Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Surrealisms

 




I don't know why I'm putting these here. Maybe because they're strange, very strange, and the format is unobstructed here so I can post them simply and... slip away.


I was at the Mall the other day. Which Mall?

The Mall.

There is only one Mall.


And in my spare moments I took pictures of Mannequins, feeling they might be useful in my...

um

Photographic work.


They weren't. Well, they were. Well, they weren't. You decide


Here then is how they weren't useful. Brace yourself. 

It can be a little disconcerting.





Mona Lisa getting her library card:















Birdlady in the city.















Dan at the Mall





















Inquiring at the front desk as to whether we have any books on the family "Cervidae".























A gentleperson drifting through time to our service desk.
















Sunday, September 12, 2021

Baseball Season

 




One of my co-workers at the library is a baseball aficionado. He devotedly follows the Milwaukee Brewers. I followed baseball passionately as a kid and can still rattle off a small ton of pre 1980 Baseball trivia. Do you know what Ty Cobb's lifetime batting average is? Do you know who hit the most doubles ever? 

I do.

And so feeling it never goes amiss at work to take an interest in a co-worker's hobby, I took a modest interest in the Brewers. I particularly took an interest in the rising star of a player named Christian Yelich who grew up fairly close to where I grew up in Southern California.

As I watched, on my own, and through the information from my co-worker, Christian Yelich started tearing up the league the very year I started watching and tracking him. He even won the MVP that year! The next year, 2019 he looked about the same, and he was headed for likely another MVP award when he hit a foul ball off his kneecap and broke it. His knee he broke, the ball was fine. It was a bit of a freak accident, time consuming, but not a terribly difficult one to recover from.

However, when he came back the next season he suddenly could not hit worth beans. He had other physical problems as well, particularly his back. So we were waiting for this season.

This season he was even worse! However, weirdly, without their star hitter, the Brewers were brilliant, mostly behind some bizarrely good pitching, like, historically good pitching. The Brewers are currently sailing along to win their division, and they have one of the best records in baseball.

Also, Christian Yelich, who oddly reminds me a bit of Ted Williams, has finally, late in the season, started to hit again from out of nowhere. Most of the season he was an albatross around the Brewers neck, struggling to hit a miserable .200, a benchable offense, but how do you bench a player who you are hoping at any moment might become the best hitter in baseball again?

So with Christian Yelich hitting again and the best pitching in a new era of pitching dominated baseball, maybe we could see a Milwaukee Brewers World Series? 

It sure would be nice, and I like to see my co-workers happy.

But why am I telling you all this?


Oh, I have some baseball player pictures and I just got going on it out of nowhere. 

Sorry.



Here's the greatest baseball player ever, in my opinion. I asked him to sign his library card but he absent mindedly signed a baseball instead.






Maybe I was wrong up above there. Maybe the best player ever was this catcher below. When I was, er, taking this picture I felt a real fondness for the guy and his smile, and by all accounts Josh Gibson was loved by everyone, though how much of that is myth and legend I am not equipped to know. It's also pretty tough to judge a Negro League Player, but that he was one of the greatest baseball players ever seems profoundly evident.




This, below, of course is just a kid who comes to my library, but I know for a fact that he pitches in Little League. This summer he'd sometimes come in to the library in uniform after games. He seems a little depressed to me after these games, so maybe his team doesn't do so well?

He's always asking me if we have any books on Joe Shlabotnik, who, apparently, is his favorite player.

We don't have any books on Joe Shlabotnik.





And finally, I wasn't born when this photo below was taken, but late in this player's career I did see Willie Mays play for the Mets when they came to town to play my Dodgers. That's likely the best player I ever saw play in person, though he was a bit past it at the time, and I was a bit before it.






















And with that, I leave you for the day.






Go Brewers!





Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Don't get mad

 





There is some dark part of me that wanders the Internet looking for things to get mad at. This is not good for my spirit. But I am clearly not alone in this. Much of the Internet is obviously constructed along these very lines; a series of rich opportunities to become enraged, disapproving, disappointed, frustrated, and angry. 

Why is the Internet like this?

I don't know, but it infuriates me!!!



Oh. You were hoping for the non joke answer?

Me too.


Fortunately this inducement to rage is not all of the Internet. There is also the part of the Internet designed to sell you stuff. And sometimes, if one is very careful, and a little bit lucky, one can even find the part of the Internet designed to inform or entertain you. That part's pretty neat. But why can't there be more of that! It just makes me so...

No, I think that joke's all used up.

Lately I have been trying to use rage as a kind of barometer for my time on the Internet, the canary in the coal mine of sorts. Before I look at or watch something, an article, a site, a thread, a video, I might do a little check: "Am I likely to be able to watch this without becoming furious?" But also then, when I'm reading or watching something, I am trying to take my getting furious as a measure of the very quality of what I'm consuming. If I'm watching or reading something that makes me furious, even if that seems righteous and just, even if that makes perfect sense in accordance with the content, maybe that content just... isn't... very... good.

I read a large amount, both in books and online. And I have come to watch quite a bit of YouTube videos. Some of all that is in Politics, and concerns injustice, the terrible ways the world works, and the needless suffering that is caused to so many for such small and horrible reasons. But I have found in the best of those videos and books, the ones that speak most clearly and honestly, the ones whose understanding is rich and full, no matter how dark and bitter and sad the subject is, I do not become enraged. 

Rather, 

I am enlightened.










Relevant Life is a Fountain Pages for further exploration:


Politics

Internetland








Sunday, September 5, 2021

Wait, what

 


Clerkmanifesto is the Waking World

Life is a Fountain is the Dream


Wait.


Clerkmanifesto?


I have a reason, I swear.


The reason comes from when I was walking along in Saint Minneapolis. Maybe I was ruminating on Life is a Fountain, its complexity, its unpopularity, its slow load times, its towering ramblingness, its air of ancient curses and enchantment, and its sense of peril. 

And then I thought of clerkmanifesto, it's linearity, its articulateness, its vanity, its order, its presence. And then it came to me:

Light and Shadow.

Day and Night.

And above all of them:


The Waking World

and 

Dreams.


Clerkmanifesto is like being awake and Life is a Fountain is like dreaming.

I've been carrying this around in me for several days now, playing with ideas of what to do with it. And then, one day, today actually, I was at the front desk of the library, and I wrote this.

What is this?


Daytime.















Monday, July 5, 2021

And so it begins

 





We are now overlapping posts with the Life is a Fountain Newsletter, and except for this introduction they will have the same content. As soon as I get a sense that everything is working, these posts will go into hiatus. 

You may hear from Clerkmanifesto on special occasions in the future.



And so it begins,

With this you will start regularly receiving selections from Life is a Fountain.

Life is a Fountain? You know, it's that thing I've been...

Right right. Excellent!

Today I am featuring the Art page, and if this letter leaves you wanting more, hit the link below:
 
Art
Frida Kahlo in Arles, I guess
I think someone once cut up a Picasso to sell square inches of it. That may be an apocryphal story. But the way I remember it is that the issue ended up in court, and it turned out some court somewhere said

You can't go cutting up Picassos!!!!!

Which means there is a limit to how much any person can own a piece of art.

Which oddly seems to mean I can cut up a Frida Kahlo painting and glue it a Van Gogh.

I mean, as long as I do it digitally. 


Here are a couple along the same idea, though set in my library:


From here I become increasingly less elegant. I'm oddly fond of this one below, but it needs a lot more work.


 


One nice thing I find as I go around cutting up everything; Van Goghs, The Little Prince, Dr. Seuss, Frida Kahlo, is just how wonderful it all is. There's such strength and life in these images. And if what I'm doing is disrespectful. or illegal, or frivolous, well, okay. But I like how even in the most absurd situations so much of the work, so much of their art, still shines through.

