Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Canarsie #34, 12/3/08

Books. Can't live with 'em, can't, wait a minute. So, it's December. Which explains why it's 64 degrees and rainy outside. There's been some cold days, though, lemme tell ya. Also my crappy ikea bedframe finally fell apart so I took the advice of the internet and made a bed out of boxes. It actually works surprisingly day and counting. I also got a sweet new laptop, so, win some lose some. So, I read that Ralph Bakshi book from last time. Well, maybe read is a strong word for it. I looked at all the awesome pictures, and I read my fair share of it. At least half. I also went out and downloaded on of the movies the book talked about after I finished it (Coonskin) because it doesn't seem to be readily available on DVD. Haven't watched it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Anyway, there is of course a new library to talk about: the Canarsie Branch!

Branch: Canarsie
Location: 1580 Rockaway Pkwy. at Ave. J
Transport: F train to Bay Parkway, B6 bus to Flatlands Ave. & Rockaway
Items: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand; The Underground Railroad by Charles L. Blockson; Lush Life by Richard Price
Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let's be clear here, I am not planning to read all of these books. I am not a Randian zombie, I'm still the same enraged weirdo you've all come to know. I had a preservation project for my class, and the first two books I took out this time were damaged and I thought I might write about them. Ok, moving on. How did I get to Canarsie? Well, you may remember in my last entry long, long ago that I wanted to get the book Lush Life by Richard Price (which has since been picked as one of The Economist's best books of the year! Woo!) but I couldn't, because the copy at Stone Avenue was missing. Well, I looked up other branches that had it, and Canarsie was one of 'em. The branch is right near the last stop on the L train, but I didn't really feel like taking the L, so I went further into South Brooklyn before getting a bus up that way. I got to see a few neighborhoods I hadn't been through, which was pretty neat. Anyway.

The library itself was very nice. I got there around when school lets out, and the atmosphere was of a bustling (but quiet) community center. There were kids reading, sleeping, hanging out, even a couple playing a Magic: the Gathering type card game. I didn't even know any of them still existed. The selection was good and the librarians were helpful: I attempted to use the auto-checkout kiosk and couldn't quite get my barcode swiping speed right, so a very nice woman came over and helped. I realize this makes me sound like an idiot, but it was hard, trust me. The other interesting interaction I had was with a woman in the vestibule when I first came in. I don't know whether or not she was a librarian, but she had seen me taking pictures of the library and she asked me why I was doing it. I told her no reason (or just because, or some other dumb answer like that) and she somewhat forcefully told me I couldn't take pictures inside the library, which I acknowledged. I wonder if my big crazy beard makes people more uneasy? Well, it's not the first time people have been weird about my picture-taking, but the other times it was just that they didn't want to be in the pictures. The neighborhood was also nice. I figured it would be somewhat similar to the part of Brownsville I was in last time: fairly bleak, empty, whatever. But as usual I was wrong. Canarsie was nice, with some pretty houses and a normal assortment of bodegas, delis, etc. I took some pictures of the neighborhood as well.

Lush Life was really excellent. The fact that I read a 450-page book in a week after haign just finished the monstrous 2666 (which was excellent, just somewhat soul-crushing) is a testament to how gripping it was. A former writer for The Wire and longtime crime novelist, Richard Price has a wonderful way of combining action, procedural cop stuff, and characters' interactions and thoughts into a fascinating book. His dialogue is some of the best I've ever read. This is just an excellent book, and to top it all off, it takes place on the Lower East Side (in 2003) so if you live in New York you can picture all of the corners where it takes place. Which I found really fun. So, hopefully I can top this book next time, but I kinda doubt it. The jury's still out on whether I will visit another branch before the end of the year, but I hope so. In any case, it is now (approximately) the two year anniversary of me starting this blog! How cool is that! I may have slowed down some since those unemployed days, but my goal of visiting every branch is definitely in sight. Only nine to go. Pics:

The Verrazano Bridge behind a large cemetery at Bay Parkway.

There it is!

Easy access!


This was a cool house a few doors down from the library.

And, here we have a house of worship of some kind.

So that's it. Nice day for a library stroll, it was. Since I've finished my book maybe I'll be back in the next couple weeks. That would be nice, right?