I think everyone knows I am from the backwoods location of Los Angeles, which means I lack any form of urban sophistication and what not and thus can’t understand the parts of the Great Books, both fiction and nonfiction, that deal with great cities such as London, Rome, Paris, and Athens. City life is foreign to me because of where I live and some other Great Books scholar living somewhere else would be a better educator on those things. Okay, okay, I am of course kidding. I’m a die-hard Dodgers and Lakers fan, tutor actors and actresses, and am connected with judges and lawyers of various kinds as well as filmmakers (I come from a fairly big Hollywood family, grandfather’s uncle was President of MGM and Universal and married to Louis B Mayer’s daughter, aunt was Dana Hill whose filmography would fill a full book despite passing at 33, cousins and uncles have been directors and producers, etc.). In essence one reason I am so gifted is because I am connected with so many of the most established institutions in a city that ranks as one of the ten largest in the world. I’m an incredibly unique man in that regard if not in any others.
One thing in LA that I am not a fan of, though, is the public libraries. And here’s an example of why:
I walk into the Studio City branch this morning to pick up a book containing the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. I had read this when I was at Pierce College and loved it, and one of the guys I play basketball with contacted me asking for help with an essay about it (I have lost my own essay, though, sadly). As I walk in I see a survey on the table asking what kinds of movies the patrons of the library like to watch: books converted into movies, movies about American politics, movies about the American Jewish experience, and so on and so forth. I fill it out and write at the bottom of it “I tutor actors and teach Great Books classes–Jason Goetz, [phone number]”
I go and find the book and go to check it out, and once I check it out I hand the librarian the sheet. She tells me to take it to the lady at the information desk–she doesn’t know what to do with it. So I take it over there. The lady is busy with someone else so I drop it on her keyboard and walk off. As I’m at the door she chirps up: “What do you want me to do with this?”
I threw up my hands. “I don’t know, figure it out–it’s your survey.”
The public library system in LA has long struck me as abysmal. They don’t have a single working copy, over all the various branches throughout the county, of Statius’ Thebaid, for instance, which is an epic I know I need to read. And when I approached them about posting my flier for my program, since that would be the exact right place for it, they insisted that they would only do that if I did my program for free. I have neither the power to compel others to yield there income through taxation nor the desire to simply volunteer it, so this was not in my plans; the bigger issue is that a governmental institution is now putting themselves directly at odds with private business, rather than supporting it, which does not have to be the case and is only the case because the people running it are complete morons.
But this struck me as particularly bizarre, because basically what it means is that they’re putting this survey out with the intent to make themselves look like they’re responsive to LA citizens and patrons of their branch, when in reality they don’t give a rat’s ass. And not only do they not give one iota of shit for what patrons want, they have to deceptively try and make it look like they actually DO care.
Does anyone wonder why LA is such a poorly educated city and one which has such little interest in books, given this as our library system and what I’ve already described with our school system (much of which I have not addressed but which is generally horrible to the degree that it makes me sick to my stomach)??????