A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a legal text or a set of rules that people identify and use to avoid adhering to it. Exploiting loopholes in tax legislation by big corporations or wealthy individuals is a preoccupation of our time. The authorities fight a losing battle trying to plug them as lawyers specialize in finding new and profitable flaws. [Read more…] about Raines Law, Loopholes and Prohibition
An English Gambler, A Jewish Butcher & The History of Pastrami on Rye
The term sandwich bread (loaf) started circulating in the United States during the 1930s. It followed a revolution in the manner the product was presented to customers, no longer homemade but mass produced. After a decade of trial and error, the bread slicing machine was introduced and soon widely used. The sandwich was about to conquer the American and European markets. Grabbing a sandwich came to symbolize the rush of an urban society. [Read more…] about An English Gambler, A Jewish Butcher & The History of Pastrami on Rye
Vulgarity & Vice: Times Square in the 1920s
The 1920s was a decade of change and upheaval. While Europe was recovering from the First World War, the United States saw a period of economic growth and prosperity in which the country’s focus shifted from rural areas to the cities. It was also a time of great creativity in art and entertainment. New York City set the pace. [Read more…] about Vulgarity & Vice: Times Square in the 1920s
The Migration of European Modern Art to New York: Solomon Guggenheim & Karl Nierendorf
Born on April 18, 1889, in Remagen am Rhein into a Catholic family, Karl Nierendorf was educated in Cologne. He worked as a banker before World War I, but his career was disrupted in 1913 by the social upheaval in the Weimar Republic. One of his acquaintances, an art collector, introduced him to the Swiss-born German painter Paul Klee who persuaded him to attempt a career as an art dealer. The two would remain close. When Klee died in June 1940, Nierendorf published Paul Klee Paintings Watercolors 1913 to 1939 (New York: Oxford UP, 1941) as a tribute and an act of friendship. [Read more…] about The Migration of European Modern Art to New York: Solomon Guggenheim & Karl Nierendorf
Chuck Connors & Slum Tourism in Chinatown
Dating from 1785, Edward Mooney House at 18 Bowery, at the corner of Pell Street in Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown, is one of New York’s oldest surviving brick townhouses. Built shortly after the British evacuated New York and before George Washington became President, its architecture contains elements of both pre-Revolutionary (British) Georgian and the in-coming (American) Federal style. Designated in 1966 as a landmark sample of domestic architecture, Mooney House has three stories, an attic and full basement.
The property itself and the land on which it was built are manifestations of Manhattan’s socio-political emergence. The house harbors a history of various functions that involved a diverse mix of tenants and occupants, reflecting the chaotic rise of the metropolis. [Read more…] about Chuck Connors & Slum Tourism in Chinatown
Justus Schwab & East Village Radicalism
Today, the city of Frankfurt-am-Main is the largest financial hub in Continental Europe, home to the European Central Bank (ECB), the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The same city was at one time the epicenter of a liberal uprising that swept the German states. The Frankfurt Parliament was convened in May 1848; its members were elected by direct (male) suffrage, representing the full political spectrum. In the end, the revolution of 1848 failed and was suppressed with excessive force and retribution. [Read more…] about Justus Schwab & East Village Radicalism
Cremona to Central Park: Stradivari & Nahan Franko’s Legacy
Musician Nicola Matteis arrived in London in the early 1670s. Describing himself as “Napolitano,” he was the first Baroque violinist of note active in the capital. Very much his own promoter, he published his Arie diverse per il violin in 1676, a collection of 120 pieces for solo violin. A second extended edition with an English title-page appeared two years later. In 1685, he published the third and fourth parts of the famous Ayres for the Violin.
Matteis is credited with changing English taste for violin from the French to the Italian style of playing. Soon after, attention shifted from performer to instrument which sparked a veritable cult of Cremonese violins. The name Stradivari became a metaphor for perfection attained by a combination of individual genius, skill and attention to detail. [Read more…] about Cremona to Central Park: Stradivari & Nahan Franko’s Legacy
Exotic Animals, The Van Amburgh Circus & The Lion King of Fishkill
The term “exotic pet” refers to wild animals kept in captivity in a domestic setting for the purpose of personal interest or entertainment. With globalization the trade has increased dramatically, although its real scope is difficult to ascertain because for most species there is no registration requirement. Its scale may be a contemporary concern, but the practice itself has a long history. The public has always been obsessed with non-native animals. [Read more…] about Exotic Animals, The Van Amburgh Circus & The Lion King of Fishkill
The African Burial Ground, Columbia University & Manhattan’s Grave-Robbers
On July 26, 1788, the Convention of the State of New York, meeting in Poughkeepsie, ratified the Constitution of the United States and, in doing so, was admitted to the new union as the eleventh of the original thirteen colonies joining together as the United States of America.
For New Yorkers, it had been an eventful year. [Read more…] about The African Burial Ground, Columbia University & Manhattan’s Grave-Robbers
Weegee the Famous: Paparazzo of the Nameless
The term paparazzo and its plural form paparazzi were first used in English in a Time magazine article dated April 14th, 1961, entitled “Paparazzi on the Prowl.” The piece put the spotlight on a new type of photographer that was giving Rome’s elegant district around Via Veneto an unpleasant reputation. [Read more…] about Weegee the Famous: Paparazzo of the Nameless