If you fancy yourself a loyal citizen – and mind you, I’m not getting righteous and spilling yellow ribbons from my orifices – I hope that you take advantage of the services your tax dollars pay for in your town and country. There are a ton of great services that are sitting right under your nose, and if you’re anything like the majority of the people I know, you’re not taking advantage of these things that you help support with your tax dollars (with the exception of KCRW…everyone in LA seems to tune in from time to time).
Not all of them are free. In fact, I can’t think of many that are completely free. Even so, our tax dollars subsidize a lot of great things that we should all take advantage of. In Beverly Hills (not 90210, mind you), there are a handful of things that I’ve started using on the regular which are of great benefit to me, at little to no cost:
- Television – PBS HD – how cool would it have been to see Fred Rogers in 1080p? It’s still pretty cool to check out all some of PBS’s shows…sometimes sinfully boring, but often worth checking out and/or DVR’ing, especially if the show is in HD.
- Radio – KPFK 90.7FM, KCRW 89.9FM, and KKJZ 88.1FM are all top-notch radio stations with a great mix of “less-biased” news(read: non-corporate, but still sometimes agenda-driven) and fantastic music.
- Local libraries – I saved the best for last, seriously. Maybe I just lucked out living in Pasadena for 10 years, and now Beverly Hills, because both of these cities’ libraries are incredible. Beverly Hills Public Library recently changed its policies to allow their patrons to check out up to 64 items – any mix of books, audio-books, DVDs, CDs, etc. – for 2 weeks. DVD rentals used to be $.50 per day, and there was also a limit of 6 CDs that could be checked out at a time. I have 30 CDs at home right now, and 8 or 9 movies (mostly foreign, of which there’s a great selection).
I’m a media junky. For years I consumed DVDs, CDs, magazines, books, TV, etc. at a great financial loss to myself. Granted, now I have a very nice collection of the aforementioned items, but as it becomes easier to consume these items digitally through personal audio players, online reading, and RSS syndication delivered to my phone, I’m finding it increasingly wasteful for me to continue to purchase these things. I think I’ll always be a consumer, in that, I will consume or digest large volumes of information and stimuli. I always have.
But there’s no reason to support the wasteful production of unnecessary CD and DVD cases, when I can rent them from the library. I can listen to great radio on the stations listed above. And, in the instance of movies, I can rent anything unavailable at the library through my Blockbuster Online account (which deserves a whole post of its own). Instead of $200 shopping sprees on a fairly regular basis to stuff myself with music and movies, I pay Blockbuster monthly charges of $17.99 and whatever late charges I incur on my library card. You do the math.
The long and the short of it is, I’m tired of being so wasteful. If I’m paying with tax dollars to help support my local libraries and community services, I’m going to do my best to use them. I don’t happen to need public transportation, but if I could use it, I would. The Big Blue Bus on this side of town is bar none the best bus system I’ve ever been on.
After traveling around the world a bunch in the last few months it has been driven into my head again how wasteful our society is. There’s no reason for the excess, and as I have been trimming it from my life, I feel the fat in my soul; it’s like having spiritual love handles. And so I send myself up the street to the library to check out fistfuls of CD’s from Yo-Yo Ma, Clapton, Wilco, Hamza El-Din, Nusrat, and plenty more, all to make me feel better. And you know what? In the process of me checking these things out and using them, I’m increasing the circulation statistics which helps generate more funds to improve the health, selection and services the library provides.
Go find what’s great in your neck of the woods and share it with us here…