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August 24th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; Urban Life & New York City

Twilight Cruise on the Hudson and NY Harbor

My sister Pamela and her good friend Billy visited NY the past couple days, and last evening she took us on a Classic Harbor Line cruise in NY harbor with an AIA-certified guide, Scott Cook, who spoke very knowledgeably about NY buildings and the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and NJ waterfronts. It was far superior to NY’s more well-known and trafficked Circle Line!  The docent Cook, one of six architecture professionals who work these cruises for Classic Harbor, was very good, a fluent speaker, quick to deliver interesting information on individual buildings, their locations, the architects responsible for them, and details of their design and especially their ‘green’ features. He described NY’s waterfront as our “sixth borough,” an idea that really appeals to me, and he broached urban issues, from climate change to how the Hudson River Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park are permitting high-rise development in exchange for resources for upkeep of these newly created public spaces. 3 Lounge

The docents have to be quick because the boats of Classic Harbor are so-called ‘motor yachts,’ and they cruise at quite good speed. The vessel we sailed on was the Manhattan II, nicely appointed with teak and mahogany and lots of clean, clear wrap-around glass. Inside was a lounge with many comfortable seats at wide tables, quite a roomy space. The copy on the brochure and map they handed out (pictured below) suggests that these NY Harbor cruises are the least crowded of all the lines offering these boat rides, and I believe it—nothing at all like being on the subway, an unfortunately apt comparison for the ride I took a couple years ago on the Circle Line. Out on deck there’s some bench seating, and enough room to walk and stand comfortably, though carefully, leaning on rails and holding on to pieces of the ship. The captain was a rather young mariner, who helmed the yacht very ably, coming to a floating rest a number of times, near the Statue of Liberty, the shore of Governors Island, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and Battery Park City.  Figured in to the price of a ticket is a free drink, so Kyle and I welcomed the discovery that Yuengling’s light beer is very drinkable!

A coincidental sidelight made me eager to go on this tour: when I was executive editor with Times Books at Random House in the late ’90s, I acquired, edited, and published the 4th Edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, an essential handbook that has been published continuously since 1967, with a new edition out roughly every decade. The edition I published—by architect and pithy writer about buildings and public spaces Norval White—included entries on more than 5,000 of the metropolis’s buildings in all five boroughs, a book I still treasure.

I hope at some point to take Classic Harbor Line’s cruise that circumnavigates all of Manhattan, a three-hour trip, twice the duration of the trip we took Sunday night. Given my personal interest in the GWB, aka The Great Gray Bridge, and The Little Red Lighthouse, I’m sure I will enjoy that tour even more. Here are lots more of my pictures, with commentary in the captions, though it’s a dead certainty I’ll come nowhere recalling most of the buildings and architects that Scott Cook named, but the day was so clear with abundant light, I think you’ll be able to appreciate many of the views and buildings anyway.

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June 3rd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, TV, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Book Biz; Media, Blogging, Internet

Distributed Art Publishers (D.A.P.), Great Resource for Art Books at Book Expo America

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May 6th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; News, Politics, History & Media

A Righteous Celebration of #SocialJustice and #AdvocacyJournalism at the Annual Hillman Prizes

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January 9th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Media, Blogging, Internet

An Unrepentant Literary Forger’s Infamous Career

I’m glad my Facebook post above on prolific forger Lee Israel drew appreciation from Fb friend Joseph Mackin, who shared it on his blog 2paragraphs. This is the link to his nicely presented reposting which looks like this:2paragraphs Lee Israel

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December 17th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Media, Blogging, Internet

Editorial Humor for Hump Day, Only This is No Joke

Graeme Reynolds' blogA fussy and censorious reader objected to the use of hyphenated words in High Moor II: Moonstruck, a novel for sale on Amazon written by UK author Graeme Reynolds. Amazon, which likes to trumpet how customer-focused they are, jumped at the complaint and ran a spell check on the book. Finding more than 100 hyphenated words in the 90,000 word ms, which they apparently found excessive, they instructed Reynolds to re-edit the Kindle edition of the book, lest it be removed from sale. Not surprisingly, Reynolds was gobsmacked at the absurdity of the situation. He blogged about it in a post titled Hyphen Hate: When Amazon Went to War Against Punctuation (screenshot at left). The book was indeed removed from sale, and the post drew more than 300,000 readers to his site. Amazon evidently thought better of their decision—or didn’t want more negative publicity—and they reinstated Reynolds’ novel. Via this link you can listen to an interview with the author on CBC’s As it Happens, and ponder Amazon’s ridiculous policies.High Moor II

