the postwar years were a golden age for the Jewish deli in Miami Beach, from Raphil’s to Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House and Pumperniks.
Times change, though, and the popularity of delis has faded around the country. In South Florida, there are other changes, too. The Jewish population has shifted, geographically and culturally. Trina Sargalski talks to food historian Ted Merwin about the rise and fall of Miami delicatessens of yesteryear, and to Josh Marcus, owner and chef of Josh’s Deli, about how he’s reinventing the genre with a local twist.
Zak Rosen is a radio producer. Neil Greenberg is a map-maker. They’re both from Detroit, but their hearts are in a different city, a city they think is possible–at least in the imagination and maybe in reality. The radio piece they made together treats this place as if it were real. It is a creative exercise that hints at a plausible future. Fake City, Real Dreams is unlike any “arts feature” you’ve heard before.
This is amazing. Audio architecture fiction? Kinda!
I grew up in Carmel, smack in the middle of the new code region; my first cell phone number—the only cell phone number I have ever had—bears that 831 preface. I have held on to those three digits through happily-multiple changes of location (New Jersey, New York, Boston, Washington) and through unhappily-multiple losses of handset. The powers that be—hardware salespeople, cell service representatives—have, at one time or another, tried to force me into a 609 and a 917 and a 617; each time, I have resisted. Because I am not, fundamentally, a 609 or a 917 or a 617. I am not even, my current residence notwithstanding, a 202. I am an 831, wherever I may be in body, and will remain an 831 until they pry those three otherwise totally meaningless digits out of my cold, dead iPhone.
A mile from downtown, East Austin has historically been a working-class neighborhood, a vibrant enclave heavily populated by African-Americans because of an earlier era of segregationist laws — and later, a home to Mexican-American residents. These days, it’s also the city’s newly fashionable arts district, with studios, galleries, cocktail bars, cafes and all manner of food trucks popping up on most every block. Beloved taquerias and barbecue joints, ramshackle carwashes and Christian outreach ministries now jostle against shiny condos, fancy restaurants and, in refurbished bungalows, groovy hair salons with names like Peacock and Orbit.
Two wildly popular new restaurants in the French Quarter … “springboard off the classics” in very different ways. One is Killer Poboys, a delicious sandwich shop in the back of a dive bar; the other is Marti’s, a onetime local institution that has been relaunched as a model for fun, upscale culinary excellence.
San Francisco and Houston are North America’s “emerging” global cities. They are also rival representative champions and exemplars of two models of civic development.
First, the Bay Area self-consciously sees itself as a leader and moral exemplar. It wants to world to follow where it leads. Houston it seems, perhaps in line with its laissez-faire approach, wants to leave others alone, and be left to its own. It may boast of having a great model, but whether others adopt has been of no particularly great local concern.
The second big divergence relates to media. After all, the media, understood broadly, is how we come to have knowledge about or opinions of many things. Simply put, San Francisco and the tech industry get the power of media, while Houston doesn’t.
Houston, by contrast, has close to zero media influence or impact and seems not to care. It’s much less an influencer of media than one whose reputation has been shaped by it, and often not in a good way. Though there are many sprawl dominated metropolises in America, it’s Houston that has become the bête noire of urbanists.
It’s easy to understand historically why Houston has so little media influence, but harder to understand why the city is so blasé about it.
Google won in mapping not through consumer choice but by leveraging its dominance in search. By installing its own maps permanently at the top of results pages, Google diverted traffic from us. By leveraging its dominance of the Android mobile operating system, it forced preference for its maps on smartphones. By leveraging its dominance and revenues in search, it has been able to subsidize free map APIs to dislodge us from contracts to supply maps to other sites.
Perhaps there will come a time when we won’t need physical reminders of history. Using geolocation on our phones, we can already discover plenty about what happened there before. Instead of gazing at a giant marble head, we can read a story or watch a video, look at old photos and follow a map. Maybe someday there will be memorials for memorials.
