Weird Shit from the New Orleans Public Library


When I moved here from New York, I was so excited about making a new home for myself I gave very little thought to what “home” actually meant.  It took exactly one week for me to start missing things: first bagels, then pizza, then more substantive things, like walkable sidewalks and meetings starting on time.

I tried to create a comfortable space in my house that would bring me daily reminders of what I love about New York, like subway maps and photos of my family.  Yet there was always an unsettled quality about this space, and it wasn’t for a while that I realized it was because I had no books.
I had left all of them in New York, thinking that it wasn’t worth the schlep (meaning “haul”; Yiddish aphorisms are another thing I miss about New York) for an indeterminate time of staying in New Orleans.  But their absence weighed on me, so I had to take action.

I went to the Alvar Street branch of the New Orleans Public Library, where I was assisted by an elderly seersucker-clad man with an impressively loud “indoor voice.”  Apparently, the only document they need from potential patrons is proof of residency, which in my case was the envelope from my latest bank statement.  I could also, the desk attendant stage-whispered conspiratorially, have addressed and mailed an envelope to myself.

But I was not out for such tricky business, and armed with my new card I set about exploring the stacks.  I found some curious organizational methodology to the shelves at the Alvar Street branch:  In the nonfiction section was the King James Bible alongside the Frommer’s Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States and an exposé on Mao Tsedung as the mastermind of the Cold War.  This was not exactly the Dewey Decimal System of my youth.

The following are reviews of weird shit I found at the New Orleans Public Library.  This feature is published on NOLAFemmes.

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Volume 1: Absurdistan (2008)
Nestled between a documentary on Mardi Gras Indians and a collection of Pedro Almodóvar’s films, and below the greatest hits of Ravi Shankar, was a German film called Absurdistan.  Billed as “Fellini-esque” and “lusty,” the movie called out to my sleazy arthouse impulse.  Little did I know what a mind-trip in female sexuality this film would be.