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    “Mr MacDonald did not come home to dinner till after we had done, having been very much engag’d with Election—the Polls open’d yesterday and will close to morrow—both parties are very warmly engag’d, and are very sanguine in their expectations—& it is very doubtful which ticket will be successful” -Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker, April 30, 1800.

    EDB 1
    Bleecker diary entry, April 30, 1800

    It doesn’t seem like much, but the fact that Alexander MacDonald did not make it home for dinner on April 30, 1800 underscores the deep significance of the 1800 New York State legislative elections. Tellingly, this wasn't the last time an election again got in the way of family dinner. The infamous gubernatorial and legislative contests of 1804, which led to the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, also kept Elizabeth Bleecker’s husband from coming “to dinner till late,” because he had to attend “a meeting of the committee of the ward” the night polls opened. 

    EDB 2
    Bleecker diary entry, April 24, 1804

    In 1800, MacDonald missed his supper in vain.  The next day, May 1st, Bleecker noted that the “Election has ended and the Antifederalists have won the day, by a majority of...”  She never filled in the final vote margins. The Republicans—who Bleecker derisively called Antifederalists, the coalition that had opposed the United States Constitution over a decade earlier—won every one of New York City’s assembly seats by about 300 or so votes, out of a total 5,700-plus that were cast. The results probably disappointed Bleecker, her husband, and their neighbors. The second ward, where they lived—running from Nassau Street to the East River, and bounded by Pine Street to the south and Peck Slip to the north—was the most staunchly Federalist enclave of the City. There, voters cast more than twice as many ballots for Federalists than for Republicans.

    EDB 3
    Bleecker diary entry, May 1, 1800

    Though Federalists retained their majority in certain wards in the southern reaches of Manhattan island, the Republican sweep of the 1800 Assembly elections in the City was a stunning change of fortunes. Just one year earlier, Federalist candidates beat Republican candidates by about 1,000 votes, of the 5,100 or so ballots cast. In Bleecker’s Second Ward, voters had sided with Federalists five-to-one in 1799.

    What had changed? The obvious conclusion would seem to be that 1800 was a presidential election year. Certainly, it was not a coincidence that MacDonald’s missed or delayed dinners both coincided with presidential election years. In this period, the State Assembly and Senate chose New York’s delegates to the Electoral College; one's vote in the legislative elections was also an indirect vote in the presidential contest. 1800 stands out, in particular, as an election season for the ages. Turnout in New York City for the 1800 assembly elections, at over 70% of eligible voters, was higher than in any previous election.  

    Yet we should not assume that the primacy of presidential elections in our own political culture was also true in the early-nineteenth century. Local considerations figured in deeply in these elections. In fact, rather than national politics shaping the local, in the case of 1800, local City politics helped determine the presidential election.

    Engraving of Aaron Burr

    What really changed was that, in 1799, Aaron Burr got the state legislature to charter the Manhattan Company, which would ostensibly provide clean water to New Yorkers.  Burr, though, had bigger plans.  He wrote into the charter provisions that effectively allowed the Company to act like a bank.  This mattered because up until this point, members of the Federalist Party dominated the City’s two banks—the Bank of New York, and the New York branch of the Bank of the United States.  Many people believed that Federalists played politics with the banks, distributing and restricting credit to serve partisan ends. Many artisans, in particular, bemoaned that these banks’ lending practices worked against them.

    The Manhattan Company provided an antidote on both fronts. First, Burr ensured that members of the Republican Party dominated the Company’s board of directors. The Republican Party in New York was made up of a number of distinct factions built around individual leaders. By bringing these factions together in one institution, and binding them financially, the Manhattan Company unified the opposition to the Federalists.  Second, the Company then opened up access to credit to many of the artisans who had a tense relationship with existing banks. This drew artisans—whose rocky relationship with the Federalist Party ran back to the ratification of the Constitution—firmly into the Republican orbit.

    By both consolidating the Republican Party at the highest levels, and broadening its base at the grassroots, Burr’s Company transformed the City's political dynamics.  The rise of the Republicans in Manhattan helped tip the balance of power in the state legislature enough that, later that year, New York cast its electoral votes for the Republicans’ Jefferson/Burr ticket.  Some Federalists--including Bleecker’s father, Anthony L. Bleecker—ironically had invested in the Manhattan Company. They made a profit, but at the expense of their party’s local and national political fortunes.

    Of course, Burr still famously almost played the spoiler in the presidential election. At the time, the person who received the most electoral votes became president, and the runner-up became vice-president. Thomas Jefferson ended up receiving the same number of electoral votes as Burr, the presumptive vice-presidential candidate. Burr did not willingly back down. Though his intransigence sparked a constitutional crisis, it was Burr’s work in New York City that helped get the Republican ticket elected in the first place. The hero at the local level played the villain on the national stage.

    How exactly Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker experienced these turbulent political times and what she thought about them remains obscure. That is, outside of the few cold dinners she noted in her diary.

    This is the third in a series of monthly posts highlighting entries from the Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker Diary. Previous installments in the series include a broad overview description of the diary, and posts featuring entries about labor in early New York and another about a sensational murder trial.

    Further Reading:

    On the connections between the Manhattan Company, the New York State legislative elections of 1800, and the presidential election, see Brian Phillips Murphy, “‘A very convenient instrument’: The Manhattan Company, Aaron Burr, and the Election of 1800,” William and Mary Quarterly 65 (April 2008), 233-266; and Robert E. Wright, “Artisans, Banks, Credit, and the Election of 1800,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 122 (July 1998), 211-239.  On turnout in New York, see John L. Brooke, “‘King George Has Issued Too Many Pattents for US’: Property and Democracy in Jeffersonian New York,” Journal of the Early Republic 33 (Summer 2013), 187-217.  My analysis of election results relied on the election returns compiled by Philip J. Lampi and made available through “New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787-1825,” an NEH-funded project run by Tufts University and the American Antiquarian Society. 

    About the Early American Manuscripts Project

    With support from the The Polonsky Foundation, The New York Public Library is currently digitizing upwards of 50,000 pages of historic early American manuscript material. The Early American Manuscripts Project will allow students, researchers, and the general public to revisit major political events of the era from new perspectives and to explore currents of everyday social, cultural, and economic life in the colonial, revolutionary, and early national periods. The project will present on-line for the first time high quality facsimiles of key documents from America’s Founding, including the papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Drawing on the full breadth of the Library’s manuscript collections, it will also make widely available less well-known manuscript sources, including business papers of Atlantic merchants, diaries of people ranging from elite New York women to Christian Indian preachers, and organizational records of voluntary associations and philanthropic organizations. Over the next two years, this trove of manuscript sources, previously available only at the Library, will be made freely available through

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    In the April 17, 2016 issue of the New York Times Book Review, Dr, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture reviews the new book, Ghetto, The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, by Dr. Mitchell Duneier, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. Dr. Muhammad describes the book as "a stunningly detailed and timely survey of scholarly work on the topic." As I read through the review, I was struck by how much of this scholarship, mostly written by African Americans,  is housed here at the Schomburg Center. Below is a list of some of these primary sources, which are at the heart of this new book.



    Black Metropolis

    Black Metropolis; a Study of Negro Life in a Northern City by St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, with an introduction by Richard Wright.  New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company [1945].  

    "a seminal and devastating critique of Northern racism in ­migration-era Chicago" —K. Muhammad






    Life Magazine
    Life magazine. St. Clair Drake

    St. Clair Drake Papers, 1935-1990. Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Born in 1911, St. Clair Drake was an educator and social anthropologist who taught sociology at Roosevelt and Stanford Universities and at the Universities of Liberia and Ghana. His study of social life in the Caribbean and West Africa and in the black communities of Chicago and Great Britain spanned the 1930s to the 1980. His major study of Blacks in Chicago, Black Metropolis, written in collaboration with Horace Cayton, was published in 1945. A prolific lecturer and author, his many articles and essays appeared in books and in scholarly and non-scholarly journals in the United States and in Africa.




