Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gerritsen Beach #66, 1/31/07

So here it is, the last post before my vacation. It was very cold today, so of course I chose to go to a library right near a beach. Since my landlord has decided we don't need any heat during the day (as of this writing it is 5:14 pm and the heat hasn't been on since sometime last evening), I figured the outside wasn't going to be much colder than my apartment. Therefore, I needed a greater challenge than the harsh winds of Gowanus; I needed to venture out to the heretofor unknown (by me) area of Brooklyn, Gerritsen Beach.

No wait, actually what happened was when I was reading the Howard Zinn book (see last entry) I remembered the existence of a book named Johnny Got His Gun, an anti-war book from the Vietnam War era, and also remembered that I had been meaning to read it since high school. The Gerritsen Beach Branch had the most available copies (according to the online catalog), so it won the honor of my presence.

Branch: Gerritsen Beach
Location: 2808 Gerritsen Ave. (at Bartlett Place)
Transport: walked up to 7th Ave. and Flatbush, B train to Kings Highway, B31 bus to Gerritsen Ave. and Bartlett Pl.
Books: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo; Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A quick aside, you'll all be happy to know that the landlord just called and is gonna come figure out what the problem is. So hopefully that'll work out, he seemed friendly enough on the phone anyway. But you know how they are. He's just trying to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! And that fly is me! But little does he know, I already had some honey mustard today on a sandwich. So there.

This library was quite a different experience from the past few. While the buildings have generally been very nice, the last several I'd seen were all made around the same time, and therefore had very similar designs (large, imposing rectangles). This one was not only built very recently (1997) but is trying to have a sort of beach/shore type feel to it. I liked it a lot, partially because of the bitter cold juxtaposing with said beach imagery. The selection was fairly standard - what do these libraries have against science fiction? - but there were some neat decorations, including one of these old bicentennial flags.

I roamed around in search of a second book I wanted, and finally settled on Heart of Darkness, another one that I somehow missed in high school. I loved Nostromo and am fairly certain that I could easily become obsessed with Joseph Conrad if I read a few more of his books. I am already halfway through Heart of Darkness, and I love it, big surprise I know. Appropriately enough, both of these books were in the "young adult assignment" section.

Something interesting happened to me after I left the library and before I got the bus back to the subway station, but I'll post the pictures first, as one of them is a good visual aid to the story.

Full shot from across the street.

This part looks kinda like a barn?

Here's the clock tower. The actual time was about 1:30 pm. Maybe it was struck by lightning at one time.

If you go to the full-sized image and look closely, you can see the ornamental owls here. No, I am not obsessed with owls.

Even wider shot from the bus stop.

The beach/park across the street...

...and another view of it. Here you can see all the tall grass, which there isn't really a scale for, but believe me, it was tall. I decided to go check it out, and there were a few little footpaths cut through it. I started walking down one, and hadn't gotten far before I realized that I could only see the top of the library building, and couldn't see the street at all. Then I turned around and saw a clearing with three fairly large gentlemen in it, not too far ahead of me.

They didn't seem threatened by my presence at all, and it was a public place, but there was no way either they or I were at all visible from anywhere except for the general area right around where we were. If they had wanted to do shady dealings in the middle of a day, they could hardly have found a better place. And even if there was nothing shady about it, the locals probably didn't want some tourist skulking around. I always assume that isolated peninsulas have more hardcore locals than other places. So I hightailed it back to the bus stop.

Only other thing to report: the white-haired librarian at the information desk looked so mean that I was afraid to take a picture of the weird '76 flag I mentioned earlier. Plus, I haven't taken any pictures inside of the libraries yet, why start now?

Well, I'm off. As I said I'll be back in a couple weeks, and hopefully I'll have lots to report. Keep checking though, if you want, cause I might try to blog on the road, or something. Have a good beginning of February everyone!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

DeKalb #35, 1/29/07

Well, that took a little longer than I thought. But, I can't always be as productive as I was last week. But get this: I not only read/watched the two things I got last time, but I already read the two books (comics) that I got this time! Wooo!

