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New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg Paperback – September 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (September 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861893388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861893383
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Berman (On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle) establishes the personal tone of this collection of original essays in his introduction, recalling how New York City's very special form of peace, harmony, and democracy... had unraveled in the 1970s and '80s. The bonding of firsthand recollection to broader historical issues continues throughout the anthology, co-edited by poet, critic and photographer Berger. Joe Anastasio uses his morning subway commute to reflect on his former life as a graffiti artist, while Leonard Levitt's journalistic background informs his account of the lack of transparency in the city's police department. For every quirky only in New York moment, like Jim Knipfel's subway crazies or Luc Sante's East Village commerce (both legitimate and not), there's hefty political discussion, such as Leonard Greene's un-nostalgic look back at Ed Koch's record on race relations. Not every contribution works: Richard Meltzer's rant about the North American Calcutta has a creaky, outdated feel, and Meakin Armstrong's essay about New York's literary culture is little more than a string of authors and book titles. But with 230 photographs sprinkled throughout, this multivoiced collection establishes itself as a unique document of the city's last three decades. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Anyone who knew New York in the 1970s knows it was a different city from that of today. New York Calling is like a Rough Guide to a city receding into a dim past but now brought startlingly, evocatively to life by the amazing
group of writers assembled by Marshall Berman and Brian Berger.”––Francis Morrone, historian and author of The Architectural Guidebook to New York City
 
 
(Francis Morrone 20070501)

"Original essay collections are landmines of missed opportunity––nobody's perfect every time, and assigning editors are stuck with what they're handed. So the success ratio is miraculous here as writers of vastly varying celebrity weigh in on the fate of teeming, polyglot New York City in a rich-get-richer world. For once all five boroughs are accounted for, and a heartening proportion of the contributors still find hope in a place where almost no one under forty can afford the rent. Readable, intelligent, and full of facts not even Marshall Berman knew." ––Robert Christgau
 
 
(Robert Christgau 20070613)

"New York Calling gives us the New York that doesn't get into the guidebooks--or the history books. With tour guides like Luc Sante, Tom Robbins, and editors Berman and Berger, we can count on an eye-opening journey through a more rough and tumble city, full of problems but bursting with messy life."--Geoffrey O'Brien, author of Sonata for Jukebox



 

(Geoffrey O'Brien 20070621)

“Gotham’s a Rip Van Winkle city. Always has been. In 1856, Harper's Monthly claimed New York ‘is never the same city for a dozen years together,’ and that after forty years a visitor would find ‘nothing, absolutely nothing, of the New York he knew.’  But even Rip would be flabbergasted had he fallen asleep in the 1977 blackout and woken up today. New York Calling’s perceptive reports and evocative reminiscences vividly recreate the all but vanished city of the ’70s—dangerous, broke, aflame, in ruins, but also hip, vital, creative, rebellious—and trace the astonishing transformations wrought over the intervening decades. By turns tender and irate, whimsical and reflective, it's a great guide to Gotham’s recent history.”—Mike Wallace, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 and founder of the Gotham Center for New York City History
 
 
(Mike Wallace 20070629)

"Berman (On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle) establishes the personal tone of this collection of original essays in his introduction, recalling how New York City's very special form of peace, harmony, and democracy . . . had unraveled in the 1970s and '80s. The bonding of firsthand recollection to broader historical issues continues throughout the anthology. . . . With 230 photographs sprinkled throughout, this multivoiced collection establishes itself as a unique document of the city's last three decades."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly 20070709)

“An exacting look at the state of the city after thirty-five excruciating years of civil war. . . . We emerge with a terrific sense of immigrant muscle, ethnic flavor, and multicultural diversity as a big city’s jumping beans.”—John Leonard, Harper’s
 
(John Leonard Harper's Magazine 20070815)

