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Posts by Billy Parrott

The Sally Draper Reading List

Last week I started a Tumblr account for The Battery Park City Branch.   I'm thinking it will be used for content too long for Twitter and too short for this blog.  The majority of the first few posts have been about library related ephemera: comic book art depicting libraries, things found in library books, and anonymous snapshots.

I've always been 

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Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar

He is arguably the most recognized musician in New York City. The slight smile, patient and reassuring, that greets you every morning as you wait in line at the corner bodega for your coffee and bagel.

Regardless of socioeconomic class or race, from Bed-Stuy to The Bronx, from East Village to the Upper East Side, all New Yorkers know: Dan Smith will teach you guitar.     It is a simple and honest advertisement. Like most good advertising, it is very memorable.  Maybe it is so memorable because these ... Read More ›

The Heidi Game

Sure, there is still the postseason.  The Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series, but with the Yankees out of the picture for many New Yorkers the 2010 season of baseball is officially over. This seasonal end to the national pastime combined with the current seasonal change in temperature always brings to mind 

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Nordic Whodunits

They are among the most asked Library questions of the past year:  "Do you have those books? You know the ones I'm talking about? The ones I see everyone reading. The Girl Who Played with Dragons? The Girl Who Kicked the Fire? The Girl with the Hornet's Nest Tattoo?"

For most of the past year the answer has always been the same: "I'd be happy 

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A Week in the Life of James Dean, or The Force is Strong With This One

What if someone told you that you had one week to live? What would you do? What places would you visit? Would you read any books? Listen to any particular music? Would the common and insignificant things you pass every day become more meaningful? Would that apple taste any better if you know it was your last one? Who would you thank? Who would you apologize to?    This week fifty-five years ago was the last week in the life of ... Read More ›

Mad Men Reading List

The revised Mad Men Reading List is now availble here.

If you follow The Battery Park City Library on Twitter then you've seen our tweets linking to books that have appeared in the hit television show Mad Men. These titles are a great way to gain insight into the episodes and the social and cultural times in which the series is set. Like the set and costume design, the literary choices of the show really add 

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The $2 Time Machine

A few months ago I began thinking about the earliest books I remember reading and the first librarian I remember. The librarian was an older gentleman named Paige Ellisor. One book in particular stands out in my memory as a favorite. I recently began searching for a copy of that book, to read it again after over thirty years, and to try and see why I found it so memorable.

Like most kids I read a lot of comics. I had various Marvel and DC comics and bunch of those Don Martin Mad Magazine paperbacks. As for books, one of the first I remember reading was

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Mistaken Identity

It happens quite often:  "Are you the actor Billy Parrott from Lars and the Real Girl ?"  "Dude!  Were you a Security Guard in The Incredible Hulk, Breakfast with Scot, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse?"  "I loved your work in

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Leading a Double Life: Agent Zigzag

Has the recent roundup of Russian spies left you wanting to read up on the wide world of espionage?  Then I have the book for you: Agent Zigzag, by Ben Macintyre.

His name was Edward Arnold Chapman. The British police also knew him as Edward ... Read More ›

More on Films Within Films

As discussed in my last post, one kind of film within film is when a scene from one movie is shown in another, on a television set or movie screen. As a viewer there is an interesting connection here because we are watching characters in a film and those characters are doing the same thing: watching characters in a film.

One really interesting example is in the 1978

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Films Within Films

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of one of the most memorable films of all-time: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho debuted in New York City on June 16, 1960.  

What can I say about Psycho that hasn’t already been said? 

The shower scene? 

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Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

Anthony Hopkins' approximately 16 minutes of screen time in The Silence of the Lambs won him the 1991 Academy Award for Best Actor. As far as film villains go, you'd be hard pressed to top Hannibal Lecter, but the portrayal of the sadistic and twisted Frank Booth by

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My Library: John

A digital mayor visits the Battery Park City Library and makes a formal decree about the importance of libraries.

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Charles Schulz and Peanuts

There are only a handful of art forms native to America. Among these are jazz, musical comedy, the mystery novel, and the comic book. As far as comics are concerned there are arguably no characters more beloved and instantly recognizable than Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. After all, the saga of Charlie Brown and his friends is arguably the “longest story told by a single artist” in the history of all mankind. But what do we really know about this cartoonist and his alter ego? In the biography

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Allen Ginsberg and the East Village

My tour of the downtown branches of The New York Public Library continues!  After being here for a few years and here for the past few months I am now here for a few days.  All of this traveling has been a wonderful experience as each branch is as varied and interesting as the neighborhoods they serve.   Spring is around the corner and soon I will be ... Read More ›

Where Is St. Marks? Investigating Place Names in the East Village

It is 8th Street, but from Third Avenue to Avenue A it is called St. Marks Place and is named for St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, which is not even on 8th Street, or St. Marks Place, but at the intersection of 10th Street, Second Avenue, and Stuyvesant Street. The land there has been a site of Christian worship since 1660. The history of St. Marks Place doesn’t go back that far, but a surprising amount of history has happened on these four 

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Django Reinhardt Centennial Celebration - Sweet and Lowdown

January 23, 2010 marks the centennial of the birth of Django Reinhardt. Reinhardt grew up in gypsy camps outside Paris and began playing violin, banjo, and guitar at a young age. A fire destroyed his caravan when he was 18 and he was badly burned. The third and forth fingers of his left hand were partially paralyzed but he amazingly relearned how to play and by the early 1930s he was recording with his Hot Club of France Quintet. All of those solos were 

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East Village Landmarks – 96 and 98 St Marks Place

After a number of years in an historic Greenwich Village library I’ve spent the past few weeks in an equally historic East Village library. The Ottendorfer Branch of The New York Public Library is surrounded by literary, political, and musical history. From Leon Trotsky and

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Greenwich Village Landmarks: Lester William Polsfuss (aka Les Paul)

Greenwich Village has many landmarks of music history. The jazz clubs in the area saw the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The bars and clubs that line Bleecker Street and the surrounding area helped popularize folk music in the 1960s. And of course there is that famous little recording studio just south of Jefferson Market on Eighth Street where some of the most important music of the past forty years was recorded. Out of all the Village music landmarks though there is one that absolutely dwarfs them all. In 1941 guitar manufacturer Epiphone was located at

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This is Water

“To doubt everything, or, to believe everything, are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” -Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis (1901) 

We are now at that time of the year when so many students are getting ready to take that next giant step into the “real world”. I’d like to think that most are prepared to meet the challenges. High schools and universities have long used the commencement speech as a way of conveying final 

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