“Baron Haussmann was lucky enough to be hanging around Paris at the exact moment Napoleon III thought it could do with a refit. Christopher Wren had the good fortune to be alive at the time of Britain’s worst bakery fire. And Betty Willis happened to be working for a sign manufacturer in Las Vegas when the twin forces of modish Googie architecture and the leisure era came together to cut it a singularly brash neon destiny.”
Janet Turner “became a much admired role model for women in the design business at a time when few made it into the boardroom. … She was also a powerful proponent of lighting design as a profession in Britain. Until the late 80s, lighting schemes had generally been the province of architects and lighting manufacturers. The emergence of a new breed of specialist designers and consultancies was something she keenly supported.”
“He could have a fanboy’s enthusiasm for his favorite genres – he was big on Bollywood before Bollywood was cool – but he never checked his brains at the popcorn stand. He was of a generation of critics who disputed cinema the way Lutherans and Papists once faced off over theology. But he was nothing if not a sporting polemicist.”
“An Austrian-born Holocaust refugee who became a highly regarded chronicler of his abandoned homeland, capturing in works of history and fiction the Viennese society at the fin de siècle and on the eve of two world wars,” Morton was best known for A Nervous Splendor: Vienna, 1888-1889 and Thunder at Twilight: Vienna, 1913-1914, as well as a history of the world’s most famous banking family The Rothschilds.
T.H. Tsien, “who was born in China in the twilight of the reign of its last emperor, was a young librarian there during the Japanese occupation, which lasted from 1931 until the end of World War II. Working in secret, he was charged with keeping a trove of precious volumes, some dating to the first millennium B.C., from falling into the occupiers’ hands.”
“McNamara was honored for 2014 columns on the death of Joan Rivers, Stephen Colbert’s departure from Comedy Central, the media circus attending the Sochi Olympics and myriad television shows. She often ranged beyond television to examine broader cultural trends and controversies, including the debate about the role on-screen sexism might play in real-world violence.”
“What I’m doing. Whether it’s standup, the show, books or films, I consider all this just different vehicles to continue a conversation about what it means to be a democratic nation, and to have it written into the constitution [sic] that all men are created equal – but to live with that for 100 years with slaves. How do those contradictions play themselves out? And how do we honestly assess our failings and move forward with integrity?”
The art editor of The New Yorker – the woman who has chosen hundreds of striking, witty, and sometimes powerful covers – talks with Grace Bello about using visual imagery to master English, what comics can tell us about the state of a culture, and collaborating with husband Art Spiegelman on the seminal graphic magazine Raw.
“While Einstein’s bones (and most of the rest of his body) were cremated and his ashes scattered at a secret spot on the Delaware River, in accordance with his wishes, his gray matter took a different course. Thomas Harvey, the pathologist who performed Einstein’s autopsy at Princeton Hospital in New Jersey in 1955, took a bone saw to Einstein’s famous cranium, then a chisel, and snipped out the century’s most famous brain. Then he kept it.”
“[The playwright] tasked James Grissom with seeking out each of the women (and few men) who had inspired his work – Maureen Stapleton, Lillian Gish, Marlon Brando and others – so that he could ask them a question: had Tennessee Williams, or his work, ever mattered?” Here Grissom recounts his first meetings with Williams.
“We have on the one side Ukraine, whose situation is not improving; in Israel and Palestine things are getting worse; the disaster the Americans left in Iraq, the atrocities of Islamic state and the problem of Syria. There is war everywhere; we run the risk of committing the same mistakes as before; so without realising it we can get into a world war as if we were sleepwalking.”
“He deeply loved the theater, his teacher from the rugged prairie to raging, war-torn Washington. … Lincoln’s meteoric rise from the frontier was fueled by his skills as a performer. Drama, jokes, stories, courtroom arguments, outdoor debates – he could go on for hours and exhaust rivals such as Senator Stephen Douglas.”
“His best known book, ‘The Open Veins of Latin America,; published in 1971, described the historical legacy of the Spanish colonial era and capitalist plunder that followed it. He spurned conventional narrative in favor of anecdotes highlighting, among others, enslaved indigenous Bolivian miners, devastated Brazilian rain forests and polluted Venezuelan oil fields.”