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W42ST Daily 9/1/2020
On the surface, The Shawshank Redemption was a Great Escape for the 1990s; a brilliant romp in which wrongfully accused Andy Dufresne crawled “through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”
But, thinking about it again this week, I saw it differently – through the lens of the little library inside the brutal Shawshank State Prison. As Andy built a book collection, after six years of writing to the Senate, he revealed to inmates a window on a world far beyond the prison walls; one they had never imagined was possible.
“There are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone,” he said. “There’s something inside that they can’t get to and they can’t touch. It’s yours.”
Books represent hope, he believed. The power to change lives from the inside.
“Hope is a dangerous thing,” Red warned him. But Andy disagreed: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
On Sunday, Corey Johnson’s office arranged a book drive at Manhattan Plaza, collecting over 2,000 books to build small libraries in the lobbies of local hotels housing shelter residents.
“Each one of these thousands of books represents the love and care of our community,” said Corey. “Our city is going through a very difficult time, [but] when times are tough, New Yorkers always come together and care for one another.”
A couple of dog-eared John Grisham novels won’t solve the homeless crisis, that’s for certain. But they may offer hope to some of the most marginalized humans in the city; the opportunity to see beyond their current circumstances and strive for something better. That’s the power of the printed word.
The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – just two books that have fundamentally altered the way I look at the world. And that doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the many, many titles that have made me laugh out loud, or moved me to silent tears; taught me something about myself, or painted pictures with words so vivid I inhabited their worlds in the hours I was wrapped up in their pages.
Which books have changed you in some way? I’d love to know.
And, talking of books … our neighborhood branch library is reopening for contactless pickups.
NEW YORK STORIES
Yesterday, on the same day another neighborhood restaurant closed its doors for good, the Mayor said he was convinced local businesses would survive and, promised: “I don’t think, in the end, we’re only going to be going to Applebees.” He then went on to say that the lifeline small bars and restaurants are praying for – indoor dining, with social distancing, which is introduced in New Jersey on Friday – may not happen in the city until there’s a vaccine. Read the full story here.
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The Edge and The Vessel reopen tomorrow.
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Ever wondered why New York’s Houston Street is pronounced “How-stun”? Wonder no more.