Friday, October 23, 2009

The Library List

I have several points to make:
A) You know how when you live in a city, you never go to any of the landmarks in that city?  Like when I lived in San Francisco I never went to Alcatraz or walked across the Golden Gate Bridge or went to the top of the Transamerica Pyramid (though I can't even count the number of times I went to City Lights, which is near the base of the building... sigh.  I've been missing good bookstores... I need to find one here in L.A. Or maybe not.  I might spend the rent check!)  Or when I lived in Big Bear, I never went snowboarding.  And I've never been the Forestiere Underground Gardens.  
B) I love lists.  Don't you love lists?  I love lists because you can check things off of lists.  Sometimes I make lists, and I write "Make To-Do List" at the top so I can cross it off.  
C) People who "do" lists are even more awesome.  Like, people who climb "The Top Seven Tallest Mountains in North America," or who visit every state in the United States, or have acted at least once in every known Shakespeare play.  This kinda stuff kills me.  I feel like it's the epitome of human achievement, even the small stuff, like reading every Jane Austen novel.  There is something so lovely in being complete and comprehensive.
Which brings me to my point.  I have pledged internally, last night, in my Public Libraries class, to visit every City of Los Angeles Public Library in the system.  There are currently 72, two of which I have been to: the Will and Ariel Durant Hollywood Regional Branch, and the Central Library (the cathedral of books...  I want to get married in their atrium...).  This weekend, I will be visiting the Westwood Branch, for a book talk given by three YA authors.  So three down, 69 to go!
I feel so monumental!  So it's not Everest, but I still think it's pretty cool.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harriet M. Welsch, A.K.A., Harriet the Spy

Yesterday I went to the Goodwill on Vine, and, let me tell you, this place is heaven.  I had long ago sort of given up on Goodwill-- their prices are too high, and their selection, not funky enough.  This Goodwill, however, rocked, and while still more than say, a Salvation Army, isn't too bad for the goodness lurking in their racks.  So what did I score?

What!  What is this junk?  What happened to my impeccable thrift store taste!?! (Hee, hee-- yeah, right.  I remember this dress I bought at Mission Thrift-- which will always be the best thrift store in the world-- to wear for a dramatic reading of Virginia Woolf's "Death of the Moth," and after the reading, I cut off the length and the sleeves, but didn't hem them... awesome.  My mom yelled at me every time I wore that dress, and I cringe a little to think about how often I did.)  Anyway, it's hard to see in this picture, but one of the purse straps is ripped, and the lining, which at first I thought was roses, is in fact leopard print, and there is something red and sticky all over the inside, too-- I'm really hoping it's candy.  And there is also a frayed, faded, red hoody, not pictured.  So yeah-- it is junk.  But.... with a little bit of thread and some genius, I present to you...


Wait!  Is that a genuine Harriet the Spy Tool Kit?  You bet your sweet utility belt it is!  The only thing I left off was the knife, because I didn't think it would be such a good idea to go onto campus with such an implement.  I am dressing up as Harriet the Spy for Halloween this year, and even if nobody gets my costume, I don't even care (though I am wearing it to a party hosted by the Young Adult and Children's Services Librarians), because this utility belt is everything awesome in life.  I might just take to wearing this everyday, so I can have everything I need right at my fingertips-- Blackberry's got nothing on this sweet set-up.  I made it by hacking that hideous purse to pieces, sewing them into pockets, and sliding the various pouches onto that fab belt.
Here's a picture for comparison... I'll post one of my in full get-up the day of!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

That Pleasant Sense of Dark Autumn Nights...

