Eating outside has always been a part of the New York City way of life. “The early colony was downtown,” Fabio Parasecoli of The New School told us. “Food had to be brought to southern Manhattan from the nearby farms.” Often, that food was sold and consumed on the street. (continue reading)
Our listeners chose the lowly oyster—not the exalted bagel— as the only edible object on our list of ten items which define New York City. In a number of ways, the rise and demise of the harbor oyster is the story of the city itself.
“The history of New York is the history of gobbling up everything,” Mark Kurlansky, author of The Big Oyster explains. “When there was deer and elk and lynx and all sorts of things on Manhattan, people ate that stuff. The wild fruit trees that once covered New York are all gone too. It reaches the point where the one natural resource that’s left to eat are oysters.” And by most accounts, early New Yorkers ate oysters by the bucketful. They were harvested by the Lenape Indians and loved by the Dutch and British colonists. The bivalve was once synonymous with New York City. “Today, people come to New York and take in a Broadway Show—it used to be that people from all over the world would come here for the oysters,” Kurlansky said. (continue reading)
This object is an example of New York’s past colliding with its present.
“We’ve never seen a boat like this before,” Warren Reiss a maritime historian and archeologist at the University of Maine explained. “There are a number of things about how this vessel was built that we are still scratching our heads about.” Reiss was the principal investigator of a ship the New York Times dubbed the “S.S. World Trade Center.” “We don’t even know if it had one mast or two,” Reiss said. (continue reading)
It was slightly surprising that Frank O’Hara’s 1964 collection Lunch Poems came in at number six on our list, but it turns out to be a very good way of looking at New York City. As NYU professor Lytle Shaw, author of the book Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterieexplains “Lunch Poems is a condensed and highly accessible book that is smaller than a subway map.” That feature makes it easy to take the book anywhere. Shaw described it as having the potential to “acclimatize you to the things New York has to offer.” (continue reading)
Federal court papers that were unsealed on Tuesday revealed that six suspected hackers who are affiliated with Lulzsec, part of the hacking collective Anonymous, had been arrested. The papers also revealed that one of them, Hector Xavier Monsegur, had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of criminal hacking and had been working as an informant for the FBI.
You can find out more about how Anonymous and LulzSec organize and carry out their attacks by listening to Leonard’s interviews earlier this year with Quinn Norton, who’s covered Anonymous for Wired Magazine’s Threat Level blog.
The seventh object on our list violates the central rule of our contest that it “must be able to fit in a museum”—but just this once we’ll make an exception. Richard Haw, a professor at CUNY and author of the book, Art of the Brooklyn Bridge: A Visual History, told us that the bridge is a particularly good selection for this project. “It helps illuminate different parts of the history of the New York: political, economic, demographic, social, transport, technological, literary and artistic.” (continue reading)
The Wall Street sign is the first object on our list that is central to both the long history of New York City and the current moment. William D. Cohan, author of Money And Power told us “You can not overstate Wall Street’s importance from either a literal or symbolic point of view. It’s not up there with the Statue of Liberty, but it’s a symbol of what America is all about. That’s why there is so much disappointment about their behavior over the last few years.” (continue reading)
Who knew so many of our listeners were geology enthusiasts? Or that, to use a pun Leonard would probably dream up, they really know their schist? Charles Merguerian, chairman of the Geology Department at Hofstra University, seemed surprised and then pleased that New York City bedrock made the top ten of our list. He said “People always ask: What came first the chicken or the egg? But the answer is rocks. Rocks are so fundamental and basic to us and our existence that there is a natural tendency towards wanting to know about them.” (continue reading)
It’s fitting that we kick off our countdown of the 10 objects that tell the story of New York with an object that, quite literally, lets us explore the city. Even the most savvy, life-long New Yorker ends up consulting the subway map regularly. That's probably the case because — for better or worse — a subway map is the map that explains much of the city’s geography to us. (continue reading)
The 84th annual Academy Awards take place on Sunday, and a number of the nominees have been guests on the Leonard Lopate Show this year. Here’s a list of interviews with directors and actors (and even one football coach) that you can listen to to learn more about their work:
New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died on Thursday while working in Syria, reporting on the growing conflict there. He was a frequent guest on the Lopate Show, shedding light on the politics and conflict in countries across the Middle East, including Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and Syria. He died at the age of 43. You can listen to some of Anthony Shadid's conversations with Leonard over the years:
Yesterday at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show I caught up with our recent guest, Grand Champion Willcare To Fly Under The Radar, RN, better known as Walter. The chocolate-coated Labrador Retriever and his owner-handler-breeder Sue Willumsen were in good spirits—out of the 38 Labrador Retrievers competing for Best In Breed, he was the only the dog to win the Judge’s Award of Merit, his second consecutive win.
We chatted backstage in the benching area, a crowded service ramp in the depths of Madison Square Garden, packed with hundreds of the best canine specimens in the world waiting for their turn to prove themselves in the ring. Described by some as “a cross between a hair salon and Baghdad” the benching area was buzzing with the sound of blow-dryers and electric razors, but curiously few barks from the many dogs lassoed to their grooming tables for last-minute preening. Walter, however, was relaxing. “They’re wash n’ wear” says Willumsen, “the maintenance is not as extreme as other long hair dogs.”
Back home in Kingston, NH, Willumsen plans on teaching her prize pup how to be a hunting dog, one of the many jobs Labs were bred for. But three-year-old Walter’s show career is far from over, and Willumsen hopes to return to Westminster next year for an even bigger win. “He meets the American Kennel Club description of the Labrador Retriever,” says Willumsen, “but it’s his kind spirit and nature, as well as his sense of humor, that makes him my best buddy.”
Every month, as part of the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club's e-newsletter, we're bringing an author interview from our archives. This month, listen to a rare 2002 conversation that Leonard had with Canadian writer Alice Munro. She had just published her short story collection, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.