Palimpsest Street

Lisa Phillips smiles fondly at the pocket parking lot at 235 Bowery, situated at the end of Prince Street and sandwiched between a restaurant-supply store and one of Manhattan’s last genuine flophouses. Phillips is the director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and what she sees is not the mundane present but the glimmering future, a seven-story $35-million building that will most likely be the largest cultural institution ever erected on the Bowery. ”We’re trailblazers,” Phillips asserts, referring not only to the art that the New Museum likes to exhibit, but also to its history for staking out space Read More

The Year in Ideas–The Upside to Radical Islam

Good news! Radical, militant Islam may be a force of ”creative destruction” in the Arab world — one that is positioned to clear the way for a new, democratic order in the Middle East. That, at least, is the surprising premise put forward by Francis Fukuyama, writing with Nadav Samin, in the September issue of Commentary. Fukuyama, who first came to public attention in 1989 with his contention that the rise of the liberal democratic state marked the effective ”end of history,” sees the Islamic world today as roughly where Europe was during its industrial age. Following the great rural Read More

The Way We Live Now: 8-1-99; The Good News Bears

It’s opening night at the Newark Bears’ new Riverfront Stadium, the home of the city’s independent minor-league baseball team, and Mayor Sharpe James is in his element. Introduced during the opening ceremonies as ”the greatest cheerleader Newark has ever had,” the Mayor dresses the part, wearing the full purple-and-white uniform of the Bears. Unlike most politicians at a ball game, he stays until the very last out, roving through the stands, shaking hands, actually leading cheers, pressing his hands, palms up, toward the sky, encouraging Newark’s fans to raise the figurative roof. James is doing more than just rooting for Read More