Some Thoughts on Frank E. Dobson’s “Rendered Invisible: Stories of Blacks & Whites, Love & Death”

Book Reviews, New York

This one’s heavy.

Heavy, but honest. Frank E. Dobson’s prosaic “Rendered Invisible: Stories of Blacks and Whites, Love and Death” is timeless in its tenacity and representation of the still-present racism lingering around the world. However, instead of decided to focus on the pain and insensitivity that typically accompanies tales of blatant racism, Dobson provides a slant on the emotions and stories of those affected.

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We all know that the media is selective in what it decides ‘news worthy’ to share with the world. Dobson brings attention to one of the examples of a heinous crime that should have been on every television screen in America. Set in the 80’s (one of my favorite decades), this collection of short stories is gritty in setting and dialogue alike. The true-life .22 Caliber killings rocked New York. A serial killer with racism as one of his chief motivators is the evil here, malicious with intent.

Dobson interestingly plays on the sometimes inherent racism that still exists in modern cities today. With a murderer who is bent on inciting a racial war by killing black men, each story here study different overarching life themes. Gender and class, as well as race, provide the crux of the tales, providing the reader with an intimate look into the people of a city rocked by violence and fear.

Dobson accomplishes that rare feat of uniting humanity in terms of the human condition instead of the color of one’s skin. It’s an important piece that will speak to all readers.

 

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New York moms: don’t toss trash out the window

New York

Ephemeral New York

New York City has always had a complicated relationship with the garbage it produces. From the city’s earliest days, trash was dumped in the street, thrown in the rivers, or burned.

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In the 19th century, rich neighborhoods hired dependable private street cleaners. The rest of the city relied on free-roaming pigs and rag pickers.

Finally in the 1890s, a corps of sanitation men nicknamed the White Wings and led by a Civil War veteran turned “sanitary engineer” launched a war on filth—now known to be a source of many diseases.

GarbageoldtruckThe White Wings helped clean up the city. But even in the 20th century, New Yorkers were still tossing their garbage on city streets.

To help combat this, a city campaign in the 1920s and 1930s aimed its message squarely at city mothers.

This open letter above, from the archives of the New York Academy of Medicine, sums…

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The stillness and solitude of a New York rooftop

New York, Random Musings

As a long-time fan of Edward Hopper, and as I stare at his calendar at my desk, I find myself constantly enthralled by his stark depictions of life’s moments. His work is so evocative that I fall into reveries where I ask questions of why he would draw something like that or what was on those people’s minds?

Ephemeral New York

Few artists convey the disquieting solitude of city life like Edward Hopper, as he does here in “Untitled (Rooftops)” from 1926.

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Hopper, who worked out of his studio on Washington Square until his death in 1967, was fascinated by urban scenes: “our native architecture with its hideous beauty, its fantastic roofs, pseudo-gothic, French Mansard, Colonial, mongrel or what not, with eye-searing color or delicate harmonies of faded paint, shouldering one another along interminable streets that taper off into swamps or dump heaps.”

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The day McSorley’s bar finally admitted women

New York, Random Musings

Fascinating read.

Ephemeral New York

Mcsorleys1940s“Is woman’s place at the bars?” asked a 1937 New York Times article.

This was several years after prohibition, and for the most part, drinking establishments in New York City, once for men only (respectable 19th century women wouldn’t want to enter a bar), had become coed. Some even welcomed women, or at least their business.

But one of the few taverns opposed was McSorley’s Old Ale House (above, in the 1940s), the East Seventh Street bar open since 1854 and believed to be the city’s oldest pub.

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“There are not many taverns so stoutly arrayed against the female invasion,” the Times wrote. “McSorley’s continues in the tradition that woman’s place is in the home, or, if she must take a nip occasionally, that her place is elsewhere, anywhere, but not at McSorley’s.”

This was the McSorley’s whose motto was “good ale, raw onions, and no ladies,” a place…

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