Featured this week:
No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World. An award-winning collection of stories about anything and everything New York.
"Wonderful inside tales about New York. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint." Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.
Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Funeral Wells: gray-bearded with sunken eyes, he'd weep bitter tears at a funeral, while helping himself to your wallet.
Banjo Pete Ellis, who gave up minstrel shows to rob banks. Minstrelsy's loss was crime's gain ... for a while.
Annie Reilly, nicely scarfed with an earnest look: a diligent servant who would fuss over the children and then elope with all the jewelry in the house.
Lord Courtney, a.k.a. Sir Harry Vane of Her Majesty's Lights, a tall and gentlemanly smooth-talking British impostor who dazzled wealthy belles to the point that they snipped buttons from his fake uniform to cherish as mementoes of the Empire, unaware that he was swindling them out of a fortune.
John Larney, a.k.a. Mollie Matches, who in his younger days did drag as a little girl selling matches and picked the pockets of people in large gatherings, before graduating into adult-style burglary.
These are some of the crooks whose mug shots, showing them nicely dressed but with a somewhat miffed expression, appear in the New York City Rogues Gallery of Inspector Thomas F. Byrnes, chief of New York City's Detective Bureau. Accompanying each photo was a brief description to help in identification. This information appears in Byrnes's Professional Criminals of America, published in 1886 and now in the public domain. Though credited with reforming the Detective Bureau, Byrnes was not above beating a thief into a confession, while at the same time accumulating a small fortune with the help of tips and advice from Wall Street friends like Jay Gould. But thanks to Byrnes, we can savor the appearance and activities of the most diligent and colorful rogues of his time, without having to worry about their fingers sneaking into our pockets, or their smooth talk swindling us out of our hard-earned cash.
(For info about the Rogues Gallery and Byrnes I am indebted to Dan Barry's article "Cheats, Swindlers and Ne'er-Do-Wells" in the Metropolitan section of the New York Times of Sunday, February 11, 2018.)
NEW YORK ARCHITECTURE, ITS GLORIES AND HORRORS
Construction in Manhattan is rampant. My own dear bank, that generous dispenser of free candy and tissues, is going to demolish its midtown headquarters in 2019 and build a new world headquarters on the site, the site being Park Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets. The existing building, an oldie built in 1961, has a mere 52 stories; the new one will soar to 70 stories and contain an additional 1 million square feet of office space to accommodate 15,000 employees, compared to the 6,000 now crammed into a building meant for 3,500. This move, says CEO Jamie Dimon, will ensure that the bank operates “in a highly efficient and world-class environment for the 21st century.” That’s good to hear, given the awkward fact of the bank’s losing $6 billion (yes, billion, though some say more) in a single bad trade in 2012. This is the first sky-scratcher to go up under new zoning rules for Midtown East that encourage the development of taller, more modern structures. Mayor Bill de Blasio is happy about the news, almost cackling with approval. Some architects and preservationists lament the loss of the present building, which has no landmark status, but photos show a big box of a thing with lots of gray glass and black steel panels, impressive in its way but, to my mind, disposable. What the new building will look like, I have no inkling. More than just another big box, I hope.
|It does stand out ... and up.|
|It ain't the Woolworth, but striking it is.|
|Yes, it's a library, and yes, it's finished. Just takes a little getting used to.|
|But does it look like salt?|
Beyond My Ken
|It's the tall one in the center. On the right is 7 World Trade Center.|
If you love the city (or hate it), this may be the book for you. An award winner, it sold well at BookCon 2017.
"If you want wonderful inside tales about New York, this is the book for you. Cliff Browder has a way with his writing that makes the city I lived in for 40 plus years come alive in a new and delightful way. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint." Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.
For readers who like historical fiction and a fast-moving story.
"A real yarn of a story about a lovable pickpocket who gets into trouble and has a great adventure. A must read." Five-star Amazon customer review by nicole w brown.
"This was a fun book. The main character seemed like a cross between Huck Finn and a Charles Dickens character. I would recommend this." Four-star LibraryThing review by stephvin.
"A lively and entertaining tale. The writing styles, plot, pace and character development were excellent." Four-star LibraryThing early review by BridgitDavis.
"I am glad that I have read this book as it goes into great detail and the presentation is amazing. The Author obviously knows his stuff." Four-star LibraryThing early review by Moiser20.
What was the gay scene like in nineteenth-century New York? Gay romance, if you like, but no porn (I don't do porn). Women have read it and reviewed it. (The cover illustration doesn't hurt.)
"At times amusing, gritty, heartfelt and a little sexy -- this would make a great summer read." Four-star Amazon customer review by BobW.
"Really more of a fantasy of a 19th century gay life than any kind of historical representation of the same." Three-star Goodreads review by Rachel.