Time to think of a Japanese touch

In the (highly unlikely) movie version of my novel, What’s Left, who would you like to see as her best friend, cousin Sandra?

Of course, that also means thinking of her blended genetic heritage and who could embody it.

~*~

A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers. (Claremont, New Hampshire.)
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Ten points about New York City

It’s not all Manhattan, you should know. Most of the population sleeps in the other four boroughs. And then for even more bodies we have Long Island to the east, Jersey to the west, and Westchester-Rockland to the north.

By the way, Brooklyn – not Manhattan – is the most populous borough.

Now, for ten more bits.

  1. Ethnic diversity: It’s 44 percent white, 25 percent black, and 12 percent Asian descent. Hispanics claim about 27 percent. The city has the largest number of Italian-Americans in the nation (nearly 700,000), the largest Jewish population outside Israel (1.5 million), and the largest Chinese population of any city outside Asia (573,000). About 800 languages are spoken in the city.
  2. Open spaces: About one-fifth of the Bronx is given over to parkland, including the New York Botanical Garden. Staten Island has thousands of acres of parkland and about 2,000 wild whitetail deer.
  3. Largest borough in size: At 108 square miles, the Queens wraps around more populous Brooklyn. Its population of 2.3 million is the second-largest in the city – nearly half of them foreign-born.
  4. Smallest borough in size: Manhattan. Its 22 square miles are dwarfed by Staten Island’s 58 square miles.
  5. Restaurants: The city has an estimated 24,000 eateries – including delis, pizzerias, and take-outs. As for sit-down-and-be-served, the number’s closer to 8,000. One enterprising guess says that at one a day, you’d need 22½ years to hit them all. By the way, a fourth of them are in Manhattan. As for home cooking? We’ll have to ask a greengrocer.
  6. Runways: You think people fly straight in Manhattan? Think again. Most domestic flights work out of Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, serving nearly 44 million passengers a year. JFK, on the Atlantic shore of Queens, gets the bulk of the international flights, nearly 30 million passengers a year. LaGuardia, in a tight corner of Queens, is the most convenient option and serves nearly 30 million passengers annually. MacArthur in Ronkonkoma, Long Island, serves about two million passengers a year plus commercial traffic.
  7. Housed animals: The Bronx Zoo and Staten Island Zoo, plus Tisch Children’s Zoo in Manhattan’s Central Park, house a world of animals. Brooklyn is also home to the New York Aquarium. Brooklyn Wildlife Center and Queens Wildlife Center also offer displays. That’s in addition to rats, pigeons, and endless humanoid varieties.
  8. Stage life: The celebrated Great White Way on Broadway has 41 theaters as the heart of live American theater. Manhattan’s off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway stages offer more offbeat fare. Not all actors and actresses are working as restaurant wait staff.
  9. Professional sports: Both football teams play in New Jersey’s swampy Meadowlands. The Yankees still play baseball in the Bronx, while the Mets remain in the Queens. The Knicks basketball team and the Rangers hockey team both perform in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, but the Brooklyn Nets basketball squad and Islanders hockey team both call Barclays Center in Brooklyn their home. So it’s all over the place, not just Manhattan.
  10. Parking tickets: UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services receive up to 7,000 parking tickets a day, contributing up to $120 million in revenue annually to the city. The tab on unpaid tickets by United Nations diplomats, meanwhile, was put at $16 million, with Egypt as the worst offender, $2 million overdue.

~*~

Oh, yes. One out of every 21 New Yorkers is a millionaire. Or so I read. Did they mean just Manhattan? Or the whole shebang? Either way, it’s a lot.

Bradley Commons

Not all of the development around our downtown is aimed at luxury housing.

Back in the sixties and seventies, apartments for subsidized renters were erected along the river and a steep slope on Central Avenue. A few years ago, the Woodbury Mills transformed a boarded-up warehouse into a lovely affordable housing apartment a few blocks from where I live, and a mill along the Bellamy River also underwent similar rebirth.

More recently, the three Roman Catholic churches in town were merged into one parish headed by a single priest, and one of the houses of worship, St. Charles, was facing serious structural water damage. It was sold and demolished, making room for the newest entry, Bradley Commons, about six blocks from the waterfalls downtown.

Most of this site was a parking lot, a stretch that could feel intimidating to pedestrians at night. The new Bradley Commons attempts to break up the sense of being a single building.
I am curious to see how the red facade weathers.

Can you really pass up this deal?

If you haven’t already picked up my novels at this online one-month-only sale, don’t delay. You can’t beat the price – mine are free or else half-price.

They should fit your Kindle, Nook, laptop, tablet, or smartphone – any digital device where you’re reading.

All you need to do is hop on down to my booth at Jnana Hodson at Smashwords.com and download them. Take just one or all five novels plus the Blue Rock poems.

I think you’ll be happy you did.

Polycentric community adds up

With the release of Subway Visions, I’ve been returning to considerations of urban affairs. It’s not all New York City, either, even though the novel takes place there.

For me, the big city these days is Boston. I live an hour to the north – or northeast, more technically. I can even take the train in, as well as the hourly bus, which is quite comfortable and also links us to the airport. (You’d be surprised at the number of pilots and other airline personnel who are boarding from here.)

So we can go in for concerts or museums or dim sum on weekday mornings. We’re not exactly stuck in the sticks.

On the other hand, I live in a city of nearly 30,000 – the largest of a cluster of small cities that together form a larger population base to sustain our varied interests.

Portsmouth, 15 minutes to our south, is wealthier and more fashionable. It has probably as many restaurants per capita as Manhattan as well as several theater companies, the Music Hall, and art galleries.

The state university is ten minutes to our west, and about a third of its students rent apartments in our city. The school runs its own buses to serve them and anyone else who wants to pay to ride. Its library, of course, is a marvelous resource for independent writers and scholars.

In other words, I have no reason to feel deprived. Well, sometimes I wish the Harvard Book Store were closer or Symphony Hall. But I still have my choir in Watertown.

Looking at this has me recalling my mentor in political science, Vincent Ostrom, who coined the concept of “polycentric” to describe the overlapping jurisdictions that govern American polity. A city typically falls within a county, for instance, as well as a state and then the nation. Nowadays there may also be special districts to address things like water, pollution, or transportation needs.

As mayor of Baltimore, William Donald Schaefer took the concept in another direction by enhancing neighborhood identity and decision-making to revitalize a big city. Adjustments could be made in neighborhood settings even while having a central tax base, police and fire services, water and sewer system, and so on.

So my city has a much different identity and feel from Portsmouth or Durham or Rochester or Somersworth or the Berwicks over the state line in Maine. And yet we’re all conscious, even proud, of our identity as the Seacoast Region.

Do you see how these many circles begin to overlap, each adding to the richness we enjoy?

As the hippie phrase used to go, “Small is beautiful.” But, in this universe I’m describing, it doesn’t have to be confining or impoverishing, either.

For now, I do feel I have the best of both worlds.