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October 1st, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet

In Which My Critique of PBS NewsHour for Letting Architect of Iraq War Spew Invective at President Obama Gets Wide Coverage

For a media hound like me, Jim Romenesko’s media news website is a regular must-read. Imagine the satisfaction I felt today when I saw he’d done a post yesterday that used a tweet of mine from Monday night—about a shockingly one-sided PBS Newshour segment about ISIS and President Obama—as the jumping-off point for his piece. In the segment, Judy Woodruff interviewed Frederick Kagan, an early proponent of invading Iraq, who slammed President Obama repeatedly for his supposed failures with regard to Iraq, including the bogus canard that he failed to leave US troops in the country, when it was the Bush administration that negotiated the terms under which US forces left. This and many other false and tendentious claims were made by Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, all of which went unchallenged by interviewer Judy Woodruff. Worse, at the end of the segment she said, “We hear you,” as if lending her stamp of approval to Kagan’s screed. I was appalled at this egregious example of biased coverage and tweeted to that effect. Today, Romenesko ran a post picking up my tweet, and for which he interviewed PBS ombudsman Michael Getler, who’s also covered this episode. Getler agreed that the segment was an example of terrible and one-sided coverage. Getler learned that the program had planned for another guest to be on opposite Kagan, but that they couldn’t come on, after all. The NewsHour never told viewers this on-air. Below is a screenshot to Romenesko’s post, and here’s a link to it.

Romenesko, Sept 30, 2014



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September 3rd, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Media, Blogging, Internet; Urban Life & New York City

Hearing Harvey Araton Talk about “Cold Type”

I really enjoyed reading Cold Type after getting a copy at BEA in early summer, and it was fun meeting Araton last night at Book Court. It’s like a Tom Wolfe novel, in that it’s set against a churning social backdrop, the NYC that was emerging in 1994, just as the Internet was about to change journalism, but it has a lot more heart than Wolfe, with characters whose fates you really ponder, even the bad guys. Araton’s been writing about sports, in the NY Times and in books for years, but this is his first novel and it’s really good. I wrote about it on this blog June 14.

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May 21st, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Honourary Canadian; Media, Blogging, Internet; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels; Philip Turner's Books & Writing

Taking a Page from Honourary Canadian

As readers of this blog may have noticed, I started a second blog in 2013, called Honourary Canadian: Seeing Canada From Away. After starting this blog in 2011, I was often posting about Canada, and a couple years in, decided to start a second site devoted to Canadian topics, where I’d offer my views of Canada for Canadians and others interested in the country. I aspire to the perspective and the work of Alistair Cooke, who broadcast and wrote knowledgeably and sensitively about America, after moving to the US from England. Like this site, at the new blog I write about Canadian books, publishing, live music, media, and politics, with the cross-cultural perspective of a respectful outsider. I’ve been sharing HC links here from time to time and integrating the two sites one with another, for instance setting up a feed so the latest posts from each site are readily visible and linked to on the other. The two blogs are sort of like siblings, with this one the older brother.

I’m posting here today to let Great Gray Bridge readers know I recently published a new entry at Honourary Canadian called Why I Started This Blog and Call It Honourary Canadian, which explores my lifelong interest in the neighbor to the north. I invite you to read it. It’s a memoiristic piece that chronicles many trips I’ve made in Canada since childhood, beginning with Expo ’67 when I was just twelve years old; authors whose books I’ve read and published; bands I’ve seen live and become friendly with; and reflections on differences between the US and Canada, and the media in both countries. Along with the essay, I’ve included dozens of scenic photographs, book covers, band photos, and scans of letters I received from Canadian novelist Robertson Davies, with whom I had a lengthy correspondence when I ran Undercover Books in the 1980s.

At the top of this entry is a shot of that new post, which will give you a sense of what the new site looks like if you’ve not visited yet. Just as I found a visual touchstone for this blog from a scenic landmark—the George Washington Bridge, aka the Great Gray Bridge, and the little red lighthouse—I found visual inspiration for the new site in a true wonder of the world, the majestic Percé Rock (aka le rocher percé or ‘pierced rock’), a huge rock face on eastern Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, a veritable lobster tail jutting in to the Gulf of St. Lawrence where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Below is a pic of what that post looks like. If you enjoy awe-inspiring scenery, I recommend you check out the whole post, which includes many photos I took during a visit there in 1988. In fact, I invite you to visit Honourary Canadian, and have a look around. 

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