Saturday, March 28, 2009

Future, Evil, Creepy, Cool

A showcase of articles and stuff from The Atlantic magazine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Wealth is Having Night To Burn Our Souls

Who is actually awake at night in the city that never sleeps? Well, it seems at least 200,000 night shift workers, according to a new book about nighttime in New York City, and specifically those who toil the wee hours -- who they are and what they do, and what their lives are like.

Though it's a work of scholarship, reviews say that Nightshift NYC "opens like a novel," and reads beautifully:

"After the tour buses disgorge their tourists into the sleek hotels of midtown Manhattan, and after the day-dwellers lock themselves in against an accumulated fear of the night, the city slowly slouches into its own skin, revealing a vulnerability and an occasional mean streak to those who brave its darker side. This is the “other” New York, the city as bleary-eyed insomniac that replaces the manicured tourism of daylight."

And when I read it, I'll write something here. In the meantime, I present Amy Lowell's poem, New York at Night:

New York at Night

by Amy Lowell
A near horizon whose sharp jags
Cut brutally into a sky
Of leaden heaviness, and crags
Of houses lift their masonry
Ugly and foul, and chimneys lie
And snort, outlined against the gray
Of lowhung cloud. I hear the sigh
The goaded city gives, not day
Nor night can ease her heart, her anguished labours stay.
Below, straight streets, monotonous,
From north and south, from east and west,
Stretch glittering; and luminous
Above, one tower tops the rest
And holds aloft man's constant quest:
Time! Joyless emblem of the greed
Of millions, robber of the best
Which earth can give, the vulgar creed
Has seared upon the night its flaming ruthless screed.
O Night!  Whose soothing presence brings
The quiet shining of the stars.
O Night! Whose cloak of darkness clings
So intimately close that scars
Are hid from our own eyes. Beggars
By day, our wealth is having night
To burn our souls before altars
Dim and tree-shadowed, where the light
Is shed from a young moon, mysteriously bright.
Where art thou hiding, where thy peace?
This is the hour, but thou art not.
Will waking tumult never cease?
Hast thou thy votary forgot?
Nature forsakes this man-begot
And festering wilderness, and now
The long still hours are here, no jot
Of dear communing do I know;
Instead the glaring, man-filled city groans below!

Update: I found this book in a bookstore and glanced through it, finding this gem:

'Steve' who is a nighttime waiter at the Skylight Diner on West 34th Street, was interviewed by the
authors and said: "The best [tippers] are the Irish. They order a cheeseburger, I give them eggs,
they eat it, and they leave a five-dollar tip."

Well, sometimes we're just really hungry!

Non-profit newspapers?

From a bill coming soon to the U.S. Senate:

"The Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, if they choose, under 501(c)(3) status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasting. Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible."