Friday, January 8, 2010

Judging Covers


I'm a regular at several libraries – Altadena Public, Pasadena Central, City of Monrovia, Allen Street Laundromat.

Yes, I’ve been doing laundry at a coin-op ever since my own washer met the business-end of a bad spin job. Laundromats are ok; cheap and easy, and I can run errands during the suds cycle. But clothes won’t walk to the dryer by themselves, not when they’re clean, anyway. So with 20 minutes to kill, I usually rifle through the titles in the free book bin, most of which have been donated by a local sorority.

Hats off to that group and the job they're doing, by the way. Thanks to their example, I’ve donated quite a few books to this bin over the months, books in fabulous condition, books that are still wrapped in cellophane, some with Happy Birthday Karin! written on the tag. "Gulag Archipelago," for example, and "Self and Colonial Desire."

Many of the books from the sorority are in similarly excellent shape. Why the pristine copy of “Love in the Time of Cholera” seems to tempt no one can be explained -- disease of any sort is a hard sell, particularly one that's so difficult to shake. I am, however, stumped by the unpopularity of Andre Breton's "Surrealist Manifesto," and “The Illustrated Life of Marcel Duchamp.” One day, two copies of "Being and Nothingness" appeared in the bin at the same time -- I made half that donation. Go figure, they're both still in there.

Books don't only have to serve the soul, you know. Some of the offerings assume an unexpected importance around the coin-op. “One Day in the Life of Ivan Ivanisovich” proves sufficiently heavy to permanently prop open the pay toilet door, and I saw a woman use "Life of Pi" to mop up her fabric softener.

Well, I'm going to move away from the library for now. The salon next door just donated an armful of old Soap Opera Digests and things could get ugly.

33 comments:

  1. I'm sure I've seen your celebrity look alike regularly visiting other dives as well. I'd best not mention those.

    Butt, btw have any spare quarters you don't need?

    One of my fav flav postings

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  2. Names dear names!

    I'm of the laundromat class as well. I'll trade my Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad and up you with a "Revista Chicano-Riquena" Texas-Mexican Anthology 1980 for the Breton Manifesto and Illustrated Duchamp. Skip the Pi.

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  3. You're serving Pi?

    GG

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  4. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You put a русский Gulag in the bin?!! You are just kidding, right?

    MOPPING up with THE LIFE OF PI?? You are kidding again, right? (WARNING - plot spoiler ahead: one of the great lines in recent novels "So which story do you like better, the one with the animals or the one without? And so it goes with God." It defines a non-believing Catholic like me. (I was listening to that while driving up to the Blogger picnic last year.)

    Love the writing...I can just see you right there, flipping thru the titles.

    I'm one for picking a book by its cover (in fact, I planned a post with that). My best recent pick was 'A Dog Who Came to Stay' (or did I tell you about it already?) A must read even for mediocre dog people like me (don't let CP read this.)

    We got a new washer in December - bottom of the line model with a gentle cycle. We took the old one (with an undetected leak) to my friend's in Torrance for free pick-up (seems that our homeowner's association does not qualify for local free pick-up). It dissapeared in 1/2 an hour before the trash collection - too bad PA does not roam this way.
    WV: sycler

    Wheew...that was a long comment...sorry

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  5. I think those titles haven't been picked up because everyone at your erudite laundromat has already read them.

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  6. "...Ivan Denosovitch" as a door stop?

    Word Verification: 'traviste'

    (am I still banished to the gulag?)

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  7. CP, I've seen your face somewhere b4.

    PA: Let's talk. I'm always one for bad taste.

    Swear to god, Tash is the only one who has read every one of these books. And loves them. Except, as P says, all the folks at my laundromat.

    Welcome back, Bandit. How was the 100 hours of solitude.

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  8. This reminds me of a laundry not to far from where I live. It is a combination laundry/Bar. I think it was called SUDS WITH SUDS at one time.

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  9. You know I would have walked you through that repair, right? I believe in you, I truly do.

    Bandit, I missed the flogging but saw the telltale "removed by an administrator" notes (so annoying). You didn't happen to post a Swedes -vs- Norwegians (or vice versa) tirade that ended up with you banished to fringes of International Falls? And without sufficient beer/liquor, teriyaki beef jerky, and/or cigarettes?

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  10. B2, the trouble with your comments is that The Godfather is always delivering your lines. And I'm not always sure if your kidding with us.

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  11. I still can't get over two copies of Being and Nothingness. Wow.

    When I used to do laundry years ago at the Venice Coin Op the only reading material I ever found were recent issues of Variety and torn copies of The Pennysaver.

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  12. No Shakespeare in the laundry? Check these out Karin:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYT4iMf47no

    and

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duu5AFxCG6k

    Btw: Are you aware you have exceeded Altadena public library now on google. :-)

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  13. "But clothes won’t walk to the dryer by themselves, not when they’re clean, anyway."

    More than funny.

    WV: русский

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  14. -K- очень смешно

    I did like 100 YRS of SOLITUDE much more than the CHOLERA thing... BTW, I can't blog hop right now, I've a bit o' reading to catch up on. Got a reputation to maintain. Now where is my Russian copy of Being & Nothingness?? Oh, what the he__, I'm going to Suds sans Suds.

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  15. Cold, Swede, cold.

    I had time to think about my crimes against the state...

    Not even a thing to read at the laundromat, just Univision on the telly on the wall.

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  16. Here it is -24, I can never recall that low, and maybe he was right with: “An Inconvenient Truth” afterall.

    Do you understand I'm a little out of space?

    What is the situation in LA?

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  17. Oh!... no, Paula-the lower east side.

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  18. -24? Fahrenheit? I'm impressed!

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  19. Kevin, I'm laughing over here.

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  20. You have to make a donation, Earl. I'm guessing your copy of Finnegan's Wake looks good as new.

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  21. They were giving brand new copies of Finnegan's Wake away as party favors at the Tri Delta sorority house in Berkeley. That's why there are more copies floating around than Michael Bolton albums in the used CD bin.

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  22. There was a time I would have been righteously scandalized by the abandonment of Love in the Time of Cholera, but now, honestly, I'm not sure where I'd find the time to read it. What's happened?

    I also miss my days at the laundromat, where lurketh humanity in all its grit and glory.

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  23. That's charming. I've never been to a laundromat before in my life, and I'd still like to keep it that way, but I had no idea there were used books to be had.

    Door stopper or no, only one thing to do in the end...get your washer fixed!

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  24. I enjoyed Life of Pi very much, when I listened to it in audiobook format.

    A friend of mine gave me a 1300 page book for Christmas, and it's not even fiction.

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  25. Nobody does high brow/low brow better--

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  26. Bandit: Check on Kelvin!

    I just adore the fireplace at the moment!

    And please save me from the 13’th hundred pages, even if it’s all fiction!

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  27. Hopefully the Soap Opera Digests are from the 1970s. That's when they really sizzled!

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  28. Your laundry is in the spirit of Bookcrossing -- I think it's a great idea:

    http://www.bookcrossing.com/

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  29. Laurie, I did Bookcrossing for a time. It was interesting to see some people's reactions to getting a free book.

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  30. I got upset when someone brought me the entire United States Code, Annotated.

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  31. Did'ja mean Kevin, there, South Dakota? I check on'em all the time.

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  32. Love in the time of Cholera is on my "to read" list. I love browsing through free book bins and even pull the car over when the Salvation Army on Del Mar has tables of books on Saturday. It looks so tempting but is usually a big disappointment in the end. Too many things written by some guy named L. Ron Hubbard.

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