Tag Archives: Stendhal

Things I learned over the last week-and-a-half: DC edition.

10 Aug

Ah, the ebb and flow of blogging. When nothing happens, there’s nothing to tell. When stuff happens, there’s no time to recount it. (Really, that’s just an excuse for laziness. But who’s counting?)

Anyway. A lot has gone on over the last two weeks, in books news and non-books news. But more important than the narrative itself is the takeaway—so here we go, so that one day I can point to lessons learned between July 30 and August 9.

-Thrillers are good but leave me feeling empty.
Last Friday, my dear friend Laura visited me for lunch near Wall Street. She had just come from a tour of a publisher, and is swimming in books (hm that phrase makes me think of a “swimming book”–name the poem!). Which is good for me, since I get the excess. She came bearing Michael Connelly’s latest thriller, The Scarecrow.

The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow


I wasn’t sure what to think of it, until I read the jacket copy, which read:

Jack McEvoy is at the end of the line as a crime reporter. Forced to take a buy-out from the Los Angeles Times as the newspaper grapples with dwindling revenues, he’s got only a few days left on the job. His last assignment? Training his replacement, a low-cost reporter just out of journalism school. But Jack has other plans for his exit. He is going to go out with a bang — a final story that will win the newspaper

Given my exposure to that type of reporting this summer, how could I not read it? So I took a break from my regular reading to devour this piece of whatever it is. It sucked me in immediately, and gripped me so hard I was afraid my hands were glued to it at a point.

(On a related note, The Red and the Black is still going, but slowly. I don’t know why! It’s so good and I love it but I just can’t make a huge dent. And I feel like I’m sinking a lot of time into it. And it doesn’t feel slow. But I just don’t read that much at a time. Well, the font is small…)

-Mayors sometimes wear interesting outfits.
Last Sunday, I was assigned to follow the Mayor in his press van. First to the Ecuador parade in Elmhurst, then to a Q&A at the beginning of the Pakistan parade. I got my question in, but not before multiple chants of “viva Ecuador:”

El Gaucho Alcalde?

El Gaucho Alcalde?

-Murderers don’t necessarily live in sketchy-looking homes

On Monday, I was assigned to pay a visit to the Bronx home of the woman convicted of killing a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor. I would talk to her neighbors, landlord, etc. To be honest, I was initially a bit nervous. But that just proves how silly were my preconceived notions of where a convicted murderer would live:

Bronx home on a nice, quiet block.

Bronx home on a nice, quiet block.

-Ground Zero is still just that.

Turns out the Freedom Tower plans are delayed, so I went to find out how people were feeling about it.
This is what I saw:

There is obviously a lot of progress here, but it must be painful for many people to see.

There is obviously a lot of progress here, but it must be painful for many people to see.

-I am not the best at navigating Queens.

Enrollment in CUNY summer school is up, and I was sent to Queensborough Community College to help find out why. Sounds like fun. I like college students. You know. But it took me so long to get there. I only found the campus thanks to the help of Angela, a lovely woman I met on the bus who is working as an exotic dancer to make ends meet (that’s why she’s going back to school). Afterwards, I didn’t get back to the office before my shift ended. Anyway, this is important to know because my town is on the border of Queens … yikes.

-Mozart is awesome.

Okay, so I already knew that. But a trip to Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival (which, fractionally, was not mostly Mozart) caused me to go through all the concertos, sonatas, operas, and symphonies on my iPod. I have fallen in love with the music again, and have a weird desire to see Amadeus.
Thanks Dan!

Eagerly anticipating Mozart.

Eagerly anticipating Mozart.

Never go Greyhound.

I’m not going into detail here. But I was misguided and will never repeat the error. YIKES!

-Washington D.C. is a city replete with pretty streets and nice people

I went to DC this weekend to chill with pals and pols. After hopping off the Greyhound on Thursday, I arrived at my lovely friend (and generous three-night host) Leora’s gorgeous apartment. Over the weekend, I met her friends, who have awesome, exciting jobs in all sorts of governmental and non-governmental offices. So there is life outside New York … hrmmmm.

Also, the Metro is a lot cleaner. And a view like this is within walking distance:

It was all prettiness.

It was all prettiness.

(Also, it’s fun to be wandering aimlessly and end up here:)

Love from Josh and Toby. Yes, I went there.

Love from Josh and Toby. Yes, I went there.

-Agriculture is alive and well in our capital.

So much so, in fact, that the Department of Agriculture has a farmers market! I found this out because the Metro stop for the Smithsonian, which I visited with Betsy on Friday, dumps you in front of the Dept. of Agriculture building. (Also, I didn’t hear the barista clearly when she asked if I wanted the libido-enhanced coffee, so it took an explanation of “it will increase blood pressure for you and your partner” before I declined.)

But outside of the Dept of A itself, we stumbled onto the National Botanic Garden. It was beautiful, and I never would have thought to pay it a visit had I not walked straight into it. I think this fine establishment is what makes this part of the mall so pretty:

Flowers!

