As public schools open their doors and begin the drill and kill test-prep instruction required to satiate the states voracious appetite for measurable outcomes, the New York City school system as a whole continues to hobble on to the next precipice of educational improvement.
For fifty years my father sat in the same worn-out chair in a very lived-in apartment on the northern edge of Times Square. The place is warm, redolent of some masala of unknown spices. The iron radiators gargle and hiss.
Less than a decade ago, Williamsburg was still a desolate haven for vast, raw, dirt-cheap lofts and an emerging art scene that imagined itself an ambitious underground alternative to the narcissism of Soho and Chelsea, a 90s incarnation of the self-destructive glamour of the Lower East Side portrayed in Nan Goldins Ballad of Sexual Dependence.
In Education of a Felon (St. Martins Press, 2000), Edward Bunker describes growing up on the fringes of 1930s Hollywood, where his father worked as a stagehand and his mother danced in Busby Berkeley musicals. Bunker, though, soon fell adrift in the world of make-believe.
Over and over again we hear the standard stump speech place blame on the opponent for anything badpoverty, school violence, the hole in the ozone, obesity; and meanwhile claim responsibility for anything goodthe creation of jobs, the bull market, the saving of sea turtles, and the bright colors of the flag.
Forget New York, its Over! So says Whitney, a cantankerous fixture on Lorimer near Metropolitan.
The film plots, which are making up the bulk of the discussion among the four of us here on the roof in the night, turn to death.
L.S. Askeoff has published two books of poetry: Dreams of a Work (1994) and North Star (1997).
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