Wednesday, June 21, 1995
To Jack Taylor - during the Dvorak/ AIDS Clinic controversy
As co-President of the SPNA I have volunteered to intermediate the discussions between SPNA/DAHA and BIMC regarding their contribution of $5,000 towards the Dvorak statue Fund - not because I need this controversy in my life but in the interests of SPNA, to keep its constituents as harmonious as they can be.
The original BIMC verbal offer was made to me, following my (badly mangled, page two was lost) article in T&V, with Frank Lopez voluntarily stating that BIMC wants to be low-profile about the donation. I asked him to wait, while I discuss the offer with you.
While I was on vacation and you were polling the parties involved, Frank sent the check and a covering letter to me, with copies to Carol and the chair of CB#6. The check was lost, and he re-drew and re-sent it to me. I have it.
I have expressed my disappontment with this rushed approach, but Frank probably has orders to follow. I have also conveyed to him your request for a letter from BIMC agreeing to treat this donation as anonymous, and stating that they will not publicize the donation in any way, shape or form is requested. This is the specific caveat that you stated was requested by seven of the eight committee members who voted to accept to BIMC donation. Please note that this was not stated as brutally as it appears in print.
Frank found that writing such a letter would be demeaning to BIMC. He reiterated his original statement about wanting to keep low profile, and reminded me that no donor advertizes his donations, such actions are commonly viewed as bad form, and the recipients normally do the praising of the donor; that advising the CB#6 about the donation is not not publicizing it; that the donation will have yo be listed in the BIMC annual statement; that this will be the extent of BIMC announcements.
I have advised him that this may well result in a rejection of the donation, and asked that no announcements about such a rejection be made; that any "washing of dirty linen in public" is bound to hurt not only SPNA/DAHA but also the BIMC image.
That was noted by Frank, who has no interest in publicizing such an outcome. However, the word may get out, no matter how hard we all try not to let that happen. There's CB#6, there's BIMC management, with whose knowledge if not orders Frank made the donation.
In my personal experience BIMC have been difficult neighbors: in the 1970s when my wife was CB#6 chair of the Health and Hospitals Committee, they put up a low 17th St bridge against the Board's request; in 1990 I was part of the effort to hold back their hazardous waste plant that would have spread dioxin. However, in this case I trust Frank's promise, particularly because advertizing the donation would be self-serving bad form. I also think that rejecting the donation would put both SPNA and DAHA in a bad light, as narrow-minded, and not public-spirited. It might also curtail public donations from people who might not appreciate the depth of pain suffered by those who cannot forget the events of the demolition of the Dvorak house, and would see us as ungenerous grudge bearers.
I should like everyone to read Prof. Miroslav Turek's elegant and compassionate analysis, which I have read several times. The loss and hurt is his and his recently much humiliated brave nation's; I cannot claim an equal share. But I should like to add that as the Jews felt the Holocaust, so have the Czechs felt, in a smaller scheme, the death of the Dvorak House. Yet, the Jews have accepted the Germans' compensation to the living, not as blood money to buy forgiveness but to save the lives of the survivors. Accepting BIMC's money would not buy the Czech Nation's good will; it would in a similar fashion help in making our great neighbor's Antonin Dvorak's memory survive, specifically in this neighborhood.
Please let me know if you might want to pass these sentiments to the affected members of the committee of 15.
Tuesday, June 20, 1995
Tales of Booksellers' Row - Jack Brussel 6/20/1995
Jack Brussel, my friend at United Book Guild, 100 Fourth Avenue (in the shadow of Grace Cathedral, as a British bookdealer would advertize), was a great guide for starting collections. He vaguely suggested to me that there were many forgeries and piracies of D.H.Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (Florence, 1928), and I should look into it. The book had then been considered indecent, forbidden to be published in England and the US, and Jack's sometime associate, the great James Joyce pirate Samuel Roth had alone been responsible for several pirated forgeries. The theory was simple. Roth would clean up the text, and sell the piracy to the gullible, capitalizing on the notoriety. D.H.Lawrence could not sue him for pirating an illegal book.
That was enough for me. Roth was well known for printing and binding books in whatever cloth the binder had on hand, as money came in, and variants abounded, Fourth Avenue was fertile grounds for finding copies of the book that were not even listed in Warren Roberts' then brand new bibliography of Lawrence (London 1963). While Roberts knew three alternate copies of the Lady, plus three different roth/William Faro editions and two Roth/esor Publishing editions, I mustered up 20 varieties, over a period of time.
