The Union Rat Descends Upon Gramercy ParkIn 1888, Edwin Booth, the famed Shakespearean actor, along with Mark Twain, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and a slew of other distinguished American notables from the nineteenth century, formed their own club where they could hang out and smoke cigars and sip brandy and yap about the dramatic arts. They also created a fund to help struggling actors. They called themselves “The Players,” and their club was run out Booth’s old townhouse at 16 Gramercy Park, where it is still in operation.
In the past few days, the club’s picturesque Stanford White façade, facing the tony private park, has been partially blocked by a sight uncommon in this quiet residential neighborhood: the union rat. It’s a sign of lingering troubles within.
Ten Questions From a Non-Genius to Lewis LaphamLewis Lapham is smarter than we are. See, he’s just brought forth this new quarterly, which will deal with history through the words, images, and thoughts with which that history was recorded. Yeah, that much smarter. Each issue of Lapham’s Quarterly will deal with a theme, and the first theme is “War.” In this edition, he includes essays, poetry, speeches, photographs, diagrams, lists, quotes and timelines from all of recorded history. Hence, works by Shakespeare, Virgil, Tim O’Brien, Herodotus (duh), Pope Urban II, Jessica Lynch, and dozens of others appear. Yeah, it’s like that, y’all. In Lapham’s introductory note, he explains: “The method assumes that all writing, whether scientific treatise, tabloid headline, or minimalist novel, is an attempt to tell a true story.” (FYI: That was about the shortest sentence in his essay, and therefore the only one we could include in a blog post.) In other words, Lapham’s Quarterly is epic. It’s historic. It’s all-encompassing.
But we have some questions. We are not historians, we are not experts in anything, we didn’t even read War & Peace in college. But maybe that’s why we can see the forest for the trees? After the jump, ten genuine questions a non-genius might ask Lewis Lapham about his new magnum opus .