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04 Mar 15:00

The Remnants of Times Square’s Loew’s Mayfair Theater, Now Vacant

by benjamin waldman

Source: NYPL Times Square is home to over 30 theaters. These theaters can be awe-inspiring works of art and architecture. As a result, it is sad to think about Times Square’s opulent theaters that have either been nearly gutted or completely demolished. One former theater, which is overlooked by most who visit the area, lies in the middle of that spectrum. Until recently, the former Loew’s Mayfair Theater was a souvenir store that incorporated some of the theater’s detailing. The store went out of business and so far nothing new has opened in its place. Ideally, its new occupant will restore the interior decorations and display them more prominently, as recently happened with the former I. Miller Shoe Store.  The Columbia Theater opened in 1910 on the northeast corner of 47th Street and Broadway. It was designed by William McElfatrick and operated as a burlesque theater. In 1928, the theater was purchased by Walter Reade.… Read More
09 Oct 07:27

Back to Blogging with a Roundup of Terrific Articles

by (Nina Simon)
Back to the land of the blogging! My eyes may be bloodshot, but the sight of the blogger interface still warms my heart.

I've spent the last eight weeks on a "blogcation" so I could focus on the birth of our new baby, Rocket. MUCH appreciation to the incredible guest authors who helped me out: Stefania Van Dyke, Beck Tench, Julie Bowen, Adrienne Berney, and George Scheer. And thanks to you for engaging with their posts and with the reruns from the Museum 2.0 vaults. I may not exactly be "refreshed," but I am thrilled to be writing again.

This week, I thought I'd ease back in by offering a roundup of five of the most interesting bits I've encountered online in the past two months.

IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE... read The Northwest London Blues - a gorgeous essay by novelist Zadie Smith about libraries, British politics, and changing perspectives on community space. She knits together nostalgia and activism with a level of nuance rarely found in debates about the value of museums, libraries, and other cultural spaces. Here's a taste:
And the thing that is most boring about defending libraries is the imputation that an argument in defense of libraries is necessarily a social-liberal argument. It’s only recently that I had any idea that how a person felt about libraries—not schools or hospitals, libraries—could even represent an ideological split. I thought a library was one of the few sites where the urge to conserve and the desire to improve—twin poles of our political mind—were easily and naturally united. 
Give yourself a long afternoon and read it.

OR IF YOU HAVE A SHORTER ATTENTION SPAN... you may share the common opinion that baseball is too damn slow. In a useful post, Doug Borwick suggests that art is like baseball: declining in relevance. Doug offers analogies between the challenges faced by Major League Baseball and those of traditional arts institutions: a legacy practice that has gotten more commercial but not more connected to real people and real communities. Check out the comments for more unlikely connections between Mao and the American national past time.

SPEAKING OF RELEVANCE... the NEA has just released the highlights reel of the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, featuring increases in arts engagement via electronic media, art-making and sharing, movies, and reading, and decreases in attendance to visual and performing arts. There's a lot more to unpack here; Reach Advisors took a first stab from a museum-centered perspective with a rousing call-to-action in response to declining attendance. Again, the comments are meaty and worth reading.

AND SPEAKING OF DIGITAL PARTICIPATION... ArtsFwd is hosting a national innovation summit for arts and culture October 20-23 in Denver. It appears that the in-person event is limited to participants from fourteen cities (funder-selected?), but they are offering a virtual live stream for free. Strangely, it's not easy to figure out who is speaking on which topic, but the topics and format look compelling. Full schedule here. Update: you can find the speakers here and they are truly awesome.

NAKED, BLEEDING THIEF BREAKS INTO MUSEUM, SPENDS THE NIGHT REARRANGING ITS STORAGE FACILITY. This is mostly just a really great headline. Though the curator's quote is pretty fabulous, too.

