the south side of the 1900 block of west Irving Park and has a decent selection of books (I walked away with the 3rd edition of Mechanism of Meaning by Arakawa + Gins) in a small storefront space.


  1. Yeah, Stormy never was one to make waves!

  2. Nice story. And what is the book about? Is it good?

  3. anon - Funny. Stormy. Waves. I wonder who you are...

    césar - The book is basically a monograph on the duo's work, pre Blur building and other large-scale architectural works. It has a lot of installations and theater sets, as well as unbuilt architectural designs. The book's layout is layered and multi-directional, making it difficult for some (see the comments on Amazon's page) but rewarding for those with patience. It's an interesting melding of content and form.

  4. First, this is old!!! Then, the way you talk about it, makes the book sound quite boring - uninteresting, really. Perhaps, you should read it?!


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