City Lights, a landmark of the North Beach section of San Francisco, is arguably one of the most famous and storied bookstores in America. Its origin is a perfect bookstore romance; the shop was founded by a poet and became a natural haven for Beats, Hippies and any and all outcasts for the last 40 or so years. But forget all that for a moment. Yes, you can find nearly every book and pamphlet ever published on the idea of revolution & the wisdom of peyote, but in case you're just a decadent bourgeoisie who reads only for pleasure, you'll also find three floors of deeply intelligent & beautiful books on nearly everything else, including all the Capuchins. The place is steeped in a calm, sunny, and readerly atmosphere that speaks of a time not that long ago when you might actually think of reading all afternoon. However, the clerk on duty informed me that after 7pm the scene changes dramatically into a haunt for Kerouac impersonators, Cassidy wannabes, and "every freak in San Francisco". He meant it as a selling point.

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