Monday, December 23, 2013


Sitting here in the Bill Blass Reading Room (formerly the Main Reading Room, or somesuch) within the Stephen Schwartzman Building of the New York Public Library.  I know the library has been the beneficiary of largesse in the past (I also saw the name Astor on something, and that is a much older vintage of money, and I'm sure a Carnegie or Rockefeller funded the place from the jump), but this is a lot of naming rights.  Particularly noteworthy in view of the level of aggression we have seen from Schwartzman's firm Blackstone in the rental housing markets of late.  America's rental dollars, paying for the grandeur of this reading room.

It is also rather ironic, given the role the main staircase of the library played in the movie Network, in which the protagonist talk show host Howard what's his name ascends those stairs before being ushered into a large old school conference room (maybe also here in the building), in which Ned Beatty - the personification of corporate America - reads him the riot act:  "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you must atone!"
It does, in fact, take a lot of money to maintain a place this nice, and it is easier for the private sector to pony it up than a municipal government, particularly in a place like New York where the wealth disparity is so constantly IN YOUR FACE. But still.

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