Jack Brussel, my friend , had gone to jail in 1940 as a pornographer, for publishing an uncut version of Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer." Jack was a friend of Henry Miller's who came back to the US from Paris in 193x, after the success of the notorious Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
"Tropic of Cancer" was published in Paris by Jack Kahane's Olympia Press. A son of a Manchester shipschandler (1887-1941), Kahane was gassed in WWI, recovered and stayed in France, where he started supplying the English-speaking tourists with risque books, a time -honored ploy. Around the turn of the century it was gainfully employed by Charles Carrington, who varied pornography witha little forgery and piracy, particularly by creating spurious Oscar Wilde books. When Kahane ran short of authors, he wrote his own as Cecil Barr and xxx Carr
Kahane took the risk of publishing the first Cancer book, in 1934, with a cover showing a crab drawn by his then 16 year old son Maurice Girodias. (Maurice in turn continued the family tradition,printing scads of trash, but making literary history with Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" in Travellers Library, in 1960.) The $600 Kahane needed to produce the book were procured by the sex-obsessed Cuban-American poetess and novelist Anais Nin, then Arthur Miller's (and her psychiatrist Otto Rank's, and Antonin Artaud's, and other people's) lover, from her long-suffering banker husband Hugo Guiler. At first the book was issued with the crab and title on the cover, then in blank covers, with the crab legend on the jacket. The idea was for the tourists to discard the jacket so as to be able to smuggle the titleless binding into the USA, or UK, without the Customs questioning it.
In the US there was a pent-up demand for the "Tropic of Cancer." Jack Brussel got together with the great Joycean defender Frances Steloff of the Gotham Book Mart on 47th Street, and Ben Abraham of the Argus Book Shop in Chicago, arranging that Jack would publish 500 copies of the book for each sponsor. But money was short, and Samuel Roth, the well-established pirate of James Joyce and D.H.Lawrence books, was willing to advance some funds, provided some signatures would be made available for him too, to be bound as seen fit, for his faithfuls, on the mailing list. Miller was in, to get 10 percent of the retail, to be $7.50. This is per Gershon Legman, the great folklorist of limericks and dirty jokes, who whel last heard from was in Provence, and has told the story to xx, Miler's bibliographers. Robert Ferguson, author of "Henry Miller, A Life," (NY 1991), tells substantially the same story, except that the printing was 1000 for each sponsor, and Miller was supposed to get $1000 from each of them. Ferguson notes that there are no references to such windfall in Miller's letters, and deems the story apocryphal. However, Legman quotes a Miller letter .....
In 1961, Barney Rossett of Grove Press acquired American rights to the "Tropic of Cancer," and printed 68,000 copies at $7.50, followed by a 1m paperback edition at 95c. He was sued, and defended by Charles Rembar and trial attorney Elmer Gertz. Judge Samuel B. Epstein of the Cook County Superior Court (Chicago) rendered a n 18-page decision on Feb 21, 1962 that declared Cancer not obscene. Later. in 1964 the US Supreme Court reversed an adverse Florida decision and Miller was home free. He never gave Jack credit, and early biographers spoke in disparaging terms of the NYC printing. He may have been somewhat right, the Roth printings never paid any royalties, but the others did , according to Jack, as remembered by this family members.
Roth knew how to get around the smut laws, and in 1957 won a case in the Supreme Court of the USA, for distributing indevent advertising, publ xxx, and offering for sale a salacious hardcower magazine, the American Aphrodite.From there on in, Roth could have made it to the top of publishing heaven, but the real beneficiaries were Heffner, Guccione and the various crotch magazine publishers, who earned megabucks. Roth just puckered out
Tales of the Booksellers Row, Part VII - Bloomsday.
In honor of Bloomsday (June 16), I dug into our bookcase and took out the first edition copy of James Joyce's "Ulysses," and the two pirated excerpts that we own.
The novel deals with the events in one day (June 16th, 1904) in Dublin, when Stephen Daedalus (Telemachus) meets Leopold Bloom (Odysseus, or Ulysses) and his wife Molly (Penelope). It is a fantasy, first to employ the stream-of-consciousness technique and word pyrotechnics that turned the book-writing world upside down. There is some explicit sexuality in Bloom's visit to a whorehouse and Molly's dreams that made it subject to censure. Parenthetically, while on characters, my favorite, whose name appears within the first four words of the novel, is Buck Mulligan. He was based on Oliver St. John Gogarty, a surgeon-writer and Joyce's friend. Gogarty's last book, "While Walking Down Mulberry Street," appeared in the 1950s.
