Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

From the dept. of ridiculous

By awoodall
Sunday, July 22nd, 2007 at 6:33 pm in Uncategorized.

Never have so many freaks and geeks been gathered in the Bay Area as Friday.

That’s when normally mature individuals and their offspring  flocked to book stores from Emeryville to Alameda for the unveiling of the newest addition to the many tomes about magic boy wonder Harry Potter. 

Cody’s on Fourth Street was swamped with a crowd more common to rock concerts than book releases centered around a $25 novel about a fictional teenage wizard.

Okay. The kids in their peaked witches hats, Hogwarts-striped scarves and black owl-rimmed Potter specs I can understand. But the middle-age woman dressed like a house elf (Rowling’s stand-ins for beleagured mothers) with giant plastic ears and a white bed sheet, from which poked some funky-looking, pale, hairy legs.  Those legs were scarier than anything J.K. could conjure up. Her partner was dressed as a witch, or wickin as they say in pagan-rich Berkeley.

What would make people stand in line for hours just to get a copy of the last in the Harry Potter series one minute after it was released? I mean, it will still cost the same and have the same words when the sun rises. (Can you say marketing, boys and girls?)

It was enough to induce mother-guilt when my daughter arrived shortly before midnight at Cody’s, only to find a line stretching to the back of the store. We’d be there all night by the time she plunked down her allowance.

Boy, was I was unprepared, never expecting that what I thought would be an event for kids would be mobbed by the over-21 set as though it were Club 54 in its heydey. I’ve always had the worse pop-culture instincts. I watched Miami Vice as much as I could when it first appeared on TV because I was sure its pastel-coated vision of cops and robbers would never catch on and the show be cancelled asap. Uh huh…  

But what happens to adults’ literary endeavors the rest of the year, when bookstores like Cody’s are bare in comparison to those times every few years when Potter fever sweeps over whole continents with a new Harry book? I ask you this, reader: Why are adults proud of reading — obsessing about — juveline fiction whose hero is a teenage boy? Too much time on their hands? Or are words just so much easier to read than those pesky grown-up books (not counting romance novels and the like, you smart alecs)?

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