An enlightening, comprehensive account of family poverty throughout New York City’s history.
The extreme poverty of New York City neighborhoods, such as the South Bronx, Brownsville and Harlem, is nothing new. In fact, as Nunez and Sribnick show in this remarkable work, it’s a phenomenon that goes back to colonial times—the city’s first poorhouse for the unemployed, homeless and sick opened in 1736. “Poverty has existed in New York as long as, if not longer than, it has anywhere in the United States,” the authors observe. They travel through eight distinct eras and detail how, with varying degrees of success, New York politicians and social reformers tried to combat poverty. Their ideas and initiatives were shaped by ideological biases that still influence today’s policies. For example, colonials believed that the poor were victims of their own personal failings, which required that they be dosed with work and religion; Jacob Riis and other 19th-century reformers believed that the causes of poverty weren’t personal but economic and environmental. In the 1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration almost went full circle, implementing “workfare” programs that required welfare recipients to participate in job training; this pro-business, pro-development orientation, the authors write, has made New York what it is today—safer, wealthier and cleaner but “with pockets of abject poverty and more homeless than ever before.” Nunez and Sribnick avoid delivering what could have been a dry sociological treatise by including vignettes from the lives of poor and homeless people; one of them, Carmen Santana, shares a cramped two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment with her boyfriend and four of her children, the floors covered in “peeling linoleum” and the children sharing a single bunk bed. “[W]hen it comes to family poverty, there are no quick fixes,” the authors caution, but they convincingly argue that as long as New York, and the United States, remain wedded to “market-based solutions...all the proposals and plans will be window dressing.”
An engaging historical study of New York City poverty.
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)