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)

 

 

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Take a Permanent Vacation Pt. II

“If he wants me to blow him I’ll blow him. Hell if Gary wants me to blow him I’ll blow him too- I’ll blow ’em all!” This was Daniel, a regular, talking to a business crony on his hands free cellular device at the bar. Daniel is the head of operations at a TV station and talks with a boisterous arrogance I can imagine these kinds of bigwigs often do. Although he talked loud and pompously on the phone with zero regard to others surrounding him, he was always cool with me. He was from Boston and worked with the Patriots at one time, so we often got into some hearty football conversations. He spoke with pity and sympathy upon learning of me being a Bills’ fan, as most usually do. My first instinct is to hate New England fans, and I do, but Danny eased the hatred ever so mildly with his acknowledging of how shitty the Patriots were for years before their near two decades of dominance. He spoke of watching games from the press suites and Bill Belichick’s unusual rules and precedents in allowing Danny and his crew to film them during practices and whatnot. What a bastard he’s got to be. The whole lot of ’em. Alright I’ll cool it with the football tangents. I get carried away. Especially with the season around the corner. Speaking of which what’s going on with Buffalo’s backfield this offseason? Shit, sorry.

And then there was the man with a gray ponytail under a backwards Cream hat on a motorized scooter. I stood at the counter closing out a check and from the corner of the store the man came weaving through the seats up to me with a stern face that jiggled from the vibrations of the scooter.

“Take this.” He looked at me like a disappointed father over the top of his thin crooked glasses.

“Um okay? Sir you can just leave that on the table, we’ll pick it up.” He tried forcing the checkbook into my hand.

“Well I’m on my way out, just take it.” I opened it up and there was no signature or tip.

“Okay but you just need to sign this quick is all.” He shook his head like I was an idiot.

“Kid you don’t understand. I CAN’T sign it. I have MS.” I didn’t know what to say.

“Well…maybe just scribble something on here I guess?”

I felt bad and in hindsight I could’ve just put a line through it or just whatever. Not a big deal. Shaking his head he abided and indeed scribbled on the receipt. He tried tossing it on the counter but it just clipped the lip and fell to the ground with the pen and receipts flying out. “See ya dude.” He said as he quickly jerked his scooter around and wheeled out of the store like a bat out of hell with his ponytail dancing around, waving goodbye to me. It was pretty badass. Mad respect to the dude.

It’s been a wild ride working at an airport. It’s a world completely unto it’s own- a world of anxiety, stress, chaos, and unpredictable hijinks. And what’s the best way to cope with all that? For most, it’s booze. Hence the thousands of nerve-rattled guests I’ve served in my time behind the bar. I’ve encountered all kinds and learned a lot about people and places. Unfortunately the company I worked for is notorious for having poor management skills and manipulative inexperienced leaders. I’ve never worked for a company with such phony values and “do as I say not as I do” mentalities from management.

Things were sketchy from the get go with them. I was part of the grand opening team, and on our third day of business, both of our managers took the day off for inexcusable reasons. It was three of us versus hundreds of people and we hardly knew what we were doing. We were thrown to the wolves and got our asses handed to us on a silver fucking platter. That set the tone for the following year of bullshit within this company.

Having said that, I recently was let go/quit because I finally crossed the threshold of blatantly giving no shits. I showed up physically (usually 20 minutes late), but mentally I was long gone. I worked with two older women who worked service industry jobs their whole lives and admitted they’ve never experienced such bullshit both from customers and the company. It was no secret this place ran about as efficiently as a 5th grader’s Rube Goldberg project.

So ends this chapter of American Shmucks. It’s been a relatively short sprawled out run, but it’s been fun. But by God I can assure you this won’t be the end of my ramblings. There will be more to come in one fashion or another. ‘Til then, friends…

“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” -HST