New York

  • New York in early autumn

    I’m on Amtrak back to Washington after a full three days in New York. Napa Institute’s Principled Entrepreneurship conference was fruitful. I’m also glad I got in earlier on Sunday, which let me visit with family, with married friends and their first child, and Peter Atkinson, as he’s entering his final MFA year at Columbia.

    In Washington tomorrow, and then to Seattle/Bellevue toward the end of the week.

  • Napa Institute’s Principled Entrepreneurship conference

    I’m spending the day at The University Club, a few blocks from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, for Napa Institute’s Principled Entrepreneurship conference today and tomorrow. I’ve attended Napa Institute’s Summer Conference for the past few years, but not their smaller conferences. It’s already proving to be valuable, and I’m glad I’ve come. The benefit of smaller conferences is substantial face time with others, including some who you’ve seen around at different things but never meaningfully gotten to know.

    Michael Novak’s approach to harmonizing faith and business permeates this conference. I wish he were here.

  • Asking persistently

    Asking persistently

    I’m in New York today and for the next few days for Napa Institute’s Principled Entrepreneurship conference. I got into Penn Station just before noon, and headed to the Church of Saint Michael in Hell’s Kitchen for Mass with Fr. George Rutler. I got to see their new bust of Saint John Henry Newman after Mass.

    And here’s Bishop Robert Barron’s Gospel Reflection on Luke 18:1-8:

    Friends, today’s Gospel exhorts us to pray with persistence. This command is everywhere in the Bible. We see it in Abraham’s steady petition on behalf of the people of Sodom. We see it in today’s account of the persistent widow. We hear it in Jesus’ extraordinary teaching: “Knock and the door shall be opened to you; seek and you will find; ask and it will be given to you.”

    One reason that we don’t receive what we want through prayer is that we give up too easily. What could be behind this rule of prayer? Augustine said that God sometimes delays in giving us what we want because he wants our hearts to expand. The more ardently we desire something, the more ready we are when it comes, the more we treasure it. The very act of asking persistently is accomplishing something spiritually important. So when the Lord seems slow to answer your prayer, never give up.

    ”The more ardently we desire something, the more ready we are when it comes, the more we treasure it.”

  • A few years ago, I saw someone share photos of a few Chinese cities that have been developed out of (more or less) empty landscapes over the space of a decade or so. Here’s an older version of that before/after perspective on New York from The Sun, showing the city’s skyline from 1880-1909:


    Now look at this as a metaphor for your life. What can you build over the next 29 years, and how can you change over the next 29 years?

  • Midtown Manhattan, briefly

    I got into Penn Station yesterday at nearly 6pm, and left Manhattan this afternoon just past 3pm. While this trip to New York was brief, essentially every minute felt well spent.

    Visited Bea, Esca, and Cafe Grumpy, with mass at St. Agnes across from Grand Central Terminal. I had never noticed the reference to Cardinal Richelieu across from Penn Station.

  • Holy Trinity, West 82nd Street

    Visited Holy Trinity on the Upper West Side for mass yesterday. Its Byzantine character reminded me of the National Basilica in Washington, and its tile reminded me specifically of the National Basilica’s crypt. Here’s Holy Trinity:

    Founded in 1898, today the Church of the Holy Trinity serves almost 1,400 parishioners on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  We seek to respond to the social, liturgical and faith needs of our active and diverse congregation by offering a wide variety of religious and social service ministries. Our Religious Education, RCIA and family programs strengthen the basis of our faith and provide an integral sense of community to all involved.

    We have a rich and varied musical program whose offerings cover the gamut from Gregorian chant and polyphony to the contemporary music of the 21st century.

    At the center of parish life, we have a singular, magnificent Church; built in the Byzantine style, decorated with Guastavino tile. This is our legacy from our forebears.

    Please explore … the many opportunities Holy Trinity offers to celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ.

    As mass was starting I tapped my Apple Watch to record the choir’s Kyrie Eleison:

    I hope to be back.

  • Ah, Wilderness!

    Ah, Wilderness!

    We saw Peter Atkinson in “Ah, Wilderness!” yesterday at the Black Box Theater at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture on Bleeker Street, where he played the part of Richard Miller:

    Ah, Wilderness! is a classic American comedy about the trials and tribulations of a young man and his loving family in a small Connecticut town on July 4, 1906. Playwright Eugene O’Neill described it as, “A nostalgic comedy of the ancient days when youth was young, and the right was right, and life was a wicked opportunity.” Presented by Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Storm Theatre. Peter Dobbins, Director.

