The Beating in the Bus

Violence against a ‘lower order’–visible and tangible preferably–is a time-honored technique of social control.  It brings pain and humiliation together in a cruel package and issues a stinging reminder of difference and domination; it has not lost any of its effectiveness over the years. This is a brief note on one such public display ofContinue reading “The Beating in the Bus”

Loss of Faith, the Jewish Atheist, and Working Class Rebellion in ‘Christ in Concrete’

In yesterday’s post on Pietro Di Donato‘s Christ in Concrete, I had noted how Annunziata and Paul’s session with the medium, the Cripple, could perhaps be viewed as an affirmation of the power of the life-sustaining myth. There is a hint of irony in that suggestion, because among the central messages of Di Donato’s impassionedContinue reading “Loss of Faith, the Jewish Atheist, and Working Class Rebellion in ‘Christ in Concrete’”

Talking to the Dead in Di Donato’s ‘Christ in Concrete’

In Pietro Di Donato‘s Christ in Concrete, twelve-year old Paul and his recently widowed mother Annunziata go to meet a medium called The Cripple; she will help them speak with his father and her husband. After waiting for four hours, they are granted an audience. The Cripple is ‘short’, has a ‘positive voice’, a ‘wide neck’,Continue reading “Talking to the Dead in Di Donato’s ‘Christ in Concrete’”

I’ve Got Your Brooklynite Hayseed Right Here

George Plunkitt, of Tammany Hall fame, once said: [A] Brooklynite is a natural-born hayseed, and can never become a real New Yorker. He can’t be trained into it. Consolidation didn’t make him a New Yorker, and nothin’ on earth can. A man born in Germany can settle down and become a good New Yorker. So canContinue reading “I’ve Got Your Brooklynite Hayseed Right Here”

S.2402 Makes The Thin Blue Line Just A Little Meaner

You might have thought that with laws prohibiting assault already in the books, there would be no need for S.2402, the bill passed by the New York State Senate on June 5th that ‘creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer.’ Sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, S. 2402 ‘would make it aContinue reading “S.2402 Makes The Thin Blue Line Just A Little Meaner”

Winners and Losers, All Together

On Thursday night, after a brief foray into New Jersey, I returned to New York City by train, arriving a little after midnight at Penn Station. I walked upstairs into the arrival hall, turned toward the Seventh Avenue exit, and emerged  in front of Madison Square Garden before walking east on 33rd Street toward theContinue reading “Winners and Losers, All Together”

The Subway: Let the Love-Hate Clichés Roll

When I first moved to New York City, I lived on 95th Street in Manhattan and rode down to 42nd Street for my graduate seminars.  My first commute on the subways was blindingly quick: I took the 2 or 3 downtown express at 96th and Broadway and one stop later (at 72nd Street) I disembarkedContinue reading “The Subway: Let the Love-Hate Clichés Roll”

Walking the City: Random Walks Through Manhattan Streets

In Street Life: Becoming Part of the City, Joseph Mitchell wrote: What I really like to do is wander aimlessly in the city. I like the walk the streets by day and by night. It is more than a liking, a simple liking–it is an aberration. Every so often, for example, around nine in theContinue reading “Walking the City: Random Walks Through Manhattan Streets”

Walking, Head Down, on a Damp and Grey Day: How Virtuous It Is

On days like this, many residents of the US eastern seaboard are apt to question their decision to ever inhabit these spaces. The temperature is in the thirties (that’s just a couple of degrees above freezing point for all the folks living in Celsius-land); a steady, persistent drizzle is falling; and the most familiar colorContinue reading “Walking, Head Down, on a Damp and Grey Day: How Virtuous It Is”

‘What One Cannot Or Will Not See, Says Something About You’

From Rachel Cohen‘s A Chance Meeting: There was something of the mystic about [Beauford] Delaney. His friends regarded him as a kind of minor deity, and his stories and observations often had the quality of parables. [James] Baldwin told the story again and again of standing on Broadway and being told by Delaney to lookContinue reading “‘What One Cannot Or Will Not See, Says Something About You’”