    Horace R. Cayton Papers, 1866-2007.  Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library.  Sociologist, writer and academician Horace Roscoe Cayton was born in Seattle on April 12, 1903. In 1936, Cayton returned to Chicago to work on a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The project was charged with studying the structure of the African American family and juvenile delinquency for three years, until 1939. St. Clair Drake, an anthropology instructor at the University of Chicago, joined the project. In 1941, funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund enabled Drake and Cayton to organize their findings from the WPA project and supplement it with additional findings from the early 1940s. The result was one of the most seminal works on the life and culture of African Americans in Chicago— Black Metropolis . (1945).

    Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection
    Horace Cayton at Parkway Community House, 1941


    American Dilemma

    American Dilemma; the Negro Problem and Modern Democracyby Gunnar Myrdal, with the assistance of Richard Sterner and Arnold Rose. New York, London, Harper & Brothers  [1944].

    "Myrdal’s bible of mid-20th-century race-relations policy — a book so influential it was cited in the Brown v. Board of Education decision — left a gaping hole in the scholarship." K. Muhammad




    Carnegie-Myrdal Study of the Negro in America research memoranda collection, 1935-1948. The Carnegie Corporation of New York hired Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish social scientist to organize and direct the project. He put together a team of African-American and white social scientists working in the field of race relations who prepared reports, also known as memoranda, on all aspects of life in the African-American community. These memoranda served as working documents to assist Myrdal in the preparation of his report, published as An American Dilemma.

    Gunnar Myrdal, The Granger Collection, New York
    Gunnar Myrdal. The Granger Collection, New York


    Dark Ghetto; Dilemmas of Social Power by Kenneth B. Clark; foreword by Gunnar Myrdal. New York, Harper & Row [1965].


    Metropolitan Applied Research Center (MARC). Kenneth Bancroft Clark (1914-2005) founded and directed the Metropolitan Applied Research Center, a non-profit research corporation concerned with the problems of American urban society.  The collection contains drafts of Roy Wilkins' and Ramsey Clark's book, "Commission of Inquiry into the Black Panthers and the Police. Search and Destroy: a Report, 1973 concerning the police raid of the Black Panther headquarters in Chicago on December 4, 1969, resulting in the deaths of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. The reports of the Grand Jury which conducted the investigation as well as the Commission's findings are included. Additionally, there are reports from the Metropolitan Applied Research Center, 1967-1975; and minutes of the New York State Urban Development Corporation.

    The Negro Family, the Case for National Action. (the "Moynihan report."). United States. Department of Labor. Office of Policy Planning and Research.  Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Office [1965].  Digital scan from Stanford University.

    The Declining Significance of Race

    The Declining Significance of Race : Blacks and Changing American Institutions by William Julius Wilson. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [1978].








    "And the black ghetto remains for many people a product of what Myrdal called “certain characteristics of the Negro population,” rather than, as Duneier concludes and the history attests, “a phenomenon of ongoing external domination and neglect.” —K. Muhammad

    See other books written by Mitchell Duneier available at the New York Public Library.

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    Welcome to The Librarian is In, the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.

    Frank and Gwen turn the tables on NYPL's Jessica Strand this week, interviewing the host of Books at Noon about the coolest authors she's ever interviewed herself. Plus: Prince's book-related legacy and Frank's best Carson impression.

    Where have all the raspberry women gone?

    What We're Reading Now

    The V-Word: True Stories of First-Time Sex, ec. Amber J. Keyser

    Missoula by Jon Krakauer

    Teaching kids consent on Everyday Feminism

    The Farewell Symphony  and Our Young Man by Edmund White

    The episode of Slate's Culture Gabfest about how podcasts are an intimate audio experience

    Tinkers by Paul Harding

    Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell



    Hot Topix

    What will happen to Prince's memoir?

    The story about Prince donating $12K to keep the Western Branch Library open in Insider Louisville

    Check image from the Louisville Free Public Library.

    Guest Star

    Jessica Strand and Books at Noon


    Jess interviewing Colson Whitehead at Books at Noon in 2015.

    Tracy K. Smith: Coming to Books at Noon, Life on Mars,Ordinary Light

    The NYPL Podcast -- which we like to call "the other podcast" -- that includes recordings of Books at Noon

    Sarah Ruhl

    The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

    Podcast of Jessica's interview with her father, Mark Strand

    NYPL's Bernstein Awards

    Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

    Word of the Week

    Gwen: Demonym

    Thanks for listening! Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Could we convince you to do it now?

    Find us online @NYPLRecommends, the Bibliofile blog, and Or email us at!

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  • 04/28/16--07:19: Hot Off the YA Presses
  • The first few months of 2016 have produced some exceptional new young-adult fiction. Here’s a handful of the titles we’re most excited about—newly arrived in our system and ready for checkout.


    We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
    Henry Denton gets abducted by aliens. Often. And they’ve given him a choice: Press a button and stop the world from being destroyed, or… don’t. Henry has to decide whether the world is worth saving.






    Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura
    This manga series was originally published in Japan in 2009, and it’s finally made it into an English translation. It’s light and quick, with lovely art, but Higashimura touches on a deeper theme: a group of outsiders finding like-minded friends and feeling less alone because of it. Perfect for any teen who feels like an outcast.






    The Serpent Kingby Jeff Zentner
    This novel’s setting—a small town in rural Tennessee, named after the founder of the KKK—is incredibly vivid, infused in the compelling story of the son of an imprisoned snake-handling preacher and his misfit friends. Their multiple perspectives switch throughout the book, letting readers into each of their heads. It's a beautiful story, painful, and raw. Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you.





    Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
    Dread looms over every part of this book, which takes place in Queens in summer 1977—the Summer of Sam and during the time of the wave of arson sweeping New York City. Nora Lopez has to cope with the fires and the killer on the loose, as well as some threats closer to home: her brother's unpredictable violence, her mother's helplessness, her father's indifference, and her own ambivalence about her future.





    The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
    Federle is well known as a children’s writer for his Better Nate than Ever series, but the characters in his first YA offering are dealing with grown-up problems: the death of a sibling, coming out, and much more.






    The Smell of Other People’s Housesby Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
    A story about growing up in Alaska in the 1970s, poor and cold in a very difficult and unforgiving place.






    Have trouble reading standard print? Many NYPL titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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    Jacinta Juarez thinks that she is the luckiest girl in the world when she meets news anchor Kathryn Dawson Dahl. The famous TV star becomes her Amiga, her mentor. The girl cherishes her time with Miss, as she refers to her. She guards Miss protectively, and she does not want to share her with anyone. They go shopping together and spend quality time with each other; the kid's life is blissful when they hang out. 

    However, trouble is brewing on the home front. Jacinta's father is deported, and soon her mother disappears as well. The girl struggles to care for her siblings while avoiding the gaze of the Administration for Children's Services. The race to survive and save her mama dominates Jacinta's young life.

    Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by Judith Robbins Rose, 2015

    I love how the girl focuses on language in the book; the main character is actually trilingual.


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    As a huge fan of Wonder Woman and Catwoman, I'm excited to share that YA authors Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, and Matt de la Peña take on #DCcomics #NationalSuperheroDay. 

    Bestselling author Sarah J. Maas will write a YA novel based on Catwoman, which will be published in August 2017. Mass is the author of The Thrones of Glass series. The Throne of Glass is a Cinderella inspired retelling  with a darker twist. In this tale, our heroine is Celaena Sardothien an assassin who has been imprisoned for her previous crimes. Celaena has been training to become an assassin from a young age, and she is the best. After being betrayed Celaena is captured imprisoned for her crimes and sent to work in a salt mine. Prince Dorian offers her a path to freedom by competing in a tournament at the palace. Celaena accepts and finds that there are many dangers hidden in the castle…Mass is also the author of the A Crown of Thorns and Roses series.