The first edition of "Ulysses" was published by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company Bookshop in Paris, 1922. It is a fragile book and leaves paper dust and tiny particles whenever touched. My well-worn copy is the 4th printing (4th and 5th printings were on thick inferior paper), and has been used extensively. I bought it from Johnny O'Connor. Johnny was an Australian Irishman who dealt in periodicals and rented basement warehouses all along Irving Place and Broadway. He also had an aerie book and journal loft in the attic of the the Broadway Central Hotel in the late 1950s, where they had a huge basement plaza with carriages that used to bring in the visitors from the railroad stations. A trip to the loft in the summer heat would kill you unless the visitor took off his shirt. But the place had a dormer leading out to the sloping roof, and a wonderful view of New York. Johnny sold me his Joyce when he had the shorts and the landlord wouldn't wait.
Next to this memorable book in my bookcase are two copies of the Two Worlds Monthly, published by Samuel Roth in New York, 1926-1927, containing chapters of the original. These came from Strand Bookstore on Broadway and 12th Street, where I found them in the outdoors stalls, some years ago.
The publishing history of "Ulysses" is well-known but worth retelling. The Egoist, a London avantgarde journal, run by Joyce's friend and benefactress Harriet Weaver, was forced by its printers in December 1919 to stop publishing "Ulysses" after the 5th installment of the book (in Britain the printers as well as the publishers could be prosecuted under the obscenity laws). The Little Review, edited by Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap in New York, was forced to close by prosecution brought on by the Society for Suppression of Vice, after publishing 23 installments, printed between March 1918 and December 1920. Then Sylvia Beach in Paris "asked for the honor" to publish "Ulysses" in small printings. It waw a labor of love, because Joyce never ceased rewriting. One chapter was lost when the volunteer typist's husband, a British embassy type, threw the unspeakable filth into the fireplace.
Eventually, there were 11 Paris printings of 28,000 copies, 1922-1930. Copies were smuggled into USA and the UK. The typography and printing was done by Maurice Darantiere in Dijon, who has entered the English-language literary history by working throughout the 1920s for the English and American publishers of avantgarde books in Paris, using typesetters who did not speak the language and could not be shocked by the words. It was not until 1933/4 that Judge John M. Woolsey of the U.S. Court lifted the ban, calling the the effect of the book, in places, "an emetic but not an aphrodisiac." It made Morris Ernst aas a lawyer, and earned Random House a lot of money. Sylvia made nothing. Joyce, blind, died in in 1941.
He too has earned his place in literature, and in Bartlett's Quotations.
Samuel Roth, a poet and novelist who ran a bookshop in New York, and also wrote and published scads of erotica - more of him in the forthcoming articles about my friend Jack Brussel - capitalized on the notoriety of "Ulysses" by printing 12 expurgated installments in his short-lived Two Worlds Monthly (July 1926-October 1927). Whether or not he paid Joyce any monies is debatable. Roth claimed he did. This piracy resulted in an "International Protest" signed by 167 writers and artists, and an injunction aginst Roth by Joyce's New York lawyers in 1928.
Roth had already pirated excerpts of "Work in Progress" ("Finnegan's Wake") in another ephemeral literary journal, Two Worlds Quarterly, September 1925-September 1926, copied from such European journals as Criterion and This Quarter. Roth went to jail for piracy when he in 1927 boldly reset the 9th Paris printing of "Ulysses" in its entirety and printed it in New York, by the Loewingers at 230 West 17th St. It was so good that Joyce gave a copy to Bennet Cerf to set the first legal, Random House edition.
Jail did not stop Sam Roth. When the notoriety of D.H.Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (Florence, 1929) generated demand, he wrote and published an expurgated version, and even wrote sequels to it. Roth had a sense of humor. Late in life, when appearing before the Joyce Club which met in Frances Steloff's Gotham Book Shop, he described himself as a lion in a den of Daniels. That is my recollection of a tale told by Prof.Leo Hamalian of City College, a Joycean who was fascinated by Roth and wrote two biographies of the rapscallion, in essay form.
Roth is a romantic figure, a pirate out of Raphael Sabatini, and, in his own way, a fighter for the First Amendment. Eventually there was a Roth case and decision before the Supreme Court of the U.S.
More Roth to come, in conjunction with D.H.Lawrence, T.S.Eliot, Henry Miller. Nancy Gross.
shortly before his death, and was a charmer.
Thursday, June 15, 1995
Tales of the Booksellers' Row Pt 3/4 Jack Brussel, Dr. S. R. Shapiro, Dr. Saul Jarcho
Tales of the Booksellers' Row Part III
The demise of the Luchow's building on East 14th Street brings back memories from nearly 40 years ago, when that restaurant was the pride and joy of our neighborhood. I had lunch there every Saturday, for years, with my bookhunters' crowd, eating creamed herring appetizers and swapping tales. Creamed herring with onions and slices of black bread was enough food to hold even a growing youth.
