intersection 02.9.11

Walking Off the Big Apple
Poll: Congestion Pricing

We really love this: Built Manhattan, a blog launched at the start of this year, has the mission of featuring one piece of the borough's built environment every year since the city's founding, wherever possible. It's the idea of Michael Daddino, who does the photography and writes the engaging commentary. Pictured is the First Shearith Israel Graveyard from 1683, which rests, in a limited supply of peace, at 55-57 St. James Place.

Want to keeps tabs on your City Council member? Gotham Gazette has made it much easier to do that, with their newly launched Councilpedia, which lets you know exactly who's contributing to their campaigns and how much.

A guide to history, art, and architecture, courtesy of CultureNOW's Museum Without Walls project. Their online database has 4500 entries and over 200 podcasts. The iPhone app has self-guided tours and podcasts, giving you smart takes on the city's public and architecture. It's like having Philippe de Montebello in your pocket, only less cumbersome.

Bar Channels helps you find bars and pubs showing your favorite sports teams.

Members of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and friends have thrown down the challenge: they will cross NY's 2,078 bridges and they will do it on a unicycle as part of the Unicycle NYC Bridge Tour. And yes, they count 2,078 bridges.

Next month is the centennial of the Triangle Waist Company fire, the West Village tragedy in which young immigrants, mostly women, were caught in a devastating blaze that began on the 8th floor of a commercial building. The fire, which killed 146 people, helped spur the formation of the international labor movement. Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition commemorates the tragedy.

"Anyone can get a taste of traveling around the world in the one place where the world's nations sit side by side: New York City." Take away the period music and narration, and Around the World in New York, a 13-minute film from the 1940s, begins to seem very familiar.

Question(ny)aire profiles and interviews all kinds of interesting New Yorkers. Addictive!

Bacon sources? Answer

Thanks from MUG to our incredibly generous readers. You funded our four selected DonorsChoose literacy projects yesterday in no time and your comments on the importance of reading are, indeed, worth reading.

Cultural and literary notes, plus self-guided walks, courtesy of Walking Off the Big Apple, a strolling guide to New York City.

The New York of By Nightfall: A Novel by Michael Cunningham

For fans of his popular novel, The Hours (2000) and subsequent works, a new novel by Michael Cunningham titled By Nightfall: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 256 pages, 2010) has been anxiously awaited. The reviews of the novel, released this past fall, have been mostly positive. Ron Charles of The Washington Post (October 6, 2010) credits Cunningham for mastering the fashionable mid-life crisis novel. For her review in The New York Times ("Sibling Rivalry," October 1, 2010), Jeanette Winterson praises his prose - "Cunningham writes so well, and with such an economy of language, that he can call up the poet's exact match." In addition to the merits of the story and prose, New Yorkers may want to check out the novel for its portrayal of the contemporary city. References to specific places abound. For those curious about characters that dine at Prune, live in an art-filled loft on Mercer Street, walk through the galleries of the Met to see Damien Hirst's shark, or venture to the wilds of artistic Bushwick, then By Nightfall will provide rich rewards.

The situational plot is easy enough to tell. Caught somewhere between the worlds of loft living in SoHo with an attractive editor wife and a gallery business in Chelsea, 44-year-old art dealer and insomniac Peter Harris trips into an unexpected encounter with Beauty. The platonic form manifests itself in the arrival of his wife's beautiful and much younger brother, Mizzy. As a dealer of contemporary art, Peter has yearned for an artist of beauty, a seemingly unattainable quest, but with this well-proportioned young man, one who reminds him of his wife in their younger days, he may have found the object of his desire. He wants to "curate" him.

While the character-driven plot relies on the time-honored conventions of the interrupted ritual and arrival of the stranger, Cunningham displays great skill in expressing the internal longing of his main characters. Caught up in role-playing and dressing for the part, these contemporary New Yorkers find their lives too often circumscribed by social expectations and ambition but completely bereft of spontaneity, desire and passion. There's a great deal of loss that haunts them. Peter remembers his dead glamorous older brother. The couple's own daughter, Bea, has moved to Boston and settled for a life of low expectations. Cunningham describes Peter as wanting to be "a denizen of the present" but who "can't stop himself from mourning some lost world." He senses Mercer Street isn't the place to make him happy, with its "streetside piles of black garbage bags and shrill little boutiques that come and go."

While the drama plays out within a rather claustrophobic city, the novel expands the setting in unexpected ways. A particularly evocative scene involves Peter strolling downtown at night. As he walks south on Broadway, he passes through SoHo and the Lower East Side, complete with tart characterizations for each neighborhood. As he passes through Chinatown, he takes out his cell phone to call his daughter. She is a mystery to Peter. Of the setting, Cunningham writes, "the farther you go from your own fiefdom, the more ludicrous are your haircut, your clothes, your opinions, your life." By the time he reaches the Battery, Peter's conversation with Bea will leave him that much more out to sea. In the next scene, Peter wanders through Bushwick, another mysterious unchartered territory. His emotional life also veers off the charts. It will take some time for him to get back to Mercer Street.


An environmental group has been organizing for a re-consideration of congestion pricing in NYC. (More info here).

Should NYC have some form of congestion pricing?






If it can be done equitably, I'm open to the idea


recent entries

One Liners, Flickr Pool Picks

Ways to End the Year

The 2019 List of Lists

See all articles in INTERSECTION

Get a daily dose of MUG
right in your Inbox.