The minute I stepped into L.A. I knew I was home; I was always meant to be here; I’ve been living here all my life in every way but physically. My lifelong geographical displacement is now corrected. That said, I’m still surprised at the near total absence of nostalgia for the Old Country: the Chicago area. You’d think there’d be at a tiny twinge for auld lange syne. Yet even when I make a conscious effort to whump up a little homesickness for that distant scene of my childhood, youth and manhood, all I can manage is
of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not
seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue
to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream
But I do miss two or three things. I’ve written here oodles of times about the wonderful Milwaukee Art Museum. (HERE, for example. Or HERE, or HERE.) I never wrote about the mighty Mike’s Meat Market (a butcher’s shop, not a singles bar) in wan Villa Park, but I should have. For a decade it well served our carnivore needs.
I especially miss the very excellent public library that the enlightened citizens of tiny Elmhurst IL paid great sums of money to re-house in a wonderful airy comfy new building three or four years ago. A wise expenditure of public funds — and one on which we voted approval.
I was reminded of the place yesterday when, while cleaning the Augean Stables (my computer area), I found my Elmhurst Library card. There it is, above, propped against my external hard drive. A nice picture of the eastern elevation. I’m kicking myself, though, for failing during this summer’s confusion of house-selling, home-moving and cat-hauling to get a nice photo to show you the light-filled interior — in particular the spacious lobby area by check-out with cafe tables and comfy chairs, thirty-foot high (I’m guessing) west-facing windows, and an ESPRESSO BAR operated by nuns from a nearby convent, I kid you not. This coffee area is also where the bright new acquisitions are displayed on five or six four-sided shelves, and so it quickly became a Saturday morning routine to hoof the mile from home to library, snag a latte & pastry, choose from amongst the shiny new books, and pass an hour or two feeding body & soul. People, this is Truth, Beauty and Gluttony are tied up with a pretty ribbon: a high order of Contentment. Here’s a photo of the place (not my own) from Flikr:
Los Angeles is a groovelous place — I could, and will, go on for years about its many wonders — but, alas, it falls short in its library system. Our humble part of the aggregate, Woodland Hills, has no more than a mere branch of the LA Public Library. It’s a nice little branch, but branch is all it is. And little. And getting littler as the budget is cut back. Libraries are not given priority here…
This is not to moan, but to warn you in my capacity as the Jeremiah of Idle Reading: if you are fortunate enough to live in community with a fine local library like the one in Elmhurst, burn some incense to Athena; but even if you are less fortunate and depend instead upon a mere branch of a larger system, do not take your library for granted: Library funding CORRELATES TO CIRCULATION. The money they get is based in part on the books you check out. Use it or lose it, people.
ADDENDUM: The photo of the lobby is part of this great Flikr Photostream from “tnachtrab.”