Saturday, October 15, 2011

New York at Night

Columbia University's Professor Ken Jackson (above) teaches a course called The History of the City of New York. To fully demonstrate the urban environment around his students, he decided to take them o0ut on walking tours, but during daytime, there were always too many people on the streets. So now Jackson takes his youngsters out on bikes, starting at 11pm... riding through the city at night, he stops here and there to speak through a megaphone about various important sites and points. Rides typically last until 6am! So if you're woken up late at night by a voice entoning a history lesson, it may well be Jackson.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Father and Son

A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported the poignant story of the late Steve Jobs (above right) and his estranged father, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali (above left), who, at 80 years of age is still going strong as a casino manager in Nevada. Jobs, as most will know, was CEO of Apple computers, the conjurer who gave the world the iPhone, and who died of pancreatic cancer last week. Father and son never reconciled.

Jandali, born in Syria, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s, had a relationship with Jobs' mother, but they divorced and lost contact after Jobs and his sister Mona were born (the sister Mona, is a well-known novelist in California). Both children were put up for adoption.
Mr. Jandali only learned around 2005 that Mr. Jobs was his biological son. He doesn't remember how he heard, but he said the news was "a major shock." After that, Mr. Jandali began watching online videos of Mr. Jobs's famous keynote speeches launching Apple products. He emailed a few times in the past year after becoming aware of Mr. Jobs's failing health.
Although Jobs contacted his mother and sister in recent years and established a close relationship with them, he did not reach out to his father. Jandali, sounding resigned and philosophical in the WSJ article, emailed Jobs in recent years, especially upon learning that Jobs was dying of cancer. He said he received two brief emails in recent weeks, thanking him for his concern, but that seems to be the extent of the contact.

Reading the story conveys only a little of the ineffable sadness and regret. One wonders if Jobs had lived, would he eventually have reached out to his father? In his final days, Jobs' sister said: "His tone was tenderly apologetic at the end. He felt terrible that he’d have to leave us."

Apple fans have left thousands of post-it note tributes to Steve Jobs  on the windows of Apple stores in NYC and elsewhere.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Street Renamed For Odessa Steward

In August I was walking by the corner of West 103rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue and noticed that the street sign was covered up thusly, above, and there was a crowd of locals and police officers gathered...

The street corner was being renamed in honor of the late Odessa Steward, a community activist and campaigner who lived in the area for many years...