    In addition, New York Times Bestselling author Leigh Bardugo will write Wonder Woman  for the YA audience. Bardugo is the author of the The Grisha Trilogy and Six of CrowsThe Grisha Trilogy  includes Shadow and BoneSiege and Storm, and Ruin and RisingShadow and Bone tells the story of Alina, a young woman with a hidden power that can save her country. Once Alina's power is revealed, she is taken to the royal palace where she will be trained to become a member of the magical elite known as the Grisha. Of course, nothing its what it seems at the palace. In the palace, Alina will be forced to learn how to control her wild power while also dealing with the secrets of the Grisha and a country that depends on her…

    New York Times Bestselling author Marie Lu  will be creating the YA novel for BatmanMarie Lu is the author of the Legend trilogy and the The Young Elites trilogy. Legend is a post-apocalyptic story told from the dual perspective of June and Day. June is the brightest student of her military academy, and Day is a most wanted criminal. The paths of June and Day meet when June’s brother is killed. Day is the prime suspect. June goes undercover to the slums of the Republic to find Day. In the streets June finds more than she bargained for…

    Matt de la Peña will work on the Superman YA novels. Matt de la Peña is the author of Mexican Whiteboy and The Living.  Mexican Whiteboy is a  story about young boy named Danny, who is half-Mexican and half-white. Danny is trying to find his place in the world…



    Source: YA authors will take on Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Catwoman by Aliza Weinberger Published March 31, 2016

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    Director Bill Gunn talks it over with actor Duane Jones on the set of "Gangja & Hess." Photo courtesy of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/NYPL, Photographs and Prints Division

    Nora Soto, Pre-Professional in our Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, celebrates the brilliance of filmmaker Bill Gunn, whose papers are now available in our collections: 

    Bill Gunn, while too obscure for household name status, is regarded as an icon of black independent filmmaking. Throughout his thirty-year career as an actor, playwright, novelist and filmmaker, until his untimely death in 1989, he amassed a rich oeuvre of creative work, both published and produced, unreleased and unrealized. The collection of his life’s work is now available for research purposes in the Schomburg Center’s Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

    As the Pre-Professional for the Division, I help to process the In the Life Archive, a collection of cultural materials and records created by black LGBT/queer individuals and organizations. Working on the Bill Gunn Papers gave me a chance to familiarize myself with a lesser-known and immensely talented auteur whose works offer a unique vision of black American life.

    Bill Gunn was born in 1934 and raised in Philadelphia by his equally gifted parents, William Harrison, Sr., a musician and poet, and Louise Alexander, an actress who directed a local theater company. Gunn began his career as a theater and film actor, making his Broadway debut in the 1954 production of The Immoralist starring James Dean, and later appeared in The Member of the Wedding with Ethel Waters in 1955. Frustrated with the lack of creative control as an actor as well as the limited roles available to him, Gunn turned his attention to playwriting and directing his own original work. In 1959, he premiered his first play, Marcus in the High Grass, at the Theater Guild in New York. The success of his subsequent plays, Celebration (1965) and the one-act Johnnas (1968), allowed Gunn to pursue screenwriting. His early output includes his adaptation Kristen Hunter’s novel, The Landlord (1970).

    Gunn was a pioneer of black filmmaking, and in 1970 he became the second black filmmaker to direct a film for a major studio with his directorial debut Stop, of which he also served as the film’s screenwriter, co-producer, and casting director. Shot on location in Puerto Rico, Stop’s controversial premise and X rating caused Warner Bros. to shelve the film, which remains unreleased to this day.

    Gunn’s second and most iconic film was Ganja & Hess, a 1973 horror film starring Duane Jones and Marlene Clark. Written and directed by Gunn and produced by Chiz Schultz, the film was marketed as a blaxploitation film and received a limited release in the United States, where it performed poorly. Nevertheless, Gunn’s experimental spin on vampire horror earned him critical acclaim, including being selected for Critic’s Week at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, where it was also recognized as one of the ten best American films of the decade. Ganja & Hess remains an enduring cult classic of both horror and independent black filmmaking, and was remade by Spike Lee as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus in 2014. Lee credited Gunn as the co-writer.

    Gunn later worked on the screenplay of Muhammad Ali’s 1977 biopic, The Greatest, for which he was uncredited in the final version of the film, and directed Personal Problems, a 1980 avant-garde soap opera featuring black directors, writers, and actors. He continued to write plays, including the musicals Black Picture Show, Rhinestone, Family Employment, and The Forbidden City (his final work in 1989). In addition to his extensive credits as a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, Gunn was the author of two novels, All the Rest Have Died (1964) and the semi-autobiographical Rhinestone Sharecropping (1981), as well as many unpublished works.

    The Bill Gunn Papers offer researchers a treasure trove of his creative work captured throughout all stages of the writing process. The collection contains drafts, annotated scripts, and notes of his produced work, as well as a vast array of his unproduced and unpublished material across these mediums. In surveying the collection, it is apparent that Gunn had an immense creative spirit and a unique vision. Regretfully, much of his work would remain unreleased, and with his early passing at the age of 54, Gunn’s full potential would never be realized in his lifetime. Nevertheless, Bill Gunn created a body of work worthy of preservation and further investigation so that his legacy may continue to resonate and inspire.

    The Bill Gunn Papers are now available for research in the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center.

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    Join us from 10-11 AM EST for live reading recommendations on Twitter @NYPLRecommends!


    30 Days of Shakespeare

    April is winding down, which means our Shakespeare project—30 staff members to reading their favorite passages for 30 days—is almost complete. Check them all out here.

    Hot Off the YA Presses

    2016 has already produced some exceptional new young-adult fiction. Here’s a handful of the titles we’re most excited about—newly arrived in our system and ready for checkout.

    Raspberry Berets: The Librarian Is In Podcast, Ep. 11

    Frank and Gwen turn the tables on NYPL's Jessica Strand this week, interviewing the host of Books at Noon about the coolest authors she's ever interviewed herself. Plus: Prince's book-related legacy and Frank's best Carson impression.

    New York Times Read Alikes: May 1, 2016

    Almost all romance almost all the time this week, with four of the five top spots filled by tales of sex, love, and relationships.

    Experimental but Approachable

    You don’t need a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature to enjoy books that play with language or toss aside linear plots.

    Gwen is reading Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen... and taking lessons. Bwahahaha.

    Lynn is on vacation!

    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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    Shaun Neblett aka MC SNEB, photo by Bob Gore

    Shaun Neblett, aka MC SNEB, is a playwright, educator, and founder of Changing Perceptions Theater. As a young adult, Neblett entered his short play "This is About A Boy's Fear," into the Young Playwrights Festival contest for high school students where the winners received a professional production of their works at a New York City Off-Broadway theater. "This Is About A Boy's Fear" was presented along with other winning plays at The Public Theater in 1995. On April 20, 2016, the Schomburg Center hosted a reading of Neblett’s newest play "Homage 5: Life After Death," after the album of the same name by one of the most influential rappers in the game, the late Notorious B.I.G. Neblett’s “Homage Series” is a cycle of seven plays inspired by hip hop MCs and their classic albums. One of the plays, "Homage 3: Illmatic," inspired by NAS' debut album was presented Off-Broadway, and also received a reading at the Schomburg Center in 2014.  As of yet, Neblett has completed other plays in the cycle including "Homage 2: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick" after the album by Slick Rick.


    Although the plays are not about the MCs, they are inspired by themes in the songs on the albums that Neblett has selected for his Homage cycle. "Homage 5" is set in 1997 at an inner city barber shop and focuses on a group of African American men, including the shop's proprietor, one of the barbers on staff, the barber's brother and the shop’s clientele. The play infuses the wit, lyricism and bravado found in Notorious BIG's music. It also examines the mortality of African American men, which is possibly even more relevant now in a Black Lives Matter-era America than it was when Biggie's album "Life After Death" was originally released.

    Neblett's plays can be described as hip hop theater, a genre of theater written by artists who were born before and during emergence of hip-hop as an art form. The anthologies Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop TheaterPlays From the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater From The Hip-Hop Generation, and The Fire This: African-American Plays For the 21st Century contain works by artists whose plays are driven by hip-hop or incorporate elements of hip-hop to dramatize a story.

    During the talk back session following reading of "Homage 5," Neblett explained his goal is to create theater that features and appeals to young African-Americans, particularly men, who don't usually attend the theater because they don't see themselves represented on stage. Neblett's plays depict a slice of life in urban America and themes such as education, popular culture, art, family and crime recur in his works. Neblett plans to produce a full production of "Homage 5" in 2017 in Brooklyn. Read more about Neblett’s work and receive updates on the development of "Homage 5," by following Neblett @MCNEB or at

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    SAGEWorks Boot Camp on Monday, May 2, 2016, 9:30 AM - 2 PM at the Sage Center, 305 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001. This 2 week training takes place from Monday - Friday, 5/2/16-5/13/16, 9:30 am to 2:00 PM. SAGEWorks assists people 40 years and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge job search skills in a  LGBT-friendly environment.

