Multimedia Dan Barry on the Bow’ry
For years, all Dan wrote about was New York. Poetry about the hard city from a Long Islander.
Then, the NYTimes sent him around the country to report back for “This Land” – a pleasure as well.
Still, I was happy to see his byline on the full-page Sunday story entitled “On the Bow’ry.” The history of the neighborhood well told through the story one building. Dan narrates the slide show, which includes a song inspired by a 2004 story on the building’s last tenant.
Writing students -- Make note of the opening's use of sentence fragments.
A small hotel, catering to Asian tourists, that used to be a flophouse that used to be a restaurant. That used to be a raucous music hall owned by a Tammany lackey called Alderman Fleck, whose come-hither dancers were known for their capacious thirsts. That used to be a Yiddish theater, and an Italian theater, and a theater where the melodramatic travails of blind girls and orphans played out. That used to be a beer hall where a man killed another man for walking in public beside his wife. That used to be a liquor store, and a clothing store, and a hosiery store, whose advertisements suggested that the best way to avoid dangerous colds was “to have undergarments that are really and truly protectors.”
Also note the closing. Use all your senses when you report. Here’s what Dan heard.
SCREAMS at the bottom of the night disrupt a Bowery sleep. A woman on the other side of the hotel is crying, “I love you, I love you,” to someone who seems not to love her back. Her wails last an hour, unleashing into the pitch a swirl of imagined sounds and whispers.
The glass shimmers of a million beer mugs. The faint strains of a thousand vaudeville ditties. The entwined polyglot murmurs, of English and German and Yiddish and Italian and Mandarin — and Bowery. The stentorian blather of a Tammany blowhard. The final exhalation of a dying inebriate. A weepy farewell toast to Big Tim. The shouts of “Fire!” The bark of a poodle.
The echoing clatters of a lone man building a barricade.
At morning’s light, the sounds recede into the walls. It’s a new day on the Bowery.