2009, ed. of 10, 350 pages, 26 x 9 ½”, a collage of three books disassembled and made into one, Coptic stitched and cased in embossed leather with original paperback covers set into inner and outer front cover and inner back cover. Issued in an armored-glass windowed 26 x 11 ¼ x 5” bigleaf maple box inlaid with madrone and pepperwood. Wood provenance silkscreened inside box lid. 3 books was held for release until late 2010 and only offered as one of five books that comprise the chronic freedom suite of books. Copies of 3 books are offered in the series only.
3 books is a collage combining the only three nationally distributed trade paperback books on Northern California marijuana cultivation, all released at the peak of the first cycle of major media interest in domestic pot-growing: T.C. Boyle’s Budding Prospects, Steve Chapple’s Outlaws in Babylon, and Ray Raphael’s Cash Crop: An American Dream.
All three books were published at approximately the same time: 1984 and 1985. Using the coincidence of the original concurrent publication dates, 3 books presents readers with contrasts in meaning as well as inciting the possibility of new meanings by combining these books into a single volume.
The generic gaps and overlaps between the three sets of book pages are prefigured for the reader by genre titles that preface the collaged texts: “pastoral,” the self-styled fictional account of pot-farming in Budding Prospects by T.C. Boyle; “gonzo report,” the subjective journalism of Steve Chapple’s Outlaws in Babylon; and “self portrait,” an account written from within the community by professional historian Ray Raphael in Cash Crop: An American Dream. The contiguous vertical placement of the three books’ pages and covers, along with the periodic inclusion of opaque vellum spacers, disrupts linear reading despite the otherwise orderly assembly of pages as they occur from beginning to end. Likewise, this alignment of pages brings into immediate focus variations in paper quality and size, page layout and choice of typeface. The disjunction from book to book obliges the reader to re-work competing descriptions of sometimes identical pot-growing communities just as members of those communities have had to reassemble descriptions of their lives—even when told originally by themselves—from competing media accounts over the decades.
The leather-embossed marijuana bud cover design follows a woodcut image by the late Southern Humboldt County, California artist Frank Cieciorka that was used repeatedly in the Southern Humboldt, hippie-settler produced Star Root magazine in the late 1970s and 1980s. Cieciorka also co-designed the front cover of the “self portrait” volume of 3 books, Ray Raphael’s Cash Crop, and provided the author portrait of Raphael which appears on its back cover. Before moving to Humboldt County Cieciorka was active in Bay Area radical graphic design. A woodcut print of a clenched fist by him became the emblem of the New Left in the 1960s.
A similar commitment to self-description is evident in the wooden box containing 3 books. Local history is literally rooted within the box by the provenance of the wood: bigleaf maple, pepperwood, madrone and recycled old-growth redwood all sourced from different Southern Humboldt locations. So, in this sense, the box is not just locally made—in Lower Redway by Dan Primerano—but also locally grown. And through the wire-armored glass of the box’s front window—safeguarded from the outside—can be seen the book’s spine with embossed title lettering and a smaller version of the Cieciorka bud: a home-grown history locally made and locally defended.