Monday, December 15, 2008

Cops look for copper crooks

Until a week ago, I hadn't set foot in a public library in 25 years. Back in the 1980s, my favorite Saturday afternoon stop before going down to the beach was the Santa Monica Library, several blocks from the Pacific on Wilshire Blvd. The building was a clunky box but the library was far easier to get to than the glorious art and architecture featured in the Central Library downtown (pictured above).

As you would expect from a Southern Californian location so close to the ocean, the librarians at the Santa Monica branch were hot, tanned, and full of the love for the Dewey Decimal System. I stared at them for hours, as they patiently diagrammed the intricacies of the DDS classification system for me as if it were a complex compound sentence. Their mastery of library science fervor almost made me want to check out a book. And who could not love the snot-nosed urchins, devoid of both visible parents and any form of social graces, running around the stacks like Huns sacking Rome?

I can't remember why I stopped going to the Santa Monica Library. Too many children sneezing in my face? Perhaps. Not enough face time with one particular librarian? Maybe. Or perhaps I simply became tired of the improvisational theatre-in-the-round carried on by customers, librarians, the homeless, and the psychotics.

Walter Kerr would have had a difficult time critiquing this production.The play was free; the price for the seats was free; the actors worked for nothing; refreshments were by way of bag lunch or vending machines. The play's ending depended both on audience participation as well as actor reaction.
Act One: The homeless camping out in the self help section enraged customers in search of the latest in Werner Erhard transformational stimuli by sitting still in what best can be described as nouveau sculpture still-life. Screaming ensued.

Act Two:Psychotics, confusing the main floor with that of the north-east corner of Hyde Park, kabuki pranced from table to table, spitting forth venomous Dadaist expressions, that scared the wayward children back into the arms of their parents. Librarians attempt to calm the rants, but receive punches to the nose or bites to the face.

Act Three:Police arrive, usually three, the size of NBA power forwards, packing heat and ready to add their own muscular method acting technique to this guerrilla theater by the sea. Much rough house shoving and pushing ensues. Clubs drawn; fists raised; patrons whistling for encores. Some in the audience don't want the play to end. They turn out to be anarchists.
I leave the library still without any phone numbers, but with a better appreciation for the meaning behind the words "he's off his meds."

Perhaps you've heard. The economy is imploding. Money is tight. Knocking off ATM's is currently out of the question for me because of a trick knee and a back that locks every time I even think of exerting myself. So I say to myself, "Self, it's time to finally return to the public library," especially since I have no overdue fees. I never checked out a book.

Free volumes is cost effective in this day and age. And I have already enough books to brace a lean-to under an overpass if necessary.

Filling out a form for a laminated library card, probably with a Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil, is an activity I haven't done since the invention of the spinning jenny. My excitement builds.

I shower and shave and put on clean jeans and my favorite Bucky Badger sweatshirt and drive down to the closest public library in my neighborhood, the Palms Rancho Park. I'm as excited as a gopher in mud.

I am greeted by this:

Again I leave the library without any phone numbers. Some things never change.

No comments:

Post a Comment