Fear and Loathing at the Public Library

I went to the library at Detroit and Sunset to find a book. I was looking for something on the positive side. But anything that could keep my attention would be fine. I had just hit pay dirt with 50 Cent’s The 50th Law. I have no idea why I picked that book off the shelf, and why I brought it home is a complete mystery. I read that book in 3 days, which is fast for me. I was looking for that experience again but those things are rarely duplicated. I was ready to settle for “keeps my attention”.

I grabbed a book by Deepak Chopra, 10 or 20 Ways to Get or Do Something. I can’t remember the exact title now. Deepak is always a last resort for me. I’ve found some of his books to be OK. Never mind-blowing. His books always have an infomercial vibe to them and it’s always a bit of a letdown when you pick up one of his books, 7 Steps to Get or Change This, and in the first chapter he says the thing to know is that you already have the thing you are searching for, you just don’t realize you have it, or maybe you don’t really need it. Anyway, here are 10 more chapters convincing you you already have what you need or don’t really want that thing you wanted before you picked up this book telling you–supposedly–10 steps to achieve said goal.

Sometimes these books are good, sometimes just something to pass the time. I don’t know if just passing time is good. How about 10 Ways to Live Life to it’s Fullest, Not Just Passing Time. I think I’ll write that book, and in the first chapter, I’ll tell you why just passing time can be a way to live your life to it’s fullest.

So with my Deepak book in hand, I was walking to the library check-out area. A lady was arguing with one of the librarians about the size of the suitcase she had with her. The librarian was telling her the suitcase was too big to bring in the library. It’s a shame that the Los Angeles Public Libraries have turned into shelters for the homeless and insane. But where are they supposed to go? We have very few programs left in this town to help these people. If they want to be indoors, the library is the only place left. You can see it on the librarians’ tired and toughened faces. It’s really sad. Who knew they were going to have to become bouncers to the downtrodden masses? That’s a seriously fucked up job.

Anyway, the homeless lady is insisting she must keep her bag with her or someone will steal it. I don’t know who is stealing the dirty laundry of the homeless, but that is just plain horrible. The librarian–who is about 65 years old and 110 lbs.– is getting tough with the homeless woman as I walk by with my 10 Ways to Do Something book. I pull the book close to me as I cross their path and I notice a sick perfume smell. I figure its the homeless woman’s perfume. I check out the book and go home.

Sitting on my bed, I open the book and that smell is back, that terrible perfume smell. I pull the book close to my face to make sure it’s the book and not some horrible memory of that scent. As I pull the book closer to my face, I notice there is hair in the pages. I move the book quickly away from my face. Under the plastic cover and in the pages of the perfume-covered book is cat hair. I can’t read this book. I’m not even comfortable touching it. All I can think of is some dirty cat lady wearing to much perfume holding this book. It was as if she had marked her territory. The vibe was to much. I got up and put the book in a plastic bag and immediately washed my hands. I became a little obsessed with the stink, vibe and karma of this book. I truly believe objects carry the vibrations and energy of their previous owners. That is why I have never bought a brand new guitar. If I get it used, I’m getting something extra. The energy–preferably good–the emotions, and the songs of the previous owner, all in the molecules of that guitar. This is also why I rarely sell a guitar. But anyway. The energy of this book and its stink were more than I wanted in my small apartment. So I took it back to the library, carrying it in that plastic bag so I didn’t have to touch it with my bare hand.

With that book returned, I got on one of the library computers to surf the internet. Yeah, I’m sure the keyboard was filthy, but that book was something else. I’m not insane. Even though I know claiming to be sane is a sure sign you’re not, I’M NOT INSANE.

So I’m checking e-mail and a homeless guy 3 computers down is singing. He has purple socks on his hands with finger holes cut out and his clothes are mostly black (dirty), with a tiger print vest fashioned from a woman’s nightgown and furry (matted) purple leg warmers. Most of his teeth are missing and he is wearing gold rings and chains that look more like painted gold than actual gold. I am momentarily impressed by his sense of style. Especially being a guy who clearly has no home. He is singing loud. I can’t understand the words. He has old headphones on that look like they’re from someone’s trash in 1985. His articulation and pitch are bad. People begin to yell at him to “shut the fuck up.” A librarian is walking towards him and it dawns on me: he’s singing Like a Virgin.

Feel like helping out the homeless in Los Angeles? You can start here: http://www.gwhfc.org/

Feel like helping a Librarian? http://www.facebook.com/savethelibrary?v=wall


Ghost Dog Barking

Today I will walk with the rhythm of the unseen

Casting shadows on shadows

Speaking only in a whisper as loud cars pass

Knowing that time is an illusion and still feeling it running out

Knowing that knowing is nothing and that less is more until clouded by knowing

Like trying to sound smart when you feel stupid