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Posts by Cynthia Chaldekas

TONIGHT! Author Frederick Opie discusses his book Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America

I am from Detroit and I don’t remember noting the ethnic background of anyone while growing up. In Detroit we seemed to organize ourselves by way of race not ethnicity, you were either black or white. The food had more distinction of ethnicity than the people responsible for making it. For the time we lived in Detroit, it seemed like it was the center of the world. My folks, really my mother, would travel all over the city to get her taste of food she craved. Years after the riots in 68, when our family followed white flight, just like everyone else, my mom would say “hop 

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Gotham and Its Garbage

In the next coming weeks I will be hosting a series of programs on the subject of NYC sanitation. Below is a post devoted to the first program Gotham and Its Garbage: A History of Public Waste, Public Health and the Department of Sanitation. A Slide Lecture with Robin Nagle Ph.D.

No matter where you live or what your economic status is, in New York City garbage is your neighbor. You may live in a penthouse apartment and never actually touch the garbage yourself, but chances are you pass it all the time on the street. If you do live on a high floor, in a full service building, on 

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Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach. Monday June 1, 6:30 PM at the Mid-Manhattan Library

Realistically we know no relationship is perfect, especially the relationships we have with our families. They say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. My father has not talked to his siblings in years and three out of the five are dead and the rest are in their late 80’s. My father can’t accurately state what it was that drove them apart. The wedge that was forced into the heart of my father’s family was powerful enough to keep the siblings apart forever. I see elements of regret, even remorse when my father speaks about his family, even 

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A Slide Lecture & Discussion on Berenice Abbott's Changing New York on Tuesday, April 28 at 6:30 at the Mid-Manhattan Library

A great work of art is evident almost at once. We sense its greatness the moment we experience it. It may be a painting or a work of fiction or a piece of music or a body of work, but intuitively we know it to be a masterpiece. It is unique, special and a rarity. There is no pretense to a great work of art, there is only a clarity to the work, making it accessible to all. We can’t predict when something wonderful will be created. Great ideas and vision come together all the time. People paint, write books, 

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A Slide Lecture & Discussion on Stanford White, Architect with Samuel White on Tues, April 14 at 6:30 at Mid-Manhattan Library

I first learned about Stanford White in E. L. Doctorow’s book Ragtime. It was the lurid tale of lust and murder regarding Stanford White that remained in my mind until I moved to New York City many years ago. Over a long period of time, I have come to learn Stanford White was much more than the scandal that I first associated with him. Stanford White was a master designer and instrumental in many of the great architectural works of the city.

Without knowing it, I came across the legacy of Stanford 

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America Begins in New York City. The Almanac of New York City, Wednesday April 15th, 6:30 PM at Mid-Manhattan

New York City is a big place, very big. The aggregate information out there to describe the city is also big, very big. Its vast, ubiquitous quality makes it seem unknowable and unmanageable. Much of our knowledge about the city is in small bits and pieces, mostly unrelated to other each other. Many us may generally know a thing or two about our neighborhood: we may know who lives there, we may even know something about the crime stats or the average price of a co-op. Other than the of odd pieces of knowledge we carry around with us about New York City, the real numbers of the city are 

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Dennis Lehane at the Mid-Manhattan Library on April 7th at 6:30

It starts as an almost imperceptible rumble, and then ends with a societal cry of pain. As you read, the tension builds, you become unsettled where you sit; something sinister is afoot. Your eyes willingly travel the lines of the page, the scene is being set, just the right amount of description, a perfect staccato rhythm of words and phrases, resulting in a broiling image of disarray and disorganization. Something dangerous is in the air.

Soon it will be upon you, your mind will be filled with a cacophony of shouts and screams, slivers of conversation, slices of 

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New York City is a Treasure of Food

By the time I was old enough to understand the relationship between food and culture, it was already too late for me. It seemed like food and culture and the relationship between the two all but died where I came from. I lived in Detroit up until the riots of '68 and then afterwards my family moved to a rural landscape. In a very short time farmland became a busy bustling series of suburbs. It was one massive series of highways, subdivisions and strip malls. If there was any local food identity or culture it was all but eaten up in chain establishments.

Chains took over where 

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Dan Barry at Mid-Manhattan Library, Wednesday April 1 at 6:30 PM

There is a story everywhere in New York City. Gotham is a collage of life stories, like a multifaceted crystal where each surface is a new and different tale. Every encounter, everything we see, people we know and don’t know all have stories. Most of the stories are unknown, most untold, but in reality there is a vast richness of unique experiences out there, waiting to be revealed. From Choi and Maria, the gentle and devoted Korean couple who run my corner bodega, to the beautiful line driven art work of Elbow-Toe, that skips 

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All That Glitters in Gold: Emile Zola's 'The Kill'

Exiting the subway at 40th Street and 5th Ave, I noticed that the oasis of Bryant Park was really there. Under all metal girders, draped in white there was a park. The dismantling of the tents signaled the ending of what will hopefully be the conclusion of what had simply been business as usual in this country, like conspicuous consumption. Hopefully we can say good bye to gluttonous MacMansions and grossly oversized vehicles and the celebration of pomp without a lick of substance. 

