Greetings and welcome to the Urban Round Up edition of You Are What You Read. For those keeping a score card re: The Battle of the Rodents, I am here to tell you we are in a dead tie. Both Phil and Chuck have 2 weeks each where they can proclaim themselves the winner. The mild temps from the last two weeks have put Chuck finally in the plus column. Go Chuck, go!
In other hopeful signs the witch hazel on the corner of the Post Road and Thorndale is a bright yellow beacon of blooming cheer. Check it out on your way to visit us. You seriously can’t miss it. Also, Nielsen’s has some pre-planted pansy containers for sale and I have noticed on my walk to and fro that the spring bulbs are emerging. People! It may feel gray and hopeless but there are signs of hope! Remain vigilant.
Also in response to my #Museum101 challenge a certain Rich B. sent me something beyond disturbing. I will not share it with you all because I like you all and I am thinking Rich cannot like me one little bit. Anyway, I can’t unsee what he sent and that a museum is curating this collection is beyond all human understanding. I am going to spare you all. Feel free to thank me for my benevolence when you see me. If on the other hand, you want to see what can’t be unseen, reach out. I’ll hook you up.
Frequent Visitors to this space know that occasionally I will bring a little something called Animals Run Amok. It is just what it sounds like; when the animal kingdom has enough of our nonsense and either a) revolts in some way or b) makes the break for freedom. Frequent Visitors will remember that several times a year there seems to be some cow running down New York City streets, specifically Queens of all places. This usually occurs at the end of a truck ride that the bovines found perfectly normal at the start of their trip only to discover that it was a) a one-way-trip and b) it wasn’t going to end well. What usually ensues is some form of Keystone Cop merriment involving the NYPD as they try to capture the livestock with tools at hand, such as squad cars and tranquilizer guns. It rarely ends well for either party.
Well People, we have a new solution for when this goes down. I am pleased to introduce you to James Parker who is the president of the Black Cowboys Association of Brooklyn. He feels that if he had been called the latest situation would have had a most happy ending. In an interview with the New York Times Mr. Parker said the solution really was simple. If he had been called, he could have lassoed the wayward cow from the bed of a pickup and led the poor creature to the destination that it was so desperately trying to escape. And this organization is not the only one promoting urban cowboying ways. There is actually another one called the Federation of Black Cowboys. Anyway People. Urban Cowboys. It’s real and it is now officially a Thing. You can read all about Mr. Parker at The New York Times and the good works of the FBC at the Village Voice.
This week we have cake, cookies, typhoid, Idaho, linguistics, and some star-crossed lovers.
Diane. Reading pretty plain this week. I’ll let her explain: “My Sweet Kitchen is Linda Lomelino's third book and the ‘naked cake’ on the cover is what caught my eye. The author, a recipe developer and food photographer, has more than 50 recipes for cakes, tarts, and cupcakes. She has adorned several of her cakes with compositions of fresh fruit while on other cake tops Linda has created beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers. Both looks are light and refreshing on these ‘naked cakes’ and Linda has inspired me to rethink my cake decorating. I can't wait until lilacs and apple blossoms are blooming in my garden because I will certainly have to make a ‘naked cake’ topped with a bouquet of fresh flowers to celebrate spring.”
Pat T is here with another food based book. I think the Welcome Desk is hungry. Won’t someone help these ladies out? “I was shelving, Good Taste Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends, by Jane Green and decided to check it out rather than shelve it because of the cover photo of an outdoor gathering inviting everyone to partake in the feast! This cook book has wonderful, simple recipes with great photos, but it is less about the recipes and more about the comfort, companionship and conversation that happens around a shared meal. And if that isn't enough for you, check out the recipe Jane Green has included in the book, Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies, that she describes as ‘dense and thick and chewy and oatmealy and chocolaty.’ I can't wait to bake these sweet treats!”
Spunky Jill M has been listening to an audio book I have been dying to get my hands on. Here’s what she thought of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. “With 166 narrators, I thought the audiobook Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders would be a confusing cacophony of voices. Delightfully, it was not too daunting. Based on a seed of historical truth the story takes place in February 1862 as the Civil War begins to take its’ toll on the country. President Lincoln’s twelve-year-old son, Willie, succumbs to Typhoid fever and his father must say goodbye. The story weaves through the Bardo, the Tibetan word for transitional or in-between state, with tales of souls navigating this afterworld while trying to persuade young Willie Lincoln to transition to The Other Side. Saunders’ writing elicits what the cover accurately describes as a ‘theatrical panorama of voices – living and dead, historical and invented’. I always love authors who stretch ones’ imagination, and Saunders does just that. It’s a crazy audio book that provided a fun listen.”
Sweet Ann has finished Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. “This very well written novel begins with Ann and Wade, newly married and living on their isolated plot of land in the mountains of Idaho. Through the introduction of subsequent characters, you learn what happened to Wade's first wife and children. It is shocking and it becomes the center point for the novel. I found this to be a compelling novel and I couldn't put it down for hope of finding answers and closure for certain characters. I would recommend this book but there is a great deal of heartache. I felt Ms. Ruskovich really brought her characters to life. I recommend this book but know there might not be the resolutions the reader is hoping for at the end of this novel."
James!James is here this week! Hello James! “If John McWhorter writes it, I will read it. In his most recent book Talking Back, Talking Black, linguist John McWhorter acknowledges that the arguments which have convinced academics that Black English is its own dialect have failed to dispel the notion that Black English is just lazy, slangy Standard English in the general public. While he recaps the standard arguments, he also presents a broader, reframed argument with the sociocultural context necessary to be accepted more broadly. In this book, like many of his others, McWhorter puts forward some controversial claims that aren’t always that easy to swallow. That said, I was hooked on this book at the dedication: saying of his daughter, “I hope she will read this as soon as she is old enough to take it in, to make sure she never for a second thinks black people’s speech is full of mistakes.”
Mallory. If we were the Love Boat, she’d be our Julie McCoy. “Romeo and/or Juliet is the choose your own adventure book every reader needs in their life. Your journey begins after your pick of character: do you want to play as the hapless Romeo or weight-lifting Juliet? Will you have Juliet run away from her parents? Or will you have Romeo go out to brunch with Mercutio to talk about hot babes? This retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tale is filled with sharp, contemporary illustrations and will have you frantically flipping pages trying to experience one of the several hundred of different endings. A strange way to experience a book, I promise you’ll have a great time with this one.”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from Meat Chicken with the Playlist and some final musings. What’s good Pats? “It’s nearly spring here in The D and that can mean only one thing, pot-hole filling season. It’s time for slow-moving, yellow trucks to abruptly block lanes of traffic while road workers armed with giant shovels of steaming gravel, fill winter holes that have expanded large enough to swallow a Fiat. My uncle has gone through 4 sets of rims on his Cadillac this winter. He’s not a bad driver, in fact, he’s an excellent driver, a retired Teamster truck driver. It’s just that the pot-holes have been unusually treacherous this season. There’s no avoiding them, so we grit our teeth, slow down and let the road workers get on with their job of filling them. I’m happy to report that there are no cattle to dodge or wrangle in addition to the pot-holes. Jen shared with me that you folks have cattle wandering the streets now. This, of course, makes me curious to do a little research on Detroit urban cowboys. I’m doubtful I’ll find anything. Doesn’t really feel like a Detroit thing. I’ll keep you posted if I uncover anything. Until then, steer clear of those pot-holes, keep your eyes on the road, avoid all cattle and dig into some cowboy jams.”