Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Carroll Gardens #31, 3/27/07

So, I finished By Night In Chile yesterday morning and decided to get on my bike and ride somewhere, because it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The book was excellent by the way, short but very powerful. It was about a Chilean priest who also wrote poetry and literary criticism, and I guess...the regrets he has about his life, would be the best way to put it. It doesn't sound all that great when I put it that way, but it is. Something about the way Bolaño writes is just very captivating, it really makes me wish I were fluent in Spanish so I could read it the way it should be. But thats ok. Dave has started the Sinatra bio and says it is very good so far. So that's all for last time's stuff.

The other day I was in the Union Square B&N with my friend Sara (who just moved here from Minnesota) and discovered that it is apparently small press month. They had a whole table of interesting looking small press books, one of which I bought (a comic) and others of which I wrote down the info of. Very few of them are available in the Brooklyn library system, and most of those that are are in the Central Branch, which I don't feel like going to yet for some reason, but I found one book that seemed interesting by a Canadian author, Lucius Shepard, so I headed off to the Carroll Gardens Branch to get it.

Branch: Carroll Gardens
Location: 396 Clinton St. @ Union St.
Transport: bicycle
Books: A Handbook of American Prayer by Lucius Shepard; Der Struwwelmaakies by Tony Millionaire
Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The library is another Carnegie branch, so it has the same layout as the others: one large room, small balcony with some other stuff on it. I was feeling a little out of it yesterday, and I kept thinking I was in the Park Slope Branch because they're very similar. Carroll Gardens has a great selection though, possibly due to the fact that it's an upscale neighborhood. It's always fascinating to me which branches have which books, because it tells a lot about the neighborhood. A Russian writer like Victor Pelevin, for example, you're most likely to find in southeast Brooklyn, like Brighton Beach or Gravesend, because those are the Russian neighborhoods. But that one is obvious. The book I took out yesterday, A Handbook of American Prayer, is at the Central Branch (most things are) but also in such fancy neighborhoods as Windsor Terrace, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, and the Leonard Branch (Williamsburg). Roberto Bolaño is a bit different, because he's in libraries in neighborhoods with significant Hispanic populations (Sunset Park, Bay Ridge) as well as hipster enclaves (Carroll Gardens, Leonard). Although in reality his book Amulet is NOT in Carroll Gardens, because I looked for it, and so did the librarian, and it wasn't there, which was annoying because I bet it's good. DON'T STEAL LIBRARY BOOKS YOU JERKS!

Other points of interest: this was maybe the first time I've been to a library that I noticed not all of the computers filled with kids using the internet. Gorgeous weather wins again! As for the other book I got, it's a Maakies book. You know, that funny, gross comic strip. It rocks. I was surprised they had it in a library, but who knows what passes for books these days! Also, up on the balcony, there is a whole graphic novel section, which I thought was pretty cool. Of course, it's mostly just the superhero stuff and manga; the good stuff is mixed in with the regular fiction. Or in the "New" section, which is where the Maakies book was. Whatevs.


Long shot

Closer shot

I guess this one's more of the tree than anything.

So that's it for now, I guess no one is reading this anymore anyway, but if you think that's gonna stop me, YOU'RE WRONG. See you next time. Or not. Probably not.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Leonard #46, 3/22/07

Well, it's definitely been a while. I guess I can only hope that people still check this space...and if you do, thanks for that. Between books that I couldn't wait to read (basically just Day Watch...I mean, come on, it's part of a trilogy, and Night Watch was totally rad) and trips to Connecticut to see my dad, not to mention having a fever for the past week, making people hate me, and a little thing called MARCH MADNESS?!?! Yep, I'd say it's been a busy couple of weeks.

