"The New York I lived in, on the other hand, was rapidly regressing. It was a ruin in the making, and my friends and I were camped out amid its potsherds and tumuli. This did not distress me—quite the contrary. I was enthralled by decay and eager for more: ailanthus trees growing through cracks in the asphalt, ponds and streams forming in leveled blocks and slowly making their way to the shoreline, wild animals returning from centuries of exile. Such a scenario did not seem so far-fetched then. Already in the mid-1970s, when I was a student at Columbia, my windows gave out onto the plaza of the School of International Affairs, where on winter nights troops of feral dogs would arrive to bed down on the heating grates. Since then the city had lapsed even further. On Canal Street stood a five-story building empty of human tenants that had been taken over from top to bottom by pigeons. If you walked east on Houston Street from the Bowery on a summer night, the jungle growth of vacant blocks gave a foretaste of the impending wilderness, when lianas would engird the skyscrapers and mushrooms would cover Times Square.
At that time much of Manhattan felt depopulated even in daylight. Aside from the high-intensity blocks of Midtown and the financial district, the place seemed to be inhabited principally by slouchers and loungers, loose-joints vendors and teenage hustlers, panhandlers and site-specific drunks, persons whose fleabags put them out on the street at eight and only permitted reentry at six. Many businesses seemed to remain open solely to give their owners shelter from the elements. How often did a dollar cross the counter of the plastic-lettering concern, or the prosthetic-limb showroom, or the place that ostensibly traded in office furniture but displayed in its window a Chinese typewriter and a stuffed two-headed calf? Outside under an awning on a hot afternoon would be a card table, textured like an old suitcase with four metal corners, and around it four guys playing dominoes. Maybe they’d have a little TV set, up on a milk crate, plugged into the base of a streetlight, issuing baseball. On every corner was a storefront that advertised Optimo or Te-Amo or Romeo y Julieta, and besides cigars they sold smut and soda pop and rubbers and candy and glassine envelopes and sometimes police equipment. And there were Donuts Muffins Snack Bar and Chinas Comidas and Hand Laundry and Cold Beer Grocery and Barber College, all old friends. Those places weren’t like commercial establishments, exactly, more like rooms in your house. They tended to advertise just their descriptions; their names, like those of deities, were kept hidden, could be discovered only by reading the license tacked up somewhere behind the cash register. At the bodega you could buy plantains and coffee and malta and lard, or a single cigarette—a loosie—or a sheet of paper, an envelope, and a stamp.”
From Luc Sante, My Lost City.
The third point is probably the most important, but always the hardest, ain’t it?
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
Elmore Leonard, born on this day in 1925.
How has no one at whoever handles Mini’s advertising done a campaign where Minnie Driver goes on wacky automotive hijinks with a Mini Cooper? You can call it “Minnie Driver, Mini Driver.”
I think she should also have a puppet sidekick: “Mini Minnie Driver” who has her own “Mini Minnie Driver driver” to drive her around - you know, since she’s a puppet and all, and puppets shouldn’t drive.
The ads just sort of write themselves…
Yes to all of it.
A giant head, with no body. Good thing that kind of thing isn’t terrifying or anything to children.
"His name is Raider Rusher, a costumed youth ambassador straight out of an animated cartoon series called "NFL Rush Zone," co-produced by the NFL and Nickelodeon. While each team has its own character in the series, the Raiders are the first team in the NFL to bring one of the show’s characters to life.”
Yes, the fact that Voyager 1 has left the solar system is a great story, but what I love most of all is that a 77 year old retired computer programmer saved the day. In a world that increasingly prizes youth and novelty above all, it’s nice to know that there can be grey hair under a hero’s white hat.
" As the solar system’s edge grew tantalizingly close, NASA asked the Voyager scientists to increase the amount of data collection. The problem: the 8-track data recorders from 1977 were not exactly bursting with extra space. Could Ms. Dodd even find anyone who specialized in that piece of technology and could coax it to record more?
“These younger engineers can write a lot of sloppy code, and it doesn’t matter, but here, with very limited capacity, you have to be extremely precise and have a real strategy,” she said.
She was able to find her man: Lawrence J. Zottarelli, 77, a retired NASA engineer. He came up with a solution. But would it work?
Mr. Zottarelli waited at Voyager mission control one afternoon last month to find out. The first of the newly programmed data dumps was set to come down. Ms. Dodd, Dr. Stone and Mr. Zottarelli watched two old Sun Microsystems computers like children watching for a chick to peck through an egg. “Nine, eight, seven,” Dr. Stone counted down.
“Everything’s fine,” said Mr. Zottarelli, flashing a thumbs up. “You’re on your own now.”
The relief was written all over Ms. Dodd’s face. “It’s not easy flying an old spacecraft,” she said.
Her eyes moved to Dr. Stone, who was peering at a computer through his trifocals.
“There are lots of old missions,” he responded with a sly smile. “But not many are doing exciting new things.” “