One thing is certain: for many of those who came back from WWII, the music of Frank Sinatra was no consolation for their losses. Some had lost friends. Some had lost wives and lovers. All had lost portions of their youth. More important to the Sinatra career the girls started marrying the men who came home. Bobby socks vanished from many closets. The girls who wore them had no need anymore for imaginary lovers; they had husbands. Nothing is more embarrassing to grownups than the passions of adolescence, and for many, Frank Sinatra was the passion.
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"The wanderer in Manhattan must go forth with a certain innocence, because New York is best seen with innocent eyes. It doesn't matter if you are younger or old. Reading our rich history makes the experience more layered, but it is not a substitute for walking the streets themselves. For old-timer or newcomer, it is essential to absorb the city as it is now in order to shape your own nostalgias. That's why I always urge the newcomer to surrender to the city's magic. Forget the irritations and the occasional rudeness; they bother New Yorkers too. Instead, go down to the North River and the benches that run along the west side of Battery Park City. Watch the tides or the blocks of ice in winter; they have existed since the time when the island was empty of man. Gaze at the boats. Look across the water at the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, the place to which so many of the New York tribe came in order to truly live. Learn the tale of our tribe, because it's your tribe too, no matter where you were born. Listen to its music and its legends. Gaze at its ruins and monuments. Walk its sidewalks and run fingers upon the stone and bricks and steel of our right-angled streets. Breathe the air of the river breeze."
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A half-century later, Mark Twain would say that the gold rush drastically changed the American character, ending the tradition of patient apprenticeships, the gradual mastery of self, talent, and money. Gold created the get-rich-quick mentality that has been with us ever since, most recently during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.
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New Yorkers, in general, love disaster. They love blizzards, power failures, etc. (I don't mean that they loved September 11.) A shared disaster brings them together more - ethnically, racially - because the disaster affects almost all of them, making no distinctions. Their manners are generally very good indeed. And their generosity can be without limits.
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Just like that. Gone forever. They will not grow old together. They will never live on a beach by the sea, their hair turned white, dancing in a living room to Billie Holiday or Nat Cole. They will not enter a New York club at midnight and show the poor hip-hop fools how to dance. They will not chuckle together over the endless folly of the world, its vanities and stupid ambitions. They will not hug each other in any chilly New York dawn. Oh, Mary Lou. My baby. My love.
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What libraries give you is all three tenses - the past tense - the present tense in which we live and the future that we can only imagine. These places have teachers who are living and dead and we are lucky to have them. If I sit here and read Aristotle, he is speaking to me across a thousand years - more than a thousand years. That sense that I am in the company of the great greatest people who ever lived is a humbling experience but a liberating experience.
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There is something elegantly sinister about the Rolling Stones. They sit before you at a press conference like five unfolding switchblades; their faces set in rehearsed snarls; their hair studiously unkempt and matted; their clothes part of some private conceit; and the way they walk and talk and the songs they sing all become part of some long mean reach for the jugular.
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The Huffingtonpost.com does not pay its writers. Tina Brown's thedailybeast.com does pay its writers. You have to be paid because this is not a hobby. You have to keep that standard. You can't ask grandpa to loan you money because you have to go to Afghanistan. I walked the picket line for that to continue.