As for that other stuff...Howard Zinn's memoir was good, a fast read and gave another perspective on both the civil rights and anti-war movements. I think a lot of people try to play up the stereotype of anti-war demonstrators as dumb stoned hippies. And that is wrong! You don't have to be stoned to be against pointless killing. Probably helps though.

Salesman was great, depressing but also funny and entertaining. I would feel no sympathy for any door-to-door salesmen I encountered in real life, and in the movie they often seemed reprehensible, but you could see their point of view too. They were always away from home, sharing tiny hotel rooms; it was just a sad existence. It was somewhat amusing to me that what they were selling was extremely ornate bibles, playing on poor people's desire to be good Catholics. These things cost $50 in 1967, which is almost $300 today. I can't even imagine trying to get people who are already barely making ends meet to shell out for that.

For yesterday's trip I wanted to check out another comic by Kim Deitch, who wrote Shadowland, and Lucky by Gabrielle Bell, which Dave told me about, saying it was about 20 somethings in Brooklyn without jobs or something. Not sure why I'd care about such a foreign topic but it seemed interesting enough. And the DeKalb Branch had them both...

Branch: DeKalb
Location: 790 Bushwick Ave. at DeKalb Ave.
Transport: F train to Delancey St., J train to Kosciusko St.
Books: The Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Kim Deitch; Lucky by Gabrielle Bell
Date: Monday, January 29, 2007

I was pretty out of it yesterday and the cold was bitter, so I'll just say that the library is very similar to those others that were built around 1900. It's a very nice building, spacious on the inside, with a decent but not great selection. It also had a lot of loud kids running around with an elderly police officer sort of shaking his head at them, which I found hilarious. Oh, and a couple of old men, one of whom had a stack of books labeled for high school assignments, speaking animatedly in French at the table I was sitting it. So yeah, old people and libraries. Who knew.

As for the books...Lucky was good, according to my friend Claire it had huge word of mouth when it came out which I can understand based on the subject matter and style, but I'm not sure it quite lives up to it. Certain parts of it are interesting, but the project started out as a diary in comic form, and in parts it just feels like, yeah, this would be interesting if I knew you, but I don't, so it isn't. I'm glad I read it but doubt if I'd read it again.

The Boulevard of Broken Dreams was very good, and I will probably read it again at some point, but I think I enjoyed Shadowland more. The demon/cartoon cat Waldo is an excellent character, but overall I just felt that Shadowland had more going for it, the story was richer somehow. I also feel that the story of the unappreciated/crazy animator/comic artist has been done many times. This was probably the best one I read so far, but it was still an idea I'd seen. Then again, so is all the crazy carnival stuff...maybe I just liked Shadowland more because it had much bigger pages.

So, two minor disappointments but still good reads. Also, yesterday was just kind of meh until the evening anyway so that may well be coloring my judgment. Well, no use crying over it, on to the pictures!

Yeah, the sun's behind it, whatever. I'm not a photographer.

The door! Reflecting stuff!

I like the tree. On the left.

In other news, I'm going away on Thursday for about 10 days so I can't really do the updating thing. It's a four city tour, comprising Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and a little bit o' Saint Paul. Good times! I might update one more time before I go, so hold your collective breath. Otherwise, I'll see y'all in a couple weeks!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Walt Whitman #62, 1/25/07

Updates three days in a row! How does he do it??? Well, not to worry, I won't be keeping up this pace for long. Last night before bed I finished Shadowland (which was so good I'm sure I will soon be getting another of Kim Deitch's books, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams), so I figured, what the hell, I'll go get some more stuff. About Shadowland, it's very weird, very dirty, and involves aliens, murder, eternal youth, people being burned alive, and circus animals. Aside from the stellar art, I was amazed at how well the story held together, considering all the bizarre, disparate elements. I would recommend it for anyone who likes comics, carnivals, and isn't easily offended.

But the important thing is today's trip! I was so fascinated by Gimme Shelter, and lately I've been much more into non-fiction than fiction, so I figured I'd watch another of the Maysles brothers' movies. And since every copy of Grey Gardens in the Brooklyn Library system is either on hold or checked out, Salesman, a documentary on door-to-door salesmen made in 1968, seemed like a good option. I chose the Walt Whitman Branch because it had a cool name and I could bike to it. Finding out it had Howard Zinn's memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, sealed the deal.

