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Views from the Observer for August 2022

TikTok Has Changed Everything, Especially Book Publishing
TikTok’s algorithms take us deeper into ourselves, yet the viral app has profoundly shifted how books get publicity and find new audiences.
By Ann Kjellberg

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Author Salman Rushdie Was Attacked on a Lecture Stage at Western New York’s Chautauqua Institution

 

Author Salman Rushdie was attacked at a lecture on August 12, so Observer’s Courtney Vinopal was quick with an observation on the event. Rushdie is a novelist and outspoken public intellectual, known for the banning of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses on charges of blasphemy against Islam and the death threats that followed.

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The Report
New York’s Antiquity Trafficking Unit is Looking to Arrest a Former Source Turned Suspect

Forever on the mayhem beat, Observer’s reporter Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly reported on Georges Lotfi, an art collector and Antiquities Trafficking Unit informant who has recently come under fire for legal trouble himself.

 

A valuable source for prosecutors who pursue art traffickers in New York has suddenly turned suspect.

 

For the past few years, Lebanese art collector Georges Lotfi provided information regarding looted artwork to the Antiquities Trafficking Unit (ATU) of New York’s District Attorney Office. However, Lotfi has now been brought to the forefront of an ATU investigation himself, with an arrest warrant charging him for criminal possession of stolen property.

 

“Over the years, [Lotfi] has provided me with detailed information about looting practices globally,” wrote Robert Mancene, a Homeland Security agent involved with the investigation, in an affidavit filed to secure the arrest warrant. Mancene claims Lotfi even provided him with a hand-drawn diagram explaining how international traffickers smuggle antiquities.

American Airlines Is the Latest Air Carrier to Buy Supersonic Jets
American Airlines has put down a deposit for 20 supersonic jets that can fly at twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial aircraft.
By Sissi Cao

 

West Nile, the Virus You Forgot About, is Back in New York City
Two cases of West Nile virus have been reported in New York City while mosquitos infected with the virus have been detected across in all five boroughs.
By Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly

 

Journalists Are Fleeing the New York Daily News Under Its New Owner Alden Global Capital
Twelve journalists at the New York Daily News have resigned in the last three months, according to the newsroom’s union, representing about 20 percent of the paper’s total staff.
By Courtney Vinopal

New Law Requires NY Museums to Label Nazi-Looted Art

 

Over at Hyperallergic, writer Elaine Velie reports on new legislation in New York that will require New York’s museums to label Nazi-looted art. This is interesting because the focus isn’t so much on repatriation of art but more on recognizing the ways in which a work can carry history that should be recognized for an audience to grasp.

The Next Dimes Square Is Just Around the Corner

I unpacked the discourse around the micro-neighborhood forming in the waking life of Chinatown, Dimes Square.

 

In her 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs wrote “I have been dwelling upon downtowns.” If Jacobs, arguably the critical mother of urban planning, were still alive she would no doubt weigh in on the micro-neighborhood-meets-art-scene that is Dimes Square in what was formerly just called Chinatown.

 

Dimes Square is specifically a small section of Chinatown, which Vanity Fair’s Nate Freeman describes as “just the three-block stretch of Canal between Allen and Essex and the two-block stretch of Division before it hits Seward Park.” I first went to what is referred to as Dimes Square in 2019. I was on a date at Dimes with a reporter I was seeing at the New York Times. The food was good and I left with a postcard featuring two ladybugs fucking. The small vibes of transgressiveness that define what is cool in New York City were definitely there, among the various diners who could easily be seen on your favorite timeline or heard on a podcast that maybe you had listened to. For a brief period of time during the early on in the pandemic renting an apartment in Chinatown was suddenly somewhat affordable. The rest is, sadly, history.

 

In 2022 there is so little actually unique about Dimes Square when you look at the history of gentrification in New York City; what is notable in the current moment is grotesque and full of post-fascist aesthetics, so it seems that the cultural fascination and obsession is a sign of overall decline.

Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton Talk About Taking Their Children’s Book Empire to the Stage
After a mouse popped up in a Broadway theater, Julie Andrews and her daughter turned into a children’s book. Now ‘The Great American Mousical’ is headed toward a run in Los Angeles.
By Harry Haun

The Essay

I Was Stranded in Canada on 9/11, and Even I Learned from ‘Come From Away’

This work by Amy Polacko is a fantastic look at Broadway’s smash musical Come From Away and what it means to spend your time in this country.

 

Broadway’s smash hit Come From Away is scheduled to close on October 2, after more than 1500 performances.

 

I never wanted to see it. In fact, I had decided I would refuse to watch it.

Because back in 2017 when I heard a new show on Broadway was opening about Americans stranded in Canada on September 11, I was horrified. How could someone make such a nightmare into a singing and dancing buffoonery? Who would go to this show—especially in New York? It seemed sacrilegious to me.

 

Thankfully, a lot of people did go see “Come From Away.” Thousands around the globe, from Dublin to Sydney to Shanghai, and, yes, spots in Canada too.

 

I put off going despite the rave reviews, until four years later when a friend’s daughter working in the box office discovered I was one of them: the “plane people” or “come from aways” as Newfoundlanders call outsiders. She insisted on gifting me and my 13-year-old son tickets to see the five days that changed my life put to music. How could I say no?

After Nearly a Decade of Debate, There’s a New Definition of ‘Museum’
An international committee overseeing the museum industry has put forward a new definition for ‘museum,’ after a previous suggestion was shot down for being too progressive.
By Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly

Carefully Worded Definition of “Museum” Eschews Neutrality

 

Hyperallergic writer Jasmine Liu wrote an update on the International Council of Museum’s ongoing debate over whether museums will have a broader or more narrowed definition.

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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