Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saratoga #57, 1/15/09

New president! How about that! I honestly wasn't sure we'd ever be able to say former President Bush (you know, about the younger one) but we made it. We did it TOGETHER. Other things that happened: me going to a library just a week after I went to a different library! I know, right? What are the odds? I'm sure I'll jinx it just by even suggesting it, but there's an outside chance I could make three branches this month, which hasn't happened in over a year (September of Aught-Seven). Yeah, those were the glory days...*sigh*. Anyway, it's time to look ahead to the future, in which I have a sweet handlebar mustache, and have visited the Saratoga Branch.

Branch: Saratoga
Location: 8 Thomas S. Boyland St. at Macon St.
Transport: R train to DeKalb Ave.; B26 to Broadway & Halsey
Items: In Milton Lumky Territory by Philip K. Dick; Astro Boy - Greatest Astro Adventures (DVD)
Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009

So, Saratoga. I could've taken the F to the J but that would've required going through Manhattan, and sometimes I like taking the bus anyway. Also, I hadn't read the graphic novel and I wanted to finish it on the way and I figured the bus would give me more time. Plus it was snowing and pretty. In any case, Northwest Passage was excellent. I really like the semi-cartoonish art style, and the way Chantler uses his panels to tell the story. And the story itself was the best kind of historical fiction: plenty of detail but not bogged down in it, with a strong emotional core that makes us care about the characters and their ultimate fates. Turns out it's only the first collection in a larger series (the number one was covered by the library label) so I will definitely be checking out later volumes when they come out.

The library itself is very nice. It's another Carnegie library, built in 1908, but it's been renovated three times since then. It has an excellent selection and atmosphere. Not too far from the Macon Branch I visited last week, it has a similar presence and clientele (and only slightly more confusing layout). One notable feature that I didn't get to explore was the garden, apparently designed by the Horticultural Society of New York. Luckily someone left a door open to the back, so I did get some quick pictures of it! And continuing a long standing trend, a gentleman standing outside the library as I was on my way in asked if I had been taking his picture. I told him I was just taking a picture of the library, and he said he was relieved. I'm not really sure why people have such a strong aversion to people they don't know taking their pictures. I mean, I wouldn't care for it either. I'm just wondering why specifically it bothers everyone so much.

As for the items, In Milton Lumky Territory is one of Philip K. Dick's many unpublished naturalistic novels that are finally coming into print. I'm excited to read it, as it is supposed to be one of the better ones, up there with Confessions of a Crap Artist, which I read years ago and enjoyed a great deal. As for the Astro Boy collection, I knew it was an iconic Japanese cartoon and figured I was missing out, but apparently this DVD is not a very good edition. According to amazon reviewers, two of the stories on it are part ones of two-parters (without the part twos), and the sound has also been altered. But, for someone new to the series who didn't have to pay for the DVD, I am not too bothered by these issues. I've watched a few episodes so far, my favorite being "Robio and Robiette," a faithful retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet story with robots and car races. But, you know, it definitely captures the original tone. No happy ending!

That is all for tonight as fighting off this cold has me tired and incoherent. But I'll be back soon! Maybe even before February! Pictures:

New day.


I took this one to replace the one with the gentleman in it. Probably wasn't necessary.

Me, peeking out a door where I shouldn't be to get a snapshot of the garden!

and the garden from the sidewalk. I'll have to go back and see it when the weather gets warm and it opens up.

I almost forgot: this has nothing to do with libraries, but I recently went to Staten Island and wandered around at night in the snow, and it was a lot of fun. Comic stores, fast food joints, big parks, a mall (apparently)...this place has it all! It was cold on the ferry, but pretty and well worth it. Also free! And there are cool fish tanks in the terminal. Check it out sometime!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Macon #47, 1/08/09

Ah, it's 2009, finally. Not that 2008 was all that bad...I mean...except for the beginning of the end of Western civilization. What do you want, things change! It's hard to believe this blog started back at the end of 2006. It's been a part of my life for so long, and now, as I'm nearing the end of library school, I'm nearing the end of this project as well. I never expected this blog to get popular - and it hasn't - but thanks a lot to everyone who still checks it despite my extremely erratic update schedule. Ok, enough sentiment for tonight. So, I went to a library last Thursday. It was a delightful branch out in the heard of Bed-Stuy, on Lewis Avenue. I am speaking of none other than the Macon Branch.

