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Scream at the Librarian Events

Everybody loves Scream at the Librarian!

Welcome! On this page you'll find information about previous and upcoming events celebrating the publication of my first book, ABC ISSUE NO. 3: Scream at the Librarian: Sketches of our Patrons in Downtown Los Angeles by Joel J. Rane, with illustrations by Raymond Pettibon and Cristin Sheehan Sullivan; published by Booklyn Artists Alliance, 2007. Enjoy your stay and thank you for visiting!

The Librarian

From June 2001 to April 2006, I was a reference librarian in the Literature and Fiction Department of the Central Library, Downtown Los Angeles. I rode a bicycle each morning from my apartment to Sunset Boulevard, and then took the subway, reading a book, pretending not to see the insanity around me. Instead of becoming habitual, this routine became more difficult day by day.

French Debut at ArtistBook International

Joel Rane in concert

This Francophile is proud that Booklyn and Scream at the Librarian were featured from 24 to 26 October 2008 at the seventh ArtistBook International, an exposition of artist's books at the Centre Pompidou. ArtistBook International is part of FIAC, the annual international contemporary art fair in Paris. I would also like to thank Beaux Arts magazine for their kind inclusion, and Christelle de Bernède of Connaissance des Arts for her assistance.

Photos courtesy of Bruno Gavira.

Kim Light Gallery

Book Release Party at LightBox

On 13 September 2007, Scream at the Librarian debuted at the Kim Light Gallery in Culver City, California.

There's my proud friend and the hostess, Kimberly, greeting the crowd while I busily sign copies. Everyone who bought a book at the release party got a special gold star. Hey, I AM a librarian, after all. After the signing, I pulled out my notes, put on my command voice and put on a performance for the lucky guests. Joel Rane in concertIt was the first time I'd read since early 2000. I presented excerpts from the book, including...

The Cougher

The Cougher sat directly opposite the Pinot, near the patio diners. He rarely came inside the library and I don't recall seeing him sit anywhere else. He was of indeterminate older age, balding, long, curly hair, an unkempt beard, and a vengeful twinkle as he looked up from his hunched back. He planted himself across from the restaurant and smoked upwind, cheroots and cigars, the smoke blowing across the patio, and as he smoked, he coughed. Amazing coughs, lung-busters that could shame my three-pack-a-day grandfather in his crypt. The lawyers and their clients glanced over nervously. The Cougher troubled them, bubonic plague, tuberculosis, SARS, avian flu.

Joel signing books with his proud mama Kim

The Singer

The Singer's rant had no educational value. She sang loudly and off-key, insisting to strangers how much she loved Jesus Christ, and if provoked, she began gibbering in tongues. She did this to the man who told her to shut up, giving him the evil eye and stabbing her index finger through a stream of alien sounds. A few days later, she appeared in my department of the Central Library. "Uh oh," I said. The other librarians at the desk looked up; they knew the drill. With all of us watching, she waved energetically. "Hello! Hello! Jesus loves you!"

The Devil

The Devil was a truly lost soul, the kind of homeless with matted hair, skin burnt and dirtied to a leathery complexion, clothes tattered, mouth open but no language emerging. He never came inside the library--indoors was not his situation. Across his forehead, in large, dark numerals, he'd written "666". He'd mosey through the garden, hissing at the straights and the other homeless, dragging a battered burden cart. "Devil!" I'd exclaim in delight whenever I saw him. Unlike the panhandlers, the Devil asked for nothing, and I considered him a fellow traveler in my Downtown. He grinned when I called his name; he liked to hear it spoken aloud.

Joel Rane in concert

I also read an excerpt from my novel Supporting the Homeless and this poem from my collection, Has Time Come for Silver Lake?:


I tried to feel sorry for you
gangster girl
your tattooed tear fading below your eye
staring hopelessly out the window
of the subway car

"Is this Civic Center?" you asked
in a quiet panic
and I held up two fingers
two more stops until they put your man away
or put you away

I tried to feel sorry for you
but Seventh Street is my stop
I'd almost been hit twice on my bicycle
and I had a long day on the reference desk ahead of me;
it's leached all the sorry right out of me.
Mixin' up the medicine!

Finally I read a poem from the book Enough Rope ©1928, by Dorothy Parker.

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I'd be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men...
I'm due to fall in love again.

Then, courtesy of my friends Bill Weigel and Beth Chance of Boulder Creek, California, the author and audience enjoyed a bottle of rare Swiss absinthe.

Photos courtesy of Miles Lightwood.

Reading at Kreiling and Dodd

On 9 March 2008, I read excerpts from Scream at the Librarian at the world's smallest department store, Kreiling and Dodd in Echo Park, California. Headlining this gig were the All Girl Comb Choir, Libby Flores and the infamous Daddy Beat! My gracious affection to Miss Lucy Dodd for providing a stage and a lot of other enablings.

Reading at SEIU, Local 721

On 21 August 2008, I read excerpts from Scream at the Librarian at a meeting of the Library Workers Occupational Council, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) This event was the first time I was asked to read before a group of my peers, mostly librarians and library assistants from the County of Los Angeles or small local library systems. Thanks to my friend, Ms. Tanya Akel, for inviting me!

Reading at the Absinthe Cabaret

On 18 October 2008, I read excerpts from Scream at the Librarian, some of my poetry, a poem by Robinson Jeffers, the song "Justice" by Kim Milford and "We Are the One" by the Avengers at Monterey Live, a dump on Alvarado in Monterey. I've done many readings over the years, and this was easily the worst one...the club and the audience were indifferent, and threw my ex's brother out halfway into the reading, but left a drunk heckler to disrupt the rest of my performance. Then they told me to hurry up, even though I'd been alloted a certain amount of time. Make this writer happy and chuck a brick through their window.

Scream at the Librarian!Title page for Scream at the Librarian

Return to Scream at the Librarian! Vaya con dios!

Updated Saturday, 2 January 2010, by joel at
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