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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

On the same day the New York Times reported that the city’s yellow cab industry is being spared from the worst effects of the recession by allowing riders to pay by credit card, the MTA announced major fare hikes for public transportation commuters:

“After a fiery hearing Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted 12 to 1 to approve subway, bus and commuter train fare hikes from 25% to 30% and impose severe service cuts, including elimination of two subway lines and 21 local bus routes. . . .

“Starting May 31, the monthly MetroCard, now $81, will cost $103 and a weekly MetroCard, now $25, will cost $31. The one-way bus and subway fare will rise from $2 to $2.50, a whopping 25% increase.

“Commuter train fares rise June 1, while MTA bridge and tunnel tolls jump July 11. Service cuts also include longer gaps between trains and the closure of a few stations overnight.” (more @ The Daily News)

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Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The New Yorker magazine, on New York’s two new baseball stadiums, “the first time that two major-league stadiums have opened in the same city at the same time”:

“A stadium is a stage set as sure as anything on Broadway, and it determines the tone of the dramas within. Citi Field suggests a team that wants to be liked, even to the point of claiming some history that isn’t its own. Yankee Stadium, however, reflects an organization that is in the business of being admired, and is built to serve as a backdrop for the image of the Yankees, at once connected to the city and rising grandly above it.” (more @ The New Yorker)

RelatedTwo New Baseball Palaces, One Stoic, One Scrappy

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babeltalesscreamingdreamers

Photo: Peter Funch (more @ V1 Gallery; via The Daily Dish)

[“The City that Never Sleeps,” indeed!]

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basketballComing Soon – the WORD Basketball League!

WORD Books in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is setting up a summer basketball league for book lovers. The league will welcome men and women and will likely play its games on the playground courts across the street from the store.

To prove their league-readiness, applicants need not demonstrate their shooting or dribbling skills – instead, book-loving hoopster-hopefuls need to answer the following five questions:

1. Who wrote Ulysses?
2. What is the best selling book of all time?
3. What is J. D. Salinger’s most well-known book?
4. Name a book that has been banned in the United States in the last 100 years.
5. What is your favorite book?

Those who don’t score well (on the test) are invited to cheerlead.

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306abboxlibraryBrooklyn, New York perfume merchant CB I Hate Perfume has just introduced “In the Library,” “a perfume inspired by the proprietor Christopher Brosius’s love of books and his inability to pass a secondhand bookshop without stopping in.

“According to the shop’s description, the perfume is supposed to evoke a first-edition English novel via ‘Russian and Moroccan leather bindings, worn cloth, and a hint of wood polish.'” (more @ The Book Bench)

[Makes me want to curl up with a good book . . . or a woman who smells like a good book!]

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“While Times Square is not known for star gazing — the celestial kind, that is — and few people would normally venture onto a pitch-black ball field in Inwood to see the constellations, two unrelated, if not unlikely, projects hope to turn the city’s night eyes skyward.

Jason Kendall, an amateur astronomer, and Katja Aglert, a Swedish installation artist, want to turn out the lights in different parts of Manhattan and, weather permitting, illuminate the night sky. . . .

“Mr. Kendall and Ms. Aglert, 38 — who do not know each other — face daunting challenges to realize their visions.

“He must persuade the city’s parks department to darken Inwood’s Dyckman Fields, which run north for about 15 blocks from Dyckman Street, on April 3 and April 4.

“She has to persuade landlords and billboard owners in Times Square to cut their lights for one minute sometime this spring. . . .

“On the nights in April that Mr. Kendall wants Dyckman Fields darkened, the moon will rise early, and astronomy enthusiasts around the world are signifying the occurrence to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first recorded use of a telescope. . . .