But I finally found time to read a book I got out at the last library, Dandelion Wine. I had the premise only partially right: it takes place in small town America during the summer of 1928, and it is magical, but not in the way I expected from Bradbury. He essentially managed to turn amazing memories from his childhood into a book so beautiful that anyone who reads it feels as though they experienced it themselves. Excellent reading for when you're sick in bed, but probably also for any other time, provided you feel like focusing on the good in the world, which is certainly a change for me. I'd bet it's best in the summer when you're about 12 though. But it makes you feel like that anyway, so...

Oh, and just a side note, the Paul Auster book I got for Dave, he didn't read, and I started it, and it sucked. The first page anyway. So I just returned it. I mean, lets be honest, scriptorium != a word.

For yesterday's selection, I decided to take out a book by Roberto Bolaño, a dead Chilean author who I read about in Believer Magazine, because I am a big fat lame hipster and that is how I find out about things. But I mean...boring train had a Stephen Elliott essay...fuck you guys, I'm not the one on trial here. Anyway, this was Bolaño's one book that wasn't checked out or in a library that I'd been to. And so, I trekked to what we all know as that nest of hipsters, the fancy part of Williamsburg, and so arrived at the...LEONARD BRANCH.

Branch: Leonard
Location: 81 Devoe St. at Leonard St.
Transport: G train to Metropolitan Ave.
Books: By Night In Chile by Roberto Bolaño; Sinatra: The Life by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
Date: Thursday, March 22, 2007

There's not much to say about this neighborhood...I mean, you get off the subway and there's a health food store and a bunch of white people. You all know how it is. Thar be hipsters. Anyway...library was very nice, one large room that was half children's and know, regular. The bathroom was easily accessible, and even the groups of kids in there were being pretty quiet. The atmosphere was so nice, I read a whole Entertainment Weekly in there. Partially because I'm lame, but also to kill time. I happened to notice a paperback copy of a Sinatra biography, and since Dave (roommate) has been asking about that, and also because I am all heart, I got it for him.

One thing about the library that seemed odd but I'm pretty sure was my fault: the entrance/exit. If the walkway coming in is a river, and the checkout desk is a large rock that splits the river, than the right hand fork (coming in) is the entrance. But for some reason, I kept trying to go back to that side to leave. First to take my books out, even though returns were on that side, which would make sense. Then I went back to the checkout side, near the exit, got my books, went downstairs to the bathroom, then came back up and tried to leave through the entrance again. The moral of the story is I just made you read a stupid boring story about how I can't follow directions. And now, pictures!

Most of the building, straight on, and in your face.

Perspective! Blocked by a big tree! But that's ok!

I don't know, maybe so you can read the writing?

That's all for now, but this book is pretty short, so hopefully I can be back on a reasonable schedule soon. I mean, don't hold me to anything, but I'm pretty sure...oh, who cares. Keep readin'!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ryder #80, 3/7/07

Mike here. Well folks, it seems that I have fallen into the bad habit of waiting multiple days after visiting libraries to write about them. This is clearly unacceptable, and I will work hard to have it rectified in the near future.

With that unpleasantness behind us, we can move on. For some reason, I decided to read a certain Ray Bradbury book. It was a snowy day, the temperature low and the wind speed high. You may remember it as...Wednesday.

Through the driving winds, I strove to find a safe harbor. Once on the F train, I seemed to be on my way to ye olde Ryder Branch (est. 1970). But alack! The F train continued on past my stop, one, two more stops to the Highway of Kings!

So, then I took the train back two stops. It was annoying, but at least I had finally arrived!

Branch: Ryder
Location: 5902 23rd Ave. (bet. 23rd Ave. at 59th St.)
Transport: F train to Ave. N
Books: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury; Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I didn't spend much time here, it was early in the day and I had many things to accomplish. It's a nice building, one of the newer branches, in a very similar neighborhood to the last view I've visited, but I'm sure I'll break out of it soon. Dandelion Wine is a sort of fantasy version of Ray Bradbury's childhood, or so I understand, and I'm excited to get into it. The other book is Paul Auster's newest novel, which I know next to nothing about, but I figured I could give it to Dave so he had something to read while in Chicago, and then read it myself when he gets back.