In the late 1950s I was invited to join a small group of knowledgeable book collectors and dealers who met weekends to lunch, to travel the East Coast, looking for "sleepers," as underpriced book rarities are known, and to renew old friendships. We visited bookstores from Maryland to Massachusetts, and were greeted with mixed emotions by the dealers. We were sure to bring in money, but we would also deplete the shelves of the better stuff, and leave the dealer wondering about the magnitude of his mistakes. But mostly we brought good cheer, particularly Jack Brussel, the mailbox of the trade, who knew everybody.
Jack, then in his 60s and past a major heart attack, was our undisputed unofficial leader. He had a store at 100 4th Avenue. the Jack had a great history, as book scout, writer of a math textbook, publisher of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and other sex-oriented classics. It was part of his myth as to whether he was exonerated or went to jail for the printing of the Miller book, not permitted under our then sanitized law, only partly softened by Judge Woolsey's 1933/4 decision exonerating James Joyce's Ulysses. I met Jack when he imported Japanese color woodcut prints (ukiyo-e). He claimed that they were in such a low esteem as to be used to wrap fish in Yokohama. The legend is that the Japanese gainer some respect for this form of their own national heritage when they saw them exhibited in the U.S. museums. I bought a few original Hiroshiges and Utamaros, which I eventually lost to a scammer.
Jack's brother was the renowned Ike R. Brussel, who then lived in the Jewish enclave of Seagate, and ventured out rarely. He was the author of the scholarly British-American First Editions bibliography (separate East-to-West and West-to-East volumes), and spoke with a thick East European accent. I remember telling him how I had found a first edition of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929), worth $100, and he gave me a lesson in book scouting: "Bubbele, I had a book like that. El Dieff had it in his catalogue for $100, so I called him. 'Lissen, Lou, I have the book but no jacket, so I'll give it to you for one half, $50. And it's a trade deal, so I'll cut it one half again, to $25. Now, it is not mint, so I'll reduce it further to $10. And since you are my friend, you can have it for $5.' And he told me: 'No deal.' So, don't expect money, but you can have fun."
Jack had a comfortable rebuilt Checker cab, but his eyesight was not the best, so we traveled mostly in Milt Riessman's car. Milt was a button manufacturer, struck by the collecting bug. His interest was in children's books, and eventually he sold the button business, to open Victoria Bookshop, competing with Justin Schiller, then a young prodigy dealer, for the expanding kids' book collector market.
Sunny Warshaw, a lively gnome of a man, had his start buying junk paper from firms that went out of business or were moving. He found out that old files contained valuable stamps, autograph material and historic memorabilia, and built up a huge collection of Business Americana, from which he rented out illustrations and documents.It was eventually bought by the Smithsonian for $100,000, a bargain.
Sam Orlinick, who had a store off 4th Avenue, dealt in science and music. A Mozartian, he asked me to see my wife's uncle's Dr. Max Nachman's manuscript on the Aristotle/Mozart connection, and pronounced it unreadable. Since he was a reader for Dover Publishing, that was it. The late Uncle Max, a lawyer/philosopher/concert pianist, never pursued the publication of this book, holding it to be above the comprehension of the marketplace, and the manuscript now rests in the Leo Baeck Institute Collection. Sam's proudest possession was a Mozart manuscript of an early composition, in need of authentication. We would concoct elaborate schemes for verification of its authenticity without giving away its contents (I believe it was an unpublished variant), Sam would listen courteously and dismiss the harebrained ideas with gentility.
Not surprisingly, our best hunting for books was in New York City. Irving Binkin, in the back of Brooklyn Heights and the courthouse, on Willoughby Street, had a four-story building, the ground floor of which was devoted to making a living. Irving's heart was relly in ballroom dancing, of which he was a champion. He liked to go to Hispanic dances, and had a small Spanish book stock for his dance partners. Upstairs, he held residues of good Brooklyn estates, unpriced and unevaluated, books, paintings and ephemera. After much negotiating, Irving had decided that we were trustworthy and would not stuff our pockets, and could be permitted to make selections and bring them down for pricing. Irving was not knowledgeable, but prided himself on being able to divine, from our body language, things about the value of our selections. It did work out, since he asked for our scholarship, and we were not out to steal high value items for pennies. It was fun. I found some Elihu Vedder lithographs, which somehow had drifted down from the Houghton publishing company estate in Boston, and many small brown buckram-bound books from Ticknor & Co., the publishers of Hawthorne.
