Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wild, wild Main 

Hello from the Main, the architect of which refused to let his artistic vision be compromised in way by the realities and practical needs of a large urban library. I can only conclude that the architect had to have remained stalwartly, stubbornly deaf to the librarians' increasingly frantic and impassioned pleas about the reality of their work environment. His dreams of a civic showcase included hollowing out the building for a giant atrium to fill the 8 story building. I'm sure he envisioned the atrium filling his showcase with light and and air, but instead it fills the entire building with insectile noise, this constant din and hum that makes one feel as if one is in the bowels of a wasp's nest. When security drags a problem patron out, a frequent occurrence, the patron's screaming and cursing reverberates, the curses ricocheting up and down the entire space of the atrium until they shoot right into the children's area, a particularly unfortunate acoustical trick.

I love my new job, though, although I miss my old branch terribly. Several of my patrons made it down to the Main to wish me well on my first day, which I found extremely touching. The Feisty Old Broad even brought me a box of chocolates. My favorite part so far has been at the front desk watching the patrons walk by, this fascinating parade of every facet of the human condition. Libraries are one of the last great facilities where people from all walks of life come together - - from serious scholars to society matrons to absolute scum of the earth. While E waited outside the library to pick me and gaping at the stream of humanity pouring out she noticed that most patrons left 10 minutes before the library closed, when all of the computers are shut down. She said, "It was like someone set off a huge flea bomb!"

Friday, March 25, 2005

On our daily walk through the park the dogs and I will stop and visit with one of the friendly park gardeners named Jack. Even though dogs must destroy his flower beds and he has to clean up nasty messes left by irresponsible pet owners, he hasn’t allowed any of that to harden his heart toward dogs. He adores them and keeps a big bag of dog biscuits in his gardener’s cart. Spoon and Billy are crazy about Jack and about ¼ of a mile away from the park Billy will start straining and pulling at his leash in this frenzied, frantic way to get to Jack. I believe he pulls on his leash like that also because he's a dirty little auto erotic asphyxiater.

To Spoon and Billy there is something magical about a complete stranger handing out treats. Dogs are apparently capable of generalizing because now they consider all the people of the park their personal treat dispenser. They will often run up to strangers with this entitled expectation of a handout. Oftentimes this person is some raving homeless person I recognize from the library and with whom I’m desperately avoiding eye contact. I will have to give the dogs a mean little jerk on their leash to get them away from them.

Jack and I share a lot of the same patrons, many of whom spend their nights in the park and then wander over to the library during the day to bathe in the sink, nap, and use the facilities. We exchange stories and compare all of the different nicknames we have for all of the characters. I recently found out through Jack that at the park, Stinky is known as Johnny Low Pants because the crotch of his jeans hangs around his knees in perfect, even though accidental, super fresh ghetto rapper style. He often marks his territory in the park by spraying diarrhea all over a certain section of a retaining wall.

The other day Jack and I were talking and I looked over and noticed that Billy and Dixie (Fisher’s blind black lab that I had taken on the walk), had both had decided to take matters into their hands and were trying to break into his garden golf cart to get at the treats, ramming, pawing and jumping at the cart like they were big black bears in Yellowstone. I was mortified by their manners but Jack just laughed and rewarded them with more treats.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Google Tip of the Day 

When searching Google’s images library at the public reference desk, especially when you have patrons peering over your shoulder awaiting the results, don’t forget to enable the Google SafeSearch feature. You will then be spared the discomfort the very proper elderly couple and I shared when I went to Google Images to find a map of Corfu for them. Corfu apparently is a popular destination for uninhibited, sun loving male nudists on holiday, many of whom have posted vacation photos of themselves cavorting naked on the beach. OK, the island is basically one giant bathhouse. Google has indexed a good number of these photographs under Corfu and will display them if you don’t have the SafeSearch feature switched on.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Loretta: Cherchez la femme 

