Fuck Starbucks, Go To Your FREE Public Library

When I needed a quiet place to work that wasn’t my house, I discovered a profound love for my local book depository that I never thought was possible.


I love coffee. I used to go to independent coffee houses to do artwork all the time. Throughout the 1990’s, I spent hours plugging away on many sketch pads within a various artful, intellectual, smokey, brown-mouth environments. The Beehive in Pittsburgh’s South Side was one of my favorite places in the world, as was the Daily Cafe in New Haven, the Deli Haus in Boston, Paris on the Platte in Denver and many more throughout the country.

Now I live in Hollywood Florida. It’s 2016. Around here, we only get Starbucks. Tons of Starbucks.

Two years ago, when I no longer had an art studio to go to, I tried to get work done at all 3 of the Starbucks locations within a 2 mile radius of my house. One after the other, I carefully set up my laptop on tiny surfaces, trying to avoid spilling hot coffee on my technology. Meanwhile, the squawking dissonance of children, advertisements, business-related bluetooth conversations, complaining customers and miserable employees scraped through my fragile shell of concentration. I walked out of each location, frustrated at every person who was ever born, anywhere, ever.

As a last ditch effort to find a suitable work environment, I decided to GPS the nearest library. I expected to find a run-down institutional building, wallpapered with crayon drawings and elderly volunteers teaching the dewey decimal system to homeless people… which, mind you, would still be a huge improvement from Starbucks, but that’s not what happened at all.

My local library is actually a sun-filled space with local art, friendly staff and plentiful resources — both online and on location. As it was, all I really needed at the time was free wifi, an electrical outlet and a comfortable table to work at. But as I flipped open my laptop and started working, I felt a beautiful unison of silent focus from all who were present.

And then I remembered something I always knew: The library simply wants to make our society more knowledgeable. The very idea that such a place could exist — in Sarah Palin’s America — was enough to stop me from disregarding it from then on.

But getting back to coffee… do you like like coffee? Music? Do you like slipping into a jet-fueled trance of creative wavelengths that maintain their highest peaks for long stretches of time? Well just imagine involving your normal work/study support systems within a place that’s free of interruptions (no cell phones) and where silence is golden:

PSYCHOTROPIC ASSISTANCE (BYOB) | Most libraries allow you to bring a container for water. I bring coffee in my thermos (along with a couple modafinils). My own coffee costs a fraction of what an Iced Grande Quad Americano costs at Whorebucks. And just like the library, the water is free! But you don’t have limit yourself to just coffee and water. A thermos can just as easily contain ganja tea, ayahuasca, cognac or any variety of potions and elixirs.

MUSIC | Your music will always sound better at the library than at Starbucks because there’s no 1990’s made-for-tv coffee house playlist bleeding into your headphones. In fact, because music is such a necessary factor in my art making, I typically curate a library-specific playlist ahead of time. Here’s a link to my most recent one.

MUSCLE MEMORY | “They” say every 45 minutes, you’re supposed to get up from your desk and jump around or squeeze out a pilate or two. Here’s a better idea: take a break, walk to the art history section of the library, fill your arms with a stack of heavy books and carry them back to where you’re working. Then, enrich your brain with awe-inspiring images and text from the erratic pages of human history. You may notice that reproduced images seem to retain a bit more aura on paper than on a screen. I don’t know why. But doing this, I promise, will immediately make you smarter.

SHELTER | Aside from public parks (many of which do not provide free wifi), our libraries are the only public places that offer limitless information and a quiet sanctuary in which to absorb that information. This is a service that I would gladly pay for by the hour, and in fact, I do. And so do you. It’s a tiny fraction of our taxable income but none-the-less, you, me and everyone we know are the owners of the library.

Go to the library. You don’t have freedom unless you use it.

Now that it’s the Future, and today’s amazing technology requires us to reside in our own separate little pods, at least take your pod to the one place where you can sit among some of the other knowledge-seeking pods in your community.

If you’re in the U.S.A., here’s a website that will connect you to your local public library:

https://www.imls.gov/research-evaluation/data-collection/public-libraries-united-states-survey

I hope you find what you’re looking for. :)


Thanks for reading my 1st Medium post. If you liked it, a RT or recommendation would be greatly appreciated.