Branch: Walt Whitman
Location: 93 Saint Edwards St. (between Myrtle and Park Avenues)
Transport: bicycle
Items: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train by Howard Zinn; Salesman (DVD)
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2007

I hopped on my bike today at about 12:35 or 12:40, and I got to the library right around 12:54. By the time I had locked up my bike it was bout 12:55 (sigh), four minutes before the library's scheduled opening time, and there was a crowd of about half a dozen people waiting outside the door. When the man in charge of opening the doors arrived, we all started shuffling towards them, but he said it wasn't time yet and locked them behind him. This was annoying, it being 12:57 at this point, and two people in the crowd expressed that fact better than I could have. One man pointed out that it was a little ridiculous that libraries open at 1:00 pm to begin with, a practice that most branches engage in two to three times a week. The woman right in front of me mentioned that in the past (I believe she said at different branches, but nonetheless) they sometimes didn't open until five or even ten after one, so their holding out for an extra three minutes today was a bit ridiculous. When the doors did open and we went inside, the first face we saw was a police officer's. I wondered if maybe they had been waiting for him to arrive before opening, which was a bit depressing.

The last stretch of my bike ride was between the Long Island University: Brooklyn Campus's football field and Fort Greene Park, but the library itself is right in the middle of some housing projects, which as always don't seem dangerous to me as much as soul-crushing. The library building was nice though, just a large room with one floor and a mezzanine, and a small but worthwhile selection. I was a little disappointed when I noticed/remembered that most people these days just use libraries to read newspapers or use the internet for free, but it is nice that people can do those things, even if they are most often just checking their myspace accounts. Hey - we all do!

The only other addition is that I had an oddly difficult time finding the fiction, which was put in a corner next to the young adult section in such a way that I wandered around aimlessly for about five minutes looking for it before giving up and asking a librarian. It took a while to get to where I could ask her, though, because she was deeply involved in a conversation with the other librarian about the state of classrooms these days. What I took away from it was that while these days kids don't hesitate to throw around an "f you" or a (here her voice lowered to the point that I basically have to make up what she was saying) "suck my dick," the teachers can't really concentrate on that, because it's more important that they make sure the kids pick up even the most rudimentary reading and writing skills. A "pick your battles" type scenario. Then again, I got those skills, and now I'm an unemployed college graduate who can't even find the fiction in a library, so who's to say. Pretty uplifting experience in any case. But I'm expecting the Zinn memoir to be fairly uplifting, as it discusses his experiences in the civil rights movement and opposing wars. Of course, the documentary will bring me right back down. Sigh. Picture time!



This church was across the street, and I thought it looked really great. Sort of a bright spot in the area.

And, here's what the buildings looked like. I'm not sure if they actually set out to make housing projects look so oppressive or if it's just the natural course of things. There was a nice view of the Empire State Building though.

That's it for today, but who knows, I may be back tomorrow! Or Saturday, or maybe Sunday...sometime next week anyway.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Arlington #21, 1/24/07

Well, despite the minimal response to the last post, I went to another library today, so here's another one. I guess there won't be too much meat to it. Maybe I need to ask Dave for some more missions.

This trip was fairly arbitrary, as the book was a random comic that a website I have since forgotten said was good, so I just went to the furthest library that had it. In this case that was the Arlington Branch, which I had some reservations about going to since I wasn't sure about the neighborhood and the information the website gives on the library is minimal. But, as I am happy to report, both the library and the neighborhood were very pleasant. The library building in particular was one of the nicest I've been to.

Branch: Arlington
Location: 203 Arlington Ave. at Warwick St.
Transport: F train to Delancey St., J train to Cleveland Ave.
Book: Shadowland by Kim Deitch
Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This library was opened in 1906 due to a donation from Andrew Carnegie. It really seems like the older they are, the nicer they are; this building was just very enjoyable to be in. In contrast with the Red Hook Branch, the employees and patrons both seemed happy to be there. I looked for a while trying to find something other than just the one book, but lately I'm held back by all the books I have laying around at home, so I decided one was enough.