Do monuments still matter? In case some of our most interesting city markers might be fleeting, perhaps we should highlight some of our favorites. What’s the strangest, coolest, or most bizarre monument in your city? Maybe it’s tucked away beneath a freeway overpass or down an overgrown alley, easily ignored, or so obvious and out-in-the-open we’re oblivious to it. What’s a memorial that no one remembers, but shouldn’t be forgotten? [New York Times]
Gizmodo’s Landmark Status examines the strange and surprising structures that our cities have chosen to protect. Discover something interesting that’s been landmarked near you? Drop us a tip in the comments.
A story by Alice Munro, called “The Bear Came Over The Mountain,” which I gather first appeared in the New Yorker in 1999 and was reprinted by the magazine this year, includes an interested passage about unvisited places.
A character in the story whose mother is Icelandic develops an interest, somewhat late in life, in that country. She “looked at travel guides,” and read various literary accounts of visits to the place.
"She didn’t really plan to travel there. She said there ought to be one place you thought about and knew about and maybe longed for but never did get to see."
A Baltimore woman’s five-year campaign to pressure landlords to repair blighted buildings has attracted fans and imitators in other cities, the ire of some property owners, and now for the first time, a pair of lawsuits.
Since early 2009, Carol Ott has run a website called Baltimore Slumlord Watch. On an almost daily basis, she posts photographs of boarded-up or dilapidated buildings and the names and addresses of owners she identifies through public records.
Last month, Ms. Ott was sued for her role in a recent project in which artists painted murals on 17 vacant buildings in the city. Two civil lawsuits filed in state court in Baltimore allege the work was an act of vandalism at two properties and seek $5,000 to restore the buildings to their prior condition.
"To trespass on property and vandalize property is just anarchy," said Brian Spern, a lawyer who filed the lawsuits on behalf the owners, two trusts whose investors he declined to identify. "Labeling someone a ‘slumlord’—name-calling—is not in the best interest of anyone," he added.
Ms. Ott, 45 years old, said she advised artists as they looked for buildings to target and provided property-owner information, which was posted next to the finished artwork. She said she didn’t trespass and plans to fight the lawsuits and keep blogging.
Her use of the word “slumlord,” an epithet normally reserved for owners who permit substandard living conditions, is intentionally volatile, Ms. Ott said. ” ‘Negligent Property Owner Watch’ doesn’t have the same ring,” she said.
For sightseeing information, there were endless options, and I only scratched the surface. I checked Hungary’s official tourist website, Gotohungary.com, which had good if limited ideas, but was lacking practical information like prices. My next stop was Wikivoyage.org, which is run by the Wikimedia Foundation and is the closest thing I found in format to an online guidebook. It had plenty of ideas for Hungary, although the length and quality of descriptions were erratic, the writing was dull and practical information was again scarce.
I also tried the user-generated reviews on Gogobot.com, which allows you to see rankings by people in “tribes” like yours: budget travelers, “trendsters,” “spiritual seekers” and the like. Not bad.
But to me, the site that came closest to replicating a guidebook experience, while still harnessing the power of the Internet, is Stay.com. Sights and activities (and hotels and restaurants) are separated by category, and there are curated guides by the site’s editors, users and local experts (“Family Fun in Budapest,” for example). Best of all, you can click to add any item to your own “city guide”; the result is a personalized itinerary, complete with customized map, that can be downloaded to your cellphone and used without piling up cellular data.
Still, I found three ways that a guidebook stomps the web almost every time:
First, those curated maps. No site I tried — Google, Michelin, Bing — could match the book’s maps, even after being customized to pinpoint hotels and restaurants and sights. If you do want to print out city or town maps and mark them up yourself, I found Bing Maps to be by far the cleanest-looking and easiest to print. (Use the full-screen feature, take a screen shot and print.)
Second, guidebooks offer information you may never think to look for online. In the Hungary book, I happened on a section about common tourist scams in Budapest, and an article on Budapest’s Jewish population — neither of which I would have thought to look up on my own.
Finally, there’s simple convenience. A guidebook means an extra pound or so in your bag. But it’s all in one place, doesn’t run out of batteries or go out of range or use international data and is unlikely to be ripped out of your hand by a thief. And for infrequent travelers, it doesn’t have a steep learning curve.