If the idea of roaming about a library after hours with a glass of champagne and a donut sounds like a dream, then the Young Literati’s Fifth Annual Toast may have been a dream come true. Last Saturday night, some of the most spirited supporters of the Library Foundation gathered at the Central Library to celebrate the Los Angeles Public Library, and to “bridge the divide” by raising funds for new technology in the branch libraries.
After kicking-off the party in the Rotunda, where there was not one, but two seesaws for partygoers to embrace the library as their playground, guests moved into the Getty Gallery for readings and performances by an all-star lineup. Rachel Small, chair of the Young Literati, welcomed guests into the sacred space of the library, along with Justin Veach, director of New Initiatives, who confessed he was an evangelist for the “holy library” or did he mean “wholly library,” the one place in our society that is free and open to all. New City Librarian John Szabo thanked supporters, and joked about the irreverent feeling of the night, but quickly noted that libraries are not just houses for print books, but are where our community comes together.
“I love the way molecules collide in a library,” said graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, who is an honorary chair of the Young Literati along with his wife Amanda, before reading from The Catcher in the Rye. The readers were asked to select a work that had special meaning to them, and Fairey prefaced his obvious connection to the outsider protagonist Holden Caulfield by describing how libraries influenced his philosophy of art making by giving him free access to art books growing up, a lifeline for a struggling artist. Later Moby shared a similar sentiment before he read from The Futurist Manifesto by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, a work he discovered in his high school library. The extremist manifesto shocked the young Moby, a great great great nephew of Herman Melville, and opened up a world of non-conventional thinking for the musician. Moby and Shepard Fairey, proud Los Angeles Public Library cardholders.
Artist/filmmaker/author Miranda July performed an exercise she usually reserves for private—to overcome a creative block she reads random words from the dictionary for insight. After hilariously self-diagnosing herself as “demonic,” she also performed the exercise on the energetic comedian Jack Black, whose suitable word choice was “throb.” Black later returned to the stage to read from a book by Jack Black, not himself, but an odd adventure story from the 20s, which in further coincidences included a reference to the library. At the end of the night, Black serenaded the late night crowd with a lullaby, bringing his wife Tanya Haden, a professional singer and cellist to the stage, sending off everyone on a literal high note.
Jack Black and Miranda July read their futures from the dictionary.
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All photos by Rick Mendoza.