    Peter is at Columbia working on his MFA, and it was great to see him on the stage. Never would have predicted I’d have the pleasure after meeting him years ago outside The Bean in Ave Maria, Florida. Here’s Terry Teachout on the production:

    “Ah, Wilderness!” hit big on Broadway in 1933, was promptly turned into an equally successful movie, and has been a community-theater standby ever since. In addition, it gets done with modest regularity by regional companies that can afford to produce a play that calls for four sets and a 15-person cast. But it hasn’t been seen on Broadway since Lincoln Center Theater’s 1998 revival, and there haven’t been any off-Broadway stagings since then, either. …

    The best thing about “Ah, Wilderness!” is the way in which it mixes sweetness with sorrow. It stands to reason that O’Neill, who subtitled the play “A Comedy of Recollection in Three Acts,” would have been inclined to mix these two strong flavors. “Ah, Wilderness!” is the theatrical equivalent of a reverse image of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” the tragedy in which he dwelled at length on the horrific shortcomings of his real- life family. In “Ah, Wilderness!” he chose instead to evoke the imagined shades of the Millers, the family he would have preferred, headed by Nat (Mr. Trammell), the tolerant, supportive father, and Essie (Lynn Laurence), the kindly mother. In addition, he portrayed himself when young as Richard (Peter Calvin Atkinson), a lovesick innocent who reads George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde on the sly but remains a virgin. Indeed, poor Richard is so idealistic that he actually contrives in the second act to visit a whorehouse without effect, coming home drunk but unspotted.

    Terry Teachout, Kathryn Jean-Lopez, and others have praised the production:

    “A stripped down production of Eugene O’Neill’s only mature full-length comedy shows that the playwright’s work endures. You’ll be charmed!” –Terry Teachout

    “Smoothly directed by Peter Dobbins, the piece is as stageworthy as ever…[Peter Atkinson] embodies adolescent angst to the point of making someone well past adolescence recall how it can hurt. He’s a young actor to watch.”  –Off-Off Online

    “The youthful Peter Atkinson is outstanding as Richard and is the production’s centerpiece. Mr. Atkinson’s animated intensity, comic timing, slightly croaky voice and sense of depth capture the adolescent bravado of an all American boy of yesteryear…Admirers should be charmed by this lovely revival.” –

    “I laughed and I cried – it’s healthy and delightful! This production makes a convincing case for its old-fashioned virtues and Ah Wilderness! surrounds you with love on Bleecker Street…Do yourself a favor and see this run of Ah, Wilderness!” –National Review

    “Reminds us of our past so that we might progress to a more enlightened future…Atkinson gives a captivating performance.” –Theatre is Easy

    Also my first time back to the Sheen Center since last January for the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture’s Vita Institute seminar.

  • Walking Broadway

    We saw “Ah, Wilderness!” at the Sheen Center’s Black Box Theater today. I’ll write a bit about that tomorrow. In the meantime, sharing scenes from last night’s arrival in New York and this morning’s walk down Broadway. I initially caught the 1 from 137th in Washington Heights, planning to head directly to Columbus Circle, but due to a schedule change had an extra hour and decided to get off at 103rd Street and walk down Broadway to Columbus Circle.

    We made our way to McSorely’s for lunch before the show. We met an older man named Bill who met Joseph Mitchell a number of times as a teenager. Joseph Mitchell captured probably the definitive literary portrait of McSorley’s in 1940, and he would come into the South Street Seaport-area bookstore where our older friend Bill worked when he was a teenager.

  • New York electric ferry service

    As I was pulling up to the terminal at LaGuardia yesterday I snapped this photo of an old American Airlines facility, and not long after read about a company planning to launch New York’s first electric ferry service. The new electric ferry launch is planned for next year, to coincide with New York’s temporary closure of the Manhattan/Brooklyn L train. Micah Toll writes:

    SW/TCH E-Mobility (presumably pronounced “switch”) is a new electric transportation company based around multiple modes of EV commuting. The company is planning to offer NYC’s first electric-powered ferry combined with a seamlessly integrated e-commuting fleet onshore. …

    Their flagship e-ferry will be an innovative 150-passenger battery-powered ferry used to connect Williamsburg with the East side of Manhattan. The electric ferry will give SW/TCH members a way to beat the L-train shutdown while enjoying a comfortable, stylish, and emission free commute across the East River. …

    The electric ferry, and all electric boats in general, feature a much quieter ride due to the lack of a standard diesel or gasoline engine found on most ferries. In addition to a more peaceful ride, the electric ferry will also include a large bar, coffee shop-style seating and outdoor decks, as well as membership perks such as locally crafted coffee and daily specials onboard. …

    For the electric ferry, SW/TCH has partnered with Clean Marine Energy (“CME”), an impact-investing group focused on lowering emissions from the marine shipping industry through cleaner fuels and vessel electrification.

    The electric ferry is planned to launch in 2019 and will be privately run by an existing ferry operating partner.

    SW/TCH’s vision is perhaps overly complicated. Why not simply produce the electric ferries and focus on their success? But the vision for a seamless experience of hopping on the ferry and hopping off to electric scooters or whatever makes sense, insofar as commuters are going to need continue to their destinations in a cost/time efficient way. I’ve read about electric ferries before and I’d like to ride this one next year.

  • A few scenes from a very brief visit to New York for last night’s Human Life Review dinner. Afterwards on the walk south on Park Avenue, as I was headed back to my Midtown hotel at 30th and 6th, I stopped to admire the Empire State Building. It was lit up in the colors of the American flag, shimmering white and alternating solid reds and blues.

    It’s a wonderful city.