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When USC has an event, everything is set up during the day, the event is held at night, and then everything is taken down all within 24 hours. It’s really quite impressive how fast it all gets done. So when these white tents popped up around campus early last week I thought USC was having another event and that they would be up for 36 hours at the longest. But the tents stayed up and more were being erected all around campus. They were popping up everywhere and 36 hours was more like a week.

Finally I figured out that the Los Angeles Festival of Books was being held at USC over the weekend of April 30-May 1 and that thousands of people were going to be on campus. I have never seen campus that crowded so I was doubtful that many would come.

Apparently a lot of people love books though! Little kids were walking around near the Target stage with their parents, college students were going to see comedians speak, adults were at the cooking stage watching demos, and everyone was milling around checking out the seemingly never-ending line of white tents.

Getting free things is one of me and my roommate Lara’s hobbies, so we were roaming around looking for some free swag. Whenever we saw a lot of people walking around with the same thing, we figured it was free and made it our mission to go get it. I saw kids with Disney posters so I went to their tent and got a Tangled poster (great movie!). People were eating Cliff bars so Lara and I went to that tent and were given chocolate chip bars. A number of people had yellow balloons and umbrellas that said “Hoy” on them so we walked over to that area and got one of each. The umbrella is kind of useless in Southern California, but if it ever rains I now have one! I also noticed that a lot of people – ok more like a lot of kids – were wearing crowns that said Medieval Times. We searched for that tent and walked away wearing fancy crowns and with 20 discount coupons. I called my friend Georgie so that he could bring me a bag when he came to meet up with us but guess what? I got one for free!

So with my bag of freebies, a balloon, and a crown, Georgie, Lara and I made our way to McCarthy Quad where the Target stage was set up. Marc Brown, the creator of Arthur, was speaking, and when I found out it was him I made us sit down. I was a huge fan of Arthur when I was younger because I thought I could identify with him since we both had annoying little sisters. Lara and I totally fit in with all the kids wearing the Medieval Times crowns. Apparently they were not really for anyone over the age of 12.

After listening to Marc Brown for a bit we kept walking around and ended up just relaxing on the grass and watching the people enjoy the festival.

Georgie and I came back the next day to see the comedians Patton Oswalt and Demetri Martin. They were both pretty funny, but it was a little weird listening to them talk about their books and occasionally read from them since they’re comedians and I am used to their stand-ups.

Lastly we checked out Michael Robinson Chavez, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times. He’s an incredibly acclaimed photographer who has covered a number of international issues like the civil war in the Congo, the slums in India, and he covers topics relating to the Hispanic community for the LA Times.

I was really hoping he would be giving out free photos or that Demetri Martin and Patton Oswalt would give out copies of their books, but I settled for a crown, an umbrella, and bag full of fifteen useless things.


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