“Ms. Aglert, who was awarded $21,000 from the Swedish government and given office space by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to pursue her project, faces fewer government hurdles than Mr. Kendall. Since she is not proposing to turn off traffic signals, street lamps and other city lights, she does not need official approval, though the Buildings Department said she had to submit a proposal.” (more @ NY Times)

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shakespearebooksIn The Guardian, Jeanette Winterson, after a recent visit, recounts a bit of the history of Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ renowned Left Bank bookstore, first opened in 1913 and since 1962 owned by George Whitman. No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to this venerable literary institution which always recalls for me New York’s recently closed literary landmark, Gotham Book Mart 

“Way back, in 1913, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l’Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.

“Hemingway was a regular at the shop, and writes about it in his memoir A Moveable Feast. . . . It was Hemingway, as a major in the US army, who at the liberation of Paris in 1945 drove his tank straight to the shuttered Shakespeare and Company and personally liberated Sylvia Beach. ‘No one that I ever knew was nicer to me,’ he said later, rich, famous and with a Nobel prize.

“But after the war, Beach was older and tired. She didn’t reopen the shop that had been forced into closure by the occupation. It was George Whitman who took over the spirit of what she had made, but not the name – until 1962, when Beach attended a reading by Lawrence Durrell at the bookstore and they all agreed that it should be renamed Shakespeare and Company.

“George took in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Henry Miller ate from the stewpot, but was too grand to sleep in the tiny writers’ room. Anaïs Nin left her will under George’s bed. There are signed photos from Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy, signed copies of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.” (via Books, Inq.)

A New York Times article offering a brief history of Gotham Book Mart can be found here:

PHOTO: A December 1948 party at for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of bright lights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart)

RelatedThe Gotham Book Mart’s Final Chapter?

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bobguskindBob Guskind, the legendary Brooklyn blogger and founder of Gowanus Lounge, has died:

“After days of speculation inside and outside the blogosphere, much-liked journalist Robert Guskind died on Wednesday, the city Medical Examiner confirmed this morning. . . .

“In his prime, Guskind’s blog focussed a keen eye on city development projects with an objectivity and a level of reporting rare in the blog world.” (via The Brooklyn Paper)

The following video of Bob Guskind is via newyorkshitty, a blog about Greenpoint, Brooklyn:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Memorials to Guskind on other Brooklyn blogs can be found at: Dumbo NYC, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.

Guskind’s “flikr” photostream, featuring numerous sets of Brooklyn neighborhoods, can be found here.

Flatbush Gardener is maintaining a running list of online tributes to Guskind. The list gets longer by the hour.

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dollhouse

Mabou Mines’ Dollhouse, which first opened in late 2003 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, returned to St. Ann’s last month after five years of touring the world, for what is likely the final staging of the celebrated adaptation of Ibsen’s “protofeminist” classic, A Doll’s House. This exhilarating, bawdy and broadly comic production, in which the male actors are all “little people,” standing between 40 and 53 inches tall, and the women are all nearly 6 feet tall, closes next Sunday, March 8th.

An interview with Mabou Mines co-founder and Dollhouse director Lee Breuer can be found here.

A slideshow of images from the current run can be found here; or watch the promotional video –

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The original New York Times review from 2003 can be found here.

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williamsburg_540

“A month after allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced in the mainstream press, the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, N.Y., is taking cautious steps to confront the scandal. Meanwhile, outsiders are tackling the issue head on.

“On Sunday, state Assemblyman Dov Hikind plans to host a community-wide ‘morning of chizuk’ (support) for the alleged victims of abuse. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew who is largely responsible for bringing public attention to the scandal, has recruited rabbis and community leaders to speak at the event, which takes place in Boro Park, the center of the Hasidic district he represents. Some community members believe the gesture is merely symbolic, but Hikind calls the event ‘unprecedented.’

“‘No one has touched this subject before,’ he says. ‘We’re telling the victims we’re sorry we didn’t see your pain before, and we’re turning the corner.'” (via NPR)

[The website for the organization Survivors for Justice, run by “survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community and their advocates who are committed to offering guidance and support to victims seeking justice through the criminal and civil legal system,” can be found here.]