I did glance through a book on neighborhoods in Brooklyn, though, in an attempt to find out what neighborhood I was actually in at the time (Arlington is just the street the branch is on). The book told me I was in Cypress Hills, considered by some to be a part of East New York. It said the neighborhood looks much the same as it did in the 1930s, which makes perfect sense; the first thought I had upon getting off of the train was that at one time, the area must've been one of the best parts of Brooklyn, with all sorts of hustle and bustle, and lots of early 20th century stereotypes. It's still very nice, but it does have a bit of a decaying feel to it.

To say a bit more about the actual library, the selection didn't quite match up to the ambiance. There were about five science fiction books, but the children's section seemed fairly thorough (it was the whole mezzanine area) and there were a few good DVD choices, including some Criterions. There were a few rooms below the main level as well, including a decent sized classroom, the sight of which excited me for some reason. I guess maybe it's been too long...

As for the book I actually got, I don't know much about it, even to the point of thinking the author was female until I read the introduction (his name is Kim, honest mistake). So far I love the art, and it seems to be very disturbing and about freak shows, so I'm sure it will be excellent. On to the pics!

View from the approach.

The wide shot (wide as I could get, anyway).

And, the grand entrance.

This time, I was also compelled to show a couple of pictures from the neighborhood that would illustrate the feeling of it much better than I could.

This house just blew me away. I've always loved houses like this, and there are a bunch in New Haven. I also liked all the trees that are sort of blocking it.

This was the view from the (above ground) subway platform. With that hill to the north, it really felt like I was in a little valley or something. Apparently that's called Highland Park, I'll have to go back there in the spring or summer.

So thats it for today. But I'll be back soon. Don't worry! Seriously though, if anyone wants to tell people about this blog, go for it. I also like comments!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Red Hook #70, 1/22/07

OK, I'm back, reading Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight took a little longer than I expected, but it was well worth it. I knew very little about Africa going in, but I felt that the author, Alexandra Fuller, did an excellent job of her (albeit limited) perspective on what it was like there in the 1970s and '80s. While her treatment of the race issue and colonialism was probably as limited as it could have been, the book wasn't really about that; it was merely about her own experiences, many of them tragic, with her family, with Africa (mostly Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe) being the setting. That said, it is a much more alive setting than most, and dictated the course of the story as often as not. This is one of those books that it is almost strange to finish, as reading it every day has become a part of your consciousness by the time you have finished.

Moving on to yesterday's trip, Red Hook is probably the closest neighborhood to mine that I had yet to explore in even the most cursory fashion. Since no trains go to it, it has a kind of unique isolation within Brooklyn, in that it is not far out from Manhattan, but not many people really go there. Plus, the Red Hook Branch had a DVD I wanted and I figured I'd pick up a book as well, so I put on my new gloves, called Amy up, and we biked on over there.

Branch: Red Hook
Location: 7 Wolcott St. at Dwight St.
Transport: bicycle
Item: Gimme Shelter (DVD)
Date: Monday, January 22, 2007

Aside from a little while being lost on Bay St., which meant being able to check out Red Hook Park, this place was easy enough to find. Of course, the one time I don't have my map (my friend Gabe had borrowed it without my knowledge!) is the time when I have someone following me, and am in a neighborhood I know nothing about. Well, we got there all right, and then Amy got shit on by a bird, but the real disappointment was the library. Red Hook seemed like a quiet, unique neighborhood with a lot to offer, but the library was probably the worst one I've been to yet.

It was small and somewhat dismal, but the real problem was lack of selection. They had the DVD I wanted, as well as some other interesting movies, but the book selection was just about the bare minimum they could have, with none of the unique additions that other libraries seem to have. Perhaps it's because there isn't much of an ethnic community in Red Hook (that I know of). The employees seemed miserable as well, not mean but just depressing. The woman checking me out was scanning the wrong barcode on one of the books I was returning, which of course is no big deal, but when she realized what she was doing, she gave me a weak smile and said, "I'm ready to go home." I got the feeling that she always was, no matter the time of day or day of the week. To be fair, it was a Monday.