Next time i'll tell you about the experiences with the two scientists in our group, Dr. S.R.Shapiro and Dr. Paul Cranefield.
LOOKING BACK by Wally Dobelis
Tales of the Booksellers' Row Part IV
The truly professional bookman in my Saturday book-collectors' club, otherwise known as "Jack Brussel and friends," was, according to his own lights, the knowledgeable Dr. S.R. Shapiro.
I learned a lot from him. The good Doctor supplied the scholarship to our bookhunting expeditions, whether we wanted it or not. A man of towering bibliographic recall and decided opinions, he was not on speaking terms with a number of Fourth Ave dealers, which limited his quest, and explained his enthusiasm for our trips. He liked me, and since we were both members of the Bibliographical Society of America, he brought me up with him to the 4th opening celebration of Herman Liebert's Beinecke Library at Yale, in the early 1960s. This was a truly regal series of celebrations. We stayed in the Taft Hotel of fond memories, and had martinis every night, enough to float a small boat, in the President's reception hall. I remember meeting the Provo, Utah, university librarian, a Mormon, who confided to me how shocked he was to see all the great names in bibliography and library science swilling gin.
Our main speaker was John Sparrow, the Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, but the most fun was John Carter, who, with Michael Pollard, discovered the forgeries of first editions by the highly respected bibliographer and Browning collector, Thomas J. Wise. Carter's 1952 book, "ABC for Book Collectors," in its seventh 1995 edition, is still a basic source of book terms. Carter traveled with two strangely shaped duffel bags, which he claimed had served as his gun bags during WWII, when he was in the British intelligence.
Our other scholar member was Dr Paul Cranefield, both a PHD and MD, a medical historian and a cardiac researcher. Paul, who has had a major lab at the Rockefeller University since 1966, researching arrhythmia and the electrical system of the heart, was mostly interested in pursuing a dream - finding a first edition of Harvey's "De Motu Cordi" (printed in Germany in 1628), the most important heart book ever, first to explain blood circulation. Paul knew the Garrison-Morton medical book bibliogaphy by heart, practically, but was very selective in his choices. He was good to have around, considering the geriatric makeup of our crowd. I recall once, in Luchow's, Sam Orlinick getting caught up in a Sunny Warshaw joke while swallowing some creamed herring, and choking for seconds until Sunny's hefty pounding on his back dislodged the morsel and brought Sam back. At this point we noticed Paul, who was sitting at the opposite side of the table, surreptitiously folding his razor-sharp pocket knife, with a sigh of relief. He had been ready for a tracheotomy, as a last resort. This was in pre-Heimlich movement days.
Dr Cranefield, who chairs the Kesselring Awards Committee of the National Arts Club (for new playwrights), at that time was the editor of the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. His collaborator and successor was Dr Saul Jarcho, an internist and also an eminent paleopathologist, a physician who could determine from the bones of prehistoric men what they died from. Saul was also a medical humorist, writing under the pseudonym od S.N. Gano (it's a joke, in Spanish) in the venerable JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association). His mother was a Wallerstein, a sister of Nathanael West's mother. As many know, in 1927 West clerked at the then Kenmore Hall Hotel. It was owned by his uncles Jacob and Max Jarcho, and Saul's mother persuaded them to give Nat the easy job. West's sister was married to Sid Perelman of New Yorker and Marx Brothers fame, a resident at the Gramercy Hotel, and you are getting a whole article on the families, sometime. Dr Jarcho was my family physician, and saw my wife through her pregnancy, coming in to watch her tum late at night. There are not many physicians like Saul Jarcho.
Back to the education of the bookhunter. Most dealers whom we visited would scrutinize our choices with great care, and some few would reserve the right to withdraw some titles, stating that their stock was priced a long time ago, that they had had no time to update, and that we were taking an unfair advantage. Others were proud to match book knowledge even with the exuberantly loud Dr. Shapiro. The quiet Peter Lader of the small Martin's Book Shop on West 4th Street off 6th Avenue had the best literary scholarly books, and decent prices. He did the same thing as our group, on a truly professional basis, twice a year leaving his tiny wife in charge of the shop while he traveled the country, buying selected stock. He offered advice only when asked.