A Van Gogh really is beautiful.

And Elvis happily standing in one doesn't really change that.




 
Facebook
Twitter
Link
Website

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Begging Week, Day Seven, Independence Day






I'll be right up front about it:


Please check out 


Life is a Fountain






Unlike my previous six requests of begging week, all of which went to specific pages of Life is a Fountain, today's link will take you to the home page. You may have been there when I asked you to go early on, or maybe you went there on your own journey. But over the course of this week the front page has changed a great deal, looks far better, and features more rotating content. 

Plus, if you go there, you might catch sight of the cat!

Yes, still green.


So for one last time, check it out


Now, for the good news; I will leave you alone. Oh, things will still come to your email. You can read what you want. You can click whatever links appeal to you, but you don't have to interact with anything. I will ask for no more favors.

Thanks to whoever among you filled out my forms and went to pages just because I asked. That was kind and helpful.

But now, Begging Week is done.

Independence Day is here.

And Life is a Fountain.



Life is a Fountain?



Isn't it?












Saturday, July 3, 2021

Begging Week Day Six: The cat

 





Welcome to Begging Week day six, the week where we feature a new page of our new iteration and glorious heir to Clerkmanifesto: Life is a Fountain.



Cats don't beg. Which is maybe one of 4,362 things I like about them. So when I ask you to go visit the Life is a Fountain cat, when I beg you to go...


Here


I am not asking on behalf of the cat. 

He wanted me to make that clear. I mean, I think he did.


You see the cat would just like to be left alone!!!!


But the cat has been through an awful lot this week (you'll see). 


And I think he would be really, really happy to see you.





Friday, July 2, 2021

Begging Week, Day 5, the Gallery

 






It is day five of begging week.

So many days.

I'm tired.

Tired of begging.


I'm not a very good beggar. Even as I beg there is some part of  me that wants to tell you why you shouldn't give me anything.

But the truth is, people giving me things has always built their character. The more anyone has given me the better the person they are.

I don't mean anything by that, it's just a weird thing I noticed in the Universe.



I'm supposed to beg you to go to this page today:


The Gallery


You won't have to read anything there. It's more of an oooohhh ahhhhh sort of page.

Pick one out that you like.



Thank yourself.





Thursday, July 1, 2021

Begging Week day 4: The Classics

 





Do you like Clerkmanifesto, but find the quality to be a bit... uneven?

Then The Life is a Fountain "Classics" page is for you!

Finally, finally, finally someone has finally come along to curate the endless, mad, endless, variable in quality posts of Clerkmanifesto.

 And now, on the Life is a Fountain Classics Page, which is


Here


Finally, finally, finally!


All of the posts are pretty good.






Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Begging week: Day 3, The Dylan Collaborative

 




Welcome to Begging Week Day Three!


If you've been paying any attention, and responded to any of my begging, you will by now understand that each day of Begging Week will bring you to a different page of Life is a Fountain. I mean, if my begging works. And if you hit the link and go to said page you will find something SUPER ENTERTAINING.

Today I am begging you to visit the Dylan Page at Life is a Fountain,

 Dylan

Why?

To see our collaboration! Yes, Bob Dylan and I have collaborated!

Here's what happened:


Bob and I were drinking Cognac, again. We're kind of stuck on Cognac. We like it, there's a lot to try, I got Bob somehow to invest heavily in it, and it would be weird to waste super expensive cognac. So we drink it, and love it, but have started to talk about Scotch. We're both restless drinkers, always wanting to try the next thing. There's always next things.

I said "Have you checked out Life is a Fountain yet? It has a Dylan Page."

"There are a lot of Dylan pages." He said ruefully. "But yeah. I wish you wouldn't film me like that." He paused, and, strangely talkative, added "I like the cartoon characters in your library though. You should do that with one with one of my pictures."