I went for a walk this afternoon, and the little girl who lives two houses down from me was "playing" the harmonica.  She would belt out, "Feliz Navidad!"  (wheezy harmonica) "Feliz Navidad!" (wheezy harmonica).  She was really breathing into the harmonica in the same intonation of the phrase she just sang, so the playing was a bit more like a kazoo than a multi-tonal instrument, but the effect was celebratory nevertheless.I love how, this time of year, people leave their windows and doors open, a little for that last bit of warmth, but mostly for the crispness (such a fall word!) that is starting to creep in.  I learn so much about my neighborhood; a block and a half away, there is someone who is quite diligent about their violin scales, and the violin player's neighbor is in the music business and thinks the Sunset Strip is played out.  A young man down the street wants something real, "none of that Gossip Girl crap, you know" and the other morning, a little boy was having a temper tantrum because he didn't want his grandpa to take him to school.  
You know what else kicks butt about fall?  Carbs.  Nobody really wants to eat carby stuff in the summer-- it's too hot and heavy, and besides peach pie, there is nothing worth standing in a kitchen with the stove on in August.  
Best baked goods this week?  Truffle Muffins, adapted from Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie baking mix.  By baking the mix in a muffin tin, the chocolate chips are distributed in proportions to the caky-ness just right for one muffin, modified with a little cinnamon.  Heck yes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

DIY Door Headboard

So many projects!  In honor of the ShakeOut on Thursday, I will share a project done this weekend and earlier today, not just for aesthetics, but for safety reasons.
When I was younger, my mother owned a floral shop, and she had this amazing door that she would use to spray paint against.  I have used this door as my headboard for years-- but even in San Francisco, I just screwed it into the wall!  No anchors, no studs, just straight, powdery, flaky drywall.  I can't believe I lived in San Francisco for four years with this wedge of wood just hanging precariously over my head... not to mention the unaware who would bonk their head on the doorknob.  
Once again relocated to an earthquake zone (and to make it pretty, of course), I added legs and thick bolts (with washers) to stabilize the door behind the bed.  It now looks a proper headboard: whaddya think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The City of West Hollywood Book Fair: Goodness

The first book fair I can remember was in my elementary school library, in third grade.  My mom came to school that day, because she didn't trust me to carry the money to school myself.  The whole library was transformed by red folding shelves, just full of yumminess.  Glitter pencils were all the rage that year, but I spent my $15 book fair allowance on American Girl books-- Kirsten, Molly, and Samantha were the only girls then.  Felicity and Addy (and now, Kit, Josefina, Julie, Rebecca, Kaya, and Julie, and their best friends) were out by the time I was in fifth grade.  My mom volunteered for the book fair that year, and I remember coming home and finding three of the Addy books and a beautiful blue bookmark on my bed.  As I was driving to the book fair today, with the crisp weather and the jumbly clouds overhead, I was so excited I wanted to hug myself... which is a bad idea when driving down Santa Monica.  But the feeling was there, and it was good.
I was stationed to volunteer at the information desk in the Children's Area, next to the Storyopolis booth, and in perfect line of the stage, where ballerinas, rats, and pirates cavorted all day.  Psuednonymous Bosch, who may or may not have written The Name of This Book is a Secret, If You're Reading This, It's Too Late, and This Book is Not Good for You (besides Here Be Monsters, one of the best websites I've seen) may or may not have been at the Storyopolis booth, but he certainly signed my copies of the latter two titles (the former being one of my favorite chapter books I've read in the last year), with some of the best inscriptions ever.  I may not be a librarian yet, but I about cried when I read this one:  

I also picked up a subversive feminist coloring book, by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak, girls are not chicks, and a DVD of the history of KPFA, which I was introduced to at 17 by Ms. Sarah, and is now an addiction, and not to forget, of course, a ton of resources for the future librarian, including a brochure for 826LA, whose theme is time travel, which is at least as cool as 826Valencia, and their pirates and blowfish.
The goods:

Homework, then tea, chocolate, and inky deliciousness!  