Mr. Pine of Dauber and Pine, 66 5th Avenue, had Americana stock still from the days of their partner Charles P. Everitt, a farmer's son from Peekskill and a great book scout. His book, "Adventures of a Treasure Hunter," (Boston, 1952) is a most fascinating work, and got me initially intrigued with book-scouting, though I never met anyone that could claim such finds as the famous Charlie. His book is still a good startup text. Similarly chatty are the several books by A. Edward Newton, such as "The Greatest Book in the World," (Boston 1925). A book collector, his articles started appearing in the Atlantic Monthly during WWI. He describes rare books that we will not easily find. "Gold in Your Attic," (1958) and "More Gold in Your Attic" (1961), by Van Allen Bradley, a set of easy-to-enjoy price guides, are more for the contemporary American browser and garage-sale addict. They evolved into his "Book Collector's Handbook of Values," (1972-79-82), and were continued by Allen and Patricia Ahearn as "Collecting Books - A Guide to Values" (Putnam, 1991).
Eventually my studies progressed to the reading of the heavy tomes of auction catalogues - Parke Bernet (pronounced Bernet, Otto was a German), Anderson and American Book Auction. I had bought a lot, in four big cartons, from Leo Weitz, who was closing his good art and illustrated book store way uptown at 1377 Lexington Avenue, and put them up in a cheap storage space with a broken floor that I rented in the old Hotel Albert on University Place. The restaurant of the hotel had an Eiffel Tower logo and advertised "All the Steak You Can Eat for $4.00" in the New Yorker, The clientele was rock and roll musicians, some of the best groups, but my recollections are bad. My storage room was entered and robbed, and I lost, most importantly, an eight-volume small paper first American edition of Audubon's "Birds of America," (N.Y., 1840-44) in a green cloth binding. That had been my most expensive purchase ever - bought with a borrowed $700, from the old Isaac Mendoza Book Company, a rabbit warren at 15 Ann Street, South of City Hall. Today that would be valued in five figures. I had to produce a certified check, and the next morning I ran into Mr Mendoza at 9 A.M., waiting for my bank to open. We were both embarrassed.
As recollection serves, I wrote a letter to the Antiquarian Bookman, the weekly bible and want-list source of the trade, describing my loss, but to no avail. The AB is published in Newark, NJ. It was founded by the late Jacob Blanck, who in 1950s started the compiling of the "Bibliography of American Literature." The opus was published by Yale in nine volumes over a long stretch of time. Anyway, the AB is where most of the book search people whose ads you see in the back page of the New York Times Book Review advertise your requests for out-of-print books. This is not the book-searchers' only resource, but it is a starting point. A hint: the AB is expensive, aimed for the trade, and not a one-shot advertising vehicle for the collector.
Wally Dobelis thanks Dr Paul Cranefield for his recollections, and sends best belated 88th birthday wishes to Dr Saul Jarcho, from the Dobelis family and T&V.
Jacob and Max Jarcho were plumbing contractors. You can still see their Siamese connections outside CPW buildings. Son Arthur living in bk. Sauls mom persuaded the uncles to give the job to Nat.The Weinsteins were builders Anne and Max Weinstein. Soul jarcho was Harv '25, Col MA in Lattin and MD. In his jr yr 1924 the ceremony on chas elliotts 90th had chas, who remenm Pres Jackson, and a patient at Barb hot remem ALinc funerak at Union sq. Amenities 1918
Sunday, June 11, 1995
The J. P. Morgan Legacy
Why is St. George's Episcopal Church on Rutherford Place and 16th street known as the Morgan church? To answer this question in detail, let's examine the entire involvement of John Pierrepoint Morgan Sr with this neighborhood.
The Morgans, who arivd on hese shores 16y af m, were Hartford people, and the grandfathr, Joseph, orgnized Aetna Fire Insurance Company, which became highly regarded for its fast claim settlements after the Wall Street fire of 1835. Son Junius (1813-90) became partner of the American banker George Peabody in London (prototype of Scrooge?) and widened the international banking business, with the aid of son J.P.
Under J.P. Sr.(1837-1913) and J.P. Jr (1867-1943), the House of Morgan became a world power, financing railroads, U.S. Steel, General Electric, General Motors, Du Pont and AT&T. This was done through the vehicle of "voting trusts," to which shareholders transferred their shares in exchange for trust certificates. Share and bond holders did this to avoid shareholder liability and to have a third party impose control over rampant industrial warfare-like competition, particularly among railroads. Eventually this escalated to trusts, super-holding ompanies, such as U.S.Steel, that acquired all major competitors in their industries. Morgan partners sat on the boards of prctically all major corporations and jointly were able to direct U.S. economy. On several occasions Morgan acted as the central banker of the U.S., in preventing the collapse of the gold standard in 1895 (President Jackson had abolished the Second Bank of he United States in 1832) and in stemming the stock market crash in 1907. The immense powers of the House of Morgan and other major bankers were abrogated through anti-trust legislation (1890, 1913) and the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Finally FDR, with the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, built a wall between commercial banking (deposits, loans) and invstment banking (issiuingbonds and stocks). J.P.Morgan and Company became a gentlemanly commercial bank, with Morgan Guaranty Trust its subsidiary, while Morgan Stanley, the investment arm, eventually became the top merger and acquisitions firm in the 1970s and 80s.