One interesting development: I talked to the librarians there, and they said to get a job, I should talk to the human resources department at the Central branch on Grand Army Plaza. So I'll get on that soon with any luck. With a job it might be harder to update as often, but...wait, I've only been doing this like once a week anyway. Well, whatever! PICTURES!!!

Crazy M.C. Escher view!

The side...

Another side.

And finally, a really large cemetery (Washington Cemetery) that I could see from the subway platform. Sweetness.

I guess that was the last snow of the Winter, so Spring should be here any minute now. EVERYONE BEWARE! DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME TOMORROW!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Borough Park #25, 2/28/07

Well, it has indeed been a while, and what makes it even worse is that it's all lies. I did go to another library last week, on Wednesday. I remember it like it was last was warm, and gorgeous out; I rode my bike to the library, and finished reading the book I already had out; I came home and didn't write about it at all. But I have an excuse. I put it off and put it off, and then my computer stopped turning on, so I had to get THAT fixed, and now it is, so I guess it is time.

Unsurprisingly, I loved the post-punk book. Somewhat predictably, it made me nostalgic for late seventies New York, a time when it was terrifying to even ride the subways. (Anyone else remember tokens? Just a side question.) More on that later. But the first half of the book was totally rad, all about bands that I enjoy from the period, like Public Image Limited, Joy Division, and Wire, to name a few. Reynolds also discussed what the scenes in the different cities were like, from London to San Francisco (hence the discussion of No Wave-era New York). The second half of the book was equally entertaining and well written, but it was about groups I have less interest in: Adam Ant, Dexy's Midnight Runners, the Human League, and it finished up with Frankie goes to Hollywood. They all have interesting stories, if not interesting music. I highly recommend the book to any and all music fans.

The Powers comic was good, not Bendis' best work, but it certainly kept me entertained throughout the half hour or so it took me to read it. And so, with these books (nearly) finished, I set out on my bike to enjoy the beautiful day and picked a library with another book about New York in the late seventies, this one with focusing on both politics and the Yankees. The ride was harrowing, because I started going down Third Avenue, which is split by the BQE, and there was heavy traffic on it. Then I had the long six avenue blocks uphill to Ninth Ave. But after that it was pretty much smooth sailing the rest of the way to the Borough Park Branch.

Branch: Borough Park
Location: 1265 43rd St. at 13th Ave.
Transport: bicycle
Book: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning by Jonathan Mahler
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

As you can see on my handy little map at the bottom of the blog, this library is pretty close to the last two I went to (Midwood and Mapleton). Therefore it should come as no surprise that there were, in fact, plenty of Hasidic Jews there. I mention this mainly because after a week, I don't remember much else about the place. The building is apparently from 1955, but they don't have a water fountain. Also, the drink machine was out of service. Whatever. Don't go there, it was boring. I mean, it was ok I guess. But public buildings should probably have some sort of hydration service other than the bathroom sink. If you ask me!

The book was so great. It's all about 1977 New York City, which included the serial killer David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and the blackout, as well as the Yankees winning the World Series and Reggie Jackson's three home runs on three pitches. I really enjoyed the parts about the blackout, which is described in detail from the perspective of the ConEd workers, and the Yankees' manager Billy Martin constantly fighting with George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson. The bits about the mayoral election were good too (Ed Koch beats Mario Cuomo). I felt a bit disappointed by the ending; it was almost as if Mahler didn't really know how to wrap things up so he just let the book end. Still, though, a thoroughly enjoyable read, and it'll have me on the lookout for more New York history.

I guess that'll do it for today. Pictures:

I liked it how it looked with the one next to it. Get it?

That's just it.

Just the front. Of it.

Well, there should be another entry soon, I mean, I finished that other book, so...yeah. It's too cold and windy for the bike today but there's always trains. And on that note, seeya later.