US Indymedia Global Indymedia Publish About us
Printed from Boston IMC :
IVAW Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier
Brad Presente

Other Local News

Spare Change News
Open Media Boston
Somerville Voices
Cradle of Liberty
The Sword and Shield

Local Radio Shows

WMBR 88.1 FM
What's Left
WEDS at 8:00 pm
Local Edition
FRI (alt) at 5:30 pm

WMFO 91.5 FM
Socialist Alternative
SUN 11:00 am

WZBC 90.3 FM
Sounds of Dissent
SAT at 11:00 am
Truth and Justice Radio
SUN at 6:00 am

Create account Log in
Comment on this article | View comments | Email this article | Printer-friendly version
News :: Education
Radical Bookstore is Heading for Jamaica Plain
13 Apr 2011
The one-of-a-kind Lucy Parsons Center in the South End is relocating this summer to a Hyde Square space next to Alex's Chimis.
Radical Bookstore is Heading for Jamaica Plain

By Christopher Treacy |April 12, 2011

The Lucy Parsons Center will be leaving the South End at some point in the not-too-distant future, bound for Jamaica Plain. From now until an as-yet-undetermined moving day, select items are discounted up to 80 percent off.

Although the radical-bookstore-cum-community-meeting-facility stands to gain from the move (it will likely see more foot traffic in its new Hyde Square digs, which are next to Alex's Chimis), the South End is at a loss, saying goodbye to an important connection with counter-cultural history. Named after an anarchist/communist labor organizer thought by many to be genuinely dangerous, the store harks to the tree-shaking mood of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and is truly one-of-a-kind in today's Boston.

“I’ve been volunteering here for the last 15 years, but the bookstore has been in seven different locations since 1970.We moved into this space in 1999,” Jay Scheide told me when I stopped in recently. Scheide happened to be working a shift that afternoon, but he’s just one of over fifty volunteers that work to keep the non-profit afloat.

“About thirty of us have regular, ongoing commitments here while the rest are more sporadic,” he said.

Before setting up shop in its South End location, the store bounced around Cambridge before landing in Davis Square for a year. Apparently, it has also been in Jamaica Plain once before, so the upcoming move isn’t into completely unknown territory.

The store's new address will be at 358A Centre Street.

“The space we’re going to is smaller, but I think the store will be a busier place on the whole,” Scheide said, noting that he perceives the current mood in JP to be a little more, er, radical than here in the South End. And more affordable… the Center is moving because, like so many other former neighborhood mainstays, it’s been out-priced.

Most folks in the neighborhood are aware of the rootsy-looking space at 549 Columbus Avenue approaching the corner of Mass. Ave, but it seems like there’s a genuine confusion over the store’s mission.

“The agenda is progressive/radical or, very broadly-speaking, leftist,” Scheide clarified. “But within those vague parameters we’re nonsectarian. The store has gone through various incarnations through the years… for a while in the ’70s it had a feminist bent. ‘Progressive’ has become such a bland, milquetoast term, though, hasn’t it?”

Really, the Lucy Parsons Center is about freedom… the freedom to openly disagree, to express ideas that challenge the status-quo and to organize with other like-minded individuals. And there’s no shortage of content: the Center (known prior to 1992 as “The Red Book”) carries over 200 magazines, newspapers, and journals that cover “every wing of the progressive movement.” That doesn’t include the extensive library of new and used books for sale, ranging in topics from the history of queer rock bands to prison-born poetry and well beyond. The Center also sells shirts, bracelets and posters all of which have ideological connections to one activist movement or another. The space— apparently the South End location is the largest one ever—is also available for groups to meet, lecturers to speak and authors to read.

“There’s been an increase in the amount of sexuality-related material sold,” Sheide said when asked whether he’d noticed any recent trends in the demands of clientele. Magazines come from two different distributors, he explained, but the smaller (potentially more radical) ‘zines are often hand-delivered.

“People come to us for our ‘corrective’ reading selection,” he said with a touch of humor. The Center also has a weekly radical film night on Wednesdays that’s remained popular.

Sheide suggested that the Center’s conceptual ‘guiding spirit’ might be best summarized by the text on a banner that hung in the front window of the old Central Square location: “Are you going in circles with mainstream gibberish? Straighten yourself out with sound, radical knowledge,” it read.

This work is in the public domain
Add a quick comment
Your name Your email


Text Format
Anti-spam Enter the following number into the box:
To add more detailed comments, or to upload files, see the full comment form.


not welcome by locals, leave this state
27 Apr 2011
let it close