Branch: Macon
Location: 361 Lewis Ave. at Macon St.
Transport: F train to Jay St.; A train to Utica Ave.
Items: Northwest Passage: The Annotated Collection by Scott Chantler; The Essential Bessie Smith (CD); The African Queen (DVD)
Date: Thursday, January 8, 2009

The last couple weeks have been very busy for me, though I haven't been working or in school or doing anything "traditionally time-consuming" like that. I went out to Indiana with my brother for the holidays to visit my mom and stepdad, where there was much merrymaking, eating, bowling, and CD purchasing. I watched The Prestige for the first time, and I must say, watch it if you haven't yet; it is probably even better than a Batman vs. Wolverine movie would've been. Also David Bowie=Tesla, can't miss. Then I came back to New York just in time to receive my distinguished British guests Alex and Lenny, the latter of whom accompanied me on this library journey! No, I didn't force her, she wanted to. Wait, that sounded bad.

Anyway, when I think of Bed-Stuy, I usually picture the parts where various friends of mine have lived: somewhat run-down, not much in the way of stores or restaurants except bodegas, and cops in riot gear that will search you if you ride your bike two car lengths on the sidewalk up to your apartment. Well, things are clearly changing, at least in this area, and hopefully not just because of gentrification. There were a number of nice stores on Lewis Avenue, including Brownstone Books and the delightfully named Bread Stuy. There was a nice little park right off the subway, and the library itself was teeming with patrons of all ages. It was apparently renovated from 2006-2008, partially to add the African American Heritage Center, a large wonderful room filled with material on African American history and culture. It was definitely one of the nicest branches I've been to yet, and there aren't many left to visit.

I knew very little about Bessie Smith before I got the CD. Two disc set, actually. I still don't but I have listened to it, and it is some really soulful, amazing blues. I get the sense that two discs isn't really enough to encapsulate her career, but I am really enjoying it. The African Queen is excellent. I'm not the hugest Humphrey Bogart fan, and I don't go out of my way to watch old movies just because they're "classics," but this is a really excellent movie. Lauren Bacall fits the role perfectly, and I really identified with Bogie's character, even if he is in a situation unlike any I'll ever be in. The main reason I got the movie, oddly enough, is that it was on this list the Onion A.V. Club made about great movies that have never had a Region 1 DVD release. I read the article, and then a week later I went to the library only to see an African Queen DVD, with all the writing in both English and Chinese, looking back at me. I checked it out (using the somewhat buggy self checkout system that most of the libraries have now for some reason) and lo and behold, it's a Region 0 (all region) DVD. So, the A.V. Club was technically right, but in spirit, wrong. Also they new redesign is terrible. Anyway, awesome movie! I haven't read Northwest Passage yet, but it looks to be an excellent historical graphic novel intended for young adults. In other words, perfect for me.

I'm pretty exhausted from all this not working since I left my lass job (I miss you Housing Works!) but tomorrow I start my new job cataloging at NYU! Woo-hoo! Soon I'll be tired all over again. But the brainless, working and studying too much kind, as opposed to the weird, anxious, "aren't i supposed to be doing something!?" kind. Yeah. Ok, it's probably picture time now.

The approach.

Lenny gives this branch two thumbs up!!

There it is.

A cool church nearby.

So that's it 'til next time. Except for one thing. This has nothing to do with libraries (in my case) but I just finished reading an amazing book of critical essays by George Orwell, All Art Is Propaganda. Each one made me see things in a way I never had before, they were depressing (mostly) but also uplifting (at times), and the cover doesn't look at all like amazon has it. Ok, I'm off! My first paying library job ever starts tomorrow. I've come a long way from the unemployed 40 drinking days. On paper, I mean.