Last night, Michael Moore rallied the spirits of East Villagers and St. Mark's Bookshop fans by yelling, "Save St. Mark’s bookstore!" Capital New York reports that the opinionated filmmaker said of the shop's landlord, Cooper Union, "We’re appealing to their conscience and the integrity of their history, because they exist only because the people of New York have supported Cooper Union for all of these centuries."
Like many bookstores, big and small, St. Mark's Bookshop has been struggling lately and Cooper Union has been demanding higher rents. Tens of thousands (currently it's over 40,000) have signed a petition to save the institution as the store's plight has been publicized. Moore called the store earlier this week to ask if he could hold a signing for his new memoir, Here Comes Trouble.
Capital New York says about 200 people were there and recounts Moore's speech:
“I’ve seen enough of New York destroyed! I am ashamed to live in a city where out of 8 million people, one million of them live in poverty.”
“Disgraceful! St. Mark’s can’t pay the rent it paid three years ago, so all it’s asking for is a reduction," he said. "It’s not asking for a free lunch! Oh, God forbid!”
The crowd giggled and booed.
Moore proceeded to describe his childhood trips to the once-independent Borders bookstore in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich., as he compared its quaintness to St. Mark’s.
“The bookstores are not going to die," he exclaimed, "because people want to get out of the house! We like being around other people. That’s why we like coming to bookstores. You can’t really quantify it … but you know why it feels good … when you leave here, you have something you didn’t know … or go to a fantasy place. Whatever, right?”
Now the audience was practically screaming its adulation.