    Addison Group will present a recruitment on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 10 AM - 3:30 PM forCustomer Service Rep. (10 P/T Seasonal openings) at the New York State Department of Labor - Workforce 1 Career Center, 250 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    Time Warner Cable will present a recruitment on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 11 AM - 4 PM for Territory Sales Representative (Outside Sales 11 openings) at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

    Spanish Speaking Resume Writing Workshop on Thursday, May 5, 2016, 12:30 - 2:30 pm for all interested jobseekers to organize, revise and update resumes at 138 60 Barclay Ave. 2nd Floor, Flushing NY 11355.

    Job Postings at New York City Workforce 1.  

    affiche le pour

    Apprenticeship Opportunities in New York City.

    Brooklyn Community  Board 14: Available jobs

    The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCE&TC) is an association of 200 community-based organizations, educational institutions, and labor unions that annually provide job training and employment services to over 750,000 New Yorkers, including welfare recipients, unemployed workers, low-wage workers, at-risk youth, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and the mentally and physically disabled. View NYCE&TC Job Listings.

    Digital NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company, startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workplace, accelerator, incubator, resource, and organization in the five boroughs. Search jobs by category on this site.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT). Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center. For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development or call 718-302-2057 ext. 202.

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement. Currently, BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks, Basic Accounting, and Excel. This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Class runs for eight weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer. CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Training runs Mondays through Fridays for six weeks and includes test prep and taking the HHA certification exam. Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition. For more information for the above two training programs, email:, call 212-571-1690, or visit. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future. For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds. For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this page will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of May 1 become available.

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  • 04/29/16--08:59: The Legacy of Dick Gregory
  • Dick Gregory, courtesy of the Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

    One of the greatest benefits that a celebrity has is a platform to speak out against the injustices of society.  Comedian, social activist, writer, and entrepreneur, Dick Gregory, born Gregory Richard Claxton, can be noted as doing this over the course of his life.

    Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1932, Gregory advocated for social justice at an early age, organizing a student-led march at Sumner High School to protest segregated schools. Not only was he was a community organizer, but he was also an athlete. He earned a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, yet his college career was interrupted after he was drafted into the military in 1954. His involvement in the military is where he would start his comedic work, both performing and winning army talent shows. Upon his return to the states, he dropped out of college, as he felt they did not want him to learn, but rather used him for his athletic abilities.  

    Gregory got his big break in 1961 in the Chicago night scene when he replaced white comedian “Professor” Irwin Corey, per the request of Hugh Hefner at the Chicago Playboy club. After performing at the club for a few shows, he won over white audiences that even included southerners. The success earned him a contract to perform at the club for three years.

    Gregory drew his material from current events, poking fun at racial issues such as segregation, and would be the first African-American comedian to produce satire based on this concept. This strategy enabled him to sell out shows at numerous night clubs in Chicago, becoming a national headliner, earning television appearances, and selling comedy albums.

    With substantial success and national attention, Gregory partnered with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), becoming heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. On numerous occasions, he faced jail time as a result of his activist work, and even endured police brutality. But he did not let this defeat him. When the Mississippi government blocked the Federal surplus commodity program to areas where SNCC was registering black voters, Gregory chartered a plane with food to feed those communities. He not only protested on behalf of African Americans, but he also protested against the Vietnam War, world hunger, and drug abuse.

    This coming Monday, May 2, our program Theater Talks: Turn Me Loose, will cover the new play, starring Scandal’s Joe Morton, about the extraordinary life and career of Dick Gregory.  This event is currently sold out, however you may still tune in via LiveStream to join the discussion with Morton, director John Gould Rubin, and producer Ron Simons.

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  • 05/01/16--07:35: Voices of NYC
  • For the month of May, we’re showcasing thirty-one of the extraordinary stories that have been shared by New Yorkers throughout our city as part of The New York Public Library’s Community Oral History Project. This project is a volunteer-powered initiative that aims to document, preserve, and celebrate the rich history of our city’s unique communities by collecting the stories of people who have experienced it firsthand. Since the beginning of this project in 2013, over one thousand stories have been collected by more than three hundred volunteer interviewers.

    Like what you hear? Browse all of our oral history recordings at

    Want to make these stories searchable? Try your hand at our transcript editor.

    All recordings will also be archived in the Library's Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy research collection.

    Special thanks for this audio series goes to: Joanne Dillon, Elizabeth Downs, Kaitlin McClure, and Sherri Niziolek.


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  • 05/02/16--11:35: Epic Literary Breakup Lines
  • “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

    Gone with the Wind won a Pulitzer Prize on May 3, 1937, and it’s inspiring us to come up with other great literary breakups.

    (Even though, as one intrepid librarian points out, “frankly” was added for the movie and doesn’t appear in the book! But the sentiment is there...)

    Clark Gable in "Gone with the Wind" from NYPL's Digital Collections. (1949)

    So, this week, we asked our book experts here at NYPL to quote spectacular literary breakup scenes, and they came up with some doozies. Tomorrow is another day!

    Graphic Novels

    Scott Pilgrim

    “Um, listen...I think we should break up or whatever.” Classic teenage charm.

    (Scott Pilgrim 2: Scott Pilgrim Vs the World by Bryan Lee O’Malley)—Genna Sarnak, Jerome Park

    “I’m no one’s little woman, Ian. I’m certainly not yours.”

    (Giant Days, Vol. 2 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin) —Crystal Chen, Muhlenberg

    “You and I are quits now, X-Men. Our paths will cross no more. My destiny lies in the stars.”

    (Dark Phoenix from X-Men as quoted in Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger. From The Uncanny X-Men #135, July 1980.)—Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

    Young Adult


    “I’m dumping the whole box back into your life Ed, every item of you and me. I’m dumping this box on your porch, Ed, but it’s you, Ed, who is getting dumped.” You go, girl!

    (Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler with art by Maira Kalman) —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    Remy breaking up with Dexter (her “casual summer hook-up”): “I know how things end, Dexter. I’ve seen what commitment leads to, and it isn’t pretty. Going in is the easy part. It’s the endings that suck.”

    (This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen) —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    Adult Fiction

    Raymond Carver

    “I’m going out to get cigarettes.” … the classic way out in anything by Raymond Carver.—Billy Parrott, Mid-Manhattan

    No one does blasé gentility like Evelyn Waugh:

    “I say, Nina,” said Adam after some time, “we shan’t be able to get married after all.” 

    “No, I’m afraid not.” 

    “It is a bore, isn’t it?”

    (Vile Bodies)—Meredith Mann, Electronic Resources

    “You have killed me, Kitty.”

    (Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. Victorian lesbian melodrama at its finest.) —Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Young Adult Programming

    “I jumped up and down on my pregnant wife.”

    (It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright.)—Courtney Blossom, Huguenot Park                                   

    “How did you get out? I mean, what was the nature of the tragedy that prevented the marriage?” “Jeeves worked it. He thought out the entire scheme.” 

    (Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse)—Virginia Bartow, Special Collections

    How about a horrible but humorous marriage proposal?

    “Will you marry me, vile and abominable girl that you are?
    Yes, but, mind, if only to save my neck from being wrung!” 

    (The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer)—Leslie Bernstein, Mott Haven

    “I shall be far away when you read these sad lines, for I have wished to flee as quickly as possible to shun the temptation of seeing you again. No weakness! I shall return, and perhaps later on we shall talk together very coldly of our old love. Adieu!” 

    (Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; spoken by Rodolphe, a cowardly cad who chooses to break up in a letter.) —Elizabeth Waters, Mid-Manhattan

    Or how about a stage direction? In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, nothing Nora says to Torvald, as she explains why she is walking out on their marriage, is as resonant as that final stage direction: “From below, the sound of a door slamming shut.”

    —Kathie Coblentz, Special Collections

    Honorable Mentions in Movies & Music

    Veronica amid the Heathers.

    “You know what I want?”

    [shoots boyfriend]

    “Cool guys like you out of my life.”

    (Heathers)—Susie Heimbach, Mulberry Street

    “And you can cry all you want to I don’t care how much you invest yourself in me. We’re not working out.”

