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Restocked and ready to lend! (And receive.)
Restocked and ready to lend! (And receive.)

20,000 pages of kindness inspired by one empty Little Free Library

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about how my Little Free Library had been emptied out, repeatedly.

A few days later, I received an email from Jynne Martin, an associate publisher and director of publicity for Riverhead Books in New York City:

"Hi Molly! Saw your piece on your LFL and that is really a bummer – so the opposite of the spirit of generosity and shared reading. We are huge LFL fans at Riverhead (we even custom-made and installed 3 of our own LFL in needy communities last year!) and I would be happy to put together a box of Riverhead & Penguin books to mail to you for restocking. All my best, Jynne"

Earlier this week, a box filled with new books came to my house. And each one of them was adorned with a sticker Jynne had made saying it was from the Snyder family’s little free library. She even included an extra sheet of stickers for future LFL books.

Somehow, the good chapters always seen to outweigh the bad chapters in our books of life, don’t they?

Thank you, Jynne and the fine folks at Riverhead!

What are your thoughts on this mural?
What are your thoughts on this mural? (Photo: Facebook)

Walker mural creates controversy, conversation

This past week, a mural with Gov. Scott Walker’s face and the words "down with the bitches and the hoes" went up on the north side of the building that houses South Shore Gallery & Framing, 2627 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The line is most likely a nod to the 2003 film "Malibu's Most Wanted."

Milwaukee OATS is behind the art piece. The group describes itself on Facebook as "a local screen-print art movement that promotes self empowerment … The idea of this movement, Milwaukee Oats (OATS), is to bring a cultural revival and sense of unity to the city of Milwaukee."

OATS stands for "Only a T-Shirt." The group says the name is ironic, claiming that T-shirts can serve as a "catalyst for a cultural renaissance."

A representative from the group, who wished to remain unnamed, made the following statement regarding the Walker mural: "I believe that we should focus on things that bring us together and not on the things that divide us. This art work is not pro-Walker nor is it anti-Walker. It is simply here to create inspired moments in the community and to make people laugh …

"I’ve noticed that it’s bringing people together from both sides of the debate. These people are laughing together, having a good time and even joking about it, when the same people a week ago couldn't even have a simple conversation with each other. As a community we need to value each other and care for each other as a family because that's what we are. We shouldn't focus on our differences; we should focus on our similarities and know that we're in this together."

The mural has seemed to generate a lot of conversation online, throughout the Bay View community and beyond. Opinions range greatly. Some find it humorous, others offensive and a few have expressed confusion over the message.

Personally, I applaud the spelling of "hoes" as opposed to "ho's" which includes an unnecessary apostrophe, but one I've often seen used in this phrasing.

What are your thoughts on this mural?

"Take a book, leave a book" is the motto of the Little Free Library. Ahem. (Photo taken quickly, hence a bit blurry.)
"Take a book, leave a book" is the motto of the Little Free Library. Ahem. (Photo taken quickly, hence a bit blurry.) (Photo: Erik Lee)

Is it stealing if you empty a Little Free Library?

In 2013, my family and I built a Little Free Library (LFL) and installed it in front of our house. For two years, it was a beautiful thing. People took books, people left books – just like the concept requires.

We bought books at the The Bookseller, a used book store and coffee shop inside the Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. Over the past two years, friends donated books and we put some of our own in the structure. We make a point to offer Spanish language books as well as books in English. 

However, in the past month, our Little Free Library has been completely cleaned out three times.

I saw a photo on Facebook (used as the main photo in this blog) of another LFL on the Riverwalk allegedly being emptied by a couple with a garbage bag. This weekend, I saw two more empty Little Free Libraries and another with a sign asking people not to take *all* the books.

I contacted the organization, asking for thoughts on this or strategies to prevent it, but did not hear back. The group did, however, respond to this blog with a Tweet.

Of course, Little Free Libraries are free, but c’mon. Emptying out the entire thing is just jerky. Is our Little Free Library being emptied in order for the books to be sold? If people really need the money, it’s almost justifiable, but I have sold enough used books in my life to know that the mostly-paperback ones I am putting in my library are worth very little to nothing at a book shop.

I started writing in black Sharpie on the front of the LFL books "From A Little Free Library, No Resale." I kinda hate marring the cover of a book, but so far, this seems to be working.

Any insights or thoughts on this? I have read posts about this happening in Chicago and Portland as well. Is this a sign of the times or is this another example why we can’t have nice things?

Fresh from Bonnaroo: Shakey Graves.
Fresh from Bonnaroo: Shakey Graves. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)

Shakey Graves delivers powerful jams despite sound obstacle

The Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

It was, most likely, sheer coincidence that Shakey Graves wore a bright red shirt on the day that love became legal for all, but for me it was a sign of passion and intensity – one that the musician / singer maintained throughout his 75-minute performance on the BMO Harris Stage at Summerfest tonight.

Unfortunately, the sound ranged from muffled to fuzzy and, eventually, to merely average. At one point he even stopped, looked around and started over on a song. The vocals needed to be louder and the lyrics were, for the most part, indecipherable.

However, that didn’t stop fans from identifying and responding to their favorite songs, particularly those that made it to radio waves within the last year since the release of "And The War Came."

Born Alejandro Rose-Garcia in Austin, Texas, he received his stage name "Shakey Graves" when friends jokingly assigned him an "Indian guide name" over a campfire.

His style of music is a blend of country, blues and rock and roll. Rose-Garcia started out as a one-man band, and most of his debut album "Roll The Bones," is a solo effort. In later albums he included a band.

Tonight, he was alone on the stage – at times behind a podium draped with a Texas flag – with a small band and also sang two songs – "Big Time Nashville Star" and radio hit "Dearly Departed" – with PHOX’s Monica Martin. The two clearly had a connection – at one point she was whispering secrets in his ear and at the end of the second song she embraced him warmly. PHOX will play the same stage on Thursday, July 2.

During the set, Shakey Graves also played "Family and Genus," "The Pansy Waltz," "Hard Wired," "Roll The Bones," "Tomorrow," "Once In A While," "House Of Windsor…