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Sunday, 11 September 2011

New York

Back in the early 90s a friend's younger sister departed Hereford for an internship with a transglobal media firm in New York. She enjoyed a fine apartment and as much free champagne as she could drink, but little in the way of salary. A combination of canapes and buffet-tidbits from the office and a queue of young New York chaps eager to take her to dinner took care of food. Her other needs were efficiently organised on this side of the Atlantic; I was delegated the task of recording the omnibus edition of the 'Archers' every week, and every Monday morning I'd pop the C90 cassette in its Jiffy bag in the international air post. When she returned bearing gifts, mine was a splendid and beautifully illustrated edition of 'New York - the Painted City'. 

Grace Glueck's carefully selected works, some 41 in all, including Estes' Ansonia (above), succeed in capturing not just the experience but the soul of this great world city. And not only Edward Hopper but others have the talent for fixing on canvas a multilayed fable, a complex pluralistic series of lives and experiences and hopes. From the 1920s through to the 1980s the city was painted by a succession of artists each striving to capture the micro and macro, the sheer scale and ambition of the whole against the diverse fragments of individual lives that made it so. Amongst those 41 works I can find only one that even suggested the presence of the twin towers of the WTC, and this is important. 

In the past ten years the myth has grown that the WTC was New York, that 9/11 destroyed something integral and central to the city's identity. New York has always been much more, and will continue to be much more, than the twin towers. You could crash a hundred passenger jets on the city and it would not stop being New York. At the end of the day the memorial at ground zero will be a forgotten and almost irrelevant structure; the true memorial to that event is the entire city itself, its resilience and its people. God bless New York.  


Oldrightie said...

Hereford, Raedwald, now another blighted city. More to come.

Scrobs... said...

The WTC was a beautiful building.

I can remember it being built, as as a younger sprog in construction. I learned a lot from its lines and design.

I also learned a lot about the people who destroyed it, and have a long memory there.