    “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” by My Chemical Romance, which can be found on their greatest hits album May Death Never Stop You. —Joe Pascullo, Grand Central


    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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    Seventeenmagazine is a popular magazine for teenage girls and tweens. The covers of Seventeen are colorful and usually feature a young woman surrounded by headlines about the latest news on fashion and social events.


    Launched in September 1944, Seventeen recognized teenagers as a distinct group with their own interests separate from their parents. One of the features of the Seventeen was news about the entertainment industry. In 1946, Edwin Miller was hired as an entertainment editor to a position that he held until 1988.

    Burt Lancaster
    Burt Lancaster. Image ID: TH-27958

    Miller, as the entertainment editor, had the unique opportunity to travel around the United States and abroad to interview actors, directors, entertainers, musicians, musical groups and writers. Miller did not conduct the typical interview of questions and answers. His style was to weave a narrative about his subject often writing comments (to himself) about the person(s) being interviewed.

    Edwin Miller interviews for Seventeen Magazine, 1946-1988 [bulk 1960s-1970s], in Archives and Manuscripts.

    Not all interviews were equal. Some of the interviews ran several pages and other interviews a mere half a page. This could be due to the unavailability of the artist, the reluctance of the subject to be interviewed or Miller's lack of interest. Until the 1970s, Miller favored typing on yellow stock paper. In later years, Miller began to record his interviews on audio cassettes.

    Miller's interviews are a virtual who's who in the entertainment industry. Miller's interviewees include Woody Allen, Alan Alda, Eddie Albert, Carroll Baker, Robert Blake, The Beatles, Red Buttons (one of his earliest interviews), Harry Belafonte, Burt Lancaster, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, James Caan, Diahann Carroll, Cheap Trick, Jimi Hendrix, James Dean, Burt Lancaster, Suzanne Pleshette, Elvis Presley, Lee Remick, Vincent Price, Eva Marie Saint, Simon and Garfunkel, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, and Orson Welles.

    Some of Miller's interviews did not make it into Seventeen for a variety of reasons. Miller was one of those rare individuals who met many of the entertainment industry's most recognized individuals at various stages of their career.

    Lee Remick
    Lee Remick. Image ID: TH-46260

    This post was inspired by the Edwin Miller Interviews for Seventeen magazine. For additional information about this collection or other collections, contact the Manuscripts and Archives Division.

    Support the New York Public Library: donate or volunteer.

    Members like you are at the heart of our work to provide books, classes, and more for free.

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    When I was younger I knew Larry “Ratso” Sloman through a school friend. A few months ago we were both caught in a crowd near a protest on 7th Avenue and I hit the author, editor to the stars and National Lampoon alum up for an interview.

    Larry "Ratso" Sloman with his Library Cards.

    On the Road with Bob Dylan Cover.You've collaborated with a lot of people on books ranging from uncovering a plot to kill Houdini to the lives of musicians, comedians and most recently Mike Tyson. Do you have a favorite?

    They're all my children. Sentimentally, I still love my first book, On the Road with Bob Dylan, that documented the 1975 Rolling Thunder Tour. Dylan gave me a blurb for the cover that said that the book was "the War and Peace of Rock 'n Roll"!

    Your Houdini book ended up uncovering a possible cult plot and resulted in the Houdini's family applying to exhume his body. Did that ever happen?


    Regrettably no. We tracked down the last surviving members of Houdini's bloodline, relatives of his brother Dash, and one of them was eager to help out and even participated in a press conference with America's top forensic scientists who were willing to work pro bono on the exhumation but at the last minute, his sisters objected to being thrust into the limelight and put pressure on him to withdraw so we couldn't get the legal standing to exhume the body.

    You were the Executive Editor for National Lampoon for six years. How did that come about, and was there a great moment that stands out above the rest (that is printable in a library publication, that is)?

    Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead coverHa. I was recruited into the Lampoon family by my good friend Michael Simmons, whose dad owned the Lampoon. They were going through changes and I had had experience as top editor at High Times Magazine. I had spent some years trying to minimize the drug coverage there and make it more of a counter-cultural magazine, so it was a welcome change. We had a nice five year run, lots of fun as you might imagine.

    One of the highlights actually occurred recently when I was part of a panel at the NYPL to coincide with the publication of Rick Meyerowitz's National Lampoon retrospective, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. There was an editor to represent each era of the Lampoon, and by the time I went on, I felt that the event was a bit too staid by Lampoon standards so I talked about how proud I was to have recruited the great Gilbert Gottfried to write for the magazine and I read from a compendium he did for us of his favorite dirty jokes. Half the audience was plotzing, the other half turned whiter than their usual skin tone. I thought that Paul Holdengräber, our NYPL host, would strangle me. But we actually bonded after that and are close today. I'm glad he still has his job.

    Steal This Dream

    Did you use The New York Public Library in your research?

    I'm currently writing a second book with Mike Tyson about his mentor and surrogate father, the great boxing trainer Cus D'Amato. The library has been invaluable in my research. Everyone up there on 42nd Street is incredibly cordial and helpful. They even offered me a room to write the book in, which I may take them up on if my wife decides I'm getting on her nerves more than usual.

    Ecce homo

    What are your favorite three books?

    Other than my own books? That's impossible to answer. There are so many. But among my favorites are Ecce Homo by Nietzsche, anything by the Marquis de Sade, and Man is Not Alone by Abraham Joshua Heschel.

    Kinky Friedman

    What are you reading now?

    I've got a stack of books piled up by my night table. Among them are The Force of Reason by the late, great Italian journalistOriana Fallaci, The Complete Books of Charles Fort (a guy who spent most of his life in libraries!), The Wisdom of the Zohar, Vol 1 by Tishby, The Other Parisby Luc Sante, The Western Canon by Harold Bloom, and Glittering Images by my favorite academician Camille Paglia. If I'm not in a mood for heavy reading then I just pick up one of my pal Kinky Friedman's hilarious detective novels. (Full disclosure—I'm Ratso, Kinky's Dr. Watson, in the series.)

    Bonus: Check out Paul Holdengraber's interview with Mike Tyson at the New York Public Library!

    What celebrities or public figures are you curious about?
    Whose book list would you like to read?
    Let us know in the comments!

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    Calling all book lovers, literary enthusiasts, the curious and those just looking for a fun and free event on May 7 and 8. If Mom is a book lover or literary enthusiast, this is just the event to get you favorite child status after a great lunch or just before dinner.

    Committed to building a literary culture, raising literacy and educational levels in the Bronx, the Bronx Book Fair is an annual feature of Bronx Week.

    This is the 4th year of the Bronx Book Fair. Instead of a one day event, the Bronx Book Fair has expanded to a two-day affair: Saturday May 7, 11 AM-6 PM and Sunday May 8, 1-5 PM. Admission is free and there is always something for everyone. Meet new authors in the Bronx, get reading tips from librarians, learn about publishing, and for the little ones—enjoy storytime, make Mother's Day cards and if you are a new parent or caregiver, bring your child and learn how to get them started in the wonderful world of reading at our Family Literacy Workshop at 3:30 PM on Sunday.

    Can't make it for the entire period? Here is a full schedule of the two days. Choose your favorite events and attend!

    Saturday, May 7th, 2016


    12-1 PM
    Building a Literary Culture in the Bronx
    A panel discussion on the state of the literary culture in the Bronx and what we can do to continue to develop it.

    Moderated by Ron Kavanaugh, Director of the Literary Freedom Project and publisher of Mosaic Literary Magazine.

    Panelists: Carmen D. Lucca is President of the Puerto Rico Hispanic Cultural Association and a poet and author of several works including The Sunset Watcher. Charles Rice Gonzalez is the co-founder of the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD). He is also the author of Chulito which has received awards and recognitions from the American Library Association and the National Book Critics Circle. Latanya De Vaughn, poet and founder of Urban Voices Heard.

    1-2 PM
    Panel Discussion with Bronx Librarians: Celebrate the Freedom to Read: Be a Power Reader! (Adults, Teens and Children). Moderated by Michael Alvarez, Chief Librarian of the Bronx Library Center.
    Jean Harripersaud – Adult Services Librarian, Katie Fernandez - Teen Services Librarian and Luz Marin - Children Services Librarian of the Bronx Library Center.

    2:30-3:30 PM
    Papo Pepin Quartet
    Enjoy lively Latin Jazz led by Papo Pepin, a master percussionist from the Bronx.

