Quiet, Please

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Monday, March 12, 2012

The main branch of the New York Public Library. The main branch of the New York Public Library. (Geir Arne Hjelle/flickr)

On today’s show, we’ll find out about the controversy at the New York Public Library. Then, Kristen Johnston talks about being open about her recovery from her addictions to alcohol and drugs. Today’s installment of A History of the World in 100 Objects is about a bronze hand from pre-Islamic Yemen. Then, a look at the man who’s considered by many to be the world’s top sushi chef. And Susan Cain on what we miss when we overlook the introverts among us.

Controversy at the New York Public Library

Over the last few years, even as cutbacks have been made in the system’s 87 branches, the New York Public Library has renovated the 42nd Street main library and officials are now looking to construct a new state-of-the-art computer-based library. Scott Sherman, a contributing writer for The Nation and Caleb Crain, a former Fellow at the NYPL and author of American Sympathy, talk about the proposed changes, staffing cuts and construction plans – and the controversy they’ve created. Sherman’s article, "Upheaval at the New York Public Library," appeared in the December 19 edition of The Nation.

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Kristen Johnston’s memoir, Guts

Emmy Award-winning actress Kristen Johnston discusses her memoir, Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster, in which she writes about her addictions to alcohol and drugs and how she overcame them. She also talks about the stigma that’s often attached to recovery and her efforts to open the city’s first addiction-recovery high school.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Director David Gelb talks about his latest documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which tells the story of Jiro Ono, who’s considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. At the age of 85, Ono continues to work towards perfection in his Tokyo restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. And, from the restaurant 15 East, owner Marcos Moriera and sushi chef Masato Shimizu, join us to discuss the art of making sushi. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is playing at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the IFC Center.

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Here's to the Quiet Ones

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain looks at why introverts are often overlooked, despite their many accomplishments, including major works of art to the early personal computer. She also examines what neuroscience reveals about the differences between extroverts and introverts.

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Object #4: The Oyster

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)

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Object #5: 18th-Century Ship Excavated from WTC Site in 2010

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)

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