Monday, June 4, 2018


The Department of Traffic lasted from 1950 through 1977.  This model of push button, from the 1960s, was discontinued in the '80s, but you can still find it scattered throughout the city. The one here is at 31st Drive & 21st Street, in Queens.

Hell on Wheels: Fatal accidents, off-the-books workers, a union once run by a mobster. The rogue world of one of New York’s major trash haulers  (ProPublica)
The building’s basement is the domain of the men who work in neon reflective gear. Each night the workers, most of them black or Hispanic, descend the steps to sign in and get their assignments. The supervisors make sure everyone has the printout from the Squitieris: “Do your job or get written up.”
From the basement, the workers head to the trucks out in the yard. Once on their routes, the drivers and their helpers often pick up young men on the street as additional hands, everyone sprinting through fatigue and red lights to finish nightly routes of 1,000 stops or more.

Taking On Climate Change: Trying to solve the problems that are affecting our world, and believing that they can make a difference (NY Times)
Elizabeth Yeampierre, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage, did not plan on being an environmental justice activist.
When she became the leader of Uprose, a Latino community-based organization in Brooklyn, she began by listening to what the community wanted: clean air; more green space; no new power plants in their neighborhood.
In the process of fighting for these things and others, Ms. Yeampierre found herself at the helm of what has become one of the country’s most successful community-based climate and environmental justice groups.

Can the Gowanus Canal’s industrial past be saved?  (Curbed)
 ...once the rezoning of the Gowanus is passed and the floodgates of development are opened, there will be no stopping the wholesale destruction of the neighborhood’s warehouses. Aside from the immense profits that will be made by real estate developers, however, it is not clear why there such a rush to rezone the area’s toxic land.
The Gowanus Canal is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States, with the federal Superfund cleanup expected to take at least a decade or more to complete. The remediation of the numerous toxic brownfields along its banks will also take many years. Meanwhile, the streets here flood on a regular basis during rainstorms, and the area is expected to be inundated by rising sea levels.

Really want to fix local journalism, Mayor de Blasio? Here's how. (Daily News)
The mayor says the media is stuck in the 70s and 80s. Journalism wasn’t perfect then either, of course. Yes, we can find the roots of a snarky and shallow tabloidism that went on to infect our national conversation. But the dominant fact of local journalism back then is that there was a lot of it. Hundreds of reporters competed with each other. The News had whole offices working seven days a week and late into the evening in Brooklyn and Queens. In Queens alone, The News had two education reporters, and two more in Brooklyn.

A story of survival: New York’s last remaining independent bookshops (Guardian)
On certain nights Seidenberg, who exudes a maverick ingenuousness, might open up his treasure cave for late-night salons where a bottle of whiskey is generally understood to be the entrance fee. Perhaps a couple of books will be exchanged for a few dollars (I once bought a bright green, 1969 first edition of Renata Adler’s Toward a Radical Middle from him for about five bucks) but sales aren’t really the point. In a city like New York, a place increasingly beholden to money, it’s good to be reminded that there are other forms of currency. Not just the civility of a bottle of bourbon, but those other, priceless currencies, too, the ones that New Yorkers don’t like to invoke because they all sound embarrassingly earnest: community, human connection and the preservation of knowledge and ideas.

“Frog and Toad”: An Amphibious Celebration of Same-Sex Love (New Yorker)
When reading children’s books as children, we get to experience an author’s fictional world removed from the very real one he or she inhabits. But knowing the strains of sadness in Lobel's life story gives his simple and elegant stories new poignancies. On the final page of “Alone,” Frog and Toad, having cleared up their misunderstanding, sit contently on the island looking into the distance, each with his arm around the other. Beneath the drawing, Lobel writes, “They were two close friends, sitting alone together.”

What Resulted When a Photographer Gave Rural Children Cameras (New Yorker)
Every photographer has a give-and-take relationship with her subjects. Wendy Ewald has more give than most. Since 1975, the American artist has been entwining photography, activism, and education in a series of collaborations that upend our prevailing ideas of authorship and authority. For months, even years, at a time, she has moved into rural communities around the world—from Mexico and Morocco to India and the Netherlands—to teach local children how to use cameras. The resulting black-and-white photographs are credited to both Ewald and her students, who are quoted and named in the titles. (This started twenty years before the term “socially engaged art” entered the lexicon.)

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