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Monday Morning 2009

 Today is the day I should have bought a lottery ticket. I walked down into the subway station, no rush, simply a calm entry. On the platform I readied myself with my reading material and my music. As I finished, the train was pulling into the station. The day was beginning magically. At the point when the doors of the subway car opened, I turned on my iPod, stepped into the car and Steve Reich’s Music for Large Ensemble began to play. This was a good beginning, if there could ever be such a thing in the morning, during 

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Author John Bowe Will Discuss American Slave Labor In A Global Economy on 9/9 at Mid-Manhattan at 6:30

A man toils in the hot sun. He is picking the fruit and vegetables, the kind that are on our sandwiches purchased from a fast food restaurant, the kind that grace the salads we prepare for dinner. If the man working in the field is lucky, he is able to garner a spot closest to the truck where he turns out his bushels. If not he must walk down a long row of plants to deliver his bushel of just picked fruit and vegetables. His walk is long and makes the day seem endless and 

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From Gravestones to Graffiti: 250 Years of Lettering in New York. Sept 2 at 6:30 PM at Mid-Manhattan

Our visual world is made up of many bits and pieces. It is the fragments merging together to make up a whole that really make a difference in what we see. Taken alone, these individual parts tend to go unnoticed by most people. For example in architecture, it is the color of the stone, the decoration, the lettering on the sign above the door or the carved letters on a gravestone that help define the structure and create a feeling.

Lettering is a small part of the ornamentation of an architectural structure. It is generally the colossus of the structure itself that 

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Swept Away

The waves build, barrel in and crash. It is an endless cycle. One after another waves give beach lovers true pleasure. It is the relentless rhythm of the in and out of the water, accompanied by the sound of the waves tumbling in that lulls the wave watcher into a opiate like pleasure, truly a natural high. The sight and sound is addictive.

The beauty of the ocean, is in its seemingly 

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The Red Hook Pool (inspired by Sachi Clayton’s post Swimming Pools)

One.. two.. one.. two.. touch, pull, push, glide. Three.. four.. three.. four.. touch, pull, push, glide. Seven.. eight.. seven.. eight.. touch, pull, push, glide. Stroke.. stroke.. breath, stroke.. stroke.. breath. Glide.

The morning sun is refracted in the water. The water shimmers and sparkles. The water is quiet. The lanes are filled with swimmers partaking in a morning ritual. Their arms twirl in a constant rhythm. Their legs kick in sympathy with their arms. From afar it looks and has the feeling of the slow twirl of windmills. And like a windmill, the arms and legs 

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Vandalism at New York Public Library

New York Public Library is a business but a business like no other. The library’s sole purpose is to transact in materials not money. Ours is a business based on trust. We lend. The library has millions of dollars in materials and we trust that the people who borrow these materials will return what they take. We hope in as good as condition as possible. Naturally there is wear, that is expected.

But there are people who use the library for other reasons. They want to destroy, deface and degrade. Our premise of trust is broken often by people who for 

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The Mighty Manhattan Bridge

The power of the Manhattan Bridge cannot be denied. It is an orchestration of rivet studded girders, harp like cables and beautiful beaux art design and it spans the East River like a dancer leaping across a stage. Her audience is the city of New York and specifically its Brooklyn residents. I ride across her expanse daily via the subway. I always position myself by a window. Once the train is delivered from darkness, I stop what I am reading and look out: out the windows, through the massive metal beams, beyond the walkway and out into the city. It is a ride I never tire of because 

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A Vertical Reflecting Pool in Midtown

I work at the Mid-Manhattan Library at 40th Street and 5th Ave. In the evening when I leave from work, I walk down 40th Street to the subway station at 6th Ave. This spring I noticed something different, something I never noticed before. The weather was beginning to warm, the days were growing longer and there was an explosion of green coming from Bryant Park. I happen to look up as I walked west on 40th Street. At that moment, I was met with a striking, yet subtle view.

I stood there a few moments to take it all in, as people hurriedly passed me by. As the world 

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Adventures in Programming: The Life of a Chair Breaker and other Stories, an evening with Ben Katchor

On a beautiful spring night last week picture story teller Ben Katchor came to Mid-Manhattan to do a reading of his work. I had asked Ben Katchor to come do a program almost a year ago and through many correspondences and date changes Wednesday, May 7th finally arrived. To be honest, I discovered Ben Katchor a few months before I had invited him to speak at the library. In a conversation with a friend, his name was mentioned as someone I should come to know. Ben Katchor I learned is a comic strip creator unlike any before.

His comic 

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Adventures in Programming: It's All In A Letter

Programming is great. Not only do I get to select the programs I present, I am then rewarded 10 fold by attending interesting and entertaining programs and I get paid for it! What could be better? About a year ago I happened to be reading Christopher Gray’s Streetscapes column in the Real Estate Section of the Sunday New York Times. It is the first column I read in the Sunday paper. Generally the focus of the Streetscapes column is a building. However on

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