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Field Trip: Craft and Folk Art Museum

Last weekend, the Smithsonian sponsored a weekend of free admission to museums nationally; this weekend, several Southern California museums followed suit.  Free?  Sounds like a grad school field trip to me!
I chose the Craft and Folk Art Museum, located on (in?) the Miracle Mile.  I've been thinking a lot about the intersections of theory and practice, which always ties into ideas of beauty and functionality for me; craft museums are an excellent place to examine this.  I was very interested in seeing the Myth and Manpower: Graphics and the California Dream exhibit.  There was also an exhibit of the work of Dora De Larios, Suenos/ Yume: 50 Years of the Art of Dora De Larios.
The museum itself is tiny, and slightly (delightfully) incongruous, brick and plaster amongst the buildings of steel and glass up and down Wilshire.  There are three floors, the top two for the exhibits, and a classroom, welcome desk, and gift shop on the ground floor.  The plaster inside is unevenly patched, and the wood floors are worn down in certain places-- much less sterile than most museums-- I felt like this was perfect for the art, which really, is the art of the people.

Dora De Larios focuses on ceramics and sculpture; the fascination of this exhibit is the range of  her pieces, starting in the 1950's, which reminded me of those heavy earthenware bowls to get excited over in thrift stores, to her contemporary work, which focuses on aspects of the goddess and these marvelous ceramic animals.  My favorite piece by her was a metal and wood sculpture from the 1960's or early 1970's, entitled "Warrior."  The figure has his head thrown far back, guarding his body with a shield, and is standing on one leg with a large foot; the other leg is cut off just above the knee.  The awareness of the strength in body in the piece made me very aware of my own body-- just what it is to stand.
The Myth and Manpower exhibit was very powerful; the whole floor is chunked off in bold citrus colors, with floor-to-ceiling text discussing the forms of graphic art.  Sectioned along the wall are pairings of fruit crate labels, sent East to entice migration to California, and UFW-centric protest posters.  Comparing the fairy-tale world of boosterism to the graphic starkness of the silk-screened posters was the perfect bundling of California, the glamour and the glitter thick over this history of oppression and the activism that rose (rises) from it.  The comparison of a fruit crate label close-up of a rosy-cheeked blonde, smiling through perfect teeth (from eating Sunkist fruit, I guess) next to a stark, simple print in the same pinks and blues of Dolores Huerta was a beautiful place to consider that intersection of beauty and functionality, and where each rises from-- which is the commodity, and which is of worth?
Then, to bring it down a notch, I walked across the street to the La Brea Tar Pits.  Blech.  They have this horrible sculpture of a female mammoth being sucked into the tar pit, while her mate and baby watch, their trunks stretched out to her.  This really upset me; I felt really bad for this mammoth.  I know if I was a kid visiting the tar pits, I would just be heart-broken by this scene.  It's worse than Bambi, because you can see the mom sinking away right in front of your eyes, and it's perpetual-- this whole mammoth family is being frantically pulled apart until someone more sensitive is in charge of the pits.  I didn't even take a picture of them-- it made me too sad.  But here's the pits anyway.

And not only are they heart-wrenching, they stink to high heaven.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So Meta!

When I was an undergrad, there was a group of us going through the literature/creative writing program that were properly surly, generally myopic (judging by the number of thick-rimmed glasses), and of course, snobbily obscure.  One subset of this group even started a salon-type gathering called the Clinamen Society, referring to Harold Bloom's (grr...) theory of creative break in which writers move away from their predecessors.  I felt this name to be vaguely... racy, for no discernible reason. 
This same general group would frequently refer to things as "meta," as in, "metafiction" (fiction about fiction, which was all the rage for a semester with the creative writing kiddos), or "metalanguage" (language used to talk about language).  The former and the latter are proper examples of the use of "meta," but it sort of became a schwa.  "That bar was kinda meta"; "She is a little meta tonight."  I have no idea what these were supposed to mean-- the literal definition of meta, in this context, is of a higher or second order.  A bar to define bars?  That's a damn good bar.
In honor of the re-introduction of "meta" into my paradigm (metadata; meta-science; meta-fields; meta-discipline; meta-structures; I read about all of these this week), I have created a little photo essay in the same loose "meta" sensibility to explain why in the heckers I moved to L.A. anyway.

This is the building where I learn about information science and libraries;
Then I go to the main library to... library science books.

Books about libraries, in the library, read by a library and information science major.  So meta!