"A mind-opening collection. . . . Through the lens of New York politics, music, art and counterculture, we hear several, often fascinating takes on essentially the same story: how the squalor, struggles, crime, drugs, and free expression of the 1970s and 1980s gave way to a cleaner and safer city in the subsequent two decades, but one in which commercial development has often trumped protecting existing residents and preserving a rich past. . . . The essays, whether read discretely or as a complete work, offer a near unforgettable impression of an era."—Financial Times
 
(Jason Warshof Financial Times 20070901)

"This new book that he and Marshall Berman edited, New York Calling (Reaktion Books) is really a great anthology. Everybody we talk to who remembers New York before it became a fucking Disney subsidiary moans about the current lack of soul on Gotham's streets. It's not easy to say exactly why we loved the place more when it was a mess and a disaster, but it's clear we do. There was a crazy vibrancy to the town that has clearly gone missing in the new Trump era. New York Calling collects essays by a swell bunch of writers - from Jim Knipfel to Richard Meltzer to Tom Robbins to Robert Sietsema - all of whom memorialize things and people and places that seem to have been lost forever. It's a wonderful read, and brings the scent of five day old garbage to our snoots like nothing else we can think of. Breathe deep."--Byron Coley and Thurston Moore, Arthur Magazine
 
(Byron Coley and Thurston Moore Arthur Magazine 20070911)

"With Rudy running for President and Hilly Kristal dead, the timing couldn’t be better for New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg. This fascinating, enlightening and sometimes irritating collection of essays pokes through the rubble of the past three decades and asks: What is the Apple without its worms—without its grifters, goombahs, B-boys, bohos and bums?"—Time Out New York
(Brian Braker Time Out New York 20070923)

"Berman does an excellent job narrating the spectacular decline and just as spectacular resurgence of his hometown and the subsequent essays, mostly by fellow New Yorkers, grapple with the many contradictions inherent in this story. The dirty, drug-addled, debt-ridden Gotham of 30 years ago is gone--thankfully--but in its place is a city that feels a little less vital, a little more ordinary, and a lot more expensive."--Metropolis Magazine
 
 
(Mason Currey Metropolis Magazine 20070919)

"Fascinating collection of essays . . . The essays often suggest that the real New York is to be found in Brooklyn or Queens, but prefer to focus on Manhattan, usually in tones of rueful melancholy or savage disgust. . . . The deregulated, liberatingly anonymous city to which generations of outsiders flocked in order to lose themselves is morphing into something altogether safer and tidier. It makes for comfortable living. But at what cost to New York's soul?"--Daily Telegraph
 
(Sukhdev Sandhu Daily Telegraph 20071027)

"Many of the 28 contributors to New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg seesaw between lionizing the lunacy that characterized the city during those years—some of us euphemistically described the mood as 'vibrant'—and dismissing the latest incarnation of New York as antiseptic. . . . Often revealing and almost always poignant."—Sam Roberts, New York Times
 
(Sam Roberts New York Times 20071104)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jp on November 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
At its frequent best, "New York Calling" has the scope of an encylopedia and the sweep of a novel. While Marshall Berman kicks things off in trademark mensch of the people style, it's the wide range of attentions given to street life of nearly every kind that makes this book special. Well-known contributors like Luc Sante, Tom Robbins, John Strausbaugh and Jim Knipfel are all predictably terrific but it's the boroughs that are brought most vividly, and uniquely, to the fore. Steve Maluk's Staten Island piece is a celebration and subtle 9/11 memorial all-in-one, CJ Sullivan's Boogie Down essay picks up where Jonathan Mahler left off in "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning" and Jean Thilmany's account of old folks at home in Italian Williamsburg (she lived next door to Manhattan Special) was wonderfully drawn.

As for New York's most populous (and popular?) borough, Brian Berger's "Who Walk In Brooklyn" might be the first piece on modern BK that gets ALL of it, or as much as could fit in seventeen action-packed pages. From Albemarle to Avenue Z, from the criminal to the sublime, with slavery, shanty towns, brutal labor strikes, mafia wars, sand dunes, salt marshes and the rush of food, music, noise, excitement and anger that every true Brooklynite recognizes as their own. Less ecstatic but equally important are the African-American voices of Armond White and Leonard Greene, each of whom cast a colder eye on the realities of race in what is, after all, also city's blackest borough.

