Tag Archives: LAPL

L.A. Libraries reopen today!

It might not be big news where y’all live, but today, Monday the 18th of July, the libraries of Los Angeles will throw their doors open to the public, on a Monday, for the first time in months! That’s rights, thanks to the overwhelming voter approval of Measure L, the libraries have had enough of their funding restored so that they’ll be able to be open and fully-staffed on Mondays again. Hooray!

Greta and I already have very comprehensive lists prepared of all the books and movies we’re gonna check out today. So, see ya in the stacks, amigos!

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Save our libraries, vote “Yes on Measure L” today!!

Oh, man, you don’t even wanna know how bummed Christine and I are that we can’t vote “Yes on Measure L” today. But, because we live in Burbank, which is its own city, we cannot. But what we can do is urge anyone of voting age in Los Angeles to get out there today and save our libraries!

Even before Christine starting working at The Library Store, we used the hell out of the libraries in Los Angeles and beyond, and now that Greta is here, well, forget about it. Books and libraries are a huge part of our lives and let me tell ya, the libraries in Los Angeles are in serious trouble.

Shortened hours, brutal staff and budget cuts and a philistine mayor and city hall who care more about pricey, unproven after-school gang prevention programs than they do about libraries have driven the already beleaguered LAPL system even further into the ground.

Well, guess what else keeps kids off the streets and out of gangs, Mayor Villaraigosa? You got it, libraries! Los Angeles ranks last in per capita spending on library materials in the eight largest U.S. library systems…LAST! We are a major metropolitan city, amigos, that is just plain shameful.

Great cities deserve great libraries, they are the cornerstone of learning and a real beacon of light in our community, especially in these troubled times, so, please, please vote “Yes on L” today.

To read more about the awesomeness that is Measure L, please click here.

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John Waters night @ the Aratani

OK, I’ll say it…last night kinda rocked. Not only did Christine manage to score my friend Arturo and myself two free tickets to a super cool John Waters reading and booksigning event downtown, but, in between the reading and the signing, Mr. Waters was interviewed onstage by none other than Princess-freaking-Leia herself…Carrie Fisher!

Waters started the night off by reading some very funny selections from his new book “Role Models”, which is his literary tribute to the people, both famous and not, who inspired him during his lifetime. And the list of inspirational people truly runs the gamut here, with legendary crooner Johnny Mathis sharing equal space with a buxom Baltimore barmaid. Awesome!

And then, the real fun started when Carrie Fisher took the stage and the two talked like the old friends they are for the rest of the night. There was a brief Q&A peppered with the usual wacky questions from the crowd — one chick asked Waters about the quality of the mussels at some dive in Baltimore! — and then all the crazy folks in the Aratani/Japan America Theatre (myself and Arturo included) got into line to get their books signed.

Unlike most booksignings I’ve been too, Waters really took his time with his fans and lemme tell ya, they ate it up. People brought him gifts of food, music, movies, you name it, it was there on the table beside him.

So, yeah, we waited in line for a long-ass time, but, wow, what a line it was. Drag queens, older gay men, younger gay men, lesbians, hipsters, Hollywood types, four very strange people in wheelchairs, two people hobbling around on broke-ass crutches, Johnny Knoxville (yep, he was there too!) and a morbidly obese one-armed woman in a halter top. I’m not kidding, amigos, that line looked like a John Waters movie come to life!

When we finally reached the amazing Mr. Waters he looked a little tired from all the craziness, but, ever the trooper, he not only signed, but, personalized both of our books, posed for individual pics with each of us and even signed my DVD copy of his film “Cecil B. Demented”. Hooray!

Now, if I could have just talked Carrie Fisher into signing the lightsaber collection in my backpack, all would truly have been right with the world…

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First Lady Laura Bush in L.A.

Even though I have some serious problems with the way her husband has run this country for the last eight years — or should I say NOT run as “President” Cheney has made most of the big decisions — I gotta say I was still kind of thrilled to meet Bushie’s wife, First Lady Laura Bush and daughter, Jenna Bush-Hager yesterday afternoon at an invite-only reading and booksigning of their best-selling children’s book “Read All About It!” at downtown’s Central Library.

With tickets snapped up almost as soon as the last-minute event was announced last week — Veronique Peck, widow of actor Gregory Peck is a huge supporter of the Library Foundation and the First Lady appeared as a favor to her — seats were pretty hard to come by for non-Foundation members, but luckily for me, I know someone on the inside!

