Fozzy Bear comes in several times a week, sometimes during the day even, but usually late at night. He is a genial, jolly man of about 55 or 60. And he is one of the main reasons for the small sign at the front register that says "No Gibberish". It is one of OGFP's main gifts to the lexicon of the bookstore, the "No Gibberish" sign. It has helped many a Myopic warrior fend off the mentally scarred, over-drugged and deeply unsettled deziens of the greater Wicker Park/Bucktown area. This type of (usually quite polite, oddly enough) interaction happens a lot more than you might expect. "You are far more weird than I can handle at this time. This is just my job, pal. I am not a board certified psychologist. If Bob Dylan is trying to kill you by making you pumpkin pies, I think that is his business and yours. Please go upstairs and look at the Gardening section until the psychotropics kick in."
Anyway, we can deal with Fozzy Bear. He is harmless and sweet in a way. He talks absolute nonsense, of course, a litany about the status of bookstore cat Leonard, and how Leonard is constantly following him around is standard patter, but he seems eager to please. But Fozzy Bear stinks up the bookstore something fierce. He smells like 100,000 dog poots happening at once all around you. Which is why Leonard follows him around. It is dizzying, your senses are temporarily robbed from you, and then you realize it is the smell of unwashed body, and probably feces. Light up an incense stick, turn on the ceiling fans, go outside and smoke a cigarette, and pray to the Virgin Mother that he leaves before customers start dropping like flies. Plans have been afoot to ban Fozzy Bear for years, but noone can seem to do it. He's too harmless and pathetic. Getting banned is serious. Unless people are violent or creepy about giving the female staff gifts or following them home (which has happened), we don't generally ban folks. We just kind of let them be. They probably just want to come in, take a shit, and get warm.
Myopic is an interesting place that way. We tolerate and even help 'hood people out of some weird sense of social justice. Founder Mopic Joe Judd has always made sure the place was open late (1AM, except 10 on Sundays...is this officially an advertisement yet?) because, to his mind, lonely people have no place to go and need books. When do they need them most? Late at night. That is the way it is, always has been, no questions asked. Joe's rule.
When we do book buying on the weekends, there is a neighborhood fixture who brings us two bags of books, and we give her 20 bucks. She's a very sweet older lady who stoops over very far. She needs the 20 bucks. She has needed it for years. So the bookstore gives it to her. Every week, no matter what books she brings in, no questions asked. We ask her if she's okay, if she has someplace to stay, and wish we could do something more for her. Charity is funny that way. It is a responsibility, we have found, largely through this job. People deserve their dignity and if you can give them a touch of it, maybe your bike ride home won't be so cold, and you won't need another beer to sleep easier after work. Maybe you have done a small, simple thing because it is what should be done.