Sunday, February 19, 2012
A Wonderful Town
New York (thank you, Netflix/Roku) in January. I watched it straight through (well, OK, over a couple of days), picking up a lot of facts and interesting bits I'd never known before. My daily commute and weekend rambles have been greatly enhanced by what I learned. So many layers created, built, nurtured over its history by the native population, the Dutch, the English, Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Puerto Rican, well, on it goes.
Then I read Washington Irving's A History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker, as recommended by the Burns series. Irving's fictional history is a funny, satirical mix-up of fact, gossip, and fable. Diedrich ("died" "rich," get it?) Knickerbocker - not a real person - has lent his name to old-money New Yorkers, various New York sports teams, clubs, hotels, theatres, and restaurants since 1809. Irving's character is very much alive and well in the 21st century.
New York via audiobook. In typical Rutherfurd style (if you're familiar with Sarum, London, or any of his other Michener-type historical epics) you get hooked in by various characters and families threaded throughout New York's history. He adds flesh and blood to events that built the city and our country. A good, if long, listen, especially as I traverse the city day in and day out.
I'll give it a rest when the audiobook runs out. But the NYC documentary/literary obsession of the past two months has added to my New York living experience. New York was the very center of the revolutionary independence movement at the birth of this country. Look it up. From the early Dutch days, it was a place of commerce, money-making, new ideas. There was a work ethic, but not a Puritan work ethic, since the city wasn't founded by strait-laced religious types. (Explains a lot, eh?) Innovations in the arts, architecture, city planning, and business flourished - for good or for ill - but, by gum, anything was/is possible.
It is a wonderful town. And not just because the Bronx is up and the Battery's down.