A superbly qualified scholar thoroughly deconstructs the tortured story behind the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex.
Fundamentally, the resurrection of the site in Lower Manhattan destroyed by the 9/11 attacks was a public/private real estate development project, albeit a vast, complicated, and hugely expensive one. Of course, the traumatic event that necessitated the rebuilding supercharged the atmosphere surrounding all the decision-makers: a private, lease-holding developer, New York’s governor, the city’s mayor, and the Port Authority, the bistate agency that owned the property. These players and a host of lesser but still formidable participants—world-class architects, security experts, the victims’ families—all jostled for power, engaged in a protracted, elaborate game of “pick-up-sticks” where no decision could be made without affecting something else on the site. An aggressive, opinion-shaping press looked on. As she maneuvers through the 15-year rebuilding effort, Sagalyn (Real Estate/Columbia Univ. Business School; Times Square Roulette: Remaking the City Icon, 2001, etc.) keeps the many strands of this story expertly in hand: the legal, economic, and commercial realities; the shifting alliances and balance of power; the political and public relations dynamics regarding property and contract rights; the interdependencies among the parties; the clashing egos and ambitions of the scores of principal actors. Objectively and assuredly, Sagalyn chronicles hundreds of episodes within this immense story of the messy, sometimes seemingly leaderless rebuilding effort. From the dry and legalistic but vital issue of whether the leaseholder could make good on his “two-occurrence” insurance claim to the political controversy over establishing a cultural presence at the site to the mundane but essential matters of infrastructure and transportation to the emotionally charged question of how to display the victims’ names on the panels surrounding memorial waterfalls on the tower “footprints,” the author neatly handles every challenge posed by this multidimensional saga.
The narrative’s sheer bulk will likely intimidate some readers, and that would be a shame, because Sagalyn has produced a definitive history and an urban studies classic.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)