One of the most pleasant, vital, and photogenic buildings in New York City reaches today its 100th year anniversary. In the past century, through many incarnations, it went from a prime train hub, to a movie star, to a dilapidated relic, scheduled to be razed just 30 years ago. It survived, in no small measure thanks to efforts by a famous presidential widow, and it’s ready to welcome travelers for another full century. It offers them a reprieve from their commute, and shelter from the bustling metropolis it symbolizes as few other landmarks of its age.
Built over an old decrepit depot, and largely credited, in functionality and Beaux-Arts style design, to architects Charles Reed and Alfred T. Fellheimer, the popularly known as Grand Central Station of our time has gone through several profound changes, to keep pace with the changing city.
It served well its purpose, splitting transportation duties, and star wattage, with its sister from across town, Pennsylvania Station. It was after WWII, though, that its own existence (and secrets) came into question, since cars and buses seemed destined to take over railways as a preferable commuting means.
In the process, it got in the hit list of controversial urban planner Robert Moses, a man who single-handedly redefined much of what grand public works were supposed to be. Despite many misses, he got a lot Continue reading →
Of all the fights that Muhammad Ali, who turns 71 today, fought, there were four on the ring, and two outside it, that will probably be always associated with his greatness. Was he the greatest that there ever was? No, if you count only the four; yes, if you include the other two. The first was against the establishment, when he lost and regained his right to fight. There were the brutal battles against Joe Frazier, and the spectacular comeback against George Foreman. Now he’s still fighting, and by all accounts winning, against his final foe, Parkinson’s disease.
We put together a little tour to pay homage to this tragic Othelo, who paid with the prime of his career for the right to indulge on his own convictions. Far from a cartoonish view of perfection and virtue, the Louisville, Kentucky, native, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, was as deeply flawed as many of those he mercilessly mocked and beat on the ring.
Which only enhances the moral authority of his erratic persona outside of it, including his seminal conversion to Islam, and adoption of the Muhammad Ali name, at the dawn of his career. With that decision, he instantly set himself apart from the image of the gifted but immature Negro hero, common to black sports stars who preceded him.
At the same time, he embodied the larger struggle of race and religion which has been as current an issue today as it was at the time of the Founding Fathers. Just a few years later, that decision would weigh heavily on his refusal to serve the U.S. armed forces, and caused the lost of his prime boxing years.
Between those two brackets of personal-slash-political decisions, he graced the world with arguably some of the best performances ever by Continue reading →