Bob is very reticent about any use of his music, fame, lyrics, writing, persona, and history. But oddly he's always looking to get his visual art out there. It's okay. I went looking for the oldest stuff of his I could find and set to editing it on my phone. I knew he would enjoy not being talked to for half an hour.

I showed him a picture.

"Yeah. That's good!" He said to my surprise.



Check it out here, please?








Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Begging week: Day 2!

 




www.lifeisafountain.com




Today I am going to explain to you all about Begging Week here at Clerkmanifesto!





You will soon see what surprising benefits there are for you in Begging Week!

You will understand how Begging Week works. And you will know just exactly what this mysterious Begging Week really is.


There is a very helpful FAQ all about Begging Week, very entertaining really, over at 


I'd love it if you went there.

Actually, because it is Begging Week, I beg of you: Go there.



But, I can say here that Begging Week goes on for... 

Well that's in the FAQ.

Though at least I can tell you that the main point of each day of Begging Week is to...

Well that's actually in the FAQ too.


Hmm. 

I don't want to pressure you. 

I'll tell you what. I'll just sit here on the sidewalk with my link, and you can avoid making eye contact with me.















Monday, June 28, 2021

Begging week

 



www.lifeisafountain.com



Hello, and welcome to begging week on Clerkmanifesto!







This is day one! 

There are going to be seven days, all concerned with begging. I will be begging you.


Before we get into the begging discussion I'd like to get right into my first day's first beg:


Please, please fill out this survey on the "Forms" page at Life is a Fountain. I beg of you!




Did you do it?

Really?

No, I understand that everyone is different. 



 There is only one beg per day during Begging Week. And it's over.

But can I just say:

Almost everything you see on the Internet, almost every email you receive, and almost every clickable link you see, is just a beg.

So do I want special credit for this act of honesty. Do I hope for a boon for being upfront about that which is so normally hidden?


No, my quiet, noble heroism is its own reward.








Sunday, June 27, 2021

Enough is enough!

 





As I sit here at the front desk of my library I finally have to say, enough is enough!

I can no longer reasonably justify making fanciful pictures on my phone all day. My blog, my two blogs! (visit Life is a Fountain blah blah blah), are overwhelmed with peanuts characters getting library cards, Daffy Duck throwing fits in the back room, and figures from Norman Rockwell Paintings conducting business at, well, at the very desk I am sitting at right now. 

My grip on reality is fracturing!

I don't really work in a world peopled by Addam's Family characters, Maxwell Smart, and figures from Winnie the Pooh. Dragons Love Tacos dragons do not apply for library cards! And my making it so on my phone, hour after hour, cannot be healthy. Also, whatever happened to my quiet ruminations on the state of library work, or reviews of forgotten novels, or amusing accounts about supply procurement for the county? I vow to return immediately and without fail to these quiet studies,  these calm, elegant illuminations, and these gently humorous anecdotes that have brought you here to my website for all these years. Indeed, these are the bread and butter essays that have built me a

Oh my God!

THERE'S A DINOSAUR IN THE LIBRARY!


I'll try to snap a quick picture, but then, if you value your life


RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!















Saturday, June 26, 2021

Work life balance

 




From the moment I got a phone, a real phone, my effectiveness as a library employee has been on a roller coaster ride. There was a small dip at the start as I discussed phones incessantly with all my co-workers and texted them from six feet away. Then I, metaphorically, climbed quickly as I found podcasts and audiobooks and became one of the most quietly dedicated shelvers and materials processors the library has ever known. But, of course, what goes up must come down, and I have never known a quality shelver who stayed a quality shelver. Somehow we all get distracted. For the industrious types it's usually by some niche library project they can obsess and stew over to their hearts content. For me the downfall was finding out that I could insert Peanuts characters into random pictures I took of my library.