Only a ride on the bus is as dependable a source for good material as the library. The other day while I was riding toward a branch across town I heard some woman cackling and droning on in a loud voice toward the front. I looked and saw that it that none other than Loretta, the tragic belle of the streets, whose adventures and plight I have chronicled extensively here in this blog. I haven’t seen Loretta since she got her 4th and final residential hotel room in another area of the city far away from the library. When I saw her on the bus she was without her usual retinue of homeless beaux. Her desirability to her suitors peaks at the 1st of the month when she is flush with SSI and trust fund money and then depreciates as the month progresses and her money dwindles. I eavesdropped in rapt, morbid fascination as she regaled some older couple from some polite Midwest state all about how she just loves to ski and tries to get to the slopes at least once a season. Loretta is almost 250 pounds of alcoholic bloat and walks with a cane, an old injury from her friend Archie (a.k.a. Hitler), who stomped on her foot and broke her toe a while back when she wouldn’t hand over her money. She was carrying on and simpering as the couple politely listened to her drunken ramblings until her stop, when she lumbered off the bus. Even under all of the swelling and gin blossoms and exposure blasted skin I can still see the beauty that Loretta must have been, just as you could see Liz Taylor’s beauty underneath all of her fat during that unfortunate period in the seventies when she really let herself go and was all hooked on pain medication from the back injury she incurred during the filming of National Velvet. Loretta strongly resembles Liz Taylor during that phase.

The other day the Feisty Old Broad came in a talkative mood, scandalized but secretly pleased I suspect that her ophthalmologist had told her that morning, “You’re one hot old lady.” I asked her about Loretta and she informed me that Loretta had been on a bender because she witnessed her neighbor down the hall of her residential hotel swan dive out the window. He had been a schizophrenic who refused all medication except for his self prescribed alcohol. He was on a perpetual drunk and his liver was cirrhotic and he suffered from numerous other 'lifestyle' ailments. The week before he had crawled down the halls of the hotel naked and covered in his own shit, screaming about how demons were after him. A group of residents were all carousing in his room when he suddenly got up, walked to his window, swept off the menagerie of beer cans on the ledge and declared, “I AM SUPERMAN!” before jumping out. He fell four stories and then bounced five feet off the pavement. Amazingly, the impact didn’t kill him, but only put him in an exorbitantly costly and lengthy coma at the hospital. A full recovery is expected, however. I don’t understand the irony, how life can be so fragile and tenuous for some who die tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, while others who incessantly abuse their bodies and remain drunk for 50 years straight are more vigorous and harder to kill than Rasputin. Anyway, Loretta was deeply traumatized and has had to anesthetize her pain with rivers of malt liquor.

After Loretta got off the bus a couple replaced her. They were emaciated and smelled sour, and the woman was covered in sores. I’m not sure if the lesions were due to a meth induced skin picking jag, abscesses from infected track marks or something contagious like measles or leprosy. If it were indeed leprosy, then they should have to wear cowls and bells around their neck and keep far away from other people. They were bickering about what stop to get off when the man abruptly lurched off the bus and left her. The woman waited until the bus started off again and then she began wailing and making a scene and beating on the back door until the bus driver stopped and let her off to join her life partner.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Billy Jack=Zogg? 

We have long suspected that Billy Jack is some sort of shapeshifting alien brood parasite. If he is indeed Zogg, then he is well on his way to accomplishing his directives, especially the 'devour competitor offspring' mandate. I also wonder if what I believed to be a microchip bump on his neck is really a budding pineal antenna.

In any case, we are too weak and far gone to do anything about it now.

Back from the Big Easy 

I do apologize for my extended absence. New Orleans was fabulous, as always, but I’ve noticed that each year it takes longer and longer to recover. Between all of the shellfish and alcohol I gave my liver a real pounding. Ever since I’ve been back I’ve felt slow and dull like some sort of Miltowned housewife and have had little desire to do much except catch up on Tivo and stare into space.

