In Jerusalem I was introduced to the line from Yehudah Halevi: “My heart is in the east, and I am at the end of the west.” While Jerusalem entranced me, when I first heard Halevi’s poem, the city I thought of was New York. I had traveled all the way to the east, only to discover that my heart was still in the west. I remember wondering whether Jerusalem could ever become as special to me as New York. Jerusalem certainly has a longer history in terms of its hold on humanity; but in terms of my personal history, there was no doubt that New York had pride of place.
For me, as for many others, New York is the place where I found myself. In Halevi’s poem, the word chosen for “I” — “anokhi” in Hebrew — is somewhat unusual. There and in the Bible, it is possible to read “anokhi” as suggesting a kind of revelation, some realization or actualization of self. Jerusalem was central to my journey, but I never would have gotten there if not for New York.
Growing up, New York City was always a place of both possibility and caution. Trips into the city were an event. My family would take the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station, then take the subway to wherever we were going; usually, down to Chinatown. Before getting on the subway, my mother would instruct me, “Be careful who you look at, because they might look at you back. Just look down at your shoes.”
As a result of this sage advice, I have vivid memories of the shoes I wore on New York subways for decades, and the memories that go with each pair.
- Dad: Can you tell me how to get to Grand Central if I take the bus back to New York?
- First sentence of my reply: I am warning you right now Penn Station is a scary and confusing place. but luckily you're entering from the outside and not disembarking from a NJ transit train so it's highly unlikely you'll end up wandering through basement tunnels, so you're one step ahead of the game.
- Dad: I think I'll take a cab.
How New York Pay Phones Became Guerrilla Libraries
An interview with the creator
The concept, sponsored by Locke’s imaginary Department of Urban Betterment, is that New Yorkers will pick up unfamiliar titles while running their errands and then, perhaps, replace them the next day with favorite books of their own. That’s in an ideal world. Of the twoguerrilla libraries that the artist has fashioned, one has been used properly while the other has had its entire collection repeatedly ganked by sticky-fingered pedestrians. Its shelves were also stolen.
But Locke has many more libraries planned. With plywood consoles that slip over payphones as neatly as aprons, these sidewalk objets are endlessly replicable. (No doubt they’ll feature in his 2012 Columbia course, “Hacking the Urban Experience.”) I caught up with Locke over the weekend to ask him about what was and wasn’t working with these literary outposts, as well as why he started the project in the first place.
More at The Atlantic
This is an incredible idea. I’m going to try and find one pronto.
Notes from an 18-year-old tradition.
1) While Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard will always be the best Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, forever and ever, I do have to say that this year, Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz certainly gave them a run for their money.
2) I mean, I know that no one dresses up for the theater anymore and I know that the Nutcracker is a family affair, but child, the New York City Ballet is one of the premier ballet companies in the entire world, you do NOT wear Ugg slippers to go to Lincoln Center.
Happy birthday, George Washington Bridge! Today in 1931, the famous bridge opened to traffic for the first time. To mark the occasion, NYPL’s own Jeremy Megraw did a blog about his love of the 80-year-old G-Dubs, and above is a cigarette card from sometime between 1931 and 1940 documenting the early years of the bridge. It is from our George Arents Collection. Enjoy!
Reminiscing about my childhood spent reading and loving The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.