Lastly, although I didn't notice until a particularly grueling airport layover, Berger also wrote three panoramic section introductions and, at the end of the book, an eccentric 1964-2007 Chronology that's really quite thrilling. (If you see the book in a store, start here.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By reader on November 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mandatory reading on New York history. That sounds boring, doesn't it. Rephrase: learn about the blackout, the Bronx, graffiti artists, the drug trade, the sex scene, jazz, rock and punk, senegalese food, stuff you'd never think of or know was in the same boro as you. You should probably do it soon, as according to John Strausbaugh in an essay on gentrification, the mall-ification of SoHo, the "cleanup" of Times Square, "the island is rapidly being leeched of much of its character."

I wouldn't describe this book as particularly cheery or as having a positive outlook on the future of the city, (it certainly wasn't written by the Travel and Tourism Board), but I think anyone not living in New York who is considering a move here should read this, primarily so you have some idea about recent New York history, and secondly so you're aware before you give notice at your hometown job (the one where your salary and your cost of living would recognize each other if they passed on the street) that today's city ain't the same New York of the 70s 80s 90s written about here, the one built by Hilly Kristal, Allen Ginsberg, James Brown, Warhol, Klaus Nomi, Hubert Selby, Ol' Dirty Bastard, but rather a watered-down (whited-down?) variant.

I liked that with 29 essays contributing to under 400 pages, nothing ran too long where I felt myself getting bored with one topic before coming to the next one. Also, hundreds of candid photos show everyday life in seemingly countless neighborhoods.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Breuckelen on November 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book after attending a reading in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) given by one of the co-editors & two of the book's writers (Luc Sante who wrote the outstanding essay "Commerce" & Tim McLouglin who wrote the essay on New York crime.) I've just finished the book and the main thing that became clear to me is, in line with recent trends in New York City as a whole, this might be the best Brooklyn book I've ever read. Brian Berger's essay "Who Walk In Brooklyn" is the standout (it begins with two epigraphs, one by my favorite writer Gilbert Sorrentino and the other by Ol' Dirty [...]) but pieces on civil rights, crime, small daily life and black cultural empowerment all take place largely in that borough. Fans of Brooklyn writer Jonathan Lethem won't be disappointed but most likely WILL be surprised at learning there's a lot more there to talk about. I was also extremely pleased to see the detailed and plugged-in attention the Bronx received, not just the usual cliches about fires, baseball & the birth of hip-hop. If there is a weak spot in the book, it's that although Berger and others go some way towards detailing the fullness of Latino cultures in the city, a little more salsa and a little less punk would have been nice. But at least after reading this, you'll know which Mexican joint in East Harlem makes the best pozole, that the little lunch counter by Lefferts Boulevard in Queens is Ecuadoran and that Puerto Ricans built Brooklyn too. The same goes for African-Americans, West Indians & Africans, Lebanese, Syrian & Greek & so forth: if Manhattan is becoming whiter, more expensive & less interesting, this book celebrates the abundance of new cultures as much as it reminiscently mourns the old ones.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Victor Lazlo on July 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
NEW YORK CALLING by Marshall Berman has to be the most meticulously written work on ALL New York City in a long time. Covering the late 1970s (who could forget the Blackout of '77 ?) until this very day under the Bloomberg administration, Berman excellently and in an impeccable fashion, covers all the changes the city has undergone for the past 30+ years: gentrification, demographics, the changing neighborhoods--pretty much a before and after format, in adition to stories that made headlines, Broadway shows, Hollywood's movies filmed on our great streets and a little hodge-podge of historical notes here and there. If you are a TRUE Native New Yorker, born and raised, like I am, or simply wish to get to know "The Greatest City in the World" on a very personal level, this is the book for you!! Highly recommended! P.S. Numb-skulled out-of-towners need not apply!
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