I usually go to New Orleans in the summer when the air feels like either malarial, stagnant bathwater or sultry velvet, depending on my level of indigestion and hangover. The weather was cool and crisp this time and it was almost like a different city. Not that I mind the heat too much, since it can have restorative and healing properties, especially when it's cranked up to 115 in a Bikram class. I finally got to one and felt much better after a class where I sweated out all the lard, Hurricane residue and French Quarter sludge I had accumulated on my trip. The studio recently installed a new heater and the temperature sometimes exceeds 120 degrees. Now if I stand on the left side of the room it’s like being under an industrial hairdryer. After the class my face remained an alarming shade of scarlet for hours, and when I went to the Muslim owned convenience store I could tell that the owner suspected I was drunk and was just itching to give me a lecture on the evils of alcohol.

Exciting news. I got the job and I’m transferring down to the wild, wild Main. I have been a civil servant just long enough to have developed a great suspicion of, resistance to and fear of change, but I can’t help be thrilled. I will miss my favorite patrons terribly, but feel relief about getting away from others, especially the notorious Moleman. Lately he has been more creepy and disgruntled than usual, especially since his attempt to get the ACLU to sue me for not letting him scream the F word abusively at the staff seems to be going nowhere. He’s never seen without his walkman, and he seems all agitated by the hate radio I suspect he listens to incessantly. Every time I see him at the internet station I can’t help but imagine that he is typing out his suicide note/manifesto, and after he hits the send button he will massacre the library staff and then turn the automatic weapon on himself. Maybe I’m being overly paranoid, but I would like to get out of here before he snaps, which I feel like is imminent.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Streetcar Named Diabetes 

I'm here in New Orleans for our annual restaurant crawl.

More soon.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Mullet Haiku 

This super cool hair
Bucket of chicken
What more could I want

Author unknown

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mexican Standoff 

The other day I overheard a library tech and patron argue over a fine for 45 minutes. This is an astounding amount of time because the fine was ONE DOLLAR. The fine was for a DVD, which in our system can be checked out for 10 days and then renewed once. The patron, a young woman, had renewed it a day early from its original due date, and didn't understand that she only got 10 days from the date of renewal, not 20 days from her original checkout date. She returned the DVD 20 days after she had checked it out so she got fined a dollar. I can understand her confusion, but she was informed of the new due date when she renewed the item, and so sorry, thems the breaks. The tech patiently explained what had happened, but the patron refused to concede. Perhaps the patron believed she could wear down and exhaust the tech into waiving the fine, but no matter how the patron wheedled, raged, threatened or pouted, the tech remained unmoved. She had obviously never had a run in with a civil servant. Even though the patron’s tenacity was impressive, she was no match for the tech. I watched in fascination as the patron banged her head over and over against this civil service brick wall. After wasting a good part of her Saturday morning, the patron finally left. She then called an hour later, disguising her voice, and tried to get me to waive it, but I transferred her right back to the tech. I admit that I found this little human drama compelling and wanted to see it play out. They continued to debate the fine over the phone for another 30 minutes. The grim satisfaction the tech derived from arguing with the patron was palpable, and arguing with the patron over the fine was keeping her from less enjoyable tasks. I had the feeling that they would be locked in this argument until Judgment Day.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Rick Steve's Travel Tip of the Day for Junkies 

In an interview with Rick Steves, he reports that clever Switzerland uses black lights in its public toilets to foil junkies from locating a vein. I then read elsewhere that public bathroom attendants in hardcore Vancouver install black lights AND giant blowers, which create a wind tunnel effect, making it hard for addicts to even hold onto their drugs, much less cook them. Still, determined and shameless junkies often ask the attendant to borrow a flashlight. The attendants keep the temperature boiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, and reserve the right to dump buckets of water over the stalls if people are shooting up in them. I am going to forward these findings to the library director of security.
At the Main, junkies like to shoot up in the bathroom and then snap off the needles in the windowsill and leave them there for people to poke themselves with or for toddlers to pick them up and place in their mouths. Maybe we should also place needle disposal bins in the bathroom like you see in sad, grim old casinos in Reno whose clientele are predominately senior citizens and the morbidly obese with adult onset diabetes.

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