Libraries Are Cooler Than You

Right now I’ve got Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man spinning in my computer, soon to be secured in my iTunes for my future listening pleasure. Death of a Ladies’ Man joins about a hundred other albums I’ve transferred via Compact Disc to my music library, thanks to gift that keeps on giving, the actual library.

You can rock your skinny jeans and scarves or flat-brim caps and Lonzo Ball sneakers all day long, but you’ll never be as legit as a library. As the old adage goes, it’s what’s in the inside that counts, not the outside- or whatever.

I was recently interviewed for a documentary on libraries whilst at the 7th Annual Gonzo Fest in Louisville, and I was reminded just how badass libraries really are. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the hush hush environment, lack of activity around you or perhaps the pungent old man in a muscle shirt and gym shorts next to you. But just consider all of the information and content stirring that might as well be alive within the library walls. Thousands of books of all kinds both in text and audio, rows and rows of free music via CD to help you drift downstream, and the plethora of FREE movies and TV shows on Digital Video Discs to capture your eyeballs and brains. A wealth of free entertainment that will help you forget the world, your job, your lame boyfriend, your debt, your dog that wakes you up multiple times throughout the night to go to the bathroom (that may or may not be specific to me) and so on. There is much knowledge to behold. And again in case you didn’t catch that it’s all FREE FREE FREE.

Just don’t forget to return them on time or you’ll wind up with a casino-sized debt like me. The library pit bosses are still on my ass about Good Will Hunting and Mrs. Doubtfire.

And don’t give me that new age rubbish that books, DVDs and CDs are out of style and value. To hell with your iPods, iPads, Kindles, MP3s, Laser Discs, Tamagotchi and so forth. It doesn’t get much more convenient than getting a seemingly endless supply of media and information for no cost, and little moving. I know how lazy us Americans are and we want our Game of Cards and House of Thrones with a half-click of a button, but come on. Libraries need more recognition for their infinite power, wisdom, and resource.

Now I use my phone and computer plenty, but you don’t need to be a slave to Apple and Verizon. Challenge yourself, and make a conscious effort to take a break from the screens and their infinite and often useless distractions. Set up a hammock and get lost in a book. The library will lend you that book, and heck, maybe even the hammock.

Not to mention that libraries are a fantastic haven to focus and work. It’s a solid place to collect your thoughts and “work from home.” If you feel cooped up, just take a stroll to your neighborhood library. No distractions from your dogs or cats or birds or frogs or children, nor temptation to pop on some Sportscenter or Price is Right “in the background.” Yeah coffee shops are okay for that too, but they won’t have any Roy Orbison CDs for you to put on your computer.

It’s time to give libraries their due, and recognize them for the quiet fortresses of stimulation they really are.

In the Louisville library interview, I was asked multiple questions, the last being do I think libraries should remain free and open to the public, or privatized and require a nominal fee. That was an absolute no-brainer. Charge the bastards an arm and a leg.

Just kidding.

It would be a sad, sad day if libraries turn to the dark side and pull such a move. We’d truly be facing the end of times. I hope that isn’t even a legitimate option, but seeing what’s transpired in recent history, anything is possible. Pigs will fly in no time. In fact they already have…

So do yourself a favor, and next time you pay your Direct TV bill, splurge on iTunes and at Barnes and Noble, finding yourself without extra spending money, remember: your neighborhood library will welcome you with open doors. (unless they’re closed)

 

 

No Shame in Second Hand Recycling

A majority of people might feel funny about second hand recycling, or as it’s more commonly referred to, dumpster diving, but the truth is it can be a frickin’ treasure hunt with a bounty of (mostly) conventional rewards. Of course I’m not talking any old dumpster in any old part of town, no. The gold mine comes around this time of year, and the locale is college campuses. Those college kids love to throw shit out.

Printers, mini-refrigerators, cameras, computers, wet suits, pesos, bongs, and all kinds of gear can be obtained simply by looking in and around college campus dumpsters. Then you have things like totes, bags, racks, and furniture of all kinds. Now I’m not advocating one to grab a shovel and start digging to the bottom of an industrial dumpster. Heck you can, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Most kids leave their useful “trash” to the side of the dumpster even, or you can likely get a good view of things just right on the top.

And to hell with feeling uncomfortable like it affects some false sense of pride, like one is too good to collect perfectly useful items once operated by another. Or you can’t be seen by a dumpster cause girls or guys won’t go out with you or something. You can and should avoid the TV covered in coffee grounds and condoms, but there’s plenty of reasonably clean gear in easy reach. That is to assume it hasn’t been sitting long, and hasn’t endured harsh weather conditions. Of course plenty of things can withstand the elements for a short period and be okay. Textbooks are another find which can prove to be easy cash, assuming the condition is adequate. You won’t break the bank but it’s some good spending money.

I like to think most people recycle in their daily life, though I’m probably wrong. Those who do, toss their La Croix cans, beer bottles, and milk jugs etc. in the environmentally kind blue bin, to then be picked up and taken off to the magical recycling factories where they re-spawn and begin anew in one form or another. Undoubtedly a very positive thing to do for the earth and environment.

So why not recycle like this?

The benefits and possibilities are abundant. Mother Earth will smile upon you and you’ll hold a temporary slot on her scroll of the environmentally savvy. You could even start a little pawn style business with the treasures you find. Or even put on a dumpster art show. Nobody is stopping you from letting “trash” be your creative outlet.

Food is another, though far more questionable, commodity to be retrieved from dumpsters. This isn’t so much college campuses (though it can be) as it is grocery chains and markets, which obviously comes as no surprise. While I gravitate more towards household items, there certainly are people who find perfectly fine packaged food out back, other than your run of the mill hobo. In fact, I recently saw an American Ninja Warrior episode (I was in a Chicago hotel room with limited channels get off my back) and the dude who won the challenge was an avid dumpster diver from California, primarily for food. If an American Ninja Warrior advocates it, you know it’s legit.

Not only does dumpster diving serve a useful purpose by saving you money on daily products, you make that much of a difference at the dumps and landfills for things that work perfectly fine. If you’re creative and willing you could even salvage and utilized broken items for other purposes. Knowing so much working “trash” is tossed out by the tons at the end of every school year is a shame. But there’s no shame in being in the thick of the recycling hustle, and doing good for you and for Spaceship Earth.