So, I got to see more of Red Hook, got good exercise on a fairly nice day (for winter), and Amy and I had an excellent lunch at the Hope & Anchor. The experience was good, but the library was just meh. Bu, not getting a book means I'll be back and updating in no time!

Also, I've actually watched the movie (Gimme Shelter) already, and it is amazing. I don't know about Altamont being "the end of the '60s" and all that jive, but it really is a scary, intense movie to watch. The editing in particular really blew me away, and the way the intersperse the footage from the concerts, and the Stones watching that footage, is really brilliant. I'm sure everyone's seen it by now though, so whatever.

Also, I'll be on the west coast soon, so maybe I can fight some Hell's Angels! More on that later. Now for the pictures!

Amy, her spirits high despite the bird crap, poses with the bikes and my backpack.

Wide shot (also, with Amy).

And finally, I think this one really represents the feeling of being there.

I guess that's all for tonight, with any luck there'll be another post tonight or tomorrow. Don't forget to watch the State of the Union tonight! I know I probably will.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Paerdegat #78, 1/10/07

What? Oh, right, the blog. Not really sure why I haven't updated in so long...I've been busier socially than usual, and watching more movies than reading books, so that's probably the problem. Since the last update I've seen Battle Royale, Parents, The Devil's Backbone, the first episode of Firefly (which I didn't hate, surprisingly), Alpha Dog, and Children of Men. Not to mention...*shudder* the entire Golden Globes broadcast. Oh, and Moving Violations. Can't forget about that gem.

But, obviously, books are better than movies, so it's time to get back to the libraries. I actually went to the Paerdegat Branch (can't pronounce that) last Wednesday, but every day since then has been reasonably busy, so here we are. I was hooked on the Peanuts collections, as the early strips are so well drawn and entertaining, and have an interesting point of view on the 1950s, pointing out how anyone could have not been happy in that perfect time, so after finishing the first book, I needed more. Not to mention the awesome dream about Minnesota (Charles Schulz is from St. Paul) they inspired in me, complete with snow and Brian Eno music. Then I remembered I had been looking at Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight, so I found the one branch that had both books I needed, and it was way the hell out there.

Branch: Paerdegat
Location: 850 E. 59th St. at Paerdegat Ave. South
Transport: 2 to last stop, B6 bus for the rest
Books: The Complete Peanuts 1953-1954 by Charles Schulz; Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This was an interesting trip. Out in the Flatlands, or maybe it's considered East Flatbush, there lies the Paerdegat Basin. Right near that, of course, is the Paerdegat Branch of the library. To get there, I took the 2 train all the way out to Brooklyn College (by the way, that stop has every fast food chain on the east coast in walking distance from it, including a Popeyes/Wendy's combo), then got on a bus for a mile or so. The neighborhood was interesting, not what I expected but still a bit depressing. It didn't feel dangerous, had a good amount of trees, but it was still kind of desolate, even with all of the houses. They were decent sized, but many were very dirty and had barred windows and doors. I was there in mid-day, which may be why it didn't seem like a bad area; certainly, at night, it could be one.

The library was nice, a cozy single level but definitely well stocked and staffed. In addition to having what I needed, they had a wealth of material on Ancient Egypt, a topic Dave was fairly interested in. He gave me a mission to spice up the hunt, and while all he wanted was a book on the subject, I actually sat down and did the research. So now here they are, for the first time anywhere: my findings on the daily lives of Ancient Egyptians.

They mostly operated with a barter system, with sacks of grain often functioning as currency. Their houses were made of mud bricks that baked in the sun, and as time when on they inevitably collapsed. They were also dark, with little airflow, due to the lack of windows. Because of this, the Egyptians often ate and even slept on the roofs. Guests were generally not invited beyond the main room of these houses, and being sent to the back of the house was considered a punishment, as the kitchens were there, and these would often get unbearably hot due to the large brick ovens they used. Lice and fleas were a common problem, and as a result they shaved their bodies and kept very little hair on their heads. As for deodorant, the Egyptians would roll incense into a ball and rub it into their armpits. The streets were very narrow, barely wider than a man's wingspan, and they filled up with rotting garbage quickly, as there wasn't really a waste management system.

