Keeping a running tab in NYC

To prep for my latest research trip - I'm in NYC this week - I've been poking around in some new subject areas. Much to my surprise, the history of labor unions has figured prominently in that. So I want to quickly give a shout out to the collections housed at New York University. Specifically, the Tamiment Library within the Bobst Library offers an impressive starting point. How appropriate that the Bobst's interior looks like a huge Escher painting given the levels that seem to feed up and down and into one another therein. The access to living history in the form of an honest-to-goodness union icon best got me on the path I intend to follow going forward. Expect you'll hear much more about that from me in the future.

That's not exactly the kind of thing you can put in the ol' scrap book or add to your travel "must see" list. Not that anyone's looking here for those sorts of things. I will offer up a few tasty choices from this latest trip to the City. More recap than guide. Less definitive than anecdotal. Do what you will with it. I've most certainly just straight up enjoyed what I've dipped into thus far.
  • One impossible to get ticket in town is sadly the "Discovering Columbus" exhibit using the statue of Christopher "Yes, THAT" Columbus at the Circle he discovered back in 1492. I may be mixing up a detail or two. The point being that I walk by that elevated fake apartment most times I head to or from the actual apartment I'm staying in while in NYC. If you've got dibs on one of those few slots upcoming, way to go, Sport. Share your thoughts and everyone will surely be glad to know more than what's already been written.
  • If you're a Green Bay Packers fan and you find yourself in the City on a game day, you can do no better than Kettle of Fish in Greenwich Village. It was a beatnik bar - pictures of Kerouac and the various icons from the era are still hanging on the walls amidst all the cheeseheads and beer posters. Incredibly friendly folks fill the place to bursting. I met a few prime Sconnie ex-pats, and even a current member of the Lambeau Field grounds crew who travels for work when he's not back in Green Bay for home games. This past Sunday I left at halftime to head to a Salman Rushdie/David Remnick snoozefest conversation as a part of "The New Yorker Festival". Mixed blessing because we were up 21-3 at that point. Don't remind me what happened thereafter. But do head there if you want to see natural fans in a mostly surreal environment.
  • The day I'd spent digging deeply into the history of labor unions in America, I followed by seeing the documentary "Detropia". I would have never imagined that decay and despair could be so beautiful and stirring. I'd read criticism before seeing the movie saying that Detroit is exploited in showing how much has gone wrong and what is left behind. I completely disagree with that and highly recommend seeing it yourself. 
  • If you're not already a fan of "The Moth" I'd love to say run breathlessly to one of their live events. Maybe start with the podcast if you're unfamiliar. I hadn't planned especially well ahead of time to go to the show I caught last night at Housing Works in SoHo. No snacks, long line, all sorts of standing around. Then I got to talking with folks. It was fantastic. And I left hungry for more. It's all about the people - I met more cool ones than I can itemize now. Including someone in line from Michigan who I tried to convince to go see "Detropia". It's amazing how things manage to come full circle in a City like this.
  • Here's an obvious one - write and read and just plain build a bigger brain by spending time in the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library. That's a well traveled recommendation. But it's still a truly good one.
  • If you need to find a gift for a curious 2nd Grader or grown up science geek, there are few cooler places I've found than the Evolution Store in SoHo. If I had a few extra Benjamins bouncing around loosely in me pocket, I'd so be carrying an awesome skull in my backpack right now.
  • I had a very particular reason to seek out the New York Historical Society (on the Upper West Side - Central Park West and 77th Street). Almost everyone in there with me this morning appeared to have first hand knowledge of the new WWII exhibit. There are certainly no shortage of great museums in this City. This one, however, started out as a work visit that turned into a totally fun one - bonus points for that. Be sure not to skip the movie.
  • On a much smaller scale, there are just so many moments navigating life here that charge my batteries and keep me on edge for what might happen next. There's a complex but very rational reason behind that persona almost all Americans recognize immediately as being that of a New Yorker. I can only take a small vicarious thrill from being lumped in with those who actually live here and act like they damn well do. On my first full day, I got approached by a foreign tourist for directions. Which I gladly gave in full knowledge of what he needed ("There is red line subway near this Chelsea, no?"). As in all places, I like to pay attention closely. In NYC? Times ten.
That maybe all seems rather random. But this post lets me clear the pipes out, know what I mean? Speaking of catharsis and pulling a major non sequiter out of my hat - there was a wonderfully odd piece in the NYTimes a few days ago about one of my favorite overlooked eras. The War of 1812. In this Bicentennial Year, it seems that Stephen Harper (the Prime Minister - but you already knew that, right?) is making a militaristic embrace of Canada's conduct during the War in response to American aggression. I'd normally give big props to anyone putting that historical curiosity on the front-ish burner. Well, unless you're doing what Harper's seemingly doing and trying to spin things for political gain in the present. I know, I know - next thing I'll be offended to learn that there's gambling taking place in the casino where I eat dinner in every night. So to speak.

And with that, I'm off to Brooklyn. Literally, not figuratively. Wherever you're headed, don't take any wooden nickels along the way, mmm'kay?