    A Conversation: Women, Arts Activism, Creativity and Social Responsibility
    Moderated by Lorraine Currelley, of Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. and a Pearls of Wisdom Storyteller.

    Panelists: Alison Roh Park is a Pushcart-nominated poet, Kundiman Asian American Poetry fellow, and winner of the Poetry Society of America New York Chapbook Fellowship and Poets and Writers Magazine Amy Award. Mercy Tullis-Bukhari is a published poet and a tenured New York City high school teacher with a Master’s Degree from Columbia University. Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She is the author of several romance novels including How to Fall. Purvi Shah, poet and winner of the inaugural SONY South Asian Excellence Award for Social Service for her leadership fighting violence against women.

    4:50-5:40 PM
    A Weaving of Voices: An Intergenerational Poetry Reading
    Facilitated by Ketiwe Boahene, featuring: Daphne Carter McKnight, poet, artist, educator who has taught and counseled adult and college-aged students in New York City for over 30 years. Ms. McKnight is a member of the International Women's Writing Guild and the author of two chapbooks of poetry -- Full-Grown and Female (2009) and Sister, Sing Me A Song (2010). Edward Currelley, poet, playwright, author and artist. He is the author of the children's book I’m Not Lost, I’m With You and young adult book That Krasbaum Kid. Nkosi Nkululeko, the 2016 NYC Youth Poet Laureate, Callaloo Fellow and The Watering Hole Fellow.

    Conference Room C21

    12-1 PM
    Women in Comics, a panel with Ray Felix
    Ray Felix is the Executive Director of the community based organization, Bronx Heroes Comic Con, which promotes literacy and education through the practice of reading and creating comics. Ray's works include, " God: The Second Coming". " No-1 Anthology", "O.D's H.H" 1 & 2, "Bronx Heroes", "Runaway Slave" and "A World Without Superheroes".

    1:30-2:30 PM
    Clap! Snap!: A Youth Poetry Reading
    Moderated by Peggy Robles, of Robles Writes, this reading will feature young voices of the Bronx.

    3:30-4:30 PM
    Drawing Workshop with Ray Felix
    Join Ray Felix of the Bronx Heroes ComicCon for a drawing workshop.

    Children’s Story Hour Room (2nd Floor)

    12-12:45 PM
    Storytelling/Read Aloud

    4-4:45 PM
    Craft: Mother’s Day Card Making
    Hands-on projects using a variety of skills. For ages 7 to 12 years old. Limited to 30 children. Pre-registration required (718-579-4220)

    Sunday, May 8th, 2016


    1-1:45 PM
    Do Publishers Have a Responsibility to People of Color?
    Moderated by Gary Johnston, published, performing poet, literary editor and co-founder of the Blind Beggar Press with: Carolyn Butts, Executive Director and publisher of African Voices. Carlos Aguasaco, founder and director of Artepoetica Press a publishing house specializing in Hispanic American themes and authors. Ulises Gonzales, publisher of Los Barbaros = The Barbarians, a New York Literary magazine in Spanish.

    1:45-2:30 PM
    Enjoy an Afternoon of Poetry and Prose by Bronx BRIO Award Winners
    Featuring Rachel Ansong, Jose Olivarez and Erik Maldonado (Advocate of Wordz), current and past winners of the prestigious Bronx Recognizes its Own (BRIO) awards by the Bronx Council on the Arts.

    2:30-3:15 PM
    Getting Published: How to Get Your Work in Readers’ Hands
    Moderated by Robert Farrell, Associate Professor at Lehman College. Panelists: Yesenia Montilla, a New York City poet with Afro-Caribbean roots and a 2014 CantoMundo Fellow. Kevin Sabio is a literary and performing artist. He is the author of five books. Charlie Vazquez, Director of the Bronx Writers Center and the author of the novels Buzz and Israel (2004) and Contraband (2010).

    3:15-4 PM
    The State of Independent Bookstores: Thinking About the Bronx
    Join Veronica Liu of Word Up Community Book Shop (Manhattan), Dr. Janifer Wilson of Sisters Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center (Manhattan), and Lexi Beach of Astoria Bookshop (Queens) for a discussion about the state of independent bookstores in New York City and the potential for one in the Bronx. Moderated by Lisa Gomez, Bronx Socialite Blogger.

    4-4:45 PM
    Poets and Writers from Lehman College’s literary journal Obscura read new and published works
    Featuring student writers: Giovanni Ortiz, Ashley N. Ortiz, Jean Carlos Soto, Stephanie Trinidad and Ariana DiLorenzo.

    Children’s Story Hour Room (2nd Floor)

    1-2 PM
    Computer Zone
    Waiting too long for the next available computer? Feel free to come to the computer zone and use a computer without the wait. For ages 7 to 12.

    3:30-4:30 PM
    Family Literacy Workshop
    Learn tips on how to help your baby/toddler develop literacy skills using reading, talking, singing, writing and playing. Limited to 20 parents. Pre-registration at the Children’s Information Desk. Recommended for parents with babies and toddlers.

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    Jane Mendelsohn comes to Books at Noon this week to discuss discuss her latest work, Burning Down the House.

    Join her on Wednesday, May 4 at 12 PM!


    When and where do you like to read?

    I like to read anywhere, anytime.  But I especially like to read on the beat-up velvet love seat in my office.  It’s extremely comfortable.
    What were your favorite books as a child?

    Charlotte’s Web, A Child’s History of the World, Winnie-the-Pooh, One Morning in Maine, The Secret Garden...
    Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

    I don’t consider these habits strange but maybe they are: I like to lie on the floor to think for long stretches of time and I eat very dark chocolate when I write.
    What are five words that describe your writing process?

    Searching, Vivid, Mysterious, Non-linear, Free.
    How have libraries impacted your life?

    Some of my happiest moments have been in libraries.  My mother used to take me to the library with her— she’s an academic— and i remember the library in every school I attended— from the little kid-sized Bertoia chairs in the library at my elementary school to the big green leather wing chairs in the library at college.   Libraries have been second homes for me.  They are sanctuaries.  They are places where your mind can feel completely free to wander. 

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    How often do you think about smell and scents? I often do. Not just about perfume and room sprays. I notice smells and scents of all sorts everywhere, all the time: pleasant, putrid or neutral. However, this doesn’t often come up in conversation. Trying to share smell events or smell memories is—more often than not—rewarded with quizzical looks and slightly awkward pauses. That is, before someone changes the subject.

    Photo of "Speeding J train on the Williamsburg Bridge", taken byYanping Nora Soong
    Yanping Nora Soong [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    Just to get a more concrete idea of just how often I notice scent and smells, I decided to write down scents I have noticed while traveling to an appointment in Manhattan. When I got off the subway, the train blew a dusty, chemical scented wind as it sped away. Walking from the train platform to the escalator, I walked behind, next to and in front of various people’s perfume and cologne auras. The escalator itself emanated the scent of the inside of a hot typewriter after it has been used for a while; most escalators do. I then walked up the stairs, outside the subway station into a cloud of cumin and tomato scented smokiness from the line of Halal trucks that lined the street.

    SalonAs I traversed the diagonal pattern of blocks to my destination, I walked past various hotels and restaurants, crossing paths with dark alleyways had the heavy, sticky, putrid smell of rotting produce and meat parts. Past hair salons with open doors that smelled like shampoo hair and hot hair being blown dry. Past upscale clothing stores that smelled of eucalyptus and lavender. Past coffee shops with their doors constantly opening and closing, the warm and bittersweet smell of coffee drinks and baking cookies escaping.

    Sidewalk Tulips on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, taken by Margaret Siggillino
    Sidewalk Tulips on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, taken by Margaret Siggillino

    Past tulips, lilacs and hydrangeas lining the black iron gated homes and apartment buildings along the side streets. And through clouds of cigarette smoke from clusters of cleaners, doormen, and medical technicians taking their cigarette breaks. When I arrived, I stepped into the lobby of the building and walked through patches of air that smelled like Windex and floor cleaner on my way to the elevator. This is just a very short outline of everything I sniffed along the way. To document every single scent noticed during every square foot of my travels on any given day would take a lot of time and consume many pages.