Flowers!

-Hunger strikes don’t only happen at Columbia

This display of solidarity for Iran made me feel at home:

Striking for Iran.

Striking for Iran.

-Not all art museums are created equal.

I found the Smithsonian’s Renwick, the American art museum, and was disappointed by the collection. I’m not an art snob, but I’m used to the Met. I was in and out of there in half an hour. At least it was free. Here is what I found interesting:

Hmmm.

Hmmm.

So then I found my way to the Corcoran Gallery, a collection that outgrew the Renwick (and costs $8.00 for students). There was more to look at, a nice photo exhibit, and some cool sculptures:

legit gauchos this time.

legit gauchos this time.

So I learned a lot. All this learning is making me tired, so I should probably sleep now. I have to be at work an hour early tomorrow.

Oh, and of course, I am redder than ever.

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And how old do I look?

27 Jul

For the record, I’m 20.

But in a single day of reporting on a Bronx church’s street carnival, I can think of six people off the top of my head who said something like, “you’re too young to be doing this” (and I responded likewise to a 77-year-old about his vocation). Today was not the first day I’d heard this, but it was the day I received the highest frequency of variations of the comment so far. Who inquired? A carnival organizer; a cop sergeant; a parent; a ferris wheel mechanic (who guessed I was 16!); a parishioner—just to name a few.

I’m more curious than annoyed by this, but it’s getting a bit old. I don’t like having to explain myself away. I try to make the best of it by making a joke that lightens up sources and makes them comfortable. But it gets awkward! Like: you’re too young to be reporting. What are you doing here? Why are you here? Who are you, even? Go back to school.

And I don’t think actually being young is necessarily a bad thing (aside from having less experience, of course). Though the perceptions that youth carries can be exhausting on the job.

Also, guess who showed up at the carnival?

It's Archbishop Dolan! A celebrity for the parishioners.

It's Archbishop Dolan! A celebrity for the parishioners.

New York’s newest Vatican celeb visited a church’s street festival to lift their spirits after a roller coaster car was derailed on Saturday night, and 11 ended up hospitalized with minor injuries.

More importantly, it may be possible that Andy Borowitz is the most brilliant man to walk the earth. This Shouts and Murmers parody of Britney’s conversion diary is hilarious. The laugh out loud guffaw type of hilarious.

Also, I have a confession to make: I am sort of addicted to True Blood. And in tonight’s episode, I found myself deciphering plot points based on Euripides, which I learned in my first-year English course. From the Bacchae to True Blood—that is full circle.

Anyway. Still in the middle of The Red and the Black; in the beginning of Hamlet in Purgatory; and, as of yesterday, started Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations. If only I had an entire summer slated for just reading. A girl can dream.

Liiiiiiiiife

14 Jul

Overheard in midtown. Man in suit: “Ah, gotta love interns. They get free credits. We get free labor.”

Anyway. Yesterday was a good today. Nice weather and a city councilman press conference. Today was nice too. The weather was beautiful. And today started off extra promising: you know that new coffee shop that’s replacing Dunkin in many spots? The one I was starting to resent because it hogged wayyy too many news stories? Well, the store redeemed itself by giving me (and everyone else) free coffee! No one gives me free coffee! Thank you Tim Horton for the caffeine. Anyway, today was talking to Salvation Army people around midtown, which was fine.

Saw I love you Beth Cooper with a friend tonight. Sort of stupid but cute.

My right eye is bothering me, so I haven’t been able to read too much. This means I’m at page 50 in Stendhal. And I am very, very impressed.

Tomorrow: Music? Then Harry Potter, then free poetry class. I have a lot to look forward to.
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It’s Saturday night

12 Jul

and I’m working on an article (for the Forward.) It’s the only time I have to polish things up before deadline. But I don’t resent it, because I think this one is going to be pretty meaningful. We shall see. I just don’t feel like I’m in the zone for a hardcore editing session yet. Hopefully five minutes of distractions will cure that… and maybe I’ll even finish with enough time to get some sleep for work tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I just read about the AP’s court confirmation strategy. Pretty smart for a company usually characterized as old media. Their Twitter, AP_Courtside, is already soliciting questions from readers.

Also, I’ve had unusually vivid dreams lately. One of them was a bizarre reflection on sleepaway camp. In another, for some reason, the News office was housed in the St. Louis Beacon building (weird because one is based in NY and the other in the middle of the country.. Also weird because the Beacon doesn’t have its own building), and some supernatural disaster caused a glass ceiling to cave in on top of us. All sorts of things rained down on the building, including these brown, dirty, rectangles. Since the News didn’t have me on anything at the moment, I offered to help the Beacon’s coverage of the tragedy. So I took to the apocalyptic streets, notebook in hand, to end up … in Harlem. Which is decidedly not in Missouri. Sheesh.

Stendhal’s book is a brilliant picaresque. He’s great at capturing social subtleties. I find myself savoring over details, and reading so so so slowly. At this rate, I won’t finish until the end of the summer.