How to Know When You’ve Left the South and Arrived in Manhattan: Two Tales

Tale #1: My own story begins with the tallest building of my youth, the McWilliams Building in Clarksdale, Mississippi, about thirty miles from my hometown of Marks. It was 6 or 7 stories and proudly bore the name of its owner. It was, I’m sure, the tallest building for several counties around.

When I visited New York for the first time (something I did in high school with my family), I was like most kids from small towns, amazed by the forest of skyscrapers, many with famous names.

But what struck me most was walking down a side-street in Midtown, looking up at a 60 or 70 story building, and noticing that its name was only its address. That told me: “Buildings this tall are so common here that they don’t always get a special name.” They might, of course, but the fact that many did not told me how commonplace they were.

Tale #2: I thought of that today, reading the obituary for a New York Times’ reporter, Roy Reed. He was from Hot Springs, Arkansas, and one of the paper’s lead reporters during the Civil Rights Era. The paper turned to him frequently when they needed a reporter who knew the South. (Obituary here)

Over the years, he wrote several books, but I was particularly intrigued by the title of his memoir, Beware of Limbo Dancers.

His story about that title is much like mine about the McWilliams Building, a variant of “you’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The title, he wrote, came from a message neatly written on the inside of a door in a bathroom stall in the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street.

“This was a style of wit that I had never before encountered,” he wrote. “I suddenly knew that I was a stranger in town — not unwelcome, just a stranger.’’ –New York Times

 

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, April 21

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 ISIS terror in Paris’ Champs-Élysées

Comment: Why would Islamic terrorists strike so close to the election, in such prominent spot? What’s the logic?

They surely know it will increase support for the most hardline anti-Islam candidates. They must calculate that such candidates will strengthen their own radical basic in poor, bitter, poorly-integrated areas in France and across Europe. That is, they want to drive a wedge between French Muslims and the rest of the country, hoping the Muslims will then side with ISIS.

The high-profile attack also signals strength to their supporters around the world. They are saying, in effect, that we may be losing their territorial Caliphate in Iraq/Syria, but we can still cause death and destruction to the Infidels. Of course, all non-Muslims and perhaps even Muslims who are not in ISIS are infidels.

Meanwhile, Europe itself is in the midst of a cultural, political, and organizational crisis, besieged on several fronts with no clear leaders and confusion over what to do about Islamic immigrants, Russia, the EU, and Turkey.

 US intel agencies reexaming leaks, could indict Julian Assange and WikiLeaks (CBS)

They are also engaged in a major hunt for the sources of multiple devastating releases of information, some to WikiLeaks, some to news outlets.

 VERY prominent financial exec says there are “some warning signs [in the economy] that are getting darker” (Bloomberg)

The comments came from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager (over $5 trillion). Fink stressed how much depends on corporate earning and political action in Washington.

The stock market needs validation that U.S. corporate earnings will stay strong and that the policies of President Donald Trump regarding taxes, regulation and infrastructure will advance in Congress in order to move higher, Fink said.

“If we don’t have earnings validated in these higher P/Es [price/earnings ratios] we could adjust downward 5 or 10 percent from here,” Fink said. “If the administration does succeed on some of these items then the market will then reassert itself going higher.” –Larry Fink, interviewed by Bloomberg News

 Fine piece on the Mississippi Delta blues, local food, and other attractions in Clarksdale and points south  (Jackson, MS, Clarion-Ledger)

It comments on the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, and a lifelong favorite of mine, Chamoun’s Rest Haven (Lebanese food) in Clarksdale.

Comment: The omission of Abe’s Bar-B-Q is a serious error of omission that should be corrected immediately by the Clarion-Ledger.

People don’t go to Abe’s for the view or white table cloths. They go for some serious pulled-pork sandwiches.

In other Mississippi news: Gov. Phil Bryant vetoes a budget line-item spending $50,000 on a PR campaign telling people wild hogs are dangerous. His point: they are dangerous, but you should already know that unless you are an idiot. He was more polite.

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