What a thrilling, heedless fall it was! I plunged, hands in the air and a look of terrified ecstasy on my face. But that too had to level out finally. All those co-workers saying "You sure do like that phone, don't you?" And all those library patrons saying "Ahem."

"Oh." I say startled. "Were you there long?"

"Just a few minutes really."

"Do you want to see a picture of Charlie Brown's little sister Sally, in the library?"

"Ok."

I'm not through the roller coaster yet. I'm still whizzing along, though it's more level in its twisty way now. I've combined the two divergent elements. The other night I shelved every single one of our requests, three carts worth. It's amazing how much one can get done quickly when one applies oneself. Fortunately I had a reward; with no requests left to shelve there really wasn't anything left for me to do except edit pictures.

Edit

Edit

Edit.

"Ahem." You say?


Want to see a picture of Charlie Brown's little sister Sally, in the library?

















Oh, you're still here? How nice.




Do you want to see one where she's delighted about having asked the Children's Librarian a question?














For a lot more pictures like these, visit Life is a Fountain, the Stolen page.









Friday, June 25, 2021

Stolen

 



On Life is a Fountain, which is where you are sort of supposed to be now, reading this, and maybe are, and maybe aren't, I have a page called:

Stolen.

When I created Life is a Fountain I made a lot of pages that had to do with the things I have always written about. There are pages for Bob Dylan, and for Libraries, for Books, and Music, and for Animals, and Nature, and Politics. But "Stolen" was new. Stolen was a little shady. Stolen was about how, if I'm not going to be famous (and I'm not), if I'm not going to be read by thousands (I'm not), if I'm not going to get any money for working at writing and art every week all week long (I'm not going to get any money), then I am free to help myself to the entire history of art right up until the present. I'm free to make whatever I like with all things created by other people.

I'm not talking about plagiarism. Even if I don't say that "Lucy" is by Charles Schulz, I am not passing it off as my own, and I have a reasonable assumption that you will understand the real creator of said character. But I have no real care about his credit, his co-option, or his estate's rights. On Stolen, all is grist for the mill.

I don't know who first said "Grist for the mill", but it's mine now!

This is an interesting question about Authorship, and copyright, and Capitalism. It is a real discussion about Art, and ethics, and fair use.

Sometimes I am very interested in it. 

Sometimes I just want to put Daffy Duck at a check out desk at my library.

Funnily enough I have not put very much material yet on the "Stolen" page of Life is a Fountain. This is not because I have insufficient substance for the page. Rather it is because everything I have produced lately, in vast quantities, has belonged, exactly, there.



Daffy Duck waiting somewhat impatiently for someone at a desk at my library:





Lucy and Linus making their way through a Norman Rockwell painting:











A Donkey with low self esteem that I ran into on my creek yesterday morning. I think he found some thistle!







And finally, Totoro, delightfully standing in our Non Fiction section, waiting for me to shelve some books:













Thursday, June 24, 2021

Obsession

 





I thought maybe I wouldn't go on about this constantly, but now I am reconsidering that. Maybe I will keep telling you here that we have moved, and how Clerkmanifesto is now:

Life is a Fountain


It's not a fountain? 


That's a joke you might get better over at Life is a Fountain, which will have today's clerkmanifesto content, but with more pictures! Better computer radiation! And vastly higher resolution fonts! So head on over there.

As soon as I figure out how to send email newsletters from Life is a Fountain, and settle into a way of doing that regularly, Clerkmanifesto is likely to become just a sleepy backwater of my vast Internet Empire. 

Of course learning how to send Newsletters from Life is a Fountain, refining its content, and packing it to the gills with baubles and snacks, is all having to wait in line, and for scraps of attention, behind my current obsession, image combining. This is where I take fictional characters and put them into my real life. These are very time consuming to do and can even occasionally overwhelm me. So sometimes I have to ask myself what makes them so compelling.

I think I have an answer. 

