Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cypress Hills #65, 2/21/08

I'm back, and I've got something extra special for everyone today. This post will be about not one but TWO libraries. One of them isn't even in Brooklyn! Hard to believe I know. I won't talk about that one for long because this blog is really about Brooklyn Public Libraries, but I just thought I'd mention it and show off the pics. I needed a book for one of my classes, and since it's not really something I'd have any use for after the class is over, and New York Public has seven copies of it, I thought I'd branch out onto the island and see how they do things over that way.

I went to the Tompkins Square Branch, out on East 10th St. by Avenue B. It's a nice library, decent sized with two floors (though I didn't go up to the second) and plenty of space. And books! I also needed to use the yellow pages, which they had, as I was calling every stationery store in the greater New York area to see if they had pads (preferably lined) of carbon paper (they don't. None of 'em). Why do I need these pads, you may wonder? Because I'm so obsessive about lending out my books and other prized possessions that I figured this way I can keep records of who has what, and give them a receipt as well. I know, I could use computers, but I'm old fashioned. Incidentally, I also believe we should worship the sun and moon as gods, and fear them. Anyone catch the lunar eclipse last night? It was total!

Pictures of this foreign library:




Nearby, this classic car. Just cruisin'.

So, that was that. But the main event, as usual, is a true Brooklyn branch. After reading somewhere about an exhaustively researched ongoing graphic novel series about the Trojan War, and finding out that the first volume (Age of Bronze Volume 1: A Thousand Ships) was indeed at a branch I hadn't been to (Cypress Hills Branch), I set off in that general direction.

Oh yeah, and I also finished that book I got out last time, The Road. It is very good, and worth reading. Probably about as depressing as I thought it would be. A good read though, and a quick one. It almost felt like a novella in some ways. The tone of the book reminded me quite a bit of the seemingly interminable part of The Return of the King where Frodo and Sam are struggling to get the Ring to Mount Doom and trying not to starve to death in one of the worst places in the world. Only with less hope. And yet somehow, I really enjoyed it (The Road I mean). Go figure.

Branch: Cypress Hills
Location: 1197 Sutter Ave. at Crystal St.
Transport: F train to Jay St., A train to Euclid Ave.
Item: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy; Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Date: Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well, I didn't get that Trojan War thing. Infuriatingly, they had they second volume but not the first, even though they supposedly had both. Blarg. But, since I enjoyed The Road, and have been watching No Country For Old Men over and over lately, I decided some more western-oriented Cormac McCarthy would suit me fine. Plus it's the first volume of a trilogy, and you know how I love trilogies. As for Persepolis, it's an extremely popular and highly acclaimed comic that's been made into a great movie (which I saw), and I haven't read it yet. How is this even possible!? Well, it'll be remedied soon enough.

I liked the library. As much as I appreciate the Carnegie branches, I find that I usually enjoy the modern ones more. This building opened in 1995, and the design on the outside is very inviting, and the inside had a perfect library atmosphere. Lots of space, tables, people sitting around reading (I think even more than were using computers!) and a helpful reference librarian who did his best to find that damn Age of Bronze book for me. I was a little worried about the neighborhood (East New York is apparently where about 25% of the crime in New York City is committed, and I went around sunset), and while there was a large housing project across the street from the library, my impression was that the area definitely felt safer than Bed-Stuy. Of course, I didn't have to wander far from the subway, so I don't know if that would've made a difference. Oh, and I'm just noticing that half the picture are blurry. Sorry about that. Visuals:

Sunset over Pitkin Ave.

Pine trees and projects.

On approach.

Left side

Right side

Closer view of sculpture by Rolando Briseno.

Ok, I'm outta here. Keep hope alive!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Washington Irving #61, 2/6/08

Well, I missed a month. A whole month. The chain is broken! But, life goes on. Happy New Year and all that. Let me fill you all in on what I've been doing since my last post.

-School has started again. Looks like it will be a lot of work this semester.
-I've been sick multiple times, and even developed a dental condition named during WWI. It's all taken care of now though, and I am easily back up to 80% effectiveness.
-The Giants won the Super Bowl!
-Nobody won Super Tuesday!
-The Wire and Lost have started back up again. Two hours a week of guaranteed meaning in my life.
-I quit the old job, and have a new one. With benefits. Yeah.
-I didn't read the last book I took out, or watch that movie I had. I just gave up and returned them both.

You could say what is the point of this blog if I am not going to read (or otherwise consume) the items I take out of libraries, but it's not really a media review blog is it?!? No. It's about libraries. You might also say there's no point to this blog if I never go to libraries, or update it, and there you'd be right on. So here I am. I picked a shorter book this time? Maybe we can even hope I'll be to another library within this month. It's possible.

As for where I went this time...I more or less threw a dart at the library map, and since it was on my computer screen, I had to get a new display before I could proceed, but as close as I could tell, the cracks seemed to emanate from the Washington Irving Branch.

Branch: Washington Irving
Location: 360 Irving Ave. (at Woodbine St.)
Transport: L train to Myrtle/Wyckoff Aves.
Item: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So, that last book I took out, the one about Chinese immigrants being driven from their homes. I did start reading it, and it was really interesting. It just wasn't really what I was looking for at the time, and once school started up again and I knew I would never finish it with all the enforced reading I have, and I just got sick of renewing the damn thing. But, I mean, if you're interested in that particular topic I recommend it highly.

This branch I honestly expected to be kinda shoddy. I can't say why for sure, I knew nothing about the neighborhood (other than that it is right on the Queens border) but I made some assumptions, and they were totally wrong. The outside of the building is like no other Brooklyn library I've seen, "two-story Tudor revival" according to the website. It is a Carnegie branch, though, so the inside looks like most of the other Carnegie branches, complete with that little balcony part that would let you look down on the whole main floor if anyone but employees were allowed on it.

The selection was solid (though I couldn't find the new non-fiction books), and I was able to pick out a good book that I think I can actually finish. Everyone from Oprah to a bunch of other people have been raving about this book, so it's probably pretty good. I mean, it's post-apocalyptic, about a father and son traveling alone through a harsh, desolate wilderness -- might be just the pick-me-up I need. Plus the author wrote No Country For Old Men. And that movie was totally awesome. I guess this book won the Pulitzer Prize too? So, yeah, stuff. I'll let you know how it is...or will I?!?! Only time will tell.

The other thing about the branch, and this is not the first time I've noticed this, is that they have like 3 computers for both teens and adults, with 45 minute wait times, and at least 4 computers just for kids that weren't being used at all. I'm all for children and whatever, but couldn't they say if there are kids around they get priority, but if there aren't then the computers don't have to go to waste? They probably have all kinds of websites blocked on those computers though...I guess I could ask someone instead of just complaining. How about it, anyone from the BPL system still read this and wanna let me know what's up? Then I don't have to do anything!

All that not blogging for months has left me with very little to say, seemingly. Well, it's quality, not quantity, right? Anyway, I got lots of pictures. LOTS. Dunno if they're any good though.

Here it is, in all its wondrous glory.

There's a couple of schools right next to it. Well, left really. They're to the left.

Seems it used to be called just the "Irving Branch."

That's right, somebody actually took the wheel and put a cinder block in its place. Fascinating!

And, a couple of views from the M-train platform. Here's the Manhattan skyline...

and the view south (I think) down Gates Avenue. It was so weirdly warm yesterday, I think it got over 60. Normally I'd be all doom and gloom and global warming we're all gonna die about it, but it was kinda nice. I'm excited for Spring. On that note, see you soon. Hopefully before Spring.