Related

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dumbodockstreet“The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, has jumped into a contentious debate over a proposed development near the Brooklyn Bridge, saying that he supports the project but would like to see it modified.

“In a letter to the Department of City Planning, Mr. Markowitz wrote that he supported the proposed tower, called Dock Street Dumbo, which would include shops, rental apartments and a new middle school, but wants to make sure that the tower did not affect the public views of the bridge.” (via NY Times)

The New York Times article, which was posted on DumboNYC.com, also reported that Markowitz suggested the developer, Two Trees Management Company, make the tower taller — 25 stories instead of 18 — but Markowitz contacted the Dumbo blogger to correct the record, noting that his recommendation is not necessarily to build higher, but that as of right, Two Trees can build up to 25 stories on the site.

Markowitz’s office released a statement recommending that the City Planning Commission and the City Council support the multi-use concept proposed by Two Trees Management while rejecting the building as currently configured. Markowitz’s full statement can be found here (.pdf).

[It has not escaped notice by Dumbo locals that just last night, the borough president kicked off his re-election campaign at an art space in Dumbo owned by the Dock Street developer. Presumably cake was served at the event, which Markowitz worked hard both to have and eat.]

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“Joseph O’Neill’s novel ‘Netherland’ was named the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation said on Wednesday. The honor for ‘Netherland,’ about a Dutch-born equities analyst, his British wife and their son, who live in New York during the Sept. 11 attack and its aftermath, is something of a comeback for Mr. O’Neill. The novel, though widely praised, was shut out in the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle awards.” (via NY Times)

Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times review of “Netherland” can be found here.

[In many ways “Netherland” is a book about sports — in this instance cricket — and national identity; but the novel also contains some of the finest descriptions of ethnic New York City found anywhere. Related20 Are Detained After Cricket Attack (3/4/09, via NY Times)]

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“These days, with a kitchen and a bit of ambition, you can start to make a name for yourself in Brooklyn. The borough has become an incubator for a culinary-minded generation whose idea of fun is learning how to make something delicious and finding a way to sell it.

“These Brooklynites, most in their 20s and 30s, are hand-making pickles, cheeses and chocolates the way others form bands and artists’ collectives. They have a sense of community and an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors. They also share an aesthetic that’s equal parts 19th and 21st century, with a taste for bold graphics, salvaged wood and, for the men, scruffy beards.” (via NY Times)

Related: edible Brooklyn

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morgan-cartoonWith the stir over the New York Post’s economic stimulus cartoon unlikely to die down any time soon (unlike the stimulus bill-writing chimp), there may be no better time to visit the ongoing exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, “On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker From the Melvin R. Seiden Collection.”

“Celebrating the art of the cartoonist, On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker features approximately eighty original drawings by some of The New Yorker’s most talented and beloved artists who have tackled the theme of money and the many ways in which it defines us. . . .

“The works are drawn entirely from the collection of Melvin R. Seiden, a longtime supporter of the Morgan, who has assembled one of the largest and most representative private selections of this art form which spans the history of The New Yorker. The Seiden collection of New Yorker cartoons, numbering nearly 1,500 sheets, complements the Morgan’s holdings in the history of satire and humor, which range from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. . . .

“Since 1925 The New Yorker magazine has served as the leading forum for American cartoonists to reflect and comment on the nation’s social and cultural environment.”

The exhibition runs through May 24th.

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monkeycartoon

Published in today’s New York Post, Sean Delonas’ cartoon linking a chimpanzee with the economic stimulus package signed by President Obama is being roundly criticized for implicitly comparing the President with the primate and evoking a history of racist imagery of blacks. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan defended the cartoon as “a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy.”

Sam Stein of The Huffington Post observes that on the page preceding the cartoon, the Post published a large photo of Barack Obama signing the stimulus legislation. “The succession of the story and cartoon creates a rather jarring visualization for some readers,” writes Stein.

