D’oh! Episode 3 of Season 2 comes out in less than 48 hours and I still haven’t posted about Episode 2. So, here I am to tell you all about the interviewee, my friend Don, shown here about to tuck into his lunch at Guelaguetza in Los Angeles on a busy Sunday afternoon. (The food and the music were fantastic, btw. And, no, that’s not a pizza but a tlayuda. In this case, the crispy corn tortilla was covered in mole negro, queso fresco, and scrambled eggs.)
When Ariel and I were kicking around ideas for topics to interview people about for Season 2, the role of libraries in their communities came right up. And I knew just the librarian to interview—because Don is not only one of the best human beings ever made, he had literally just retired from his post as a librarian with the Salinas Public Libraries. As you can hear in the interview, Don’s got lots of thoughts about libraries serving as the beating hearts and blood vessels of communities. Like any librarian worth their library card, he’s super enthusiastic about the subject.
I met Don during my college years, when he hired me to work in the B. Dalton Bookstore at the Capitola Mall. There are only two things to say about this branch of the now defunct chain. One—Robert Heinlein used to wander into from time to time (although, alas, I started work there about a year too late to have met him). Two—somehow the As Seen on TV store around the corner and down the way from the B. Dalton long outlived it. Don, by the way, was the best boss I’ve ever had. He also kindly drove me home in the confusing minutes after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, which flooded the bookstore about thigh deep in books, rather than abandoning me to the buses, which may or may not have still been running at that time.
Although we only worked together for a year or so before moving on to other jobs, we’ve been friends ever since.
Unsurprisingly for a bookseller turned librarian, Don loves books. He also knows so much about them, it’s insane. What to read, who wrote what, what the back story is, and how this connects with that or how it grew out of this other thing. Don’s always using this super power to send me boxes of amazing books to read. This would be great even if it wasn’t a lifeline for me (since I live in Germany and can’t just walk into a bookstore or library with a decent collection of books in English). Without Don’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and generosity, I wouldn’t know about Jo Walton, Becky Chambers (he’s an enormous fan), or Kelly Link. I would have also never read On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner, which is an incredible book that every writer should read. Incidentally, Don’s home is so full of such a variety of books, I’m 100% certain you could rebuild civilization from the information contained in just the books on the shelves in his downstairs bathroom.
I could go on and on about all the great things about Don. Or about how he puns all the time (at least when he’s not in his serious, I’m being interviewed for a podcast mode). Or about his meandering path through life. But that would take an entire book.
Instead, I’ll sign off here with a reminder to give this episode a go. You won’t regret it.
Also, be sure to check back in soon. On Monday, Feb 13, our next episode comes out… Beirut: Finding Your Future in a Nearly Failed State, With JD Harlock, Poetry Editor at Solarpunk Magazine. (Or have a listen now by joining our Patreon!)
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