Wednesday, August 26, 2009

North Hollywood Double Feature

I’m always writing about outdoor destinations in and around L.A. Today, I thought I’d write about two of my favorite indoor destinations: the Iliad Bookshop and Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, both conveniently located in North Hollywood, just a few blocks away from Dark Delicacies (another favorite).

Iliad reminds me of a bookstore I used to frequent in my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, called Daedalus. As the name implies, Daedalus was labyrinthine – three floors of used books, densely packed into every spare inch of space, ceiling to floor. Since I am one of those poor old souls who prefers printed paper to e-books (I even like the smell of old books…), it was the perfect place to disappear on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’m happy to have found a west coast equivalent.

The name Iliad is a tribute to the original location of the store – next to Odyssey Video on Vineland Ave. In 2006, the store moved to its current location on Cahuenga Blvd., and just a few weeks ago, the new location doubled in size. The Iliad expansion has been in progress for several months, as books accumulated in the aisles. I happened to wander into the store two weeks ago, when the owners decided to cut through the wall and reveal the new room.

Because of my fortuitous timing, Davide Taddeo decided to share an employee secret with me… The wall had already been breached… several weeks earlier, when one of the employees locked their keys inside the store, and then had to climb through here to retrieve them. Apparently, very few people had perused the dreams / hypnosis shelf in the meantime. If they had, they might have stumbled upon this secret window into Iliad’s future... like something out of a fairy tale.

The window is now a door, leading into a vast fiction / literature room with two plush couches. In all honesty, I’ll miss the feeling of claustrophobia. There’s something strangely comforting about a bookstore where the books are packed so densely that you can’t turn around without tripping on them. It means that the owners are hopeless bibliophiles. For that reason, I know it won’t be long before Iliad’s expanded space is once again bursting at the seams… and with a lot of great west coast writers that I could seldom find in Daedalus: Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, John Fante and Charles Bukowski, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler. Iliad also has an overwhelming collection of books on film studies.

And if that’s your bag, you should definitely pay a visit to Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee on Vineland, touted by Turner Classic Movies as the greatest video store in the world. And, yes, I mean video store. I only recently discovered Eddie Brandt’s, and it had been years since I saw so many VHS tapes. I must have spent three hours taking inventory of the seemingly endless shelves. I quickly realized that there’s a very good reason why the store’s owners haven’t changed formats (aside from the headache of having to replace everything). Many of the titles they carry simply aren’t available on DVD. In fact, some of the titles they carry aren’t even available on VHS! The employees of Eddie Brandt’s have created a vast library of “loaner” tapes – rare films and TV shows that they will loan you for no additional cost when you rent prerecorded tapes from them. In the world of movie geeks, that qualifies these people for sainthood! Their collection of Westerns (films and serials) is especially impressive.

The front of Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee showcases two colorful monster-movie murals, the lobby is wallpapered with endless newspaper ads for classic films, and the staff loves their movies at least as much as the folks at Iliad love their books. The next time you’re in North Hollywood, don’t miss this double feature!


  1. Daedalus was/is my favorite bookstore in Charlottesville as well (I say "was" because I don't know when I'll have a chance to go back)...

    I agree with you about the claustrophobia. In some ways, its nice to see how books can act as benevolent kudzu, form-fitting and taking-over a space.

  2. Holy crap. I want to live in both places. I'd work for free just to crash on the couch and read or watch all night long.

  3. I am looking for a copy of Dennis Morgan's 'The Desert Song.' Do you have a copy I can purchase?

  4. My name is Howard Freeman. I'm the artist who painted the murals at Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee. Thanks for the beautiful pics on your blog! If you want to see more, check out