I'll be back next week with a longer essay. Happy reading!
    12 Aug 09:52

    Get To Know Your Neighbors Online With Nextdoor

    by Rebekka Keuss

    NextdoorWhen was the last time you baked a cake for your neighbors? And why did you not borrow that lawn-mower from your neighbor when you needed one? Neighborhoods have become alarmingly anonymous. Nextdoor is in the process of changing this with a private social network specially catering to neighborhoods. Read more →

    19 Jun 21:00

    With Improvements, Baltimore Seeks to Steal D.C.'s Thunder...and Residents

    by Jonathan Nettler
    The last decade has brought tremendous growth and prosperity to Washington D.C., but it's neighbor to the north hasn't been so blessed. Planned infrastructure improvements are intended to lure new residents to Baltimore's cheaper cost of living.
    20 Jun 10:30

    Tennessee Williams Reads Two Stirring Poems by Hart Crane

    by Maria Popova

    Bringing to life one of literary history’s most tragic yet influential heroes.

    Hart Crane is celebrated as one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, his style of expressionistic optimism heavily inspired by the work of T. S. Eliot. Yet Crane is also one of literary history’s most tragic heroes. Grappling with his homosexuality in an era when assurance that it gets better was decades away, he took his own life at the age of 32 by jumping overboard into the Gulf of Mexico in 1932 after being beaten for making sexual advances to a male crew member aboard the Orizaba steamship. His body was never recovered but his legacy endures.

    Hardly can anyone make Crane’s spirit spring alive more powerfully than beloved playwright Tennessee Williams, who fell in love with Crane’s poetry at a young age and who in the last years of his life created a play based on Crane’s relationship with his mother. In these beautiful recordings from the vinyl LP Tennessee Williams Reads Hart Crane, Williams brings to life two of Crane’s most stirring poems, found in The Complete Poems of Hart Crane (public library).

    In “The Hurricane,” Hart applies his rhythmic neo-Elizabethan verse to the fury of nature against man — and, one can’t help but wonder, perhaps his own fury against himself.


    Lo, Lord, Thou ridest!
    Lord, Lord, Thy swifting heart
    Nought stayeth, nought now bideth
    But’s smithereened apart!
    Ay! Scripture flee’th stone!
    Milk-bright, Thy chisel wind
    Rescindeth flesh from bone
    To quivering whittlings thinned –
    Swept, whistling straw! Battered,
    Lord, e’en boulders now outleap
    Rock sockets, levin-lathered!
    Nor, Lord, may worm outdeep
    Thy drum’s gambade, its plunge abscond!
    Lord God, while summits crashing
    Whip sea-kelp screaming on blond
    Sky-seethe, dense heaven dashing –
    Thou ridest to the door, Lord!
    Thou bidest wall nor floor, Lord!

    “The Broken Tower,” one of his last published poems, was sparked by his only heterosexual affair, that with Peggy Cowley, the recently divorced Mrs. Malcolm Cowley. Crane, nonetheless, remained inconsolable in his discomfort with his true sexuality.


    The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn
    Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell
    Of a spent day — to wander the cathedral lawn
    From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell.

    Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps
    Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway
    Antiphonal carillons launched before
    The stars are caught and hived in the sun’s ray?

    The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower;
    And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave
    Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score
    Of broken intervals… And I, their sexton slave!

    Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping
    The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain!
    Pagodas, campaniles with reveilles out leaping —
    O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain!…

    And so it was I entered the broken world
    To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
    An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
    But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

    My word I poured. But was it cognate, scored
    Of that tribunal monarch of the air
    Whose thigh embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word
    In wounds pledged once to hope — cleft to despair?

    The steep encroachments of my blood left me
    No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower
    As flings the question true?) — or is it she
    Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power? —

    And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes
    My veins recall and add, revived and sure
    The angelus of wars my chest evokes:
    What I hold healed, original now, and pure…

    And builds, within, a tower that is not stone
    (Not stone can jacket heaven) — but slip
    Of pebbles, — visible wings of silence sown
    In azure circles, widening as they dip

    The matrix of the heart, lift down the eye
    That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower…
    The commodious, tall decorum of that sky
    Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.

    The Complete Poems of Hart Crane are a treasure trove and an essential time-capsule of literary legacy.

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