    Scent has the practical function of keeping us safe. An example of that would be smelling smoke or gas in your home, taking action and getting out of harm’s way. However, there are many that enjoy perfume and aromatherapy. There is even a event based perfume fan club called Sniffapalooza. Kate McClean, an artist in the United Kingdom, even created a “smell map” of various cities based on her study. She has created “sensory maps” of various cities.  

    New York's Threshold of Smell: Greenwich Village by Kate McClean

    She has even created “a smellwalking guide” on how to take your own “smell walk” which also has a glossary of smell terms. If you do a simple internet search, you might come across many more articles and studies on scent. 

    I find that scent also serves as a vehicle of time travel for me. Going to a drug store and smelling the various soaps and shampoos can be an opportunity to take a mental trip back in time or provide an inspiration to an anticipated future event. For example, the original smell of Agree shampoo is redolent of simpler and hopeful times.

    Michael Papas, master designer of household scents, puts a great deal of thought into creating such scent types. He equates the process to “composing a symphony…” which refers to the “...harmonious mixing and matching of potentially hundreds of individual aroma chemicals.” He goes on to explain, “Composers have their musical notes, and we actually use what are called ‘fragrance notes’ ― three of them ― that unfold over time to the nose like stanzas of a symphony to the ear.”

    Papas, in a presentation to the American Chemical Society in the article "Secrets of Scents: Designing the the smells that sell household products" states “Fragrances are part of what has been called ‘nasal nostalgia,’ bringing back long-forgotten memories of pleasant experiences for people to enjoy once again,” he added. “We strive to connect with an emotion that makes the consumer feel good and could be perhaps a little nostalgic.”

    For example, when Papas went on vacation to Aruba one year, he purposefully used his nose to find to find new tropical scents for a house cleaning product line he was working on. According to Papas, consumer’s tastes and expectations change, "At one time everyone wanted these clean, traditional scents, but now consumers want a whole experience when they're doing their laundry or washing their floors.” You may find more details on how Papas develops the scent in household cleaning products in this Wall Street Journal article by Ellen Byron: "Does This Smell Clean to You? Products Bring Aromatherapy To Household Chores; Don't Say 'Banana'." A couple of other organizations that dedicated to creating household scents include The International Fragrance Association of North America and International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF).

    Not all scents or scent combinations directly emanate from plants, nor are they created in labs. Some scents or scent combinations just come together and occur in a once-in-a-lifetime, like a music jam or instrumental improvisation. Good, bad or neutral, they are forever in the neural landscape, never to be forgotten. Such scent combinations may be from childhood, such as smell of my old junior high school cafeteria, metallic and redolent of sweat, stale corn chips, with faint hints of frozen pizza and hot dogs. Or the smell of the dirty patch of red patterned carpet located next to the kitchen in the dining room of a hotel I once worked in; greasy, with a hint of celery and wet umbrella. The humid, wet wooled, wet foot dirt and raw chicken-like smell of a crowded city bus on a snowy day, crawling through traffic. It could be the smell of the inside of one’s hand after using a dish sponge past its prime.

    Or it can be the succulent, indescribable scent of a hug from a loved one. The wet, familiar hello and goodbye cheek kisses from cool and powdery relatives. Studies show that humans and animals have their own ‘scent-print’ and pheromones. An article in TIME Magazine provides a brief overview of curious tidbits about pheromones. “Smell Dating” is even becoming a new trend according to this ABC News article.

    Start your own smell journey. Let us various books on smell and scent keep you company.

     Using Essential Oils to Enhance Body, Mind, Spirit Well-being  By David Schiller & Carol Schille

    Aromatherapy for Life Empowerment: Using Essential Oils to Enhance Body, Mind, Spirit Well-Being 
    By David Schiller and Carol Schille

    Aromatherapy has become more and more popular over the years. Find out more about the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of aromatherapy. For more books on aromatherapy, browse our catalog.


    Navigating Smell and Taste Disorders by Ronald DeVere, Marjorie Calvert and DeVere, Ronald

    Navigating Smell and Taste Disorders
    By Ronald DeVere, Marjorie Calvert and DeVere, Ronald

    This book, part of the Neurology Now series of books from the American Academy of Neurology, is designed to give practical tips to those dealing with smell and taste disorders. Many Americans who are 55 and over live with undiagnosed smell and taste disorders. The lack of smell and taste can lead to other problems such as alterations in mood, diet and the inability to detect dangerous odors in their homes. Topics covered include the mechanics of smell and taste, the cause of smell and taste related problems and treatment options. Recipes are also included on how to make food more appealing to those suffering from smell and taste disorders. 
    A classic murder mystery by Patrick Süskind. The main character Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born with the olfactory version of perfect pitch. In order to use his talent, he becomes an apprentice to a fine perfumer. However, his unstoppable drive to create unique scents beyond the herb and oil perfume mixtures that he is learning gets him into grave trouble.
     A Personal History of Scent by Denyse Beaulieu

    The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent
    By Denyse Beaulieu

    Check out this biography about a perfurmer. Read about his childhood and his scent memories and his mysterious and emotional process of creating scents and perfumes. 


    Remembering Smell by Bonnie Blodgett

    Remembering Smell 
    By Bonnie Blodgett

    Bonnie Blodgett, a professional food writer, destroyed her olfactory nerve after using nasal spray trying to battle a cold. After that, her sense of smell disappeared. Blodgett describes the different stages she went through after that happened. This include phantosmia, the brain attempt to compensate for the loss by generating a non-stop smell of “every disgusting thing you can think of tossed into a blender and pureed.” This book is dedicated to exploring the scientific, medical, psychological and gustatory effects the sense of smell has, as well as the lack of it.

     How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum

    Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way
    By Molly Birnbaum

    Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Find out how an aspiring chef copes with losing her sense of smell after an accident. 



     Discovering our Enigmatic Sense of Smell by Rachel Herz

    The Scent of Desire: Discovering our Enigmatic Sense of Smell
    By Rachel Herz

    If you are curious about the psychological importance of being able to smell, and how scent affects our emotional, physical and romantic lives in unexpected ways, you may enjoy this book. 



     The Science of Scent in Everyday Life   By Avery Gilbert

    What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life
    By Avery Gilbert

    Although smell is interesting to many people, it is also the least understood among our senses. 
    Olfaction expert Avery Gilbert provides interesting eccentric tidbits such as museums using smells in exhibits, the innovations of a Dutch “aroma jockey,” and how the human sense of smell is more on par with animals than previously thought. Gilbert also talks about the latest scientific discoveries and smells effect on emotion and memory. 

    Do you have any favorite book titles that have vivid scent descriptions? Please let us know. 

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    Open source intelligence and counter terrorism; links between jazz and physics; the graphic design process; kosher food in our times; the rise of the political consultant; untapped political power; the dynamics of Jewish social life; tales of political missteps; architects of a new Jerusalem; high profile figures through the lens of modern psychology; the art of image making and message craft in American politics; transformation in a post-Fidel Castro era; a first-person odyssey through the prison systems of the world...

    If any of these topics have piqued your interest, then please join us for an Author @ the Library program this May at the Mid-Manhattan Library to hear distinguished non-fiction authors discuss their work and answer your questions.

    Author talks take place at 6:30 PM on the 6th Floor of the Library, unless otherwise noted. You can also request the authors' books by clicking on the book covers below.