They simply don't work out that well about 80 percent of the time. Also I can't really tell whether they do work out until they're done. So there's the gambler thing going on in it- the idea that this next one is really, this time going to finally, finally be fantastic. And as any gambler can tell you, once or twice a day it actually does come through. It is fantastic! There's something about getting Linus into the library I work at, sitting on a chair in just the right way, that is so utterly satisfying to me. It somehow makes the world feel more like my world.





Also, new materials and ideas are everywhere! I work at a library! This afternoon I was shelving and came across a kind of picture book of The Fire Next Time. Immediately I had to do a mash-up with James Baldwin! I took some pictures of a couple of the more likely pictures of James Baldwin. I carefully masked out just James Baldwin. Then I started trying to match him with the increasingly large numbers (but never enough!) of pictures I now have of all our desks, seating areas, and counters at the library. It matched up okay, but I needed to do another layer to put in a computer wire that the masked cut out of Baldwin had blocked. But when it was all together, the black and white source picture of James Baldwin was a bit of an off match. So I applied a whole bunch of filters to try and bring it together, and...


It was okay. Not a great one.





Oh well.



But maybe the next one will be amazing!












Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Intercom

 




The rhetoric is that we are in an age of ever increasing technological improvement. And there is a fair case to be made for it. The great majority of the processes of the library I work at have only been improved by the digital age and by technical and mechanical developments. Requesting items, managing check outs, processing returns have all been made wildly better. Even our materials are better from technology; higher quality, more ubiquitous pictures in books, easier to get and watch movies, items one can check out from the library without even going to the library.

Sometimes I sure wouldn't like to go to the library too!

But despite this tidal wave of advancement, not everything has improved. And for a case in point I present our intercom system.

When I started it was beautiful. There was, at the circulation desk, sitting on the counter, a big, sturdy microphone. It had a base it sat on so you could lean down and talk into it if you wanted, but mostly one would pick it up to use it. There was a large button on it, like a giant space bar at the bottom. When it was depressed the mike was on. That was it. It was clean, analog, easy to use, and sounded quite good. We liked to call people back to the desk with it to tell them they had returned their VHS without a video cassette inside. It saved a ton of work to catch them while they were still in the library. We didn't call people back for not rewinding their videocassettes. We had bigger fish to fry.

Eventually, as we updated our library and remodeled it, our intercom got woven into our phone system. Hit #150, wait a second or two, then talk. It was okay. We started doing our closing announcements through this system and that's the biggest part of what we used it for. Sometimes it would activate by accident and we could hear faintly the interactions at the Reference desk for awhile until someone alerted them. It also went through periods where it produced a low, steady, mysterious static when not in use. That was pretty annoying.

Finally, recently, we downgraded all the way to our new phones. One now dials a connecting number as before. After this the phone weirdly rings until it connects, like the intercom system is hooked in through a switchboard operator who waits for our calls, but is busy, and so takes a while to pick up and connect us. When it does connect it makes a truly gigantic and horrible blast of feedback noise, both in the users' ear and throughout the whole of the library. It is a massive SCREECH that rivets everyone's attention. At that point one is free to deliver one's message, usually involving an apology for the noise.

The other night it fell to me to do the closing announcements, something I do as experimentally as possible in faint hopes I won't be asked again. It's okay, but I already have too many creative outlets as it is. There are, by tradition five closing announcements; at 20 minutes before, 15, 10, three, and to say that we are closed.

For the first announcement I apologized for the horrible SCREEEECCHH!, and I informed the public that we are all helpless before it. But having used that approach up, at the second announcement I went with something more like "That gorgeous chime you just heard is the gentle herald of the fact that in 15 minutes the library closes". It was variations of that then as we worked our way towards closing: "You probably didn't hear that faint, dulcet tone of our intercom system, but...". When I finally got to the "Library is Closed" announcement I really didn't even need to make it. Everyone was already gone.

Actually, maybe our new intercom system works better than I thought.