Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

St. Paul Explains It All at Nov. 29 Forum

At Our Lady of Pompeii, they are accustomed to those who seek divine guidance. Thus, after a bewildering 2-hour meeting with representatives of public officials along with eight sacrificial lambs -- er, reps of the Jefferson Market Library on Tuesday November 29th, it was most fortunate to bump into Saint Paul. We asked for clarity -- and if he knew a fuel-efficient short-cut to Damascus.
• • Taking his time, St. Paul said: "When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became an adult I put away childish things." [He noted that there was a Xmas sale at Barnes & Noble, where they had one signed copy of his Letters to the Corinthians.]
• • Childish things! Does this have to do with the library pushing this "teen lounge" trend?
• • "Of course it does!" St. Paul observed. "And I know why these NYPL-ers favor young-adult-titles. It's plain to see these spokespeople shy away from books in the Adult Section. Pity."
• • Why are you so certain?
• • With a twinkle in his wise eyes, St. Paul remarked, "Did you hear that Richard Miller speak? Did you listen to Joanna Pestka? They believe in the Gospel of Harry Potter." After pausing for effect, St. Paul added, "Tell me this. What's the secret to Harry Potter's success?"
• • Licensing deals?
• • St. Paul's brow betrayed impatience. "Harry Potter is all about magical thinking. And that's how you can tell that Richard Miller and Joanna Pestka and Susan C.Y.A. Kent and the rest of their ilk are Potter-ites!"
• • Magical thinking rules the NYPL-ers? Explain this Potter-ite mania.
• • "I have to leave soon," said St. Paul, listening to Old Jeff. The clock's bell was tolling ten o'clock. "The Potter-ites are NOT to be confused with the Sit-or-Get-Off-the-Potters," he emphasized.
• • But what about the doctrine of magical thinking. . .?
• • "NYPL-ers are educated people," continued St. Paul. "Agreed?"
• • Since most librarians have a masters degree, yes, they are well-educated.
• • "When well-educated people fall under the spell of Potterism, it derails adult thinking," he explained with patience. "For example, I overheard a preservationist tell that librarian that they could apply for a grant to repair a landmark -- and I saw her astonishment. Now . . . reference books all around her, and she did not know that there are organizations that fund landmark preservation? See, that's child-like thinking."
• • Any other examples of Potterism at the NYPL?
• • St. Paul grinned. "If your roof leaked, would you get it fixed -- or think about how to repair an elevator? If you subscribe to magical thinking, you apply for $$ to fix the Otis and hope the leak stops by itself. Children reason that way. It's part of their innocence -- that life-is-a-teen-lounge-innocence you see in kiddies who sit on the lap of St. Nick. He's a babe-magnet, that Nicholas. . . ."
• • One more example, please. This is too fascinating.
• • St. Paul shrugged. "If your masonry were crumbling -- and that's the built-in-goodbye with limestone, pretty porous, if you ask me -- would you put up a sidewalk bridge and then apply for taxpayers' money to relocate a reference room? Or would you repair an exterior-interior leak so mold doesn't ruin all the books? They are victims of magical thinking. They remind me of those adults who used to read Women Who Date Too Much."
• • That Robin Norwood franchise: Women Who Love Too Much, wasn't it?
• • "Now you're talking my language," said St. Paul. "And the greatest of these is Love -- Charity. When adults love books, they protect them from leaks and crumbling masonry. That is the priority of an ADULT. But children don't reason with logic. That's what magical thinking is: the suspension of disbelief. Also called FAITH. But NOT in this case. Here you have Potterism at its most fatal -- in the hands of adults in charge of a public institution." He shook his head sadly. "Understand me now?"
• • Greenwich Villagers rescued Jefferson Market Court House. Now we've got the NYPL's Potter-ites ruining our landmark - - and every day NYC taxpayers are paying for a sidewalk bridge that never should have gone up, had the NYPL-ers taken care of our beloved building. What can we do?
• • St. Paul winced. "I had to deal with the Romans. Imagine what trouble they were. Susan C.Y.A. Kent is your albatross. Suggest a good book to her. St. Paul's Letters to the Romans and Galatians is a great favorite. Never been out-of-print."
• • Through a glass darkly, I see your book. It's in Jefferson Market Library -- being ruined by moisture coming in from the damaged masonry. Can't you help?
• • "I must leave," said St. Paul. "The Ephesians are having a trim-a-tree fete. They're expecting me."
• • Magical thinking. Librarians who believe in the Gospel of Harry Potter. Could this truly explain why the N.Y. Public Library's besotted leadership failed to maintain our landmark, let it deteriorate for umpteen years, and then installed scaffolding [in 2003] that is rotting the facade even more? E.C. Potter's lions would be getting their holiday wreaths next week on Fifth Avenue and here on Sixth Avenue magical thinking rules the rot.
What would St. Paul have written to the Philistines?
• • • • Also present on November 29th • • • •
• • Carol Greitzer, a City Councilmember from 1969 - 1991;
• • Carin Mirowitz, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Councilmember Christine Quinn
• • Kate Seely-Kirk, legislative aide to City Councilmember Christine Quinn;
• • Jon Prosnit, an aide to Senator Tom Duane;
• • Gregor Brender, an aide to Assemblymember Deborah Glick;
• • an aide to City Council Member Alan Gerson;
• • Shaan Khan, an aide to Manhattan Boro President-elect Scott Stringer;
• • Doris Diether, member, Community Board 2;
• • Richard Miller, NYLP's Senior Project Manager;
• • Joanna Pestka, NYPL's V.P. for Capital Planning & Construction [tel: 212-930-0614];
• • Frank Collerius, branch librarian, Jefferson Market Library;
• • five other staffmembers, NYPL;
• • 200-300 residents of Greenwich Village.

• • • • Request info or comment • • • •
Carin Mirowitz - and/ or
Christine Quinn via fax: 212-564-7347; or via postal mail: 224 West 30th Street [Suite 1206], New York, NY 10001.

Artwork: bestselling author St. Paul Enlightening St. Pete

Jefferson Market.