What It Is: 8/17/09

What I’m reading: Moby Dick, The Jew of New York, The Nobody, and Everybody is Stupid Except for Me.

What I’m listening to: Arular, by M.I.A., Yes by Pet Shop Boys, and Welcome to the Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (thanks to their roof-raising performance in that Trevor Horn tribute concert we watched last week).

What I’m watching: Old episodes of The State, to commemorate the cancellation of Reno 911!, Anchorman and Pulp Fiction. Our current Netflix discs are The Man Who Would Be King and Bubba Ho-Tep.

What I’m drinking: Juniper Green & Q Tonic, and Red Stripe lager.

What Rufus is up to: Staying out of the heat. We skipped another Sunday greyhound hike because we had a bunch of Amy’s friends coming over for lunch that day, and needed to get the house clean(ish).

Where I’m going: Connecticut next weekend, to visit my cousins and let Rufus meet the Golden Retriever side of the family.

What I’m happy about: That someone made a movie for the 9-year-old me who was serenaded daily on the school bus with taunts of “Heil Hitler!”

What I’m sad about: This whole aging process.

What I’m worried about: The dietary habits of yuppies, and whether it stunts their ability to have intelligent conversation. (Good job, Agitator!)

What I’m pondering: Whether Smokey Bear is a gay icon.

City of Glass

This week’s ish of New York Magazine has a neat article by Justin Davidson; it consists of a meditation on NYC’s architecture boom and how it fits in the city’s history, complemented by 50 before-and-afters of recent buildings. I’m conflicted about some of his points, especially on the relationship of new buildings with their neighborhoods, and the “walking travelogue” aspect gets a bit precious, but I think it’s an awfully worthwhile article, with some good conversation about the nature of the city. Mr. Davidson cops to a certain sadness to all the buildings that are lost, but, also understands that freezing any one moment in time is impossible:

Intelligent preservation is precious, but nostalgia is cheap, and every era nurtures its own variety. Those late-nineteenth-century Upper West Siders who still thought of Broadway as the bucolic, elm-lined Bloomingdale Road of their youths resented the incursion of brownstones in the 1880s. Their children must have been horrified in turn when those same houses were wiped away by the now-classic apartment buildings that line West End Avenue. Bitterness springs eternal.

I suppose I’ll always have Ben Katchor‘s Julius Knipl comics to fall back on, for That New York that I’ve lost.

As a plus, the article also turned me on to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York!

Oh, and the “history of Columbus Circle” sidebar sent me spiraling back to 1982 or thereabouts, when my dad took me to a gift trade show at the New York Coliseum for work. I hadn’t thought of that day in decades, and thinking about it now makes me a little sad, because of all the other memories locked away in time’s vanishing city.