Libraries are still FUN!

Since the first group of cave dwellers, there have been story tellers.  A great deal of human history was passed on by librarian-types, those who wanted to share survival tactics, knowledge, and history.

In recent years, some people have said that libraries are no longer necessary because we have technology at our fingertips with our “smart phones”—iPhone, Android, etc., with which we can do research, but nothing can take the place of the enthusiasm of a great librarian.

Years ago, I went into the library and never looked back.    My first job ever was a page (a job which entails shelving and retrieving library materials and even circulating materials) in my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in East Baltimore.   I shelved books and magazines daily and gladly while in high school.   I fell in love with reading.   With a book or magazine, my imagination was able to travel warp-speed to other people’s lives, investigate dangerous places and situations, and fantasize safely.

I worked in a library for the next 30 years from the time before Baltimore Junior College became Baltimore City Community College—from student worker to secretary to circulation technician.  I loaned books, magazines, rooms for meetings, and computers to our college population.   Even some community members were provided limited library services as well.

After that, I worked at the Johns Hopkins University Press as a Permissions/Office Assistant for a short time where I had the pleasure of handling and reading books and professional journals, as well as copyrighting the same.   I also got a chance to work with authors which was a thrill!

Now, I’m an author (see my website at https://nervikularose.com).   In the past year, I joined a book club, Woodlawn Page Turners, for which I have read a book a month.   We are reading Jodie Picoult’s book Small Great Things for June, but we will be off-site discussing it over great food.   I will be writing a review of that book for my blog (https://nervikularose.wordpress.com).

To this day, I am more likely to have a book or journal in my hands rather than using my phone or laptop to read a book.   I use an audio book only when the physical book is not available or when I’ll be doing a lot of driving.  It was great hearing Ta-Nehisi Coates, a former Woodlawn High School graduate, reading his own audio book, Between the World and Me, to me.   It would make a great book assignment for high school students as it was written to his teenage son.

And, let’s not forget the TNT television show, The Librarians, in which an ensemble of librarians live out the adventures we can only imagine.

Libraries today are staying in the thick of things, providing computers for typing papers and game play, conducting classes and workshops, having speakers, providing musical entertainment for all ages, etc.    Visit your local library especially if you’ve never been to one in your life and not just for the computer games!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

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Review of The Alienist television show on TNT

A few years ago, I read the 496-page crime novel, The Alienist, written by Caleb Carr, originally published in 1994, but I wasn’t in the habit of making notes then.    The film rights to Carr’s book were purchased by Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures but didn’t come to their television division until nearly 24 years later when a 10-part-event tv series was adapted.

I watched a marathon of the first season of The Alienist television show on TNT recently.  All the characters were deeply flawed.   And, adult men preyed on young boys who only wanted to survive, eat, and find a place to sleep.   Some boys had poor parents while others were homeless.  Prostitution of boys was not shown in history as much as that of girls.

Doctor Laszlo Kreizler, played by Daniel Bruhl, attempted to solve the murders of young boys by using the 19th century version of psychology.   Of the people he recruited to help him, the doctor pointed out everyone else’s faults but his own.   He has book learning, but the “friends” have common sense enough to add up the facts and draw their own conclusions.    He needed all these people to come into his life or he eventually would have ended up in an asylum himself.   He had read all the popular writers in his field of psychology and tries to help others of lower standing in society, but he himself was emotionally and physically disabled.

His housekeeper, Mary Palmer, played by Q’orianka Kilcher, hooked his shoes and helped him to dress as well.   She didn’t speak at all, but the looks she gave the doctor and others was understood.  The doctor and Mary became lovers.

The newspaper illustrator and painter of portraits, John Schuyler Moore played by Luke Evans, lived with his grandmother and ventured into the city’s red-light district nightly to have sex with the same prostitute and drink, reliving a love lost.   He tried to use his knowledge of brothels to help find the murderer, and in trying to be of help to the doctor, got himself into dangerous situations.

Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, played by Brian Geraghty, is a quiet honest man among corrupt police (like Captain Connor, played by David Wilmot, counting bribe money openly in their offices) and political crooks (like former police commissioner Thomas Byrnes played by Ted Levine).   Roosevelt was Police Commissioner in New York in 1896 and “authorized the purchase of a standard issued revolver for the NYPD”.  It was the “Colt New Police Revolver in .32 Long Colt caliber”.

The Police Commissioner’s female secretary, Sara Howard, played by Dakota Fanning, was rare in the police department at that time.   Though she dressed appropriately for her job, she was raised like a boy and drank whiskey in public.   Sara was abused by her male co-workers in a male-dominated profession.  She had a good mind, but she too felt like an outsider socially and emotionally.

The two Jewish detectives, Marcus and Lucius Isaacson (played by Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear), did the research for the doctor, introduced new criminology techniques they heard about such as fingerprinting, etc. to help find the murderer. They, too, were treated like outsiders and were also in danger.

The doctor’s Black male servant, Cyrus Montrose, too, (played by Robert Wisdom) was always ready to serve and defend the doctor in this dangerous undertaking.

Stevie Taggert, played by Matthew Lindzt, was the young boy who went under cover in the brothel which catered to older men by providing young boys for sex.

Maxie, played by Dominic Boyle, was the main male prostitute who dreamed of being free like one of the murdered boys.

I really liked the historical flavor of the show with the fights for rights that were going on then:  women’s suffrage (right to vote), one woman in the police department, etc.  The mutilation and slaughterhouse ripping of the children’s bodies brought tears to my eyes, but the men who ran the brothels were just as much to blame as the murderer.

As usual, the rich got away with their bad habits that would put the average person in jail.   While the poor might sleep several generations in one apartment.  Mass production did give people jobs, but those people were treated as part of the machinery with no safety precautions, lived in housing that should have been condemned, and had no medical care, nourishing food, or living wage.

TNT definitely knows drama!

Other sources:

Wikipedia

IMDb

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

Review of book, Had I Listened: The Things You Do Before You Know, by Hines Early

If you’ve lived in Baltimore, Maryland, from the 1950’s on, you will certainly be able to relate to Hines Early’s first non-fiction book, Had I Listened.  He vividly describes the hustles that were available to African-Americans to keep their heads above water back in the day.

Hines Early started out smart.  At the age of 9, he schooled his young mother about a colored television she bought on time, meaning $5 per week until it was paid for.  Hines figured out that the used television that she bought from a door-to-door salesman would end up costing three times what it was worth.  She sent it back and they eventually bought their own outright.

Hines had jobs like cleaning out A-rabbers’ horse stables that his grandmother used for manure in her plants.  A-rabbers were the entrepreneurs of their day, bringing fresh fruit, vegetables, and fresh fish daily to our doors via horse and wagon, a rare sight these days.  Hines has been everything from show promoter to clothing salesmen to mail business owner.  Can you imagine seeing Jackie Wilson, soul singer extraordinaire, live at the Royal Theater in Baltimore, Maryland?

Along the way, he had a few good advisors like his grandpa Steve.  But, Hines was no different than we are.  He chose the things he wanted to assimilate into his life from his advisors, but mostly went by his own instincts, making mistakes along the way, experimenting with various vices like gambling and drugs.

Hines can proudly say that he and his wife raised their own children and a few others with college aspirations.  He came out of it all, giving back to the community.  In his first book, he imparts the things he learned along the way, even after he knew.  You will laugh with him and cry with him. His story was more than “interesting enough to read about”.  His book was later produced as a play.

Publisher:  Graphic Imaging, Inc.  © Hines 2007.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin