Friday, July 20, 2007

Bushwick #29, 7/18/07

First off, I want to say this'll be my last post for a little while. I don't know how long, but it's just that my days won't be as free to read and go to libraries anymore: I got a job. I know, unthinkable, but somehow or other, it happened. It's at a rare bookshop of all places, and it's actually more of a paid internship than a job, but either way. On to the library type stuff!

Haircut and other Stories was excellent; so good in fact that I bought You Know Me Al, also by Ring Lardner, at a used bookstore in Chicago. While there, I also noticed another book I'd been meaning to check out, and soon after getting back to this fine city I headed over to the Bushwick Branch to pick it up.

Branch: Bushwick
Location: 340 Bushwick Ave. at Seigel St.
Transport: bicycle
Book: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee
Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This was a nice bike ride up towards that whole Williamsburg area, though due to an error reading google maps and a reluctance to change course I went the wrong way on a one way street longer than I maybe should have. There was plenty of room though...anyway what's done is done. The library was very nice, not in the best neighborhood I've seen but definitely not a bad one. It was a Carnegie branch, with the little balcony area over the main floor, though (like in many of these branches) the mezzanine was not open to patrons. It's one of the oldest branches, originally opening in a church basement in 1903 before moving to the current spot in 1908.

Since there were torrential rains Wednesday morning that I actually had to bike through, my sneakers were still wet at this point, which meant my dry socks also got wet. When I got to the library, after I dodged the angry kids on the steps (one on crutches) that the cop who was yelling at them seemed to have thrown out of the library, I sat down to hang out and read for a bit and took my wet shoes off. This flew for a while, half hour or so, when the same cop came up and told me I had to wear shoes. Why am I telling you all this story? I DON'T KNOW. But my shoes were pretty dry by that point, and then got totally re-soaked on the ride home when a truck forced me to ride through a giant puddle. Woo!

The library was nice though, lotsa kids hanging out, a couple playing chess, good time had by all. Now for a few pictures.

Long view, with the tower behind it.

Just the building.


Don't get all sad everyone. I have a lot of books to read and soon little time to do it, and even less time to go to libraries, but I promise I'll be back before too long. Who knows, maybe having a job will mean I learn to...*shudder*...budget my time better. But, if for some reason it's way longer than I think it'll be, enjoy the rest of your summer! By reading!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kings Bay #44, 7/11/07

Apparently yesterday (7/11) was free slurpee day at...7-11. Well, I missed it. But I did do something cool - I visited a library! Yeah, that's right! Basically, Liz (my girlfriend, if you were curious) is doing a sweet top-secret project involving the believed-extinct thylacine or Tasmanian tiger, and there was a book on said animal that seemed highly informative. But, as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Face of Battle was excellent, it took me a little while to read, but it was well worth it. While I thought it would be a little more about the experience of the individual in battle, it turned out to be more of a detailed breakdown of what battle was really like for various groups; i.e., archers v. cavalry at Agincourt, or infantry v. machine gunners at the Somme. Keegan discusses three battles in detail (Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme) and his findings are fascinating. He also discusses the future of battle a bit, and since the book came out before Vietnam was even over, his predictions are a bit outdated. He seems to believe that battle will, someday soon, make itself obsolete - while this might be true to an extent, we now have wars that are fought from bomb to bomb rather than battle to battle. But oh well.

So as I said, there was this useful looking thylacine book that I thought I'd pick up, and other than the Central Branch, only one had it: the Kings Bay Branch.

Branch: Kings Bay
Location: 3650 Nostrand Ave. (near Ave. W)
Transport: bicycle
Books: Tasmanian Tiger: The Tragic Tale of How the World Lost Its Most Mysterious Predator by David Owen; Haircut and Other Stories by Ring Lardner
Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The bike ride there was really nice. Kings Bay is out in the southeast corner of Brooklyn, by the water, so I rode down Ocean Parkway almost all the way to Coney Island and then took Avenue W over to Nostrand. Avenue W had a bunch of those really nice row houses that make me think of the beach (and that many of the neighborhoods near beaches in Brooklyn are made up of.) It was really humid yesterday, but not unbearably hot, and by the time I got to the library, I could smell the salt in the air.

The branch itself was wonderful. It has a setup like I'd never seen; a split level, where the fiction, new books, large print, foreign language books, CDs and DVDs are on the main level, and then to the right one can either go up, to the children's department (where a sign declared that no teens 13 or older were allowed), or down, to the where the young adult and non-fiction books are kept (and here a sign proclaimed that there is to be no PSP use on the premises. No word on the Nintendo DS). It was packed with people and had a really nice feel to it. I found the thylacine book in no time, but then there was a problem; what to get for myself? After a long search, I noticed a short story book by Ring Lardner, an author who I was familiar with only through the comic strip adaptation of his famous work, You Know Me Al (which my father showed me years and years ago), about a naive baseball player in the early 20th century who gets picked up by the big leagues. In fact, I had no idea until yesterday that it was ever anything other than a comic strip, but there apparently a new edition of it came out recently.

Anyway, I picked up Haircut, saw the enthusiastic H.L. Mencken quote on the front, read the first few sentences, loved it, and grabbed it. After recently reading the entire Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, most of which is taken from early 20th century comics, and then being completely fascinated by Keegan's depiction of the Somme in The Face of Battle (Americans are always so eager to talk about World War II that we forget about World War I entirely), I think it's safe to say I am officially fascinated with the early half of the 20th century. Just so you all know.



Yep...there it is...right in there.

I don't remember it being so red...I must have been half-dead from dehydration.

Projects across the street.

That's all for now, going to Chicago tomorrow for that pitchfork thing, but my current book is pretty short so I should be back early next week. Have a good weekend everyone! Don't burn alive!