    Defeating Isis
    Monday, May 2, 2016
    Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe with Malcolm Nance, internationally renowned intelligence veteran, author, and counter-terrorism expert.
    This illustrated lecture explains the religious and military origins of ISIS—the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, its virulent propaganda, and how it spreads its cult ideology throughout the Middle East and to disaffected youth across the globe through ultra-violence.
    Jazz of Physics
    Thursday, May 5, 2016
    The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe with Stephon Alexander, jazz saxophonist, astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at Brown University.
    This illustrated lecture highlights the various ways that music, in particular, jazz improvisation, is linked with modern physics and cosmology.
    Please Make This Look Nice
    Monday, May 9, 2016
    Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Processwith Peter Ahlberg, designer and Principal/Creative Director of AHL&CO, and teacher of graphic design and visual/critical studies at the School of Visual Arts.
    This illustrated lecture provides a behind-the-scenes look at the graphic design process of graphic designers, typographers, and studios from around the world.
    Kosher USA
    Tuesday, May 10, 2016
    Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food with Roger Horowitz, a food historian and Director of the Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library.
    This illustrated lecture follows the fascinating journey of kosher food through the modern industrial food system. It recounts how iconic products such as Coca-Cola and Jell-O tried to become kosher; the contentious debates among rabbis over the incorporation of modern science into Jewish law; how Manischewitz wine became the first kosher product to win over non-Jewish consumers (principally African Americans); the techniques used by Orthodox rabbinical organizations to embed kosher requirements into food manufacturing; and the difficulties encountered by kosher meat and other kosher foods that fell outside the American culinary consensus.
    Building a Business of Politics
    Wednesday, May 11, 2016
    Building A Business of Politics: The Rise of Political Consulting and the Transformation of American Democracy with Adam Sheingate, Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.
    This illustrated lecture traces the history of political consultants from its origins with the publicity experts and pollsters of the 1920s and 1930s to the strategists and media specialists of the 1970s, who transformed political campaigns into a highly profitable business.
    Sleeping Giant
    Thursday, May 12, 2016
    Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America with Tamara Draut, the Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, and the author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead.
    This illustrated lecture examines a sleeping giant, the new working class, that is just now waking up to its untapped political power, and the role it will play in our economic and political future.
    Monday, May 16, 2016
    Summoned: Identification and Religious Life in a Jewish Neighborhood with Iddo Tavory, Assistant Professor of Sociology at New York University.
    This illustrated lecture, based on ethnographic fieldwork, presents an account of the fabric of everyday life in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and an attempt to think through the relationship among actors' identifications, the crystallization of their social worlds, and the micro-patterning of social interaction.
    The Green and the Black
    Tuesday, May 17, 2016
    The Green and the Black: The Complete Story of the Shale Revolution, the Fight over Fracking, and the Future of Energy with Gary Sernovitz, a Managing Director at Lime Rock, an oil- and gas-focused private equity firm.
    This illustrated lecture explains the reality of fracking and America’s shale revolution and how it can be made safer, how the oil business works and how we can harness the benefits of our resources.
    Political Suicide
    Thursday, May 19, 2016
    Political Suicide: Missteps, Peccadilloes, Bad Calls, Backroom Hijinx, Sordid Pasts, Rotten Breaks, and Just Plain Dumb Mistakes in the Annals of American Politicswith Erin McHugh, a former publishing executive and an award-winning author.
    This illustrated and entertaining lecture sheds light on cautionary tales of political missteps in American history, from the birth of the nation through the present day.
    Till We Have Built Jerusalem
    Monday, May 23, 2016
    Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New Citywith Adina Hoffman, also the author of House of Windows, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, and the co-author with Peter Cole of Sacred Trash.
    This illustrated lecture offers a prismatic view into one of the world's most beloved and troubled cities and provides a portrait of three architects who helped build modern Jerusalem. It is also a gripping exploration of the ways in which politics and aesthetics clash in a place of constant conflict.
    Andy Warhol was a Hoarder
    Tuesday, May 24, 2016
    Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities with Claudia Kalb, acclaimed health and science journalist.
    This illustrated lecture looks at the evolution of mental health and gives a glimpse into the lives of high-profile historic figures through the lens of modern psychology, weaving groundbreaking research into biographical narratives that are deeply embedded in our culture. From Marilyn Monroe’s borderline personality disorder to Charles Darwin’s anxiety, it provides compelling insight into a broad range of maladies, using historical records and interviews with leading mental health experts, biographers, sociologists, and other specialists.
    Republic of Spin
    Wednesday, May 25, 2016
    Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency with David Greenberg, Associate Professor of History and of Journalism & Media Studies, Rutgers University; former Fellow, Wilson Center and presidential historian.
    This illustrated lecture recounts the rise of the White House spin machine from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama, going behind the scenes to see how the tools and techniques of image making and message craft work. The lecture also examines the profound debates Americans have waged over the effect of spin on our politics.
    Thursday, May 26, 2016
    Planet/Cuba: Art, Culture, and the Future of the Island with Rachel L. Price, a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages at Princeton University, and author of The Object of the Atlantic.
    This illustrated lecture examines the transformations in Cuban art, literature, and culture in the post-Fidel era, and features a fascinating array of artists and writers, who are tracing a new socio-cultural map of the island.
    Incarceration nations
    Tuesday, May 31, 2016
    Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the Worldwith Baz Dreisinger, an Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a journalist, film and radio producer, and Founder of the Prison-to-College-Pipeline.
    This illustrated lecture is a first-person odyssey, covering nine countries, beginning in Africa and ending in Europe, investigating the current conditions in prisons worldwide. It looks into the human stories of incarcerated men and women and those who imprison them, creating a jarring, poignant view of a world to which most are denied access, and a rethinking of one of America’s most far-reaching global exports: the modern prison complex.

    Author @ the Library! is a series of monthly events where accomplished non-fiction authors discuss their work. You may meet the Author of interesting and engaging non-fiction reads, participate in a lively discussion and access books and materials on topics of interest. Come checkout a book, DVD or ebook on the topic.

    Don’t miss the many interesting films, book discussions, as well as computer and technology classes on our program calendar. Sit back at Story Time for Grown-ups this May with the theme Celebrating Mothers- beginning on May 4. The Contemporary Classics Book Discussion meets on Monday, May 2 and the featured novel isOn Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee If you enjoy talking about books, join us on Friday, May 13 for Open Book Night; the theme this month isThe Natural World

    All of our programs and classes are free, so why not come and check one out! Hope to see you soon at the library!

    Download the Mid-Manhattan Library's May 2016 Program Flyers here:

    PDF iconFLYER - BOOK DISCUSSION MAY 2016 On Such a Full Sea.pdf

    PDF iconopen book night May 2016.pdf

    PDF iconFLYER - SUNDAY MOVIES - MAY 2016.pdf

    PDF iconFLYER - SATURDAY MOVIES - MAY 2016.pdf

    PDF iconFLYER - Storytime May 2016.pdf

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    The 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is one of the most significant events in the histories of Israel or Palestine. In Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel, Dan Ephron tells the stories of Rabin and his stalker Yigal Amir. Ephron, a longtime writer for Newsweek, is one of the incredible finalists for NYPL’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. Each year the award is given to journalists whose books have brought clarity and public attention to important issues, events, or policies. This week, for the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Dan Ephron.

    Dan Ephron

    When asked about Rabin, Ephron described the former prime minister as a military man with unusual breadth of vision:

    "Rabin was Mr. Israel of the older model. The thing that I think we thought about Israel in the sixties and seventies. He thought of himself as a lifelong soldier. One of the things his daughter told me was that Rabin used to every morning sit on the edge of his bed and shine his own shoes... The military is in his blood. I think if you asked him to describe himself even in the nineties, he would say I'm a military man, certainly not a peacenik. I don't think he would use that term. But during the course of his military service and later his political service, and this is not uncommon in other parts of the world, he came to the idea that Israel can't continue living by the sword, that there has to be some compromise with the Palestinians. He talked about the idea that it was toxic for Israeli society to continue ruling over millions of Palestinians."

    Ephron made a surprising comparison of Rabin to another leader, Charles de Gaulle. Both, he says, held a sense of invincibility:

    "I think he would say, and I think he did say something like this at different points, 'No one's gonna pose a threat to me in my country. I'm the guy who was the general in the war. I'm not gonna take precautions.' And by the way, I'm reading a book about the Algerian war [by] Alistair Horne, who talks about de Gaulle having this same kind of thing, despite multiple attempts on de Gaulle's life, he just can't fathom the idea that someone poses a threat to the great de Gaulle. Rabin has a security chief who tells him, 'You've got to be wearing a bulletproof vest,' and Rabin says, 'Absolutely not. Not going to wear a bulletproof vest in my country.'"

    While Prime Minister, Rabin met with then-President of the United States, Bill Clinton. Their personalities made them odd bedfellows:

    "He was taciturn, gruff, not a small talker. At some point, Rabin meets Clinton and boy, it's hard to find two more different men. Here's Clinton, the baby boomer who is [a] larger than life presence in the room. He's got a ton of charisma. And they're in the room for the first meeting and they're in these awkward silences because Rabin is just not a small talker... The relationship between Clinton and Rabin evolved, and it evolved very well."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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