Regarding food, the staple diet for the average Egyptian was bread, beer, and some vegetables, and maybe some fish. Meat was a luxury since there was no way to preserve it, and it had to be consumed quickly. The beer was made mostly from barley, and wine was made as well (from grapes). The first paragraph came from the book The Ancient Egyptian World by Eric H. Cline and Jill Rubalcaba. It was all right, but the second one (where the food info came from) seemed more complete; it was The Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David. They are both published by Oxford University Press, so consult 'em! If you wanna.

Well I guess that's it except for the pictures.

The wide view!

The close-up!

And you can't really tell here, but the hours of operation sign has no hours, only graffiti. They never even tried to put them on in the first place! Weird.

I think I can handle another update in less than a week. Let's hope so anyway. Thanks for watchin'!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Gravesend #74, 1/5/07

It was 70 degrees here yesterday. On January 6th. That is retarded and unacceptable. I've come to terms with global warming as a reality, but not as a next few years kind of thing, as a telling my grandchildren what snow used to be like kind of thing. What the fuck is summer going to be like at this rate? Walking over the Gowanus Canal today in a t-shirt while the sun reflecting off the water blinded was a little like the world had ended except for the constant stream of cars still rolling over the damn BQE.

OK, rant over. Ode To Kirihito was great. It was like medical drama mixed with morality play mixed with people turning into furries. If you know what I mean by that, shame on you. I recommend it highly if you have even the slightest passing interest in manga, or comics at all. Or stuff. So even though I have all these new books to read, I figure comics are ok, so I looked up those Complete Peanuts books, found a place that had the first two (Gravesend), and off I went!

Branch: Gravesend
Location: 303 Ave. X at West. 2nd St.
Transport: F Train to Ave. X
Book: The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 by Charles Schulz
Date: Friday, January 5, 2007

What's this? He said he went to the place with the first two books! And he only got one? You are too perceptive, dear readers. Allow me to explain. No, wait! Put that down! Let me explain! NOT THE BAT!!! ARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!

What? Oh, right. Long story short, they contain a shit-ton of strips, and my bag is small, and I figured one was enough for now. It means another entry sooner, right? Of course it does. And that's what we all want. Peanuts is amazing. At least the early stuff is. I never felt about it the way I do about Calvin and Hobbes, but at this early stage you can definitely see the same type of genius. In fact, I've found at least one early Peanuts strip that a C&H strip directly rips off.

As for the library, it's in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn, out near Brighton Beach and Coney Island. The neighborhood is great, it had some weird looking bars/clubs, a medical + dental complex with a stone facade like an old diner, and an off-track betting place that was totally filled with people. Though it was early evening on a Saturday, so that makes sense.

The library is a big brick building from the 1960s with a really nice feel to it. So far I've been surprised by how these libraries are totally neighborhood hangouts and social centers, even in these fast paced times we live in. Maybe that's mostly because of the internet, but not entirely. The librarian at the info desk was a Russian man in his 60s who seemed to know most of the people in there, and at the table next to mine were two Russian women chatting as if they were in a salon or a park or wherever. The inside of the building had an interesting setup, with the main level (fiction, movies, new stuff) going about halfway back, and then splitting into either upstairs (non-fiction) or downstairs (childrens). For some reason that I don't quite understand, old-timey comic books are in the non-fiction section. So is ancient literature, poetry, and drama though, so whatever.

On the way out, I picked up a flier for a book club called "Pam's Picks." They're reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan next, currently a very popular book. The flier promises a "lyrical and emotionally charged novel" which "delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship." That's a hard sell, and though I previously had no interest in the book, the thought of showing up at the meeting, which I assume would be almost entirely comprised of middle-aged women, blows my mind a little bit. That said, I have until February 8th at 2:00 pm to read the book if I so choose, but as of this writing, the Brooklyn Public Library system does not have a single available copy.