For the new readers out there, my “connection” is my wife Christine, who runs the Library Foundation’s super cool Library Store.

But even Christine couldn’t manage to get me a seat at this event. So, seeing as I couldn’t get inside the old fashioned way, I decided to volunteer to help Christine sell books outside the Auditorium before the reading. Then, thanks to some awesomely-timed cancellations, Christine, her co-worker, Natalie, and I were able to score some primo seats at the reading for ourselves. Yeah!

Introduced by the crazy chic Veronique Peck — seriously, this chick has a French accent Catherine Deneuve would kill for! — the First Lady and Jenna Bush took the stage and read aloud from their charming, if a tad slight, book. And though both Bush ladies were gracious and sweet as Texas BBQ on the outside, there was a reserve there that made things seem a bit stilted at times.

And the Q & A that followed was even stranger. Since most of the pre-approved questions were from the scads of cuddly Esperanza Elementary School second graders in the front row, they were anything but hard-hitting. I didn’t think the kids would grill the First Lady on Guantanamo Bay or anything, but I guess I expected a little more from the whole thing than “Is the White House like a mansion inside?”.

I’m not saying they weren’t cute — because those kids are ready for commercials, baby…seriously, the cutest kids you ever saw! — but the simplicity of the questions, coupled with the almost rehearsed quality of the answers made for kind of a snoozy twenty minutes.

After the Q & A, the ever-present Secret Service — who were way nicer and funnier than you would expect them to be! — lined everyone up for the booksigning. Since Christine, Natalie, and I still had lots more books to sell, we headed back out front to man the booth, and when the lines finally died down, we made our way to the stage.

Now before you ask me why I didn’t get a picture of myself or Christine with either of the Bush beauties, l should tell you that cameras were totally forbidden onstage. But since strange, random questions were not, I picked a doozy!

Smiling as first mother, then daughter signed my three books, I asked the First Lady if she and the President were planning on seeing “Indiana Jones 4” this weekend. Chuckling, she replied that they just might as the President asked her the other day “What movies are we gonna watch this weekend?”. Hilarious! Good to know that despite his abysmal record as a Prez, he can still enjoy himself some good old Lucas/Speilberg hijinks!

But even more amusing than the First Lady’s response was the reaction of First Daughter Jenna. Shooting me kind of a confused look, she asked. “Is that coming out this weekend? Wow…I’m really behind the times!” And then, totally unprompted, Jenna announced that the summer flick she was most looking forward to seeing was the upcoming “Sex and the City” feature. Ha!

I just kind of nodded lamely and said something like: “Yeah, that looks pretty good too…” But by then, Natalie and Jenna had begun talking about Jenna’s necklace, which she said was a handmade gift from her twin sister, Barbara — I know…handmade? Who knew the Bush’s were artsy? — and as the line was backing up behind me, I left the stage with my books.

So, while it was brief, I must say that my personal audience the better half of the First Family was actually very cool, and both women were way warmer and down-to-earth than they had appeared during the reading and Q & A. But perhaps my favorite part of the day was yet to come…

While gathering up the receipts and heading back to the store, we checked the green room — which had been sealed off to everyone but the secret service and the First Lady’s handlers since earlier that morning — once more for anything we might have left behind and found a lovely, untouched fruit salad that had been intended for the First Lady and Jenna.

Now, I ask you, if you were in my shoes would you not eat that poor abandoned fruit salad? I mean, come on, how often is an opportunity like this gonna come along? Needless to say, quicker than you can mouth the words: “Tomás loves free food!” I grabbed that salad and headed for the exit.

And later, in the comfort and privacy of Christine’s office, the three of us enjoyed the hell out of that fruit salad. Sure the magoes were a bit hard, but hey, this was presidential grade fruit and we were not gonna miss out on a single bite!

And even sweeter than the oranges in that rocking good fruit salad was the perfectly-placed anti-Bush sign we spotted on the freeway overpass just a few exits from the Library on the way home.

Now, I don’t know who put that sign there or even if they knew the Bush’s would see it on their drive north to Burbank to appear on “The Tonight Show”, but I think it’s pretty telling that the “anti” slash is only through the “W”.

See, even crazy, freeway-sign-protesters love the First Lady…and now, after meeting the former Texas librarian and her recently-hitched, “Sex and the City”-loving daughter in person…I can see why!

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