But that is a far way from Stuyvesant Square Park. Let's return to J.P. Sr. The great romance in his life, Amelia Sturges, of an artistic family, lived on East 14th Street, and died of tuberculosis four months after marriage in 1861. J.P. remarried, to Frances Tracy of a proper New York background, and lived on Fortieth Street and Fifth Avenue.
In 1882 the Morgans moved to Murray Hill, 219 Madison Avenue at 38th street, New york's first electrically lit residence (J.P.raised the capital for Edison'sElecctric Illuminating Co.). A collector of art and books, stored at his office at 23 Wall Street (first office to draw power from Edison's generator at Pearl Street), in 1900 he bought the adjoining property, and had Charles McKim design an Italian renaissance palace to house his books, building that eventually became the Morgan Library. The walls were made with marble blocks that were perfectly fitted and did not require any binding material, and he hired the perfect librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, an enchanting young woman who became his confidante.
Morgan gave much to religious, cultural and educational causes.He had a social conscience, and when his personal physician Dr. James W. markoe, told him of the squalor in which immigrants lived,he gave aver a million dollars to construct the Lying-In Hospital for poor pregnant women, on the corner of 17th street and 2nd Avenue. An immense block-wide 22 storu building, now the Rutherford House, a ccop apartment building, it has lobby plaques, sculpture and exhibits to remind us of its past. Dr. Markoe became its executive director.
J.P. and Fanny morgan were devout communicants, and atternded St. George's, where J.P. was awestryman since 1868. He built the Chapel, and the Parish house inxx. The young Cambridge man appointed as rector in 1883, William S. Rainford, aws a social reformer, and Morgan subscriped to his pg52
When J.P.Sr died, 1n 1913, his estate was $68 million (less than $1 billion at today's rates), not counting the collections - puny amount, which confirmed the opinions that his main interest was power, not money. However, he had lived and spent well, with houses, yachts and mistresses, and had amassed $50 million worth of art and books. He was a knowlegable and compulsive collector, and kept art dealer Joseph Duween busy locating and negotiating classical masterpieces for him. He bought his books singly and in collections, and the two Gutenberg bibles that he had were not the rarest works in his library. In collecting he had a code of behavior that paralleled his business ethics - while squeezing the dealers' profits down, he would not bid against the British Museum, which had limited funds for building a national collection.
For Tod Maisel & Frank Gribben, and Concerned Citizens Speak (CCS)
And if you can tolerate the stories, I have them. I have soaked up the neighborhood spirit since the late 1940s, and there are layers and layers of recollections - not only of the old bookstores but also of the literati who came to them, of how I once pursued SJ Perelman wheeling a baby carriage all the way along Third ave to the GP hotel, of the beat poets at Max's Kansas City. And I havent even started up on the Irish bars that I frequented in my youth, and the political clubs of the area. So be prepared.
But to close, I want to speak of the people that make this a neighborhood. The wonderful people who protest, who tutor, who volunteer, who keep the principles of integration and diversity alive despite the hits and abuses that their ideals have suffered. I cant name you good people it will take forever. I mentioned lot of you in my Greeetings friends New Years poem that did not look anything like a poem got badly scrambled due to the technological shortcomings of the computer era. Rest assured, you will continue to be in my column, in my thoughts and some of you even in my prayers as long as you will tolerate me, and as long as the good Lord will give me strength and my editors will give me the space. Thank you.
Monday, June 05, 1995
About Coop Management and Real Estate Taxes
With all the stories of corrupt coop managements and inept boards (note recent Attorney General's investigation of kickbacks, and Coop City issues), it may be appropriate to clear the air, describe some caveats for coops, and discuss some current problems.
Having been a coop board member for many years, I can assess the environment.
There is no doubt that we become members of the board for selfish motives, namely the preservation of our quality of life and our investments. This coincides with the objectives of our fellow tenant-shareholders, and should make for a well-functioning coop. Tenant shareholders who get on the board for personal gains, such as doing business with the coop, will not be able to act in common interests. This conflict is best avoided by having a rule that no tenant-shareholder board member is to have a business involvement with the coop (sponsor-directors are an unavoidable exception). However, sometimes the board manages the building directly. This is an economizing measure, mostly seen in small buildings, which cannot afford professional management and where all tenant shareholders participate - provided that some members know what they are doing. If they are novices and cannot afford the time and involvement to learn, having professionals is a matter of survival.