I guess it's time for pictures:

From across the street. Also, you can see a cop giving someone a ticket! What you can't see is her car blocking an entire side of the street while she writes the damn thing. Well played!

These two are blurry, which is lame, but they totally connect to form one LARGER picture.

And finally, the angled shot.

Well that's it for me, but I'm already racing through this Peanuts collection so you may well hear from me soon. Or not, What do I know.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Park Slope #53, 12/29/06

Well, I know I claimed I'd update before the new year. And I meant to, but after I got back from visiting family, I was sick with a fever, and some friends visited, and then it was new year's...Oh well. I did actually go to a library on the 29th, but since I was sick, I just walked it, so it was the closest one, Park Slope.

As a quick aside, while it's been an interesting year, and one that I enjoyed a great deal (certainly more than '05), I am still quite happy to see it go. Also, I really want it to get cold...I understand global warming and all that, but is there really not going to be any snow here in the Northeast this winter? Ludicrous.

So, before my friends visited, I had just gotten back from St. Louis, where I was visiting my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My brother, mother, and stepfather showed up for good measure. It was very relaxing, I had eggnog with rum for the first time, saw Goodfellas for the first time, and remembered how funny Ed Wood is. Oh, and got some sweet gifts too, mostly books and CD reissues (Pavement, Lucinda Williams, Eno & Byrne) but also a cool handheld Zelda game that so far seems nearly as good as Link to the Past. I also picked up a sweet cold from my grade school cousins that developed into a fever after I started feeding it with alcohol and not enough sleep. Woo!

But enough about that, on to the libraries/books. Well, I enjoyed The Plot Against America a lot more than I thought I would. It was kind of a thriller, but the historical/alternate history angle gave it a very interesting dimension. Beyond that, Roth's characterization(and using a version of himself as the narrator/protagonist), made it seem less like a strange, twisted version of history, and more a story of a family splintering during trying times. It seems like the kind of thing that may still happen today, based on divisive issues like the war in Iraq or gay marriage, but for some reason I feel as though it doesn't. Maybe people are more apathetic these days, or maybe the divides don't cut through families anymore, just different regions.

The Quitter was good, but I don't have much to say about it. It was the story of Harvey Pekar's younger years, but many of the more interesting moments had already been portrayed in other American Splendor anthologies. Personally, I enjoyed the moments as their own stories, trying to construct them into a coherent person without a strict chronology. So the book was good, but for me, a bit redundant.

And lastly, Shutting Out the Sun. This one was excellent, tackling both social and economic issues that the people of Japan are currently facing. I knew very little about the subject beforehand, so it was all interesting to me, but without a specific interest in this subject there is no reason to read it. If you have any interest in Japan at all, though, it is a fascinating read.

Branch: Park Slope
Location: 6th Ave. at 9th St.
Transport: walkin'
Books: Ode To Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka; The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders
Date: Friday, December 29, 2006

I'd been to the Park Slope Branch before, as it is my local branch. It's got a nice setup, a large children's room and main room, and a second floor overhang with graphic novels and...some other stuff. I don't remember, I was sick dammit! Anyway in the back of my mind I always remember it as crappy, but it isn't really, and I think I do that because the Hamline Branch of the St. Paul library, my old local branch, was crappy. As for why I chose these books, I've been eying Ode To Kirihito forever, but it seemed like a big commitment for some reason. maybe the thickness, though it is manga, but whatever.

As for those pesky Gappers of Frip, I went intending to get a different George Saunders book, as he wrote one of my favorites last year (In Persuasion Nation) and I love his short stories. But I'm a sucker for interesting kid's books, and the art in this one looked great, and the book turned out to be excellent. I love the way Saunders highlights how selfish and horrible people are, but this one actually managed to have a happy ending. And now for the pics:

From across the street.

From across the avenue.

Right close up.

So that's that, I can't say when I'll go to another just because I'm a bit overwhelmed with books I got for Christmas presents, but I'm still not temping yet, so...whatever. I' should be able to get out there soon enough.