February 16, 2006


The Chicago Public Library 6 weeks ago, did away with the stamped reminder due back cards in books, now replaced by a print out of titles and due datesfor each on a reciept. I am really upset now that I never saved one. If you have a CPL card lying around or in books that you checked out before 12/28/05, I will trade you something for yr stamped up card.

The library is a balm and a refuge for the disconsulate and the curious alike, and like all the best fun, it is free. Today it was raining hard and men with their every belonging in tow rung their blankets out in the foyer. Serious looking teachers dripped dry at the card catalog terminals and school age couples giggled and messed with each other under the guising of studying up on the 6th floor (Literature/Fiction, alphabetical for Americans of this decade, Dewey syst for English/others to antiquity).

My brain was borrowing trouble, riffing for solutions unthunk, and all I wanted was reprieve, so I sat in fiction aisle A with the book I came for, our punk book klubbe's first assigned book, Nelson Algren's Neon Wilderness, and I got wasted: books are the quickest mercy a straight edge girl knows.

Oh, and what a fine page! I had never read any Algren prior, and by the second paragraph, this story about the ghost of the drunk, a bitter, beating man, and then, the ghost of the son; my mind was taut with story and me and the book, we were in easy love; the stories parable was kissing my halo of worry goodnight. It then it ends: "Does the devil live in a double-shot? Is he the one that gnaws all night, within?
Or is he the one who knocks, on winter nights, with blood drying on his knuckles, in the gaslit passages of our dreams?"

How's that for words put in a row?

The copy I checked out, it has sat, unchecked out, since 1991, for sure, possibly since 1980. On the author card inside, it lists a birthdate and no death date (he died in '81). Perhaps the unchecked outedness is due to the 9 other copies of it to chose from on the shelf. Or that it is cloth bound and has no cover picture of a pitiful stree,t or Algren lamping quizzical, to tantalize. Nonetheless, I did it right, and cracked it pages for the first time.

After a while, I took off towards home, and since I was downtown, I wound up walking past fancy stores, none of which I have ever been to. I saw Breakfast at Tiffanys the other night, and I decided to stop into Neiman Marcus to see if it felt like Holly says of Tiffany's --that nothing bad could ever happen there. But all kinds of bad was happening there. Prada sunglasses and nude hose, which are a special kind of bad. Rich women buying their ninth grade daughters $400 sweaters. Neiman Marcus is the convex of Tiffany's, mebbe, nothing "good" happens there.

On the second floor, a roly poly man with shoes that squeaked asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. I told him "Yes. Yes, I am. I am looking for a pretty white dress for summer." He showed me two, and as we were walking for him to show me a Prada dress that looked like a white denim slip and cost three months of my rent, we passed a dress, and I stopped and said " ooh, I like this one... very pretty." The little chemise top was $1490, the dress was $10,900. "Whats the occasion?" he asked. "Oh, none. Just some thing to wear out, I think." With that, he was done with the courtesy fantasy, because a girl who carries a dirty THE NEW YORKER free-with-subscription-renewal totes bag instead of a purse is not there to drop 12 grand on an Armani gown. He turned a walked away before I had a chance to tell, warn him, about the vortex of bad happening within his store, badness so bad that no $466 Missioni bikini can ward it off.

Posted by Jessica at February 16, 2006 09:02 PM | TrackBack