Ordinarily, hiring professional management is essential, and hiring lawyers and accountants is unavoidable. Consider the range of special concerns: real estate taxes, the annual contest of assessments with the city, looking for tax abatements, timing and execution of refinancing of the underlying mortgage. Daily, in addition to the tasks of administering staff and payroll, there are the problems of determining the neeed for repairs and maintenance, making the repairs cost-effective (keep in mind that the Board members bear a fiduciary responsibility to the tenancy), passing on engineers' recommendations and contractors' detailed bids, overseeing the work and the overseers, and reviewing the results ("punch list"). Interviewing prospective buyers, a favorite complaint in the press, mostly involves making sure that the prospect has adequate gross income (often calculated as four to five times the carrying charges for all debts), a steady cash flow (this may be a problem with freelance writers, hence the horror stories), and a life style that does not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of life of their fellow tenants. Famous people are often less-than-desirable co-tenants for the latter reason.
There are important things within a good coop that need be provided for. A non-self-perpetuating structure of the coop board is important. Im my board, we provide that the eight tenant-shareholder members rotate off after six years. One third of the board is reelected every year, and after two elections a director's term is finished. They can run after a year, but this method provides a review period.
The board must actively recruit knowledgeable people for its succession. It is important that every board capitalizes on the expertise of members of the tenancy, and actively recruits real estate attorneys, accountants, finance experts, insurance people, builders and contractors. Given the proviso that none of the above can bring their own or buddies' firms to earn fees from the coop, they will exert their best efforts to have their property well administered. Special interest people who run for the board, to promote a concept or "get rid of the rascals," often drop out when confronted with a work load, with committee assignments and with time demands that they cannot or don't want to cope with. I can speak of a large non-exclusive activist board in a large building, the type that is best suited for effective management.
As to time demands, board members do "their thing" at some considerable sacrifice of time and effort. Boards meet once a month usually at 8 AM, and spend an hour, up to three hours, in settling issues. I have taken a half vacation day more than once because of a board problem. There is no expense account, travel is on us. When interviewing prospective tenant-shareholders, we have extra meetings at 7:30 or 8 AM, as required. It takes a lot of dedication, and those directors who do not perform hear from their fellow members.
Present day coop board (and for that matter, tenant-shareholder) concerns have much to do with real estate taxes. The 1994 agreement between the Mayor and the City Council to reduce the inequitable taxes for Class 2 buildings, that is coops, has been rescinded by the Mayor. Even though everyone agrees that coops are unfairly taxed, at a rate approximately three times that for single family dwellings, the Mayor's $3.5 billion deficit has caused him to eliminate the coop tax reduction portion of the preliminary budget. In fact, the assesments have gone up, not down, by something like 8 percent.
City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, much to his credit, has proposed that a substitute tax be imposed, increasing the tax on those one to three family rentals that are not serving as the owners' residences. Small income-producing residential properties have been riding free on the coat-tails of coop residents, who do not have the privilege of subletting their properties to earn incomes, except for limited-period emergency situations. You may want to write letters to the Mayor and the Speaker, but it's the economy, etc. And coop tenant shareholders are easy prey for the tax assessors - they are much removed from the realities, and therefore apt to ignore the tax injustices, since they do not have to write a tax check every year. In fact they cheer the tax refunds, and ignore the unfairly high tax rate.
Next, the Coop City situation. A coop board was sold down the river by its management, due to the cupidity (ignorance? stupidity?) of the board members. Coop City has many retired and blue-collar residents, and the nice old guys who are willing to dedicate the time to board activities probably do well on keeping the undesirables out, but are no match for the crooks among themselves and in management. They are not the only ones who have been fooled, many boards in the city composed of busy professionals have found that their lack of due diligence has opened the door for unscrupulous members of management firms to take kickbacks from contractors. That is why it is important that management contracts contain a standard clause to permit the board to dismiss management with minimum notice if members of the firm have been implicated in the irregularities. And that the management firm does not route all the requests for bids for repairs and maintenance to the Three Ususal Suspects all the time, that some new vendors are included.
I hope this proves that coop board membership is not a popularity contest, and that prospective directors' committment, professionality and absence of a direct personal profit motive should be the paramount criteria in electing them. Voters electing politicians to city, state and federal offices, please copy.
Wally Dobelis is the president of the board of directors of his coop.