The prolific historian’s 1972 ode to the Brooklyn Bridge was a quick and fascinating read on what it rightfully calls the “epic” story of the giant span over the East River. It’s remarkable how similar this giant project that took fourteen years is to our world today–as stories of political conflicts of interest, journalistic coverage and massive public projects emanate from the history of the Roeblings’ bridge. Certainly the journalists of the time fumbled many details and occasionally acted unethically at times, and it’s truly amazing how long the bridge has lasted–as it came from a time where dozens of bridges failed each year. But the most memorable part of the whole book is the inspirational feelings of man’s capabilities best captured by a man named Supple shimmying around fixing the original cables high above the river in front of thousands of people and the fireworks from the memorable day that the bridge opened and anything seemed possible.
This awe-inspiring history of the African-American experience currently running on PBS is an illuminating resource for citizens, educators and anyone who watches it. Its coverage of events like the Haitian Revolution–which I first learned about from a book, not from school–and the amazing story of Robert Small’s escape from Fort Sumter via a Confederate vessel illuminates the past. In particular, the multimedia effects in the film seem to make pictures and paintings from periods of history come alive. Gates, the writer and presenter of the series, should be and is receiving a great deal of credit. Other than another great series that debuted on PBS, “Eyes on the Prize,” I’m not sure I’ve seen anything so ambitious or so successful.
Well here we go again. Looks like the Yankees are angling for another off-season of big spending. They’ve already inked slugging catcher Brian McCann and are apparently now taking dead aim at my old favorite Royal, Carlos Beltran. They signed McCann for $85 million over five years and will have to spend a pretty penny if they expect Beltran to return to the city, but, according to the Daily News, expect their payroll next year to stay under Major League Baseball’s $189 million luxury tax line. Meanwhile, back in Anytown, USA, my Royals are pledging to stay at around $85 million for their entire team’s pay in 2014. It’s always charming the way Yankee unnamed sources act as if they control the universe and can acquire whoever they please, but it doesn’t always lead to success on the field, as last season shows.
This 1947 book bestrides the end of colonialism, the loss of idealism, the scourge of alcoholism and the Western canon, among a few other heady topics. As explained in this Guardian review, the book is not an uplifting one in any sense, but I was struck by the moments where the writing is so rich that the character’s thoughts seem one’s own. There’s a great deal of stream of consciousness, a decided lack of dialogue in some parts and several allusions I wasn’t able to grasp. And I don’t doubt many English and American readers fail to understand certain regions of Mexico that Lowry clearly fell in love with. But the drunken, brilliant ramblings of a resigned consul on the Day of the Dead in 1938 were a very welcome antidote to my daily grind.