Get Your Own Library

Bloomfield Hills, MI is a very wealthy suburb of Detroit. But they are lacking something nearly every town in the USA has.

Since 2003, when Bloomfield Hills opted out of a 39-year relationship with the Bloomfield Township Public Library, its 4,000 residents (median household income: $172,000 a year) have been library-less by choice.

The same city that boasts of being home to executives and sports stars, exclusive country clubs and fabulous homes, has been going cheap on borrowing books.

City Commissioner Robert Toohey urges residents to avail themselves of the “free” libraries in nearby Birmingham and Bloomfield Township. If they need to check out books, residents can buy $200 library cards, with check-out privileges, from the Troy Public Library. Fewer than 100 do so, even though Bloomfield Hills reimburses the cost.

As one father found out though, just because you have a library card at a library, doesn’t mean you have access to all of its programs.

New city residents like Dr. Homa Hasnain are sometimes surprised to discover their beautiful new home in a prestigious community doesn’t include access to the nearby library.

“I was shocked,” said Hasnain, whose 9-year-old couldn’t participate in summer reading programs. “We thought a library is automatic. … It feels like a punishment to my daughter.”

Tut-tut. It’s clear that the doctor doesn’t understand the social mores of Bloomfield Hills. If you’re wealthy enough to live in Bloomfield Hills, surely you have the means to acquire your own library, complete with mahogany tables, Levenger pens and reading lights, dark leather furniture, and oak bookshelves lined with leather-bound books. Only a socialist, Obamacare-loving, Death Panel Member would place any kind of value on a public library.

Some do-gooders want to change this, and put a millage on the ballot that will renew the rich enclave’s previous contract with the Bloomfield Township library, granting them full library privileges. This being Michigan, there are people against that. Because in Michigan (as has become fashionable all over this great country of ours), the two things people hate more than anything else are taxes and book-learnin’.


Doonesbury’s 40th Anniversary

Today is the 40th anniversary of my favorite comic strip, Doonesbury. I have never tired of Gary Trudeau’s satire. Slate has a nice collection of articles about the strip, including an interview with Trudeau. What’s funny is that he has a hard time satirizing Obama.

Believe it or not, Obama’s very tough for business. The contradictory characterizations of him as fascist or socialist only serve to confirm the truth—he’s a raging moderate. And satirists don’t do well with moderates, especially thoughtful ones. In addition, Obama rarely makes gaffes and has no salient physical or temperamental features. And sinking popularity isn’t a critique. Even SNL‘s main rap on him is his unflappability, hardly a vice in a world leader.

You need people with extreme views, or obvious out-sized egos, or a raging case of one or more of the Capital Vices to have a fertile subject for satire.

Even Jane Austen Needed an Editor

It seems Jane Austen wasn’t “all that,” you who worship at the altar of Precision Grammar.

Oxford University English professor Kathryn Sutherland studied 1,100 handwritten pages of unpublished work from the author of incisive social comedies such as “Pride and Prejudice.” She said Saturday that they contradicted the claim by Austen’s brother Henry that “everything came finished from her pen.”

“In reading the manuscripts, it quickly becomes clear that this delicate precision is missing,” Sutherland said.

She said the papers show “blots, crossings out, messiness,” and a writer who “broke most of the rules for writing good English.”

And F. Scott Fitzgerald was a terrible speller. Which gives us all license to spell kreatively and be as ungrammatical as we wannabe, and let editors sort out that stuff.

Stayin’ Alive + Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)

Whoever came up with the idea for this mashup must have been very high on a combination of substances….Yet, as a Pink Floyd fan, this crazy mashup of one of their most famous songs with the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” actually works in a silly groovy kind of way.

[Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan]

In high school, I was one of those guys who became totally enthralled with “The Wall,” listening to it multiple times every day, analyzing it. I blame my friend Ron for talking me into buying the cassette one day at Rolling Stone Records near the end of our junior year. Needless to say, there was no way teenage-me ever would have ever conceived mixing one of my favorite bands with the Bee Gees.

A Car Crashed Into My Library

Yes, you read that headline correctly. A male driving a Toyota Camry rammed his car into my town’s local branch of the Capital Area District Library. There’s now a big hole in the circulation office. Luckily, the person who works there was not at her desk, having gone to the bank. Otherwise she would have ended up under her desk, the car, or both.

And get this, she writes a blog! And her pictures and description of what happened, surprise-surprise, are much more informative than what was provided by our local newspaper. “Okemos Library Now Accepts Drive-in Donations and Sightly Damaged Cars.”

The firemen told us to evacuate the building because of the strange fumes and electrical outlet in the wall.  Upon ushering people out of the building a woman asked, “Well, could you put these things on hold for me then?”  You’ve gotta’ be kidding me. “Well, sorry, no.  The fire department is evacuating the building.”  So we stood outside with our patrons and it was a perfectly lovely day to do so.  The man could not have picked a finer day to try to drive through a brick wall.  We had a nice, long break out there in the sun, laughing, lamenting leaving our coffees and snacks inside, taking calls on the portable saying, “I’m so sorry but I can’t renew those items for you.  You see, a car has driven into the building and I can’t get to a computer.”

On a serious not, I’m glad no one was hurt.

I Took a Trip to Cooperstown

Baseball fans will know immediately what I’m talking about when I say I took a trip to Cooperstown.

For those of you who don’t know, it means a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The mecca for us baseball fans.

Last month, my father and I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It was a surprise birthday present to us from our family. My father turned 70 last month, and I turned 40 yesterday.

Here we were at my parents’ apartment out in the suburbs of Chicago, and our families surprised us with this gift: plane tickets, car rental, and hotel. I was amazed and stupified.

So on a Friday morning my father and I flew from Midway airport to Albany, NY, rented our car and drove to our hotel in Otsego. I have never been to that part of New York state before. It’s very pretty with lots of big hills. I imagine winter is both fun and difficult there.

Cooperstown is not near anything other than some other nice quaint small towns. It’s an hour and a half drive from Albany, the state capital.

The hall and museum are in downtown Cooperstown. Downtown Cooperstown is dominated by businesses that deal in Baseball Memorabilia. One of the fun things was watching my father look at all the old baseball cards from the Forties and Fifties, point and say, “I had that one, and that one, and that one…” His mother threw out his baseball card collection while he was in the Air Force. Years ago, for Father’s Day my sister, mother, and I bought him a T-shirt that said, “I used to be a millionaire until my mother threw out my baseball card collection.”

The museum has a fantastic exhibit, complete with artifacts that cover baseball’s entire history beginning with baseball’s murky start. (Though Abner Doubleday is credited with inventing the sport, the Hall does not shy away from the idea that others played a role.)

Here’s part of the Hall itself. You can see all the people looking at the plaques of those players, managers, and others who were voted in.

Here’s the plaque for one of my father’s favorite players, Luis Aparicio,

In the museum area there are sample lockers for each team. Here’s the one for the Chicago White Sox,

And last but not least, here are my father and I outside the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum,

A Yankees’ fan took the photo for us. We had a nice talk with him and his wife. He wasn’t too happy about the fact that the ticket for the Hall of Fame had a picture of Tom Seaver on it. Afterall, Seaver pitched for the Mets.

Those are only a small sample of the pictures my father took. I forgot my camera.

Anyway, it was a wonderful trip, and I’m grateful to have a family that thinks so much of me that they put in so much effort and spent months planning this trip for me and my father.