Sunday, December 11, 2005

Larry David's notebook

From a New Yorker piece on Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm:

Like many comedians, Larry David carries a pocket notebook for writing down ideas. "You're in a parking garage, and Larry’s wallet is empty--he forgot to ask his assistant to go to the cash machine," [Robert] Weide, who directs several episodes a year, says. "So he says, 'Shit, I have no money for the valet--could you give me a few bucks?' So you find yourself giving money to Larry David, who has a few bucks. And then out comes the little notebook."

"What would I have done if he hadn’t been there?" David said. "That could have been funny."

The notebook is a ratty brown thing that looks as if it might have cost forty-nine cents at a stationery store. Its pages are covered with David’s illegible scrawl.
Ratty? I think not. The notebook, as seen in Curb Your Enthusiasm, seems to be a Boorum memo book, made by Esselte Pendaflex. The photograph above is of one of mine ($1.55 whenever I bought it, not all that long ago). Sad to say, I can't find one reference to this well-made item online. Has it become, like the Blackwing pencil, a part of the past?

Larry David's notebook is prominent in "The Wire" (first season, episode six of Curb Your Enthusiasm). It's so important to its owner that written inside it is an offer of a $500 reward for its return. Trouble comes when a neighbor finds the notebook and wants Larry to make good on the reward.

Link: James Kaplan, "Angry Middle-Aged Man"
(from the New Yorker, 19 January 2004)

Update: A call to Esselte Pendaflex confirms that these notebooks are still available. The person I spoke with (a fan of CYE who didn't know about the notebook connection) said that they can be ordered from Able Office Products (1.800.870.6872).

Update, July 9, 2008: Reader Steve Windham found brown Oxford pocket notebooks for sale here. Thanks, Steve!

Update, April 5, 2012: Steve Windham has found a Roaring Spring Sewn Memo Book that looks very much like the brown notebooks of yore. He also reports one online source, selling notebooks by the case. Thanks again, Steve.

Update, September 7, 2012: Steve Windham has found an online source for single Roaring Springs Sewn Memo Books. Thanks again, again, Steve.

comments: 8

Anonymous said...

is this it?

Michael Leddy said...

Hi Scott,

The link above doesn't seem to work (I'm asked to log in). I couldn't though find anything on the site that matches the notebook seen in CYO. The only Esselte notebooks I could find on that site have tan or black colors. Nothing in brown.

Anonymous said...


Oh well. Here's just to say I enjoy your blog a good deal. Cheers.

Michael Leddy said...

Oops - that should've been CYE. And tan and black covers.

Anonymous said...

... got this mail from esselte:

"dear customer
thanks very much for the inquiry, unfortunatley, this product has been discontinued
esselte customer service"

Michael Leddy said...

I just looked at the Able Office Products site and couldn't find these memo books. If they're really gone, they'll join Blackwing pencils in my imaginary Stationery Hall of Fame.

Anonymous said...

I've been using these notebooks to document my entire existance for over 30 years. Just got off the phone with Esselte and, sure enough, no longer available. Yikes!! Life as I've known it is over.

Michael Leddy said...

I know a composer who felt this way when eraser refills for the electric eraser he used were no longer to be had. I'd try every old-line stationery store available to lay in a supply.