Update

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The Gates, an installation along 23 miles of Central Park pathways, by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, February, 2005

(Full photo)

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As reported in a New York Magazine article still much-discussed by DUMBO locals, Steven Kaplan, a Professor of European History at Cornell University and the “world’s preeminent French-bread scholar,” after a blind tasting of 13 of New York City’s finest baguettes, chose Almondine Bakery‘s eponymous baguette as the city’s best.

Scoring a 14.65 (on a scale of 21), the Almondine baguette, said Kaplan, “has a nice look, nice resonance, and a nice song . . . It has a little bit of fruit, a peachy, buttery quality in its nose . . . [and] achieves a good marriage of crust and crumb.”

almondineBut before Almondine’s now famous dough could rise, the abandoned four-story warehouse and pepper factory now occupied by the bakery had to be gutted, rehabilitated and adapted for commercial and residential use.  In 2003, Bob Vila, late of the This Old House home improvement and repair television series, devoted the entire season of his Home Again series to the transformation of this c. 1850s building unused since the 1950s.  

More than just a chronicle of a single restoration project, the videos from the DUMBO series (clips from all 13 episodes can be found here) offer some of the best footage available of the development of the Brooklyn neighborhood that in the past several years has become a must-see destination on the New York City tourist circuit.

Update: Best of New York: Eating: Best Bakery (via “2009 Best of New York” issue of New York Magazine)

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“The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide—destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners. But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others. On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today. What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas? Will the suburbs be ineffably changed? Which cities and regions can come back strong? And which will never come back at all?”

(via The Atlantic)

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“Is bibliophilia a religious impulse? You can’t walk into Sotheby’s exhibition space in Manhattan right now and not sense the devotion or be swept up in its passions and particularities. The 2,400-square-foot opening gallery is lined with shelves — 10 high — reaching to the ceiling, not packed tight, but with occasional books open to view. Each shelf is labeled, not with a subject, but with a city or town of origin: Amsterdam, Paris, Leiden, Izmir, Bombay, Cochin, Cremona, Jerusalem, Ferrara, Calcutta, Mantua, Shanghai, Alexandria, Baghdad and on and on.

“These 13,000 books and manuscripts were primarily collected by one man, Jack V. Lunzer, who was born in Antwerp in 1924, lives in London and made his fortune as a merchant of industrial diamonds. . . . But this endeavor is not just an exercise in bibliophilia. These are all books written in Hebrew or using Hebrew script, many of them rare or even unique. Most come from the earliest centuries of Hebrew printing in their places of origins and thus map out a history of the flourishing of Jewish communities around the world. . . .

“The collection, named after the Italian town that Mr. Lunzer’s family has long been associated with, is known as the Valmadonna Trust Library. Sotheby’s has put it on sale as a single collection. Through next Thursday it is being handsomely displayed to the public, while luring the large institutional libraries and collectors who might be prepared to pay at least $40 million for what Sotheby’s, echoing scholars in the field, describes as ‘the finest private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world.'” (more @ NY Times)

A video tour of The Valmadonna Trust Library can be viewed here.

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Robert Anderson, a playwright whose intimate emotional dramas like ‘Tea and Sympathy’ and ‘I Never Sang for My Father’ attracted big names to the Broadway stage if not always substantial audiences to Broadway theaters, died Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 91. . . .

“Mr. Anderson was a contemporary of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, and though his reputation never ascended to the artistic heights that theirs did — his plays often walked a tightrope between realism and sentimentality — he was among the theater’s most visible, serious playwrights of the 1950s and ’60s.

“‘Tea and Sympathy,’ the story of a sensitive, artistic boy who is ostracized by his prep school classmates as a supposed homosexual but who is befriended — and ultimately sexually initiated — by the housemaster’s wife . . . ends with a scene considered salacious at the time and a famous final line. The housemaster’s wife, after leaving her husband, draws the student into her arms and says, ‘Years from now when you talk of this, and you will, be kind.'”

(via NY Times)

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